"...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

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Coherent Defense of Ergun Caner

I like Ergun Caner. I can say I love him as a Christian brother, even though I've never met him. I consider him a Christian, and believe he can be used by God to do great things. He is young, and has several decades left to be used by God for great things.

But, sadly, no one to this point has given a clear or compelling defense of Ergun Caner.

Not his best friends, not his coauthors, not those who helped vault him to national prominence. The elder statesmen like Vines and Patterson who promoted Caner after 9/11 to some degree I believe have failed Caner in not doing their due diligence on his true background. How hard would it have been back then to talk to his previous churches, or to grill Caner on the truthfulness of his testimony? I hope they did not encourage the embellishments, or that they chose to look the other way if they were presented with evidence early on. Those who have promoted his story as an ex-Jihadist, they are all strangely silent now, and have taken his tapes off their website. Even his brother, Emir Caner is silent up to this point. And his vocal supporters in the blogosphere still have not given a coherent defense of Ergun Caner, only attacks of Caner's critics and half-baked attempts to ignore and explain away the obvious lies and contradictions documented on the Internet.

But I'm going to offer up a defense of Caner. Funny how it takes a "recalcitrant" blogger who has been critical of Caner over his embellishments to be the one to actually attempt to offer up a valid defense. Caner's supporters have been so infatuated and "obsessed" with destroying his critics - which is no surprise really, it is a typical SBC defense tactic - that none of them have offered up a legitimate defense for their friend!

Yet there is a defense to be made. So I will attempt to articulate it here. I will say up front that I don't completely buy into this defense yet, but I'm trying to articulate it so that perhaps some of his critics (myself included) can think more deeply about the value of Caner to evangelical Christianity and how he can salvage his most important ministry - that to students at Liberty University.

Up to this point, the "supporters" of Caner have attempted to defend him using one of about 5 different tactics:

1. Saying he is basically a good man, who has done good for the gospel and is being unfairly "attacked" - one pastor even just saying basically he "likes" Caner and knows his brother, and therefore doesn't believe the allegations; or

2. Ad hominem attacks on bloggers who dared to point out the Caner deceptions - Dr. James White is wrongly accused of going after Caner because of their feud over reformed theology. Debbie Kaufman has been belittled and ridiculed by Caner supporters, as has her pastor Wade Burleson. And the most sickening attempt of all, to accuse people who point out the Caner deceptions as siding with Muslims in trying to destroy Christianity;

3. Trying to shift the issue from lies about his upbringing and his debates, to whether or not Caner was actually a Muslim (which I and most others believe he was raised to some degree in the Muslim faith); or

4. Saying Caner has already apologized, pointing to his pseudo-apology published at the SBC Today Bunch site in which he says he "never intentionally misled anyone", and his pseudo-apology to the students at "Campus Church" in February 2010; or

5. Saying nothing, stonewalling, until of course "real" media outlets start bringing pressure to bear on Liberty University. How strange that prominent SBC leaders (Vines, Brunson, Floyd, Merrit, and others) who were the biggest Caner promoters 5 years ago, are now strangely quiet).

But these are not valid defenses. None of these deal with admission of wrong-doing, apologizing and repenting of the lies, and thus I would say none of them is even a Christian response to the serious allegations against Caner. Neither do these tactics highlight the very real positive ministry Caner has at Liberty! Tactic #2 has been downright ugly and sinister, and serves to point out other serious issues we have in the SBC with some of our so-called pastors who can't stand valid criticism of their celebrity preachers and attack other Christians in the name of Jesus.

Over the past 3 months I have listened to no less than 20 of Caner's "circuit sermons" in which his embellishments occur - the first one being the November 20, 2001 sermon at my former church FBC Jax, and all the way through 2009. But I've also listened to samples of his Liberty "Campus Church" sermons which he delivers on a regular basis to the Liberty students in a weekly service held just for them. These are available on iTunes, archived all the way back to 2006.

After listening to some of Caner's Campus Church sermons, a couple of things are very apparent:

- he has a very powerful ministry to the youth at Liberty and elsewhere. He is a very clear, captivating speaker, he preaches the Word to the students at Liberty and elsewhere and is not afraid to deal with very sensitive issues that 99.9% of the SBC pastors would never dream of addressing - and he does it all in a scriptural context. I admire him very much for doing this;

- the guy is genuinely funny and appropriately irreverent at times, and I can see why young Christians at LU and elsewhere in Lynchburg would be drawn to the Campus Church ministry;

- he is not a "purpose driven" or "seeker friendly" kind of preacher. He really does deliver the Word of God to students using Caner's own unique style that appeals to young Christians. The students seem to love his frankness and his distaste for political correctness;

- in his Campus Church ministry he does reach out to the "outcasts" of society with the gospel, more so than probably 99% of conservative Baptist churches. He does share parts of his life in his sermons that DO seem to be based on truth and are not embellishments - stories about his grandmother, his friends in Ohio, life as a teenager, being born in Sweden, etc. He has embellished at times in "Campus Church", but not like he does on the "preaching circuit".

- he doesn't engage so much in the racial stereotypes at "Campus Church"- at least the sermons I've heard - probably because he has a very diverse group of Christians and non-Christians who might boo him off the stage if he did that sort of thing. As I've said before - the crowds on the preacher circuit guffawing over his racial stereotypes says more about THEM than it does about Caner;

And I could go on. I would say that I am impressed with this man as a preacher to the youth at Liberty. I do have some issues with some of what he has said (like his embarrassing defense of Ed Young in February 2010 and his pseudo-apology to the students that same month) in the Campus Church sermons, but overall I am impressed with him as a bible preacher.

My thesis: there seems to be two Ergun Caners. There is the "preaching-circuit Ergun", who at times embellishes his credentials in a huge way. And there is a "Campus Ergun". Ergun needs to admit that he has created this "preaching-circuit Ergun", explain how and why he came to be starting in 2001, then repent, and put this other Ergun away for good.

