Archive for the ‘Norman Geisler’ Category

"Many Wives" or "Other Wives" vs. "Two Wives" – Norman Geisler’s Indefensible Defense of Caner

April 1, 2014

In his so-called apology, Ergun Caner claimed “I have never intentionally misled anyone.”  I don’t see how to reconcile that claim with the many times (not just one or two times) that Caner has described his father as having “many wives” or “other wives.”  How was that not intended to mislead the listeners?

Recall that Norman Geisler attempted to defend Ergun Caner in this way (link to defense):

7. Ergun claimed his father had many wives and two half-brothers and two half-sisters, but there is no evidence for the half-brothers.

Response: Ergun’s father did have two wives, having divorced the first one.  He had three sons by his first wife (Ergun and his two brothers).  So, Ergun has two full brothers and two step-sisters (from his father’s second wife).  While speaking quickly on one occasion, he mistakenly called his brothers his “half” brothers.  This is hardly evidence of an attempt to embellish or deceive.  After all, he had the right number of each sibling, and he didn’t claim to have ten brothers or sisters!

Ergun’s father did have two wives – one after the other –  not many wives.  Yet Ergun repeatedly claimed his father had “other wives” besides Ergun’s mother.  “Two wives” does not support that claim, even if it could somehow be used to support the “many wives” claim.  Ergun also claimed that his father immigrated with “wives.”  That also does not match the two serial marriages story.

Furthermore, Ergun did not use the “half-brothers” claim only once.  He used it at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge and in two different messages at Ashburn Baptist Church.

And Ergun was not referring to his brothers when he said it.  At Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, Ergun said “I have half-brothers and sisters who don’t know Jesus.”  Likewise, at Ashburn Baptist on June 3 Ergun said, “And so in 1978, my father, my mother, my two brothers, my father’s other wives, and my half-brothers and sisters came to this country.”  And then again at Ashburn Baptist on June 5 Ergun said “I have half-brothers and half-sisters in Chicago, in New York, and in Turkey, who live here, who are still lost as geese” and again a few second later “How dare I give up! My half-brothers, my uncles, my aunts, How dare I give up!”

In short, while part of what Geisler wrote in defense of Ergun on this point is true (“two wives” and two half-sisters) much is untrue: it was not just once that he referred to “half-brothers” and he was not referring to his own brothers when he did so.  Even the true part falls short of defending the “other wives” claim or – bluntly speaking – even the “many wives” claim.

This and a number of other serious problems with Caner’s autobiographical claims are documented in the Caner Affair article (link), which is mostly an index to other posts that document a lot of what Ergun Caner has said.  Currently, the list of source posts is around 54 or so (and growing), but some of those source posts deal with more than one speaking occasion.  For example, Dr. Caner has spoken multiple times at some churches, and generally those messages are grouped together in a single source post.

-TurretinFan

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Rebuttal to Craig’s Denial of the Historicity of the Guard Account

June 25, 2013

The Bible declares:

Matthew 27:62-66
Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.”
Pilate said unto them, “Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.” So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Matthew 28:2-4 & 11-15
And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

But William Lane Craig says, in response to the question “were there guards at the tomb”:

Well now this is a question that I think is probably best left out of the program, because the vast, vast majority of New Testament scholars would regard Matthew’s guard story as unhistorical. I can hardly think of anybody who would defend the historicity of the guard at the tomb story. And the main reasons for that are two:
One is because it’s only found in Matthew and it seems very odd that if there were a Roman guard or even a Jewish guard at the tomb that Mark wouldn’t know about it and that there wouldn’t be any mention of it.
The other reason is that nobody seemed to understand Jesus’ resurrection predictions. The disciples – who heard them most often – had not an inkling of what he meant and yet somehow the Jewish authorities were supposed to have heard of these predictions and understood them so well that they were able to set a guard around the tomb. And again, that doesn’t seem to make sense.
So, most scholars regard the guard at the tomb story as a legend or a Matthean invention that isn’t really historical.
Fortunately, this is of little significance for the empty tomb of Jesus, because the guard was mainly employed in Christian apologetics to disprove the conspiracy theory that the disciples stole the body. But no modern historian or New Testament scholar would defend a conspiracy theory, because it’s evident when you read the pages of the New Testament that these people sincerely believed in what they said. So, the conspiracy theory is dead, even in the absence of a guard at the tomb.
The true significance of the guard at the tomb story is that it shows that even the opponents of the earliest Christians did not deny the empty tomb, but rather involved themselves in a hopeless series of absurdities trying to explain it away by saying that the disciples had stolen the body. And that’s the real significance of Matthew’s guard at the tomb story.

This shows part of the soft underbelly of William Lane Craig’s excessive reliance on scholarship over revelation. The text itself treats the account as historical. There are no signals in the text that the account is mythical or parabolic. Indeed, the theory that the “vast, vast majority of New Testament scholars” would be adopting here is one that says that the text has its origins in the will of man rather than in the inspiration of the Spirit.

Let’s consider the two reasons that Craig gives. The first reason is Mark’s omission of the account. This is hardly a compelling reason. After all, while Matthew includes the vast majority of the material found in Mark, Mark contains less than three quarters of the material found in Matthew. Mark is simply a significantly shorter gospel. The guard at the tomb story, while significant to the conspiracy story and consequently to Matthew’s apparently Jewish primary audience, is not a central aspect of the resurrection account. It’s not only absent from Mark but also from Luke and John.

In this way it is similar to Matthew’s account of the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27) that Jesus miraculously paid for himself and Peter with the help of a fish. That account likewise is not found in Mark, Luke, or John, and likewise is of particular interest to Matthew’s presumably Jewish primary audience.

Moreover, while the first half of the guard at the tomb account is in an easily separable pericope, the second half of the guard at the tomb account is woven into the account of the arrival of the women at the tomb, which is part that Craig would undoubtedly consider historical. Thus, the keepers of the tomb should also be regarded as historical.

The second reason that Craig gives is that the disciples did not understand Jesus’ resurrection predictions, and therefore it is unlikely that Jesus’ critics would have recalled these predictions. This analysis seems contrary to our common experience. Often, one’s harshest critics pay even more attention to one’s words than one’s own friends. Moreover, the disciples had a mistaken notion that Jesus first coming was to be like his second coming, in terms of being triumphant. They seemed not to accept his very clear predictions of his own death. By contrast, Jesus’ critics mocked his prediction of his death and accused him of paranoia (“The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?” John 7:20, for example).

