Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The White/Caner Debate Debacle

Way back in March, I wrote that a debate was on the calendar for October 16. That debate is now cancelled. What a mess. I've been following this debate from its inception to its recent cancellation. I was planning to attend the debate with several good friends and have mixed feelings for the cancellation of the debate (glad that the threat of a "sound-bite circus" will be avoided but sad that the truths of Reformed soteriology would not be presented).

After the announcement of the debate, much has occurred:
  1. Ergun Caner preached a sermon titled "Why I Am Not Predestined to be a Hyper-Calvinist." This sermon got the attention of James White, who parsed the message here (with a Liberty student online) but mostly here. Tom Ascol commented about the sermon on his blog. You can also get to a VERY thorough (and lengthy) critique by Gene Bridges here.
  2. Caner later wrote an article with the same title for "The Liberty Journal." White answered that article here and here and here.
  3. James White and Ergun Caner began exchanging emails to set up the debate. This simple act turned out to be very difficult and the emails quickly took a slight turn toward the ungodly. White wisely kept every document, which reveals some errors on both sides in behaving like gentlemen (although Caner surely exceeds anything White did in that department - his behavior is shocking for a minister and seminary dean!).
  4. On June 13, White's blog says: The following e-mail was sent to Ergun Caner, Emir Caner, Brent O'Donnell, Tom Ascol, and Rich Pierce at 3:28pm MST, June 13, 2006.
    Greetings: Allow me to state right up front that in light of the public nature of the debate and the issues that separate us, I will be posting all attempts at communication concurrently on my website.
  5. James finally heard back from Lynchburg on June 22.
  6. You can read all the emails here, then here and finally here!
  7. More.
  8. Some crass words from Ergun Caner to White. White apologizes to Caner for misstatement.
  9. On August 3, I wrote of a breakthrough in the long and tedious discussions between White, Ascol and the Caner brothers. All seemed well and in this entry, it appears the debate IS ON!
  10. On September 19, White wrote that the debate had less than one month to go.
  11. Then, suddenly, trouble was on the horizon in the October 6 post.
  12. In Brazil on Oct 6, White's debate partner Tom Ascol writes of the rumor of some unilateral changes in the accepted debate format.
  13. Ascol announced there would be no debate (LOTS of comments after this post).
  14. White announced there would be no debate.
  15. The cancellation was deemed official.
  16. On his website, Caner writes "Calvinist Debate Cancelled by Hyper-Calvinist. White responds to Caner's blurb.
  17. Ergun Caner writes his take on the whole affiar on the Liberty University website. Without fear, without fail, without flinching!
  18. White sheds a little light on Caner's behavior, parsing Ergun Caner's own official post about the cancellation on the Liberty University website. White goes through the article line-by-line, explaining some details that Caner left out.
  19. White's fuller resonse to Caner's spin on the cancellation.
  20. James White's internet radio show (The Dividing Line) has special guest Tom Ascol.
  21. Tom Ascol writes PART ONE of "What Really Happened!"
  22. Tom Ascol writes PART TWO of "What Really Happened!"
  23. Tom Ascol writes PART THREE of "What Really Happened!"
  24. Emir Caner wrote his take of the events. Though Emir still leaves out some pertinent details, his communication is refreshingly free of bombast.
  25. James White responds to Emir Caner's article.
  26. Check out the interesting cartoon.
Over at Calvinist Gadfly, "Willliam D" said this in a comment:
Mr. Caner's father died some years ago rejecting Christ. Caner witnessed to him on his deathbed but his father would not let go of his Islam. For Mr. Caner to accept that his father was not one of the elect must be a pretty difficult thing to come to terms with. I think that his zeal and anger against Calvinism is fueled by his refusal to accept that his father could have accepted Christ, but could not because God had not chosen to give him the faith to do so.
If true, that is good insight into Caner's behavior. A good friend of mine named Brian P also noted this: Caner is a former Muslim and well acquainted with the fatalism of that false religion. Perhaps the reason why he exhibits such vitriol towards the Doctrines of Grace stems from his aversion towards anything that smacks of any sort of determinism (whether hard or soft). He wants as far away from Islam as he can get - not understanding the difference between Islam's fatalism and biblical determinism.

While not entirely sure, these two thoughts potentially shed some light on Caner's personal hatred for reformed soteriology.
  1. Some of my thoughts on Caner's constant use of the phrase: "I'm not an Arminian. I'm not a Calvinist. I'm a Baptist." To put it briefly, it's a nonsensical statement.
  2. Some other thoughts of mine on two similar issues: Does All always mean all? and the role of Christ as our Mediator in the Book of Hebrews.
  3. A very early post on "Let the Bible Speak: Being Blind."
  4. A very early post on "Let the Bible Speak: Being Deaf."
  5. A very early post on "Let the Bible Speak: Being Dead."
  6. A very early post on "Let the Bible Speak: The Final Coroner's Report."


Bruce Roberts said...

Glad to read something from you again. Of course I'm reading it 2 weeks after you posted it and a quick look over at my blog will show a striking lack of posts in the past 6 weeks. Anyway, I thought speaking in tongues was controversial and made people angry, but we Charismatics have nothing on you guys. In all seriousness, it's sad that so much divides us but we must stand for truth rather than fold in the name of harmony & unity.


jeff,on jamie steele's blog you spoke of man's responsibility when it comes to reformed soteriology. would you elaborate on that?