Liberty University obviously hopes that their statement about and demotion of Ergun Caner as dean of their seminary will put an end to questions regarding whether or not Dr. Caner fabricated significant portions of his life story.

But at the very least, Dr. Caner and the Liberty University trustees owe the Liberty community and the evangelical world an answer to one very simple question:

Was Dr. Caner raised in Turkey as a Muslim terrorist trained in jihad?

All of the evidence—see the end of this post—suggests that this cannot be the case.

And yet Dr. Caner has claimed that this is true and has not publicly repented of this fabrication.

If the answer to this question is “No,” then is there not some degree of culpability on the part of the Liberty University trustees for limiting Caner’s “discrepancies” to “matters such as dates, names and places of residence”?

Ryft, writing at The Aristophrenium, notes:

The notion that he spent his childhood in Turkey or some Muslim majority country is not just divorced from some larger truth but, rather, thoroughly contradicted by the facts. It is simply impossible for him to be raised in Turkey as a Muslim terrorist trained in jihad and then move to the U.S. as a young teenager (circa 1979) when the truth is that he was living in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, from about three years of age (circa 1969). . . . Caner did not just misspeak but spun an elaborate tale of falsehood.

In February 2010, Dr. Caner wrote: “For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better.”

But Ryft writes:

. . . [N]owhere in this statement that contains his apology does he address or correct the most egregious falsehoods that many have implored him to repent of. They remain conspicuously outstanding.

. . . There is one thing he has not ever acknowledged nor has he ever repented of, the biggest thing that so many of his Christian brothers and sisters have implored of him, indeed the most salient thing that Caner has consistently described and referenced over the last decade: that is spending his childhood in Turkey as a Muslim terrorist trained in jihad and moving to the U.S. when he was a young teenager, and the contingent details of that historical falsehood. . . .

[T]he evidence shows that the information was indeed made up and that Caner was actually not who he said he was.

Here is one example of a quote from a 2001 Caner sermon, given just 5 weeks after 9/11:

May I submit to you, until I was 15 years old, I was in the Islamic Youth Jihad. And so until I came to America, until I found Jesus Christ as Lord, I was trained to do that which was done on 11 September.

All of the evidence thus far suggests this is a fabrication.

If Dr. Caner has an explanation, he should share it.

If Dr. Caner has repented privately of this sin, it should be made known publicly.

Though it pains me to say it, the facts seem to suggest that the trustees at Liberty have retained a theology professor who was a fabulist.


[Background]

Here’s a quick recap of what we know. There are many more details than this, but the following highlights some of the salient facts, especially as they touch on the issue of whether or not Caner was trained as a jidhadist in Turkey. (For a fuller timeline, go here.)

Caner has said that he was born in Istanbul, Turkey, and grew up near the Turkish-Iraqi border, where he was trained in Islamic Youth Jihad until the age of 15. He came to America, he has claimed, in 1978. He was converted to Christianity in 1982.

Actually, he was was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in November 1966. In 1969 the Caners moved to Columbus, Ohio, before Ergun’s fourth birthday. In 1975 his parents separated, with his Swedish mother being awarded custody of the children, and in 1978 they were divorced. The boys lived primarily with their mother in Columbus—at least 75% of the year, spending 25% of the year with their Turkish-Muslim father in the U.S. The divorce agreement prohibited the boys from traveling outside the Continental U.S. while they were still minors.

No one doubts that he was converted to Christianity in 1982. But all of the evidence suggests he was was reared in the U.S., and no evidence exists that he was trained as jihadist in Turkey.

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Comments:


134 thoughts on “Just One Question for the Trustees of Liberty University”

  1. Kyle says:

    This is simply another example of the current lack of integrity at Liberty University. How any youth minister in America could continue to encourage their students to attend a school that cannot call its own professors to repentance for obvious sins is ridiculous.

    1. Tony Romano says:

      As a student there, this very thing would have gotten me expelled per the Student Handbook and Code of Conduct. We have moved from theological differences to outright polarization. This is absolutely shameful; they know it and yet have deliberately deluded themselves with their own explanations and justifications. Worst of all, I fear they actually believe they’re completely clean in this. An absolute travesty.

      1. Tony Romano says:

        That being said, I do hope he will repent. I am no better than Ergun Caner. Not even a little bit. I hope God grants him repentance.

    2. Kyle hits the nail on the head. If I can’t trust them to be forthright and truthful, there’s no way I can trust them with people I care about and am responsible to shepherd.

      1. Amen, a very sobering and sad context to say ‘Amen’, but a necessary ‘Amen’.

  2. Rob N says:

    Wow… this reminds me of the Hillsong ‘Healer’ scandal where Mike Guglielmucci fabricated a story that he had terminal cancer and would sing the song ‘You’re My Healer’ with oxygen tubes in his nose.

    I should note that a big difference in the story is that the Australian worship leader publicly repented & checked into some sort of rehab facility…

    1. That was the first thing I thought of, too. Lord, help him and those effected by this.

  3. “Was Dr. Caner raised in Turkey as a Muslim terrorist trained in jihad?”

    Perhaps this question wasn’t one of the factual statements that are self-contradictory because it is more open to interpretation than dates and places. The answer to the question depends on one’s definitions.

    Raised in turkey – maybe he visited Turkey but considered it home
    as a Muslim terrorist – maybe he knew such people existed and was sympathetic to them
    trained in jihad – maybe he found an Anarchist’s Cookbook somewhere

    See. He never meant to mislead anyone, which seems to be Liberty’s definition of a lie. So this question, which is really the granddaddy of all the questions concerning Caner’s persona, might also be the easiest from which to wiggle free.

    1. taco says:

      “The boys lived primarily with their mother in Columbus—at least 75% of the year, spending 25% of the year with their Turkish-Muslim father in the U.S. The divorce agreement prohibited the boys from traveling outside the Continental U.S. while they were still minors”

    2. Victoria says:

      Darby; Only in a Postmodern world with a supposed christian institution embracing a postmodern worldview

      1. Shirley says:

        Victoria – to suggest that there is anything “postmodern” in this deliberate falsification & the institution’s inability or unwillingness to hold the individual accountable, is to be just as disingenous as the original problem.

        Both are grounded in false information(LIES).

        It also shows that you have no understanding of what post modernity and the pomo movement are about.

        1. Victoria says:

          whatever dear–since you are such an expert at it!

          1. Victoria says:

            Also Shirley —
            as Christians we should all be eager to be corrected when we are wrong-however when someone does it in a very harsh and condescending manner -it is not very helpful.
            I have no problem with you telling me my terminology is wrong-I have a real problem with you calling me disingenuous and that I have NO understanding of post modernism.
            Very sad indeed–you could have taken me aside and corrected me-but you lost that privilege by the very harsh and judgmental tone you used.

    3. Darby,

      What about the 11 different countries and 3 languages he has debated in (of which, there are none)?

      What about the fact that Arabic speakers allege his Arabic is… well… not Arabic?

      What about the hundred other things?

      hmmm… Only a deluded person or a liar could attest to his innocence on these matters.

      1. I was being sarcastic, just pointing out one possibility for why the Liberty trustees didn’t pursue Justin’s question. I’m the farthest one from attesting to this man’s innocence. I think this is one of those cases that if you tell a lie big enough, average people will believe it.

        1. Sorry Darby… my bad.

    4. Justin Taylor says:

      I think Darby was being sarcastic.

      1. Tim Hawkins says:

        Darby seems to agree with you here, Justin!

        1. I frequently agree with Justin.

          1. Bennett Willis says:

            This was a lovely series of comments–and ended pleasantly. This is a rare event on comment threads.

    5. Squirrel says:

      “Raised in turkey” He probably meant to say, “Raised on turkey.” Referring, of course, to his childhood diet…

  4. Donahue says:

    This is what happens when your theology maintains that God’s grace alone working through the clear proclamation of the Gospel is not enough to convert a sinner.

    1. bass says:

      agreed. when people do the convincing unto conversion instead of the Holy Spirit, then there’s no problem in using “theological leverage”. caner has made clear his hatred for the doctrines of grace and we now see how his man-centered theology plays out in a shameful and sinful way. theology matters.

