"...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 4, 2010

The Ergun Caner Evangelical Crisis

The website "Christianity Today" posted an article yesterday (5/3/10) entitled "Bloggers Target Seminary President". Interesting. Who is actually doing the "targetting"? Perhaps a better title describing this mess is: "Caner Targets Evangelical Churches with Deception for 9 1/2 Years".

We are on the verge of an evangelical crisis over Caner's embellishments and the refusal of the evangelical leaders and evangelical press to hold Caner accountable for his decade-long deception over his upbringing. Sadly, it will now take the secular press to save us evangelicals from ourselves. They will have to expose the depths of the Caner deception for what it is, because we apparently are unable to deal with it appropriately in even a secular, much less biblical, fashion.

Here is the opening paragraph from this article:

"Liberty University's board of directors has declined to take public action against Ergun Caner, president of the university seminary, as bloggers raise doubts about Caner's account of his childhood as a Muslim."

The CT story is about "bloggers raising doubts". Bloggers like myself aren't "raising doubts". We're exposing lies. This would be akin to saying "Bloggers Raising Doubts over Clinton's Fidelity" in the Monika Lewinsky fiasco. There was a stained dress with Clinton's DNA on it. For Caner, the "stained dress" is the audio tapes and video tapes that have captured the Caner deception - and with documentary court evidence to substantiate outright lies dating all the way back to November 2001.

The elements of the crisis:

- how do we expect the world we are trying to reach with the gospel to listen to us, when it is revealed that one of our most exalted speakers and defenders of the faith himself felt he needed to lie for a decade about his conversion to Christ. What does the secular society see when Caner seemed to take advantage of the tragic events of 9/11 to vault himself into evangelical stardom as an "expert" in Islam - perhaps for the glory of himself and for financial gain - and his peers and superiors are either silent or have agressively attacked those who shone the light on his sin? Then consider the message received by non-Christians when they read:

"It's not an ethical issue, it's not a moral issue," Towns told Christianity Today on April 27. "We give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage. The arguments of the bloggers would not stand up in court."

So Caner's deception is not "ethical" or "moral". If I were a lost person, this would be a huge step forward in my belief that Christianity itself is a lie, and Christian leaders are mostly hypocritical charletons selling their spiritual elixirs, whose "ethical" and "moral" standards are much lower than the average non-Christian.

- what are evangelical church members to think? Apparently our leaders endorse lying when sharing Christ. What else are evangelical leaders, pastors, lying to us about in the pulpit but won't admit? Southern Baptists leaders, who are staunch Caner defenders, claim that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, for instance - and cleared the SBC seminaries of any men who disagreed on this point back in the late 1980s. Men trained in seminaries like Liberty's seminary tell us about the inerrancy and infallibility of scripture - but are they lying about that too? Maybe that's just an "embellishment" for the "good" of gospel? Southern Baptist pastors are telling everyone that they are obligated to fork over 10% of their income to their church - perhaps that's just embellishments of what the scripture actually teaches - again, for the "good" of the gospel?

- this is much more damaging to evangelical Christianity than the Swaggart or Bakker scandals of the 1980s, or even the more recent Haggard scandal. In these there was exposure, remorse and repentance over sexual and financial impropriety. But the Caner scandal goes much deeper. Its about the truth of one's testimony that led to a person becoming a Christian. Imagine if we found out that the story of Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul after his conversion, the writer of much of the New Testament - was all a great embellishment, that Paul's writings about himself were all great fibs and yarns. And this is about church leaders refusing to call a very public sin a sin - and about Christian leaders going on the attack against fellow Christians who dared to shine a light on that sin. The eventual story of this debacle is going to be very, very ugly.

- Caner is the PRESIDENT OF A SEMINARY - what can we expect in the next generation of pastors who have been influenced by him and his story - embellishing pastors who play loose with facts and truth, showmen, story tellers, yarn spinners, and ethnic/racial comedians?