Preaching-Circuit Ergun
First, the "preaching circuit" Ergun: this Ergun is a performer. We now know he had an interest in theatre in high school, and may have been an actor in several plays, and perhaps some of this comes out on the "preacher circuit" in front of crowds. "Preacher Circuit" Ergun is a stand-up comedian. He is a master story teller and yarn spinner. He speaks without notes, and gets caught up in the emotion of the crowd, and loves to work the crowd like any good performer. But he then begins to embellish stories about himself.

He is a Jeff Foxworthy of sorts, a likeable, self-deprecating stand up comedian, a hired performer who comes in and gives the same routine (sermon), or small variations of the same routine fitted to his audience. I'm in no way defending this, or minimizing the seriousness of the lies he has told over and over again. Over the years he has told his embellishments so many times, that he probably views them as harmless "preacher speak" designed to captivate his audience to focus on his gospel message (I'm trying to be generous here). He might even over the years begun to believe some of the stories.

What are his motives? I don't know - it could be him wanting to build his "terrorist" and "Muslim expert" brand to help him sell books, or it could be that he just loves to feel the love and cheers of the crowd. Probably a little of both. No doubt, he views them as harmless (which they are not), and he probably figured no one would bother listening to these sermons or checking out his background. Certainly in 2001 when he first started spinning his yarns there were not Internet archives of sermons. He didn't envision the day that he would be held accountable by Internet bloggers who would put the pieces together.

Campus Ergun
The "Campus Ergun" is someone different: he is less of a performer. He seems to genuinely care for his students who will be the next generation of Christian leaders - his students seem to be his passion. He has admitted numerous times on the preaching circuit that he was a "lousy pastor" and that his true calling is with students at Liberty. I believe him.

I assume he respects his students enough that he won't tell outright lies to them about his past (although I did hear him refer in one of his sermons that he knows what it is to live under fascism). He has a fellow preacher (Johnnie Moore) that preaches at Campus Church with him that he undoubtedly is accountable to. He seems to be more restrained in his stories, perhaps because he is with people that know him and his past more intimately.

What Must Caner Do?
The "Campus Ergun" needs to repent of the sin of creating this "Preaching-Circuit" Egun, and put this Ergun away for good. If he does this, Campus Ergun, what I hope is the REAL Ergun, can continue to teach and minister to students at Liberty. We Baptists should WANT HIM to salvage this ministry at Liberty that he has!

Its so easy. He needs to come clean right now, before the TV news national media, and Jay Leno and the late night comedians get a hold of it. He needs to acknowledge to his students, and to the world, what he has done over the past 9 1/2 years on the preaching circuit. It is not just "misspeaking". He purposely has misled people about his past for 9 1/2 years - I say purposely because it is repeated over and over again. He needs to ask forgiveness of his students, and of the many churches at which he has embellished his stories. If he has gained financially from these speeches, he might want to make restitution in some manner. If he continues to preach around the world, over time he can visit churches again, and apologize to them in person for his embellishments. And he will get a standing ovation and people will forgive him. I know they will.

If he has embellished his past and his credentials as an apologist to his students in Campus Church, he needs to admit this and ask their forgiveness.

If he has misrepresented Muslims in some way - and I think his embellishments have served to do this - he can ask forgiveness of Muslims everywhere, and this can serve to help him reach out to them in genuine Christian love. This entire debacle has harmed our ability as evangelicals to witness our faith to practicing Muslims. He should specifically ask for forgiveness from Mohammad Khan, for the terrible things said about him by Caner's defenders, and Caner should acknowledge how wrong it was for his defenders to try to smear Khan and make HIM the issue, rather than Caner's deception.

What a powerful statement it would be for him to stand in front of his students to admit his deceit when on the preaching circuit, to repent of it. I am 100% confident they will forgive him, and cheer him. And I think he can use this experience to continue to minister. He has a self-deprecating style anyways, and his repentance and restoration would fit right in with that shtick.

Caner's Future at Liberty?
I don't see how at this point he can stay as president of the Liberty seminary even if he truly repents, if for no other reason than for the academic credibility of the university. But if he truly repents for the decade of deceit as the "Preaching-Circuit Ergun" and seeks forgiveness, my hope is that he will stay as a professor at Liberty, and even as a preacher at the Campus Church, and continue his ministry to students.

So that is my hope for Ergun. I will pray for him, that he will do the right thing.

I have no evidence to suggest he will repent - all evidence I have is that celebrity preacher's affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention never publicly apologizing for anything, so I have my doubts. All I see from SBC celebrity preachers is stonewalling, silence, and attacks against their critics and even their families.

But still, I think Ergun will genuinely repent. Afterall, he is unique, and he breaks the mold in so many ways as a gospel preacher, which is why I think so many people love him.

Let's pray that Ergun breaks another mold, and shows the Southern Baptist Convention how a Southern Baptist preacher can genuinely repent and be restored. Then perhaps we lay people can show that Southern Baptists are loving, forgiving people, as we forgive Ergun and he is allowed to continue his important ministry at Liberty.

That is my defense of Ergun Caner. Let us all pray that repentence and restoration will come about - for the sake of the gospel, for the sake of the Southern Baptist Convention, and for the students at Liberty University.

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shame on us if Caner stays. We are essentially saying that his value as a "man of god" is based on his popularity with young people. That is our measuring stick, popularity. The fact is, that a person who lies as he preaches, and lies as he gives his testimony, and expresses prejudice against people is not and cannot be a Man of God. Period. End of Story. He does not belong where he is.

Bennett Willis said...

A very positive posting. Here is a link to another positive reference to the Caners.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=ovEyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ywgGAAAAIBAJ&pg=6872,1106589&dq=ergun-caner&hl=en

Debbie Kaufman said...

Jax: This is one of the best articles I think I have read from you. You are so right. Reading about Dr. Caner's ministry before 9/11, he was a dynamic minister who despite what he says about himself, had a heart for those who were lost and hurt. Just his ministering to those shot in Columbine shows this. He went to where the needs were.

God uses us best when we are broken, humble, totally dependent on him. I share your prayer.

Tom Chantry said...

There is much to be said on either side of the issue of whether he can continue to preach effectively or whether he can continue in Liberty, either as President or in another capacity.

