Archive for January, 2014

Restore Balance in the Two Kingdoms

January 22, 2014

This is the kind of comment that leads people to call an unbalanced view of the two kingdoms, “radical two kingdoms”:

Indeed, in general terms, it seems from the New Testament that the less we have to do with the magistrate, the better it will be for us.

(source R. Scott Clark)

That’s the same R. Scott Clark who was recently stumping for civil magistrate on his blog as discussed at this link.

Clark further states:

Nevertheless, when it comes to the visible, institutional church, the Scriptures enjoin on us an attitude of submission and a desire to protect those who look after the welfare of our souls that it does not require of us regarding the civil magistrate, who looks after our outward, common, shared life. The magistrate, in his office, is not enjoined to pray for us.

I respond:
a) The duty of submission is a mutual duty of the brethren, not a one-way duty toward elders.
Peter, in his first catholic epistle, says:

1 Peter 5:5
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

Likewise, Paul teaches us:

Ephesians 5:21
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

b) We are explicitly told to submit ourselves unto those who have worldly authority:
That same Peter in the same book we mentioned above – earlier in the book – says:

1 Peter 2:13-14
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

Likewise, still earlier:

1 Peter 2:17
Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.


Colossians 3:22-24
Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Indeed, these commands are quite closely paired with obedience to the Lord.

c) Clark seems to have in mind the following passage from Hebrews:

Hebrews 13:17-18
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.

But this resembles Paul’s exhortation regarding kings:

1 Timothy 2:1-4
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Incidentally, the structure of Hebrews 13 is quite beautiful – it includes “Remember them which have the rule over you … Obey them that have the rule over you … Salute all them that have the rule over you ….”

d) Furthermore, while there may not be an explicit command for kings to pray for those entrusted to them, that surely is a logical inference to be drawn from the duties of superiors to inferiors.

e) Moreover, the Scriptures do explicitly norm kings and those in authority:

Psalm 2:10-12
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

f) Certainly, we should not fall into the opposite extreme from Clark, of some kind of democratic congregationalism and denial that those who have rule over us in the church do not have any rule over us in the church. I hope no one will take my criticism of one imbalance to suggest the opposite imbalance.

g) Rather, neither magistrates nor elders of the church are priests whose job it is to stand between us and God. While those who rule over us bring the Word of God to us and set a good example for us (Hebrews 13:7) the great Shepherd of the sheep is Christ (Hebrews 13:20). Christ is Lord over all – both Lord of the Sword and the Gospel. The cattle on a thousand hills are his.

– TurretinFan

The "We Dressed Differently" Claim

January 22, 2014

Dr. Ergun Caner has sometimes claimed that he “dressed differently” than typical Americans back when, as a young boy, he was allegedly a devout Muslim. One reason to question this claim is the photo of his father in front of the Islamic Center that he supposedly “built.”

Someone dressed as an imam is near the center of the picture, and Caner’s father is allegedly to his right (our left). But wait, if the Caners dressed differently than typical Americans, wouldn’t that appear in photos like this one? I mean – the one surely safe place to wear Islamic garb would surely be right in front of a posted Islamic Center, wouldn’t it? Yet even for this picture, Caner’s father is wearing typical Western clothes.

Also, notice that except for the imam, all the men are in Western clothes. In other words, Caner’s father looks like the rule, not the exception, for the Muslims of this particular Islamic Center.

Recall that Norm Geisler tried to defend Caner this way (link to source):

5. Caner claims to have worn a Muslim “keffiyeh”(head covering) before his conversion to Christianity, yet photos show him with his head uncovered. This reveals that he was not a devout Muslim and that he intended to deceive when claiming to be one.

Response: Ergun’s brother Emir vouches for their devout Muslim background. He has provided a picture (below) of Ergun with his head covered (sitting down). Of course, there were other times when he had no covering on which would be natural.

[TFan note: link to photo is broken]

Other evidence of his being a devout Muslim is available, such as Ergun’s circumcision ceremony and participation in the reading and recitation of the Qur’an. Further, that Ergun was reared a devout Muslim is proven by his father’s testimony recorded in the divorce proceedings documents which ironically Ergun’s critic placed on the internet.

Whether or not Caner was a “devout” Muslim is one question – whether Caner regularly dressed like Lawrence of Arabia, is another question.  Given that his father apparently did not so dress, even for a posed photo at the Islamic Center with the imam, what are the odds that Caner himself regularly wore Islamic garb to highschool?


Notice that Caner proudly posts this picture as his background on his full twitter page (link).