Thus, the disciples were quick to overlook Jesus’ comments specifically predicting his resurrection. By contrast, Jesus’ critics hung on his every word. (“Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.” Luke 11:54) So, when they were thinking how to eliminate this movement, they were not depressed and in despair over Jesus’ death, but instead were focused on trying to stamp out the movement altogether.

Neither of Craig’s reasons, therefore, provide a compelling case for rejecting the historicity of the guard at the tomb account.

The clip from the John Ankerberg show can be seen in the embedded video, below.

By the way, Geisler got on Mike Licona’s case for denying the historicity of the mass Jerusalem resurrection account. Why hasn’t he criticized Craig for denying the historicity of the guard at the tomb accounts? In fact, William Lane Craig’s analysis of the account and its significance are significantly more harmful to the doctrine of inerrancy than Licona’s treatment of the mass resurrection as apocalyptic. Where is the consistency? Is Geisler simply unaware?

-TurretinFan

What Does Norm Geisler Mean by Predetermination?

November 27, 2012

One major objection to Norman Geisler’s “Chosen But Free” was Geisler’s odd treatment of the relationship between God’s eternal decree of providence and God’s knowledge of the future. Calvinists (and even Molinists) handle this kind of issue in a relatively straightforward way.

By contrast, Geisler skirts around the issue in his book. He mentions the term “providence” a few times, but does not explain his own position using that term. Instead, he summarizes his own position in terms of the relationship between “predetermination” and “foreknowledge.”

For example, Geisler claims that it is right to speak of God “knowingly determining and determinately knowing” (CBF, 3rd ed. p. 145). Dr. James White’s discussion can be found here (link).

Geisler refuses to provide any logical order to knowledge and determination. One feasible explanation for this is that Geisler views them as one and the same thing.

Geisler even states:

“But if God is simply (absolutely one), then both foreknowledge and predetermination are one in Him. That is, whatever God knows, He determines. And whatever He determines, He knows. … whatever God fore-chooses cannot be based on what He foreknows. Nor can what He foreknows be based on what He fore-chose. Both must be simultaneous, eternal, and coordinate acts of God.” (pp. 145-46) (my emphasis)

Moreover, Geisler makes a similar equation in several other places:

  • “The future (including free choices) is determined from the standpoint of God’s foreknowledge but free from the vantage of our free will.” (p. 20)
  • “The story is predetermined from the standpoint of God’s omniscience …” (p. 151)
  • “God knows for certain (=predetermined) precisely how we will use our freedom (= freely determined).” (p. 154)
  • “there is no contradiction in claiming that God knew for sure (i.e., predetermined) …” (p. 155)
  • “Whatever God foreknows must come to pass (i.e., is predetermined).” (p. 156)
  • “God’s foreknowledge and foredetermination cannot be separated.” (p. 159)
  • “from the vantage point of His omniscience, the act is totally determined.” (p. 225)

Moreover, Geisler’s equation seems to be apparent in Geisler’s use of distinctions from alternative views. For example, Geisler refers to “strong determinism” in this way:

“Fourth, this view is a form of strong determinism, which alleges that our moral actions are determined (caused) by another rather than self-determined (caused by ourselves).” (p. 41)

But Geisler refers to his own position this way:

“By determined here we do not mean that the act is directly caused by God. It was caused by human free choice (a self-determined act). By determined is meant that the event’s inevitability was fixed in advance since God knew infallibly it would come to pass. Of course, God predetermined that it would be a self-determined action; He was the remote and primary cause. Human freedom was the immediate and secondary cause.” (p. 156, n. 34)

In other words, Geisler resolves what he sees as an apparent contradiction between predetermination and freedom by effectively converting predetermination into certain foreknowledge.

For example, at pp. 156-57, Geisler uses the example of a taped football game to illustrate an example of something being both free and predetermined. In response to the objection that this is only both free and predetermined because the game happened in the past, Geisler responds (p. 157):

In response, we need only point out that if God is all-knowing (omniscient), from the standpoint of his foreknowledge the game was predetermined. He knew exactly how it was going to turn out in time, though we did not. Therefore, if God has infallible foreknowledge of the future, including our free acts, then everything that will happen in the future is predetermined, even our free acts. This does not mean these actions are not free; it simply means God knows for sure how we are going to use our freedom.

Then, only one page later (p. 158), Geisler writes: “It is determined in the one sense that God foresaw it.”

A similar analysis can be made of Geisler’s marriage proposal scenario at pages 146-47.

Possibly there is another explanation, but for all the world it looks like Geisler is equating (he even uses the equals sign) predetermination and certain advance knowledge. While such an approach may resolve any conflict between “predetermination” and human freedom, it doesn’t resolve the apparent difficulty that Geisler himself raises against what he calls “Extreme Arminianism,” at page 143.

On that page, in criticizing “Extreme” Arminianism, Geisler appears to endorse the idea that God does not simply foreknow what happens, but that God is actually in control of all that happens. But when it comes to Geisler’s description of “the balanced view,” the idea of “control” seems to disappear. Geisler seems to rely instead on knowledge rather than control.

If any of Geisler’s fans would care to clarify things for me from Geisler’s book, I’d appreciate it. But until I see a better explanation, it appears that Geisler simply is unable to escape the problem he poses for so-called “Extreme Arminians.”  He’s stuck basically reducing God to the position of a person who knows the future but does not control it any more than the guy watching a taped football game.  Indeed, as noted above, Geisler specifically states: “By determined is meant that the event’s inevitability was fixed in advance since God knew infallibly it would come to pass.”  But that does make determination logically subsequent to knowledge, despite Geisler’s protests to the contrary.

-TurretinFan

Chosen But Free Reviews – Part 4

May 21, 2011

I think this will be the last of the parts of my responses to reviews of “Chosen But Free.” Thus, I think I have now completed my series of responses (part 1, part 2, part 3) to reviews of Chosen But Free, with a particular emphasis on how I think the students who prepared these reviews might benefit from the rebuttal provided in Dr. James White’s book, “The Potter’s Freedom.” The numbering of the reviews picks up from the previous post.

31. THEO 202-003

This review seems to buy into the idea that Geisler has provided a “balanced” view of sovereignty and free will. As I have said many other times, I think the reviewer would be in a position to give a more balanced judgment, if he had also read Dr. White’s rebuttal in “The Potter’s Freedom.”

32. Onomonopia

This review expresses a similar sentiment to many of the other reviews. By way of providing an example, here’s how this review put it:

Ultimately, Geislers book is a great overview and relation of two opposing views that are normally seen to only be contradictory. He relates these views not just by his own knowledge but by pulling examples straight from the scripture itself.

