Open Letter

Dear Dr. Caner;

When I heard that someone of your reputation and position was willing to debate James White and Tom Ascol regarding the Reformed doctrines of grace, I was very excited over the prospect that there would be a substantive exchange on this subject -- and, I might add, "FINALLY!"

To my regret, as I have watched the preparation for this debate, I am afraid that whatever happens in October will be nothing of the kind. I think it is curious that, in your most recent e-mail to Dr. White, you have claimed a "high ground" position of "biblicist" when your proposed (and at this point, I think it is rightly called "demanded") thesis statement reads like this:

That God is an Omnibenevolent God to all of humanity through salvation and opportunity.

Now, I have opened up my on-line concordance, and have searched the KJV, HCSB, ESV and NIV -- and I can't find the word "omnibenevolence" (or any of its cognates, like "Omnibenevolent") anywhere in the Bible. To give you the benefit of the doubt, I also could not find the phrase "all good" describing God, even though you and I would certainly agree that God is Good and the giver of all good things, and that He is Just, and Loving, and Merciful, and Longsuffering, and Kind, and He never changes. God is certainly "all good" even if the Bible never uses those exact words to describe Him.

Can you really believe that your method of reading the Bible is so much more superior than Dr. White's that your theological word has a biblical basis, but (as one example) his theological word "monergism" does not? Your tunnel vision on this matter is disturbing because it betrays not only ignorance of your opponent's views, but ignorance of the method by which you yourself reach your own conclusions.

Please: for your own sake, take an hour this summer to reconsider your own preparation for this debate. You are coming into this meeting almost completely unprepared, with little or no understanding of the reformed position regarding God's decrees or calling of men. It would be of great interest to the larger Christian community if your encounter with Dr. White and Pastor Ascol included a substantive knowledge of the reformed position but with a commitment and conviction for any of the libertarian counter-claimants to a systematic understanding of the Gospel, and you could engage in something more than calling Ascol and White "two Jonahs who sink the ship", or (as you have done already) reformed "ilk".

This is an opportunity for you -- if you are right about the reformed position -- to overcome evil with good, and to speak the truth in love. And if you are wrong, this is your opportunity to live on the right side of Proverbs 12:1 and to make peace with a brother in Christ. But neither of these things can happen if you don't really know what you're talking about.

Consider it: what if I was arguing against Islam and one of my claims against it was that it makes no recognition of the Bible at all? What if I was arguing against Judaism and I was arguing that one of its substantive flaws is that it doesn't recognize the necessity of sacrifice for atonement of sin? Would I be arguing against the other position, or against my ignorant understanding of the other position?

You are making errors of this scope and category right now in your public views against reformed theology. For your own sake, and your own reputation, please read something about this subject other than Dave Hunt's illegitimate scholarship on the subject. I have a short list of short books you might find helpful:

Justification of God, John Piper (ISBN#0801070791)
Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God, J.I. Packer (ISBN#083081339X)
The Five Points of Calvinism, David Steele (ISBN#0875528279)
Calvinism, HyperCalvinism and Arminianism, Crampton & Talbot (ISBN#0977851605)

Only the Piper books is academically dense; the rest are frankly easy reads and could get anyone inside the actual issues of the matter in about 2 hours each.

Please consider this.

I leave you in Christ's name and in His hands,