But - and I mean this sincerely - I love the heart of compassion with which you posted this.

May we demonstrate forgiveness toward one another as Jesus demonstrated forgiveness toward us. And may Jesus Christ be glorified in our restoration as He is in our salvation.

gary dilworth said...

FBC Jax Watchdog,
That is an outstanding editorial. I want to focus on the ‘defense tactic’ number 4 which supporters of Dr. Caner used. You said this defense involves, “Saying Caner has already apologized, pointing to his pseudo-apology published at the SBC Today Bunch site in which he says he "never intentionally misled anyone", and his pseudo-apology to the students at "Campus Church" in February 2010.” In the SBC Today site in Podcast Edisode 26 (http://sbctoday.com
/2010/05/06/episode-26/) dated May 06, 2010 in the following posts: #38, #39, #48, #66, #71, #75, #88, and #91 these authors: Tim Rogers, David Worley, and Tim G. (Guthrie?) all repeatedly asserted that Caner had repented of his inconsistencies in his testimony. Then, strikingly, in post #108 by Tim G., and most especially in post #109 by Tim Rogers, they very strongly indicated that Caner was innocent of all charges and that he had not done anything wrong.
The summary seemed to be ‘Caner’s repentance was and is real’ and ‘Caner was and is innocent.’
Tim G. and Tim Rogers, how do you repent of innocence?

Anonymous said...

watchdog, I think you are wrong on this one. I think its because of the students that he needs to be fired. I think you might be worshipping the cult of celebrity here. There are consequences for this stuff, and thats all thats needed is for students to see him allowed to keep his job. I got mercy on this guy too, but he used his own free will to do this, and for that there is a consequence. Think about the people who were killed on 9/11 and then think about the fact that this guy got in the PULPIT of a CHURCH and said he was "trained to do that that was done on 9/11". If God allows him to be fired, and he's a true Chrisian, God will take care of him. That may be what God is doing now. Taking care of him, in a real way, by not allowing him to continue to perpetrate untruth in the pulpit. Especially about 9/11.

He CHOSE this route. Hasn't anybody here ever been to an AA meeting where you LEARN that YOU take the blame for your own actions and you don't put it elsewhere. All you people who have ceaselessly blogged about this guy....now that he's about to lose his job no doubt you want to back away. You chose your route, too....all this "mercy" now is a little disingenuous. You can't go back no and say, aw...he's a good speaker...let him keep his job.

His contact with students is of the utmost importance here, because I'm telling you....well, obviously some of you never went the Christian school route and saw the lying teacher and the damage they can do.

Either way, I still say God's in control of this and it will turn out HIS way. God knows if this guy was ever Islamic Jihad. If Ergun Caner believes, howz come he wasn't afraid of God?

Debbie Z. said...

This is a beautiful article which leaves me much to think about. I agree with the concern regarding the cult of celebrity which one of the previous commenters made and think that true repentance may involve talking the humiliating route of stepping down from all of his posts for an extended period of "detoxification" from the cult of celebrity in the American church.

Lastly on the issue of restitution, I think this is a very necessary disciple which needs to be embraced by the body of Christ. Return all of the money earned -- whether it be publishing royalties, speaker fees, etc., as well as travel and hotel fees. Return them personally to each church, individual and organization which gave them to him and ask forgiveness personally. He should not wait for the churches to re-invite him, only to have them place him up on a platform again for applause and adulation, even if it is applause for his contrition. Go the low road and do it away from the adoring crowds, and walk the low, lonely and humiliating road that true discipleship entails.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 1:48 - yes, I can be wrong on this. I simply wanted to put forth a defense for the guy, that is a Christian defense. There may be multiple Christian responses to Caner's deceit - the one I have tried to explain here, and perhaps yours as well. But I do know the responses we've seen from Caner's defenders to attack bloggers and gloss over and excuse his sin is NOT a Christian defense.

I don't back away at all from my previous posts on Caner. I simply am pondering where does it go from here?

Lightwalker said...

I agree with the two Caner's hypothesis. I really don't like the style of either, but one Caner is someone I can respect, the other turns my stomach.

Regardless, it is my opinion, he needs to remove himself from education and ministry to students for a while.

The question I have is which Caner delivered that ridiculous "Why I'm Predestined not to be a Hyper-Calvinist" sermon?

Debbie Kaufman said...

I think he may need to step away for awhile in order to heal from all of this. And I think we need to be available to help him to heal with our prayers, love which can only be done in the Holy Spirit. If God so chooses to break Ergun Caner, I can tell you from experience it can be one of the most painful things to go through, but the most exhilarating too as God molds into what he desires.

As a woman I can liken it to childbirth, while the pain is great, knowing a beautiful baby is going to be the end result makes the pain into a balm of sorts. It's God's love at it's greatest for us.

Former FBC Insider said...

I thought as I read this post, that eventually I was going to find out who the poster was.

I didn't know it was from you, Tom. I kept waiting to hear who this heartwarming, local flavor, person who MUST know the REAL Caner, one of his best friends, one of his co-authors, almost a defender was.

I was surprised at the end of the post to find that it was your own heart that was giving latitude and forgiveness to the man many have had issue with here.

So, to that, I'm even more proud of you, more humbled by your humbleness and your forgiveness to the Caner that we've all been waiting to hear from.

Even though I don't think we will 'hear' from him, I think we've all heard from you, Tom, on this blog, from your heart.

Way to go man. Way to show Jesus with skin on! I love you brother.

I sure would hope you could know that you can count on me, my brother.

I was there in that 'sermon', 'talk' on November 20, 2001.
We both went away with the same theory, the same feelings, with our families.
Thank you for this unbiased and very loving and generous post for one of our brothers.
It doesn't matter what the sin, who the person, let's just get it right.
Let's just make right of a wrong that has been done.
I appreciate you Tom, and your family for having this love for a brother when having been done and duped by a pastor and his crowd.
How your hearts must ache at times. How loving and forgiving you and your family have been to those who have trespassed against you.

For the sake of the gospel, for the sake of all that is Christian, and for the students everywhere, in Jacksonville and at Liberty, may the truth be known.