As I have said many times, Geisler’s book isn’t balanced: it’s one sided. Those who read it should really take the next step and read the other side.

33. Love God With All of Your Heart

This review had one surprising comment that I thought was worth addressing separately. The reviewer wrote:

I do agree with that. God does have a plan and a purpose for our life. I do agree that nothing that we do can change God mind. We not get there the way that is way that God wants us to get there. But one day we will get to the place that God wants us to be. It just may take longer.

This sounds curiously fatalistic. We can’t change our destiny, but we can delay it. That’s neither the Calvinist nor the Arminian view, technically speaking. We Calvinists don’t hold that God simply has an end in mind for us that will somehow come to pass. We also believe that “all things work together for good” to those who are the called according to God’s purposes.

34. My testimony

This review seems to reflect that the reviewer caught on to the fact that Geisler is basically promoting a version of Arminianism (the version that teaches “eternal security”). The reviewer also sets forth an argument against limited atonement. I’ll respond to that argument:

1 peter 3:18 says For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit”. In Titus 2:11 it says “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men”. Lastly, in 2 Corinthians 5:15 it states “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf”. All these verses have the word ALL in them so I don’t really know how people can argue that God died for only the chosen when the verses say otherwise.

That emphasis is in the original review. A few responses:

Regarding 1 Peter 3:18, the “once for all” is actually just an idiom that means “once for all time.” The KJV puts it this way:

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

You will notice that “all” doesn’t even appear in that translation. The point of the verse is just that Jesus suffered one time. This contrasts with often-repeated Old Testament sacrifices and the Roman Catholic mass that is repeated daily.

Regarding Titus 2:11, the “to all” there should be carefully considered. Recall that the verse as a whole is this (KJV):

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

Notice that “to all men” refers to the fact that saving grace of God has appeared to all men. It doesn’t mean literally ever last person, but to the fact that this is not limited to the Jews. The proclamation of the gospel is for everyone, even if it has not yet appeared to everyone. The “to all men” doesn’t refer to “brings salvation.” If it did, we would be universalists.

Regarding 2 Corinthians 5:15, the verse does say “all,” but all of whom? All of the people in the world? Look at the context to find out (KJV):

2 Corinthians 5:14-15
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

As you can see from the context, the “all” refers to “us.” One died for all of us.

35. honest to goodness thoughts

This review comments on the issue of free will and its relation to evil. The review argues thus:

Some, such as Jonathon Edwards might argue that sin comes from nature but Adam contradicts that because he fell in a perfect world and was created good in nature. (Geisler,39-40)

I found that interesting, because I heartily commend Jonathan Edwards’ “Freedom of the Will” to everyone’s reading. I am surprised to hear that the reviewer thinks that a world with a tempting serpent and a wife who has already given in to the temptation is a “perfect world,” but even beyond that: doesn’t the reviewer think that there will be free will and an absence of sin in heaven? The problem here is really that Edwards’ position hasn’t been accurately portrayed. While our fallen human nature is one reason we sin, Adam had an innocent but fallible nature. He was able to make an error and he did. He judged it better to follow his wife and the serpent than to follow God.

36. Lauren’s blog

This review reflected a belief that Geisler had found a middle path between two extreme views. That’s the impression that the book gives. But that impression is easily remedied by reading Dr. James White’s response in “The Potter’s Freedom.”

37. Spit it Out

This review expresses the seemingly common (in the class) perception that the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate is a waste of time that would be better spent evangelizing. Evangelism is important. On the other hand, theology matters. If we are not really ready to understand free will, God’s sovereignty, and their interplay, we may face difficulty when we are asked those kinds of questions by the atheists and others we run into.

38. Nursing Student on a Mission

This review raises one of Geisler’s arguments against Calvinism based on the nature of Love. As expressed by the reviewer:

I agree with what Geisler says on page 140 of his book. He basically argues that love is not and cannot be irresistible. He states “God is love, and true love never forces itself on anyone, either externally or internally. Forced love is a contradiction in terms” (Geisler, 140).

Isn’t the answer a little obvious? Hell is coercion. There is a “turn or burn” aspect to the gospel call. If you don’t love God, you will burn in Hell forever. That should be enough to demonstrate that Geisler’s analogy is fundamentally flawed. What could be a worse threat than Hell? After all, we are not to fear those who can kill the body, but Him who can place both body and soul in Hell.

39. Joey Yapp

This review, one of the few that appears to be placed on a “real” blog (although some of the other folks have a “real” blog in addition to the class blog), seems to reflect an impression that the book was good and balanced. I hope that the reviewer will take the time to review Dr. White’s response in “The Potter’s Freedom.”

40. Theology 202: Dr. Caner

This review presented two points that I’d like to address briefly:

God came to this world to save the entire world, all sinners, not just a select few that he had chosen.

There are plenty of verses that indicate the latter. But consider the implications of the former position. If God came to save each and every person, has God mostly failed? Or is God free to save whom God wants to save? That’s one of the key points of “The Potter’s Freedom.” It explains God’s freedom to save.

One thing that I was a little disappointed with in this book was the lack of in depth scripture usage. Geisler uses tons of scripture references all throughout the entire book, but I feel like they barely scratch the surface of each topic. I mean, any person can flood a book with scripture references to make it sound like they apply to the topic at hand, but it doesn’t always mean that it proves the point that you are trying to argue. I loved the scripture he used, but I feel like he could have gone a little bit deeper with his usages.

Here’s where I think the reviewer might be especially thankful for “The Potter’s Freedom.” It goes in-depth in its exegesis of the Scripture text. In that regard, it stands in contrast to “Chosen But Free.”

41. Katie’s blog

This review is similar to many of the others in terms of buying into the idea that Geisler is presenting a balanced position. That idea is undermined if one reads the rebuttal to Geisler’s work, “The Potter’s Freedom.”

There is one comment from this review that I feel I should address:

I believe that Christ died for ALL, and ALL have the same opportunity to receive God’s gift. I believe that Christ desires for ALL to go to Heaven.

I realize that the belief that Christ died for everyone is quite popular, even though when Christ described his own sacrifice he did not say “which is shed for all” but “which is shed for many.” Nevertheless, even if you will not accept that Christ died for many (rather than all) at least you must acknowledge that not all have the same opportunity. Some are born into Christian families. They grow up in a church, being brought to Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and so on. They have a lot of opportunity. Other children are born in communist China. Their opportunities are more limited. And the people of this century have more opportunities to hear the gospel than those of previous centuries. Think about the American Indians before the Europeans showed up, for example. Think about all the nations outside of Israel before Christ. These people do not all have the same opportunity, even though all have the same way of salvation: repentance and faith in Christ.