UPDATE: I should add that the only leadership position we’ve been able to document Acar Caner holding is as President (at least twice) of the Turkish American Association of Central Ohio (TAACO) (link to site). That page also includes a picture of Acar Caner:

(sorry about the low quality)(previously reported here)
Now, not only does Acar plainly not wear any kind of Lawrence of Arabia style headgear, even in this role in a Turkish-American association, he doesn’t appear to be wearing Sunni-style robes.  In fact, if you look at the page and see all the presidents (including women presidents), you’ll see that none of them seem to be wearing distinctively Sunni clothing.  Indeed, the women aren’t even wearing headscarves.  Of course, as we’ve said elsewhere – dressing in Western style was normal for Turkish Muslims in that era.  If Caner had dressed differently, he would have been an unusual Turk indeed.

Also, see this picture:

And this picture:

And notice how the sons are dressed in those same pictures: western style clothes.

Likewise, remember the yearbook photos from my “Who is Dr. Caner” post (link to post).

Further Update:

Also recall this photo allegedly of Caner in the mosque with a rifle:

Notice that although the girl does seem to be dressed up, Caner and all the other males in the picture are wearing typical western clothes.

Calvin vs.(?) Turretin on Inerrancy

January 20, 2014

The doctrine of Biblical inerrancy is sometimes associated with Francis Turretin (the real one, not me, his fan).  There was an interesting article in the Autumn 2011 edition of “Foundations,” which addresses the question, “Did Turretin Depart from Calvin’s View on the Concept of Error in the Scriptures” (link to pdf of whole issue).  The author, Ralph Cunnington, does an excellent job of demonstrating and explaining that – in fact – both Calvin and Turretin were in agreement.  His conclusion states:

Calvin and Turretin both held to a view of the inspiration and authority of Scripture which affirmed that the Scriptures as originally given were without error in all that they affirmed. The view that Calvin only affirmed the infallibility of the saving content of Scripture rests upon decidedly unpersuasive grounds and conflicts with Calvin’s unambiguous statements to the contrary.
Furthermore, the contention that a radical disjunction exists between Calvin’s view of Scripture and that of Turretin remains unproven. While a shift in the form of theological discourse unquestionably took place in the seventeenth century, the content of orthodox doctrine remained substantially the same. Far from dispensing with Calvin’s doctrine of inspiration, Turretin sought to defend it against the new challenges that it faced in the seventeenth century. While his methodology may be questioned, we should be in no doubt that Turretin intended his doctrine to be an expression of continuity with the doctrine expounded by the Reformers.

But please read the article for yourselves!

– TurretinFan

Lightning Breaks Idol – Men Repair

January 20, 2014

The New York Post reports (link) that lightning broke a finger off the idol purporting to be of Jesus Christ, in Rio de Janeiro.  The idol cannot protect itself from lightning (this is not the first time it’s been struck).  Moreover, God – who sends the lightning – has actually broken the idol.  Yet, instead of just abandoning (or better yet razing) this idol, the plan is to repair it.  One is reminded of a similar situation in Scripture:

I Samuel 5:1-5 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.

The idol of Rio de Janeiro purports to be of the true and living God, but it is as helpless as the statue of Dagon.  It would be better for the men of Rio to raze this idol, rather than continually repairing it.

And it is not only the men of Rio who have such a sad lust for idols.  Recall that not long ago God sent lightning and destroyed the statue in Monroe, Ohio (link to story), with again the men saying that they plan to rebuild.


The Roman Catholic Problem of Hell

January 20, 2014

Scott Windsor has a post, “The Matter of Hell,” in which he sides with unordained Michael Voris against ordained priest Robert Barron. By contrast, Mark Shea has a post, “Michael Voris Again Smears an Innocent Catholic,” in which he sides with Barron against Voris.

Shea argues that Barron is saying almost exactly what Pope Benedict XVI said on the topic, whereas Windsor argues that Barron’s position comes close to falling under the condemnation of the Second Council of Constantinople. Per Windsor, Barron’s view is “scandalous at best and perhaps even heretical” whereas Shea thinks “Barron is guilty of no heresy, has said nothing “wrong” and is perfectly within the pale of orthodox speculation.”

At issue is Barron’s apparent view (which he says agrees with Balthazar’s view) we should believe that Hell is at least possible (as a metaphor for loneliness from divine love, not actually a place) but that we can reasonably hope that Hell is empty based on God’s universal salvific desire. Barron concedes to the big tent nature of Roman Catholicism, pointing out that folks like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas would disagree with him.