Anonymous said...

What if he's a pathological liar? They only "confess" when they are caught but can't stop themselves and will lie again.

Ergun has racked up a lot of traffic offenses...has had six speeding tickets in Virginia in just over two years with a few others like "redlight" and "broken speedometer". He had one just two weeks ago in Lynchburg for going nearly 20 mph over the limit in a school zone. I'm sorry, but to me that acts like a man who thinks he's above the law.

Anonymous said...

His contact with students is of the utmost importance here, because I'm telling you....well, obviously some of you never went the Christian school route and saw the lying teacher and the damage they can do.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

VERY PROFOUND & TRUE statement where the hearts of young people were scarred for life because of puffed up teachers like Caner's behavior - so much so they left the church crowd forever - still believers, but no membership of any church because of the distrust they learned in the Christian education system. Sad!

This was a sensible and good article but I still say Caner most certainly does not deserve to remain as the President of the Seminary. No way.

Just as an athletic Coach who loses to many major shots - the officials need to have Caner step down as he's still a kid and needs to rebuild his reputation to retain the title of President.

Doug said...

Until the guy repents, renounces, corrects and tells all the truths,

He has NO defense.

Lying like this has NO place in the "Christian Foundation" in which the Bible is VERY CLEAR on how to we are to handle decievers such as the Caners.

While you my defend, (even if it is in a hyper - mode) I seek and will continue to get to the bottom of those garbage cans folks within the Baptist Mafia.


Even if it is of an unknown nature....

Repentance and Apologies are the key......But this is NOT something Baptist do well!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Doug - I agree with you.

But my point is precisely:

If he repents, renounces, corrects and tells all the truths, then there can be restoration.

My defense of him is: there is still time to repent! If he doesn't repent, then I stick by my earlier assessment, this will be an evangelical crisis with far reaching implications.

Questions will have to be answered like:

- did Vines and Patterson fail to do their due diligence in checking Caner out before launching this guy into instant "stardom" in the SBC after 9/11?

- did people who knew Caner pre 9/11 and knew he was embellishing early on go to Vines and Patterson to tell them that something is wrong (like many tried to go to Patterson about Gilyard)?

- what will this ultimately say about Southern Baptists that they refuse to hold a man accountable for his public sin, yet they attack those who exposed the sin?

So there is no "defense", except to call Caner to repent and repair.

As I said, Doug, there is no evidence to suggest this will happen. Celebrity preachers in the SBC don't apologize. But maybe Caner will show them how it is done.

Doug said...

Watchdog,

I agree. I too want to defend and use Biblical teaching to move forward......but YOU AND I know how these men now work.

In days gone by, yeah maybe they would be shamed by the CHURCH and LEADERSHIP, but now it seems EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE within this denomination are more focused on "defend em at any cost" vs " " doing the right thing "

Hey I do not know about anyone else, but I know exactly what the next steps are....

I have been on the pounding end of the sand for over 3 years now....

But I stand for the CHURCH, Christ, my Integrity and not these you and I have written about.

My question is, - other than Satan and his work, Why is this happening - why can't they see the damage all this is doing to us all?

If you had seen, heard, and witnessed many of the issues within the Baptist Mafia as I have - you would understand MY concerns. I get many emails from
the concerned and I just weep sometimes at such abominations we now see and some that if ever brought out, would truly be "unbelievable"

Anonymous said...

"My question is, - other than Satan and his work, Why is this happening - why can't they see the damage all this is doing to us all?"

Remember, Satan had to have God's permission to touch Job.

Did it ever occur to folks that Jesus Christ might be purifying His Bride? It may not be doing damage at all but just the opposite.


Matt

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Doug - I'm more aware of the depths that the "Baptist Mafia" will go, than you probably realize at this point in time. I try to not let it color my view of all Baptists, or even all Baptist pastors. There have been some that have extended grace to me, and give me hope that it's not as bad as I think it might be. So I'm right there with you, and will continue discussing important issues on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dog,

This is the finest thing you have written on this site, as other commenters have noted. I agree.

Some preachers were taught (wink-wink) that sometimes the facts get in the way of a good story and you might need to "rework" it a bit.

But this is different, as it is concerns not a sermon illustration but rather a falsified credential (the root, credibility).
My graduate school professor/advisor (an agnostic, by the way. His wife's brother is an SBC minister) at a large secular university admonished me at graduation: never lie on your resume. I pondered that: it goes to the heart of what a university ("one truth") is about. Faculty who lie.....?

It's basic courtroom logic. Your attorney will always tell you: whatever you do, don't tell a lie on the stand. If discovered, then all your testimony is suspect.

Same thing in minisitry.

And also with the profession of journalism. Your readers might enjoy the film, "Shattered Glass," the true story how an award-winning, popular writer was found out to be an imaginative writer of pure fiction. The world (read: The New Republic, the hated liberal press) can discipline its own better than the church.....

If Liberty fails to deal adequately with this, Chesterton will have been proven right: "A Christian University is a contradiction in terms."

Just one year ago, Liberty banished the Democratic party from campus (but didn't Jery F. invite Teddy K to speak?). They are very strict on some things, it appears:
Liberty University has revoked its recognition of the campus Democratic Party club, saying “we are unable to lend support to a club whose parent organization stands against the moral principles held by” the university....

From the Lychburg paper, the result of a simple Google search:
Part of [vice president for student affairs Mark] Hine’s e-mail said, “The Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of Liberty University and to Christian doctrine (supports abortion, federal funding of abortion, advocates repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, promotes the “LGBT” agenda, hate crimes, which include sexual orientation and gender identity, socialism, etc.)”

Anonymous said...

I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure the whole Democrat club thing was resolved pretty quickly and the club was allowed to operate.

Anonymous said...

Nashville’s The Tennessean also has an article out today titled Southern Baptist’s Ex-Muslim Narratives in Dispute. Here is a revealing snippet:

Caner did not respond to requests for an interview. Several Southern
Baptist leaders who have supported him in the past, including Land and
former Southern Baptist Convention President Paige Patterson, declined
interview requests.

