Oct 7, 2006

Caners v. Calvinism: Caners Run from debate

For several months I have been following a challenge for a debate between the Caner brothers (former Muslims and big men on the Falwell Liberty U campus). I have read all the emails (sometimes debates in themselves) and have seen the Caners try to duck the debate multiple times. Finally the debate was scheduled. Agreement was made on where (in the Caner's home court of Liberty U), and rules for the debate were being worked out. They finally agreed and the debate was set for October 16, 2006.

Well, now the debate has been cancelled. The Caner's camp has attempted to change the rules again causing the debate to fall through.

Here is the text from the Caner's site regarding the proposed debate:

Baptist/Calvinism Debate

Baptists And Calvinism Debate
October 16th - 6-9pm at Thomas Road.

Monday evening from 6-9p Drs. Ergun and Emir Caner will debate Dr. James White and Dr. Tom Ascol on the topic Baptists and Calvinism. This is open and free of charge to the public. Please contact 592-4140 if you have any questions.

Live Video will be available via our site. Please visit this page again on October 16th for the live feed. (Baptists and Calvinism Debate page- Ergun Caner http://www.erguncaner.com/site/?page_id=125)

Here is the announcement of cancellation by Dr. James White and the Alpha Omega ministries:

There Will Be No Debate in Lynchburg on October 16th
The following e-mail was just sent to Emir Caner, Brett O'Donnell, and Ergun Caner.


Thank you for finally writing, Dr. Caner. I believe a quicker reply would have saved us all a lot of trouble, but that is water under the bridge.

In essence, Emir, you have just said that while you worked with Tom to arrive at an agreement, you are willing to renege, less than two weeks prior to that debate, on the agreement, throwing out the very heart of the requests Tom brought to you in good faith, all because Dr. O'Donnell does not like them? Sir, could I please ask you how we can trust anything that is said to us when your word can be changed by someone with an allegedly "higher" authority? What if someone decides that the debate needs to be two hours, and that on Monday night the 16th of October? Will that then be what happens?

Further, Emir, if Dr. O'Donnell is to be given ultimate, final, and complete authority over the debate (something that was never requested, let alone granted, by us), why did you come to us and ask what we would have to do to make this work? Why not have Dr. O'Donnell do this, since, if you are being consistent now, you did not have the authority to negotiate anyway? If you were negotiating in good faith then, how can you renege on that negotiation now? If you were not negotiating in good faith then, what was your purpose? I cannot begin to understand this behavior on your part.

I have to ask you all. If this is not breach of contract, at least in the realm of one's word and honor, what would, in fact, constitute this?

Well, this saga will certainly go down in history. It will do so because I will continue to arrange meaningful, scholarly debates with leading proponents of other viewpoints, just as I will be debating John Shelby Spong in November, and we will continue to demonstrate the highest standards in honestly seeking to fairly and openly defend the Christian faith in those situations. And if Dr. Ergun Caner would like to arrange a one-on-one debate at a neutral location in the future, I would dearly love to do so. But as it stands now, you have reneged upon our agreement unilaterally; you refuse to allow for sufficient time for a four-man debate and for the agreed to cross-examination; you likewise have claimed, through O'Donnell's actions, the advantage of speaking first and last despite the thesis statement not requiring that advantage to the affirmative side. Since the video taping rights issue likewise has not been completely settled, and given that Dr. O'Donnell has disqualified himself by his demeanor and behavior from moderating, it is obvious that there is no good faith being exercised by your side in this event. The ability to trust that the others will do what they say they will do is necessary to have a meaningful event.

Therefore, in light of the knowing and unilateral abandonment of the settled agreement on the part of Brett O'Donnell, and your support of this, there will be no debate on October 16th in Lynchburg, Virginia. Immediately before your e-mail arrived Dr. Ascol called me from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and I confirmed with him that we would not accept the unilateral rejection of our agreement. Then, I sent this e-mail to him for his approval, and he managed to get an internet connection from the airport, and he stands with me. There can be no debate without debaters, and the behavior of your side in openly reneging upon your word has made any further attempts to make this work, despite months of struggle, worthless. My personal challenge to Ergun Caner stands for a one-on-one debate, but now with the stipulation that it take place in a neutral location with a neutral moderator.

Any suggestions or assertions that this debate ended for any other reason than the truth, i.e., that twelve days prior to the debate the agreement upon which it was based was unilaterally thrown out by Brett O'Donnell with the support of Emir Caner, will be met with full and complete documentation of the facts. It is bad enough that this has happened. Please, do not add to this with any campaign to make it look like we pulled out of this. Everyone in this group knows otherwise.

James White

If the need arises (and I'm sure it will), I will provide all the documentation of the past days' e-mails. However, the last e-mail, to which I responded above, had a conspicuous "privacy" notification. See today's DL (here) for a discussion of the events leading up to the cancellation of the debate. (Alpha and Omega site October 6, 2006- James White http://aomin.org/)

While I am Reformed in theology, I have friends who are not. We make commitments to each other and are very civil to each other. We fellowship desite our disagreement. The Caners Mr. Falwell are venomous anti-Calvinists. I feel that Frank Page (SBC president) leans in that direction with the slanderous remarks about Calvinists getting in the way of missions. I believe, after reading the email exchanges, that the Caners have been trying to duck the debate for the whole time that Dr. White was trying to set it up. Ergun Caner calls himself the "intellectual pit bull of the evangelical world." Well, he resembles more of a poodle. Anyway, I don't see that referenced on his site any longer. He does have a bunch of pictures of himself though. I wonder about that. He boasts about his debates with other religions, but Dr. White has many recordings and documentation of his debates with many more different opponents than Caner mentions.

I doubted the debate would happen. I guess I was right. Such a shame. Albert Mohler Jr. and Paige Patterson were able to have an amicable debate during the Southern Baptist Convention in June 2006. Too bad Fawell and Caner couldn't be as civil.

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