Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Major Developments in the Lynchburg Debate Saga UPDATED
06/22/2006 - James WhiteWell, as some of you have been wondering what has been going on regarding the October 16th debate in Lynchburg with Ergun and Emir Caner. I had sent a note to Dr. O'Donnell once again, since it had been a full month since we had first contacted him, and had asked that he respond by the 20th. He replied on the 21st. I replied the same day, and this morning Ergun Caner's response arrived (though, for some reason, it was not sent to me, I had to get it through Rich Pierce).
I have been criticized for posting these e-mails. I believe this interaction will vindicate that decision, at least for those who value truth and honesty. Anyone with access to the first two correspondence files (found here and here) along with this new one (found here) has a full basis upon which to judge the behavior of everyone involved, including myself. But just to quote a portion of my response to Dr. Caner today:
Well, Dr. Caner, though I had, in my worst moments, considered that this was indeed your mindset and your purpose, I had never expected to receive written confirmation of it. But you have provided it anyway. I am simply amazed.
OK, evidently, you are saying the following:
1. This is our house. We will do what we please.
2. We choose the format. Tough if you don't like it. Tough if nobody uses it in theological debates. Tough if it doesn't allow for meaningful and extensive cross-examination like you do with others. We don't want that anyway.
3. We choose the thesis statement. We will not answer your questions about it. We will not respond to the fact that it could just as easily be used by a universalist. Tough. We like ambiguity. Live with it.
4. We would rather behave like this in private, please.
5. If you don't like it, go away. Otherwise, show up. It's not important to us. We are part of the biggest university around and you are no more important than spam anyway.
Seems like a fairly good summary to me.
You will have to read the file to believe it. But there it is.
Now, ironically, Ergun Caner began his e-mail this morning by noting that Emir had called him to bring his attention to it. Emir Caner is a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. Ironically, until a couple of hours ago, I was scheduled to speak in an apologetics conference at Southwestern in September, the night after Kirk Cameron spoke, and the night before Emir Caner was to speak. I was scheduled to speak on Mormonism and related subjects. Now, I guess it could just be a massive coincidence, but out of the blue (I had been told to purchase my airline tickets only a few days ago) I was just disinvited from speaking and have been replaced on the program with a discussion of the Word Faith movement (revised schedule here). I asked if Dr. Caner was still speaking. He is. Evidently the change in direction for the apologetics conference was from speaking about groups like Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses to speaking about the Word Faith Movement. Well, stranger things have happened.
Once you read through the new correspondence document, you will be up to speed. We have tried to set up a debate long enough to really engage the text of Scripture. Liberty won't have it. We have tried to use the best format available, allowing for lots of interaction and cross-examination. Nope, won't happen. So we are left with a 2.5 hour debate, parliamentary style format, and a thesis statement understandable only upon translation into Tongan. But we will do all we can to make the freedom of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ clear as best we can in the situation in which we have been placed.
UPDATE Dr. Caner has replied. I have placed his reply, and mine, in the above linked pdf. Here is the text:
Dr. White, as one who debates so often, you should know- attempting to change the topic of debate is a concession of defeat. I am thrilled you have posted your response. We have apparently found one of the many topics that are the hyper Calvinist’s weakness.
And thank you for proving my thesis concerning manipulation.
We shall be there, Oct 16, to debate the stated topic.
Emir, please make sure we post these interchanges as well. I keep getting e-mails from his own camp, confused by his stance.
Dear Dr. Caner:
Yes, changing the topic normally is such an indication. Of course, what confuses me, and anyone else, is how you could possibly read what I sent to you and think that I am changing the topic. Your thesis statement has been demonstrated to be incoherent. You have refused to respond to any of the criticisms I have offered of it. Given that you have had plenty of time to do so, I can only conclude that you do not, in fact, have the ability to respond to the questions asked of you regarding your statement.
Next, I have offered a plain, clear statement that directly addresses the difference between your synergistic system wherein God tries, but fails, to save each and every human being, and my monergistic stance wherein God "works all things in accordance with the counsel of His will" and saves every single one of those the Father gives to the Son through the perfect work of the Son on Calvary and the perfect work of the Spirit who brings spiritual life to those who are spiritually dead at the exact time the divine Trinity determines. Everyone knows this is the issue, and to say that focusing upon whether God seeks to save every individual equally or whether He has an elect people chosen solely by His good pleasure is changing the topic of a debate on Calvinism only shows, once again, sir, that you have no idea what you've been preaching against all along.
Finally, as it has been proven, repeatedly, your dishonest use of the term "hyper-Calvinism" is a canard, and to be honest, much more of an indication of "defeat" than an accurate representation of the difference between monergism and synergism. I am once again left simply speechless by such a retort. Given that you are the man who stood before thousands of people and television cameras and turned Romans 9:11-13 on its head, preaching the most incredible example of eisegesis I think I've ever heard, I truly wonder if you have applied the same kind of eisegetical reading skills on the e-mail you received (and to which, evidently, you have no meaningful response?).
And thank you for proving my thesis concerning manipulation.Given that you do not offer any foundation for your statement, I will have to take this as an indication that you cannot provide evidence of "manipulation," and admit such.
We shall be there, Oct 16, to debate the stated topic.Whatever it means. :-) I.e., "We demand this thesis statement. We will not explain it. We will not defend its awkward phrasing, its ambiguity, the fact that it could actually be used by heretics. It is our thesis statement. We demand you use it, or we will claim you lose!" Sorry, I can do nothing more at this point but smile. What else can be said?
Emir, please make sure we post these interchanges as well. I keep getting e-mails from his own camp, confused by his stance.Yes, please do post them. All of them. In completeness, as you yourself requested, Dr. Caner, initially. And please send me the URLs. I'd like to have reference to them. All of mine can be found listed on my blog at www.aomin.org.