The damage caused by Caner's deceptions on evangelical Christianity will be far reaching - and it will be his fault but even moreso the fault of his defenders who have their head in the sand. It will not be the fault of those involved in the exposure of the sin.

At the end of the CT article, Elmer Towns is quoted again:.

"We don't see any way that bloggers will damage Liberty," Towns says.

What a sad day - the question to Liberty University leaders and the defenders of Caner is not whether Ergun Caner is deeply harming the cause of Christ, it's whether bloggers who are exposing the deceptions, are damaging Liberty University.

Its a sad day.

Secular media, please save us from ourselves.

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

James White commented about this also on his blog at aomin.org.

I'll just state that it is saddening to me as the Lord Jesus' precious name will be blasphemed among unbelievers because of this ......... yet another blight, outwardly, on the Faith. Also, this man, no matter his accomplishments and profession, is evidencing that he very possibly is a tare amongst the wheat. The human heart is evil in and of itself, and religious deception is a real phenomena. I will pray.

Thy Peace said...

Just as for Ergun Caner, the very words and actions of the leaders and trustees of Liberty University convict themselves of their complicity.

Jesus said, "Truth will set you free".

Oh what a tragedy and a travesty.

I would encourage the Caner's brothers to face Truth. Until then they both will be in bondage to sin.

Same with the leaders and trustees of Liberty University.

Tom Parker said...

How convenient to always blame others for the crisis created by Ergun Caner.

Pitiful.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is pathetic and comes as no surprise - the academic scholars always blame others with their smooth words.

Ergun Caner scares me and is a man to be watched - I've heard the man speak many times giving divided comments - who is the real Ergun Caner? We don't know!

Tom Parker said...

The article states the following:"By all accounts, Caner is an energetic, entertaining, and engaging professor who has tripled enrollment at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary since his installation as president of the Lynchburg, Virginia, school five years ago."

Wow, he tripled the enrollment all by himself.

remissioned said...

I'm thankful that people are being faithful in shining the light of truth on a corrupt leader that many Christians are following.

Anonymous said...

Its not the bloggers anybody has to worry about. Its where God comes down on this issue. That will be the determining factor in how this all plays out. And Dr. Caner, if you lied in the pulpit, for years, for money.....and bloggers.... if anybody is lying about this situation, now would be the time to repent and come clean. quick. And Liberty, if you care, God will have the ultimate say on this issue. me, i got nothin to say about it, cause I think Gods gonna clean it up in about a minute and I don't want to be around to see it. i'm truly scared.

Tim Marsh said...

FBC Jax Watchdog,

You wrote that you were concerned whether or not Caner's deception is influencing the next generation of pastors.

I am raising the question as to whether or not embellishing stories in evangelical presentations has not been a common practice for some time now.


Recently I heard a speaker claim in a sermon that he had debated some of the "top evolutionists in the country on the subject of creation versus evolution and never lost a debate." I googled this man's name with the subject of creation and evolution and found no results. Where are these debates taking place? Who is officiating them and determining a winner and loser?

Are others embellishing even the smallest of details in their sermons to get people to "make a decision for Christ?"

I am concerned not only for Caner and the silence from the evangelical community in this particular case, but for what could be a common trade secret among professional evangelists. If I am wrong, please someone show me, because I am concerned about seeing stuff that I thought was limited to TV Preachers in my own faith's background.

What other skeletons are in our closet?

Mike DeLong said...

As I read Towns's quotes in the article he is responding as an executive of the university, and he's basically saying that whatever the sanction is for administrative misbehavior Caner's actions don't constitute a fireable offense. Towns is part of the old guard, as the article notes, one of the very few left from the founding of the college in 1971; he represents continuity of leadership between the Falwell Sr. era and the Falwell Jr(s) era. So I would wager that a year from now unless some new charges surface Caner will still be in his present position.

Towns contextualizes the complaints against Caner in terms of moral, ethical, and theological lapses.