    2. Donahue,

      I’m a 5pt Calvinist but I think this sort of statement gives Caner and his defenders more leverage in dismissing the “critics.”

      Also, I know lots of Calvinists who do and say stupid things as a result of their beliefs as well.

      In other words, this statement is a…

      non sequitur

      1. bass says:

        what you are ignoring is the connection between the ultimate cause of conversion in the mind of an arminian. their denial of effective grace leads to embellishment of conversion tories and over-the-top emotionalism in order to “convince” the unconverted. this has everything to doing with their rejection of calvinism, and indeed their intense hatred of it, and is therefore not non-sequitur. look at finney and his methods in the 19th century. would that have happened had he held to the doctrines of grace? do reformed churches have the alter calls and conversion methods of arminian and semi-pelagian churches? of course not. bad theology ultimately leads to bad methodology.

      2. bass says:

        i just saw this a few minutes ago. it seems tom chantry has seen the same similarities in preaching methodology between caner and finney that i alluded to…
        http://crbcviews.blogspot.com/2010/06/and-finney-begat-caner.html

  5. Kevin DeYoung says:

    JT, thanks for pulling these bits and pieces together. Very helpful. No Christian should take joy in calling others to account, but when there are public sins (and this looks like one of those situations) it is important that we make public confession. If not that, then a much clearer explanation is in order.

    1. The Power of The LORD says:

      “No Christian should take joy in calling others to account”

      Mr. DeYoung,

      I respectfully disagree.
      We should rejoice in calling others to account since
      it humbles their hearts.
      We should delight in making others accountable since it glorifies
      God to expose sin with the light of grace.

      The Truth is proclaimed when we expose sin.
      Christ becomes the Blazing Center amidst dark hearts when
      we call for accountability.

      When others are called to account, we should find joy in it because it glorifies God and reminds man that he is a wretched sinner. We need to remind one another of our wretched nature.

      What better way than to call another (myself included!) to account and then to point to the Cross!

      Calling others to account is to call for the grace of God!
      What sweet delight!

      1. Jake Smith says:

        Well said, The Power of the LORD! Thank you for highlighting a neglected issue – rejoicing in the call to accountability. Your post had a Piper-esque tone to it!

      2. Marcy Bennett says:

        Thanks you for making this controversial point, Power of the Lord.
        Too many gentle souls do not want to make this point – we ought to rejoice at public rebuke!!!!

      3. Paula says:

        I concur, Power of the Lord. It is no joy that the job has to be done, I wish it were not so. But doing it is part of a Christian’s calling, which is joyful, if not always pleasant and gleeful.

      4. Tony J. says:

        Well said, Power of the Lord!

        Calling people out is also a calling out of God’s glory!

        Also, I thought it a wee bit funny that in telling us to rejoice in calling others out, you called out Kevin DeYoung in the process. LOL – Good stuff and I rejoice that you did so!

    2. Tommy Markado says:

      No, Brother DeYoung, no. I repeat – No, no, no.

      Our Lord commands us to rejoice and glorify Him.

      Our Lord commands us to hold others accountable.

      Our Lord also commands us to do all things to His glory
      and with rejoicing when His glory is shown.

      “Why take joy in doing this?” Brother DeYoung may ask.

      For the reasons above. A sinner is brought to Joyful Knowledge.
      He is brought to know that he is a sinner, that he is offending God,
      yet God holds out hope and mercy in Christ. This should cause joy.

      So, Brother DeYoung, please re-consider your position on this.

      And do so joyfully and thankfully that Our Lord is merciful and calling
      out sinners!

  6. AerodynamicPenguin says:

    It seems obvious that Dr. Caner needs to repent — as do the trustees of Liberty. Their behavior doesn’t speak so strongly about loving the truth.

    @Rob N: that’s quite a story about the man singing with oxygen tubes up his nose — never heard that. I, for one, would feel better about Dr. Caner if he repented, and to boot had oxygen tubes up his own nose.

    Seriously, though, facts seem to clearly point to the notion that he’s a shameless looker-after-attention. Even that short clip where he alleges he was born in Istanbul is troubling: calling himself a “sand monkey” — what a terrible thing to call Middle-Easterners.

    Commentators on that clip say, furthermore, that he’s not even speaking Arabic. Very troubling indeed. You’d think Liberty wouldn’t hesitate to remove him. But then, I suppose, they’d have to do the painful thing: admit they’d been snookered.

    All of this also puts heat on Ergun Caner’s brother, Dr. Emir Caner, the president of a Baptist college. Did Emir actively participate in Ergun’s falsehood? If not, did he then turn a blind eye towards it? Either way, if Ergun lied, then Emir either actively or passively participated in the lie, unless of course he denounced it. So then another Baptist college has to make decisions about what to do.

    1. John says:

      I was shocked that Caner would use the term “sand-monkey”, especially in public. Ironically, he is not aware that this term does NOT refer to Turks. It is used of Arabs, which Turkish people are not. Can’t even get his racism right.

  7. Matt Capps says:

    This is so sad. I pray that Dr. Caner would repent.

  8. Dan Phillips says:

    The release of the coverup statement is rather a “How stupid do they think we all are?” moment, isn’t it?

  9. Mark says:

    JT,

    Good questions. The cat has been among the pigeons again. Will the pigeons keep ignoring them?

  10. Ben says:

    “No one doubts that he was converted to Christianity in 1982.”

    I suspect that in many of our churches, an unrepentant deceiver would be shepherded to examine himself whether he is in the faith, delivered to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so his spirit might be saved, and assumed by the congregation to be a heathen, outside the faith.

    Nothing could remove this doubt more immediately than public repentance.

  11. donsands says:

    God is exposing hearts. And that’s a good thing. It’s painful for Liberty to see the agenda of their hearts needs some redirection, and this is our Lord’s greatgrace to allow us to see our foolish ways and be restored with integrity again. And perhaps with consequences, for the Lord allows us to bear our burdens, when we sin, yet this same sin is as far removed from the genuine believer as the “east is from the west”.

    We need not put a huge “L” on Mr. Caner for being a liar. For then I would need many letters tacked to me. And all of us would need to have our sins tacked upon us.
    Yet, we need to help one another be restored with love and grace.

    Thank You Lord for exposing our sin. And always full of grace and forgiveness, as you deal with us, and chastize us. Amen.

    1. John says:

      Don, I think you need to consider the grand scale of Caner’s sin. Perhaps you do deserve a letter or two, but neither I nor most anyone outside your family and/or church know or care. Mr. Caner, however, has brought shame to the gospel and the name of Christ in a very public way, and LU has covered his sin up and denied it. I think the issue is that Caner cannot be “restored in love and grace” because he is unrepentant. This is not just a fellow brother caught in a sin. It is far, far more serious.

  12. Lisa says:

    I beg to differ with the opinion that no one doubts his conversion to Christianity. It seems to me that to openly lie about your background after you supposedly accepted Jesus Christ as your savior would call into question whether or not you actually did.

  13. taco says:

    Can anyone read Caner’s book on Islam with a straight face, or think that he has any shred of credibility ESPECIALLY in that subject? How does Caner’s action affect the overall church’s credibility if the rest of us do not step up and call a liar a liar?

  14. JT Hutts says:

    The undercurrent of confusion at Liberty reminds me of the chapter in J. Mack Stiles book, “Marks of the Messenger.” In chapter 3, Stiles shares about Kevin Roose [www.kevinroose.com] a Brown University student secret undercover mission to discover evangelical Christianity at Liberty University. Stiles book is a great read about how the gospel moves from accepted to assumed to confused to lost. What is ironic is that Brown University had a rich heritage.

    Let us pray that the gospel of Christ will be a blazing light shining through this confusion.

  15. Tom says:

    This is a statement on Ergun Caner’s website: “Raised as a devout Sunni Muslim along with his two brothers, Caner converted in high school.”

