"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ergun Caner: The November 2001 Sermon at FBC Jax

This I hope is the last word I will have on the Ergun Caner issue.

Below I have posted the entire sermon preached at FBC Jacksonville on November 20, 2001, just a few short months after 9/11 [update - sermon has been removed]. I am doing this so that people can hear his comments in their full context and judge for themselves the level of truthfulness Caner displayed in his first big SBC speaking gig. This was the coming out party of sorts for Caner. Preaching to 9000+ with Vines over his right shoulder amening and nodding - Caner painted a portrait of himself that was much less than truthful.

You will note the following in the sermon:

1. He claims to have been "born in Europe"...note the pronunciation with the rolling r, to make it sound as though he has a Middle Eastern dialect. Hear his pronunciation of "America" - again, a Middle Eastern dialect.

2. He claims that until the age of 15, he was in "Islamic Youth Jihad" - his explanation leads the listener to conclude that this was youth jihad movement was outside of the U.S., since he was "raised in Europe"...leading us to think he was in the Islamic youth training camps that we were only becoming aware of at that time after 9/11.

3. He claims to have been "..trained to do that which was done on 11 September". Again, the listener would conclude (I know, because I was an original listener, I was THERE when he preached it) that this was done in Europe, possibly in an Islamic youth terrorist training camp. Yes, we thought we were listening to an ex-Jihadist, terrorist-in-training.

4. These are not just minor mistatements or stumbles that Caner referred to in his apology issued a few weeks ago. This was, I believe, a deliberate attempt to make the folks at FBC Jax think Caner was something he was not.

Why would Caner do this? What did he stand to gain? Well, I don't know his motives, but he certainly had much to gain to paint himself as the ultimate expert on Islam right after 9/11. In so many words he led 9000 people that day to believe that he was a trained Jihadist terrorist.

But this is not what public documents show to be the truth. Caner was never trained in any Islamic Youth Jihad movement in Europe, trained to do terrorist activities. Public documents show he moved to Columbus, Ohio when he was 4, and never left the country. If he WAS trained as a Jihadist in Columbus, and received 9/11-style terrorst training, he should now explain it.

Now I submit to you:

- if this was Barrack Obama who was found to be fibbing about his past, the same guys defending Caner now would have been using that to discredit Obama as a serious politician, someone who can't be trusted if he would go so far as to grossly exaggerate and misrepresent his credentials. And if anybody needed to pad their resume, it was Obama for sure.

- if this were Wade Burleson, found to be fibbing about his educational credentials, or preaching that he was a youth missionary somewhere to boost his credentials to speak on IMB matters...the same cast of characters: Hobbs and Volfan and Guthrie and the SBC Today Bunch and many other Pattersonites - would use this to discredit Burleson. You know it, I know it, and the SBC lay people know it.

- if this was the Liberty University football coach, that lied on his resume about a degree he didn't earn, or that he held a job in the past that he didn't hold, I believe Liberty would fire him. George O'Leary was fired at the Notre Dame head coach before he ever coached his first game...because of one line on his resume that was not true. Catholic school...fired the football coach for not being totally truthful.

I know this will not in any way, shape or form sway Caner's defenders, especially those who have already defended him by attacking myself, James White, and Debbie Kaufman. But I don't write this blog for pastors. I write it for lay people who are wising up about what is going on in their churches, mostly mega churches. Lay people in growing numbers are getting tired of being used by their pastors. Yes, the people of FBC Jax were used that day. There was a day at FBC Jax when they could believe that a man standing in their pulpit would be totally honest and would not have one hint of deceit in his sermon but that day is long, long gone. Honesty was the norm and what we expected in Caner - after all, he was brought in by Vines himself. We never thought Darrel Gilyard would lie about living under a bridge when he was introduced to us, and we never thought that Ergun Caner would lie about being a jihadist trained in Europe.

Do I want Caner fired? No way. I have always liked Caner and his style of preaching. I have nothing either against Liberty University. But I would like for Caner to apologize publicly to FBC Jacksonville for misleading them about who he was in his important sermon right after 9/11. I know that will never happen, but it would be the right thing for Caner to do. But one thing I do think this will accomplish: perhaps he will stop these exaggerations about his past now that he knows people are listening. And I hope this sends an equally strong message to any other upcoming pastors who desire to hit it big and might be tempted to misrepresent or sensationalize their testimony or background or experience to an unsuspecting church.

I leave you with some advice that Mac Brunson, Caner's good friend and co-author, would likely give to Ergun Caner, staight out of Brunson's guidebook for pastors:

"In the Bible, people in leadership positions were called upon to have higher ethical standards than the other people of God. The pastor should never see how close he can come to the line between what is ethical and unethical, but he should stay as far away from it as possible."

