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Nope. Poverty has a singular cause: the fall of Adam. Therefore, poverty cannot be eliminated with market-based economies and capitalism (which by the way did not exist until about 450 years ago anyway; before then most economies were feudal or tribal). And it cannot be eliminated with hard work (haven't you heard of the phrase "working poor"?). An example: Christian Dalits in India. Very hard working and very poor Christian people in a capitalist country. Now the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ was not to eliminate poverty. That is where not only the liberal Christians (liberation theology et al) err, but also strangely enough a lot of religious right types, including the ones who assert that America's wealth and power is due to our having some sort of special covenant relationship with God, or having a large population of churchgoing people. Never mind the wealthy powerful pagan empires that the world has seen, or the many nations with lots of Christians that are poor. (It also ignores the poverty of the early church ... called Ebionies because the term means "poor.") Instead, the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to save sinners. Not to lift people out of poverty or to transform nations, cultures and economies. And there will be rich Christians, middle class Christians and especially poor Christians until Jesus Christ returns and sets up New Jerusalem. And I would caution against your claiming that poor people are in this condition because they are lazy. Luke 6:20 reads "And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God." Of course, in America, people of a more conservative political bent tend to look at Matthew 5:3 and insert "in spirit" into Luke 6:20. Sorry, that type of hermeneutics is just as political agenda-driven as is what the liberation theologians do, especially when we interpret Luke 6:20 in light of the rich young ruler, and of the negative examples of the rich man parables (Lazarus and the man who stored his goods in barns). Of course, the liberation theology people purposefully misinterpret those parables, but politically conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists simply ignore them, and are more likely to pay attention to the poor-bashing of politically conservative radio talk show hosts than what the Bible - and especially the New Testament - actually says about the poor (and the rich).
P.S. If any of you fellows know of anyone that is hiring in the Atlanta area, or could perhaps critique my NOW TRUTHFUL resume, I'd be much obliged :-)
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Craig, Peter, David and others: I agree that it is probably time to abandon this conversation. But I will close by telling you something about myself. In 2008 after 9 years, I was "laid off" (fired!) from my job. I was in a panic, primarily because the nature of the work I was doing (basically computer programming on long outdated hardware) and the amount of time that I had spent there left me unqualified to do anything else, or at least anything that paid nearly as much. So, I began to fear - among other things - losing my home, having to take my kids out of school (and this was after they had suffered real harm from horrible experiences at bad schools and we had spent years before we FINALLY found a good one), the student loan people coming after me, divorce (as financial pressures is the leading cause) and so on. So, I began putting my resume out, and got no response. And the resume experts, both the professionals and the ones at the unemployment office, told me that my resume was holding me back. Though it was 100% truthful, it was "too weak." So I had to "spice it up a little." Or truthfully, A LOT. It had to be done, I was told. My getting a job depended on it, I was told. Besides, EVERYONE ELSE WAS DOING IT! And so, I listened to them. Actually, I cannot blame them. It was my decision. I did it. Now I never said anything that was 100% factually incorrect. Instead, I exaggerated. I distorted. I made my background, skill set and accomplishments sound much greater than they were. The trivial things that I did became outstanding, and areas where I was a novice I became an expert. An example: whenever we hired new programmers, I was often told to help train them, assign them projects, and oversee their work. The resume pros told me to pass that off as MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE! Now it didn't work. And you know what? I am glad. I thank God that I was not hired based on a resume filled with distortions and exaggerations. It is not as if I wouldn't have been able to do the work upon getting a job. After all, I'd been a professional programmer for years and can pick up what's required in no time. (I didn't even know the language or the system for the job that I had before.) But I would have attributed getting hired to the liberties - none of them outright lies, but liberties - that I took with my background in "marketing myself", and over time I would have rationalized it. My "management experience" would have become "until I was 15 years old, I was training to do that which was done on 11 September." Something that is "kinda true in the right context" ... but not really. Do you understand what I am saying? So, I am not saying that Dr. Caner is "an unrepentant liar." I am not saying that he is a charlatan or a crook. (Until I joined an SBC church recently, I