Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Record Month of May
05/31/2010 - James WhiteMany thanks to the folks at Northernridge Baptist Church up in Denver for getting me going on the month of May on the bike (they rented a road bike for me for while I was with them). The altitude training spurred me on. So, for May, 2010:
Miles ridden: 612.89 (record in one month, at least since I got back into cycling in 2005---I can't find my 93-98 ride files to compare).
Total ascent for the month: 27,846 ft. (8,488m, 5.27 miles) (record)
Longest week total: 175 miles (record)
My riding year ends June 13th, and I am currently on track (if I put out a massive effort the last week, which will be tough, since we have predictions of highs around 110 next weekend) to get as far as 5,400 miles for the 09/10 year. And yes, 5,400 miles would be a record since 2005 as well (did 5,280 last year).
All of this has been great for my physical conditioning, as I am now the lightest I have been since 1999 (I started weight lifting in 1998, and it took me quite a while to pack on muscle after five years of riding without doing proper protein supplementation). It is putting a real strain on my MacBook however, as I have to have it running constantly recording more books to listen to while riding. Last week, for example, I began a review of all of my Christopher Hitchens debates, mixing those up with sections of The Qur'an in its Historical Context edited by Grabiel Said Reynolds, Arabic vocabulary and Qur'anic texts, and some B.B. Warfield essays in systematic theology.
As the summer temperatures set in here in Phoenix, my ride distances will have to come down, as even leaving at 4am in the morning still puts you into warm temperatures. For at least the next month, hopefully, it will be dry, and the lows should drop into the seventies, but once the monsoon season hits here, the lows will be in the mid to upper 80s, sometimes spiking into the lower 90s (our record high low is 96), so there simply is no "cool" time to ride until late September. May is normally perfect riding weather, so I am thankful for the health to have taken advantage of it.
Athanasius Contra Michuta #2
05/29/2010 - James SwanI recently posted Athanasius Contra Michuta #1. That entry led to the following e-mail question: "I was reading Athanasius on the canon and I noticed he included Esther in the apocryphal category but Esther is part of canonical Scripture. Can you briefly comment on this?"
Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta likewise brings out this point in Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007) along with mentioning Athanasius includes Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah in the canon. Mr. Michuta quotes the Thirty-ninth Festal letter canon list and then comments,
Protestant apologists focus on the fact that twenty-two books are described as having been canonized; making up, as they would argue, an exhaustive list since Athanasius seems to insist that "in these [books] alone, the Christian doctrine is taught." The great fourth century champion, therefore has been shown to have accepted the Protestant canon, and consigned everything outside that canon to the category of human apocrypha. This argument errs on a number of points.
Most obviously, the books Athansius listed as "canonical" do not correspond to the Protestant canon; he places the book of Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah among the 'canon,' but deliberately omits the book of Esther from the list and places it among those that are read. This canon, in fact, is unique to Athanasius himself; no other writer uses it and all other Christians canons, then and now, differ from it"[Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007), pp. 108-109. Emphasis in the original].
First, Jewish history shows the Old Testament was counted as either twenty-two or twenty-four books. Josephus states, "For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another [as the Greeks have,] but only twenty-two books" [Against Apion 1.8]. Athanasius likewise is aware of this tradition: "There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews..." [NPNF2 Vol.4, Athanasius, Letter 39.2-7]. Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great, Epiphanius and Amphilochius, as well as other ancient voices likewise concur with this tradition. So when Protestants focus on a twenty-two book canon, they do so as the result of historical inquiry. We don't argue that Athansius presents an infallible exhaustive list, but that he's aware the Hebrew canon was limited to a particular number, and that number is different than that canonized by Trent. The canon presented by Athanasius is far closer in semblance to that found in Protestant Bibles. Athanasius leaves out the bulk of the apocrypha.
Second, Michuta states Athanasius "places the book of Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah among the canon." This wording is deliberately ambiguous. Athanasius states "then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle" as part of his Old Testament list. For Athanasius, Baruch and the letter of Jeremiah were included as additional material to Jeremiah (he probably also included the apocryphal additional material added to Daniel). He did not consider them separate books. Did he do so to try and sneak apocryphal material into the Bible? No he mistakenly thought these were part of the actual book of Jeremiah. Why was this the case? William Webster points out that it appears there was an expansion of the Hebrew canon, but involving no addition to the number of the books in the East during the fourth century. He states:
It should be noted though, that following the Septuagint, many [Eastern fathers] included Septuagint 1 Esdras with Ezra-Nehemiah, the Epistle of Jeremiah and Baruch with Jeremiah and Bel and the Dragon, The Song of the Three Children and Susanna as additions to the book of Daniel [William Webster, Holy Scripture The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Volume II, (Battle Ground: Christian Resources, 2001) p.340].
Roger Beckwith states:
The other two additions to the Greek text of Daniel besides the Song of the Three Holy Children, namely, Susanna and Bel & the Dragon, are more self-contained and usually carry their own subtitles. They were probably once independent. Indeed, the latter addition, in the original Septuagint, even begins by naming a source, 'From the prophecy of Habakkuk the son of Joshua, of the tribe of Levi' suggesting that it may have originated in an apocryphal work under the name of Habakkuk. Nevertheless, in the Septuagint version the two additions have become a thirteenth and fourteenth chapter of Daniel, while in the other Greek version used in the early church they form a first and last chapter. As the Jewish translator responsible for this latter version, Theodotion, included them in the revision of the Septuagint which is what his translation was, although he apparently omitted the independent apocryphal books, they had probably already been appended to Greek Daniel in the Jewish period. It is therefore not surprising that Irenaeus can quote Susanna with the expression 'Those words which come from Daniel the 'Prophet' (Against Heresies 4.26.3), or that Clement of Alexandria (Stromata 1.21, or 1.123.3f.) and Tertullian (On Idolatry 17-18, On Fasting 7) can pass straight from the events of the earlier part of Daniel to those of Bel and the Dragon, as belonging to the same historical sequence. Hippolytus, likewise, in his Commentary on Daniel, expounds Susanna as the opening part of the book, and at least makes reference to Bel & the Dragon, though without actually expounding it (Commentary 2.26). Even the Syrian expositor Polychronius, who declines to expound the Song of the Three, includes in his Commentary on Daniel an exposition of Bel & the Dragon, as its final item. In the Syriac Bible, known to Polychronius, Susanna often gets separated from Daniel and Bel, but in the Greek and Old Latin Bibles, and among most of the Fathers who use them, both these additions are treated as if they were part of the text of Daniel, without the canonical question being raised. And even when it is first raised, by Julius Africanus in his Letter to Origen, he receives an answer which prevents it being raised again until the end of the fourth century.
(viii) Just as apocryphal items were appended (or prefixed) to LXX Daniel, so the same was done to LXX Jeremiah. Here there was also a canonical appendix, Lamentations, which in the Greek Bible is preceded by Baruch and followed by the Epistle of Jeremy, while in the Latin Bible it is followed by Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremy combined in one, in the form in which they stand in the English Apocrypha. There is reason to think that, as in the case of Daniel, the Septuagint appendices had at least begun to be added in the Jewish period; and, as in the case of Daniel once more, this was presumably done for the same purposes of edification as motivated the midrashic expansions included in some books of the Septuagint within their text. We consequently find early Greek Fathers regarding Baruch as part of Jeremiah, and frequently quoting it under Jeremiah?s own name, and early Latin Fathers doing the same. So here again it is less a question of canonicity that confronts us than a question of the text. What has happened is that edifying additions have been made to the translated text of Jeremiah, as to that of Daniel, which do not really pretend to the same authority, but are bound before long to be treated as if they did, by readers unacquainted with the original. [Roger Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), pp. 340-342].
But what about Esther? Why did Athanasius leave it out of his twenty-two book list? Well to apply Gary's Michuta's own logic, the book of Esther is canonical because Athanasius cites from it "in a manner commensurate with sacred scripture," and Athanasius confessed that his canonical list is in itself not completely accurate. I don't accept either of Michuta's answers, but it does show the reasoning employed by Mr. Michuta backfires. He wants it both ways. He wants to argue that the list from Athanasius describes all of divine Scripture with minor distinctions, but against Protestants he wants to argue Esther was left out of the sacred canon.
I'm not aware of any further clarification from Athanasius on Esther. It's common knowledge that the book of Esther was considered antilegomena: a book previously disputed but ultimately considered canonical. Therefore, that Athanasius didn't include it in his primary canon list isn't such a stretch. The book of Esther is simply proving that there were in fact those who doubted its canonicty, both within Judaism and the church. In other words, Esther is living up to its pedigree of antilegomena. It could be Athanasius was simply following Melito. Melito does not mention Esther or classify it as apocrypha (Some speculate he may have actually left it out by mistake because one way of counting his list only adds up to twenty-one books). The Greek version of Esther includes 107 verses that is classified as apocrypha. Perhaps this factored into the decision of Athanasius. Without any explicit statements from Athanasius, one can only speculate.
Response to Sheikh Awal (Part 4)
05/28/2010 - James White
Yesterday on the Dividing Line: Finishing Up Sheikh Awal's Opening Statement from 2009
05/28/2010 - James WhiteTook one quick call at the top of the hour, then delved into completing Sheikh Awal's opening statement from his debate in 2009. Covered a good bit of territory in the "how to" of apologetic response, as well as diving a little deeper into John 5. Here's the program.
"The language of my lineage is Turkish, not Arabic." --- Ergun Caner, 2/25/10
05/27/2010 - James WhiteMany people have asked me, "How could Ergun Caner think he would ever get away with all the tall tales he told in the pulpit?" Good question. I have no idea. If I were to make up fake Arabic while speaking before an audience (not just slaughter it, as I have in the past!), I would always be in fear that someone in the audience would recognize this. Ergun does not seem to have that problem. Or if I was telling different stories to different groups, I would always know it was being recorded, and the Internet is a big place, and someone might compare my statements and document that I was making things up on the fly. But again, Ergun Caner does not seem to have that worry.
Here is my take on this video just posted by Mr. Khan. In one of the instances provided here, I think Caner is trying to repeat something he had memorized (that being the inscription on the wall of the mosque in Afghanistan). I ran that quote by my Arabic tutor over the phone and he recognized a portion of the first word, and a portion of another, but the rest of it just didn't make any sense. Sounds like Caner read about the inscription, tried to memorize it, and then when he gets into his "persona" (remember, all the accent stuff is about as genuine as any other kid raised in Ohio whose mother tongue was originally Swedish would be) he just lets it fly with lots of glottal stops. There is no question that he is completely in the dark in regards to "strike/beat" in Surah 4:34. The phrase is وَٱضْرِبُوهُنَّ, wadhribun huna. You don't even have to be able to read Arabic to figure that out (there are sufficient resources on line to do so). I intend to meet with my tutor (a Christian pastor from Syria) next week to go over each of these examples very carefully.
But once again, do you see the real damage being done here? One example is immediately attached to the atonement, the sacrifice of Christ. Another is put in the context of allegedly witnessing to Muslims in Jerusalem, and their allegedly responding with a call to "shut him up." What if Caner were to actually start blabbering in a tongue he was never taught or studied? What a glorious testimony to any Muslims who might be there! But what kind of mind can make that kind of thing up just to impress an audience?
The title of this entry was taken from Caner's own "apology" from 2/25/10. His father was Turkish, not Arabic. His brother says their mother tongue was Swedish, not Arabic. Ergun was in the US from 1969 onward. I did not have any idea, until today, how often Caner claimed Arabic fluency. I had heard him make the claim, at least twice. Mr. Khan has collected many more examples than I had encountered. And the saga continues....
California Mindset vs. Arizona Mindset
05/27/2010 - James WhiteHT: PB
"The Governor is jogging with his/her dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks dog.
#1. Governor starts to intervene, reflects upon the movie 'Bambi' and then realizes he should stop; the coyote is only doing what is natural.
#2. He calls animal control. Animal control captures coyote and spends $200 testing it for diseases and $500 upon relocating it.
#3. He calls veterinarian. Vet collects dead dog and spends $200 testing it for diseases.
#4. Governor goes to hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for diseases from the coyote and on getting bite wound bandaged.
#5. Running trail gets shut down for 6 months while wildlife services conduct a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is clear of dangerous animals.
#6. Governor spends $50,000 of state funds implementing a 'coyote awareness' program for residents of the area.
#7. State legislature spends $2 million investigating how to better handle rabies and how to possibly eradicate the disease.
#8. Governor's security agent is fired for not stopping the attack and for letting the Governor intervene.
#9. Cost: $75,000 to train new security agent.
#10. PETA protests the coyote relocation and files suit against the state.
#1. Governor shoots coyote and keeps jogging. Governor has spent $0.50 on a .45 ACP hollow point cartridge. Buzzards eat dead coyote. Governor's dog eventually elected to Congress.