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Watchdog: You pose a very interesting thought concerning apologies. In my experience, mega speakers hardly ever apologize even though they know it is the scriptual thing to do. The Bible declares that we are to leave off tithes and offerings to God until after we apologize to those that we have done wrongly. If pastors and teachers would take this seriously, the church would improve it's message. There is something in man that makes him not desire to confess sin. To truly be saved, one must "confess" Jesus Christ as Savior. Followed by the confession of our sins, acknowledging the fact that we need The Savior, I suppose it is the pride of men we all have, that hurts us in this act of confessing. However, the church has failed in the area of humility big time. One of the largest arenas of arrogance can be the church, and the leadership in it. So sad, but true.

Former FBC Insider said...

I was there in that service too. You and I came out with the same impression. It worked.

I don't know that anyone wants Caner fired. That wasn't the objective. Truth is a good objective.

I can't wait to see if hearing the entire 'sermon' will leave others with the same scheme in their minds that we walked away with that day.

He is a smart guy, clever, and a masterful marketer of himself. It was chilling to hear his story so close after 9-11.

Anonymous said...

You make a great point regarding if Obama lied about his past that these same defenders of Caner would be lambasting the President. There is simple speculation (so far no hard evidence) born in America or Africa or Indonesia and people want him run out of Washington.

One the greatest needs for us as believers is to be consistent. Right is right regardless of who it is that is propagating it. And wrong is wrong regrdless of who it is. Just because you are friends with or support somebody doesn't mean they are always right and unblemished.

All I ask for is some consistency from those who are our "leaders".

Anonymous said...

Witness to the 11-01 Message:

Our family likewise attended the Ergun Caner service - there is no descrepacy in what WD has posted. I was also told from a friend in New York that Caner spoke at their church and told the congregation that no recorders or pictures would be allowed during his sermon.

The evening he spoke at FBCJ he captured the entire audience with his gifted communication as well as showing he was also a gifted comedian - he had everyone in stitches.

Unfortunately men in these roles live in a day and age where those like him no longer can escape or be excused for their "stumbles" and "mis-communication" as they use as excuses- the internet and blogs pretty much provides proven LINKS to justify what was actually said. Perhaps the "Celebrity Club Pastors" put him on a pedestal because he was a so call born again Muslim believer. No matter, when he speaks now, his testimony has been forever stained - people will question his testimony whether he speaks truth or fiction.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Thank you Watchdog. This needs to be heard as hard as it is to do so.

debbiekaufman said...

Fact from Mohammad: He told me this at the very beginning of our emails. Anyone can be chosen to do a call to prayer. A child can be chosen. It's not very high up from what I understand.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Oh, and he was taught English in Brooklyn, NY. As a 4-year old coming to Ah-merri-cah....he was taught English in Brooklyn?? Hmmmm....

debbiekaufman said...

Yeah. That bugged a good friend of mine too. It's as if Dr. Caner thinks if he rolls his r's or puts a K in front of something that is showing he is Turkish or is it Arab? I get confused. :) We laugh, but it's so painful isn't it? We have to question Christian celebrities? It really breaks my heart. Christian and celebrity is a bad mix. It takes Christ to a level he never was.

This anything to bring people to Christ is wrong. It leads to this type of corruption.

Thy Peace said...

I just finished hearing Ergun Caner's Fbc Jax sermon. He is a gifted speaker. In the flow of the speech, one can almost forgive him for his embellishments. But the embellishments have continued to this day. That is sad. I would gently remind him of 1 Cor. 2, and say that it is not the persuasiveness of speech that counts, nor the embellishments, but just Jesus Himself. Truth should stand by it self. The current debates on Ergun Caner's embellishments also somewhat convicts each of us. For we all at some point have exaggerated our deeds or status. But in Ergun Caner's case, he has made a profession of it. And that is the problem. The sad thing is he would have made a good preacher without the embellishments and still reached his status of President of Liberty University.

I also understand it is not just embellishments, but misrepresentation of Islam and their practices.

Anonymous said...

I hate to be redundant, but my family also was present for this "sermon". I remember wondering why we were hearing this particular presentation. Watching a beaming Dr. Vines during this event did not alleviate my question. I did and still do ascribe to the past Lindsay style of preaching and of leading the church. But, unfortunately, that is long past never to return, much to our loss. I remember Dr. L. Jr, saying; "He was very jealous of his pulpit, and was very careful who he let preach from it". Jesus was the only real FOCUS then!! I believe Dr. Caner, as gifted a speaker as he is, would have made a greater speaker without the false embellishments. Now who knows. Truth is the "watermark" of any preacher.