Shea likewise balances his comment by pointing out:

Now those, such as Ralph Martin who speculate that few will be saved are also (obviously) also within the pale of orthodoxy and share their opinion with not a few Fathers and theologians. But at the end of the day, that’s all you have: two schools of opinion–both of which are allowed by the Church.

But it’s not just Windsor and Voris vs. Shea and Barron. We could add that we have previously pointed out contemporary cardinals holding that hell may be empty (Cardinal George Pell and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor).

So, what’s the big deal? Well, on the one hand – the Scriptures are clear that there will be men in hell. For example:

Matthew 7:23
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Matthew 25:41
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Revelation 20:14
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Matthew 22:14
For many are called, but few are chosen.

1 Corinthians 1:26
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

Matthew 26:28
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Mark 14:24
And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

Romans 9:22
What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

Matthew 8:12
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

And we could on and on.  Although the great Origen erred in hoping for the eventual restoration of all creation, such a view is not consistent with Scripture’s teachings both that hell is real and that the punishment of hell is eternal punishment.

So, on the one hand, Windsor is right that people like Barron and a couple of Windsor’s cardinals are wrong.  On the other hand, such a problem is not resolvable on Roman Catholic grounds for basically the reasons that Shea and Barron enunciate: there has been no “official teaching” that anathematizes one or the other position, and consequently both contradictory positions are acceptable, even though both cannot be right.

Worse yet for Windsor and Voris, the evidence is that the current hierarchy supports and teaches the erroneous view.  I have not confirmed whether Shea is accurate in characterizing the teachings of Benedict XVI, but it clearly extends at least up to the cardinals.

The most remarkably thing is that Windsor and Voris continue to trust in this church (which teaches and promotes errors that they themselves are able to identify) rather than trusting in God alone and His Word. They may be able to convince themselves that these same hierarchs would never commit their erroneous doctrines to an allegedly infallible document, but such thinking seems wishful indeed in view of the highly compromised documents of Vatican II, not to mention the victory of the ultramontanists in Vatican I.


Unbalanced "Two Kingdoms" and Political Campaigns

January 17, 2014

Prof. Clark has a couple of posts up praising Ben Sasse and even including one of his political campaign advertisements (“Ben is a Straight Shooter” | “Ben is Speaking Up About Religious Liberty“). Personally, I can’t vouch for Mr. Sasse (nor do I have any particular criticisms), and that’s not the point of this post.

Among other things, Clark writes:

So, in light of the drift of the culture and the Christian accommodation to that drift, it has been interesting to watch Ben Sasse’s campaign for the U. S. Senate from Nebraska.

I appreciate Clark’s concern against Christian accommodation of the culture. At the same time, that’s one of the problems with an unbalanced view of the two kingdoms. It is an accommodation to the cultural norm that the state is to be “secular” rather than being normed by Scripture.

One of the ironies of the posts is that posts like these, which appear to be stumping for a particular candidate, would appear to violate the principles of the Darryl Hart-type unbalanced two kingdoms view. One of the commenters presented this issue, and in response Clark asked:

What about the twofold kingdom means that Christians cannot engage the civil realm?

and again

Now, once more, what is it about the twofold kingdom that prevents Christians from observing and commenting on the civil/political sphere?

I wasn’t the commenter in question, so Clark wasn’t asking me. I would respond that the more unbalanced forms don’t say that people (who happen to be Christians) cannot engage the civil realm, observe the civil/political sphere, or comment on the civil/political sphere. Nevertheless, it does prevent them from doing so as Christians, bringing Christian doctrine and specifically the Bible to bear. In other words, in the so-called R2K system, a Christian cannot comment as a Christian, only as a person. Prof. Clark is not commenting on Ben as one might talk about a particularly skilled quarterback (or simply one wearing the right jersey) but rather he appears to be bringing Biblical principles to bear on the situation (as well he should! and good for him!) This does not seem consistent with the more unbalanced views of the two kingdoms.

For example, recall that Hart wrote:

Christianity is essentially a spiritual and eternal faith, one occupied with a world to come rather than the passing and temporal affairs of this world.