Athanasius Contra Michuta #1
05/27/2010 - James SwanRecently I engaged in a brief conversation with a Catholic Answers participant. The apocrypha, the canon, and the view of Athanasius came up. He stated,
Neither Jerome (see Michuta, p. 148-152, and chapter 4), nor Athanasius, are clear opponents of the Deuterocanon. Both of them, especially Athanasius, cited books of the Deuterocanon as Scripture, a detail that supports the pro-Deuterocanon position.-snip-
I'm also glad you think Michuta's book is the best on the subject so far. I would agree, no doubt for different reasons than you, but all the same.
He's referring to Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta's book, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007). As to my opinion that this is the best book on the apocrypha thus far, here is what I actually said. I was actually criticizing an argument put forth by Mr. Michuta. In regard to Gary's book, I find it a worthy effort from a Roman Catholic layman. That is, he attempted to cover information in detail (whereas most of his fellow apologists provide only a few pages). Other than that, I've written various articles negatively critiquing the information from the book. Those articles are on my own blog and here on aomin. I have no personal gripe against Gary. The few interactions we've had have been cordial. I disagree with the perspective expressed in his book, not him personally.
The comments from my opponent about Athanasius and his reliance on Mr. Michuta's book are worth looking at. The page references cited above (148-152, chapter 4) are in regard to Jerome. Michuta treats Athanasius in chapter 3, pp. 107-113. The argument from my Catholic Answers friend is that Athanasius is not a clear opponent of the apocrypha because he cited passages from the apocrypha throughout his writings. Michuta though argues more forcefully. Michuta argues on page 113 we can be sure Athanasius accepted the apocrypha because he cited from them "in a manner commensurate with sacred scripture." He further states "The best proof" is that Athanasius cites from the apocrypha just like he cites from non-disputed Biblical books. In fact, Michuta shows that Athanasius cites from both categories in the same writing, not distinguishing canon from apocrypha.
This may seem like a powerful argument at first glance. In fact, Roman Catholic apologists attempt this same line of argumentation on the Bible. Any allusion to an apocryphal book is said to be proof that the divine writers considered the apocrypha to be sacred scripture. This of course doesn't logically follow. Jude quotes from Enoch, yet that book is not considered sacred scripture. Paul quoted Greek literature, yet we don't consider that literature sacred scripture.
As a historical argument it also fails. Martin Luther clearly rejected the apocrypha but likewise quoted from it. He would quote passages from the Bible along with the apocrypha, sometimes in the same section. Simply because Luther rejected the divine canonicity of the apocrypha didn't mean he thought it had no value. Luther says of the apocrypha, "These books are not held equal to the Scriptures, but are useful and good to read."
A helpful historical insight from J. N. D. Kelly could equally apply to this argument:
Jerome's conversion to 'the Hebrew verity' [i.e. in contrast to the LXX] carried with it an important corollary - his acceptance also of the Hebrew canon, or list of books properly belonging to the Old Testament. Since the early Church had read its Old Testament in Greek, it had taken over without question the so-called Alexandrian canon used in the Greek-speaking Jewish communities outside Palestine. This had included those books (Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, etc.) which are variously described as deutero-canonical or as the Apocrypha. Around the end of the first century, however, official Judaism had formally excluded these, limiting the canon to the books which figure in English Bibles as the Old Testament proper. Since Origen's time it had been recognised that there was a distinction between the Jewish canon and the list acknowledged by Christians, but most writers preferred to place the popular and widely used deutero-canonical books in a special category (e.g. calling them 'ecclesiastical') rather than to discard them. Jerome now takes a much firmer line. After enumerating the 'twenty-two' (or perhaps twenty-four) books recognised by the Jews, he decrees that any books outside this list must be reckoned 'apocryphal': 'They are not in the canon.' Elsewhere, while admitting that the Church reads books like Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus which are strictly uncanonical, he insists on their being used solely 'for edifying the people, not for the corroboration of ecclesiastical'. This was the attitude which, with temporary concessions for tactical or other reasons, he was to maintain for the rest of his life - in theory at any rate, for in practice he continued to cite them as if they were Scripture. Again what chiefly moved him was the embarrassment he felt at having to argue with Jews on the basis of books which they rejected or even (e.g. the stories of Susanna, or of Bel and the Dragon) found frankly ridiculous. [J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000), pp. 160-161].
But what settles the actual view of Athanasius is exactly what Athanasius clearly says about the extent of the canon: ...
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Simple Mistakes, Confused Defenses
05/26/2010 - James WhiteLast evening a brother pointed me to a comment by Emir Caner posted on Twitter back on the 12th of May. I have included it in the graphic so as to document that it is clearly from Emir Caner, and also to note his re-tweeting of Hussein Wario's article "Desperate Muslims and Ignoramus Christians" as well. This demonstrates Emir Caner is in touch with Hussein Wario. This will be important in what follows.
On September 28, 2006, I spent the entirety of the Dividing Line covering all twenty five ayah (verses) in the Qur'an that contain the name of Isa (Jesus). How did I come up with this list? I utilized the Kassas Concordance to the Qur'an, a massive volume keyed to the standard Arabic text of the Qur'an (i.e., what we might call the "Textus Receptus" of the Qur'an, the Uthmanic text). Here is the listing of all uses of Isa in the Qur'an taken from the Kassas Concordance:
It only takes a moment to do the count: 25. That's it. So, back in 2006, we went over all of them on the DL.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was listening to Emir Caner as found here. At exactly 4:00 of Dr. Caner's presentation he says the following words: "Islam has a lot to say about Jesus Christ. His name is mentioned 93 times in the Qur'an." I immediately recognized that this was an error. If words have meaning, Dr. Caner misspoke. He did not say "Jesus is talked about many places in the Qur'an" or something like this, he said His name, that is Jesus, is mentioned 93 times in the Qur'an. But, it isn't. Now, I had seen secondary sources that greatly inflated this number by including context and references that do not use the name Isa. I knew, for example, that Geoffrey Parrinder in his book, Jesus in the Qur'an, said:
The name Isa occurs twenty-five times in the Qur'an, and the use of other titles in conjunction with this or separately, such as Messiah and Son of Mary, means that Jesus is spoken of some thirty-five times….The bare enumeration of the references to Jesus by one of his names in the Qur'an does not show, of course, the difference between passing allusions and longer narratives in which Jesus is the central figure. (18, 20).
However, prior to this, Parrinder had said, "Three chapters or suras of the Qur'an are named after references to Jesus (3, 5 and 19); he is mentioned in fifteen suras and ninety-three verses" (16). This number had mystified me, as it is a great leap from twenty-five to ninety-three, but Parrinder's examples explain what he is talking about. Notice he says that three suras are named after references to Jesus. Sura 3 is Al Imran. How is Imran relevant to Jesus? Surah 66:12 explains:
And Mary the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants).
The Qur'an asserts Mary, Jesus' mother, was the daughter of "Imran." Hence, all references to Imran (and to Mary) are references to Jesus as well. Surah 5 is Al Maida, the "table," which refers to the request of the disciples that Jesus bring down a table from heaven (Surah 5:112-115), hence, this is a reference to Jesus as well. And Surah 19 is named for Mary, His mother. Therefore, the claim (and it seems Parrinder is the source for the widespread use of this number) that there are 93 verses in the Qur'an referring to Jesus should be understood to mean that there are 93 verses that could be interpreted to have something to do with Jesus, Jesus' story, Jesus' mother, Jesus' disciples, Jesus' relatives, etc. I wonder if all references to the Ahl al Injeel (people of the Gospel) have been included as well, given the Injeel is given to Jesus. In any case, the best summary of the assertion found in Parrinder (and repeated below by Jane I. Smith) is "There are about ninety three verses in the Qur'an that could in some form or fashion be connected to Jesus, his story, history, and the view of him promoted by the Qur'an, in a very loose fashion."
Now, I raised this issue in light of many other issues: Dr. Emir Caner converting to Christianity at age twelve (though on the Ankerberg Show Ergun said they converted when they were close to college); the fact that his father had not been his custodial parent since he was five years of age; the incoherent citation methodology he and Ergun had used in their book, referring to "Hadith" as a meaningful reference mechanism (similar to quoting "Bible 3:16" as if that has meaning), etc. All of this was in the context of asking, "Why is Emir Caner considered an expert on Islam? Does converting from a religion when you are twelve give you sufficient ground to be viewed as an expert in that religion later in life?" I specifically had the Parrinder reference in mind, which is where I had first encountered the number "93" used in such a fashion. This is why I speculated on the use of "secondary sources" in Emir Caner's comments.
Now, it would be easy to argue that Dr. Emir Caner simply misspoke. "I didn't mean His name is used 93 times, of course, I know it only appears 25 times. I meant the wider idea of all possible references, allusions, etc." That would make sense to me. However, taken together with the other issues just noted, it does raise serious questions concerning Emir Caner's familiarity with primary sources relating to the study of Islam. It would have been easy to grant a mere misstatement, had Emir Caner not chosen to defend his statement.
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Response to Sheikh Awal (Part 3)
05/25/2010 - James White
Today on the DL: Continuation of My Response to Sheikh Awal
05/25/2010 - James WhiteBefore diving back into Sheikh Awal's opening statement I very briefly responded to yet another "Hey, let's repeat every tired and silly argument against James White" thread on the Catholic Answers Forums. Also, we went over Norman Geisler's less than unbiased (and still not really comprehensible) commentary on the Caner scandal. Then spent most of our time responding to Sheikh Awal's arguments, before taking a Skype call toward the end of the Comma Johanneum. Here's the program.
Update: I note that right as I posted this, James Swan pointed me to some of the comments posted in the Catholic Answers Forum thread after I mentioned it on the Dividing Line. One of them is such a classic example of the blindness engendered by gross bigotry and prejudice I could not pass it up. The same individual I noted regarding his unkind and unwarranted remarks (and possible allegation of editing of debate recordings) provided an excellent example of what passes for being "fair" in those forums:
I didn't waste my time with his show. Actually the truth is I don't know how to access his show but if I did I would not waste my time with it. I can only imagine what he said or thinks about me after my posts on this thread. Be it known that my intent was not mean spirited but rather my discernment was that tactics employed by James White are not christian like. To make a statement, like another poster reported that he did, wherein he claimed that all Catholics are biased is ludicrous. Over 1.1 billion Catholics in the world and everyone of them is biased against James White. I take that to mean that Catholics don't see things his way
Well there you go!
Hebrews 6:15-20, "A Sure and Steadfast Anchor of the Soul"
05/25/2010 - James WhiteI confess: I have no idea why Hebrews 6:19-20 is not just as well known amongst evangelicals as John 3:16. It is truly one of the most incredible texts in all of Scripture. I felt deeply my inadequacy to communicate these divine truths during the evening service at the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church, but here is the attempt.
Harold Camping's One Year Countdown Begins
05/24/2010 - James Swan
A recent blog post from TurretinFan reminded me that the world has reached its final year, that is, according to Harold Camping. If you venture over to Family Radio's web page, you'll find a map of the world, along with a box reminding Camping's followers of the approaching day of judgment, May 21, 2011.
For those of you who may be new to Alpha and Omega Ministries, Mr. Camping was directly confronted by Dr. White. In July 2009, Chris Arnzen's Iron Sharpens Iron radio show hosted a debate between Dr. White and Mr. Camping. All the shows are available as free mp3 downloads:
Harold Camping Debates Dr. James White (Part One)
Harold Camping Debates Dr. James White (Part Two)
James White Reviews His Debate with Harold Camping
Harold Camping Reviews His Debate with James White
Also related, TurretinFan was on Iron Sharpens Iron in regard to Mr. Camping:
TurretinFan: Harold Camping's Achilles Heel: Why Family Radio's Date for the End of the World is Wrong
Dr. White also has a video available: "Harold Camping Seminar, 2002"
Hebrews 6:9-15, PRBC Sunday AM May 23, 2010
05/24/2010 - James White
"Catholic apologetics, by and large, is an undefined enterprise"
05/23/2010 - James SwanThe closest thing in the United States to a self-appointed infallible magisterium is Catholic Answers. They stand atop the Roman Catholic apologetics food chain claiming to be "one of the nation's largest lay-run apostolates of Catholic apologetics and evangelization." One need only search available public records to verify this claim. If you want to know what the papacy means, you need only visit Catholic Answers for their interpretation... or maybe not.
Recently Roman Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis made his own assessment of organizations like Catholic Answers: "They have a very light, or possibly sanitized, portrayal of Catholicism, looking to avoid as much controversy as possible" and they are "somewhat milquetoast when it comes to dealing with the more controversial and significant problems occurring in the Church and in the world. " He laments, "My assessment is that they either don't know where the real battles are or they know and choose to ignore them, and have more or less settled into a politically-correct apologetic. Except for the abortion issue, I really don't find much of a clarion call from them" [source].