He probably meant "theological leeway" rather than "theological leverage." And this is part of the fundamentalist/evangelical tradition, for better or worse: we tend to give the man in the pulpit a great deal of liberty when telling stories, not so much when interpreting Scripture. And Caner is not being accused of theological misbehavior, nor is he being accused of immorality, as was the case with Bakker and Haggard, and has been the case with Liberty faculty and administration in the past.

Towns's declaration regarding the quality of the evidence against Caner and his mention of ethics is telling: as I understand him he isn't saying "the facts regarding Caner's biography are whatever he says they are" but rather "Caner's ethical lapses don't constitute a fireable offense in the eyes of the administration."

The tack Mr Kennedy at Christianity Today took is one of several he could have taken, but I guess I would have to argue that none of the witnesses arrayed against Caner in the story rate as credible in the eyes of Christianity Today as Towns does; a quick search of their website shows Towns being quoted repeatedly, and always as credible, shows Burleson as a controversial figure, and James White as a marginal figure. White's credibility on all things Islamic gets name-checked in the story, but his history of debating actual Muslims doesn't rate as high on the Christianity Today scale of credibility as Caner's credibility being from a Muslim country/ethnic group/family/whatever. It's an unfortunate editorial choice but not surprising.

I've personally wondered about how true a sermon illustration has to be for the speaker to be considered to be truthful; there is apparently some standard that is shared among fundamentalists and evangelicals that sorts doctrinal issues into one pile and illustrations into another and somehow Caner's various versions of his life story, because they tell well and are dramatic and timely, fall into the "sermon illustration" category and not the "doctrinal" category.

Finally, I hate to say it, but unless there are more accusations forthcoming, or unless the Southern Baptist Convention really threatens Liberty with some sort of sanction I suspect this isn't a "crisis" or evidence of a rising tide of anything. Towns has successfully defused the issue by framing it as a "he said, they said" issue. There is supposed to be an article coming from the Lynchburg paper, and it will probably have a different editorial slant, but the facts won't have changed. The Lynchburg paper is generally more concerned with financial issues surrounding Liberty and questions about whether Liberty students are registering for local elections. This sort of internecine squabbling isn't their cup of tea.

Thy Peace said...

One of the comments left on CT ...
-----------------------------------
Liberty University come clean.

Posted: May 04, 2010 12:17 PM

Looks like Liberty University is trying to cover up evidence, Mohammad Khan's videos on Dr.Caner on YouTube have been removed, this comes up when you try to view these videos "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Liberty University/Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary." Also Khan's YouTube account "mokhan247" has been suspended. The whole thing seems fishy.

-----------------------------------
Wow! I hope Mohammad Khan will fight this.

Doxnes said...

They tried to do the same thing to Doug and we all know the evidence h had.

I guess the tripling of enrollment justifies the lies from Baptist Leadership. Producers get the wink winks...

And we all know "it is all about the dollar!" to those within the Baptist Mafia

Bennett Willis said...

This seconds Thy Peace's comment. I also commented in a couple of other sites in this manner.

Several of Mr. Kahn's videos (but not all--yet) have been blocked due to "terms of use violations." Some I could access a few minutes ago and some not. This seems to be Liberty claiming that the material was covered by copyright. I have no idea what fraction of the various videos Mr. Kahn used, but it did not seem to be enough to exceed the "fair use" clause of the copyright rules--but who knows.

However, this is really a bad plan. When you block something like this (after all the weeks they have been up) it just creates a lot more publicity and will cause a whole other group of bloggers and commentators to get involved. It also will enlarge the coverage significantly because there is now another angle for the news to work on. Nothing like a freedom of speech adder to fluff up the issue.

I think that Mr. Kahn may be posing as someone else and advising Liberty on steps to take. :) They are turning the volume knob the wrong way.

I suppose we will soon be taking up money for Mr. Kahn to fight the folks who are doing this. LOL

Bennett Willis

Thy Peace said...

Thanks to Debbie Kaufman's latest update, I found this:

Fake Ex-Muslims > YouTube Channel Terminated (4th May 2010).

Anonymous said...

Isn't Jerry Vines a trustee at Liberty?

Anyone have a list of Liberty trustees?