(p. 12 of A Secular Faith) Frame explains, Hart “is opposed not only to the church taking political positions, but even to individual Christians claiming biblical authority for their political views.” (Escondido Theology, p. 248)

Contrary to what Hart seems to think (based on his book), the Scriptures have a lot to say about the passing and temporal affairs of this world, even though this is our pilgrimage with the best life yet to come. An error of an unbalanced view of the two kingdoms is creating a dichotomy between them rather than recognizing that the civil magistrate is a minister of God who ought to be normed by the Word of the God of whom he is the minister. Another error is like to it – treating all aspects of this life the same whether the Bible has said much (for example, good laws) or little (for example, plumbing, air conditioning, or pharmacology). Yes, the Bible is not principally concerned with teaching us how to roll aluminum foil quite flat without making it so thin it accidentally tears. The Bible is not principally concerned with teaching us how to build a controlled fusion reactor. But there are oodles of teachings regarding what sort of laws are good. There are oodles of teachings on marriage and family – on the raising of children, and so forth.


Charles Hodge Against 4 Point Calvinism

January 16, 2014

From Volume 2 of his Systematic Theology (link):

S: 4. Hypothetical Redemption.

According to the common doctrine of Augustinians, as expressed an the Westminster Catechism, “God, having . . . . elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.” In opposition to this view some of the Reformed theologians of the seventeenth century introduced the scheme which is known in the history of theology as the doctrine of hypothetical redemption. The principal advocate of this doctrine was Amyraut (died 1664), Professor in the French Protestant Seminary at Saumur. He taught, (1.) That the motive impelling God to redeem men was benevolence, or love to men in general. (2.) From this motive He sent His Son to make the salvation of all men possible. (3.) God, in virtue of a decretum universale hypotheticum, offers salvation to all men if they believe in Christ. (4.) All men have a natural ability to repent and believe. (5.) But as this natural ability was counteracted by a moral inability, God determined to give his efficacious grace to a certain number of the human race, and thus to secure their salvation.

This scheme is sometimes designated as “universalismus hypotheticus.” It was designed to take a middle ground between Augustinianism and Arminianism. It is liable to the objections which press on both systems. It does not remove the peculiar difficulties of Augustinianism, as it asserts the sovereignty of God in election. Besides, it leaves the case of the heathen out of view. They, having no knowledge of Christ, could not avail themselves of this decretum hypotheticum, and therefore must be considered as passed over by a decretum absolutum. It was against this doctrine of Amyraut and other departures from the standards of the Reformed Church that, in 1675, the “Formula Consensus Helvetica” was adopted by the churches of Switzerland. This theory of the French theologians soon passed away as far as the Reformed churches in Europe were concerned. Its advocates either returned to the old doctrine, or passed on to the more advanced system of the Arminians. In this country it has been revived and extensively adopted.

At first view it might seem a small matter whether we say that election precedes redemption or that redemption precedes election. In fact, however, it is a question of great importance. The relation of the truths of the Bible is determined by their nature. If you change their relation you must change their nature. If you regard the sun as a planet instead of as the centre of our system you must believe it to be something very different in its constitution from what it actually is. So in a scheme of thought, if you make the final cause a means, or a means the final cause, nothing but confusion can be the result. As the relation of election to redemption depends on the nature of redemption the full consideration of this question must be reserved until the work of Christ has been considered. For the present it is sufficient to say that the scheme proposed by the French theologians is liable to the following objections.

Arguments against this Scheme.

1. It supposes mutability in the divine purposes; or that the purpose of God may fail of accomplishment. According to this scheme, God, out of benevolence or philanthropy, purposed the salvation of all men, and sent his Son for their redemption. But seeing that such purpose could not be carried out, He determined by his efficacious grace to secure the salvation of a certain portion of the human race. This difficulty the scheme involves, however it may be stated. It cannot however be supposed that God intends what is never accomplished; that He purposes what He does not intend to effect; that He adopts means for an end which is never to be attained. This cannot be affirmed of any rational being who has the wisdom and power to secure the execution of his purposes. Much less can it be said of Him whose power and wisdom are infinite. If all men are not saved, God never purposed their salvation, and never devised and put into operation means designed to accomplish that end. We must assume that the result is the interpretation of the purposes of God. If He foreordains whatsoever comes to pass, then events correspond to his purposes; and it is against reason and Scripture to suppose that there is any contradiction or want of correspondence between what He intended and what actually occurs. The theory, therefore, which assumes that God purposed the salvation of all men, and sent his Son to die as a means to accomplish that end, and then seeing, or foreseeing that such end could not or would not be attained, elected a part of the race to be the subjects of efficacious grace, cannot be admitted as Scriptural.