Mr. Sungenis heads Catholic Apologetics International, which "stands on the forefront of Catholic Apologetics, explaining Catholicism to fellow Catholics and defending it against her opponents." In the same article, Sungenis makes a telling admission: "Catholic apologetics, by and large, is an undefined enterprise." Indeed it is. Catholic Answers claims to be the preeminent apostolate for solid information [source]. Catholic Apologetics International though has "the help and intercession of our new patron saint, St. Robert Bellarmine, and in communion with the other great Apologists of our Faith" with the information they provide. That's a tough choice. On the one hand, one could follow the interpretations of the preeminent apostolate for solid information, or one could rely on an organization being helped by St. Robert Bellarmine.
Perhaps though one doesn't need to make such a choice. What's interesting about the criticisms from Mr. Sungenis above is they were placed between positive comments. Sungenis begins by saying,
Let me start with the state of Catholic apologetics today. Overall, I think it is good, at least compared to what it was about 25 years ago when Catholic apologetics was practically non-existent. But I think it could be much better today if we all banded together and used each other gifts and talents instead of competing with one another.
He concludes by saying,
We each have our gifts, strengths and focus. I think God is using us all, but I think He would like to see us all get along much better than we have, and that is what all three groups need to pray for.
These are interesting concessions from Mr. Sungenis, particularly since CAI has questioned the credibility of Catholic Answers throughout the years. Previous to the last presidential election, Catholic Answers heavily pushed their voting guide pamphlet. CAI says of it,
we were deeply concerned about some of its final conclusions. We believe some of these conclusions to be not only dubious in and of themselves, but an assault on the individual Catholic's conscience and the Church's collective power to reform society as a whole [source].
These are but a few of the criticisms of CA from CAI. The confusion and quarrels between Roman Catholic organizations is precisely as articulated by Sungenis: Catholic apologetics, by and large, is an undefined enterprise. We'll continue to see Roman Catholic apologists quarrel among themselves and contradict each other precisely because they make up their own rules. For all their talk of Protestantism being anarchy, they hide the fact that they typically do whatever they want to because their organizations and endeavours are not defined by the very magisterium they claim to speak for.
Norman Geisler Comments on the Caner Saga
05/22/2010 - James WhiteI was informed this afternoon that Dr. Norman Geisler has spoken out on the controversy concerning Ergun Caner's refusal to openly and publicly answer direct, honest questions concerning the documented contradictions in his public pronouncements and claims concerning his past. The material, posted by Peter Lumpkins, is prefaced by Lumpkins' claim that Dr. Geisler invited him to "spread it far and wide." Here is the statement:
To Whom It May Concern:
“I am familiar with the slanderous charges that have been made against Dr. Ergun Caner generated by some Muslim groups and other extremists. I have looked into the matter, talking with Ergun and other principal parties at Liberty, and am convinced that the charges are libelous. I am also convinced that whatever ambiguous or misstatement that may have been made, Dr. Caner has done nothing heretical, immoral, or illegal. I stand with him against these vicious attacks. He has taken a strong stand on important issues that stir up controversy, but to my knowledge has done nothing unorthodox or malicious. I urge all to consider him innocent unless proven guilty. He has welcomed an inquiry from the Liberty authorities. Let’s await their findings. Christians have a bad habit of shooting their wounded. Let’s pray for and encourage our brother.”
Sincerely in Christ,
Dr. Norman L. Geisler
One is immediately struck by the incoherence of the statement. First, we are told Ergun Caner is innocent; then we are told to wait for the findings of the inquiry. We are told asking honest questions of Ergun Caner amounts to a "vicious attack," and that those who have asked these questions are "extremists" guilty of slander and libel, yet, at the same time, we are told that Christians have a bad habit of shooting their wounded. How can we make sense of such contradictory material?
My first thought upon reading the statement was, "If Dr. Geisler has talked to Ergun Caner, and can conclude that directly contradictory statements such as "I was born in Istanbul" and "I was born in Stockholm" are merely "ambiguous" statements, then it is now morally incumbent upon Dr. Geisler, who did not need to involve himself in the matter, to answer the questions that Ergun Caner has so far refused to answer." If he possesses answers to all twenty two questions I posted earlier (click here), then a moral obligation is upon him to provide these answers to the rest of the world, in light of Dr. Caner's refusal to do so. He says he is "convinced" of his conclusions. Wonderful! Now he needs to convince the rest of us.
Of course, there is reason to be worried about the depth of Dr. Geisler's knowledge of the situation. Note the inaccuracy of his first sentence. Mohammad Khan is not a "Muslim group," nor have these "slanderous charges" been generated by anyone other than Ergun Caner. When a speaker produces self-contradictory statements on matters of fact that bear directly upon his self-claimed expertise and then refuses to answer honest questions about why he is contradicting himself, then that person is the source of the problem, not those asking the questions. But we are truly left wondering who these "other extremists" might be. The use of such language as this is highly unwise, given that it only adds to the confusion; it in no way provides clarity.
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Continuation of My Response to Sheikh Awal (Part 2)
05/21/2010 - James White
SB 1070 and the Ad-Hominem Defenders of Canerism
05/21/2010 - James WhiteSB 1070 is "Senate Bill 1070," passed a few weeks ago here in Arizona. I am one of the very small percentage of human beings on the planet who has actually read the entirety of the legislation (it is not, like a certain "health care bill" rushed through Congress a few months ago, thousands of pages long). It only took a few minutes to read it. It is not difficult to understand. It says that if you are stopped by the normal actions of police officers (pulled over for traffic violations, apprehended after a crime, trespassing, etc.) and you cannot produce a driver's license or other official identification (something we are all accustomed to doing), they have the right to inquire as to whether you are legally in the United States or not, and if not, they can begin the legal process leading to deportation.
Now, if I had not read the bill myself, I would never come to the conclusion that SB 1070 says what it says by watching a very wide variety of people on television, from the President of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States (neither of which had taken the time I did to actually read the bill), movie stars, entire sports teams (including the Phoenix Suns, who lost a supporter in yours truly when they injected politics into sport a few weeks ago) etc. and etc. The wild-eyed behavior of people I have observed is simply shocking in its excess, and its ignorance. Not only does California have a similar law on its books already, but the scolding of my home state by the President of Mexico (and the groveling applause he received in so doing) set new records for gross hypocrisy in that Mexico's laws relating to illegal entrance into their country (combined with the massive corruption of the federal government of Mexico) makes Arizona's law look like a rule from the local cookie bake off competition. The talking heads on television who mock the rule of law by adopting a Nazi-esque accent while saying, "Your papers, please!" only shows the utter lack of thought behind the action. How many times do I have to produce identification in my regular life? Every time I get on a plane I have to prove who I am. Every time I check into a hotel, cash a check, file official papers. Goodness, I remember how my parents had to provide my birth certificate just so I could play Little League Baseball back in Pennsylvania in the early 1970s! Nobody dreamed that amounted to "Your papers please!" There is so obviously something else going on in the reaction to SB 1070 that it makes me wonder how any clear-thinking individual cannot see that. On one side calm factuality based upon such basic questions as "Have you actually read the bill?" and on the other side red-faced angry denunciations and constant ad-hominem argumentation in the form of charges of racism, etc.
By the way---I raise this as an illustration. If you are one of those red-faced, emotionally driven folks who have not calmly studied the issues, read the bill, and considered both sides calmly, please, do NOT write to me to argue about it. I haven't the slightest interest, believe me.
It finally hit me this morning what has been so eerily familiar about this situation. It is a tremendous parallel to the prosecution of the defense of Ergun Caner. Think about it. One side calmly points to legal documents that give dates and locations. They point to video tapes where Caner says X, then Caner says not-X. They point out he could not possibly be living in Ohio AND Turkey at the same time. On a biblical level, they provide a biblical basis for the need for integrity and honesty in the pulpit and in Christian leadership. And they continue to ask him to address these issues openly and honestly, always raising the opportunity for forgiveness and redemption upon the appearance of confession and contrition. ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Yesterday on the Dividing Line: Continuation of Response to Sheikh Awal
05/21/2010 - James WhiteJumped right back into my response to Sheikh Awal's opening statement from a debate in 2009. Sam Shamoun called in with some excellent Qur'anic insights halfway through the program, and then we took a phone call on atheism, and finished up with a little more from the debate. I hope to post video later today continuing the Awal response. Here is the program.
A Note to Craig Daliessio
05/20/2010 - James WhiteYesterday I noted some of the comments showing a high level of devotion to a personality (and a low level of concern for the facts of the case) from a particular Facebook page. When I pulled the text I decided to remove the names, as I was not responding to individuals, but making a general observation about a group of people, and I did not wish to appear to be "picking" on any one person (especially since many of them are obviously young folks without a lot of background).
Well, one of those so quoted was a man by the name of Craig Daliessio. Evidently, he did not like the fact that I quoted his publicly posted material, for he just sent me this e-mail (slightly edited):
Message: Listen jack*** if you are going to quote my facebook entry USE MY NAME and quote me in context! I'm nobody with nothing to lose. I don;t have to worry about what the SBC thinks like the gracious Dr. Caner does. My South Philly upbringing and my righteous indignation coupled with my detest for frauds like you would not hinder me in the LEAST from showing up at your next public appearance and sticking a boot in your a****. You sicken me, you harm the body, and you offend the Spirit of the God you claim to serve but are wholly unfamiliar with, except on dusty pages of endless technical theology that you have likely not ONCE seen in real, God-breathed action. Your veil is thin, my arrogant reformer friend. You should sign all your writings "Mrs. Turpin"
There is, of course, no reason to attempt to reason with Mr. Daliessio, given that e-mail, and given what he has written in defense of Dr. Caner on the Facebook page. Nor is it my intention to seek to paint all of Ergun Caner's defenders with such an example of non-Christian thinking and behavior (though, when you join him with the likes of Diana Ruth Penn, Peter Lumpkins, and Tim Guthrie, you really do start seeing a very disturbing pattern of behavior and thinking). My reason for posting his words (aside from letting folks know just what you end up facing if you dare attempt to hold to a standard of godliness and truthfulness in the modern evangelical church) is to ask if anyone knows if Mr. Daliessio is a member of a church. If he is, which one? I would like to get in touch with his elders. As I am an elder in a church, Mr. Deliessio has engaged in sinful behavior with his words and threats, and this should be addressed by mature believers who have the duty of oversight over his soul. If he makes a profession of faith (as he seems to), then he needs serious spiritual correction. If he is not a member of a church, then he needs to hear the gospel and be called to repentance and faith.
I hope this kind of violent anger and hatred will not find a counterpart in all of those who have patiently sought to call Ergun Caner to a position of accountability. There is, of course, no place for such behavior in the Christian faith, period. As redeemed sinners in need of constant grace none of us can be puffed up with pride at the fall of another. That attitude of humility and recognition of redemption must always be present lest our proper zeal for truth and purity in the pulpit become a cover for self-righteousness and pride.
Oh, btw, if you want to understand Mr. Daliessio's final insult, see here.
How to Defeat Calvinism
05/20/2010 - James WhiteI just saw this video (I may have seen it before, hard to remember), but I noticed it has more views than anything I've ever done on YouTube. I find that humorous. Apologies to Erasmus who gets burned instead of Servetus. :-)
"Lord, Lord!" "I Never Knew You!" Matthew 7:21ff from PRBC
05/20/2010 - James White
A Lament for Discernment
05/19/2010 - James WhiteI will admit, I have not taken a lot of the "cult of personality" stuff very seriously over the past number of years, mainly because I am a member of a small church, in a group of churches that really tends to shy away from that kind of thing, at least as it appears in the broader spectrum of evangelicalism. I'm sure we have our own problems, but in general we recognize that the pulpit is a special place, one in which a man is to seek with all his might to be a servant, never, ever to promote himself. It is a serious place of proclamation, of worship. Being Reformed is more than believing five points: it involves the application of those truths to all of life, including worship and the purpose and function of the church.
So seeing the "cult of personality" in action at Liberty and in the broader "Baptist" world has been startling to me, I must admit. The utter lack of discernment or the application of fundamental principles of honesty and integrity has truly been disappointing, at best. I cannot help but think, "Well, if this is what the world sees of those who call themselves Christians on a regular basis, it is no wonder our witness is not taken seriously."
