Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
If You Dare Speak Up...
02/24/2006 - James WhiteThe e-mail generated by posting the correspondence with Dr. Caner has been most enlightening. The majority have been very supportive and encouraging. Thankfully, my purpose in providing the article was not missed by the ones I am most concerned about. The contrast between the approach and methodology of the two sides has been clearly seen, just as it was in Debating Calvinism. A heart felt "thank you" to those of you who took the time to drop a note saying just that.
But, on the other side, not all replies have been positive. It seems many of those who have contacted Dr. Caner have been taken aback by his replies. Aside from such incredible lines as "Calvinists are much more heinous than Muslims" from his keyboard, today I learned that by patiently seeking to get Dr. Caner to provide even the first bit of evidence to back up his claims means that I have been, in his own words, behaving as a "petulant child." He continues to use the false dichotomy "I am Southern Baptist, not Arminian. Not Calvinist." Again, that has the logical coherence of saying "I am not Democrat or Republican. I am blue." Just another of those many issues Caner completely ignored in my replies. There are Arminian Southern Baptists and there are Calvinistic Southern Baptists and there are many Southern Baptists without a clue what either term would mean. But to continue to use exploded errors only shows the utter lack of respect for simple truth that so often accompanies dedication to human tradition. And, despite being repeatedly challenged to back up his claims (and the correction, repeatedly of the fact that Dave Hunt does not claim academic training at all), he continues to claim that "Drs. Geisler and Hunt" have answered me "correctly and completely." Evidently, Dr. Caner has no intentions to fall into my trap: he will not be confused by the facts.
Nadir Ahmed, self-proclaimed Islamic "apologist" living up to his name, wrote to say "You look dumb." Seriously. I couldn't make stuff like that up.
And I guess there is some fellow named "Charles" running about every single blog he can find posting something about Bob Ross (go figure--have to feel sorry for someone who invests their lives in such pursuits). I just checked Steve Camp's blog and read some of "Charles'" comments. Evidently whoever he is he's upset that at some time, years and years ago, I defended John MacArthur against Bob Ross' less-than-fair attacks. That would explain why Ross has since then attacked me on the ordo salutis. Despite Ross' behavior, and his unwillingness to even accept my own profession based upon the LBCF, I have refused to argue with the man. He did a great work many decades ago in printing Spurgeon's materials, and for that past work I have simply said, "Lord bless you, Bob," and left him to rail if he chooses to do so. There is no arguing with someone who says, "Well, you say you believe that, but you really don't."
But in any case, the minority who are complaining are only proving the points I've made all along: none can begin to deal with the issues, all have to substitute ad-hominem for content, study, and thought.
And that is why the actions of these folks cannot discourage me: you see, I can only be concerned about those with ears to hear, those with a love for truth. And when you have to so obviously dodge direct questions, repeat the same claims like a mantra while firmly sticking your fingers in your ears, ignore constant factual correction--you aren't going to have much to say to those looking for meaningful proclamation and biblical teaching. And since those are the only folks I can be focused upon, well, we are ministering to different congregations. Until my legion of opponents get the idea that I gave up on popularity contests as a teenager, that I'm not building a mega-ministry, and that by the grace of God I seek an eternal perspective that calls me to edify the saints by doing what little I can to speak the truth plainly and boldly, they will continue launching all sorts of irrelevant attacks that only prove my points for me.