42. LU THEO 202-003 (subtitle for blog: My blog about what Dr. Caner tells me to blog about for THEO 202-003)

This review similarly accepted Geisler’s claim to be taking a middle position. The review contained an interesting argument from Jonah:

God is in control but I don’t think He forces people to do things. He tells us what He wants, but I’ve never thought He would force anyone to do it. Just look at the life of Jonah. God told Jonah that He wanted him to go to the Ninevites, but He did not force him to go. Jonah ran the other way and wound up in the belly of a big fish. Jonah had a choice to go or to run the opposite direction. Jonah then saw that God knew what He was talking about and ran to Nineveh after he was vomited out of the fish.

If I put a gun to your head, I’m “forcing” you to do what I say. God didn’t put a gun to Jonah’s head, but he did place Jonah in a position where Jonah had to be cast into the sea to avoid his death and the death of the men that were with him. Moreover, God threatened all of Nineveh with destruction. They repented and God spared them. But it is strange to say that God is not “forcing” them.

You can say that “they still have a choice,” but I’m not sure what that gets you. Even if someone has a gun to your head, you still have a choice, yet at the same time you are being forced.

Moreover, God is able to change a person’s heart. That’s not at all like pointing a gun at someone, yet I suppose it would be considered “forcing” the person, according to the reviewer. What’s wrong with that kind of “forcing” though?

43. mattlillis

This review was interesting for a variety of reasons. I will respond to it paragraph by paragraph:

Geisler’s discussion on whether faith is a gift only to the elect in his book, Chosen But Free, was a most intriguing section, which I found myself very much engaged. On page 237 Geisler states, “Nowhere does the Bible teach that saving faith is a special gift of God only to a select few,” and proceeds to give numerous versus such as John 11:40. Geisler makes another very pungent statement a littler further on page 240 where he is tackling the Arminian and Calvanist view of faith saying, “God is pleased with our faith, yet this is not because it adds to the work of Christ, which alone satisfies God’s justice. On the contrary, God is pleased with our faith because we know we cannot do anything to add to the work of Christ and must wholly and completely trust in Him and Him alone for our salvation.” These two extremely profound revisions of scripture seem to resonate between Calvin and Arminius’ arguments in a way that makes total sense and only validates what I have already come to know and experience about God. I totally agree with Geisler’s main argument here that we play no role in adding to the salvation that Christ offers, this being in regards to having a “faith.” His choice of words and just overall clarity of message simplified such a complex and ingenious conclusion, and created one of those take away messages that great minds seem to come up with.

Regarding the issue of saving faith being a gift of God for a select few:

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Indeed, eternal life itself is the gift of God:

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

As for it being “for a select few,” not everyone has saving faith. If they did, all would be saved. They would all have eternal life.

Geisler’s point about God being pleased with our faith is not necessarily wrong in itself (I’m sure the reviewer mean “poignant” not “pungent”), but it misses the point. It’s good that Geisler doesn’t try to argue that faith is meritorious. Nevertheless, Geisler’s argument about faith pleasing God seems almost to treat faith as though it were a work, rather than as it being the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.

Next:

Another example that Geisler gives from scripture that seems to resonate on the same frequency with his other arguments is on page 237, “Finally, the Bible describes faith as ours. It speaks of ‘your faith’, ‘his faith’, and ‘their faith’, but never of ‘God’s faith’ as a condition for receiving the gift of salvation.” This argument, although good, is not as good as the other two I previous quoted, I disagree with what he is trying to do here because he is describing what the Bible doesn’t say, over what it does say, and this can be a slippery slope into false teaching.

The faith is ours – but isn’t that true of all gifts we are given? Is eternal life not ours, just because it is a gift of God? God is not the one who believes, we are. Nevertheless, faith – like life itself – is a gift of God. Surely Geisler would be willing to admit that life is a gift of God, yet God is not the one living our life.

Finally:

Norman Geisler’s overall methodology of attacking this monumental debate of free will that has been raging for centuries was overall very well communicated and easy to follow, which made the book enjoyable to read. I was not getting lost in cross references and incoherent rhetoric. One concern that turned out not to be a problem with Geisler that I had before starting the book, was I did not want to read just a conglomeration of Straw Man arguments and misguided scripture references. But Norman Geisler seems to take great caution throughout the entire book to avoid such arguments and quote scripture in a historical and contextual way that seem to validate most if not all of his conclusions. The appendices in this book though were not constructed well and I thought they should have been included in the main text, because that is where I found most of the “meat” of the text and his arguments.

I think the reviewer would really enjoy the meat contained throughout “The Potter’s Freedom.” The reviewer may also be surprised to discover that some of the positions that Geisler presented may be criticized as being straw men. That’s part of the value in reading a rebuttal: it casts further light on the quality of the original work.

44. Chosen But Free

This review is the only post on this particular blog. I have no idea of whether the author of the blog created a new blog for each of the blogging assignments, or only recently joined the class, or what. This review contained some similar comments to those already addressed above, as well as one comment that I’ll address now:

Norman Geisler states, free choice in this life means, “the ability to do otherwise” (21).

This is interesting. Does that mean that God does not have free choice, because God is unable to sin? Does that mean that in the next life, we will not have free choice – or that the very definition of free choice will change? These questions seem to undermine Geisler’s point.

On top of that, “the ability to do otherwise” is an ability that is never, ever used. It seemingly exists simply to make people feel better. It’s not just unused, it’s unprovable. One cannot prove that one had or has the ability to do otherwise than what one does.

45. Justine’s Blog

This review focuses on chapter 4 of Geisler’s book. The review makes one of the robot arguments that we are used to hearing:

I believe that we need to stop putting the blame on God and taking responsibility of own actions. I believe we have a free will to do what we want and I do not think that we are God’s robots just walking around on earth doing exactly what he tells us to do. If that were the case, we would live in a perfect world because God would not tell us to sin and do wrong. God loves us and wants us to always do right but He knows that we are not perfect and that we are going to fall short sometimes. We have a merciful, forgiving Savior who dies for our wicked sins and we need to be grateful that He has done for us. Also, if we did not have a free will then we would all be followers of Chirst and everyone would be on their way to heaven. But instead, we have people who love God with all their heart, people who are backslidden, people who don’t care about religion and even people who hate God. How can somebody say that they do not have a free will, after seeing the different levels of faith that there are? If we were all God’s ‘robots’ then we would all be on fire for God but that is unfortunately not the case.