    Now this is a statement on Emir Caner’s website: “Born on August 25, 1970, Emir Fethi Caner grew up in the Columbus, Ohio, area in a Sunni Muslim family, the son of an Islamic leader. As a young teenager, he came to faith in Jesus Christ at a revival service at the Stelzer Road Baptist Church.”

  16. John Crutchfield says:

    This whole episode reminds me of the Mike Warnke episode back in the ’90’s. I grew up in the late 70’s / early 80’s, and Mike Warnke was a regular, writing books, making records…fellow teenagers in my youth group would memorize his comedy routines. Then, somebody (Cornerstone magazine) had the nerve to question his stories about Satanism and ritual sacrifice, etc. It turns out, none of it was true. What probably happened was that he discovered he got lots of attention when he told stories, gradually embellishing them. The need for attention started a vicious cycle. I wonder if this whole thing here (the Caner episode) tells us something about the need for extravagant conversion stories and about basic integrity in discipleship. Caner’s story should never have gotten the traction it did. Shouldn’t someone who knew him have confronted him? Time to think about some things here.

    1. Bennett Willis says:

      Ergun and Emir have to have had conversations on the topic. I think it went something like this.

      Emir: Ergun, you know what you said is not so.

      Ergun: They ate it up. Emir, what are you going to do? Call me out or go along for the ride? And you have to decide right now.”

      There are probably others. No, there are certainly others. Unindicted co-conspirators is a good description of all those who knew.

  17. bass says:

    what you are ignoring is the connection between the ultimate cause of conversion in the mind of an arminian. their denial of effective grace leads to embellishment of conversion tories and over-the-top emotionalism in order to “convince” the unconverted. this has everything to doing with their rejection of calvinism, and indeed their intense hatred of it, and is therefore not non-sequitur. look at finney and his methods in the 19th century. would that have happened had he held to the doctrines of grace? do reformed churches have the alter calls and conversion methods of arminian and semi-pelagian churches? of course not. bad theology ultimately leads to bad methodology.

    1. Greg Alford says:

      Bass,

      Yours is a very “Astute” Observation!

      “Their denial of effective grace leads to embellishment of conversion stories and over-the-top emotionalism in order to “convince” the unconverted. This has everything to doing with their rejection of Calvinism, and indeed their intense hatred of it…”

      It should be noted that most of the “Founders Type” Calvinist in the SBC are being respectful and very quiet about this scandal. I suspect this is partly due to their not wishing to be seen as attacking Caner because of his very aggressive Anti-Calvinism comments in the past, and partly due to the fact that all Calvinist deeply understand their own sinfulness and reliance on God’s grace.

      With that said, bad theology does indeed ultimately lead to bad methodology, and the two cannot be separated in this case.

      Grace Always,

  18. bass says:

    sorry, that was reply to thread above started by donahue

  19. Dillon T. Thornton says:

    What little respect I had for the Liberty leadership is now gone. The way that all of this has been handled is sad. Pastors/scholars no longer need to be honest I guess. Dishonesty is dismissed as pastoral tradecraft. So sad.

  20. John DeMotte says:

    JT – can you help me understand the benefit of this post to the public? I read Kevin DeYoung’s response on the need for public confession for public sins, but I was wondering if you could help me understand more fully what led you to post on this. To help you understand where I’m coming from, this is one of those issues that I, along with many Christians I imagine, am not clear on when we should cover or expose a brother’s offense. I would appreciate your thoughts.

  21. Jeff S says:

    According to James White, Norm Geisler has now weighed in on the outcome of the inquiry, writing on his Facebook page:

    An extensive independent investigation has exonerated Dr. Ergun Caner of all the false charges made against him by extreme Muslims and others and has been retained as a Professor at Liberty University. In spite of a few misstatements (which we all make and he has corrected), nothing has diminished his testimony and orthodoxy as one of the great Christian voices of our time. I totally support him.

    There’s that word again: EXONERATION.

    To quote the Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

    1. Tony Romano says:

      “We are men of action. Lies do not become us.”

    2. I feel like I’m living in the Twilight Zone.

      1. Tony Romano says:

        Is that sarcasm? I’m so confused right now.

    3. Jack says:

      @Jeff S Geisler and Caner are good friends, Caner is a huge fan of Geislers and talks about him constantly in classes.

      1. Greg Alford says:

        Scriptures tell us that “Faithful are the wounds of Friend, and deceitful are the kisses of an Enemy”

        If Norm Geisler were a true friend to Caner he would hold him accountable to the truth. He does his “friend” a great disservice here…

  22. Thanks for posting this, Justin. So many sites reporting on this don’t even mention the evidence much less link to it.

  23. Jack says:

    @John Demotte Hi John, I am not Justin but I think that is a wisdom call. In this situation, Ergun was a high profile individual with a lot of influence at LU and throughout SBC churches. I think that its important to hold people of high influence to account.

    On another note, I was at LU for 8 years before Caner and while he was there. The timing that he was brought in was right after 9/11 and the purpose was that Dr. Falwell’s health was fading and they needed a new strong personality who could debate and preach in a way that was bold and politically incorrect. What better person at the right time than Ergun Caner? I had the chance to sit in Caner’s classes and under his preaching, as well as having conversations with him. I am being honest and real with you, it fell short. His classes were purposefully easy so as to not overwhelm students, His preaching was mostly his opinion and him yelling, and his attitude many times was arrogant and relentless.

    He has not done a good service to the gospel or the kingdom of God. The only reason that no one knows this is that he is in Lynchburg and under the protection of LU. It matters what we say and how we carry ourselves, that is the only point I am trying to make.

    This is the natural outcome of a testimony built on lies. Ergun needs to have an attitude of repentance and humility and then allow God to restore him so that he can be used to build God’s kingdom in the most effective way.

  24. Paula says:

    An excellent post.

    And Jeff S LOL at your Princess Bride line. Perfect.

    But the whole situation is amazingly tragic.

  25. Kevin DeYoung,

    What really saddens me, and motivates my earnest prayers over Dr. Caner, is the internal conflict he surely must be experiencing in his soul. (As many do, I take the charitable assumption that his conversion to Christianity was authentic, and so that his conscience is responding to the Holy Spirit’s assaults.) The weight of guilt must be terrible as he continues to wrestle with his priorities: damage control for the sake of the ministry he has constructed around his story (preserving self) versus honoring the promptings of the Spirit and repenting for the sake of Christ’s name, the character of the gospel, and the integrity of Liberty University (preserving others). I think it is perfectly understandable why Dr. Caner has such a strong aversion to admitting that being raised in Turkey as a Muslim terrorist trained in jihad is actually a falsehood; but what is not understandable is the priority he is choosing by his continued silence on that issue. That inner turmoil must be terrible and saddens me deeply. And Dr. Geisler is not helping either himself or Dr. Caner.

    (Incidentally, Geisler needs to understand what an “independent” investigation is, so that he can see this was not such a thing. But neither was Dr. Caner exonerated, as the evidence refuting his testimony about being raised in Turkey as a Muslim terrorist trained in jihad was never, ever addressed.)

    P.S. Thank you for the mention, Mr. Taylor. Being referenced by a man I really admire was paradoxically uplifting and humbling.

  26. Roger says:

    Dr. Norman Geisler has completely and totally discredited himself, and in front of non-believers, the Gospel. How can any honest, clear thinking person make a statement like that – “exoneration.” Totally unbelievable.

  27. DBradley says:

    How the Seminary handles this controversy will define the school going forward. I hope someone at Liberty Seminary understands this. The least they should do is to ask Dr. Caner to step aside and find a solid replacement that can take the Seminary beyond their mediocre status. The school needs an Al Mohler/Danny Akin type to get the school back on track. Many eyes are on the school to see how they handle this.

  28. Dave says:

    Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

    Proverbs 12:19 The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

  29. Ron Starcher says:

    I send the following to a friend who is an LU alum:

    It seems as Christian Institutions (and even churches) gain prominence, that integrity begins to slip as public opinion weighs more heavily in the decision making process than does Biblical truth. This, I believe, is the result of “our” fundamentalist heritiage – so steeped in pragmatism that it cannot see its own errors.