Anonymous said...

Re: Liberty/the Democrats:

My point exactly. Some things get a quick response, even if resonsidered just as quickly. Even if misguided, it's often pubicity that gets action. That's why they call it "the press."

The Red Baron once said, "What man covers, God uncovers [and vice-versa)." That makes for tasty preaching, no?

Could God use a blog or even (spit here) liberal media to discipline his children? And get to the truth?

Habakkuk 1:6

Dr. Fill said...

Hmmm, you don't think they may be lying about those 3,000 year old dinosaur bones too do ya? ;-)

Anonymous said...

I am about halfway there with the author of this post. In the end, Christians have to be about forgiveness, which ought never be confused with sweeping issues under the rug. Redemption can in fact occur with a willing and prayerful participant. I have seen the damage done to a congregation by a preacher whose covered-up sins were far more personal. The ability to re-establish trust, once trust has been broken--even when the trust-breaker has been removed, can be endless.

I am pulled endlessly and daily to defend a church (universal) that has broken trust too many times and in too many ways. I see far more "unchurched" than churched people and their anger and hurt are sometimes palpable, and very, very real. It is no accident that so many see the church as hypocritical, bible-thumpers comdemning the other while sheltering their own (or some of their own--many have been hurt within the church).

But, in this case, the harms are greater than the personal gain from a pumped up background. This man has misrepresented himself as an expert in a religion he apparently knows little of (Islam). And he has filled in the blanks with some of the most vile mythologies. The harm unleashed in the world is profound.

It may be a simple point of ignorance that he told the world that in Sri Lanka Muslims who convert to Christianity are put to death. But the world was listening, and while many who believed deveoutly wished his words to be true. But a high school girl in Ohio ran away from home on the strength of such mis-statements. She was harbored by a minister and hidden from authorities on the strength of such mis-statements. A student of ministry put his career in jeopardy on the strength of such mis-statements. A family has been torn apart on the strength of such mis-statements.

Where does such hatred of Muslims, based on ignorant and false statements end? An apology to Mr. Khan would certainly be a minimal requirement. But the harm looks far more like the oil endlessly flowing out from below the ocean than a case of hurt feelings. Can he confront the Pam Gellers of the world, or the ACT for Americas of the world or any of the others who, on the strength of a man who claims to have the inside view on the horrors of Islam has taught that young Muslim men are taught to commit violence against our country?

One sad result of the wagon circling is that so little thought has been given to the real harm done in the world by one who stands as a caricature of himself--shucking and jiving as they say.

Anonymous said...

Dr Fill,

Do you mean you do not believe that the world was created in seven days?

Dr. Fill said...

Anonymous May 18, 2010 9:29 PM,

Uhhh..NO.

Anonymous said...

I believe Dr Falwell Sr. always spoke of LU turning out Champions For Christ. If this is their Mission Statement then who is going to take the bull by the horns and make a decision based on Bible principles and not PC or settle for admonition only? The real answer is now up to the Trustees and how they want the University observed and rated by not only Christians but the secular world as well. Just my opinion.

Dr. Fill said...

Sorry Anonymous May 18, 2010 9:29 PM,
After rereading your question I realized that my answer should have been: Yes, I don't believe it.

Ergun Caner Conman said...

Caner and LU don't operate based on godliness, integrity and Scriptural doctrine; they are pragmatists--go by whatever works.

Anonymous said...

Let me guess, Doug blames the Baptist Mafia in GA! Hey lets move on! Ergan repent!

ex-cult said...

I am a former life-long cult member (third generation) who daily is under the microscope for my statements of criticism of the group I left behind. In recent years my greatest outreach is to former cult members from my own group who are disillusioned with religion in general. For them, I am literally their only personal contact with Christianity they will associate with. We share the same pain and suffering from this cult, yet I have found Jesus as Savior. They simply cannot believe that I still believe in God and am now a Southern Baptist pastor. They reluctantly listen to me because of our shared background. However, sadly, this story is fodder for their bitterness and anger. I’ve been in the Christian world long enough to remember Jimmy Swaggert. He was a gifted and effective preacher. I didn’t agree with his theology but admired his bold witness. He had an effective ministry but sinned. He genuinely repented but his sin cost him his ministry. This is the price one pays for deliberately living a sinful lifestyle as a leader. Once the Swaggert scandal went viral (and that was pre-internet) the only thing that stopped the feeding frenzy was his removal from the pulpit. Is a leader lying from the pulpit any less damning than Swaggart's “trists” with a prostitute? I think not. In fact, I believe it is a greater sin. Giving in to temptation by falling into the Devil’s trap is devastating. Yet, it could happen to any one of us. Even those who are the greatest critics of Christianity would be somewhat sympathetic to weaknesses, which all of us have. However, deliberately fabricating a story and repeating it over and over again is habitual and chronic sin which demonstrates deeper problems. I believe Caner’s powerful friends, who are silent as you noted, realize this fact. If the Christian body does nothing to discipline erring leaders, the words I have to say to those I minister are hollow. They will just cry out, “There’s another example of why I don’t want anything to do with Christianity.” I have to rest in the fact that God will get the last word. The saddest part of this whole thing is our Christian testimony with the Muslims has been compromised. They now have legitimate ammo to use for years to come. If Canner remains in his position, our witness in the Muslim community could be damaged almost beyond repair. God help us.

Anonymous said...

When a seminary president in our city called out the sin of a pastor of a large mega, the seminary president came under severe attack not only by the pastor (who refused to acknowledge his wrong doing) but the pastor's staunch supporters. The seminary president refused to back down, risking his job, (some of the pastor's supporters were powerful,
wealthy men who also supported the seminary) because the seminary students were watching him to see if he would do the right thing under fire. The Lord honored this man and he kept his job. The seminary suffered financial backlash but has survived. God honors those who honor Him.

Pride keeps all of us, especially those in high places, from humbling ourselves and repenting before God and man. Some offer up
weak apologies but never get to the place David did in Psalm 51. If
Ergun Caner and Liberty University will come clean, God will honor them both and the world will not have one more reason to mock us and the God we serve.