This morning I saw quotes scrolling through our chat channel in support of Ergun Caner. I finally jumped in and asked where they had come from. I was directed to a Facebook page titled "Standin and prayin for Dr. Ergun Caner." As I scanned down the entries the same themes kept coming up over and over again: "Hey, this doesn't really matter, Dr. Caner is a great guy, he loves Jesus, he's a great preacher, I've had a spiritual experience because of him, so all this other stuff doesn't matter, and the people attacking him are all jerks." That was the basic gist of the commentary. There was nothing relevant to the real issues, and, in fact, it seemed like most of those commenting are ignorant of the facts and have only heard second and third-hand reports of what is going on. I did not read all the comments (I did not have time to), but in what I did read I saw no one expressing the slightest concern about the Christian witness to Muslims, the integrity of Liberty Seminary, or the university as a whole, or the sanctity of the pulpit as a place where truth must be supreme in all things. It was a paean to the cult of personality in glowing letters.
Just a few examples in support:
To those concerned about the silence: For the record (and NOT comparing the two other than to make this point), Jesus never defended himself ree: the many accusations, allegations and claims against him either. Dr. Caner and the university are in a "no-win" situation here when it comes to the haters, anything they say or do will be held against them in the court of public opinion. Truth will prevail as it alwasy does... [This seems to be Caner's current theme, fitting into the "persecution" theme---Jesus didn't respond, so I won't either! Of course, Jesus was sinless and the Son of God. Ergun Caner is neither, and Christian leaders have particular standards laid out in Scripture to which they are to be held accountable.] ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Today on the DL: A Response to Sheikh Awal (Part 1)
05/18/2010 - James WhiteToday on the DL I took a call at the start and then moved into providing a response to the opening statement of Sheikh Awal from a debate from 2009. Here is the program.
Once Again, No, No, and Again, No
05/18/2010 - James WhiteJust read this:
So, did a fight over Calvinism lead to the questions about Caner’s background? That certainly seems to be a possibility. A fascinating one, too, although if Caner truly has fabricated his background, his theological leanings may not make a lot of difference at this point.
The article is referring to the comment in this source hinting that a conflict over Calvinism is behind the questions aimed at Ergun Caner. This canard has been raised many times (part of the feeble defense offered of Caner by some). Let me put this to bed once and for all.
Is there a relationship between Calvinism and Caner's exposure as a myth-maker? Sure---in the sense that I had never heard of Ergun Caner until he posted what he did on Calvinism back in 2005, which led to the exchanges we had, and eventually to the Liberty Debate Debacle. So, if that amounts to Calvinism having "something to do with it," great. But the reality is (documented, ironically and unwittingly, I think, by one of my critics of late) from the time the dust from the Liberty debacle settled in late 2006/early 2007, until last Fall (2009), I paid almost no attention to Ergun Caner at all. It had not entered my thinking back then that Caner was making things up about his past. In fact, I assumed his rabid Arminianism was due to a misplaced connection between the Islamic concept of qadr and Reformed theology arising from his Muslim background. In any case, the idea that I would have let a "Reformed" myth-maker slide but am now picking on an Arminian one is simply silly.
One other note (as I wait for the video of a portion of today's DL to finish rendering so I can start uploading it and get the DL blogged at the same time). I was sent a "sermon" from January 17, 2010, called "Rip the Roof Off." It was another "30 minutes of story telling, 5 minutes on the text" type sermon, but this time there was a twist. This time Ergun said he was converted in a black church. Yes, you read that right, a black church. Now, think for a moment on the description of the pastor of the Stelzer Road Baptist Church that he's given in other contexts, and ask yourself, did it ever occur to you he was talking about a black church? Me either. Of course, that was just a few days before Ergun appeared on the Calvary Chapel program that led me to post this video, which was the immediate precursor to my discovery of his Shabir Ally fable, and, well, the rest is now history, as they say. I doubt we will be hearing too many more whopper-filled "sermons" like that in the future.
The All-Encompassing God
05/18/2010 - Tur8infanI have already adduced several proofs of Jesus' divinity, but I will add to them. One of God's many attributes is that he is all-encompassing. Scripture puts it this way:
Isaiah 41:4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.
Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Isaiah 48:12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.
Jesus is also identified by this same description. We find this in several places, both directly and also in a parallel Greek expression.
Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
Revelation 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
Revelation 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
Revelation 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Revelation 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
I realize that modern versions shorten the expression in Revelation 1:8 and omit the relevant expression in Revelation 1:11, but they have the others. My point here is not to criticize the modern versions but to simply note that both the KJV and the modern versions contain this same proof.
The connection to Jesus is fairly clear. The passage leading up Revelation 1:17 states:
And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
He is the one addressing John and instructing him to write to the seven churches (which includes the item at Revelation 2:8).
An additional clue is that the book is the Revelation (note that it is singular) of Jesus Christ.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Similarly, in Revelation the speaker is described in this context:
Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Rev 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
The reference to the fact that Jesus is the enthroned one would be enough, perhaps, but notice that there is also a reference back to the water of life, which Jesus described this way:
John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
We see this water of life again in the final reference in Revelation:
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Praise be to the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, even the Lord Jesus Christ,
Jerald Dirks, the Deen Show, and the Prologue of John
05/17/2010 - James White
(Fixed the audio: YouTube and iMovie HD do not like each other, evidently, so I have to take a second very time consuming step to fix the problem. Hopefully this upload will work!)
This Wednesday: R.C. Sproul will be on Iron Sharpens Iron
05/17/2010 - James SwanOn Wednesday May 19, R.C. Sproul will be on the Iron Sharpens Iron radio program. Dr. Sproul will discuss Tough Questions Christians Face (the theme of Ligonier Ministries' 2010 National Conference).
Iron Sharpens Iron is a live broadcast airing daily 6 to 7 P.M. (Eastern Standard time) on WNYG 1440 AM in the New York City area. You can listen live to WNYG here over the Internet. Tune in at 6 P.M. to hear Chris Arnzen interview Dr. Sproul.
You can also call in to Iron Sharpens Iron with your own questions during the first half-hour of Dr. Sproul's interview (6 - 6:30 pm) at (631)482-8300.
If you miss the live broadcast, a free archived mp3 recording will be available shortly after the broadcast at sharpens.org. Free mp3's of previous Iron Sharpens Iron show are also available, many with Dr. James White.
2002 AP Article Unearthed
05/17/2010 - James WhiteMany thanks to WMG who sent me the AP article from 2002 that, it seems, yesterday's AP article referred to in regards to Ergun Caner's honest communication of his story (minus the embellishments that have accrued since then). The sad thing here is, this is a touching and powerful story, which has now been forever marred by the attraction of power and prestige. May we learn the lesson...again.
Convert brothers take heat for message that Islam is hardly a peaceful faith
BYLINE: By ALLEN G. BREED, Associated Press Writer
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 1408 words
Ergun and Emir Caner sat in the cavernous domed stadium with hundreds of other preachers in St. Louis and listened intently as the Rev. Jerry Vines thundered about the difference between Christianity and Islam.
"Islam was founded by Muhammad, a demon-posessed pedophile who had 12 wives - and his last one was a 9-year-old girl," the Florida minister shouted to attendees at the pastors conference of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"And I will tell you Allah is not Jehovah either. Jehovah's not going to turn you into a terrorist that'll try to bomb people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people."
When angry Muslims confronted the former SBC president about his remarks last month, Vines said he was merely citing their own texts - as quoted in the Caner brothers' book, "Unveiling Islam."
The Caners intended the book as a tool for Christians seeking to reach out to Muslims. Instead, the brothers, who converted to Christianity as teen-agers, have been vilified by many prominent Islamic groups as hostile, sick and hateful. In recent weeks, they received what Emir considers threatening inquiries from overseas.
"Our whole purpose was an act of love," says Ergun Caner, a Southern Baptist minister and theology professor at The Criswell College in Dallas. "Because I WANT to see Muslims in heaven with me."
But this was not the first time the Caners had been condemned for their religious beliefs. Two decades ago, their devotion to the "Son" cost them their father.
When the Caner boys came into the world, their Turkish-born father, Acar, the man who called the faithful to prayer at the mosque, whispered in their ears the words they were to live by: "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah."
But they were living in Columbus, Ohio, far from Acar's Sunni Muslim origins. After their parents separated, others were soon whispering in the Caner boys' ears.
Ergun Caner, the oldest of Acar's three boys, was the first to convert. He was 15 when he accepted a friend's invitation to a weeklong church revival.
To him, his relationship with Allah was impersonal, ritualistic. The message he got at Stelzer Baptist Church was something completely different.
"Christ died for man. That was one thing for me to hear. It was quite another thing for me to hear that Christ died for me. Ha. Then it becomes personal," says Ergun, now 35. "I thought this was good news for all Muslims."
Instead of welcoming the news, Acar Caner told his son he no longer wanted to see him. When younger brothers Emir and Erdem (who now goes by Mark) went for visitation with their father, there was no talk of Ergun; their elder brother's face had been cut from family photographs.
Despite that, the two younger brothers soon followed Ergun's path, with the same results.
While still in their teens, Emir and Ergun said they were called to the ministry.
Both studied at Criswell, where they met Paige Patterson, a driving force in the nation's largest Protestant denomination. When Patterson moved to Wake Forest, N.C., to take over Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Caners followed him.
The two earned master's degrees from Southeastern, then went on to receive doctorates. They had no contact at all with their father until August 1999, when they learned he was dying of cancer.
The three brothers rushed home, not knowing whether their father would let them in. At the urging of his wife, Acar agreed to see his sons.
Ergun, who was pastoring a church in Colorado, laid his 4-month-old son, Braxton, in his father's arms, a tradition from Acar's homeland. He introduced Acar to his wife, a "Southern belle from North Carolina."
As he watched his "earthly hero" waste away, Emir knew Acar would die as he had lived, a devout Muslim. And according to the son's reading of Scripture, Acar would not be waiting for him in heaven.
Acar died four days later, on Emir's 29th birthday.
"That was, for me, a clarion moment," says Ergun, a bear of a man with shaved head and jutting goatee. That is when their mission came into "sharp focus."
No Turkey. No Jihad. No Dukes of Hazzard, broken English, Islamic garb, prayers in bathrooms. Sons of a broken family with a Muslim father in Ohio, redeemed and saved. It was a great story. Sadly, Ergun's theology was not sufficient to allow him to remain faithful to it. He had to embellish, expand, mythologize. Theology matters.
Associated Press Story Posted
05/17/2010 - James WhiteAs soon as I got into my car after spending over five hours on Mt. Lemmon outside of Tucson last Wednesday, I got a call requesting me to speak with an AP reporter on the Caner saga. So as I was driving across Tucson (note to Tucson: you really, really need an East/West corridor aka freeway. Really) I was on the phone with the reporter. Anyway, a friend in the car commented as soon as the phone call was finished, "All of that will end up as two sentences in the story." And, as you can see, that observation was spot on.
Most interesting item in this story? This paragraph:
He told The Associated Press in 2002 that he was born in Sweden to a Turkish father and Swedish mother, who brought the family to Ohio in 1969, when he was about 3 years old. He said he accepted Christ as a teenager at a Baptist church in Columbus, and then pursued ministry, getting a degree from Criswell College, a Baptist school in Dallas.
I would love to see a link to this material, personally. If that is the case, then isn't it ironic that the very conclusions we have come to in our inquiry into Caner's past is what he said to the AP in 2002? And doesn't this provide final and absolute evidence that all of his claims since then about Turkey, moving his arrival in the US back so he can become a jihad-trained Muslim from Turkey, etc., are false? I mean, if Ergun Caner isn't a good enough source for documentation on Ergun Caner, what, pray tell, would be?
Meanwhile, Tom Chantry has provided another pastorally relevant exhortation based upon this situation. I appreciate Pastor Chantry's contributions, since he is working hard at making something good come out of what is otherwise a very troubling and at times very nasty situation.
Finally, Hussein Wario continues on his crusade to major on the minors and tilt at the proverbial windmills. He still thinks it is just fine for Muslims to pray in bathrooms, despite the fact that the reality is they are prohibited from doing so by direct statement from the prophet. As I noted in an earlier blog entry:
The Hadith of Al-Tirmidhi, 242, reads: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) prohibited the observance of prayers in seven places: on a dung hill, in a slaughterhouse, in a graveyard, in the middle of the road, in a bathroom, in the watering place where camels drink and sit, and upon the roof of the House of Allah. Likewise, we read in Fiqh-us-Sunnah 4.53a, "...they cite the Prophet's hadith: "The entire earth is a mosque except for a graveyard and a bathroom."
Now, as I pointed out on the DL, Caner made his comments about praying in the school bathroom not by way of demonstrating his ignorance of Islamic law, nor by way of admitting he was ashamed to be a Muslim, or afraid for his life (the only reasons anyone has come up with for offering salah in a bathroom), but in the exact opposite context: he was asserting how devout he was, not how ignorant he was. So why do prayers in a bathroom? Why not out on the front lawn of the Gahanna Lincoln High School, in full Islamic garb? But this kind of reasoning is lost on Mr. Hussein, who seems to feel that if any Muslim has ever offered salah in a bathroom, then Ergun Caner must have, too! It is this kind of reasoning that prompted me to warn our brother earlier, "You have completely lost your balance, brother. You are becoming a spectacle along with EC. Consider your ways."