    Fundamentalists pillory Bill Hybels and the “seeker-sensitive” model as being unbiblical compromise for the sake of numbers. Yet, they are taking a page from the early fundamentailst’s play book like J. Frank Norris who is reported to have said, “I’ll do anything to keep a man out of hell.” Really? Which commandment would he break? How far would he go in dishonoring God for the sake of “evangelism?”

    There are many churches and ministries that have roots in this heritage. When the ends are askew, then the means are messed up. If the ends or goals are organizational advancement, financial stability or growth, or even evangelism, then the means to those ends will of necessity be whatever is needed to accomplish the stated (or implied) ends. But, if the ends are to glorify God in all that we do, then that end or goal will dictate the means.

    If instituional image is the goal, then whatever is necessary to maintian that image becomes legitimate. If honoring God is the goal, then there are some things that we will not allow, even if it means damage to our public image.

  30. Annas says:

    Sweet delight indeed. Gollum Caner and the ring of power falling into Mount Doom. Finally…and justly. He’s been a Thorn for far too long in the flesh or true godly men. Shame on him and for the Sanhedrin Liberty U for sheltering it all.

  31. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

    As disturbing as these revelations are, I’m also disturbed to see how many people in the body of Christ, right here on this blog, are rushing to judgment, pitchfork in hand. Right now, we don’t have a lot of facts at hand.

    Let’s take a breath here and bring all the facts to bear before we do this lynch mob thing!

    Who here has not exaggerated or even lied before, fellow Christians? Let him cast the first stone.

    1. bass says:

      actually we have mountains of facts- namely hours and hours of repeated sermons/lectures/presentations/interviews with contradicting statements. Then there are the court documents proving his Ohio residency since age 4. We seen his arabic usage scrutinized by someone that actually knows the language. Also, there is the obvious fact of non-repentance since being confronted with his lies months ago. this is no rush to judgement. this is careful and thorough analysis of caner’s own statements and words. he has been judged rightly and the call for repentance and admitting of his sin needs to continue.

  32. Mark says:

    Reggie,

    Which facts are missing? Did you not read the post above? JT listed some of the contradictions.

    Maybe you can tell us how those are mere exaggerations.

    Most people do some form of editing for their writing and prepare in some manner for public speaking, TV presentations, etc. Am I to understand that for ~9 years Dr. Caner went around speaking in different venues never having prepared or thought through what he was going to say, write, etc.?

  33. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

    For someone who was raised in a strict Islamic home, there would be a natural blurring of when you lived in one place or another. The younger he was, the more these distinctions would be blurred. I’d like to know how much traveling he did, what kinds of schools he was in, because it is entirely plausible that his upbringing, teachings he was inculcated with and surroundings in Ohio were little different than Turkey when he wasn’t in a public place like a mall or airport. I’ve been in places here in America where Islamic culture is strong, and there is a bubble of sorts that exists.

    1. bass says:

      But for a conscious human being he would naturally know he could not have possibly come to America in both 1969 as well 1979. Yet he made statement saying both to different parties during the same time period. He would also be well aware that he was not a trained jihadist raised in Turkey.
      No one, especially a Christian, has any excuse to make up the lies he did. He even greater sin was tying these lies to his testimony and thereby shaming the name of Christ. You are looking for him to have an “out” here when it is clearly impossible. He made statements he knew were false and he did it repeatedly for years. No amount of traveling or blurring of lines would vindicate what any human with an IQ above 50 would know about himself. He lied. He sinned. It’s a fact. He needs to admit and repent. People that make excuses for him are just making things worse.

  34. Mark says:

    Reggie, have you read any of the court documents? Here and here.

    You can find travel restrictions not only from traveling outside the of U.S., but for traveling outside of Ohio. The parents had been living apart since 1976. And as early as 1975 there is documentation that the mother feared the father was trying to take the kids to Turkey where she was in “fear of her personal safety and that of her children.”

  35. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

    I am not making excuses for Caner. But you are not living in reality if you think that a devout Muslim family moves to Ohio and suddenly everything is apple pie and fourth of July.

    All I’m saying is that I want to hear Caner’s explanation and I think that is fair to do before we march out with pitchforks. Bass, I hope that people extend a little more patience, grace and fire breathing to you when you sin in some way. I bet that if your sins were hung out on a clothesline for all to see, many people would dimly view the legitimacy of YOUR faith too.

    He DOES owe us and his students a detailed explanation, more detailed than what we’ve gotten so far. He should apologize wherever he has misstated the facts.

    But we should be willing to hear his explanation and be willing to understand – at least at some level – that his Muslim and Turkish ancestry and family history did not necessarily diminish the day he set foot in America. It may have actually become even stronger, as is the case for many immigrants who only give serious thought to their faith after it is challenged or questioned.

    1. Mark says:

      Reggie,

      What if it could be shown with documents that Ergun never left the U.S. once he moved to Ohio atleast until 1982? It’s pretty clear from the current documents that he never traveled outside the U.S. from 1975 to 1982.

    2. Justin Taylor says:

      Reggie,

      I agree with you that he needs to come clean. And I don’t think we have “pitchforks” to say that there are indeed fabrications. I appreciate where you are coming from, but he said he was born in Istanbul. He said that he grew up on the Turkish-Iran border. He said that he learned about America from Dukes of Hazzard on Turkish TV (which didn’t start airing even in the US until 1979). He said that he was part of Islamic Youth Jihad and trained in Madras. He has frequently spoken gibberish when purporting to speak Arabic. He mangles the most elementary citations of the Quran. The list goes on and on.

      JT

      1. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

        Justin,
        I didn’t have you in mind when I talked about the lynch mob/pitchfork mentality. I had in mind some of the comments we see below your entry, some of which are unhinged and unbecoming of a follower of Christ. I also think some of the commenters here need to be very careful about engaging in “guilt by association” – I see ample evidence of hatred for Liberty University here and I would just encourage some folks to take a deep breath and remember that we will each give an account to Christ for every idle word (I’m not connected in any way with Liberty, fwiw). But Justin, to be clear, I think you’re asking questions that need to be answered.

        —————-

        Mark,
        Honestly, court documents don’t really settle anything for me because I know how bad the U.S. is and was at monitoring these kinds of things, particularly before actual databases were used by the government.

        —————-

        Part of the reason I am willing to reserve some judgment is because I know that some people are really good at remembering dates, places, timelines, etc. I don’t happen to be very good in this area. There are times in which I’ve been wildly off – to the point that it is a running joke in my family – but it doesn’t mean that I was maliciously intending to deceive.

      2. james says:

        Justin,
        thanks for your posts. I have a question. Do you know Arabic? From what I have heard Caner knows some Arabic and much Turkish. I have spent a lot of time in the ME and Arabic is different and some would say ‘wrong’ depending on where you live, such as Egyptian Arabic and Arabic in Qatar or Iraq. Each one says the other is wrong and so on. If this is the case with native speakers, who is it who told you he spoke gibberish or who taught you Arabic? Does Caner ever quote the Quran/Koran correctly? Have you ever misquoted another book or the Bible? What about something you were really involved with when you were younger? Should we say you know nothing of these things? Or did you just make a mistake? Caner was born in Sweeden, he said he was born there and
        in Istanbul. His birth in Sweeden is a fact but how old was he when he first went to Turkey? I love your blog but when we start bashing others like James White it is as jhelpful as getting one’s finger smashed in the door. It
        would have been fair to post his reaponse/repentance in it’s entirety but nonreformed brothers do not usually get that much respect.
        I just heard of a man who had his life and family threatened by a violent religious fanatics. He had to move his family twice due to their threats. After this subsided, he had men who used to stand by him, brothers in the faith threaten him and put his personal information in public places. The exposure was not good because his life was threatened, his life scrutinized with unfair investigation. His name, Ergun Caner. May we all learn not to have sermons put up on the web! In the meantime I think I will go listen to your sermons, just to make sure you didn’t misspeak, brother.

