I have resisted posting anything about the prospective “debate” between Drs. Ergun and Emir Caner and Dr. James White and me over the last few weeks because I did not want to do anything that would muddy the waters as we were trying to work out details regarding format, thesis, length, protocol, etc. Silly me. I have finally been completely disabused of every delusion I previously entertained that the Caners were interested in a genuine exchange of ideas for the purpose of clarifying points on which we agree and on which we disagree regarding the doctrine of salvation.
While it is certainly true that love hopes all things even love cannot deny reality. And the reality is that Dr. Ergun Caner, and to a lesser degree his brother, have engaged in some of the most bombastic, mean-spirited obfuscation that I have ever experienced in any attempt to communicate about matters of the Christian faith. For the last several weeks, I have refrained from allowing myself to make that judgment because I kept hoping that at some point Dr. Ergun Caner would tire of his game and would deal honestly and respectfully with the repeated requests to finalize details in appropriate and mutually agreeable terms. After last night, I am convinced that such hopes were a mere pipe dream. Dr. White has posted the entirety of the email exchange (the bulk of which is between him and Dr. Ergun Caner as spokesmen for each side) on his website. Warning: it is not for the faint of heart nor for those who would like to believe that the top administrators of Liberty Baptist Seminary and The College at Southwestern Baptist Seminary are gracious, considerate men or that they sincerely want to debate the issues involved in our disagreements (of course, anyone who read their flamethrowing comments on this blog in February should harbor no such delusions). Furthermore, if you intend to read the whole exchange, you will need a large chunk of time.
Dr. White provides the details and he and I will be discussing this tomorrow on his Dividing Line program. Let me simply reveal the convoluted thesis that Drs. Caner are insisting we debate:
Resolved: That God is an Omnibenevolent God to all of humanity through salvation and opportunity.
Now, if you can explain exactly what is being asserted here, please let me know. We have repeatedly asked for such an explanation from the Caners and–as has been the case with numerous other questions–have been completely stonewalled all the while being accused of exercising “delay tactics” and having our willingness to debate questioned. Read the correspondence. It really is amazing.
As it now stands, the “debate” is set for October 16 at the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. They style that they have insisted on (finally, after much prodding that some formal style be adopted) is “Parliamentarian,” which is based on the type of debate that characterizes the British House of Commons. Thus far, the Caners have not insisted that we be required to speak with British accents (though maybe we could persuade Dr. White to wear his kilt!).