And Finally...the Yearbook Pictures
05/15/2010 - James WhiteI knew a few folks were working on this, but just now TurretinFan posted the results of his examination of the yearbooks from Gahanna Lincoln High School, 1981-1984. Click here for photos and documentation. As one would expect, Ergun Caner looks like any other kid who grew up in Ohio in the 1970s and early 1980s. In fact, he and I looked a lot alike even back then, oddly enough. Then again, big glasses and lots of hair...anyway. I should track down my high school yearbooks and post a few pictures just to be fair. In any case, no, you will not find any pictures of Ergun Caner in Muslim garb. You will find him dressed like any other regular high school kid of the day, which makes sense. We now know, from court records, that he grew up in middle America, son of a divorced family, sadly, but just as much an American kid as anyone else. Yes, I'm sure his dad spoke to him about the scales, as I said in the previous post, but the Ergun Caner of history and the Ergun Caner presented by the current President of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary who grew up in Turkey thinking Christians hated him are two very different people. One of them existed, and we can prove it. The other, sadly, only seems to exist any longer in the mind of one lonely man in Lynchburg. Let us pray he will drop the pretense and confess the truth.
A Comparison, and Two Appeals
05/15/2010 - James WhiteI ask that our regular readers work through this short piece, especially those of you who are tired of a particular subject. I wish to make an appeal to you.
I mentioned yesterday that the "nastiness" level spiked. Ironically, the very people who have been screaming about how wrong it is for Christians to "cooperate" with Muslims are---themselves repeating Muslim charges now (without, of course, checking the facts, something that marks Caner supporters pretty regularly). At the same time, I have been getting a lot of contact now from within Liberty. While it is fascinating (and sad), and I appreciate those who have reached out to me, I really wasn't looking to learn this stuff. I guess it comes with the stand I've taken. In any case, as you run across the wild-eyed material coming from the desperate defenders of the Caner regime, compare it with what has been actually presented here and elsewhere in reference to our examination of Ergun Caner's claims. TurretinFan just posted another excellent example. Contrast the thoroughness of the documentation, the fairness of the analysis, the concern for factuality, with the emotionally-driven conspiracy theories you will find being tossed around in hopes of quieting the voices calling for Ergun Caner to openly answer the questions that have been put to him for the sake of the gospel. Fair minded people realize that many of us have bent over backwards, seeking to keep this focused upon the issues of integrity and ministry. Sadly, it seems those who do not believe such questions should be asked have no problems getting very personal in their desperation.
I would like to make an appeal to those of you who are sick and tired of this situation: first, I am far more sick and tired of it than you are, I assure you. I would like nothing more than to have it over tomorrow. But you have not read the e-mails I have received from people thanking me for taking a stand, encouraging me to see it through. We live in a microwave society where people get "tired" of topics very quickly. I think Liberty has been banking on the short attention span of most folks all along, hoping this would just die down on its own. Commitment to truthfulness for the sake of the gospel, however, cannot be a short-termed thing. It has to have some staying power. I cannot, and have not, allowed this to become something that is all-consuming. I respond when need be, link when need be, but I am very focused on other things (right now, the Qur'an and my two Islamic debate opponents in June). And so I appeal to those of you have have expressed a desire to "move on." Please be patient. This is not a matter of Baptist politics (though oh my, the world of Baptist politics is just as thick and nasty as anything in Washington or London). It is not merely an American thing, either. I realize we have readers from all over the world. I appeal to you not only for patience, but to once again understand that part of my motivation here is to provide much needed correction to the concept that Christians have one standard when speaking to Muslims ("You must listen to the truth, you must examine Mohammad, you must consider the problems with the Qur'an!) and another internally ("Go ahead and let leaders lie about their backgrounds, especially when it helps to convert those Muslims!").
Which brings me to the second appeal. I wish to appeal to Ergun Caner. Dr. Caner, you know the truth of this situation. You know you have made up a life you never lived, all to enhance your appeal to audiences. You know you were making things up on the fly when you claimed to debate Shabir Ally and Abdul Saleeb---Arabic sounding names that you thought no one would challenge you on. You know you have claimed Arabic as your first language, when you know your mother tongue was Swedish. You know you have been living a fantasy in all these areas. But you say you were converted to Jesus in high school, evidently sometime in your late sophomore or early junior year. You say you feared the scales, and rightly so (Surah 21:47), and found redemption in Christ. Then I appeal to you, sir, on the basis of that profession of faith, to do what is right for the Kingdom and end this controversy right now. Answer, openly and honestly, the twenty-two questions I have posted that simply must be answered. I extend an open invitation to you to appear on The Dividing Line, where you will be treated fairly and respectfully, to offer your explanations. If not, then I ask you to publish, in full, your replies on your website, or on Liberty's. Explain how these claims arose, give us what was motivating you, and seek the forgiveness of all those involved. For the sake of the gospel, sir, apologize to the Muslim people, not for the truthful things you have said, but for the untruths you have packed around them for show and effect. Apologize to Liberty, and more importantly, to the students, who have looked to you for guidance and leadership. Confess that your words have been better than your actions, especially when you said to them:
"It's hard enough starting college. But if you came here hoping you could switch around and change and make yourself into something you ain't, it will kill you. Because number one, it's inauthentic. And number two, you can only maintain a facade as long as everything is calm and cool. But when turbulence comes, the facade shakes and cracks, and people see what's beneath it. And number three, hypocrisy never reached one person."
Seek the forgiveness of the broader evangelical community in that your actions have demeaned the conversion stories of anyone who had just a "plain old testimony." I cannot say what the Liberty leadership would do in such a situation, but I know it is the only right thing to do. I appeal to you, sir, for the sake of the gospel, to end this now. It is in your power. If you continue to hide behind such excuses as "I don't have any idea why I said I debated Shabir Ally," and "It's just a conspiracy of Muslims and Christians to get me!" you will needlessly drag this on all to the damage of Liberty and the cause of the gospel. I appeal to you to do the right thing, now, not after the investigation. May God grant you insight and grace.
It Isn't About Liberty Per Se
05/14/2010 - James WhiteI am uncertain how many times I've said this, but I'll say it again: there are lots of fine professors, scholars, and students, at Liberty University. Lots of godly men and women, lots of dedicated students. Even a lot of Calvinists, believe it or not (who, in God's sovereign providence, are learning patience the hard way). So I found it ironic that we were sent the following note through our website:
I need to express that my heart aches over this attack on Dr. Caner. What must the Lord Jesus Christ think when He sees one brother attacking another as you are doing. How Christlike is this? How Loving is this? I was raised in the Reformed faith, but recently left a PCA church over issues similar to this--a total lack of love and caring about a brother. I am convinced that the Lord weeps when he sees this nonsense happening. I am tired of Reformed Theology and it's THINKERS that constantly put down those who have different views. I am tired of Reformed pastors who drink alcohol like fish and claim they can witness to those they drink cocktails with. I am now convinced even more that those of you involved in Reformed Theology need to throw your philosophical ideas about scripture to the wolves and do as the Bible commands. Go into the world, preach the gospel, and love the lost. Have you ever gone to Liberty University and seen over 10,000 students worship the Lord Jesus, who help in the community, and who love the Lord and simply want to live for Him??? I challenge you to do so. Then go to some of your REFORMED colleges and see what is going on. Look at the liberal lifestyles going on, there is nothing out there that can TOUCH what is going on at Liberty. Please, LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
It is hard to know how to respond to such a note. I mean, Liberty is not the issue (outside of its current leadership having demonstrated an ostrich-like response to the initial documentation of problems with Ergun Caner's story and claims and behavior). And Reformed theology has never, ever been the issue (many dishonest folks are making that claim on the net these days---it is as bogus today as the first time someone thought it up). Nor is it alcohol (can't stand the stuff myself, but I'm not going to add to the Word and go beyond what it says by adding legalism to the faith either). Nor is it some strange, emotional appeal to some supposed superiority of morals at non-Reformed schools (an assertion so easily challenged it is humorous). The issue is truth, honesty, and integrity. The issue is whether Evangelicals will allow their leaders to make up stories in the pulpit and pawn them off upon unsuspecting people as if they are the truth. The issue is whether we will exalt men to positions of leadership without the first thought as to whether their stories are true. Love may cover a multitude of sins, but love never foregoes repentance. To every single person who has identified the demand that Ergun Caner answer honest questions about his own self-contradictory statements as an "attack" upon him, you have fallen for the same kind of weak-minded drivel that marks the political process in the West today.
The nastiness level spiked today, I note. "Pastors" (primarily Baptists, of course) have been busily concocting every kind of slanderous diatribe in a desperate attempt to deflect attention from the real issues. It's sad to watch, knowing that a day is coming when the intentions of men's hearts will be laid bare. But it has also been interesting to hear more and more from "inside" Liberty. The news has gotten out, and when any honest-minded person examines the facts, the conclusions are inescapable. There are lots of sharp students at Liberty, many who have been wondering for years about Caner's behavior and the inconsistencies in his stories. Now they know why.
One of the most humorous items I've heard of late is this one: the reason I've raised these issues is because I want to get famous enough for someone like Christopher Hitchens to want to debate me. Believe it or not, that has been suggested by someone at Liberty. First, it takes incredible hubris to think that Christopher Hitchens could really care less who Ergun Caner is, let alone think that someone raising issues about Ergun Caner's own self-contradictory claims would automatically become someone Hitchens would want to debate. But I have a further question for the person who thought this one up: aside from the documentable fact that after the debate stuff in late 2006 died down I mentioned Caner all of once from June of 2007 to June of 2009--one sentence in passing--could someone explain how I managed to debate Bart Ehrman, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, John Shelby Spong, Robert Price, and Shabir Ally? Who did I "attack" to get "famous enough" for those folks to "notice" me? That one made me chuckle, which, given the nastiness of much of what is flying about today, was welcome relief.
Hussein Wario and the Cultural Chasm
05/14/2010 - James WhiteHussein Wario is a former Muslim. He has decided to take up not so much a defense of the Caners (he has, so far, only defended minor points---he has so far mainly ignored the legal documentation that has been provided and the issues that data raises) but to use the "attack the messenger" methodology of argumentation. In the process I am really, really hoping that we are seeing a good and educational example of the "cultural chasm." Mr. Wario is not a Westerner in outlook. Sometimes this leads to not only linguistic, but logical problems. Let's look at how this plays out. ...
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Sheikh Awal on Nicea and Manuscripts, Calls, Updates
05/13/2010 - James WhiteToday on the DL I started off by playing some clips from a debate featuring Sheikh Awal, one of my opponents in Dearborn next month. I went over his claim that portions of the NT were written by Constantine at Nicea, and his claim that the great uncial manuscripts, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus, were written in the twelfth century! This kind of amazing claim will not go over well when we debate in June, to be sure. Then we took a call on the meaning of "purchased" in some texts of the Old Testament, and then looked at what makes someone an "expert" in Islam (and it isn't being converted at age 12). Here is the program.
And On to the Next Debate...
05/13/2010 - James WhiteSo that is yours truly yesterday morning on the 26 mile ride to the top of Mt. Lemmon outside of Tucson, Arizona. I had been planning this since last fall when I rode up (but not back down) Mt. Lemmon. Some good friends from Tucson accompanied me (via car) and took some shots (I posted one of the shots from the descent on Twitter this morning). So what does a picture of a brightly clad old cyclist on a desert mountain at the beginning of a 52.41 mile ride (climbing 6,711 feet) have to do with the next debate? Because, I am studying for it in that picture. OK, I know, you can't see the iPod Nano or the bluetooth headphones, but they are there. I was listening to a debate with Sheikh Awal as I headed up (no use even trying to listen to something coming down! Wind noise at 25-35mph makes that impossible), and I will be playing some portions of that on the DL this afternoon. Listen in! (photo: WL)
Today on the DL: Debate Report, Jennifer Knapp, Liberty's Inquiry
05/11/2010 - James WhiteThe first half of our program today comprised a debate report from Clearwater, going over my recollections of the key issues in the discussion with Dr. Robert Price. After the break I briefly commented on the Jennifer Knapp situation, hoping to have the opportunity to produce a video going over her errant biblical claims later this week. Then we went over Liberty's finally, and only under pressure from the world, getting around to doing an inquiry into Caner's many claims. Also played some clips from Emir Caner that are interesting, in light of the Ergun situation (such as his assertion that the name of Jesus appears 93 times in the Qur'an---it doesn't, the correct number is 25). Here is the program.