Anonymous said...

That settles it then. Everyone who reads and blogs here should get all like minded people in their town and stand outside of any church that he preaches at with very large signs in hand. That is the American way. But alas, that will not happen since most people like to complain but do not like to act.

Thy Peace said...

Sorry for these links ... But they are important to these discussions.

Grace and Truth to You [Wade Burleson] > The Reason I Can No Longer Recommend Liberty University to Students or Seminarians.

Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog [James White] > Live DL from Denver: Liberty Goes After Mohammad Khan.

Anonymous said...

Tom, You are absolutely right this is a crisis. But the Evangelical crisis has been in the making for a long time. It was just hidden better until the last few years. Now we get to see the play book strategies up close and personal. And they are quite revealing.

What can we make of it? That the evangelical world (both reformed and 'other') are business enterprises for more than wealth. For influence, power and celebrity. We literally have produced our very own brand of rock star. It works because it is of the world.

Some make the mistake of thinking this is about them only being human and falling. Not so. Mr. Towns had a choice in how he responded. And in his response we know his fruit. Do we have the courage to admit that? And face it? Do we know enough truth to see it for what it is?

He expects you, as a good follower, to take his word for it that it is not a moral or ethical issue. And whatever he means by theological leverage...I do not even want to know.

The saddest part is that Liberty will continue to grow. Caner will continue to lead and be invited to speak more. That is the way the play book works. Ride it out. Change the subject. Attack the messengers.

The question we must ask ourselves in all these situations is:

Where is the true Body of Christ. Where are the real followers who deny self and take up their own cross to follow Him. Because what we are seeing at FBCJax, FBCDallas, Caner, Patterson, Mohler, Piper, Warren, etc....isn't it.

It continues to be my prayer that everyone who professes Him will stop following man and movements. Christ alone, friends. It is dangerous out there. Run. Get out.

Matt

Anonymous said...

"And Caner is not being accused of theological misbehavior, nor is he being accused of immorality, as was the case with Bakker and Haggard, and has been the case with Liberty faculty and administration in the past.
"

You forgot to explain away the 'ethical' part. How do you get around that one since we are not to think of lying as lacking theological integrity. Sheesh!


So, lying gets a pass in sermon illustrations? He lied about his background. He lied about WHO HE IS and WAS. That is acceptable in certain evangalical circles? Thanks for the heads up.

Anonymous said...

That settles it then. Everyone who reads and blogs here should get all like minded people in their town and stand outside of any church that he preaches at with very large signs in hand. That is the American way. But alas, that will not happen since most people like to complain but do not like to act.

May 4, 2010 5:10 PM

Does not work. It actually hurts truth. Because the protesting becomes the focus and garners sympathy for the wolf.

Mike DeLong said...

The list of Trustees is here:

http://www.liberty.edu/offices/index.cfm?PID=5654

Mike DeLong said...

You forgot to explain away the 'ethical' part. How do you get around that one since we are not to think of lying as lacking theological integrity. Sheesh!

Please note that I said this:

as I understand him he isn't saying "the facts regarding Caner's biography are whatever he says they are" but rather "Caner's ethical lapses don't constitute a fireable offense in the eyes of the administration."

Mike DeLong said...

So, lying gets a pass in sermon illustrations? He lied about his background. He lied about WHO HE IS and WAS. That is acceptable in certain evangalical circles? Thanks for the heads up.

As I understand the situation, sermon illustrations are fair game for stretching the truth, yes.

I'd encourage anyone and everyone to hear the April 27 edition of James White's podcast The Dividing Line

http://aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3876

where White dissects a vintage Caner sermon, and listen carefully to the way Caner relates his life story. It's clear to me (and may or may not be clear to you) that Caner is telling a version of his life story that um tells better than the original.

And yes, I would argue that this sort of thing is common among preachers generally, in some traditions more than others. I'd encourage everyone who attends church this Sunday to listen closely to any illustration the preacher gives and ask whether it actually happened the way it is being related.