2. The Bible clearly teaches that the work of Christ is certainly efficacious. It renders certain the attainment of the end it was designed to accomplish. It was intended to save his people, and not merely to make the salvation of all men possible. It was a real satisfaction to justice, and therefore necessarily frees from condemnation. It was a ransom paid and accepted, and therefore certainly redeems. If, therefore, equally designed for all men, it must secure the salvation of all. If designed specially for the elect, it renders their salvation certain, and therefore election precedes redemption. God, as the Westminster Catechism teaches, having elected some to eternal life, sent his Son to redeem them.

3. The Scriptures further teach that the gift of Christ secures the gift of all other saving blessings. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. vii 32.) Hence they are certainly saved for whom God delivered up his Son. The elect only are saved, and therefore He was delivered up specially for them, and consequently election must precede redemption. The relation, therefore, of redemption to election is as clearly determined by the nature of redemption as the relation of the sun to the planets is determined by the nature of the sun.

4. The Bible in numerous passages directly asserts that Christ came to redeem his people; to save them from their sins; and to bring them to God. He gave Himself for his Church; He laid down his life for his sheep. As the end precedes the means, if God sent his Son to save his people, if Christ gave Himself for his Church, then his people were selected and present to the divine mind, in the order of thought, prior to the gift of Christ.

5. If, as Paul teaches (Rom. viii. 29, 30), foreknowledge precedes predestination, and if the mission of Christ is the means of accomplishing the end of predestination, then of necessity predestination to eternal life precedes the gift of Christ. Having, as we are taught in Eph. i. 4, 5, predestinated us to the adoption of sons, God chose us before the foundation of the world, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. This is the order of the divine purposes, or the mutual relation of the truths of redemption as presented in the Scriptures.

6. The motive (so to speak) of God in sending his Son is not, as this theory assumes, general benevolence or that love of which all men are equally the objects, but that peculiar, mysterious, infinite love in which God, in giving his Son, gives Himself and all conceivable and possible good. All these points, however, as before remarked, ask for further consideration when we come to treat of the nature and design of Christ’s work.

And again:

Hypothetical Universalism.

A class of theologians in the Reformed Church who did not agree with the Remonstrants against whom the decisions of the Synod of Dort, sustained by all branches of the Reformed body, were directed, were still unable to side with the great mass of their brethren. The most distinguished of these theologians were Amyraut, La Place, and Cappellus. Their views have already been briefly stated in the sections treating of mediate imputation; and of the order of decrees and of the design of redemption. These departures from the accepted doctrines of the Reformed Church produced protracted agitation, not in France only but also in Holland and Switzerland. The professors of the University of Leyden. Andreas Rivet and Frederick Spanheim, were especially prominent among the opposers of the innovations of the French theologians. The clergy of Geneva drew up a protest in the form of a Consensus of the Helvetic Churches which received symbolical authority The doctrines against which this protest was directed are, (1.) That God, out of general benevolence towards men, and not out of special love to his chosen people, determined to redeem all mankind, provided they should repent and believe on the appointed Redeemer. Hence the theory was called hypothetical universalism. (2.) That the death or work of Christ had no special reference to his own people; it rendered the salvation of no man certain, but the salvation of all men possible. (3.) As the call of the gospel is directed to all men, all have the power to repent and believe. (4.) God foreseeing that none, if left to themselves, would repent, determines of his own good pleasure to give saving grace to some and not to others. This is the principal distinguishing feature between the theory of these French theologians and of the Semi-Pelagians and Remonstrants. The former admit the sovereignty of God in election; the latter do not.

This system necessitates a thorough change in the related doctrines of the gospel. If fallen men have power to repent and believe, then original sin (subjectively considered) does not involve absolute spiritual death. If this be so, then mankind are not subject to the death threatened to Adam. Therefore, there is no immediate imputation of Adam’s sin to his posterity. As they derive a polluted nature from him, which is the ground of the displeasure of God, they may so far be said to share in his sin. This is mediate imputation. Again, if the death of Christ does not render certain the salvation of his people, then it was not vicarious in the proper sense of that word; nor did He die as a substitute. His satisfaction assumes of necessity the character of a general display, a didactic exhibition of truth. At least this is the logical tendency, and the actual historical consequence of the theory. Moreover, if Christ did not act as the substitute and representativc of his people, there is no ground for the imputation of his righteousness to them. The French theologians, therefore, denied that his active obedience is thus imputed to believers. The merit of his death may be said to be thus imputed as it is the ground of the forgiveness of sin. This of course destroys the idea of justification by merging it into an executive act of pardon. Moreover, the principles on which this theory is founded, require that as every other provision of the gospel is general and universal, so also the call must be. But as it is undeniable that neither the written word nor the preached gospel has extended to all men, it must be assumed that the revelation of God made in his works, in his providence, and in the constitution of man, is adequate to lead men to all the knowledge necessary to salvation; or, that the supernatural teaching and guidance of the Spirit securing such knowledge must be granted to all men. It is too obviously inconsistent and unreasonable to demand that redemption must be universal, and ability universal as the common heritage of man, and yet admit that the knowledge of that redemption and of what sinners are required to do in the exercise of their ability, is confined to comparatively few. The “Formula Consensus Helvetica,” therefore, includes in its protest the doctrine of those “qui vocationem ad salutem non sola Evangelii praedicatione, sed naturae etiam ac Providentiae operibuis, citra ullum exterius praeconium expediri sentiunt,” etc. [574] It is not wonderful, therefore, that this diluted form of Augustinianismn should be distasteful to the great body of the Reformed Churches. It was rejected universally except in France, where, after repeated acts of censure, it came to be tolerated.

