Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Continued Response to Dr. Caner
06/08/2006 - James White5) Reformed brothers. So, which is it? Am I a Reformed brother? If so, why refuse to answer that honestly asked question? Or are there some Reformed brothers as long as they aren't my kind? We just don't know.
6) Is there a meaningful parallel between the charismatic controversy of years past (who actually won that battle? Compare the "worship" at TRBC today with that thirty years ago and you might wonder as well) and the current anti-Calvinist movement in the SBC? Well, all controversies have parallels, however, there was no historical foundation in Southern Baptist life, or Baptist life in general, for the unique claims of the Charismatic movement. But once again, there most certainly is solid historical foundation for Reformed theology in Baptist history. This isn't even an arguable point. So on the most meaningful level, no, there is no parallel.
7) "In the same regard, the present controversy cannot be blamed on all Calvinists or Reformed Baptists." Please note that last phrase. Reformed Baptists. That's me. Hi. Nice to meet you. See how the two terms go together? Yes, that's not an oxymoron. Yes, I know all about those who say it is.
8) Caner refers to those who do not make this a test of fellowship. But we are still wondering, does Dr. Caner make the reverse a test of fellowship?
9) Now we have a new term, "Neo-Calvinist." Sadly, this new term starts with an old term misused, "hyper-Calvinist." And such a bad person is "obsessed." No one wants to be obsessed, of course. And surely we can see the wisdom in not thinking that the almighty Kingship of God and His freedom to act in His own creation as He sees fit should ever function as a prism, a lens, for our theology. One could be forgiven for wondering out loud if it is not far more dangerous, and common, to allow the almighty will of the fallen creature man to function as the over-riding obsession of one's theology?
10) Sadly, Caner again illustrates either his ignorance of, or unwillingness to accept, basic historical theological definitions. He writes that "Neo-Calvinists" believe:
Double Predestination. Simply put, they believe that a small group of people are predestined, even before the Creation, for heaven, and that the vast majority of the world is predestined, even created for, hell.
First, the redeemed are as the sand of the sea, not a "small group." This is a continual misrepresentation repeated ad nauseum by the current group of anti-Calvinists. Men from every tribe, tongue, people and nation are the gracious, unmerited recipients of this eternal love of God. Nowhere does the Bible use, or suggest, the gross caricatured language of "created for hell," and given that brother Falwell, Ergun Caner, etc., all confess God's inerrant and full knowledge of all future events at the time of creation, they might wish to realize that unless they wish to jump ship over to Open Theism, they get to answer not only the same question of their own theology, but even worse, they get to do so without being able to claim any purpose flowing from a divine decree. Which is why you do not find this group overly interested in full, open, in-depth dialogue and debate. One liners do not endure such examination very well.
Next we have the "babies and heaven" canard. I am so tired of seeing this sensitive subject abused in this fashion. This is not a Calvinist vs. non-Calvinist issue anymore than it is a Baptist vs. non-Baptist issue. If brother Caner wishes to address the issue, how about addressing it meaningfully? Please address the issue of abortion. Is abortion the greatest heaven-filling device ever designed by man? Yes or no? What about original sin? Why do babies die? Did God know babies would die when He created? If He did, then why did He create as He created? It is easy to throw out these emotional smoke bombs. It is also irresponsible.
The next part of this "definition" of a "Neo-Calvinist" is quite interesting to me:
God’s "love for mankind" must be redefined. Yes, they will say, God does love the world, but His love is a matter of degrees. He can love a person and still predestine them for hell. Citations such as John 3:16, II Peter 3:9, and others, are redefined or reassigned to some other topic, such as eschatology. They do not believe that God wants a relationship with everyone. That would go against their system and theology.
The regular reader of this blog knows we have engaged these texts fully. Repeatedly. Over and over again. Many times. And the reader of this blog will likewise know that those we challenge on these topics generally are reduced to repeating the same simplistic mantras. Over and over again. Repeatedly. Look at Dave Hunt. Case closed. But what caught my eye was not that Caner fails yet again to interact with any of the exegesis that has been offered of these texts. That, in fact, could be made a definitional element of modern neo-Erasmianism (like that one? I just made it up. But it has a whole lot more historical grounding than brother Caner's term): a dogged unwillingness to even admit the other side has addressed your claims. Black Knight syndrome for theologians. What I noted was a phrase referring to me. Back in the first round, when I was just trying to get Ergun Caner to do something more than promote the cobbled-together meanderings of Norman Geisler's undergraduate logic students as a Gail Riplinger style rebuttal of The Potter's Freedom, I had invited him to engage in a written debate over the text of John 6:35-45. He replied that he would not allow me to determine the grounds! No sir. We would discuss 2 Peter 3:9. I replied that we could do so if he wished, however, it seemed mighty strange that we would not debate a text that is plainly about soteriology but instead would debate a text that is smack dab in the middle of an eschatological context, 2 Peter 3:9. The text is about the parousia, the coming of Christ, and why it has been delayed. Again, if I am wrong about that, Caner has forgotten to point out why. This must be the background of this comment. I would dearly love to see Dr. Caner actually interact, on the level of the text itself, without red herrings, without canards, with my section on 2 Peter 3:9 in TPF. And I would love to regrow my hair and win the Tour de France.
Next, we are told that if you do not use that modern invention called the "invitation," and if you dare point out that the vast majority of invitations offered today utilize emotional appeals that produce false conversions that fill our churches with unregenerate people who could completely care less about Christ and His kingdom so that two years later you haven't a clue where they are but they are now part of the religious lost and are even more hardened to the gospel---well, you are bad. Personally, I believe there may well be situations in which an invitation is appropriate. If I have preached a sermon that calls for response, I will not "invite" folks, I will do what the Apostles did: I will command men and women everywhere to repent. I have no problem with that at all. What I do have a big problem with is what I was taught in a Southern Baptist Bible college: that my sermon should be focused entirely upon that invitation at the end. That my text choice and presentation should be such that I will be able to transition into the invitation successfully. The fact that a large portion of the texts of the Bible simply defy this strategy (well, unless you are willing to mess with the text, anyway), didn't seem to cross anyone's mind. Of course, since this whole invitation system stuff is a modern creation anyway, I guess Neo-Calvinists did not exist prior to the 19th century. That's oddly comforting in a strange way. [continued tomorrow]