by Matt Slick
In December 2019 I initiated contact with Dan Corner via email in response to a criticism he had raised where recalled eternal security a "devilish damnable devil doctrine." On 12/14/2019 Dan accepted my challenge to a debate. He wanted it advertised, that we could do it in person, and that we would split the cost 50% each. I responded on the 15th and told him that we could do it online. CARM's financial situation at the time wasn't good enough to pay for flights, hotels, etc. He then suggested that we do a text debate where we could post our correspondence on our mutual websites in an unaltered state. I had suggested the topic "Is the Christian's security in Christ a damnable doctrine?" After all, that's what he publicly says. That's what I want to debate.
Nevertheless, I have done text debates with atheists before and though they have advantages, they also have disadvantages. Often time they don't really answer direct questions and text debate can get lengthy. I told him via email that I did not want to do a text debate. I wanted a live, in person discussion. So, on 12/17, I emailed and I told him that we could have a moderated debate on Zoom and that I was still open to doing it in person debate. Afterall, I could look into raising support for travel. I didn't state that in the email but, that was what I was thinking. On 12/18/2019 I emailed him the following, "I don't know if you received my previous email. But, I don't want to do a text debate. We can do an online debate on Zoom or streamyard and put it on Youtube... It would be moderated. We could debate something that motivated me to want to talk to you; namely, That Eternal Security is a damnable doctrine. I want to debate that. Topic: Is Eternal Security is a damnable doctrine? Or Is Eternal Security is a damnable doctrine and a license to sin? Those are things I want to debate. So... let me know. matt."
To the best of my knowledge, after having searched my email account for his name looking for his response, I could not find one. Perhaps he does not want to debate the very thing he asserts.
Apparently he dropped off the radar and does not want to debate the very thing he so publicly asserts. Nevertheless, my challenge still stands. I want to debate Dan Corner, live online (maybe in person depending on financial status) on the topic that he asserts.
- Is Eternal Security is a damnable doctrine?
- Is Eternal Security is a damnable doctrine and a license to sin?
I'm still waiting.
There are several cult groups that try and refute what CARM says and, unfortunately, there are those who are apparently Christians who also try and refute CARM./p>
These attacks are most often misguided and such is the case with the Evangelical Outreach, apparently headed by a Mr. Dan Corner. His website has an article that has attacked CARM and me personally. Therefore, I'm writing a short response.
Unfortunately, people like Dan Corner who are obsessed with a particular issue and demonstrate a lack of Christian maturity and balance cannot always be trusted. Since I consider Dan Corner to be hostile to the work and Ministry of CARM, I've not reproduced the entire article lest Dan Corner (I assume he is the author of the article) seeks justification for a lawsuit for copyright infringement. But, according to fair use laws, I am allowed to quote excerpts from the article. Therefore, I have reproduced sections of it so I might offer a short response. In addition, I have used the name "Evangelical Outreach" and "Dan Corner" numerous times so to allow an increase of traffic to this article should people inquire about it.
If you are interested in reading his article in full, please to go http://www.evangelicaloutreach.org/carm.htm.
Finally, I have changed all the colors of the article from Evangelic Outreach to brown and standardized the font size for clarification. My responses are in green and are numbered for future reference if necessary.
Here we go.
The so-called “Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry” (CARM) wins our skull and crossbones award for teaching and trying to defend the heresy of “eternal security.” How sad and misleading it is to read on that web site:
What is the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry? (CARM)? CARM is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose purpose is to equip Christians and refute error. (Bold emphasis mine)
Perhaps one of the most loathsome things about most of the eternal security teachers is they often try to hide what they really believe. This is the case here, at least sometimes. Matt Slick (CARM) teaches a license for immorality but periodically tries to hide it. In other words, he isn’t always open and honest about his own theology. But how could he do better than teach a license for immorality since he is a Calvinist and therefore believes in the perseverance of the saints (eternal security)? In fact, in a recent email exchange with CARM this came out. I wrote to Matt the following about King David when in his sins of adultery and murder. Here is one of my emails to him:
- Notice Dan Corner commits the ad hominem fallacy. This is an error of judgment where the critic attacks the individual instead of the argument. He says that I'm trying to hide what I really believe and that I am not honest thereby saying that my motives are sinful. This is not only an extreme error in his approach, but it is also libelous. In other words, he has publicly stated that I am dishonest and intend to deceive people. This is considered a character attack.