An Open Letter to Dr. Falwell and Dr. Godwin
05/10/2010 - James WhiteAn Open Letter to Dr. Jerry Falwell Jr. and Dr. Ron Godwin, Liberty University
In February of 2010 I contacted Dr. Ergun Caner to ask him to please explain inconsistencies in his publicly made statements regarding his debates with Islamic leaders, specifically, in reference to his (at least) twice made claim that he had debated Sheikh Shabir Ally. I had been provided with two audio clips of Dr. Ergun Caner making this claim by Mohammad Khan, a Muslim in London. In one of the public speaking situations Caner even said he debated Shabir Ally in Nebraska. As I was at the time traveling to London to debate Abdullah al-Andalusi at Trinity Road Chapel, I had to wait until I arrived to listen to the audio clips. As soon as I verified that indeed Dr. Caner had made these claims, I contacted Shabir Ally personally, as he and I have debated in both the United States and the United Kingdom. He informed me that he had never debated Ergun Caner, and, in fact, had never, to his recollection, even met him. With this information I wrote directly to Ergun Caner personally. He identified the issue as one of “misspeaking.” So I asked the most logical question I could in light of this claim: if he had just misspoken (twice), then who was it, in fact, that he was debating in Nebraska? Dr. Caner did not give me a response to this request for information: he instead directed me to the “not really an apology” he posted, briefly, on February 25, 2010. This “apology,” which admitted he had never debated a particular un-named Islamic apologist, was removed from his website a matter of days after it was originally posted.
This incident led to further revelations of simple untruths in the public statements of Ergun Caner regarding his past, who he has allegedly debated, his knowledge of Islam, etc. I had begun making inquiries into Dr. Caner’s alleged “debates” about which he spoke frequently as long ago as 2006. At that time he said they were mainly in colleges and were not recorded. I had found that odd, but at the time had not dreamed that there was any issue relating to the entirety of Ergun Caner’s claims relating to Islam. But in October of 2009, as I was sitting in the Denver airport between flights, I noted the claim on Ergun Caner’s Twitter page that he had debated Islamic leaders (and other leaders of various religious groups) in eleven countries and forty states. This caused me to put out a call on Twitter, and on my blog, asking for help in finding these many debates. That is when I encountered Mohammad Khan’s videos and related materials, all calling into question Dr. Caner’s story.
After the Shabir Ally incident others began to get involved in digging for information. As I listened to more and more of Ergun Caner’s public talks, I became more amazed at what I was hearing. As a student of Islam myself, having debated numerous Islamic apologists in the US, the UK, and recently in Australia, I found his statements very troubling. He would confuse basic Arabic phrases and Islamic concepts. He claimed Ramadan was 40 days long (it is a lunar month); he confused the Shahada and the beginning of Surat al-Fatiha, both Arabic phrases every practicing Muslim would repeat often during the daily prayers (which Caner claimed to have engaged in all the way up to the time of his conversion in high school). Both he and his brother, in their published works, made reference to the Islamic belief that apostates should be executed by referring to “Hadith 9:57.” Anyone who actually works in the field of Islamic apologetics and research knows this is not a valid reference, similar to my saying something like, “You will find that in Bible 3:16.” The Hadith collections have specific names, hence, the correct reference would be “Sahih al-Bukhari 9:57.” No one could find “Hadith 9:57.” How would the Caners, who claim to be experts in Islam, not know this?
Then the chronology issues began to arise. Ergun Caner’s life story is a mass of self-contradiction. His stories strike one as being made up on the fly for the exigencies of the situation, the desires of the audience he is seeking to impress. On the one hand he often mentioned that Emir, his brother, could be President, while he could not, because Emir was born in the United States. But at the same time he claimed to come to the United States in 1978, or 1979, depending on which talk you listen to. But Emir is only four years younger than Ergun, so, that would be impossible. This aspect was particularly troubling, because Ergun would often make this a part of his gospel appeal, claiming he had come here as a young Muslim trained in jihad, a teenager who had always lived in “majority Muslim countries” who thought “you hated me.” He has claimed his English was broken when he came to know Christ, having learned what little English he knew watching the Dukes of Hazzard (a program that did not even air until 1979). He claimed to live in Ankara, Turkey, and then on the border of Turkey and Iraq, and that he came here “via Beirut and Cairo.” He claimed to have trained in the madrassa. He has claimed to know Arabic, and to read the Qur’an. But the reality, as seen in the court documents that have been obtained, is that Ergun was in Ohio at 2.5 to three years of age; while still young a court order was filed that precluded leaving the United States. How would his English be “broken” at his conversion if he was raised in the US educational system?
Gentlemen, there are a large number of direct questions Ergun Caner must answer. Nothing but open and clear explanations, not excuses, will do. I strongly suggest that you ask the following questions of Ergun Caner, and then publish, openly, the responses, for all of these questions flow from his public pronouncements.
1) When did Ergun Caner live in Turkey? Dates, locations, must be provided.
2) What madrassa did he train at in jihad? Where was he a member of the Youth Jihad? When? For how long?
3) Why has he claimed in public to have been born in Istanbul, Turkey, when he was born in Stockholm, Sweden?
4) Why does he claim to be 100% Turkish when his mother is Swedish?
5) Why has he plainly implied he could speak Arabic (in response to the Islamic claim that unless you can read the Qur’an you cannot criticize it) when his mother tongue is Swedish, and he cannot, in fact, read or speak Arabic?
6) How does he explain his presence in Ohio by at the very latest age four, and possibly as early as 2 and a half, as indicated by legal documents?
7) How does he explain his claim to have always lived in Muslim majority countries before coming to the United States? Sweden is not today, and surely was not in 1969, a majority Muslim nation.
8) How does he explain his often published claim to have come to the United States in 1978 or 1979? How can this be seen as anything other than a purposeful distortion necessary for his “I came as a jihadist from Turkey” rather than “I came as a son of a Muslim father and a Swedish mother to Ohio as a small child” persona?
9) Can Ergun Caner prove he was a devout, active Muslim in high school? One that even wore traditional Islamic garb (though that is unusual in Turkey)? Does he have evidence of this in the form of pictures? Some of us have seen pictures of Ergun in his high school yearbook, and none of them show him wearing Islamic dress.
10) Dr. Caner claims in some of his talks that he learned English in Brooklyn. When did he live in Brooklyn, rather than Ohio?
11) How does Dr. Caner explain the fact that he claims to have done his prayers in the bathroom in high school, though that would be highly unusual and in fact either the act of an ignorant Muslim or one in fear of his life?
12) Why did Ergun Caner say Ramadan was forty days long when in fact it is a lunar month in length? If he had ever fasted during Ramadan I can assure you he would know the difference.
13) Why did Ergun Caner on video confuse the Shahada with the opening words of Surat al-Fatiha? Given that both are part of the Islamic prayers, and would have been repeated thousands of times during his youth as a devout Muslim, how could he be confused about such a basic thing?
14) Emir Caner says their mother became a “hippy” upon coming to the United States. Yet Ergun says she wore Islamic clothing until he baptized her. Which is true?
15) Dr. Caner often uses derogatory terms like “towel head” and “sand nigger” of himself, excusing these racial slurs because he claims to be of these ethnic groups. Yet, these are slurs mainly of Arabic people, not of Turkish people; and beyond this, he is only half Turkish, as his mother is Swedish. So why does he engage in this behavior?
16) Dr. Caner has repeatedly said “his family” disowned him upon his conversion. Yet, court records indicate he lived with his mother as custodial parent, not his father; and Emir says that while his father did disown his sons who converted, their mother was basically ambivalent, as she was no longer a Muslim anyway. Is having your non-custodial parent, who has remarried, disown you identical to being disowned by your (entire) family?
17) Dr. Caner has claimed to engage in more than sixty Muslim debates. Where is the evidence of these debates? Who has he debated? What are their names? When did the debates take place?
18) Dr. Caner claimed to have debated Shabir Ally in Nebraska. Caner admitted in February, 2010, that he never debated Shabir Ally. Who, then, did he debate in Nebraska? When? On what topic?
19) Dr. Caner claimed to debate Abdul Saleeb. Abdul Saleeb means “servant of the cross.” So why did he claim to debate a Christian along with Shabir Ally? Was he simply putting Arabic-sounding names together in a line as a means of impressing his audience?
20) Ergun Caner has often, in talks, and in print, referred to “Hadith 9:57.” Since any meaningful citation of the hadith literature requires the use of the name of the actual collection (in this case, Sahih al-Bukhari), does this not show a fundamental ignorance of the most basic elements of scholarly inquiry into Islamic studies on Ergun Caner’s part?
21) Ergun Caner holds a Th.D. in Theology. Why has he often changed the degree to a Ph.D.?
22) Dr. Caner heads up the Global Apologetics program. His claim to have engaged leaders of numerous religions in debate in many foreign countries and all across the United States is directly related to his recruiting of students. Why should his false claims about his past, and his apologetic work, not be considered false advertising and fraudulent?
Gentlemen, I believe nothing less than an open and public explanation of these issues is necessary. If Dr. Caner has meaningful, fair, honest explanations for all of these issues, we will gladly hear them. If he does not, we hope for his confession and apology. Given that the world is now watching (not only the secular world, but the Islamic world as well), nothing less than a full Christian commitment to truth is in order. It is not the “Christian blogosphere” that awaits your report, but the church in general. Thank you.
In His service,
Alpha and Omega Ministries
Update: Gene Clyatt has provided an excellent summary of the issues surrounding the Caner saga here.
News Out of Liberty
05/10/2010 - James WhiteCommittee formed to investigate Caner statements
May 10, 2010 : University Advancement staff
Liberty University’s Provost Dr. Ron Godwin is forming a committee to investigate a series of accusations against Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.
The allegations have questioned public statements Caner has made regarding the details of his personal life story.
Godwin is forming a committee to conduct an official inquiry with a goal of issuing its conclusions by the end of June.
Following inquiries from several members of the mainstream media, Liberty decided to initiate its own investigation.
“In light of the fact that several newspapers have raised questions, we felt it necessary to initiate a formal inquiry,” Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. said.
05/10/2010 - James WhiteJust a few quick notes, as the day after long trips that end very, very long weeks of ministry including debates are normally spent catching up on life. Yes, tomorrow I will go over the Price debate in more detail. Here's a picture of us at the "book signing table" after the debate. Note that he is wearing the tie I gave him during my closing statement (a rather striking tie, I must admit, with the text of 1 Cor 15:3-11 from Codex Sinaiticus on the front in a nice blue/white reversed form). He had pulled his tie off and put mine on, as did Hank Hanegraaff. I think I'm about to sign a copy of The God Who Justifies judging by the size of the book. Once again, I think Dr. Price was amazed at how kindly he was treated by all, and most especially by the fact that I debated his views, not someone else's. He has often debated where folks had not read his books, listened to his presentations (believe me, I know that feeling), so I think he took it as a sign of respect that I invested so much time and energy in my own preparations. That made the evening go quite well.
I saw another article on the Caner situation, one that was rather balanced and fair. I likewise hear that some of the flat-earthers/9-11 Truthers/Ergun Caner hasn't lied about his past folks (all seem to live in the same make-believe world) are trying to make it sound like the ONLY criticism of Caner is the claim (made by Muslims primarily) that Caner was never a Muslim of any sort. The depths to which some will go is truly amazing. In any case, I listened to a talk by Emir Caner at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and I may play some clips of that. He made some basic errors regarding Islam that trouble me, and if we have time, I may get to those as well.
Finally, we still need your help to cover all the costs of the summer debates (two in Dearborn, and the late August one with Christopher Hitchens). I have placed a few more items on the Ministry Resource List as well (specifically, the Teaching Company version of a class by Bart Ehrman I want to respond to on YouTube). Few things are more encouraging than to see those items on the MRL disappear, I assure you.
The Great Debate Series
05/10/2010 - Micah Burke
The Great Debate Series
June 18th - 21st
The Center for Religious Debate
11338 Ozga Road, Romulus MI 48174
$8 Each, $5 Student - For each debate
$15 Each, $10 Student - For All Debates
Note: Debates are subject to changes and cancellations. ...
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The Heart-Knowing God
05/08/2010 - Tur8infanOne of the unique characteristics of the LORD God is his ability to know the heart of man. Others may have some remarkable insights into human psychology. Nevertheless, God alone knows the heart. We see this taught in the Old Testament:
1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
1 Chronicles 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
Proverbs 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
Jesus is shown to be God in this way, for Jesus knew the thoughts and heart of men.
Luke 6:8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
Matthew 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?