The problem with the argument is the underlying the assumption that if God ran the show, there would be no sin. We are not robots, of course. No Calvinist says we are robots. Nevertheless, if one will concede that God is omniscient (he knows everything), omnipotent (he has all power), and interested (he cares what happens), then it follows that everything that happens is – in some sense – approved by God. God could (at least) prevent anything bad from occurring, and yet God does not.

God’s sovereignty, then, is higher than this reviewer gives God credit for. I would encourage this reviewer to consider reading James White’s “The Potter’s Freedom” to get a better picture of the sovereignty of God.

46. Theo 202

This review indicated that “one of my favorite parts” was the way that Geisler used Scripture. Considering the much greater Scriptural depth of “The Potter’s Freedom,” I believe that this reviewer might really benefit from Dr. James White’s rebuttal to Geisler’s book. “The Potter’s Freedom” also rebuts Geisler’s insinuation that Calvinists and Calvin had divergent viewpoints. Nevertheless, the five points (as such) are really more associated with the Synod of Dordt than they are with Calvin himself.

47. dagment

This review is another of the reviews that concludes that Geisler provides a balanced position between Calvinism and Arminianism. In “The Potter’s Freedom,” Dr. James White explains how Geisler has essentially just proposed an Arminian position (with respect to most points), while demonstrating from the Scripture why the Calvinist position should be accepted by those who accept the authority of Scripture.

48. alexanapier

This review can probably be well summarized by one of the lines from the review: “I enjoyed Geisler’s ability to use logic and scripture to defend the balance between free will and God’s sovereignty. ” While I can understand that one might get that impression from reading Geisler’s book alone, one really will get a more balanced perspective by reading the rebuttal to the book, namely Dr. James White’s “The Potter’s Freedom.”

49. Theology II

This review presented a few interesting points drawn from Geisler. I will respond to each:

Geisler makes a distinct difference though when he states “According to this view (Calvinism), God’s predetermination is done in spite of His foreknowledge of human free acts. God operates with such unapproachable sovereignty that His choices are made with total disregard for the choices of mortal men.” Here it is supposing that God knows what free choices we will make and plan accordingly.

This simply is not an accurate view of Calvinism. According to the Scriptures, God sovereignly ordains all things including men’s free choices. God’s decrees, therefore, are not “in spite of” man’s free choices. Instead, God’s decrees frame and give purpose to man’s free choices. Man’s free choices have a purpose in God’s plan.

The view that God knows what man will do and plans accordingly makes God reactive. It places man’s free will above that of God, since God is reduced to making the best of a mess.

For, as Geisler said, “If free choices were not considered at all when God made the list of the elect, then irresistible grace on the unwilling follows; that is, man would have no say in his own salvation. Accordingly, the fact that all men do not choose to love, worship, and serve God will make no difference whatsoever to God.” If it were not for this simple choice, then there would be no point in the creation of humans.

But Scripture says:

Romans 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

Isn’t that the point? Man does not have a say in his own salvation. It is all of God, it is all by grace.

Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

The point of God’s creation of men was not to leave God eternally disappointed. The point of creation was for God to glorify himself.

Romans 9:21-24
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 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: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

50. Tim’s Blog

This review focused on the question of who is in charge. One interesting passage from the review is as follows:

It is an incredible, comforting, and yet scary thought to know that the God that we serve knows our every action and our every thought. Having this is mind should change our actions and our thoughts. Luke 1:37 says that “Nothing is impossible with God.” This however brings up the question: Can God make a mountain big enough for him to move? This can easily be solved by clarifying that God can do anything that doesn’t contradict itself. In other words, God cannot lie because it is against his nature. Also, God cannot make a triangle with two sides because, by definition, a triangle is a three sided figure.

Hopefully, this reviewer realizes that man’s free will is not a mountain too big for God to move. With such a realization, one must realize that all things, even the free actions of human beings, are within God’s sovereignty and are ordered as God wishes. Only when God is in control is God’s sovereignty a comforting thought.

51. My Mind as an Open Book

This review is another review that aims to adopt Geisler’s position. The review even identifies the reviewer as a “moderate Calvinist” using Geisler’s categories. The review states, among other things:

I want to focus on chapter four and briefly state my opinion. Geisler’s premise was this: if God knows everything we are going to do and our free will cannot change that, then the future cannot be changed. Therefore, the conclusion is, we are not responsible for any of our actions whether good or bad. This is an extreme view of God’s sovereignty and does not take into account man’s free will.

But we cannot change the future. If we could, then we could render God’s prescience of the future wrong. But God actually knows what we will do – he’s not just guessing. So, that will definitely happen. If God knows we will do X, there’s not the slightest chance we will not do X. We may bring about the future, but we don’t “change” it.

52. Kirstin!

This review indicated an appreciation for Geisler’s use of Scripture. While it is good that Geisler attempted to support his position with Scripture, Dr. James White’s book, “The Potter’s Freedom,” demonstrated that Geisler’s attempted reliance on Scripture was mistaken. This review also included an argument that I thought it made sense to address here:

Geiesler also discusses the big topic of free will. In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve a choice, proving the fact that we are given a choice, and it is up to us to choose. We as humans have the free will to do what we want. Salvation is literally given to everyone and it is our human choice to decide whether we want to accept it or not. Here on earth, we are truly free. We are truly free because we are given a choice to do what we want, and are not bound to making a decision that we don’t want to make. I like the quote on page 21, “In heaven we will be free from evil; here we are free to do evil.” We are free to choose good or evil here on earth, but once we make our choice, we are bound to it when we die. God gave us the gift of salvation, not the gift of faith (pg. 229). Faith is what we have the freedom to choose. Basically, we all have salvation, it our choice whether we want it or not.

Has the reviewer really thought about the problem of heaven? Why is it ok for humans to be free from evil in heaven, but not ok for them to be free from evil (per Geisler)? Doesn’t that seem to be simply a double standard? Is there no free will in heaven? Surely no one would assert that. Therefore, free will isn’t really a sufficient answer to why we sin here.

Second, salvation is not given to everyone – it is offered to everyone. It’s important to distinguish between those two things. The gospel offer is universal – but the gift of salvation is given to those who believe.

Moreover, faith itself is a gift. After all the Scripture tell us:

1 Corinthians 4:7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

A consistent Arminian would have to answer the question with “faith.” But Paul’s point is to make a rhetorical question: God is the one who makes one person to differ from another. We have nothing – not even faith – that we did not receive from God. Therefore, we cannot glory even in our faith.