Anonymous said...

May 19, 7:44 a.m. said:
" If the Christian body does nothing to discipline erring leaders, the words I have to say to those I minister are hollow."

Exactly. When the body of Christ excuses sin, looks the other way, rationalizes or just remains silent we deny our Lord who hung on Calvary's cross, suffering an angonziing death that we might be set free from sin. And "We give our enemies ammunition to shoot us with" - Adrian Rogers.

Anonymous said...

I think you hit on something that we as Christians talk about frequently, but frequently act on. Repent, change and be restored. The basics of our daily walk with Christ. None of us are perfect, but there is hope.

That is what I am praying for Ed Young and Fellowship Church. It is on a fast decline. At this point, the fall could stop with a simple, repent, change and be restored.

gary dilworth said...

May 19, 7:44 a.m. said:
" If the Christian body does nothing to discipline erring leaders, the words I have to say to those I minister are hollow."

You've made me think of the Lords discipline and scourging of His children. The whole free grace vs. lordship salvation controversy is ended in His scourging of us. A real child of His may try to reject His rule, but He then overrules him. His heavenly hand comes down hard on our behinds... the pain grows and grows... and we say Lord Jesus Christ, and mean it with all our heart.

Anonymous said...

I say to the Liberty Officials that it's pretty simple as Caner didn't make the grade and pass in his assignment. He flunked out big time. If you give him a passing grade them be fair and do so for the rest of your students who came up with a failing grade in their courses.

I could care less what Caners excuses are when he says he simply mispoke, he was misunderstood. I'm more interested in the Administrations decision to know if you will keep a staff person in such a prominent position as President of the seminary. If you do, you will reap what you sow!

Ergun Caner Conman said...

Anonymous Re. Ed Young,

Please give us some links to Ed Young's issue(s).

Ergun Caner should step down and let God work things out before he step up and up again. He could be the next 'Paul' but it is up to the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Ergun has racked up a lot of traffic offenses...has had six speeding tickets in Virginia in just over two years with a few others like "redlight" and "broken speedometer". He had one just two weeks ago in Lynchburg for going nearly 20 mph over the limit in a school zone. I'm sorry, but to me that acts like a man who thinks he's above the law.

May 18, 2010 4:20 PM

He must not be worried about his insurance premiums. perhaps that is because his speaking gigs and books pay so well. Paid well to lie.

Anonymous said...

That is what I am praying for Ed Young and Fellowship Church. It is on a fast decline. At this point, the fall could stop with a simple, repent, change and be restored.

May 19, 2010 8:57 AM

Unfortuantly, Young is more like the rich young ruler. Since caught, he has been busy justifying his lavish lifestyle and trying to downplay certain aspects of it. (That ain't repentance...that is evidence of a hard heart)

Thy Peace said...

Amen. This is the best defense I have heard about Ergun Caner. I simply pray that Ergun Caner will openly confess and repent of his actions and words.

Off Topic:

NYT > Colleague Says Blumenthal Claims Grew in Time.

EFF > Judge Shields Identity of Online Critic Facing Baseless Lawsuit.

Bojac said...

I think this whole thing is sad. As a pastor (over 40 yrs) it seems to me we are so hurting our saviour with our selfishment. I don't personally know ergun Caner but have read many blog comments about him. I am sure he is a christian but perhaps he has subcummed somewhat to the temptation to be "somebody". Coming to my sunset yrs as a pastor I am so troubled by many who have opted for fame and fortune. Our Lord warned us that to be great was not to be served but to be of ser vice to others. Jack

Anonymous said...

It would appear that this preacher has something in common with a canditate running for the U.S.Senate (CT.), who "misspoke" about serving in Viet Nam. He said he served in Viet Nam when he didn't. He also refused to apologize publicly. The secular fallout in the press has been very negative against him. He of course, is trying to make it the fault of the press that reported the TRUTH. No one is making excuses for the candidate that lied. The secular world is calling him to task, yet we Christians just want to make it all nice and make it go away. Business as usual. Why are we making excuses and all of this "syrupy" restoration dialogue. Sorry WD I must say you have poured it on a bit thick here. A lie is a lie, is a lie!

Speaking of different circumstances..... There have been some good people that didn't deserve it, but were treated very badly at the hands of preachers. Some of these people never received an apology from these arrogant self important men. Yet they go on in the "religious limelight" receiving accolades from people that really don't know them. Especially their fellow preachers in the "club". They only show the smiling, I am your preacher, face to the world. Yet some know how mean and harsh these guys can be if opposed. They are not to be challenged, or poor church member, you will suffer. I know some that have left the church because of this hypocrisy and will never return because they don't want to take a chance of another phony encounter. It's painful take my word for it.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 2:06 - I know all about what you are saying. I know first-hand about powerful preachers and the lengths gone to silence and/or discredit their critics.

But what I've said here about Caner is not "syrupy" at all. It's painful, embarrassing, and a difficult road Caner must go down. As I said, it's one that our experience tells us that he will NOT go down, as I know of no celebrity Southern Baptist preacher who has traveled this road. Can Caner ask for forgiveness from the churches he has lied to? Can he make restitution? Can he ask all Muslims everywhere to forgive him? Can he contact Mohammad Khan and ask him to forgive him? This is a tall order. But if he does these things and shows repentence and seeks forgiveness, then as I understand my bible there is restoration to some degree available. That's all I'm saying. I think what you are saying is that this is virtually impossible for Caner. I say it's not. He can do it.

Anonymous said...

These men would not have a platform if it weren't for the vast audiences who want to hear embellished stories - the bigger and more outlandish, the better. Because they have no desire to get serious with the Lord personally, they are not concerned with any lack of integrity of the speaker.
We are definitely in the "desiring to have their ears tickled" days; the days of the Laodicean church.

Anonymous said...

Hate is ugly. Bitterness is distasteful. Negativity is contagious.

This should have been termed " The crucifixion of Ergun Caner.

No..your innocent until proven guilty...No..we need to hear from him (Matt. 18)..No...believe the best...He's guilty, He's garbage, throw him to the side of the road.