One of the most poignant testimonies to Jesus' knowledge of the heart is seen in Jesus' admonishing to Simon Peter (notice that Jesus is still calling him "Simon, son of Jonas" after Matthew 16 ... the name Peter is a surname, not a change of name):
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?"Notice that Peter is attributing omniscience to Jesus, but particularly Peter is attributing to Jesus a knowledge of Peter's own heart. We see the same thing in the Apostles' prayer to Jesus about replacing Judas.
He saith unto him, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee."
He saith unto him, "Feed my lambs." He saith to him again the second time, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"
He saith unto him, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee."
He saith unto him, "Feed my sheep. " He saith unto him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"
Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, "Lovest thou me?" And he said unto him, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee."
Jesus saith unto him, "Feed my sheep."
And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
In case there is any question that the "Lord" here is Jesus, consider the preceding verses:
Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
And for the connection between Jesus being Lord and Jesus being the Lord God, consider the basis upon which the apostles prayed over the casting of lots.
Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.
Finally, perhaps we should conclude with a quotation from Jeremiah that brings us back to the point of the post:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
This too connects us back to Jesus:
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
There's an additional link back to the prophets here:
Isaiah 62:11 Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
Perhaps you'll say that the salvation who comes is Jesus, but this verse doesn't specifically say that the salvation is God. That argument has been anticipated:
Isaiah 40:10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
Even so, let us praise our God with the words of Psalmist:
The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. (Psalm 118:14)
UPDATE: An alert reader (Manu) brought to my attention a further evidence consistent with this theme:
Revelation 2:18 & 23
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; ... And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
That also relates back to Jeremiah 17:9-10.
A Blurry Eyed Quick Note from Tampa
05/08/2010 - James White
I am speaking again this morning so I have to be brief. Just wanted to thank all the Lord's people for their prayers for last night's debate with Dr. Robert Price here in Tampa. I could not imagine how the debate could have gone any better than it did. I knew Bob Price would be a personable fellow in conversation, and he was. He was thankful I actually addressed his arguments, not someone else's, and did not use the argument from authority, either. As a result, it was a great exchange. Everyone enjoyed it---except for some of the radical atheists who had more of the "let's go to the colosseum and see someone chopped up" attitude. I will give a full report on Tuesday on the DL, and hopefully a little longer note later today after my speaking responsibilities are fulfilled. But once again, my thanks to all who made this encounter possible. It was of benefit to all who were there.
The Unofficial Roman Catholic Apologist Guide to Church History #1
05/07/2010 - James SwanIt's been quite a while since I've done a blog entry for the Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary on the Bible (these entries can be found here). I'd like to branch out in a different direction and take a look at Roman Catholic historical interpretation. Remember their motto: "to be deep in history is to cease being Protestant." Let's see if this claim is true, or if it's just that: merely a claim.
Recently on Catholic Answers Fr. Sebastian Walshe addressed the topic Can Doctrine Develop? In this short mp3 clip, Fr. Walshe explains that previous to Trent's infallible declaration, there was uncertainty about which books were canonical. This admission diffuses one very popular Romanist argument. They claim that without their infallible declaration, one cannot know which books are Scripture. Yet generations previous to Trent believed they had God's word. Even those believers previous to the birth of Christ had and knew the Old Testament, this despite having an infallible magisterium. Is it therefore necessary for a church to be infallible and declare an infallible canonical list in order for one to know what God's Word is? Not at all. History shows the canon does not demand or require an infallible determiner in order to function in the church among God's people.
But the real point of historical interest in the clip from Fr. Walshe is his discussion of the Apocrypha. Walshe admits there was indeed controversy in the church as to its status. Anyone wishing to survey the historical record will see that the case against Rome's canon in history is a strong one. It simply isn't the case that the church accepted these books early on and that Luther removed them.
Walshe also says that Thomas Aquinas was not certain if the books of Maccabees should be considered part of canonical Scripture. That is, Aquinas didn't know one way or the other if the books of Maccabees were part of the canon because the church had yet to determine the status of these books.
On the other hand, Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta argues the canon always included the Apocrypha and the church did accept them. In fact, early ecumenical councils didn't have to declare the contents of the canon because there was no need to [Gary Michuta, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007) p.162]. The change in attitude toward the Apocrypha is discerned in Protestantism, not Roman Catholicism (p. 306). Michuta says that in the writings of Aquinas,
"First Maccabees is included among other citations from the Old Testament without qualification. Based on 2 Maccabees, St. Thomas responds to difficulties as to whether suffrages can be made for the damned... These are examples taken only from one book of Thomas Aquinas. Suffice it to say, St. Thomas accepted the Dueterocanon as Scripture in its fullest sense" [Gary Michuta, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007) p.215].
So here we find two very different explanations of church history from two men who have both been guests on Catholic Answers.
Dr. White's Voice of Sovereign Grace Program, Circa 1999
05/06/2010 - James SwanA few days ago I posted an mp3 recording of Dr. White from his 1999 AM radio broadcast in New York City. Thirty minutes once a week, Dr. White aired The Voice of Sovereign Grace program.
I don't live in New York, but I do live within the signal range of the station (well, barely). Even though the signal crackled a bit, I managed to record some of the shows. Since Dr. White is away, I took some time to convert some of these programs over to mp3, so, sit back and revisit Dr. White, circa 1999.
Voice of Sovereign Grace #2 Dr. White discusses and applies Jeremiah 9:1-9 to the issues of culture, truth, and lying.
Voice of Sovereign Grace #3 Dr. White discusses Titus 2:11-13- Is grace particular?
Voice of Sovereign Grace #4 Dr. White preaches a sermon on the importance of the church. Recorded at a church on Long Island, New York.
Voice of Sovereign Grace #5 Dr. White discusses the April 1999 Columbine High School massacre.
Voice of Sovereign Grace #6 Dr. White broadcasts from the General Conference of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City.
The Water-Calming God
05/05/2010 - Tur8infanIn a previous post (link to previous post), we discussed the fact that Jesus' miracle of walking on the water is one proof of his divinity. Another proof of Jesus' divinity is Jesus' ability to control the weather and especially the storms at sea.
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.
Notice that here the disciples do not seem to understand fully that Jesus is God. They do recognize, however, that Jesus is no ordinary man. Commanding the seas and the waters is something uniquely divine.
Proverbs 8:29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
Perhaps someone will object that control of the weather was also done by Elijah. You will recall that Elijah prayed and it did not rain and Elijah prayed again and it rained.
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
As it was reported in the first book of Kings:
1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
1 Kings 18:41-46
And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
But recall that while the rain came in answer to Elijah's prayer, it was not because of any power in Elijah. Elijah did not command the rain, but God did. In the former case, Elijah simply brought the Word of the Lord. In the latter case, as God had revealed beforehand, God already planned to bring the rain:
1 Kings 18:1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
As an aside, we should note that these facts also reveal that God's gift of rain was not the result of merit on Elijah's part, contrary to the cavils of the papists. Indeed, this principle of rain being withheld as a punishment and then restored in response to repentance was previously announced in the prophetic prayer of Solomon. Notice that here rain is offered to sinners who repent and confess their sin to God, as a sign of God's forgiveness.
1 Kings 8:35-36
When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.
2 Chronicles 6:26-27
When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance.
In view of the above, we can see the difference between God who commands the stormy waters to be calm, as opposed to men who can merely pray to God that it be so. WE have seen this both from Proverbs and from the response of the disciples, and we have responded to a possible objection regarding Elijah. Nevertheless, it is not only Proverbs and the reaction of the disciples that we may rely on, nor even the careful distinction from Elijah. We have the word of the Psalmist who teaches us that this is the Lord's doing:
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
And you will recall that the Lord exercised this power in the case of Jonah:
Jonah 1:4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.
And when the men who were transporting Jonah saw that this was from the LORD they did as Jonah the prophet said (and who would be such a fool as to imagine that Jonah himself stirred up this storm?) and threw Jonah into the waves, God calmed the waters:
Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.
From this we see another proof of Jesus divinity. Jesus is not only the water-walking God, but also the water-calming God.
Praise be to him in whose hand are the deep places of the earth and the strength of hills is his!
Angelz to the Rescue
05/04/2010 - James WhiteWe don't get to see our friend Angel Contreras very often in channel anymore. He's busy with...life. But, once in a while, right when I need some encouragement, some relief from a particularly troubling episode (and that is the case right now with the Caner and now Liberty debacle, all immediately prior to a major debate), up pops an e-mail with an attachment from Angelz. He's still out there, listening to the DL, seeing things from an angle that is...always uniquely his. And so today, his epistle arrived at just the right time. See, Mr. Kennedy, the author of the CT article, called me. Seems some rabble-rousers out there contacted Christianity Today and told them I do not teach for Golden Gate. So he had to do "due diligence." I asked if he had called Golden Gate, and he hadn't (I invited him to do so, and gave him the proper people to contact, by name). So I read to him the following list:
Beginning Greek, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001
Greek Exegesis of Ephesians, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 2001
Beginning Hebrew, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 1996, 1998, 2000
Hebrew Exegesis, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 1997, 1999
Christian Philosophy of Religion, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 1998-2003
Christology, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 1997
Systematic Theology, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 1996, 1998, 2004
Apologetics, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 2003-2004, 2009
Development of Patristic Theology, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 2004
Current Issues in Apologetics, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 2005, 2007
Islam, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 2008
Atheism/Islam, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009-2010
Then I pointed out that, unlike Ergun Caner, I had returned his call, and, unlike Ergun Caner, had provided him with a direct response to his inquiry. I do find it ironic that he was fact checking me---when the issue is what Ergun Caner has claimed, and cannot document. But I was happy to provide the documentation.
So right on the heels of this up popped the e-mail from Angelz. And once again he nailed it. Some might remember his classic piece from 2006 when the Caners threw their credibility under the bus and disregarded their own signed agreement, leading to the cancellation of the debate at Liberty University:
But now he has provided another "Angel Classic."
Of course, Angel quotes from Colossians about not lying, and he should take into consideration that Liberty has pronounced Dr. Caner free from having done anything "theologically inappropriate," and that myth-making about your own past is not a moral or ethical issue! So, all is well.
Thank you, Angelz. I needed that.
The Water-Walking God
05/04/2010 - Tur8infanReading through a commentary on John by Theophylact (circa A.D. 1055-1107) I came across a proof of Jesus' divinity that had escaped my attention many times (pp. 101-02 of the English translation of his "Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to John). Surely all the readers of this blog are already familiar with the event:
John 6:19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.
(Matthew 14:25-26 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.)
This extremely marvelous miracle is so familiar, many of us may even have come to treat it almost as a matter of course. The expression "he walks on water" is idiomatic in English for a person being really wonderful. Nevertheless, it is truly an extraordinary event.
Theophylact reminds the reader that this miracle shows that Jesus is greater than Moses. Moses parted the Red Sea with his staff, so that he and the people could walk through it on dry ground. But Jesus doesn't have to divide the sea, he can just walk across it.
Elijah and Elisha also parted the Jordan with Elijah's mantle (2 King 2:8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. 2Ki 2:13-14 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.)
Joshua and the Levites bearing the ark also parted the Jordan.
And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; and as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) that the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.
That shows that that Jesus is greater than Moses, Joshua, Elijah, and Elisha, but it doesn't quite show that Jesus is divine. Why then conclude that Jesus is divine from this miracle? The reason is that we are given prophecy in Job. Job describes God this way:
Job 9:8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.
Jesus' walking on the water was a testimony to His divinity. God alone can do this. No ordinary man, not even Moses could do that. Simon Peter tried and could not:
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
We're not told that the disciples remembered the prophecy from Job, but we are told that the disciples worshiped Jesus in response:
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Not only did the wind cease, but there was a further miracle:
So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
Notice that although they had gone about three and a half miles, once Jesus came into the ship the ship immediately arrived at the land where they were going. This too is a remarkable miracle. Who can move a ship instantly to its destination? Only God has this sort of power.
What mere prophet ever did a miracle like that? We can compare walking on water with dividing the water and walking through on dry ground, but to what will we compare this transportation of the ship? Jonah fled from the face of God in a boat, but on his account God kept the boat in the midst of the tempest despite the efforts of the sailors (Jonah 1:13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.).
The Apostle himself was only able to his fellow travelers that none of the people on the ship would die, although the ship they were traveling on would be destroyed (Acts 27:22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship.)
Jesus was greater than the greatest apostles and prophets, for he could walk on water and could instantly transport a ship to its destination. No mere man has these abilities, but only God. God alone spreads out the heavens, and treads upon the waves of the sea.
Praise be to the Great God and our Lord Jesus Christ!