- Dan Corner at "Evangelical Outreach" does not understand that Calvinism does not teach a license for immorality. Having attended a Calvinist seminary, been a Calvinist pastor, and known numerous Calvinist ministers, I can declare that of all I have encountered each and every Calvinist has desired greatly to honor God and to abhore sin. It is my opinion that Dan Corner lacks any competent understanding of Reformed Theology (known as Calvinism) and fails to properly represent what it teaches about avoiding sin. He should properly represent what he criticizes before he criticizes. He has not done this here and has failed to do his homework.
- Furthermore, it is a logical error to state that since someone is a Calvinist he is teaching a license for immorality. I am a Calvinist and I teach that all people need to repent of their sins and should avoid immorality. So, I contradict what Dan Corner teaches and call him to repent of his false and innacurate accusations.
What is CARM's position?
- Romans 14:1-12 tells us that Christians are to not pass judgment over debatable issues. Eternal security is just such a debatable issue. There have been very godly and very intelligent people throughout the Christian Church in the past 2000 years who have argued on both sides of the issue. The position that CARM holds is that our salvation is secure in Christ because it is God who is the author of our salvation (Heb. 2:10), it is God who atoned for our sins (1 Pet. 2:24; 1 John 2:2), we have been changed by the work of God (2 Cor. 5:17), and we who possess eternal life will never perish (John 10:27-28). Furthermore, CARM states that our security in Christ is not a license to sin. Instead, it is a license to rest from trying to maintain our position with God through our own efforts and thereby be free to serve God without fear.
- CARM does not condemn or restrict fellowship with any Christian who believes that it is possible to lose one's salvation because as Romans 14:1-5 says, "...Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind." Therefore, we recognize that Christians have the right to disagree on this topic, as well as others, and as long as they do not deny the essentials of the Christian faith, we are all to exhibit mutual love and forgiveness and tolerance towards each other.
- Furthermore, there are essential doctrines in Christianity. The Bible declares those essentials by citing a consequence for denying them. Whether or not a person can lose his salvation is not considered an essential doctrine in scripture. In other words, the Bible does not condemn to hell anyone who believes that we are eternally secure in Jesus nor does it condemn those who believe it is possible to lose salvation. Therefore, to make this a dividing issue between orthodoxy and heresy demonstrates that he does not understand biblical theology and, in my opinion, is immature in the Christian faith in this regard.
- In an e-mail exchange that Dan Corner and I had, he asked whether David remained saved in his sins of adultery and murder. I did not respond to that issue because, to be quite honest, there are so many people who want to pick theological fights with me that I recognize when a trap has been set and I don't want to trigger it. Nevertheless, I am not judging whether or not David was or was not saved since the Holy Spirit, it seems, could be taken and given from Israelites in the Old Testament times. However, there is theological debate on whether or not this can occur presently since completion of the atoning work of Christ. I don't want to get into it here, but the issue is not as simple as might first be expected. Since I don't want to get into huge e-mail discussions with countless individuals, I pick and choose what I respond to.
- Still, if Dan Corner wants to assert that David had lost his salvation (or that he was in God's grace, out, in out, in out, etc.) then what does he do with 1 Kings 14:8 where God says that David kept God's commandments and followed God with all his heart? The answer is simple. David repented and was forgiven and God remembers our sins no more (Isaiah 43:25; Heb. 8:12).
by his ignoring my challenge to debate eternal security he is saying indirectly that he is not confident with his own theological position. He likes to teach it dogmatically to new converts and the like, but doesn’t want to debate someone like me acquainted with this issue. Without a doubt, Matt Slick (just like Mr. James White) would debate eternal security with me in a flash if he (they) thought he (they) could win. Remember this when either of them, or any other Calvinists, authoritatively teach this license for immorality commonly known as eternal security.
