In the world of public Christianity, some of my greatest admiration is reserved for folks like James White.
I've no doubt that White and I don't dot all our i's, nor accent all our alpha's, nor vowel-point all our 'aleph's identically. But this is the sort of man who, as far as I can tell, talks the same "game" with friendly audiences as unfriendly. Not only that, he seeks out unfriendly audiences, to make the case for Christ and the teaching of the Word.
So White doesn't just hold lectures by himself, or speak only in situations he tightly controls. He actively seeks out the best in the opposition, and challenges them to debate the central issues fairly and openly.
When a very accomplished scholar like Dr. Norman Geisler takes off after Calvinism, White challenges him to a debate. I never would have figured Geisler to lack courage -- but you can find The Calvinist Gadfly's Norman Geisler Clock here. (So far, it's been over 2100 days since White issued the challenge -- and counting.)
Likewise, White has taken on Dr. John Dominic Crossan, and a host of Mormon and Roman Catholic apologists.
So now I read that he's challenged Dr. Ergun Caner of Liberty University. I'd known Caner by name only, and thought of him as a "good guy," very frontally taking on Islam and other issues. But then lately his name crossed my radar screen again, through his and his brother's stunningly immature, ignorant, and almost drunkenly pugnacious posts over on the Founder's blog. Here the brothers sneeringly and angrily attack Calvinism and Calvinists (h-t Jason at Fide-o).
So what does White do? Corresponds with Caner, and invites him to debate. Not just any debate anywhere, but at "Liberty University ...before an audience of his own students"; that is, on ground friendly to Caner, and hostile to White.
So far, Caner -- so bold and aggressive on a blog -- has not seized what one would think would be a golden opportunity, if Calvinism is such a ridiculous absurdity.
So what is it that White has, and others lack? Courage? Could be. I think further, though, that it's faith. He has the conviction that God's Word is unassailable, and can stand up to attack. White seems unwilling to let truth fall by default.
That, I admire greatly.
The running and the hiding?
Not so much.
ADDENDA: first, on a serious note, I expect everyone to read the Caner's posts and judge for themselves whether or not I describe their spirit and behavior accurately. But in the course of it, Emir Caner in four words took my breath away.
He signed one of his posts, "Elected because I selected."
I like to think I can put words together fairly well, but this one has me next to speechless. There it all is, in four words. That's where you go when you have contempt for the Biblical doctrines of grace. I just have seldom seen it laid out so baldly, in one who (presumably) should know better. There goes soli Deo gloria. There goes monergistic salvation. There goes Jonah 2:9, Ephesians 2:8-10, John 6:44 and 15:16. There goes Romans 9:16. Turns out dead people (Ephesians 2:1ff.) can actually do a lot of good stuff -- why, they can affect (and effect!) the very counsels of God!
This, I suppose, is the sort of person who can sing "Arminian Grace" and not find a thing wrong with it. What would an Emil Caner do before the throne, if he manages to keep himself saved? Would he see the others casting their crowns... would he say, "You know, really, at bottom, if it wasn't for me, I wouldn't be saved. I think I'll keep it. Thanks. Thanks for playing along, that is"?
Then, on a far lighter note, Purgatorio and his posters has some great fun with James White's "when in Scotland" garb, over here.
UPDATE: James updates this story, and adds his email correspondence with Dr. Caner. Not being a "profile in courage," from where I sit. Not on the Caner side.
It's nice to see other blogs taking up this story, almost this very post. It'd be nicer still if they'd hat-tip, if warranted.