Preachers who stick strictly to verifiable historical truths when illustrating "deeper spiritual truths" are rare indeed.

(I'd defy anyone to track the story credited to John Maxwell here:

http://www.creators.com/lifestylefeatures/inspiration/classic-zig-ziglar/are-you-god.html

to a verifiable historical event, but I've seen it cited as true repeatedly, including in print by Lee Stroebel, mostly because it makes for such a great illustration.)

Please note that I'm not saying that this is sufficient to excuse Caner altogether. I think Liberty's response to date is a tacit assumption that Caner was not entirely truthful, etc. I'm just saying that I can understand why someone would find some other way to respond to this than the prevailing "Caner's a liar and Liberty should fire him."

Comparisons to James Frey might be helpful, but nobody seems to be making them. Comparisons between Mrs Caner's affidavit and a certain President's birth records might also be helpful. But nobody seems to be making them; there's just this "Caner's a liar and Liberty should fire him" line in the sand. This isn't helpful.

It appears to me that in response Towns has said, essentially, that Liberty has a single sanction for administrative misbehavior, and Caner's behavior do not meet the criteria for that sanction, whatever they are (hint: he's not stealing, taking a doctrinal position outside some limit, and he's not guilty of sexual sin).

I hate to say it, but the appeals I've seen to abstractions like "the cause of Christ" or imagined blasphemy among unbelievers make for great values but difficult policy. And as best I can tell Towns is responding as the voice of policy.

Mike DeLong said...

I am raising the question as to whether or not embellishing stories in evangelical presentations has not been a common practice for some time now.

Yes this is common; no it isn't limited to Evangelicals. Or Fundamentalists. Or radio preachers. Or what-have-you.

I've raised this objection in other venues before and been told that since Jesus used parables any use of fiction as illustration is permitted.

If anyone can sort out all the gray here and reduce this to a black and white issue I'm all ears.

Slow to speak said...

Mike DeLong, have you ever been asked..."How big was that fish you caught yesterday?" You answered your friend.."it was 8 pounds!" Wait a minute, we have WatchDog and he has investigated this and he has got a picture and it proves that the fish could not have weighed over 3 pounds! You can't be a Christian...you lied about that Fish...You can't ever preach and may not even get into Heaven!

That's what we are talking about here! Ergun perhaps has taken a "fish story" and the "fish" gained a little weight..cry me a RIVER!

With all the problems in the world, this is what gets your fruit of the looms in a bundle?

Anonymous said...

Mike,

It is this "black and white".................he claims to be a follower of Him that is Truth. You can't then formulate a testimony based upon lies and not be a liar. Who is the father of lies? No liar can inherit eternal life. Caner's soul is in jeopardy and because of his false understanding of conversion, he probably never even considers it. You must have a heart of flesh...........be born again, and that is the work of GOD the Spirit. He is in danger and I take no satisfaction in stating that. I know about religious deception because I once was a false convert--in it for my own gain..........praise Christ Jesus though!!! because now I am saved!

Jonathan

BibleWheel said...

@Mike DeLong

Wow ... your post really had me going. The more I read, the more I thought "Oh yeah, it's just a case of a little creative sermonizing ... [my eyes began to droop] ... this is very common even amongst our greatest preachers ... [my head begins to nod] ... it's not helpful to call him a liar and demand his resignation ... [zzzzz] ..." and when my head hit my desk I awoke with a BANG! and realized this was just more deception. Caner did not merely "embellish" his history to make a sermon "more relevant" or something like that - he posted his LIES on his official BIO page of his web site! And when his lies were exposed, he removed his bio for over a month and has been stonewalling for months.

Caner used his lies to establish himself as a "uniquely qualified inside expert on Islam" trained in Turkey as a member of the "Islamic Youth Jihad" when in fact he was a more or less typical American secular kid growing up from age 2 in Ohio with his "hippie" mom. Essentially everything he knows about Islam he got from books - and by definition, that is not an "insiders view" and that's why his book "Unveiling Islam" is an abomination of ignorant stereotypes that feeds the flames of hell on this earth (war).