Christian Answers to Two Roman Catholic Questions on "Catholic Answers"

January 11, 2014

The show that calls itself “Catholic Answers,” recently featured a Missouri Synod Lutheran caller as highlighted on a recent Dividing Line.  In response to the caller, the hosts began asking him some questions.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you get these same questions from some of your Roman Catholic friends and acquaintances, particularly those who listen to “Catholic Answers.”

Question 1: Where is Sola Scriptura in the Bible?
Short Answer: John 20:31 says, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” And many other verses.
Brief Explanation: John’s statement implies that a person could pick up John’s gospel, read it, believe it, and receive eternal life in that way.  Moreover, John’s statement at least hints at the fact that the other gospels have a similar purpose – they are written for us to read, believe, and have eternal life.
Possible Objection: But where is the only in that text?
Response: The sola or only of “Sola Scriptura” is simply a negative claim – in other words, it’s saying that Scripture is unique – there’s nothing else like Scripture. If you want some verses that emphasize the unique character of Scripture, those also exist.
For example, Romans 3:4 says “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, “That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.’ (Psalm 51:4)”  This emphasizes the crucial distinction between God’s word and mens’ words.
Another example is this: 

Deuteronomy 13:1-5If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, “Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;” thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

The point to take away from that passage is that even if someone has authority that appears to be attested by working wonders, the person’s message should be judged by the Scriptures (in this case, by the Pentateuch). 
Paul similarly warns the Galatians: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8)  Someone may object that “preached” could refer to the gospel Paul delivered orally.  Nevertheless, we have that gospel in written form today.
Likewise, the Bereans are commended for subjecting the apostles’ own preaching to a comparison with the Scriptures: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
Question 2: Where is “Scripture interprets Scripture” in the Bible?
Short answer: 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” If that is true, then it follows that all Scripture has one divine author even if it has many human authors.
Longer answer: Indeed, we have examples of Scripture interpreting itself explicitly, such as the quotation from John 20:31, above, which provides a purpose for the book of John, and more broadly for Scripture. Other examples include the citation of Old Testament passages in the New Testament, together with explanations of what they meant or how they were fulfilled in Christ.  Indeed, sometimes the New Testament includes Jesus’ own explanation of his parables.  Numerous other examples could be provided.
Rejoinder: But even if we had no answer, can the matter seriously be doubted?  Does the person asking the question really think that the Bible is either incomprehensible or should not be understood by taking one part in relation to another?  
Even the Roman Catholic “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” puts it this somewhat poetic (and consequently imprecise) way (CCC 102): 

Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely: You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time.

We understand that Rome wishes to deny Christians the ability to judge her doctrines by Scripture, but surely it cannot be denied that Scripture does interpret Scripture.  How else would one read it?  As just isolated statements each possibly meaning anything at all?  The very notion seems bizarre.


The Middle Name Issue Revisited (and some miscellaneous items) with Ergun Caner

January 7, 2014

Middle Name Issue
Ergun Caner apparently preached “What Worship Looks Like” at FBC Lyons on November 17, 2013. Around 20:45 into the mp3, Ergun Caner states: “My father’s middle name, Mehmet, I took when he passed, it means Mohammed in Turkish.” (link to mp3)

That is nice as clarification that Caner’s name is not really “Ergun Mehmet Caner,” as he has put on his books about Islam. One problem though: from what we can tell, it wasn’t so much “when he passed” (August 25, 1999) as “after 9/11,” as seen in this post (link).