        1. Mark says:

          James,

          When did Ergun go to or live in Turkey? If you check his book “Unveiling Islam” on page 17 it says they moved from Sweden to America. His mother signed an affidavit in July 1975 stating they have “resided in Ohio for six years.”

          The same document also states that their father had “tried in the past to accomplish a return to Turkey by force.” This may indicate that they had never returned to Turkey.

          Since Emir was born in 1970 prior to Ergun turning 4, the family had to have been in Ohio. This puts Ergun in American before he was 4 years old.

          So how did he move to America as a teenager? How was he influenced by Turkish culture including dress, etc.?

          I’m sorry, but it just does not add up.

          1. James says:

            Mark, I never said he came to America when he was a teenager, that was his statement but I have also heard other statements. I was trying to point out two things. First, it is very feasible that he lived some part of his early life in Turkey, even if just for a short while. Secondly, the grace we reformed brothers espouse so much is not shown to Ergun Caner because he is not one of us. James White and his blogesphere helped cause this investigation and the investigation of Mark Seifrid at SBTS. James White is not helpful on these issues, maybe we should look into his degrees… from non-accredited schools.
            It does not add up but Caner has issued a statement repenting of what he said and yet there are 100+ comments calling for Caner’s head and questioning his faith. I thought Matthew 18 taught us to go to someone one on one, then if they do not repent to bring two or three others, and then bring them before the church. Where does the blog fit here? We need to be charitable to all people. Just in case you didn’t catch my sarcasm, I am not going to check JT’s messages for accuracy/inaccuracies but you Mark… that’s another story!

            1. Mark says:

              James, but me? That’s another story? I’m sorry, I don’t understand your last comment.

              Please understand that my first questions to you about Turkey were rhetorical. I did not expect you to answer. I thought that was apparent. BTW, Emir said in a talk at Truett that his family moved from Sweden to America in 1969 and that he was born the next year in Ohio where he grew up. I’m also not aware of Ergun making statements about his up bringing that connotated he merely lived in any particular place for a short time.

              James White came across some statements others, including John Piper (and Guy Waters?), made about Mark Seifrid’s position on justification. He was inquiring about published material. I received email from Seifrid during that situation which I still have. I have a professor friend at SBTS that I was supposed get back to. Thanks for the reminder.

              Dig into White’s unaccredited decrees if you need to. He has a whole page about them and has never said otherwise. I will tell you though that Liberty has accepted a bachelor’s degree from the same unaccredited school for entrance into one of their M.A. degrees.

              Also, Liberty has a professor on staff with an unaccredited PhD. And he is called Dr.

              Ergun Caner has written in his book Why Churches Die that public sin needs public confession. In his sermon “Mighty Men of Valor” he talked about not waiting for things to be announced as well as speaking up even if it means losing your job, etc. etc. I’m pointing these things out to note Ergun’s own standards that he’s spoken about.

              Ergun has been shown grace. Godly men have cared enough about him to call him to repentance for 9 years of “misstatements” and contradictory statements. Statements it would seem that helped him build a career. It’s ironic that someone can talk so big from the pulpit making racist and sexist jokes, taking on the label evangelical pitbull, stating Calvinists are worse than Muslims and then go silent when called on his statements.

              People may disagree with James White’s approach to this situation. That doesn’t mean he is wrong or in sin. It also does not mean Caner is innocent. Maybe for some people it would have been better that no investigation had ever taken place and the lies could have continued.

            2. Bennett Willis says:

              James, I have read “But maybe he…” any number of times. In every case there is no documentation that “he…” and frequently significant documentation that “he didn’t.”

              Let’s take the “debates.” These would have occurred since 2001 (when EC–super former-Muslim appeared). EC has shown that he is ever so willing to have video everywhere documenting his accomplishments and performances. This sort of thing would certainly be there–had they occurred.

              This issue is not what commenter’s here have done or not done but what EC has done and not done. Go read several of the original sources. EC’s own words condemn him.

        2. “When we start bashing others like James White [has] …”

          You will note that Mr. Taylor’s post did not bash Dr. Caner whatsoever.

          “It would have been fair to post his [apology] in its entirety. But non-Reformed brothers do not usually get that much respect.”

          You will note that Mr. Taylor linked to Dr. Caner’s full apology statement.

          “[Dr. Caner] had men who used to stand by him, brothers in the faith threaten him and put his personal information in public places.”

          Can you indicate what information was put online that wasn’t already (i) a matter of public record, or (ii) put online by Dr. Caner and his professional associates themselves?

          The really unfortunate thing with respect to Caner is that many people tried to correct him in private, between brothers in Christ. But he ignored the emails and phone calls. (Perhaps he hoped the situation would go away?) A few of his supporters have cried foul at this public reproach, not realizing that it was attempted privately first. If only he had accepted the private correction and settled the matter then. “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Tim. 5:19-20). As Mark Lamprecht observed, “Ergun Caner has written in his book Why Churches Die that public sin needs public confession.”

          “[Dr. Caner's] life was scrutinized with unfair investigation.”

          In what sense was the investigation unfair?

          1. James says:

            his info: it was not public information due to threats on his life and it has since been public due to the blogesphere. I think it is hilarious with the amount of the scrutiny given to Caner, especially on this site (and yours). It is preaching to the choir! I don’t think anyone here actually believes Caner is innocent and everyone wanted to hear a more detailed confession. Preaching to the choir is fine, they need to hear preaching too however I prefer to preach to the lost. I guess I need to go and read Matthew 18 again and look for the statement, “then you shall bring him before the blogs” is that in the ESVSB?

        3. Dustin says:

          James,

          I would simply encourage you to listen to some videos and audios that are posted on fakeexmuslims.com. I don’t agree with many things the author of that site says and I certainly don’t endorse all his conclusions. I don’t know Dr. Caner, nor do I know his past experience with Islam.

          However, the statements that are highlighted on this website, especially regarding the Shahada (I testify that there is no God but God and Mohammad is the messenger of God), are quite disturbing. I speak Arabic (though not perfectly) and I cannot imagine someone with a knowledge of Arabic and Islam making the mistakes he makes. The shahada is the most fundamental teaching of Islam. It is the confession that one says in order to become Muslim and it is something any Muslim who prays would hear and say multiple times everyday. Dr. Caner confuses the shahada with the opening verse of the Qur’an. I simply do not understand how this could happen. It is comparable to someone saying, “Jesus tells his people to pray the Lord’s prayer, ‘The Lord bless you and keep you . . .”

    3. bass says:

      Well, there are several facts that you are missing here…

      1. He was living 75% of the time or more with his mother who was not a devout Muslim. By the Caner’s own admission she was a “hippie”. So don’t be fooled into thinking that his life in Ohio was the equivalent of living in Deerborn, Michigan or Turkey.
      2. His sins were not just hung out on a clothesline. He put them out there. He made the statements openly on tape over and over again. And if I were to persist in a sin for years on end with no repentance then I would hope that people would not stop calling for my admittance and repentance. People have been exceedingly patient with him. His only reply has been silence. Where has he actually addressed the issues? It is truly a strawman to act as if others have not been exercising patient and humility during this process.
      3. Everyone is ready and willing to hear an “explanation”, however none has been offered. Not only that but those that have pointed out the errors have been attacked. They have repaid Christians doing their duty with sinful attacks.
      4. People have not questioned the legitimacy of his faith, they have questioned the impossibility of the statements he has made about his past. They are saying he lied about his devout Muslim past, not that he is not a Christian or had a Muslim father and had a semi-Muslim upbringing. There’s a difference.

      Patience and grace have been exercised. The vast majority have behaved rightly in the face of a horrible situation that will not end because of a university’s political protection of itself and a lying Christian’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge his sin and repent.

      1. bass says:

        Mine is a response to reggie, not mark or justin

      2. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

        Bass, see my response to Justin above. Maybe his mom was a hippie and maybe he was thoroughly Americanized by age 10. That would make his statements entirely detached from reality and I think would be fairly damning. As I said, I’m curious to know more – but it does seem to be reality that his father AND other family AND others in the Muslim community were strong influences.

