Saturday, February 25, 2006

James White Email Exchange with Falwell's Ergun Caner

Alpha and Omega Ministries, The Christian Apologetics Ministry of James R. White: "The Intellectual Pit Bull of the Evangelical Church? Correspondence Between James White and Ergun Caner"

If you have the time to read it, this is a remarkable display of the usual "logic" of Arminian thinkers. Caner demonstrates a complete lack of understanding in history, theology, logic, and credible debate. He refuses to discuss the issues and resorts to continual "playground defenses" like "I won't play with you because you're just going to win anyway!" In that sense, he openly admits defeat.
I think it is helpful to read something like this for several reasons:
1. It shows how easy it is to think through issues emotionally, not Biblically.
2. It demonstrates the absolute need of the grace of God in giving eyes to see and ears to hear... and the results of that not happening.
3. It exposes the pathetically shallow level of scholarship of some "big name" schools like Liberty University.
4. It prompts us to pray for the opposite of all three!

HT: Steve Camp


  1. I read that yesterday as well. It's one thing to attempt a rational response and fail. It's quite another to beat your chest and essentially say that you are above responding because the arguments have been refuted by others. I think he realizes he wouldn't stand a chance in a debate with White, yet was unwilling to graciously leave it alone.

  2. Kerux,

    I wholeheartedly agree with White theologically, but his methodology makes me want to stick up for Caner. Many people refuse to subscribe to the Doctrines of Grace because they believe Calvinists to be arrogant and ungracious. However irrational this might be, they have a point - and White proves it. I think he is a brutal ambassador for the cause.

  3. Hi Dave! How nice to hear from you!!!
    I know what you mean. I think I have learned to read some of these fellows with one closed to the edginess (is that the right word?) that often comes with their arguments. For instance, one would have hoped White might have spent more time gently declaring the Word than pointing to his own written works.
    But I also understand the nature of the exchange, White does note that it was all written in the space of 24 hours or so, and so I assume it would contain a less refined approach.
    This might get me in trouble, but I sometimes wonder if some of this isn't just a little Americana? There is a certain bravado and energy that comes with being an American... and I don't think it is always bad. But, I doubt the same tactic works outside of that culture. You are down there, Dave.. so I would be curious if you think that is accurate. I lived in the US for nearly 8 years and I think my idea is not totally off base.
    Would I go so far as to say he is a "brutal ambassador for the cause?" Hmmm. I am not so sure. The Lord seems to have had his Elijah's and Peter's. They could be pretty pointed, sarcastic and even "mean" at times in order to make their point. It is such a fine line though between using those tools to preach Christ and using those tools to obscure Christ. I am sure we have all done both! (At least I know I have... and much too recently!)
    Am I being too mamby-pamby?

  4. I think it is entirely right to point out that White's attitude is a detriment to his cause. He would likely say, if I can judge from the interchange with Caner, that his attitude is a non issue and the truthfulness of his point should be all that we look at. It is fair to point out that Caner's attitude is hardly stellar and given his poor theology then White wins. One bad attitude plus good theology trumps bad attitude plus bad theology. However, White, having good theology on his side ought to show better than he does, that good theology produces good character. The maintaining of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-4)grows out of having been chosen from before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 13-11). Why do we Calvinists (at least in the very restricted circles I travel in) have a general reputation of not caring for people, of being socially awkward, and not knowing anything that we didn't read in a hard to follow book? It should be just the opposite.

  5. Kerux,

    Thanks for the reply. There is no question that Americans enter into debate with more vigour (actually, they would enter it with vigor), bravado, and energy. In fact, Canadians would do well to emulate this, to a certain degree.
    However, what White displays goes well beyond the spirited conversation one might expect in the south. This is obvious from the White/Caner exchange, as well as from the long thread on the Founders blog regarding the next SBC president. If this was just standard American rhetoric then Americans wouldn't be objecting to it.
    I am all for spirited discussion and pointed critiques. In fact, I am working on a thesis that promotes the use of humor to expose folly (I think this is what you had in mind with you example of Elijah vs. Prophets of Baal. I'm not sure of what Peter example you were thinking of). If White was merely demonstrating this, I would be his biggest fan. However, his law-like and arrogant attitude (eg. jumping on Caner's non-Latin spelling of pedobaptism, and White's incessant promotion of his own books and debates)makes me unsettled in a way that mere Americana doesn't.

  6. Dave -
    Thanks for your thoughts. (This is what I love about blogging - it forces me to think outside of my own prejudicial box!) I think you are far more "in touch " with White than I am so I will defer to your evaluation. Frankly, I know very little about the man and have only heard him preach once (which I enjoyed). I can see what you are aiming at in his attitude... my exposure to his ministry is too small for me to defend him.
    I guess my point in posting this remains the same, however. I still feel Caner's attitude and logic are severely flawed and emblematic of so much that passes for scholarship today. That is not to excuse White. But I think that might agree with your first post?