Friday, January 14, 2011

Ergun Caner's Introduction to Louis Ruggiero's Book

Continuing my review of Mr. Louis Ruggiero's book, The God of Calvinism, I come to the foreword by Ergun Caner. I had previously analyzed the auto-biographical aspects of that forward (here) so let me continue on to discuss the substance of Ergun's statements.

Ergun writes:
Though this seems like quite a simple doctrine, in our overwhelming impetus for world evangelization, a new movement has arisen. This new form of Calvinism teaches that God created some (if not most) people for damnation. In short, God only loves a few.

Certainly this movement's leaders have attempted to state this in a more loving way, but their favorite texts, such as Romans 9:13, buttress their belief that God desires to create people to specifically go to hell.
Obviously, sending the reprobate to hell is not the only purpose of the reprobate. There were many unbelievers who are the ancestors of believers. What non-Jewish person can claim that their ancestors from the time of Abraham to Jesus were all believers? So, God has more use for the reprobate than simply in sending them to hell.

Nevertheless, God does sometimes have as one of his purposes in creating a person the destruction of that person. This is plainly taught by Paul:

Romans 9:17
For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
Notice that the destruction of Pharaoh was not an end in itself. As a result of the destruction of Pharaoh, God's name was widely declared and God's glory and power were manifested.

But even more, I'd go on a few verses more to this:

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?
Is God the potter? Does he have the power to make a vessel (a person) to dishonour - to build "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction"?

Caner goes on to describe what he thinks the thesis to Louis' book is:
His thesis is simple: in proclaiming that God's love is conditional, these new preachers have changed the nature of God Himself. They have changed His attributes. This is a vital distinction, and a pressing issue.
Now is as good a place as any to note that there is nothing particularly new about Calvinism. Perhaps Dr. Caner only recently became aware of it, but if he did even a modicum of research into the subject, he'd be aware of Baptists like Charles Spurgeon and John Gill teaching this many generations ago, not to mention the many non-Baptist Calvinists. It's hardly a new issue or position, either in Baptist circles (Caner is a Baptist) or outside them.

Moreover, who is making God's love conditional? Calvinists teach that God's election is unconditional and they take heat for it. Calvinists do not teach that God's love is conditional.

In contrast, folks like Caner teach people that "Jesus loves you, but ..." with the "but ..." being that God will still send you to hell if you don't do what he says. What love is this? A love that is conditional on man's obedience does look like a conditional love. On the other hand, a particular love for God's peculiar people (Deuteronomy 14:2 and 26:18; Titus 2:14; and 1 Peter 2:9) is unconditional.

God is the shepherd - he is the author and finisher of our salvation (Hebrews 12:2), saving us despite our demerit, not because we fulfill some conditions. The God of Calvinism is the God of the Bible and His love is unconditional.

Praise be to the Lord, the Almighty!

-TurretinFan

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Caner is a much of a theologian as he is an ex Muslim extremist. The fact that he has as much sway over as many people as he does, disgusts me.

Victoria Lynch said...

I am very glad that you are reviewing the book. Thank you.

natamllc said...

Anon,

Caner may have sway over a lot of people and that disgusts you, but, God is God and He has the power to bring to pass whatever He wants, and, in fact, He does:

Psa 135:5 For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
Psa 135:6 Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.
Psa 135:7 He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

natamllc said...

Anon,

in this, a quotation from Robert Farrar Capon's book: Kingdom, Grace, Judgment, ( a most brilliant work on the paradox, outrage and vindication in the Parables of Jesus, destined to be a classic work for centuries to come if perchance the Lord tarry's longer than these present generations before He ends it all and brings forth a new heavens and earth ) you can see Capon's depth of understanding the way God exercises His power?

I will quote excerpts starting at page 16:

In any case, whether in terms of city or Kingdom, the question immediately arises, "How does God get the job done? What does the Bible have to say about the way He uses His power to achieve His ends?"

...If the Bible is about an almighty, all-smart God, why is it so full of divine indirection and delay? Or to say it flat out: If God wants to turn this messed-up world into a city or kingdom, why doesn't he just knock some heads together, put all the baddies under a large, flat rock, and get on with the job?

The Bible does, of course, have one recorded instance of God's having proposed just such harsh treatment: the narrative of the Flood in the Book of Genesis. But even that story-especially that story- has little comfort in it for theology buffs who like their omnipotence straight up. Notice how it goes.

God, having found all human attempts to build the city hopeless, decides simply to wash everybody but Noah down the drain. By the end of the story, however-when the final, scriptural point of the episode is made- it turns out to reveal a different notion of power entirely: God says he is never going to do anything like that again. He says that his answer to the evil that keeps the world from becoming the city of God will not, paradoxically, involve direct intervention on behalf of the city. Instead, he makes a covenant of nonintervention with the world: he sets his bow in the cloud-symbolic development of which could be either that he hangs all his effective weapons against wickedness up on the wall or, more bizarrely still, that he points them skyward, at himself instead of us.

natamllc said...

Anon,

continuing,

I don't know how much of this Caner saga you have followed up on with this blog and TurretinFan's work, a fair work, balanced and truthful about just how imbalanced and deceitful Dr. Caner is along with some or most if not all of his work?

In Capon's citation there, it is rather bizarre to say the least about him, Caner, and it, Capon's words cited in the prior comment.

