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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Ascol Out, Debate On, Omnibenevolence Huh?

James White recently provided an update on the debate which is supposed to take place between he and Tom Ascol, and Ergun and Emir Caner. White expressed his desire to take a “fresh look” at the situation and make a reappraisal to the debate by returning to the thesis, format, and persons involved. The hopes of this sincere request was that there would be a calm, mature, and considerate change of tone from Ergun Caner. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed when Ergun Caner responded. A couple of weeks ago, Tom Ascol shared his update on the Caner debate in which a lengthy discussion ensued in the comments section as to whether or not Tom should bow out or stick it out. Good arguments were made from both sides, but James White revealed yesterday that Tom indeed will NOT be debating the brothers Caner. I totally understand Tom’s decision for doing so as I have read and reread all that the Caners’ have written and have found no decency or Christ-like behavior. More than a debate or even the topic of Calvinism is the issue of being Christian. This is what disappoints me the most. To review the latest update on White’s continuance of his PDF file, click here. White has agreed to debate both Caners alone. I know he does not need my help or the help of anyone else in the Reformed camp, but I am going to continue my research on the matter of omnibenevolence. This week I have spent about 15 hours in the library researching journal articles concerning religious pluralism and came across some amazing stuff on universalism and pluralism’s argument with omnibenevolence. If I can get around to reading and posting, I have about 35 books and 15 journal articles compiled thus far that speak to some degree on this issue. As I research and post, your interaction is appreciated. The Caners believe this to be a big deal—enough to say the following:

“Trust me, WE DEEPLY WANT TO DEBATE THE OMNIBENEVOLENCE OF GOD. We believe in it passionately.”

Brothers Caner, you are not alone in believing it passionately. So does John Hick, Thomas Talbott, Clark Pinnock, and a host of others outside the bounds of orthodox Christianity. Oh, and for what it’s worth, I am working on developing the “Arminian playbook” for this debate in which I am exploring all the possible ways the Caner’s could spin this philosophical concept against Calvinists (e.g. “You Calvinists really don’t believe in John 3:16—that God loves everybody”). Eventually, I think some of the possible paths they will take could be predicted . . . that is, if they play according to the rules. And that is a big IF.


Blogger johnMark said...

If one's theology and scripture interpretation is to be seen through the lense of omnibenevolence the only "escape" I see is the elevation of man's will and freedom.

My guess is that much like Dave Hunt did in "Debating Calvinism" the Caner brothers aren't going to deal with Dr. White's arguments. Rather, they are going to quote every and anyone reformed which seems to prove their point. I think it may turn out being a monologue vs. a dialogue.

Though I could be wrong.


7/14/2006 06:19:00 AM

Blogger Timmy said...

Dave Hunt definitely would be a "primary source" for the Caners, but given the outcome of Hunt versus White, I don't know if they want to go there. I guess that is why Hunt won't debate White either.

Concerning the outcome of the debate, I am unsure, but what I am already seeing is the outcome of this upon students at LU and LTS. Many are for the first time dealing with primary sources (the BIBLE!) for their soteriology. Anytime there is the movement of AD FONTES, reformational theology is inevitable. Maybe the best unintended consequences would be the exposure the biblical case for Reformed theology would receive. Maybe White is willing to be the sacrificial lamb so to speak for the sake of students being challenged and edified with biblical truth regarding God's sovereignty in salvation. Maybe . . .

7/14/2006 06:40:00 AM

Blogger Nick Kennicott said...

Incredible... absolutely incredible... I really can't even think of words to describe what has taken place, the Caners are simply out of control. What a shame that this is even a conversation between Christian men - such an easy task gone very wrong.

7/14/2006 07:43:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I look forward to reading the results of your research. One thing we can say about Ergun, he is consistent in his behavior. This has grieved me since he inserted himself into the "debate." What Ergun cannot see in his conversation is a lack of evidence on the fruit of the Spirit in his words. It was quite appropriate for James White to call him to repentance. This is not the way men of God who disagree conduct themselves.

7/14/2006 10:38:00 AM

Blogger Gavin Brown said...

Could it be that Ergun exchanged his Islamic beliefs for Christian beliefs, but retained his Islamic disposition?

Seriously, I am not leading here, just asking a question that has crossed my mind more than once. I know it is speculative, which is why I am asking instead of declaring.

7/14/2006 02:34:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

Nick and Travis,

Thanks for the comments. :)

Unfortunately, there is the idea that "debate" is somehow unchristian. However, debates have taken place all throughout church history. However, when what our eyes have seen and read and what our ears have heard, it is no wonder why people have such antipathy towards debating. There is a right way to go about this, and it could be very profitable for the church. Sadly enough, the right way has long been removed from this situation. As Ergun Caner has expressed in his comments, it is either his way or the highway.

7/14/2006 02:35:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


Of course one would have to know Ergun's theological framework better than we do as he has not shared much except his adherence to the Anabaptist tradition. I do remember how, however, he tried to call all Calvinists fatalists early in his comments on Founders. Fatalism is an Islamic tenet, not Calvinism. There is a HUGE difference between fatalism and determinism--one which I am not sure he knows the difference.

I do know some professors who actually taught Ergun Caner in class. We have talked about this and Caner's theology/style; however, I don't think I am at liberty to express what their opinions on this is. Maybe some of the students at LU who are speaking out could share a little from his theology classes about his position.

7/14/2006 02:40:00 PM

Blogger hadi said...

I am no Calvinistic in John White's camp; mine is close to Falwell's position. But honestly I think the Islamic mentality, the midle-eastern mindset is ingrained in Caners' ungentleman's attitude. It is a shame to have a dean with the kind of attitude. It is obnoxious. I'd rather send my friends to study in a John White's school rather than study under Caner. This is serious. This 'Islamic' mentality mixed with Falwell's fundamentalism. I think this attitude is embraced and fostered by Falwell. LU is no place to become a Gospel minister.

7/16/2006 09:02:00 AM


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