Norman Geisler’s Systematic Theology

July 24, 2010

Nick Norelli has posted a review of Norman Geisler’s Systematic Theology (link to review). The upshot of his review is that he feels he wasted $75 on the set (retails is apparently about $165). I’m sure that Dr. Geisler especially won’t like that Norelli ends up suggesting that Grudem’s single volume (very hefty, but bound as a single volume) Systematic Theology is better.

"Debate" with Norman Geisler Regarding Ergun Caner – Index

July 22, 2010

Given the wide latitude that Dr. Norman Geisler has given Dr. Ergun Caner in using the word “debate,” I don’t think that Dr. Geisler can reasonably complain if I now claim to have “debated” Norman Geisler on the topic of Ergun Caner. It’s not a real debate, and I’m not claiming it is, but there was some interaction. Here’s an index of the interaction.

1) (Geisler) Norman Geisler’s Alleged Comments
2) (TurretinFan) Response to Norman Geisler’s Coments
3) (TurretinFan) When can We Expect our Apology?
4) (Geisler) Further Comments from Geisler
5) (TurretinFan) Dr. Norman Geisler Digs Himself a Deeper Hole
6) (Geisler) In Defense of Ergun Caner
7) (TurretinFan) Intro to Response to Geisler
8) (TurretinFan) Response to Geisler Regarding Caner Part 1
9) (TurretinFan) Response to Geisler Regarding Caner Part 2
10) (TurretinFan) Response to Geisler Regarding Caner Part 3
11) (TurretinFan) What Dr. Geisler Overlooked
12) (Geisler) In Further Defense of Ergun Caner
13) (TurretinFan) Rebutting Norman Geisler
14) (TurretinFan) Is Lying a Moral Issue?
15) (TurretinFan) Has Norman Geisler Acknowledged that Lying is a Moral/Ethical Issue?

Although, of course, there was a lot of work that went into this interaction with Norman Geisler (from both sides, I imagine), I think it would be unwise and misleading to go around saying that I “have debated Norman Geisler” (or for Dr. Geisler to say the same about me). That’s why I have “debate” in quotation marks in the title of this post.

-TurretinFan

Norman Geisler on Lying as a Moral/Ethical Issue

July 12, 2010

A friend of mine pointed out to me that in his book on Christian Ethics, Norman Geisler seems to call lying a moral and ethical issue (link to sample of book). On page 19, for example, lying is provided as example of an ethical issue which is decided by moral laws. So, it’s not clear how Norman Geisler can justify his apparent belief now that the issue of a preacher allegedly lying is not a moral issue.

-TurretinFan

Is Lying a Moral Issue?

July 12, 2010

Dr. Norman Geisler seems to have the impression that lying is not a moral issue. Here are some verses that would suggest otherwise.

Psalm 119:163 I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.

Ezekiel 13:19 And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Hosea 4:1-2
Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.

Isaiah 30:9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:

Provers 13:5 A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.

– TurretinFan

"Living Dead" Themed Movies

July 8, 2010

My previous post included a video clip of Ergun Caner talking about an alleged experience as a teenager and new arrival to America, watching a film with the theme of the “living dead.”

An alert reader pointed out to me that the video shows materials related to the film, “Return of the Living Dead,” which came out in 1985. That’s not when Dr. Caner came to America, even according to any of his own accounts.

There is, however, another film that did come out with the same theme, closer to when Dr. Caner came to America: “Night of the Living Dead,” which came out in 1968. For those who think that Dr. Caner came to America from Turkey in the late 1970’s, there’s alternatively “Dawn of the Dead,” which came out when Dr. Caner was nearly a teenager, in 1978.

As far as I know, Dr. Caner was not involved in producing the video clips, beyond recording himself talking. So, I’m certainly not claiming that Dr. Caner suggested the graphic art for his video or that Dr. Caner himself said he watched “Return of the Living Dead” as a new arrival.

Intead, the troubling part of the video seems to be his statement, at the very beginning:

“When I – uh – When I first came to America – I went to see a movie – I was a teenage boy – and I went to see a movie that had – uh – living dead as its theme … .” And yes, that video can still be seen at TrueLife.org (link to page).

Was Dr. Caner a teenage boy when he first came to America? The sworn affidavit of Dr. Caner’s mother strongly suggests a negative answer to that question. That affidavit is an affidavit dated 31 July 1975, when Dr. Ergun Caner was about eight years old. If that affidavit is true, Ergun was not living in Ankara or along the Iraqi border at that time. If that affidavit is true, Ergun was not getting misconceptions about the USA by watching TV in Turkey at that time. If that affidavit is true, though, how can Dr. Geisler continue to defend Ergun Caner’s remarks? Who knows!

-TurretinFan

Rebutting Norman Geisler

July 7, 2010

Norman Geisler has still not given up on defending Dr. Ergun Caner (link to his further defense), stating that “a number of unjustified attacks have come to my attention.” He has responded with 7 points to the 9 numbered points in my previous post (link to my previous post), collapsing four of my numbered points into two of his and ignoring the last (unnumbered) point about the fact that Dr. Ergun Caner’s answer on Ramadan cannot match the facts.

Dr. Geisler also states: “Not one of these charges is substantial, involving any major doctrinal or moral issue.” Is speaking the truth a moral issue? If not, then I fully agree with Dr. Geisler. Who has alleged any “major doctrinal” issue?

I appreciate the fact that Dr. Geisler has taken the time to respond to my post. I offer the following comments matching the numbers of his post:

1) Dr. Caner’s Claim to Have Been Born in Istanbul, Turkey

Dr. Geisler somehow thinks that a person can understandably misstate their birthplace from their actual birth country (Sweden) to the homeland of their ancestors (Turkey). Dr. Geisler’s justification is that “Since both Ergun and his father were Turkish citizens, he strongly identified with that ancestry.

How many people so strongly identify with their father that they claim to have been born where their father was, even if their father was born over a thousand miles away from where they were born? Is this normal behavior in Dr. Norman Geisler’s book?

2) Dr. Caner’s Claim to Have Lived in Ankara and along the Iraqi Border

Dr. Geisler alleges that the accusation relating to Dr. Caner claiming to live in Ankara and then along the Iraqi border is – well – here are his words: “This allegation against him is a mere assumption without evidence which illustrates the desire to defame Ergun by his critics.” (grammar and/or syntax errors are from Geisler’s page)

In fact, however, there is evidence. Here is the mp3 (link to mp3). When you get about 10 minutes into the mp3, tell me whether you hear this:

Coming to America, the only thing that I understood, I was fifteen when we came, the only thing – or – thirteen when we came, the only thing that I understood about American culture, I got from American television. And the only television that we were allowed to watch was the television that was – that passed the conscriptions of the censors in Turkey. I lived in Ankara, but then I lived toward the east for the most fpart of my life, on the Iraqi border.