James 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

Ergun Caner has been "boasting great things" that are FALSE for nearly a decade. He is not merely a liar pretending to be a Christian. He is a global criminal because his teachings put the whole world at risk, as I explain in this article:

Ergun Caner's Crimes against God and the Global Community

God help us.

Anonymous said...

Guys, caner's lies or mischaracterizations about himself were not just in sermons. They were in print on his and on Liberty's various websites.

Think about this: it is one thing to embellish in a sermon. It is one thing to exaggerate in a sermon. But it is quite another thing altogether to say that you grew up in a foreign country and that you were trained as jihadist, when in fact you were brought to the USA when you were 2 years old and raised in Ohio by a single mother that rejected her ex-husband's Muslim faith. That you learned English in New York City when you came to America at the age of 15 years old. And to fake an accent, to pretend to be speaking Turkish but really be speaking gibberish. That goes far beyond exaggeration and embellishment. I cannot believe that a president of a Christian seminary has been deceiving naive audiences in this way since 9/11. It is arrogance at its worst.

BibleWheel said...

@Mike DeLong

Wow ... your post really had me going. The more I read, the more I thought "Oh yeah, it's

just a case of a little creative sermonizing ... [my eyes began to droop] ... this is very

common even amongst our greatest preachers ... [my head begins to nod] ... it's not helpful

to call him a liar and demand his resignation ... [zzzzz] ..." and when my head hit my desk

I awoke with a BANG! and realized this was just more deception. Caner did not merely

"embellish" his history to make a sermon "more relevant" or something like that - he posted

his LIES on his official BIO page of his web site! And when his lies were exposed, he

removed his bio for over a month and has been stonewalling for months.

Caner used his lies to establish himself as a "uniquely qualified inside expert on Islam"

trained in Turkey as a member of the "Islamic Youth Jihad" when in fact he was a more or

less typical American secular kid growing up from age 2 in Ohio with his "hippie" mom.

Essentially everything he knows about Islam he got from books - and by definition, that is

not an "insiders view" and that's why his book "Unveiling Islam" is an abomination of

ignorant stereotypes that feeds the flames of hell on this earth (war).

James 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a

forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue

is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of

nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

Ergun Caner has been "boasting great things" that are FALSE for nearly a decade. He is not

merely a liar pretending to be a Christian. He is a global criminal because his teachings

put the whole world at risk, as I explain in this article:

Ergun Caner's Crimes against God and the Global Community

I hope that is sufficiently "black and white" for you.

BibleWheel said...

Are you going to block my comment? If so, could you shoot me an email at richard@biblewheel.com and tell me why?

Thanks!

Junkster said...

Liberty Seminary is not a Southern Baptist Convention school, so there's not anything the SBC, as an entity, can do about anything Liberty does or doesn't do. But SB pastors and leaders could (and should) speak out about the Caner crisis.

Lightwalker said...

Caner has obviously done a very good job of convincing the Liberty people that this is simply about his being a Muslim and not about lying about his past.

Anonymous said...

Follow the money. My guess is that LBTS or at least LU, has ads in CT. Hard to do expose' articles against those who pay the bills. CT should have called it a or at least ponted it that way.

The secular media always has to expose us "evangelicals". We do not seem to be able to do it ourselves. I put in quotes because while we talk about inerrancy of scripture not sure we believe it cause we do not live it.

One Salient Oversight said...

If attempts are made to prevent the talks by Caner from being accessed over the internet, those trying to silence it will end up becoming victims of the Streisand Effect:

a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of causing the information to be publicized widely and to a greater extent than would have occurred if no censorship had been attempted. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, following a 2003 incident in which her attempts to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity.

Tim Marsh said...

Mike Delong,

Thank you for your response to my comment.

In my humble opinion, what Ergun Caner did was more than embellish illustrations for effective communication. He blatantly lied about his background. However, regarding sermon illustrations, here is some helpful advice from Brian Chappell's "Christ-Centered Preaching" (a standard preaching textbook for the last 15 years)

Get the facts straight - Adept handling of the facts instills listener confidence in the preacher.

