Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
10/10/2006 - James WhiteJust a few quick items before the Dividing Line this morning with Tom Ascol. Pastor McBrien will not be joining us, which disappoints me, but I am sure the situation in Lynchburg this day is quite volatile. It would not have had to have been.
Emir Caner has posted an article on his website. Emir titled his article "OCD: Obsessive Calvinistic Disorder." You know what I'm going to do today? I'm going to ask the Lord to help me keep a smile on my face and try to interpret things in their best possible light. So I am going to smile, chuckle, and say, "Hey, Emir, thanks for the humor. Obsessive Calvinistic Disorder. That's a good one. Of course, I'd rather have OCD than HAS (Human Autonomy Syndrome)!" In fact, I needed a good chuckle this morning, and to help everyone else with just such a chuckle, I will post a cartoon Angelz just sent to me that absolutely positively nails the essence of this situation below. Yes, I needed to smile and laugh today. And to all my dour Calvinist friends: try it. Your face won't break, trust me.
The rest of Emir's response, outside of leaving out some rather important facts, is far more respectful and useful than anything Ergun Caner posted, and I appreciate that.
Now, back to the serious stuff for a moment and, outside of the DL today, hopefully for the last time for a while, at least regarding this particular incident. It will be stated that the debate was cancelled over six minutes of time. That is untrue. Remember, I tried to deal with Dr. O'Donnell, all the while experiencing the incredible silence of the Caner brothers, who had negotiated the agreement. They allowed O'Donnell to throw their agreement "under the bus" and said nothing while I struggled, while trying to write a book and prepare for three debates over the course of the next month, to reason with him, not only about the agreement, but about video taping rights as well. What is not being said is that the very first thing torn out was the cross-examination that we had specifically asked for in the agreement arrived at. I have said it repeatedly in the past, and I'll say it again: in theological debate the truth is normally determined by cross-examination. I know that is not the case in scholastic speed-talking, but it is in this context, a context that is unfamiliar territory for all involved on the other side. So, cross-ex was being diminished to the point of being irrelevant. Further, and again, this must be explained by the Caners, they had been given first and last word and not once did anyone on their side even attempt to defend this action in light of the fact that the only reason that advantage is given to the affirmative is because they have the burden of proof. There was no need for this in our debate because of the lack of an affirmable/deniable thesis statement! We had agreed that whoever went first, did not go last. Even and fair. This was changed, no reason was given, and no compromise offered. And finally, the real reason that neither Ergun nor Emir Caner have yet to even acknowledge is the one that all fair minded people who have read the documentation knows was the real "deal breaker:" the Caners allowed their word to be violated unilaterally, making trusting them impossible. They gave their word, they signed the agreement (see screen shot below), they made it clear they would change the agreement if told to do so. Upon what basis could anyone trust that the debate would go forward as promised even if we agreed, yet again, to another modified format?
Now, Emir raises the issue of the length of the debate. Again we have the problem of not being familiar with theological debate. I have not done a lot of four-man debates, but obviously, when you are bringing men in from all over the country, you do not do so while limiting them to a tiny amount of time during which to speak. I just checked the length on the one debate I did that had four men involved at Boston College (please note the parallel there) and it was four hours, twenty minutes in length. I do not recall anyone leaving that debate, by the way. Anyway, my one-on-one debates on Long Island run 3.5 hours regularly. Hence, all we were asking for was the same length as my normal one-on-one debates in the Great Debate Series. This is too long for a four man debate on a massively wide topic? Seriously? Since the debate was to start at 6pm (the original invitation said 7pm, so, they had no problem going to 9:30 back then), that would have taken us all the way to the tremendously late hour of...9:30pm. This is too long? I hardly think so.
So in any case, I hope, honestly, this is my last blog entry on this topic. I can't see how there is anything more to be said. The facts are out there, and I personally do not believe we are going to get beyond the impasse of "We chose to unilaterally violate our own word and scrap the agreement we signed, and we chose to do so less than two weeks prior to the debate." That is what happened, the documentation is unquestionable.
So, to close this topic, I simply must post without a doubt the most "spot on" observation I have seen about this entire debacle. Our good friend Angelz is a cartoonist in the Chicago area. His work is of the highest level, as anyone who has reviewed his work on my blog in the past knows. But beyond his exceptional skills at transferring real faces to the canvas is his insight into the reality of apologetic and theological situations. I have always appreciated the fact that what makes Angelz' cartoons so good is that they capture the essence of a situation. If you don't read his titles you miss his point. And so this morning Angelz weighed in on the Caner situation. Now, I know that the same folks who detest the editorial cartoons will dislike anything Angelz says, seemingly thinking that only the written word should be used, never the drawn image. But Angelz is making a statement in art that is absolutely positively identical to what I've been saying all along: this debate ended because of a fundamental lack of trust, and by reminding all of us (I guess some young folks might not get this one, now that I think about it) of an image that is part of our common cultural experience, he has nailed the situation down perfectly. By the way, as you look at this, think of this: could anyone on the Caner's side draw one that is as truthful? And that, my friends, proves the case. And now, Angelz graphic commentary:
[Full size image here]