Anonymous said...

And some question why people are leaving churches and the "established religion" of today. And, why also, the ones staying are giving less and less to support the same.

Anonymous said...

WOW, A Pied Piper's Cd for $35 dollars

Ergun Caner's Testimony (CD)

Your Price: $35.00

FBC Choir Member said...

"And if anybody needed to pad their resume, it was Obama for sure."

Why do you feel the need to get political on your blog? You have the right to your opinions, but what does it have to do with being a church watchdog? I'm a proud Democrat, and I know some Democratic members at FBC. There are three in the choir that I know of, plus three non-music people at church that I know of that are Democrats.

Mohammad Khan said...

Another good article! :)

Not quite sure how the minds of those SBC guys work, but oh well. I wrote what I thought about them here:

http://www.fakeexmuslims.com/responsetosbctoday.htm

Anonymous said...

1 Tim 3 says an elder must be 'above reproach to the OUTSIDE'.

Caner fails the test. I guess one could quibble that he is any kind of an elder but the president of a Christian university and gets a pass.

"I also understand it is not just embellishments, but misrepresentation of Islam and their practices."

I would not go that far. It was not Baptists flying planes full of innocent people into the twin towers in the name of God the Father.

Caner being a lying jerk does not soften the violence of Islam nor how they view women. Not all Muslims are terrorists but the Quran certainly gives them cover for acts of violence against infidels. And many Muslims living in the US were SILENT after 9/11.

Anonymous said...

There's another free sermon from Ergun Caner here called "My Conversion from Islam to Jesus Christ." I just listened to it, and it has more contradictions about his background.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

FBC CM: oh my gosh, you are in the FBC Choir, and are a Democrat, and Obama supporter I assume?

Please, sir/maam, do NOT let very many people at FBCJ know this. Your associate pastor, Jim Smyrl, has said that people that have voted for Obama need to repent in order to be restored to full fellowship. I'm serious. Do not be an open supporter of Obama, lest your pastors find out. There is a discipline committee now, and they may try to disfellowship you for the "sin" of voting for Obama. :)

I'm surprised you think I'm being political or taking a shot at Obama - quite the contrary, I'm being generous to O. Don't you see my point was that Obama did not pad his resume, when he could have...my point has less to do with O, and more to do with these hypocrites that are defending the lies of Ergun Caner who stood in the pulpit of YOUR church, and misled the entire congregation and Jerry Vines himself, into thinking he was a trained terrorist, growing up in Europe in Islamic Youth Jihad. These men who are defending Caner's indefensible actions, would have been the same ones who would have raked Obama over the coals if HE had done the same thing Caner did. Men in secular jobs that have done this same thing, have been fired - I have cited two: a police chief in Gainesville, and a football coach at Notre Dame. These guys don't hold themselves to a higher standard, they hold themselves to a much, much lower standard. But they are "God called", right, so that makes everything ok.

Think of the irony. Many of these guys defending Caner believe that Obama was lying about being a Christian, and that he is actually a Muslim. Yet here is a guy who lied about his Muslim background, to embellish his story of being a Christian, and they're ok with that.

There is one word for that: HYPOCRITE.

They act more like politcal partisans, protecting their guy on their side of the convention, and they act less like ministers of the truth. As I said, if it were a Wade Burleson who was found to be lying about his conversion, and Wade used that to launch his career as an author and made big bucks off it, these Caner defenders would be calling for Wade's head. They really are more like political hacks in their SBC than they are ministers. Its sad, and its sick.

If these guys would support a guy who purposely is misleading people about his Christian testimony, maybe they are ok with misleading people about other things they preach...like....??????

FBC Choir Member said...

It's ok Mr. Rich. I was being a little over sensitive. BTW, Jim Smyrl does know my political views. Also, I agree with you about Ergun Michael Caner. Even before all this, there was just something about that man that didn't seem right.

Anonymous said...

In todays world...I am not sure that "Christian" has the same meaning that it once did. Excuse the pun, but saying one is a Christian can cover a multitude of sins. Many think if they are born in America they are Christians, without ever having been Saved by the shed Blood, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Saying one is a Christian is sometimes used as a moniker of trust other than an actuality.

Anonymous said...

Why was the sermon removed?

Is it available anywhere now?

Anonymous said...

you are an idiot. If you had half the brain of Dr. Caner you could write a descent article. Also since when did bloggers begin being considered authoritative writers. As this moron has proved, any monkey with a keyboard can blog.