Further on on page 17 and into page 18 Capon writes:

As Christians believe, though, God did eventually show up on the property himself for the express purpose of completing the project. In the person of Jesus, the messianic King, he announced that he was bringing in the kingdom and, in general, accomplishing once and for all every last eternal purpose he ever had for the world. And, as Christians also believe, he did just that.

... Since Noah, God has evidently had almost no interest in using direct power to fix up the world.

Why? you ask. Well, the first answer is, I don't know, and neither does anyone else. God's reasons are even more hidden than his methods. But I have seen enough of the results of direct intervention to make me rather glad that he seems, for whatever reason, to have lost interest in it.

Direct, straight-line, intervening power does, of course, have many uses. With it, you can lift the spaghetti from the plate to your mouth, wipe the sauce off your slacks, carry them to the dry cleaners, and perhaps even make enough money to ransom them back. Indeed, straight-line power ("use the force you need to get the result you want") is responsible for almost everything that happens in the world. And the beauty of it is, it works. From removing the dust with a cloth to removing your enemy with a .45, it achieves its ends in sensible, effective, easily understood ways.

Unfortunately, it has a whopping limitation. If you take the view that one of the chief objects in life is to remain in loving relationships with other people, straight-line power becomes useless. Oh, admittedly, you can snatch your baby boy away from the edge of a cliff and not have a broken relationship on your hands. But just try interfering with his plans for the season when he is twenty, and see what happens, especially if his chosen plans play havoc with your own.


The more I study and learn Calvin, the more I come up to speed with Dr. Caner, the more I am convinced what TurretinFan is doing here underscores who is more properly aligned with the Work of Christ in the world today. It ain't Caner!

Don't mistake that for a dismissal of him. He does have some gifting and oratory skills! (He clearly puts over Kingdom Truth). It would just be nice and pleasant and edifying if those gifts and skills could actually be used for the eternal purpose of the Kingdom of God on earth in the present and not for his own self aggrandisement when preaching or teaching?

Caner would be better off and all those people he has some sway over would be too!

natamllc said...

TF,

your point made, here:

In contrast, folks like Caner teach people that "Jesus loves you, but ..." with the "but ..." being that God will still send you to hell if you don't do what he says. What love is this? A love that is conditional on man's obedience does look like a conditional love.

...has gotten my attention.

I have been caught in a rut in my daily meditation. I have been giving a lot of thought to the depth and meaning and understanding of 1 John 4:8-12.

Then the other day I happened to be in the Spirit pondering the blessed reality of God's decree about me from Psalm 71 and this verse, which I cited on an early thread of yours:

Psa 71:3 Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

That got me thinking about particular redemption and the phrase used that Jesus gained "our" "eternal redemption" for us!

Then, I was down at the Church praying in the Spirit and happened to turn to this:

Exo 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,
Exo 20:6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.


Then the question came to me that right there, if we would look back at the depth of meaning there in light of the revelation The Spirit gave John at 1 John 4:10 we would realize that there are two kinds of people God deals with in the world. He deals with those who hate Him differently than He deals with those whom He has given His Love too so as to turn to Him, the Savior Jesus, Who kept the requirement of the Law perfectly for, those whom God has given to Him!

1Jn 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

It truly is not easy, if at all, to realize why that is? Why does God give His love to some and not all?

Therein is that pesky mystery!

I believe, just as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthian 13 about those that have all knowledge and know all mysteries, yet do not have Love, what does it profit? Nothing, nothing, nothing!

And just to digress to Charles Spurgeon, seeing you mention him above, I was listening on SermonAudio.com to his New Year's message he gave in 1860 on 1 Peter 5:10.

In the message he said that there is one command God has given to all. God has given to all to "believe" God.

For those who do believe, this is a fitting outcome:

Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pe 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
1Pe 1:5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.


For those who don't, well, either when they die or He returns, it bodes not well for them! grrrrr

Psa 68:1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. A Song. God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him!
Psa 68:2 As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away; as wax melts before fire, so the wicked shall perish before God!


May the Name of the Lord be exulted daily among the nations, still!

donsands said...

"This new form of Calvinism teaches that God created some (if not most) people for damnation.....Now is as good a place as any to note that there is nothing particularly new about Calvinism. Perhaps Dr. Caner only recently became aware of it,.."

Great post my brother. Thanks.

Caner brings his human flesh to the table, and rules over the holy truth in his humanism.
He is very immature. How can he be a leader in the Church of God?
Thanks for sharing. It's difficult to call people out. It would be easier to leave it alone.
Thanks again.
Have a great weekend and worshipful Lord's day!
Go Ravens!

Wayne Dawg said...

As one who is newly reformed (God saved me 16 years ago and open my eyes to the truth of the Doctrines of Grace last year), I am bookmarking this site and will visit often!

Keep up the great work!

aztexan said...

Olson, Hunt, Geisler, Caner, Vines, Ruggiero et al do what they do because they are unregenerate. We need to be praying for their conversion; the rest will sort itself out mas rapido should any (or all, Lord willing) of these men be graciously brought to saving faith in Christ.

...But that's just one mean ol' Calvinist's opinion. And it need not be said - hopefully - that I'm singling out these men and their ilk (a small minority, I estimate), NOT accusing all Arminians of unregeneracy.

*nod and a tip o' the Stetson to TFan*