Thursday, March 29, 2007

Anti-Calvinist Emir Caner Question Answered

Emir Caner, in a recent sermon, asked:

If God could have saved all mankind apart from man's decision, why didn't He?

I respond:

This is a typical Anti-Calvinist question, though not a particularly thoughtful one. The answer that it is intended to provoke is:

"Because He doesn't want to save all mankind!"

To which the Anti-Calvinist will then exuberently (and mistakenly) respond:

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

And then the Anti-Calvinist will say that this proves that God does want to save all mankind.

Problems arise from this rebuttal:

1) If the rebuttal is correct, what has been shown? Is the reason provided wrong or is the assumption that God could save man apart from man's decision?

2) If the reaon provided is what is wrong, what is the real reason?

3) If the assumption that God could save man apart from man's decision is wrong, then (a) how does that imply anything other than a less-than-omnipotent God, and (b) shall we conclude that those who cannot make decisions (e.g. babies and the mentally challenged) are lost?

4) And, of course, the "not any" and "all" refer to the "us" in "us-ward" i.e. the elect.


Emir Caner also asks:
If it didn't take a response from us, why did God, in his sovereignty, in his providence, if it is independent of us, and he would place faith inside of us and change us and we couldn't say no, why didn't He do it with all mankind?
I respond:

This is essentially the same question, and has essentially the same answer expected.

And the point of Emir Caner's question becomes clear, it is his position that God can't save us without a response from us. Emir Caner's conception of God is something sub-omnipotent. The idea of God saving a free creature without the free creature's prior consent is something that Emir Caner cannot even begin to imagine. Yet it is what the Bible teaches.

Emir Caner then asks:
Does He somehow get more glory by us burning in hell?

I respond:

Try painting the word "glory" in white paint on a white canvas. Now try painting the same word in the same color paint on a black canvas. Does the black canvas or the white canvas better show the word "glory"? If someone will say that the black canvas does, will we reply then that God prefers the color black, and that to maximize the visibility of "glory" God should paint it in black letters on a black canvas? Of course not.

God is glorified in some men burning in hell, and in some men feeding on the lamb.

But what an anthropocentric question is Emir Caner's question!

Why not ask: Is God glorified in His only begotten Son dying on the Cross for sin?!

Yet, the answer is still yes! God sacrificed His son for the eternal life of some of humanity, namely "all believing ones" per John 3:16.

What else does the question reveal? Emir Caner apparently believes that men going to hell brings God less glory than them going to heaven, and that men decide which way to go. Thus, men have power of God to rob Him of His glory. That truly shows you how weak Emir Caner's view of God is.

-Turretinfan

UPDATE:

In fairness to Emir Caner, I should address as well what he submits to the audience after those questions. Emir Caner states:

I would submit that our Lord loves us enough that he allows us to be receptive to or reject.


There are two objections to this answer.

First, God does not just "allow" men to be receptive, as though He gives them permission, God enables some men and women to be receptive to the gospel. For example, God opened Lydia's heart in Acts 16:14

Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

Job too acknowledged the God could soften his heart in Job 23:16:

Job 23:16 For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:

Some folks may object that these verses are not talking about salvation, and I would willingly conceded such a point to such contentious folks. I would allow, for the sake of the argument, that these verses are speaking of something totally different from salvation. Nevertheless, the point is that God does make people receptive and Lydia is an example, and God can (He has the ability to) soften the heart of man.

That's the first half of the objection, that God makes men receptive: that He raises men from spiritual death and open their spiritual ears, as the Psalmist writes:

Psalm 40:6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

And if some will insist that the Psalmist is referring only to God opening the lobe of the ear with an awl (as was done to servants who loved their masters), then we will point them to the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 35:5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.

And we will point out that this closed-earness is the natural state of man:

Isaiah 48:8 Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.

The second half of the objection is "God loves us enough to allow us ... to reject him"? That's like saying a mother loves her child enough to allow him to plunge off the edge of a cliff, to fall into a bonfire, or the like. Allowing a child to perish is not (itself) an expression of love for that child.

God is not expressing His love toward a person in the act of passing over that person for salvation. God is expressing His special love toward a person in saving a person. God can and does also express love toward those He does not save, but it is not the same love.

It is truly absurd, when one stops to think about it, to say what Emir Caner said, but it has become so routine in anti-Calvinist churches to make such statements, that the audience listening to Caner didn't collective reply "Say WHAT? God loves them so much He lets them perish?" They should be shocked by such a doctrine, and yet many have been desensitized to the utter confusion of it.

-Turretinfan

2 comments:

ajlin said...

re: "And the point of Emir Caner's question becomes clear, it is his position that God can't save us without a response from us. Emir Caner's conception of God is something sub-omnipotent."

It seems that in Caner's view, he would say God can't save us except in response to our willingness not due to external constraint, but rather due to His own character. So Caner would make statements like 'God can't force us to love Him- it must be from our free-will,' etc. and equate such statements with the biblical position that it is impossible for God to lie.

Now, I think that Caner is mistaken and that he does not rightly appreciate the power of God nor the depravity of Man, but I'm just pointing out how a Christian minister make such an abrasive, "God can't..." statement without being grossly heretical.

Turretinfan said...

Dear Ajlin,

I am sure that Emir Caner would not say that God is sub-omnipotent.

He might even attempt to claim that God saving man without a response from man would be contrary to God's nature.

If he made such an attempt, we would have further examples of the Scriptural deficiency of his position.

That God cannot lie is clearly taught in Scripture. What Emier Caner would need to support the excuse you suggest is not taught in Scripture, either clearly or obsecurely.

There is a real contradiction between LFW and divine omnipotence. I suspect that Emir Caner attempts to hold both, and, thus, does not explicitly preach the grossly heretical view that God is sub-omnipotent.

Nevertheless, assuming that such is the case, one part of his theology contradicts another part.

The part that should be rejected both by Emir Caner and all who follow him, is the LFW part.

-Turretinfan