Saturday, January 11, 2014

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

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.


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

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

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 1 - part 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.