had a Word of Faith/prosperity doctrine background similar to what you see on TBN, and I know charlatans and crooks in the pulpit when I see them.) And I am not saying that Dr. Caner is unsaved. The reason is that were I to say these things about Dr. Caner, I would have to say the same things about myself when I was frantically looking for exaggerations and distortions to put on my resume in order to keep my family home from being foreclosed. And it is because that I have been through these things myself that I sincerely believe that Dr. Caner has not dealt with this matter appropriately and needs to. And because I am absolutely convinced that Dr. Caner is a born again Christian, I know that he will. Not on my time or yours, but on God's time. And I say this PRECISELY BECAUSE I just happen to be one of the "hyper-Calvinists" that Dr. Caner attacked over the years. Now I never held Dr. Caner's attacks on Reformed theology against him, because I myself used to attack Calvinism before I became one. I used to go around saying that John Calvin was OBVIOUSLY demon-possessed, because election, predestination and limited atonement were so OBVIOUSLY warped, twisted and contrary to clearly revealed truths in scripture that it COULD ONLY come from a demon of high rank and great evil. So with that, I bid you fine Christian fellows with whom I sincerely disagree on this matter adieu, and thank you for allowing me to participate in this discussion.
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David: "There are 3 groups of people out there, who are out to "get" Dr. Caner. The liberal/moderate crowd; the aggressive 5 point Calvinist crowd; and the lost, Muslim crowd. And, apparently, these 3 crowds will not rest until they "lynch" Dr. Caner." So, which crowd am I in David? And am I out to lynch Dr. Caner, David? How does having Dr. Caner sit down and talk with Christians who don't believe him constitute "lynching"? The amazing thing is that this whole controversy apparently started with Dr. James White challenging Dr. Caner's claims that he had debated Muslim clerics. So, Dr. Caner can debate Muslim clerics, but he can't sit down and talk with good, sincere Christians, Christians who believe that it would be in the best interests of him personally, his career and most important his service to the gospel of Jesus Christ were he to appropriately deal with this matter? Because allow me to inform you: it can't possibly get any worse. Even among Christians, everyone but a decided minority of Dr. Caner supporters don't believe him and are not accepting his defense by Liberty, Dr. Geisler, Dr. Ankerberg and others. Please do not countenance the false notion that it is only Dr. Caner's supporters that matter. Further, your strident comments betray a belief that there is one correct way to view this incident, and that those who do not adhere to your views are not only wrong, but are acting in bad faith with bad motives, making them evil. So am I acting in bad faith, David? Do I have bad motives? Am I evil? Further, what authority do you possess that makes you the single arbiter of truth on this issue, and what gives you the right to judge, convict and condemn those who do not agree with you? What it boils down to David is that a lot of people put little stock in Dr. Caner's apology because they honestly believe that a lot of the things that he said rise far beyond "discrepancies" and "pulpit mistakes." And yes, this group includes pastors that have given just as many sermons as Dr. Caner has. These people are going to drop the matter and leave it alone, but they are going to do so with the opinion that Dr. Caner willfully made improper and untrue statements in the past, failed to deal with it in the present, and for that reason is untrustworthy in the future. I do not want that to happen, David. Do you?
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Peter: The idea that mature Christians of good will in both parties do not wish to be reconciled with each other flies opposes what the Bible says about the fruits of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ's prayer that we would be known by our love for one another. Also, plenty of people who disbelieve Caner and have little faith in the line of defense that Liberty, Kregel, Ankerberg, Geisler etc. have stated that they do not wish to see Dr. Caner lose his career over the matter. One of those people, by the way, is the very Matt Svoboda who asked you to drop the matter and wound up receiving a very aggressive reply from you. Now sir, right now we are at an impasse with opposing camps that both contain earnest Christians of good will holding their respective opinions for very legitimate reasons. Dr. Caner is the only one with the ability to end the impasse by discussing the issue with Christians who disagree with him. And the idea that Christians should not discuss matters with other Christians who disagree with them is completely unsupported in the Bible. So again, there is no reason for Dr. Caner to avoid discussing this issue with reasonable, spiritually mature Christians who want to reconcile with him but in their own good consciences cannot because they believe that - for instance - going to First Baptist Church in Jacksonville (among other places) shortly after and claiming that you were in training to become a murderous terrorist far exceeds saying something that is basically factual but is merely misspeaking or getting dates, names and places wrong.