Dr. Geisler speculates thus:

Ergun traveled with his father to Turkey several times. Later, he was along the Iraqi border as he said he was. It should not be deemed strange that Ergun has spent time in Turkey. After all, he has a Turkish father and was a Turkish citizen who came to America on a Turkish passport.

Please tell me whether that matches what Dr. Caner said. Leave aside for the moment the papers from the divorce decree that (on paper) prevented Dr. Caner from traveling (“In no event and under no circumstances shall either party hereto cause or allow any of the minor children of the parties to leave or be taken from the Continental Borders of the United States of America.” [1978]). After all, maybe the parties ignored that, or maybe the alleged travel to Turkey took place before that.

Instead focus on what Dr. Caner said: “I lived in Ankara, but then I lived toward the east for the most part of my life, on the Iraqi border.” How would visits to Turkey, even if they happened, be the same thing as living in Ankara or living along the Iraqi border?

And even if such visits could somehow count for that, how could they be considered a legitimate justification for saying: “for the most part of my life“?

My friend Dr. White (who strongly identifies with his Scottish ancestry) sometimes travels to Scotland and England. If he said in public, “I lived in London, but then I lived toward the north for the most part of my life, on the border of Scotland and England,” (based on one or more of his trips) would that be the truth? Do normal people talk that way? Or would that be an embellishment aimed at making Dr. White sound more Scottish than he actually is? It’s easy to apply common sense and answer those questions.

Now, apply common sense to Dr. Caner’s statement and see whether Dr. Geisler’s answer holds any water.

3) Dr. Caner’s Claim to have Received Misconceptions about the USA from Turkish Television Prior to Immigration to the USA

Dr. Geisler claims that the statements about watching the Dukes of Hazzard in Turkey and getting a misconception about America from them was just a joke and was always taken as such. Listen to that same mp3, for which I provided a link above. The Dukes of Hazzard bit comes right after the comment about living “for the most part of” his life in Turkey. Was the part about growing up in Turkey also supposed to be a joke? Or did the two statements that appear to be untrue statements serve to work together to create a false impression that Caner came to America at 15 (or 13) rather than at 3?

Dr. Geisler also claims that Dr. Caner has been using this anecdote for “more than a decade.” I cannot speak to the truth or falsehood of Dr. Geisler’s claim in this regard. He provides no evidence of Dr. Caner using this anecdote more than a decade ago, and I cannot seem to find any evidence of Dr. Caner using this anecdote before Dr. Caner started referring to himself as “Ergun Mehmet Caner” (is that his real name or is that more of Dr. Caner strongly identifying with his ancestry?). Please keep in mind that “more than a decade” would mean that Dr. Caner used this anecdote before July 6, 2000. Can Dr. Geisler substantiate this claim?

Was the context of the anecdote the same back then? Perhaps we will never know. It may be very hard to find any recordings of Dr. Caner from back then using this same anecdote.

As for whether it was meant to be taken literally, compare the lead-off story in this presentation:

“Don’t Mess with the Book” (mp3) dated 1/5/2009 according to SermonAudio.com. Listen for when the audience begins laughing at his claim regarding getting the Andy Griffith show in Turkey and thinking that all of America was like Mayberry. What does he say – does he say “it’s true”? And when he gets to the part about watching Georgia Wrestling in Istanbul, does he say, “this is a little embarrassing, but it’s true” and then does he go on to claim that he would get this wrestling show every two weeks in Istanbul for two hours, even specifying the channel?

That particular version of the story about watching TV in Turkey doesn’t include the Dukes of Hazzard – so it is harder (probably next to impossible) to prove that the story is not true. But does Dr. Geisler believe it? Is it a credible story? (in light of what Dr. Caner seems to now admit)

4) The Three Possible Dates of Caner’s Citizenship (1978, 1982, or 1984)

On the issue of when Dr. Caner became a citizen, Dr. Geisler simply asserts “It is well known that Caner became a US citizen in 1978.” Dr. Geisler, however, provides no documentation to support the claim that Dr. Caner became a citizen then.

Dr. Geisler does not explain why the biography of Dr. Caner at TrueLife.org states:

Ergun was born in Stockholm, Sweden to turkish parents and in 1979 immigrated to the United States with his parents, grandmother, and two brothers. Ergun became an American citizen in 1984 and currently resides in Lynchburg, VA with his wife and two sons.

(source)

By the way, who told the folks at TrueLife.org that Caner’s parents, plural, were Turkish? Who told them that Caner immigrated in 1979?

There are many possibilities about where the data on that bio may have come from. It may have come from someone who was unaware of the “well known” data that Dr. Geisler relies upon without providing us with any documentation. Another possibility is that it came from the man in this video:

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=8721905&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=BF1E2E&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0

(UPDATE: TrueLife.org seems to have disabled both direct access to the video and embedding for the video. You can still view the video on TrueLife.org’s website for now.)I’m talking about the man who in the video above says, “When I – uh – When I first came to America – I went to see a movie – I was a teenage boy – and I went to see a movie that had – uh – living dead as its theme … .” And yes, that’s a video one can find at TrueLife.org (link to page).

Dr. Geisler, please tell us: was Dr. Caner telling the truth in that clip or not?

Dr. Geisler further states: “No intent to deceive existed, nor has it been established by this conflation of dates.” Dr. Geisler is, of course, entitled to his opinion about what the evidence of the misstatement(s?) proves.

Dr. Geisler further writes: “Since it is well known by Bible scholars that this kind of thing is found in the Scriptures (which are without error), then any Christian pressing this charge would, by the same logic, have to impugn the Bible as well (see The Bible Knowledge Commentary, vol. 2, p. 40).” The gumption involved in comparing to Caner to Scripture is shocking. In any event, the Holy Spirit who inspired Scripture did not get confused about dates and did not engage in conflation. Sorry, Dr. Geisler. Dr. Caner is not comparable to the Bible on this. I hope that Dr. Geisler has a better answer to alleged Biblical contradictions than he gives with respect to the Caner scandal.

By the way, I don’t doubt that Dr. Caner has naturalized and become a U.S. citizen. I don’t even doubt that there is somewhere a certificate to that effect. However, I do suspect (this is just a guess on my part) that the certificate does not say “Ergun Mehmet Caner.” Does Dr. Geisler think that the name on the certificate is that name? Or does Dr. Geisler think the name on the certificate is “Ergun Michael Caner”?