- Again notice the error in logic on his part. I am confident in my theological position but I'm also experienced enough to know that someone with a chip on his shoulder is not open to rational discourse. I do not consider it to be a profitable use of my time to debate a single individual, at least in written form, who is so negatively predisposed to a topic and who also makes illogical assertions, attacks my character, misrepresents my position, and doesn't seem willing to be corrected. If I remember correctly, I've challenged Dan to come on my radio show, but he refused (is he afraid?). In fact, he can call in anytime and debate me. I welcome it. Dan Corner needs to mature in his approach, his logic, and his understanding of Calvinism. .
- Notice how he brings in another individual, Dr. James White, and seems to impugn his character as well. I've met James and he is a godly, intelligent man who desires to honor the Lord. Dan Corner, on the other hand, has a personal vendetta to promote. But, he needs to stick to the issue and not attack the motives of individuals. He has made a serious error and I cannot trust him to represent me, calvinism, carm, or others properly.
- If this individual wants to discuss eternal security with me he is more than welcome to call my radio show and discuss it live. I do not know if he is aware of the show but it is linked on the homepage of CARM and has been so for quite a while.
More CARM Poison
Matt, under your question found on CARM, “What do I do if I have committed sexual sin?” you wrote the following. [All emphasis is my own.]:
Christians are not exempt from sexual sin. If you are such a person who has fallen into fornication, adultery, pornography, homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, or any other sexual deviation, then you need to stop .... If you are a Christian involved in sexual sin then you know that the Holy Spirit has been convicting you. If you feel no conviction then you are either not really saved or are so hardened by the sin you’ve been committing that you are close to God taking your life. This is the case in 1 Cor. 5:5 where a man was having sex with his father’s wife and he would not repent. Paul said, “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Rest assured that God takes this seriously. He will take your life to essentially save your soul. This is a loving move on God’s part.
- Notice that I tell those who are committing sin to stop, that the Holy Spirit should be convicting the person of sin, that God takes sin very seriously, and that God may very well kill an individual per 1 Cor. 5:5. The logical question is where in my teaching is there a license to sin when I teach people to stop sinning and that there are serious spiritual consequences to sin? Perhaps, and this is my opinion, that Dan Corner of Evangelical Outreach is so obsessed with the eternal security doctrine issue that he cannot read the article clearly. Remember this: When an agenda is elevated, truth is demoted.
- Also, I don't say there are Christian adulterers and fornicators. That is a misrepresentation of what I said. Sure, people can be in sin as Christians -- as we all are -- but it doesn't mean its okay to sin or that we can continue in it.
CARM would have us think there are Christian adulterers, Christian fornicators, etc. CARM refers to 1 Cor. 5:5 which has nothing to do with teaching such immoral people are Christian. The unnamed man in 1 Cor. 5 is called wicked in v. 13, and therefore, can not be a Christian. To teach he was a Christian while in sexual immorality is to declare exactly what the devil (and Calvinists) would like us to think.
- This IS yet another offensive attack where this individual equates Calvinism with the devil. His attack is juvenile and inaccurate.
- Perhaps Dan Corner (and his evangelical outreach) is unaware that this country was founded by Calvinists, that Calvinism is one of the few remaining branches of Christian theology that has not gone liberal, and that we hold to an extremely high view of Scripture and personal sanctification. Of course, I would not expect Dan Corner to grant any leeway and affirm that reformed theologians stress sanctification. It is apparent to me that the agenda-laden attack prevents this individual from seeing the issues rationally and with Christian love.
- And no, I don't believe its okay to be a Christian and an adulterer or fornicator. These sins must be stopped.
CARM’s grace illustration is demonic. The following is found under, Salvation is God’s work:
One more change. I sneak over to your house and steal your bike. You catch me. You don’t send me to jail. In fact, you give me the bike plus a hundred dollars. That is grace. (Emphasis mine)
CARM would dangerously have us thinking we receive grace from God by doing a wicked deed. But that is not all. In an unrepentant state we get that grace and a nice bonus too! Matt, you have clearly changed grace into a license for immorality. I will fight your false version of grace (eternal security), with God’s truth, as long as I live.
- This is a serious misrepresentation of my position. In the CARM article Salvation is God's work, I do not teach that in order to receive God's grace we must do something wicked. The illustration that I used in that article (reproduced in next bullet point) was meant to demonstrate that grace is getting what we do not deserve: God's love and favor. Again, it is my opinion that he is so obsessed with denying eternal security that he is unable to accurately read and represent my article.