Recall that Norm Geisler wrote:

The Charge that Caner has Used various Names in Publications. Dr. Caner has used “E. Michael Caner” in one book while using “Ergun Mehmet Caner” in other books. Why? His mother desired that he use Michael, a name she always wished to give him, while Dr. Caner used “Mehmet” in honor of his father, especially after his father’s passing in 1999. Some have even attacked his nickname, “Butch,” which he has used since moving to the South and was a name given to him by those who had difficulty pronouncing his first name.

Always wished to?  It’s his real name.  And again – “after his father’s passing” may be true, but “after 9/11” would be more accurate.

Interestingly, Dr. Caner’s father apparently legally changed his middle name to Mehmet from Martin back in 1980 (link to post).  I’m not sure whether the “Martin” name was simply an immigration name error, or something else.

I would like to see any evidence that Caner used “Mehmet” as his middle name before his father’s passing (to justify Geisler’s “especially”) or before 9/11, to justify Caner’s own comments.

More Creative Childhood
Ergun Caner apparently preached at the 2013 Summer Bible Conference on July 21, 2013 (link to evening video – Around 30 minutes into the presentation, Ergun Caner states: “I was in high school. And I’ve always been fat. There’s never been a skinny picture of me.” When you look at his high school yearbooks, he doesn’t look fat (link) – same when you look at his childhood pictures (e.g. this).

What’s even the point of making something like this up – claiming to have been a fat kid growing up?

Apparently Ergun Caner was on “Fortress of Faith” in June 2012 for a two-part series – but the audio from that appearance has apparently been removed. (link to first part)(link to second part)(another source – also apparently removed – part 1part 2)

An Immigration Account, a “Late in Life” conversion account, and the Middle Name again
Caner also apparently spoken in the morning session for the 2013 Summer Bible Conference.  During that session, around 32 minutes into the recording, Caner alleged: “152 miles almost directly west of here, is where – when we first came to America – we went to the mosque, there in Toledo.” (compare here and here)

Around 34:30 “I got saved, almost in college.  A high school boy, going into college.”
Around 35:00 “Got saved late in life.”

I wouldn’t usually think of high school as “late in life,” but perhaps that’s just me.

Around 42:30 “Ergun Mehmet Caner – Ergun, Mehmet, that’s my father’s middle name and I took it upon his passing …”

See the discussion above regarding the middle name.

Around 53:30 “I was raised to hate you.”

I would be interested if anyone who went to that particular mosque can confirm that they taught Muslims to “hate” Christians.

Around 53:45 “the five pillars: Abinadab, Salat, Zakat, Swan, Haj, they would do the Kalimah”

“Abinadab” is someone who had possession of the ark of the covenant for a while in the Old Testament.  It’s not one of the five pillars.

Around 54:15 “Even those who aren’t violent, they know what jihad means, jihad al-asghar – they know what it means and 134 miles from right here, that’s what I was taught.”

Is Caner seriously suggesting he was taught physical warfare at the mosque in Columbus?

Around 57:00 “Three and a half years – almost four years – he kept coming. Freshman year, Sophomore Year, Junior Year, at Gahanna Lincoln.

It looks like Caner is saying that he was saved midway through his senior year – basically the fall semester of 1983.  In other places, he has alleged it was

Around 69:00 “A year later, Williamsburg, Kentucky – going to college, trying to study the Bible – both my brothers get saved.  All three – three boys raised as devout Sunni Muslims. Three boys, sons of Acar Mehmet Caner, three boys come to America — Erdem and I were already born, Emir was born here — three boys come here to be Islamic missionaries to you – to build mosques.”

If Ergun was saved his junior year, then one year later he was still in high school.  If Ergun was saved his senior year, he wasn’t saved in 1982, but in 1983-84.  And to top it all off, Emir claims he himself was saved in 1982.


iTBN Contributions – Ergun Caner

January 3, 2014

For a full list of iTBN appearances, see the following link (Link). Apparently, Dr. Ergun Caner was a guest on a series of episodes of “The King is Coming,” with Dr. Ed Hindson, and also on a previous show hosted by Pastor Jentezen Franklin. The most disappointing comments are from that last show, but I’ve posted a short synopsis, below.

The King Is Coming with Dr. Ed Hindson, “The Coming Islamic Caliphate” (apparent date, May 19, 2013):

Starting around 8 minutes in, Ergun Caner describes Islamic eschatology.

At one point, Caner claims: “Mohammed borrowed from a lot of different books – gospel of Barnabas, it’s a fake book and others.”

It’s impossible that Mohammed borrowed from the “Gospel of Barnabas,” because it is a late medieval forgery – around 500 years after Mohammed. He probably did borrow from a variety of sources, as described in James White’s book on the Quran.