        One other thing. I know a few pastors, good men, who have told me firsthand that the compulsion to make stories sound really good can cause them to mis-remember facts. All Christians who do public speaking really need to have friends and family around them to straighten this stuff out, because one exaggeration often leads to another and to another. I’m not excusing anyone here – but I think we do well to keep in mind that most of us subconsciously do this without specifically intending to deceive. Those of us who don’t do public speaking just do it on a lower level.

        1. bass says:

          well i certainly agree with that. tom chantry has been absolutely fantastic in his dealing with this whole saga. his post in may deals directly with the issue you raised in regard to public speaking/pastors. it seems all of evangelical christianity needs to tighten the screws on exageration and facts…

          http://crbcviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/why-ergun-caner-scandal-matters-plea-to.html

          1. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

            Fair enough, bass. I agree with Chantry too. If we permit this to remind us of Ananias and Sapphira, we do well and beg God with all humility to show us the error of our ways, to show us any lies we’ve permitted ourselves to believe and any wicked pride that causes us to inflate ourselves in the eyes of men.

            I pray for Ergun in the same regard, but fear also my capability to engage in white lies, then half truths and then outright fabrications.

        2. Reggie,

          I agree that many of us can find ourselves guilty of embellishing a story we can’t quite remember, and that others around us can correct us on the facts. This is true enough and even reflects the situation with Ergun Caner. But there is a significant point which your comment divorces itself from—that is, what is our response once corrected with the facts? Do we ignore the correction? Do we allow others to castigate those who corrected us? Or do we sheepishly accept the correction? “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you” (Prov. 9:8). “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it” (Ps. 141:5).

          The really unfortunate thing with respect to Caner is that many people tried to correct him in private, between brothers in Christ. But he ignored the emails and phone calls. (Perhaps he hoped the situation would go away.) A few of his supporters have cried foul at this public reproach, not realizing that it was attempted privately first. If only he had accepted the private correction and settled the matter then. “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Tim. 5:20).

          1. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

            Ryft,
            I don’t disagree with anything you said, nor with the tone you said it in right here. I said much the same thing to Justin. However, James White and some on this comment board carry a very caustic and self-righteous tone that I believe also does damage to the cause of Christ.

            In my younger days, I’ve been quick to assume the worst motives of people I had an existing grudge against; I’ve jumped to conclusions that later turned out to be exaggerated; I’ve also rebuked friends and foes alike in anger and have lived to regret it and to see that this is not the manner in which Christians should reproach a brother. I encourage everyone to consider this and to remember Matthew 12:36 – to me, some of most sobering and humbling words ever uttered by Christ.

            1. Bennett Willis says:

              Reggie, there is no doubt that James White and EC had a “history.” There is little doubt that that history encouraged White to first investigate and then to undertake this effort to point out EC’s errors. He reasonably regarded them as justification for his dislike for EC and consistent with his interactions with EC.

              I do think that if you read all of White’s postings on the subject that you will find that the caustic character of his comments grew over the months–and as the abuse that was heaped on him. After a while, you simply get tired of people not addressing the issues and just attacking you. I do not regard his frustration with EC’s supporters as exaggerated. They have consistently refused to acknowledge the information that was readily available and have frequently attacked the people who regarded EC’s statements as less than the truth.

              1. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

                Bennett,
                I’ve listened to James White quite a bit and agree more with his theology than Caner’s. Increasingly, I find him difficult to listen to because of his caustic tone. I suppose this assessment is subjective on my part, but it would appear that I’m not the only Christian or Reformed person to feel this way.

                Because of the bad blood between these two men (even before these issues emerged), I am glad that people with more measured tone (like JT) are speaking out. I think we all need to be careful about the manner in which we rebuke a brother. Why? Many reasons. In addition to what I explained to Chad below, I have noticed that it is very easy to exaggerate the sins of others as well as to minimize our own sins. This comes as natural to us as breathing. It comes even more naturally when we have existing grudges. I urge us all, self included, to regularly remind ourselves of this.
                Grace and peace to you, Bennett.

  36. Dave says:

    If Liberty will not fire Caner, he ought to resign. I see that Caner is Professor of Global Apologetics – give me a break! Just a month ago I questioned the wisdom of Liberty’s leadership to have a mormon give the commencement address at a “christian” university.

    I had considered attending Liberty in the early ’80s and am glad that I did not. Why would I want to send any of my children to Liberty?

  37. Jon says:

    I would say that “no one doubts that Caner made a profession of faith in 1982.” Like what was said earlier, it is very possible to doubt that he is a genuine Christian.

    BTW, I’m a 5 pt Calvinist, and Calvinism makes one immune from many kinds of practical and obvious sins. Or so I wish. The reality is that being a “Calvinist” doesn’t guarantee that one is a Christian, much less make you less susceptible to lying. I’m sorry to say that often it was the Calvinists who were lukewarm on American slavery, while it was the Finneyites (and the Unitarians) that were much more Biblical on the issue.

  38. julie says:

    Reggie, this whole thing has been going on for months. At least the research and the revelations have. Caner has been lying for about 9 years. You need to do some online research before you come here and tell us that we need to calm down and comparing us to a lynch mob. If you are interested in the truth, then you go do some research. Go and try to understand what the real issues are. Why there is amazement and even justified anger. Read, listen, watch. And then come back and dialogue.

    1. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

      julie, I’ve never said that Caner shouldn’t be held to account. I suspect he should be fired from his job as professor, but even though there has been an exhaustive inquiry, there has not yet been a public statement from Caner and I would like to hear it.

      See my reply to Justin where I agreed with his post, but caution some commenters here to remember that it is not only Ergun Caner, but each one of us who will be held to account for rash and wreckless words. And I also suspect that if we were to engage in a top down inquiry into all areas of your life, Julie, we might find some serious inconsistencies between your actions and your faith. Let humility and not anger guide our words and actions.

      1. bass says:

        reggie, i think part of our frustration is your attitude and comparison everyone else’s assumed daily sins/white lies. i would guess that is why julie has remarked about your need to do more research on the caner situation. the scale of sin and lying is disproportionally overwhelming for caner. it is simply silly to act like all of us have inconsistencies like this in our own life. now, i have no problem with us learning from it and reminding ourselves to be more careful with our words but most of us do not even have to ability to do what he did. he invented an entire history of his own past in a calculated way in response to what he knew would be a vulnerability in america. he saw an opportunity to take advantage of the fear of muslims and he concocted an elaborate lie that he elevated to grander and grander scales over the course of years. now it has come crashing down and he still refuses to repent and admit it. his fame and popularity makes it all the worse because not only has the immensity of what he did shamed the testimony of Christ even more than most could but he has darkened all of our testimonies to Muslims/un-saved along with causing many others (such as liberty leadership) to join in his sin all for the sake of saving his own name and reputation. so please think about that as you continue to act like we all do what he has done and that we should be even more restrained after years of lies and months of calling for repentance. he could make a statement at any time. he has always had that ability. we all know why he has not. do not expect one any time soon.

        1. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

          Bass,

          You seem to know a lot of very detailed specifics about Caner’s motives. How did you come across this information? Scripture tells us that we don’t even really understand the motives of our own hearts, so I’ve learned over the years that we are on very slippery ground when we assume things about other people’s motives. If we are wise, we judge actions and we leave the judging of motives to God.

          Secondly, you said “most of us do not even have to ability to do what he did”. Sounds a lot like Peter before the rooster crowed, insisting that he would never betray his Lord. I wouldn’t be so sure of what you are and are not capable of, friend.

          1. bass says:

            i meant “we do not even have the ability” as in we do not hold the position of leadership or have the prominence as he does or to heard as widely as he could be. not that we do not have capability of such sin. that simple fact goes without saying for any informed/reformed christian.
            obviously my assertion of his motives is based on the circumstances and methods in which the sin occured and not a statement of my knowledge of his heart. however, any motive that justifies sin such as his is not a noble or righteous one.

          2. bass says:

            also, to answer your question about the source of the info- it has been widely available. several respected pastors have raised the issue and given direction to where caner own words can be heard for months now. the investigation has been thorough, unfortunately not by all parties- namely liberty.