Christians...you have to love them!!

We are saved but my God, we are cynical!

Tim Marsh said...

FBC Jax,

You said: "I hope they did not encourage the embellishments, or that they chose to look the other way if they were presented with evidence early on."

This is why I am interested in Caner's story. I believe (without evidence) that this embellishing, even lying, is something that, if not taught, is encouraged. Somewhere, someone is passing this along as a celebrity preacher character trait.

Thy Peace said...

HuffingtonPost > Ex-Muslim Evangelical Exposed As Fake.
Ergun Caner is one of the most prominent figures in the evangelical movement. He is also one of the most deceptive.

Anonymous said...

We are saved but my God, we are cynical!

May 19, 2010 3:01 PM

We are not cynical. We are discerning. There is a difference.
We hold one another accountable rather than enable wrong-doing. When the church is corrupted by dishonesty, we shine God's Word upon it in order for purity and healing to take hold. A book was written years ago: Love Must Be Tough. Sometimes love has to be tough in order to right wrongs.
Even Proverbs tells us the wounds of a friend are better than the praises of an enemy. (Prov. 27:6)

Anonymous said...

Jack you got it. The greatest man who ever lived here on earth other than Jesus, was John the Baptist. His diet was honey and locust. His garments camel hair and maybe sandals. Yet, Jesus said of him "born of woman there is none greater than John the Baptist". Strange that megas read this but skip over it quickly as it is humility at its finest.

There is no hope for the modern day church...its over plain and simple. Only whats done for Christ will last and that is one on one witnessing. Stay out of these lavish buildings which only serve the leaders and their puppy dogs.

Anonymous said...

Hate is ugly. Bitterness is distasteful. Negativity is contagious.

This should have been termed " The crucifixion of Ergun Caner.

No..your innocent until proven guilty...No..we need to hear from him (Matt. 18)..No...believe the best...He's guilty, He's garbage, throw him to the side of the road.

Christians...you have to love them!!

We are saved but my God, we are cynical!

May 19, 2010 3:01 PM

Dearest, I do not know who taught you these abherrant doctrines (your comment is full of them) but you need to get in the Book and read in context. You have it all wrong from Matthew 18 to ignoring 1 Corin 5 and 1 John to thinking someone can be a long time liar and be saved...as in Hebrews 10:26-31.

Paul wrote about this in Romans..should we sin more so we can have more grace? Would a believer with the indwelling Holy Spirit be able to do that for 9 years?

I sure hope you are not a product of Liberty.

gary dilworth said...

Ergun Caner Conman et al.
Regarding Ed Young: Do you believe the monad Bishop T. D. Jakes believes in is a false god that offends the Trinity? If the answer is yes, do you believe Ed Young Jr. sinned against the Trinity when he apparently decided to never tell Jakes he was going to hell if he did not repent of his trust in the monad, and instead trust the real Lord Jesus Christ, the 2cnd Person of the Trinity? If the answer is yes, do you believe that when Ed Young Jr. allows Bishop Jakes to come and preach to the family of believers at Fellowship Church annually (4-8 times total from 2007-2010), that they are both guilty of sin against the Trinity? If the answer is yes, do you also believe that when Young does not tell his congregation of Jakes non-Trinitarian theology that Young is betraying them? If the answer is yes, then I want you to ask the Holy Spirit, who indwells you, who infinitely loves and has zeal for the glory of Jesus Christ, what He wants you to say and do about this issue, and then to please do so, with passionate love and zeal for the 2cnd. Person of the Trinity. Also, I want you to put yourself in the shoes of the 20,000 people of Fellowship Church, who are unaware of Jakes’ wildly errant theology, and think everything is all very OK with Jakes’, and think of what you would want a person who knows the truth to do on your behalf, to help you understand that your pastor is betraying Jesus Christ, betraying you, and is adulterating sound doctrine and sound faith, and then please do it.
Do that in the Ed Young sections on this blog, on the Museum of Idolatry blog, on the 5PointSalt blog, on the Hiscrevener blog, on the verum serum blog and whatever other blogs you can find with Ed Young comment sections. His betrayal of the Trinity began just before he got the plane in 2007. The former is the bigger sin.
Gary

Thy Peace said...

Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog [James White] > A Lament for Discernment.

Ironically, while typing the last portion of this entry, I saw a reference to the Caner story appearing in...The Huffington Post. I said weeks ago that if Liberty did not step up to bat quickly and deal with the situation the secular press would be on it like a duck on a June bug, and each passing day proves that prediction accurate. But what is mind-numbingly ironic (and just plain wrong) is the fact that it takes The Huffington Post to accurately describe the reality of the behavior of some of Ergun Caner's supporters:

"An unrepentant Caner maintains his innocence, saying that he "never intentionally misled anyone." He blames the campaign to discredit him on Calvinists and their Muslim interlocutors. At the same time, many of his duped followers are refusing to accept reality. They are taking their anger out on those who have exposed the fraud and not on the charlatan himself."

Yeah, strange, isn't it?

Doug said...

Let me answer this please....

Anonymous said...
Let me guess, Doug blames the Baptist Mafia in GA! Hey lets move on! Ergan repent!

May 19, 2010 6:39 AM
_________________________________

No, I do not blame anyone specifically within the Baptist Maifa in GA, but I do
blame the "Church" for NOT standing against those who have promoted those within the Baptist Mafia both INSIDE the G B C and
S B C.

As I have said before the CHURCH is responsible for what they allow from our Pulpits. Until Christians and their leadership wake up and see through these garbage message, it will only get worse.

My goal is to "WAKE EM UP", and there is a plan in the works to do so.... a very nice plan too :)

Dee said...

When I lived in Dallas, the Dallas Morning News printed a quote by Ed Young Jr. that so shocked me ( I had left his church by this time) that I cut it out and filed it.

He said that he doesn't like to talk about doctrine because doctrine just confuses people. I think he means that if people started to think about doctrine, they might stop listening to some of his nonsense.

gary dilworth said...