Beware of untrue or incredible illustrations - Resist the temptation to tell an account as though it were true if it is not. Do not say it happened to you if it did not. Even if the account is true, avoid it if it casts doubt on your veracity. You have lost much if you lose your credibility.

Poke fun at no one but self (This would be important in reference to Caner's reference to other races and cultures.)

Share the spotlight - Never be the hero of your own illustrations.

(All from p. 192-93 of Chappell's book)

I would add that if an illustration is a work of fiction, then it should be told so at its outset or conclusion. If it is borrowed, then its source should receive credit. This is a matter of integrity.

I repeat my concern that this is more common than not. It is a temptation that many preachers may face. I lead a boring life and feel my life is relatively uninteresting. I am not an adrenaline junky or some super-spiritual Christian witness, just a faithful pastor trying serve the church and community. I would love to give my congregation something interesting and exciting every week. Yet I know that my reputation, character and credibility have taken a lifetime to build and would not be what it is without love, patience and mercy from God. It only takes an instant to lose it, whether in the pulpit or outside it.

If embellishing and even lying is common in the pulpit, and if it has gone on for a long time, then it needs to stop. It should stop for the sake of the little children, youth and others who depend on the pastor to open the scriptures. May that be motivation enough for pastoral integrity in the pulpit.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of embellishments, looks like Steve Gaines is at it again:
http://newbbcopenforum.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

It's all about the numbers, or more specifically, the money. Caner increases enrollment, so it does not matter if he lies. Gilyard increased membership, so it did not matter if he molested young girls. It really did not matter. The senior people in the church and former churches, and other pastors all knew he was molesting, but they did nothing. Again, it was left up to the Secular Community to stop Gilyard. We are now leaving it up to the Secular Community to stop Caner. Shame on us Christians.

Anonymous said...

If anyone can sort out all the gray here and reduce this to a black and white issue I'm all ears.

May 4, 2010 9:46 PM

Read Revelation 21. It is in there: Liars do not inherit the Kingdom. All you are trying to do is redefine sin.

Thy Peace said...

Off Topic (but related to this mess):

Grace and Truth to You [Wade Burleson] > The Integrity of the Messenger Is as Important as the Content of the Message.

Yesterday, the The Miami NewTimes News reported that Dr. George Rekers returned from a "gospel crusade" in Europe with a Rentboy in tow. For the unitiated, a "Rentboy" is slang for a young, male prostitute. It seems that Southern Baptist Rekers took a ten day vacation with the boy in tow. When caught and photographed at the airport, Dr. Rekers initially said that he had "hired" the boy to carry his luggage because of a recent back surgery. Then, upon reflection, gave a lengthier explanation for hiring the young man to travel with him to Europe:

Wow! Indeed.

Thy Peace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I hate to say it, but the appeals I've seen to abstractions like "the cause of Christ" or imagined blasphemy among unbelievers make for great values but difficult policy. And as best I can tell Towns is responding as the voice of policy.

May 4, 2010 9:39 PM

I have certainly heard this before when dealing with ingrained sin by leaders. But it is a cop out because man writes policies. As Christians we should know better.

A bigger problem comes in when we are dealing with para church type organizations like seminaries. Patterson said SWBTS was a church when he was sued by Klouda. And we know churches are exempt from employment laws. So, they can do what they want. (you have been warned if you go to work at one)

But we also know that others have been fired from colleges for lying about their resumes, etc.

But those are simply worldly diversions. Liberty has sent us a very important message. Are we hearing it?

Anonymous said...

Does anybody else find it ironic that a young woman atheist attended Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church (TRBC) in Lynchburg, Virginia for years and later wrote about her experience in the book In the Land of Believers? Here we have an atheist that pretended to be someone she was not (a Christian) in order to learn about Christianity firsthand so that she could write a book about her experience. Bottom line, she did it for the money and the fame. Now we have a case of a professing Christian theologian at Liberty seemingly pretending to be someone who he is not. The really ironic thing is that the atheist eventually told the truth and revealed her true identity to her Christian friends.
(review of book at http://www.dennyburk.com/review-of-%e2%80%9cin-the-land-of-believers%e2%80%9d/)

Anonymous said...