            1. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

              Bass,
              I didn’t question information sources, I questioned how you came to know that he “concocted an elaborate lie” to “take advantage of the fear of muslims” and furthermore that anyone who defends him does so “all for the sake of saving his own name and reputation”.

              Those are pretty broad brushed, cocksure and specific assessments on motives, Bass. I really want to know how you know that these were his motives, or Geisler’s or Liberty’s.

              When you furthermore place someone else in a category where “the scale of sin and lying is disproportionally overwhelming”, you demonstrate a lack of awareness to the depths of your own depravity. Don’t take this personally – I’ve been there, I daresay all young/new Christians have. You may know the 5 points like the back of your hand, but I don’t think you can make that statement and have fully grasped how grievous is the depths of your own sin nature.

              I stand by my earlier statement that if all of your blind spots and stubborness and sin were revealed, Bass, many people would seriously question your fitness for ministry and integrity. I hope I’m wrong, but the older I become, the more I realize that the vast majority of Christians will face Christ at the judgment seat in utter shock at the blind spots in our lives, stubbornness to change/admit faults and inconsistencies in our walk. Read and study Revelation 2 and 3 very slowly and prayerfully and you might come to the same conclusion.

              1. bass says:

                like i already said: “my assertion of his motives is based on the circumstances and methods in which the sin occurred and not a statement of my knowledge of his heart. however, any motive that justifies sin such as his is not a noble or righteous one.” i think that my assertions are obvious to anyone with knowledge of the facts. but yes, of course they could be wrong, his motive could have been to get rich. it could have been to convert more people. it could have been a lot of things. but the facts point in a certain direction. the actions taken by liberty and gielser are clearly to protect themselves politically and save face. people aren’t stupid; these things are obvious.
                but on the more important note of the ability to sin to such a scale, you are twisting my words and my point- hopefully unintentionally. i absolutely realize the capability of great sin in myself. but the fact remains i have not committed the great sin that caner has. the vast majority of us have not. but you constantly want to point out (and assume) that an honest and complete examination of every one of us renders us all unfit for ministry or to have no integrity. this simply is not true. grace has worked in many of our lives to sanctify us and cause us to live God-honoring lives with a hatred of sin. we are by no mean perfect but your continual statements about everyone else’s sin prove nothing. by that standard none of us can ever call anyone to repentance because we simply must have equally massive sin in our own lives. again, i am going to reiterate- this has nothing to do with all of our own depravity and ability to sin greatly. that part is abundantly obvious. however, you have used that fact as a hindrance for anyone to call caner out (a hindrance, not a complete disability). this i believe is your error.

              2. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

                Bass,
                I’ve never said or implied that we can’t judge actions or fitness for ministry. We can and we must. However, the zeal with which you and others jump to conclusions about Caner’s motives and assume only the worst options; the anger and vitriol which you display do not demonstrate the appropriate attitude or demeanor with which we reproach a brother in sin. It is your demeanor and your zeal to condemn that leads me to ask you to consider the sin and blind spots in your own heart. There are many others who have responded to Liberty’s statement/response with measured words and hard questions. The same can not be said of you, nor of many others who I believe, are engaged in a scorched earth campaign.

              3. bass says:

                reggie,
                so be it. i disagree. i’ll let my words speak for themselves. i believe i have been reserved enough to not warrant your descriptions. i don’t believe we have assumed the worst options. it would have been worse to assume he did it for money or power, but no one is saying that kind of thing. we are stating the obvious. you seem to not be as well informed on the facts as you could be so maybe that is why you are hesitant and less disgusted. it is my high reverence for the pulpit and role of teacher/pastor that drives my abhorrence of his actions. i’m not saying you don’t have that same reverence, but it is part of the reason i have kept up with the situation as it unfolded.

              4. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

                Here’s why I call into question your assumptions on motives.

                You said, “my assertion of his motives is based on the circumstances and methods in which the sin occurred and not a statement of my knowledge of his heart. however, any motive that justifies sin such as his is not a noble or righteous one.”

                This is exactly what I mean. You don’t give one ounce of credence to the mere possibility that he did what Tom Chantry said many, many evangelicals do – he started out with a fuzzy recollection of his backstory and one exaggeration led to another and another. You can’t even acknowledge the possibility of this? Why? Why isn’t it enough to say what Chantry did- that many Christians are guilty of this and worse? Why do you have to jump all the way to that he “concocted an elaborate lie” to “take advantage of the fear of muslims” and furthermore that anyone who defends him does so “all for the sake of saving his own name and reputation”. Back up the truck, bass! Don’t you see how you are jumping to conclusions and how many red lights and stop signs you’re running through? If you don’t see this, I guess I have nothing further to say or prove. Many others will read your own words and understand exactly what I mean.

              5. bass says:

                Actually I do grant the possibility of what you’ve said. Just because I don’t ascribe to exactly that specific line does not mean I have ever denied a possibility of it. In fact, I have posted Chantry’s blog earlier in the comments and have recommended his writing on this subject to many. And I agree with his assertion that his lie grew as he got more attention. But I believe that was a calculated move. He saw what he was doing was getting great success and he added fuel to the fire. His storyline is an elaborate concocted lie. He may not have sat down and planned everything out on the day after Sept 11th, I didn’t mean to convey that idea, but he knew he was the lying the entire time and he knew his lie was growing and he kept it up. What could you possibly think is his motive for not admitting it now? What do you actually think Liberty’s motive is in not removing him or answering the real questions? Why are they being so political with it? Let’s get real. They have all ruined their own credibility. We don’t have to be naive just because we are Christians. That’s what got us here in the first place.

  39. Andy Chance says:

    I think it would be interesting to compare how Liberty dealt with the Caner issue with how Westminster dealt with the Enns issue.

    Of course, the issues aren’t the same. But, at least at the time of the controversies, the Caner issue was much more clear: HE LIED. And it seems that he lied, at least partially, as a form of self-promotion.

    And yet, this is the public response that Liberty has given.

  40. John says:

    Yunno, brothers and sisters, I was quite depressed after reading Justin’s original post. This whole Caner thing is sad, and it grieves me. But after reading the way many of you have interacted with one another, I’m even more depressed…pitiful.

    1. bass says:

      John,
      I don’t know, I think I’d have to disagree. I haven’t seen anything too bad in the back and forth going on. I have had disagreements with Reggie on here but I don’t think anything we discussed or how we discussed it could be classified as “pitiful” or even unchristian. I cannot speak for him but I have not gotten angry and I know neither of us has attacked each other or resorted to name calling or anything of that nature. The interactions may have been stern but we don’t need to turn up our noses at the first onset of polemics. But of course I have not read all the comments either. So was there something that jumped out at you as particularly bad? I easily could have missed something but it sounded like you are classifying the general tone of everyone’s exchanges.

  41. sunni-shaadi says:

    Whatever the it is,this guy has created ripples around religious groups.

  42. Paul Drawdy says:

    What about his brother who is President of Truett-McConnell in GA? Did he never here his brother make these comments? I’m thinking if I’m a trustee there, I would like to know if he confronted his brother.

    1. Mark says:

      Paul,

      A friend sent me this video of Emir. In it he says he is a “former Muslim from Turkey.” Yet, Emir was born in America. In Ohio.

      What gives?

  43. Chuck says:

    How much of what is happening here has to do with the American church’s obsession with the cult of celebrity?

    There are many other instances where American Christians have put people onto pedestals, or into positions of leadership, etc., regardless of their personal or spiritual qualifications, just because they fit some description of celebrity. And we especially love to make into celebrities people who have been deep in the enemy’s camp and then come over to our side.

    This happened in the 70’s and 80’s with Mike Warnke, when the American church was deeply concerned with Satanism and Satanic ritual abuse. He fabricated lots of stories about being a warlock, and so on, until his lying finally caught up with him.

    There is a lot of sin to go around in these cases, and not just with the celebrity in question.