- Here is the paragraph from which Dan Corner (on his evangelicoutreach.org site) has extracted his comment, out of context. Do you think I am teaching we get God's grace by being wicked?
"Imbedded in the relationship of Law and Gospel are the concepts of justice, mercy, and grace. One of the best ways you can show the difference between them is to use illustrations that show their differences and relationships. For example, Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we don't deserve.
Let's suppose you have a bicycle and I want it. So, one night I sneak over to your house and steal it. You catch me and I go to jail. (Jail would be where I "pay" for my crime of breaking the law.) The penalty is met and that is justice. I get what I deserve.
Let's change it a little. I sneak over to your house and steal your bike. You catch me. But you don't send me to jail. Instead, you tell me to forget about it. The penalty, jail, is not met. That is mercy. I did not get what I deserved.
One more change. I sneak over to your house and steal your bike. You catch me. You don't send me to jail. In fact, you give me the bike plus a hundred dollars. That is grace. The penalty is met (by you paying the 'damages') and I was given what I did not deserve (the bike and money).
Justice, which demands payment, does not meet the requirement of mercy, which seeks forgiveness. Mercy does not meet the requirement of justice. Grace meets both."
- I hope you can clearly see I am not advocating sin in order to get God's grace. The illustration says no such thing. But Dan Corner doesn't get it. Is he misrepresenting me on purpose?
Dear reader, CARM is not a ministry that Evangelical Outreach can recommend since the various points of Calvinism, embraced by Matt Slick, will be laced throughout it (especially the most deadly point—eternal security). Any teachings on grace, salvation, sin, and other related subjects, will be distorted in one way or another to allow for the heresy of eternal security and Calvinism.
The reader is encouraged to warn his friends about the dangerous distortions and doctrinal perversions found on CARM.
- Calvinism is not laced throughout CARM. I specifically seek to avoid emphasizing Reformed Theology. I do, however, adopt eternal security, as do many non-Calvinists, for two reasons. First, it is what I believe is the biblical position. Second, all of the cults and false religions I have studied teach that it is possible to lose one's salvation and that a person must maintain his position with God through his efforts: keeping commandments, remaining faithful, staying good, etc. Therefore, I thought it best to tackle this issue on CARM.
- I have to ask Dan Corner from evangelicaloutreach.org if he is doing enough good to keep himself saved. Is he keeping the commandments enough? Is he keeping himself in God's grace by his effort and faithfulness? These are serious questions. I know that I can never be good enough and cannot keep myself in God's grace by my faithfulness. I'm just not good enough. This is why I rely on the work of Christ completely and believe in my eternal security in Him because of HIS faithfulness, not mine.
- It should go without saying that CARM does not recommend the evangelicaloutreach.org "ministry" since it does not display rational analysis of the eternal security issue, since it practices the logical fallacy of ad hominem (attacking a person's character), since it has exemplified horrible research regarding CARM, and since it condemns Calvinism as a heresy. In so doing this, so-called evangelical outreach ostracizes millions of Calvinist Christians worldwide who hold to the doctrine of the Trinity, the vicarious atonement of Christ, his physical resurrection, justification by grace through faith, repentance of sin, the need for holiness, that we are secure in our salvation because of the work of Christ, and that or salvation does not depend upon our faithfulness but on Christ's. We further maintain that we are of such sinful natures that if our salvation depended in any way upon our faithfulness, then we would not have it since we would surely fail to remain faithful if left to our own efforts. We are all predisposed to pride, arrogance, foolishness, and various forms of sin that are still working through our fallen natures. This would destroy any ability we might have to maintain our faithful standing before God. Therefore, we rely completely and totally on the work of Christ and rest in our security in him -- to his praise and glory.
- Praise be to God who has made us new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), given us Christ's righteousness, and that we are freely justified by the grace of God through the work of Christ on the cross.
- Finally, I challenge Dan Corner to call my radio show. I want him to tell me what he has to do to keep himself saved and in the good graces of God. And, I'll call him on his misrepresentations of my position that I've cited here. Will he call? Of course not.