More from Walid Zatar, researcher: Ergun Caner, Ex Muslim Evangelical Leader, Exposed as Fake from the Huffington Post..."In one speech, Caner told a crowd that outside the mosque in Kabul there was a sign that read, "Do not teach the women to read and write." The story may or may not be true, but Caner, to give authority to the tale, told the crowd what was written in the native tongue: "bahasha uwtara muwtara seeteeroh." That's neither Dari nor Arabic nor Urdu nor Turkish nor Pashtu. It is an entirely made up language."

Anonymous said...

Re: Doctrine. That would be Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Once saved always saved. The Kingdom of God is within you. The Kingdom of Heaven is a real physical place. These are just a few. Thanks for bringing this item up as most pastors do not touch it.

Anonymous said...

Dog - I have an idea on how to "restore and reconcile" brother Caner. Let me draft a harshly worded resolution, read it to the church and post it on the internet for all to see. Then I will write him a letter and sign it with other leaders and deliver it to his house. Then, for good measure, I will demand he meet with me and my discipline committee. Then I will have my buddy open a criminal investigation on him and have another buddy issue subpoena's to find out what he has been writing and saying on the internet. Then, if he finds out what I did, I will publicly call him a sociopath, mentally unstable and a coward to try and ruin his reputation in the city. Then when he seeks protection from the courts, I will subpoena him and his entire family to make them tell me what they think about blogging. And I might even try some innuendo about mail stealing and stalking. Then I will go cruise the Danube.

Yeah, that's what I would do in my efforts to reconcile this brother. Sound like a good plan?

Signed,

The Judge

Ergun Caner Conman said...

Dee,

Good point reg.: doctrine. But how many Christians care about doctrine though? Baptists have 1 doctrine preached every single Sunday: salvation. So who is teaching doctrine from the pulpit today?

Schuller and the Crystal Cathedral is bankrupt now. Jakes and Young will follow soo. Also Osteen. These are culturally captive churches. No doctrine. Pragmatism rules. Good feeling. Good entertainment and minimum doctrine churches--convenient doctrines. They are preaching another Gospel and under anathema.

Anonymous said...

I have to strongly disagree with some of the points on here. While I am thoroughly disgusted with the person that Ed Young has chosen to become, I can not forget who he was in the past and the great life change that happened at FC. Ed has gone in the deep weeds in the past 3 years. I have heard every message he has spoken for many years and I have never heard one that was not biblically based or that did not match up with scripture. Many, many lives have changed at FC. That is the reason for the growth from a few hundred to over 20,000. Unfortunately, it is going the other direction now. Now it is in the 8,000 a falling fast. In the past few weeks, several long time members that were huge volunteers have left.

Ed Young is human, just like you and I and he has gotten caught up in the sin of greed and love of money. How did it happen? One step at a time. To quote him, "I had these friends." Ouch!

Anonymous said...

'Once saved always saved.'

IF really saved..always saved.

most professing Christians in the pew have no clue what salvation really looks like.they think it is something they DO as in walk an ailse, say a prayer, get baptized, get involved in a church, tithe, and that buys them fire insurance.

Anonymous said...

Signed,

The Judge

May 19, 2010 10:42 PM

***********************

Well said - my thoughts exactly - that's how Brunson does it at FBC in Jacksonville - he's good at using others to fire and wiping out those he personally doesn't want to address.

Anonymous said...

who is in the baptist mafia? i see you all talk about them all the time.

gary dilworth said...

Anonymous,
You said, "Ed Young is human, just like you and I and he has gotten caught up in the sin of greed and love of money. How did it happen? One step at a time. To quote him, "I had these friends." Ouch!"

I am not in disagreement with you. I would add that when Ed Young made the commitment to T.D. Jakes, who denies and defies and blaspemes the Trinity, Young essentially disinvited the Trinity to Fellowship Church, particularly the C3 conferences, and the worship services there on the nights of those conferences from 2007 to now. Young joined hands with Jakes god. Consider the following disinvitation...
[04.26.2010 Fellowship Church Ed Young blog: Dealing with Criticism: Not If, but When]
Pastor Preston Mitchell of Fellowship Church: "It’s like the wheat and the tares. When you have controversy and something negative you see who’s really got your back, who trusts you."
Ed Young: "That’s great."
Mitchell: "It’s OK if those people want to leave. They need too. It’s brings the light onto people who probably shouldn’t be a part of your church. And if they leave, that’s fine. Don’t freak out."
Young: "Preston, you’ve done such a great job over the years of telling people. You were the first person I’ve ever seen, EVER, to say, “hey you know what, our church is not for everybody. Maybe it’s not for you. Why don’t you go to another church.” And I think that’s a freeing thing. Because you were even doing that before you were a “hired gun” here. I think it’s a freeing thing to tell people, “hey, if this is not for you, go somewhere else.”"
Young and Mitchell freed themselves from the Trinity before they freed themselves from the 12,000 of the 20,000 members you spoke of when you said they are down to '8,000 and falling fast.'
This is the point: Young betrayed the Trinity first. And the Trinity is reducing the numbers of those who are in danger there at Fellowship Church. This is what I hope and have been praying for, other than Young's repentance. (Among a whole lot of other things, including that God, the Trinity, would express His jealousy for His glory, and share none with the monad Jakes trusts).

Gary

Anonymous said...

You ask who is in the Baptist Mafia?

Ask, Doug he came up with this impressive and correct motto...

I think it has a solid base and is a perfect phrase for those we see now in the Baptist world as indifferent and legalist

Dee said...

Anonymous

Remember I was at Fellowship Church in the early days. I am not sure how many people are Christian there. For example, a woman who taught Sunday School up and left to go to a Unity Church. She said I would like it-it is just like Fellowship but a bit smaller!!!!!CLueless yet this was the "teacher."

Ed declared our church as a missionary church meaning that we didn't give money to missions. This was when the church was 2000+ and growing with lots of lucrative attendees. He wanted to build a massive complex and needed all the money for his "castle."

Ed had money issues way back when. It was one of the reasons we left the church. I intend to write some on Young in the next two weeks so check out our blog The Wartburg Watch.