5) Dr. Caner’s Claim to have Worn Keffiyeh

Dr. Geisler provides a very low resolution photo allegedly of Dr. Caner, as a boy, wearing some sort of hat at some sort of event. It’s so low resolution that it is hard to make out a face, but it could be the same boy shown in these pictures (link). Saying that this hat, of whatever kind it is, is a “keffiyeh” (see also here) is about as accurate as saying it is a “kippah.” After all, both are names of hats, and both seem – on their face – to have etymological connection to a linguistic root relating to the concept of covering (the former in Arabic, the latter in Hebrew).

Regardless, the hat in the photo that Dr. Geisler has provided (allegedly via Emir Caner) does not show what would appear to qualify as a keffiyeh. Furthermore, of course, one wonders whether – even if Dr. Caner had worn a keffiyeh at a party once whether he was 10 (or so) – that would justify his comments.

Let me provide some examples of the comments I’m talking about.

“Church House or Jail House?” North Alabama Bible Conference-2005 (Dr. Ergun Caner speaking) afternoon of January 12, 2005 (link to audio).

Here are a few of the claims from that address:

  1. at about 5:50 “came to this country in my teens”
  2. at about 6:50 “I did wear keffiyeh
  3. at about 7:30 “We wore keffiyeh; we wore robes”
  4. at 49:30 “I always lived in majority-Muslim countries and then I came to America”
  5. at 49:42 “He [Caner’s father] had many wives”

In that context, would Dr. Caner be vindicated if it turned out he did once wear keffiyeh? Listen to Dr. Caner’s comments in context and determine whether in context, that would mean his statement conveyed truth to the listeners. (I address numbers 1, 4, and 5 in other sections of this post.)

Another example:

“The Greatest Day in Church” apparently preached Calvary Chapel Old Bridge (Old Bridge, NJ), on January 25, 2009 (sermon available for sale or free for streaming here).

(23:35) We wore keffiyeh, we spoke Arabic and Turkish, we read the Koran, we fasted 40 days during Ramadan, we lived by the rules of halal and haram and mushbu, the dietary restrictions.

Again, would wearing keffiyeh once at a party justify that kind of comment? or does that kind of comment suggest to the reader that wearing keffiyeh was the normal, ordinary dress of Caner and his family?

6) Date of Caner’s Conversion and Date of Emir’s Conversion

With respect to November 4, 1982, being the alleged conversion date, Dr. Geisler states: “There is some confusion about the exact year.” No kidding!

Dr. Geisler argues, “Given that Ergun was converted in 1982 (as he claims) … ” but why should we take that as a given? Why not “Given that Emir was converted in 1982 as both Ergun and Emir said in their book, Unveiling Islam?”

One other question: Dr. Caner allegedly was called to the ministry in 1982. Is that supposed to be sometime between November 4, 1982, and December 31, 1982? I note that in Dr. Geisler’s response he explains away the 1982 citizenship date on the basis that: “The other date [referring to 1982] is from the period of his call to the ministry and is sometimes lumped together with the earlier date in his testimony.” Anything is possible, I guess!

7) Dr. Caner’s Claim that His Father had “Many Wives” and that Dr. Caner had/has “half-brothers”

Dr. Geisler claims:

Ergun’s father did have two wives, having divorced the first one. He had three sons by his first wife (Ergun and his two brothers). So, Ergun has two full brothers and two step-sisters (from his father’s second wife). While speaking quickly on one occasion, he mistakenly called his brothers his “half” brothers. This is hardly evidence of an attempt to embellish or deceive. After all, he had the right number of each sibling, and he didn’t claim to have ten brothers or sisters!

Dr. Geisler does not address how two wives is supposed to be “many.” Also, Dr. Geisler is not painting a complete picture when he says, “While speaking quickly on one occasion, he mistakenly called his brothers his ‘half’ brothers. ” I don’t know what one occasion Dr. Geisler is thinking about. Here are two occasions where Dr. Caner referred to his “half-brothers” and let’s see whether Dr. Caner means his actual brothers:

“Don’t Mess with the Book” (mp3) dated 1/5/2009 according to SermonAudio.com

(around 21:26 into the sermon) “In my family, my father had many wives. My father had many half-brother and sis— I have many half-brothers and sisters. Our family very rarely got together.”

Again – is “two” considered “many”?

Another example:

“The Greatest Day in Church” apparently preached Calvary Chapel Old Bridge (Old Bridge, NJ), on January 25, 2009 (sermon available for sale or free for streaming here).

(around 43:10 into the sermon) “My father had other wives. My father died in ’99, never accepted Jesus. I have half-brothers and sisters who don’t know Jesus.”

Now, are those two instances both instances where Dr. Caner was just speaking quickly and called his brothers half-brothers? How could that be? Dr. Caner surely doesn’t deny that his brothers know Jesus. And furthermore, in the first instance, Dr. Caner was correcting himself.

And what about the claim to “other wives”? Even if “many” can mean “two” (a very unusual use, I think you’ll agree) how can one other wife equal “other wives”?

Conclusion

It’s very saddening for me to see Dr. Geisler continue to try to defend Dr. Caner. My opinion is that Dr. Geisler is just digging a deeper and deeper hole for himself. His opinion is that Dr. Caner “is a devout zealous believer who lives a life in obedience to Christ and who works diligently to extend his kingdom.” That may well be true – I don’t recall denying that, and yet Dr. Caner may have made a significant number of statements about his autobiography that are not completely true and that, taken together, paint a picture of his past that is not completely accurate. Was this done intentionally? People will have an opinion about that, based on drawing inferences from the number of misstatements, the theme of the misstatements, and the frequency of the misstatements.

There’s one other small issue I’d like to address. Dr. Geisler writes: “a blogger-critic refuses to give his real name, using a pseudonym. This violates a moral and legal rule that one has a right to face his accusers.” Dr. Geisler is misapplying this principle.

Dr. Caner has a right to confront the witnesses against him. I’m not one of the witnesses. I don’t claim any special knowledge, and I have provided folks with documentation for what I have said. Everything I say without giving documentation for it should be disregarded. All of my opinions should be considered as having absolutely no weight in this matter.

Consider instead the documentation. What reasonable opinion is formed based on consideration of the evidence? Is it an opinion that Dr. Caner embellished or is it an opinion that Dr. Caner fully honored the truth on every occasion?

– TurretinFan


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