  44. Dave says:

    Yeah, and the truth about Mike Warnke came out shortly after I saw him at my home town in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. I was one of the counselors and was not impressed when his representative met with us and only instructed us about sellilng his product.

  45. Dave says:

    What gets me is the lack of discernment of the leadership at Liberty. Who better to give that final charge to students at the commencement service at a “christian” university than a well known mormon? And then bestow upon that individual an honorary doctorate.

    According to the Liberty Seminary website, Caner is still the Professor of (all things) Global Apologetics at Liberty. Q) What do you do when you do not have an answer? A) Make one up. ???!

  46. Chad says:

    The worst part of this whole farce is the Muslims who are using Caner’s lies to tarnish Christ.

    Just ab observation but Reg in Mil has written way too much to not be a Caner apologist.

    1. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

      Chad,
      I’ve said that Liberty’s explanation is inadequate and that Caner probably ought to lose his job as well. I’ve never apologized for him. I also agreed that Justin’s question is fair and I’d like to see it answered as well. If that makes me an apologist for Caner, I guess you can come to your own conclusions. But I don’t know him, never met him. And I have no affiliation with Liberty whatsoever.

      Others have made assumptions that there is no grain of truth to any of Caner’s claims and that he “concocted an elaborate lie” to “take advantage of the fear of muslims” and furthermore that anyone who defends him does so “all for the sake of saving his own name and reputation” (those are Bass’ words in quotes).
      I find those kinds of statements, assumptions on motive and rushes to judgment to be a poor reflection on the body of Christ; I don’t believe that is how we confront brothers and sisters in sin.

      I also think that if we’re going to pick up rocks and stone Caner with such ferocity, we also need to start lining up all the Christian pastors and public speakers and authors who have also embellished stories (see http://crbcviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/why-ergun-caner-scandal-matters-plea-to.html). I wonder how many will be left standing in line with stones then – just asking.

      1. bass says:

        I didn’t say ANYONE that defends him does so “all for the sake of saving his own name and reputation”. I said that’s why CANER HIMSELF has not openly admitted his lies and why LIBERTY won’t address the real issues. Don’t overblow my statements to make us all look like wild-eyed fanatics justing looking to tear people down.

        1. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

          Fair enough, Bass – others can read your comments above and come to their own conclusions. I’m asking all Christians here and everywhere to carefully examine motives and not to exaggerate how badly others sin or make assumptions about others (especially not about their motives) when we reproach them. I’m trying to follow my own advice as well so I accept your correction.

          1. bass says:

            For the record, I totally agree with you that the lesson here for all pastors/speakers is immensely important. We all need to be very careful to not exaggerate or overstate things. Or as the more frequent case may be- not allow others to get, keep, and propagate the wrong impression even when we have not intended to give the wrong idea. So there is also a need for listeners to not blow out of proportion things that they have heard.

        2. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

          I meant that we need to carefully not examine our own motives, not speculate on the motives of others.

          1. Bennett Willis says:

            Reggie, while I don’t expect you to put them here, what do you think that EC’s motives were? Did he just accidentally get started and when it worked so well, he kept it up? Did he look at his “positive feedback” from counseling on the Columbine experience and then just make the giant step to this set of fables? Did he ignore comments from his brother(s) and drag them along with his embellishments? How did it come about?

            This is not to condemn EC, but to help me (and each of us) understand why things happen. If I don’t consider how this happened, then how can I learn from it? How can I avoid falling into this pit? EC may have given up his career to provide us this example. The least we can do is to learn from it.

          2. Reggie in Milwaukee says:

            I have my hands full trying to understand why I sin, much less why others do. Sin, by its very nature, is irrational.

            That said, I think it is possible that Caner had to come up with a backstory, in some cases he didn’t have carefully prepared notes and put stuff out there literally on the fly while he was talking, because in his mind, there was at least a grain of truth to what he was saying and times, dates and locations got all mixed up. One exaggeration led to another, etc. What he did was flat out wrong; I don’t know if my theory is right or wrong; but I think it is pretty plausible that this is how it went down. I think the article Bass posted from Chantry is very helpful, in terms of how many people and pastors get started down this dangerous road. Truth be told, most of us have done stuff like this in various degrees and we don’t think it’s that big a deal, even though it really is. Truth matter, integrity matters.

            1. Bennett Willis says:

              He said things that seem to me to be well planned and deliberate that are false–you can’t miss by 10+ years when you came to the US and the route you took. I do think that he probably was discussing with a “mentor” his history (shortly after 9/11) and some insights that he had into the attack. The mentor said “This is a message that people need to hear.” The mentor was referring to the honest message–or maybe it was already enhanced significantly. “I can get you an audience for it to be told.” Then on the way to the talk, EC decided the truth was a bit drab. And the rest is (as they say) history.

  47. Joe says:

    I grew up with the Caners in Gahanna, Ohio, and attended high school with Emir. We sang in the music department together. I remember our choir director – Mr. John Stewart – shouting at Emir before a major contest and asking him not to sing at all during a particular few bars of “My God is a Rock” because he simply wasn’t able to “hear” the notes. I also remember Mr. Stewart (his nickname was “Jack”) calling Emir out for “sliding” into his pitches, instead of hitting them straight on. He told Emir to either have some confidence in his ear or quit the choir. My memories of Emir are quite clear. He stood two rows in front of me, and three files to my right.

    Ergun’s past statements about their background are not in keeping with what I recollect about Emir. When I met Emir, he was already a Christian, and was attending an SBC church on the East side of Columbus. We discussed his SBC membership because my father was an ordained SBC pastor at the time. I graduated from Gahanna-Lincoln High School in 1989 – the same high school from which Emir graduated. I don’t seem to recollect anything about which parent/parents/guardians were living in his home.

    Why people don’t simply look up his classmates and ask us direct questions is beyond me. This shouldn’t take a gumshoe and a home detective kit to figure out.

    By the way, “bass,” I’m an Arminian, the son, grandson and nephew of Armminian pastors, and married to an Arminian pastor. Your pointless blatherings about Arminianism are not germane to this discussion. Caner’s misstatements have nothing whatsoever to do with his Arminian theology, but with sin that has caught up with him. There are plenty of Arminians who share none of the straw man characteristics of Arminian thought you’ve pointlessly offered up. And – believe it or not – an errant belief in (and worship of) the teachings of Calvin are not a preventative for sin.

    If you don’t believe that, you’re welcome to attend my Emmaus sharegroup, and speak to two Calvinists struggling with porn addiction and marital infidelity. Ask them how their Calvinist super-armor is working.

    Give me a break.

    1. prchrbill says:

      @Joe,
      How can you be married to a pastor? That is biblically impossible on two fronts.

      prchrbill

    2. bass says:

      Joe, your comments expose your clear misconception of both Calvinism as well as my point. To say something ridiculous like “an errant belief in (and worship of) the teachings of Calvin are not a preventative for sin” shows you clearly do not understand either. No one has made the claim that Calvinism is a preventative to sin. My point was that bad theology (like Arminianism) can lead to bad methodology. I gave the example of Finney because he is a good example. His bad theology manifested itself in his bad methods. What you don’t understand is that a correct understanding of God’s sovereignty in salvation should put a stop to any need to embellish conversion stories and need to convince the unsaved with wild and exaggerated tales such as what Caner put forth. So these examples you cite of Calvinists struggling with sin and so-called super-armor is simply nonsense.
      Also, we don’t need to look up his classmates or get their “impressions” or memories when we have his own words condemning him. This kind of situation calls for hard evidence that can be proven, not stories about Emir singing in choir.

  48. biglo says:

    Joe you said “Why people don’t simply look up his classmates and ask us direct questions is beyond me. This shouldn’t take a gumshoe and a home detective kit to figure out.”

    You also said “I graduated from Gahanna-Lincoln High School in 1989 – the same high school from which Emir graduated.” However you appear to have graduated a year after Emir (see http://www.classmates.com/directory/public/memberprofile/list.htm?regId=8709798077 ) and if the story has been about Ergun why would anyone contact Emir’s classmates or those from the year after Emir?

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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