Live DL from Denver: Liberty Goes After Mohammad Khan
05/04/2010 - James WhiteAs of this writing, Mohammad Khan's YouTube account has been suspended. Thankfully, some of the most important documentation of Ergun Caner's status as a myth-maker and self-promoter is found elsewhere on YouTube, but I have a feeling those are on "the list" as well. I found out about this live, during the DL today, from Denver. I had been discussing the CT white-washing of the mountain of documentation demonstrating Ergun Caner's falsehoods when someone posted the news in our chat channel. I pray that the godly men and women at Liberty will find the courage to stand up and do what is right now that their leadership has capitulated to the "circle the wagons" mentality. God have mercy.
Our last caller, an attorney, discussed the Caner situation, but the rest of our calls were on other topics, including how to engage the post-modern culture in evangelism, and a question on resources relating to Reformed theology. Here is the program.
CT Fumbles, Liberty Obfuscates, Truth Languishes
05/03/2010 - James WhiteA sad day for truth as Christianity Today posts its "story" on the Ergun Caner situation. Very little of the actual documentation (court documents, video tapes, etc.) are discussed. The title makes it look like "bloggers" are just out to cause trouble, not that there are documented, serious issues relating to Caner's myth-making. The worst part is the utter-disconnect in the comments given by Elmer Towns, described in the article as "co-founder of Liberty University" and Dean of the School of Religion. According to the article, Towns claims "the Liberty board has held an inquiry and directors are satisfied that Caner has done nothing theologically inappropriate." Lying is theologically appropriate? Creating an entire mythology about your past and your expertise in Islam is theologically appropriate? Then Towns is quoted as saying, "We give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage. The arguments of the bloggers would not stand up in court." Is myth-making and misrepresentation "theological leverage"? And could someone explain how court documents and video and audio recordings would not stand up in court? What kind of documentation would Dr. Towns like to have, if court documents and video recordings are not enough? Could anything suffice, one wonders?
The final comment offered by Towns should cause any honest hearted person to sit back and ponder: "We don't see any way that bloggers will damage Liberty," Towns says. Does Towns have any idea why anyone out here cares about this? Does he really think it is some kind of attack on Liberty? Let's be straight up front Dr. Towns: your institution now has a massive credibility problem on its hands, and you put it there. Had you done due diligence and followed up on the publicly available documentation that is already out there, already obtainable, and then acted properly in demanding an open and honest explanation by Ergun Caner, you could have kept this a personal issue relating solely to one individual. But now, by failing to do what needs to be done on any simple ground of honesty, you have placed your institution squarely in the defense of documented and obvious falsehood. Yes, it seems you are confused about a non-existent connection between Caner's comments about Rankin. You further seem confused that this has something to do with Ergun Caner's synergism and anti-Reformed polemics. If that is so, sir, why wasn't I looking to raise these issues in 2006 after the Liberty debate debacle? No, none of those assertions are true. This is a simple matter of a man making up a past and using it to gain his position in your institution. You had a chance to right the wrong and bring these issues to light, hoping for Ergun Caner to confess and repent of his falsehoods. But you have chosen the "party line" instead. Dr. Towns, many Muslims are watching, and you have just verified for them that for many in evangelicalism, truth is only important when it is expedient.
Finally, I note the real telling words of the article: "Neither Caner brother responded to interview requests from CT." Those who honor the truth do not hide in this fashion. The Caners are under obligation to speak the truth. Until they start doing so, they have no business serving those who claim to be followers of Him who is the Truth.
Cultural Collapse Report from Denver
05/03/2010 - James WhiteGreetings from the Mile High City. About to grab a ride with some brothers here in the area, and as I'm preparing I have had the Today Show on. Two items from the media, and one other story that has been sent to me a number of times that illustrates how twisted Western Culture is becoming in its hatred of godliness.
First, Today had a report on the "runaway mom," Tiffany Tehan (I'm sorry, but "mom" is a title she no longer deserves). Tehan abandoned her husband and baby daughter, faked her own abduction, and allowed volunteers to invest thousands of hours searching for her while she ran off with her new lover in an adulterous relationship. But if you listen to the language, no one can even utter words like evil, sin, or shame, let alone "adultery" or the like.
Next, they interviewed Michael Douglas on his son's conviction for drug dealing. The ever present "he has a disease" excuse was everywhere. The man was a drug dealer. He made money from destroying the lives of others. No shame, no guilt, no sin. Excuses, excuses, excuses.
Finally, everyone needs to read this article. When you give to the government the power to regulate, well, everything, this is what eventually happens. As British Society becomes ever more deeply infected with the mutating virus of humanistic naturalism and its inevitable secularism, the mere public expression of godly convictions must be punished. There is only one solution: repentance, and only one source: God's Spirit.
Karl Keating on Canon Certainty From Local Church Councils
05/03/2010 - James SwanHere's an interesting tidbit from Karl Keating's book Catholicism and Fundamentalism (San Fransisco: Ignatius Press, 1988). Chapter two is dedicated to exposing the errors of Lorraine Boettner's book on Roman Catholicism.
Keating documents Boettner's error of attributing the forbidding of the Bible to laymen by the Council of Valencia in 1229. Keating points out this is historically inaccurate. It would be impossible for a council to have occurred at this location at this period in history. Keating does though go the extra mile: he suggests a council which may actually be the source for Boettner's claim.
Keating notes a council was held in Toulouse France in 1229. Keating specifically notes it was not an ecumenical council (p.45). He then goes on to describe the situation which prompted this council to restrict the use of the Bible. He notes, "Their action was a local one" and it "is hardly the across-the-board prohibition of the Bible" Boettner mentioned (pp. 45-46). Problem solved: Boettner confused a local decree with an ecumenical decree binding on the church for all ages. Case closed.
But not so fast- If one skips a bit further down page 46, one finds Mr. Keating correcting Boettner's position that the Roman church added the apocrypha to the Bible in 1546. Keating states,
The fact is that the Council of Trent did not add to the Bible what Protestants call the apocryphal books. Instead, the Reformers dropped from the Bible books that had been in common use for centuries. The Council of Trent convened to reaffirm Catholic doctrines and to revitalize the Church, proclaimed that these books always had belonged to the Bible and had to remain in it. After all, it was the Catholic Church, in the fourth century, that officially decided which books composed the canon of the Bible and which did not. The Council of Trent came on the scene about twelve centuries later and merely restated the ancient position (pp. 46-47).Keating states "it was the Catholic Church, in the fourth century, that officially decided which books composed the canon of the Bible and which did not." Now if Keating is referring to the councils of Hippo and Carthage, they were provincial councils which did not have ecumenical authority. There's also the Esdras problem. Hippo and Carthage include a book as canonical that Trent later passed over in silence. So, if Keating has these councils in mind, why is it these local councils were binding on decreeing the canon, while just a few paragraphs earlier, Keating explains local councils aren't binding on the church for all time?
I'll go the extra mile for Keating like he did for Boettner. Maybe Keating has the Council of Rome with Pope Damasus in mind. A few years back I read the following from a Roman Catholic blogger:
"It was at the Council of Rome in 382 that St. Pope Damasus decreed the final canon of Scripture. Often, it is said that the Council of Trent codified the canon of Scripture after the reformation, but the evidence points to this early council as the when the canon was finalized. The Council of Trent reiterated the canon in a response to the reformer's revision of the historic canon" [source].
The canon as allegedly defined by Damasus includes the apocryphal books, so it's important for Roman Catholics that the statement from this early Pope be used as historical proof for the Bible they claim their church has infallibly defined. Upon closer scrutiny, the distinct position held by the Roman Catholic writer above on the canon is not consistent, nor does the historical record provide any certainty for the beliefs espoused above. The historical record is important in Roman Catholicism, because the claim made by the current batch of Roman Catholic apologists is that Rome provides certainty.
Roman Catholics are supposed to believe conciliar statements which bind all Christians are those put forth by ecumenical councils. The Catholic Encyclopedia points out: "Ecumenical councils are those to which the bishops, and others entitled to vote, are convoked from the whole world under the presidency of the pope or his legates, and the decrees of which, having received papal confirmation, bind all Christians." Was the Council of Rome an ecumenical council? No it was not. It was a local council. Were the decrees issues by this council then infallible binding pronouncements for the universal church? No. The Catholic Encyclopedia states also, "only the decisions of ecumenical councils and the ex cathedra teaching of the pope have been treated as strictly definitive in the canonical sense, and the function of the magisterium ordinarium has been concerned with the effective promulgation and maintenance of what has been formally defined by the magisterium solemne or may be legitimately deduced from its definitions." So, in terms of the Council of Rome being a binding council for all, it was not. Here we find that whatever was said at the Council of Rome cannot bind all Christians. Whatever was said at the Council of Rome can provide no certainty for a Roman Catholic. Hence, it cannot be true, in a consistent Roman Catholic paradigm, that the Council of Rome infallibly decreed the final Canon.
But the Pope was at the Council of Rome, was he not? Doesn't this mean what he said at this local council binds the universal church? In the decree on the Canon, Damasus is reported as saying:
"The holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other Churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall have bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall have loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Here we can infer that the statement on the canon issued by Damasus is infallible because the Roman Church and Pope speak infallibly. But here is a rarely cited fact by the defenders of Rome. The statement above, and indeed, the entire statement from Damasus listing the canonical books, probably didn't come from Damasus. F.F. Bruce notes,
"What is commonly called the Gelasian decree on books which are to be received and not received takes its name from Pope Gelasius (492-496). It gives a list of biblical books as they appeared in the Vulgate, with the Apocrypha interspersed among the others. In some manuscripts, indeed, it is attributed to Pope Damasus, as though it had been promulgated by him at the Council of Rome in 382. But actually it appears to have been a private compilation drawn up somewhere in Italy in the early sixth century" [F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1988), p. 97).
So this statement from Damasus didn't actually come from Damasus. In fact, as far as I know, there isn't a written formal record of the proceedings at the Council of Rome to have certainty exactly what was said or decreed. Much historical speculation then surrounds the decree of the canon by Damasus. The bottom line though, is that Roman Catholics cannot have any certainty on the accuracy of this statement. Of course, they are free to believe it, but they do so on faith, not on historical verification. Thus to be deep in history, is not to be certain that the Roman Catholic Church infallibly defined the Canon in 382.
To make it even a bit more complicated, Tim Staples (who works for Karl Keating as a staff apologist for Catholic Answers) says the canon was dogmatically closed in 1442. Here's a quick mp3 clip from Dr. White on the Bible Answer Man show with Catholic apologist Tim Staples:
Staples dogmatically closes the canon in 1442, while Dr. White says Rome closed it in 1546. Anyone interested in this entire discussion can purchase the mp3 here for a few bucks.
Ah, what a tangled web they weave.
Dr. White's Reasons Not to Join a Reformed Baptist Church
05/01/2010 - James SwanWay back when, Dr. White had an AM radio broadcast in New York City. Thirty minutes once a week, Dr. White aired The Voice of Sovereign Grace. I can't recall exactly which New York station carried the broadcast, perhaps Chris Arnzen remembers (I think he put the show together). I don't live in New York, but I do live within the signal range of the station (well, barely). The signal crackled and faded in-and-out. As a devoted listener, I managed record many of the shows.
On this broadcast, James White gives reasons not to join a Reformed Baptist Church. Here is the mp3 broadcast.
While Dr.White is away, I'll try to post some of these shows. Enjoy!
Thank You Eric Svendsen for NTRMin.org
05/01/2010 - James SwanI was contacted recently by a person who couldn't access my Reformation papers on Eric Svendsen's Ntrmin.org website. It appears Ntrmin.org has vanished. Ntrmin was one of the best sites for countering Roman Catholic apologetics. Dr. Svendsen graciously hosted some of my longer papers on Martin Luther and the Reformation, as well as providing numerous helpful articles on Roman Catholicism.
The Ntrmin website was around for many years. It also hosted a discussion forum called The Areopagus. It was there I became acquainted with Dr. Svendsen's work, as well as that of Jason Engwer (now of the Triablogue clan), and Pastor David King (author of Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith volume 1). I also met a number of other people, many of which I'm still in contact with today. This was all due to the Ntrmin website.
Dr. Eric Svendsen has authored of a number of books of Roman Catholicism. I highly recommend the following:
Upon This Slippery Rock: Countering Roman Catholic Claims to Authority (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2002)
Who is My Mother? The Role and Status of the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament and Roman Catholicism (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2001)
Evangelical Answers: A Critique of Current Roman Catholic Apologists (Lindenhurst, NY: Reformation Press, 1999)
He's also been a guest on the Iron Sharpens Iron program discussing these books (free mp3 downloads here).
I'm not sure what Eric's plans are in regard to his website. Perhaps he's decided to move on, or perhaps he's rebuilding it. Either way, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Svendsen for the Ntrmin.org website. I've used it often during the years, and I'm grateful for all the work he put into it. It was one of the first sites that I found directly responding to the newer breed of Roman Catholic apologists. If he's decided to take the website down, it will indeed be missed.