At another point, Caner states: “Can you imagine what it was like for me as a young boy, reading this through the Bible and going, Mohammed confused Jesus for the two witnesses of Revelation 11.”

It is nice to see Caner seemingly placing his introduction to Christianity as being when he was a “young boy.”

The King Is Coming with Dr. Ed Hindson, “The Rise Of The Antichrist” (apparent date, March 17, 2013):

Around 9 minutes in, Ergun Caner interviews Hindson regarding others’ guesses at the identity of the Antichrist and then regarding whether Islam could be the Great Whore of Babylon.

The King Is Coming with Dr. Ed Hindson, “Hell On Earth” (apparent date, March 3, 2013):

Starting around 16 minutes in, Ergun Caner describes Islamic eschatology. This seems to be the same eschatological discussion as in the first clip, above.

The King Is Coming with Dr. Ed Hindson, “The Coming Islamic Caliphate” (apparent date, September 11, 2011):

This appears to be essentially the same presentation that was later replayed on May 19, 2013.

The King Is Coming with Dr. Ed Hindson, “Armageddon” (apparent date, August 14, 2011):

Around 22 minutes in, Ergun Caner describes the importance of seeking salvation by grace, not works.

The King Is Coming with Dr. Ed Hindson, “Hell on Earth” (apparent date, July 10, 2011:

This appears to be essentially the same presentation that was later replayed on March 3, 2013.

“Praise the Lord,” (apparent date, June 29, 2004):

Around 40 minutes in, Ergun Caner gives an abbreviated version of his life story. He includes the following:
“Most of the time, when I speak, and most of the time when I am out, I’m speaking to hostile crowds. I am – as a processor, and writer, and such – I debate in universities and college campuses and debate Muslims, and Bahai and Buddhists, Hindus – muezzin, an ulema – different groups – and in these debates, I mean, I spend most of my time getting yelled at.”

Where is any example of Caner getting yelled at? Where are these supposed debates?

A little later, he states (around 47:15): “Look at me, Turkish, came to America, learned your language. I’m the guy they pick out of line on every plane.”

Technically, I guess this is true. But considering he was a toddler when he came, does it convey the right impression?

Around 49:15, Caner discusses his grandma’s approach to discipline, which supposedly involved “knock out” and “black out” but not “time out.”

This seems to refer to Caner being raised by his Swedish grandmother.

Around 51:30, Caner states: “I spent 18 years of my life assuming you hated me. I spent 18 years of my life assuming that we were at war with one another. We moved to America to build mosques. And the Christians I ran into didn’t hate me. They loved me in spite of me. And as soon as I got saved, I lost all my family.”

According to his current story, he became a Christian in 1982, making him 15 or 16.

Around 52:00, Caner continues: “They didn’t make fun my accent.”

What accent? How would someone raised in Ohio have a noticeable accent to other Ohio kids?

Around 54:30, Caner continues: “Why are they hitting the water with sticks? Snakes. Somebody should have told me. What you puttin’ a Turk in the middle of the water with snakes. I don’t know about snakes. Sand, I can handle. What’s the snakes for.”

Did Caner ever live any place that is sandy? There may be some desert areas in Turkey, but is it a particularly sandy place?

Around 57:00, Caner continues: “We cry out, ‘Abba – father’ he said. It is a term of intimacy. In my language and culture, it’s papa.”

The Turkish and Arabic equivalent of “papa” or “daddy” is “baba.” But are either of those languages Caner’s language? Interestingly, the Swedish equivalent of “daddy” is – in fact – “pappa.”

Around 58:45, Caner continues: “I’ve lived under three systems: socialism and fascism and democracy. Trust me, democracy works.”

I suppose you could say that Sweden is socialistic, but what fascist government did he live under? Even if he was for some brief period of time in Turkey, was that a fascist government when he was there? And why would we trust the experience of a toddler?

Caner immediately continues: “I’ve lived where they voted for me, I’ve lived where there was only one candidate, but I live in a land now, where I have a voice.”

Where are these places Caner has in mind? Does he mean people voted for him when he was a toddler or infant?

Around 59:00, Caner continues: “Here I am a Muslim background, Christian believer – Turk – immigrant – Persian”

I wonder whether Caner would still claim to be Persian today. Recall that on another program, he claimed he was not Persian (link).

Probably the most saddening part was when Caner tries to proclaim the gospel to Muslims around 1 hour and 3 or 4 minutes into the show. He throws out “Isa bin Allah – Jesus is God.”


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