Finally, one e-mail sent to me did leave me almost breathless. Every little while I get a note like this from an alleged "convert." Most of the time they are fakes, to be honest. Yes, I have often replied to them, asked for information about where they were a member, etc., and they go "dark." But, sometimes, they are valid. I do not know if this fellow is for real or not. If he is, I'm sorry to hear his story, however, given the kind of thinking exemplifed in this note, I am not in the least bit surprised at his conversion. Here's what he had to say:
Dr. White: I'm not quite sure why you are so proud to run around the country and engage in debates, only to turn around and sell your wares for profit. Would Jesus, or Paul for that matter, have debated and then sold the cd's or dvd's? Wouldn't he have just given them away? Do you debate for profit or purpose. I know, I know, you're thinking, what profit? But that misses the point, doesn't it? You debate and then post on your blog on how wonderful you are and how pathetic your opponents are. Then why debate them if they are so easy? A little self-agrandizing don't you think. You debate and then put your spin on the proceedings. I have listened to your debates with Matatics, Pacwa, and Sungenis. I honestly thought they won. At the time I was a Reformed Baptist doctrinally. At least partly influential and at least a contributing result, my wife and I are now going to be accepted into the Roman Catholic Church this Easter Vigil. I just wanted to thank you for helping me into the full flavor of the faith. Now I see you're picking on Dr. Caner like a playground bully. Yet, you would never debate him concerning Islam, for obvious reasons. He has forgotten more than you'll ever know. So you pick on a Southern Baptist concerning Calvinism. Good move. Didn't you learn from the spankings you received on the BAM by Bryson, Hanegraaff, Akin & Staples. You just don't get. Let it go. Is the ego that fragile that you need to soothe your deflations by beating up others in the Body of Christ? Your radio shows seem to be more concernded with laughing and mocking others that praying for them. When was the last time you prayed for Gerry Matatics, Norman Geisler, etc.? In Christ, >From someone who has admired your work over the years, but wishes you would be just a little huble from time-to-time, TS
If I might offer some observations briefly:
1) If I am seeking the world's riches by doing debates, I'm as brilliant as a bag of hammers.
2) The people cited all...make their debates and talks available on DVD just as I do. Could I ask why it is OK for Bob Sungenis to ask for funds but it is not for me? And given that A&O invests in making these debates available, even buying the video equipment to record them (providing the masters at no cost to the opponents), just how are we supposed to do this without being able to pay for the equipment?
3) Could someone post where I have said "I am wonderful" and "my opponents are pathetic"? In posting the Caner correspondence, did I not allow the interchange to speak for itself? If my opponents engage in "pathetic" argumentation, and I point it out, does that mean I am saying they are "pathetic" and I am wonderful? Would not such a way of thinking preclude any and all discussion, disagreement, and evaluation of arguments?
4) I have never said Dr. Caner would be "easy" to debate: the writer again does not understand my motivations for debate. Dr. Caner is a high-profile (by his own doing) opponent of Calvinism. Just as many saw the fact that Reformed theology is biblical and consistent in the debates against George Bryson, so too a debate with Dr. Caner would allow that truth to be shown to another wide audience. Such has nothing to do with me as a person: I am irrelevant. The issue is God's truth and how vital it is for our day.
5) Vague claims "someone won" are easily made. I have found them much harder to substantiate. Most of the time, when someone says something like this to me, I will ask, "Oh? What points, specifically, were most compelling to you." And the normative response? "Well, it was a long time ago, I don't really remember...." In any case, given that the RC apologists named together represent at least twenty two different debates, one truly has to wonder about specifics. And isn't it ironic that two of the three are no longer in the mainstream at all, and one is a full-blown sedevacantist while the other is mainly known for his promotion of geocentrism?
6) If this gentleman was a Reformed Baptist doctrinally, I would like to know what church he attended.
7) After hearing folks say "You helped me into the _____________ church" for years (Mormons, RC's, you name it), I have come to recognize the motivations for such statements. No one, and I mean no one, has ever had the courage to say this to my face. Not once. It is always written, said in such a context that would not allow me to say, "Oh, so, if that is the case then you can explain..." followed by one of many issues. But given what follows, I am fairly confident that TS would struggle just a bit to provide consistent reasons for his conversion.
8) What kind of "hearing" results in a person thinking I received a "spanking" on BAM with George Bryson and Hank Hanegraaff? Just how biased and prejudiced do you have to be to miss the facts on that particular encounter? As a newly minted Roman Catholic, I can understand the bias regarding Staples and Akin, but isn't it ironic that this love of Rome results in a detestation, and an unfair hearing, of the Bible's own teaching on God's sovereignty?
9) "Beat up others in the Body of Christ" = asking Dr. Caner to back up his statements with even the first bit of documentation and argumentation.
10) Putting Norman Geisler and Gerry Matatics in the same breath is ironic in an almost humorous way.
TS, I would encourage you to have the courage of your convictions. 877-753-3341 is the toll free number to call next Tuesday at 1pm EST, or Thursday at 6pm EST. Let's talk. I'd like to get some specifics from you, and talk with you about your decision to embrace Rome's gospel. I look forward to hearing from you.