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Peter: Regarding my Alexander the coppersmith statement, I was certain that I read Dr. Geisler assert that Dr. Caner was under attack from enemies of the gospel, which is what Alexander the coppersmith was. I cannot find it again, so I retract that statement. To a degree I will accept your "Christians versus Christian ethics" point, which is a good one. But one still needs to explain why Calvinists would exhibit worse Christian ethics on this matter than free will Christians. And even that may be a diversion, because A) Dr. Caner has plenty of non-Calvinist critics and B) Dr. Caner's more responsible Calvinist critics (and even some that are less so like White) credibly state that their criticism of Caner has nothing to do with Calvinism. And Dr. Caner sitting down with people shouldn't be done in an official capacity in the context of church discipline or Liberty University personnel decisions. However, it should be done in a CHRISTIAN capacity if A) reconciliation between two feuding Christian camps that need to be working together for the sake of Jesus Christ and His gospel is going to take place and B) if Dr. Caner is going to retain his credibility and influence among a wide audience. As much as you would like to believe otherwise, the Christians who disbelieve Dr. Caner and do not accept Liberty University's findings are by no means limited to Calvinists that exhibit poor Christian ethics. For example, there are many students at Liberty stating that they won't take Caner's classes he handles this matter appropriately. There are plenty of good reasons for a sit-down between Dr. Caner and his reputable, responsible Christian challengers (which again does include plenty of non-Calvinists) to take place, and not a single good reason why it shouldn't. As is the case with pronouncements from Liberty, Dr. Geisler, Dr. Ankerberg, Kregel etc. on this matter, merely stating otherwise does not make it so.
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Peter: I have tried to post as "Job" and "Healtheland" using various methods. You can use my IP address to verify that fact. The reason why I asked if you regarded Calvinists as Christians is because a lot of the defenders of Dr. Caner certainly haven't been acting as if they regard Calvinists to be Christians. Instead, Dr. Geisler, the people at SBC Today, and many others are accusing Calvinists - and making blanket statements without qualifying them I might add - of behavior that is more akin to Alexander the coppersmith in 2 Titus 4 than of any Christian. For instance, why would any Christian be out to defame and destroy Dr. Caner? How would that represent a victory for Calvinism, or advance the agenda of Calvinism in any way? Again, if Calvinists aren't Christians, then it makes sense. But if Calvinists are Christians, and most or at least some of the Calvinist bloggers challenging Dr. Caner are Christians, then it makes no sense at all. It appears that the two principals in this controversy are Dr. Ergun Caner and Dr. James White. Dr. Caner's defenders present him as a faithful and effective servant of Jesus Christ who has some flaws, has made some mistakes and is deserving of forgiveness from his fellow Christians. Why Dr. James White should not be viewed in the same manner is something that needs to be explained to me. It also needs to be explained to me why I should side with the Christian Dr. Caner against his Christian accusers merely because Liberty University says that I should. I do not agree with Liberty University's decision to have a Mormon - and not just any Mormon but one who uses every opportunity to promote the Mormon faith in Glenn Beck - as their commencement speaker, so why should I accept their findings in the Caner matter? What I am ultimately trying to say is that I have examined both sides of this conflict, and I find a lot of merit to the arguments of the Christian critics of Dr. Caner, and I also find the response of Dr. Caner and Liberty University to be wanting. It is my desire that Dr. Caner sit down with his more responsible and reputable critics (a group that would probably have to exclude Dr. White for various reasons, including but not limited to the fact that Dr. White and Dr. Caner have a prior history of disagreement) and come to a resolution in a Christian manner. I would hope that you would agree that such an action on the part of Dr. Caner would be far more productive to the cause of Christ than is attacking Calvinists.
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Jul 8, 2010