Liberty is foolish to say no damage will come from "blogger" comments. Very foolish!

Thanks "Thy Peace" for latest Miami newspaper link.

Matt is so on target with his message - we need to run and get out. After reading links I want nothing more to do with the SBC and the churches they represent.
I won't be missed, but for sure they will miss my money.

Even today another front page headline in the Florida Times Union with picture of FBCJ, but do recall Brunson in his early morning TV message last Sunday called it a "stupid newspaper".

A news article saying a leader traveled ten (10) days unknowing of this young man's reputation. Whose kidding who? Not me!

Lydia said...

http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/5118/

Thy Peace said...

Thanks Lydia.

ABP News > Liberty U. backs seminary president amid charges of misrepresentation.

Slow to speak said...

Why the obsession with Ergun Caner? Paul said "I became all things to all people that I might win some to Christ." So Ergun "became" a Muslim terrorist...it was for the right reasons! If I knew that my next door neighbor was lost and was a Huge Boston Red Sox fan...I would "become" a Red Sox fan, even if I was a Yankees fan, so that I might win him to Christ! Ergun allowed himself to be an instrument thru which he could speak to an unreached people's group...are YOU reaching the Muslims? You know why your not?....You HAVE to become all things to all people to WIN some to Christ...Thank God for Ergun!

Wade Burleson said...

Slowtospeak,

Do you declare once were a rapist to win a rapist to Christ? A liar to win a liar? A homosexual to win a homosexual? A child molester to win a child molester? A Muslim to win a Muslim?

I'm afraid it is just not your speech that is dangerously slow.

MJ said...

Let’s not be so quick to devour our own here. I attend Liberty and have for two years now. Although, yes.. I think there are some questions Dr. Caner needs to answer and clarify; we need to not move so far to one side that we incriminate ourselves in the process. The plain truth is that the for the average person, the full truth has not been revealed on this controversy, and until then stop passing judgment. Well respected leaders in both the Baptist Church and the Christian Church Globally, such as Elmer Towns have looked into these charges. They more than likely have more information than any of us at the moment. If Ergun Caner is half as passionate about following Christ as he appears, then is it not safe to assume that if he is in the wrong the Holy Spirit is going be convicting him? Or is that not have we replaced Him in that duty?

Furthermore, should we not gently correct our brother if he is in sin? or should we take outside the city walls and stone him mercilessly? I am by no means siding with either camp on this yet, but if he is wrong let pose this proposition that Christ himself gave in John 8.. He who is without sin cast the first stone. God forbid someone treat you with the same fierce prosecution if you get caught in a sinful act.
This "crisis" as Jax Watchdog puts it, will only be a crisis if we as fellow brothers in Christ are quick to mercilessly gouge him from out of the body of Christ without looking to gently correct him or encourage him. The eyes of the world are not only going to be watching Ergun Caner, Liberty University, and the Southern Baptist Convention, but also us, who proclaim to be ambassadors of the living God; the very same God who was not above reaching out to the lost, the unsaved, and those who are neck deep in sin.

and perhaps...

Perhaps it is not just Dr. Caner who may be in need correction but you who also are quick to devour your own in their time of weakness and their exposure of being the same flawed humans that we too are. Perhaps, this should be a time for us to yield to the Holy Spirit and see how we have responded to a brother in need.

Junkster said...

Slow to Speak,
I hope you're joking. If you truly think its ok to do any kind of embellishment, for any reason, but especially for the cause of Christ, the One who is the Truth, then you are beyond reasoning with, being devoid of understanding of what Christ is all about.

I am somehow reminded of Jude 1:4-19:

What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.

I'm laying this out as clearly as I can, even though you once knew all this well enough and shouldn't need reminding. Here it is in brief: The Master saved a people out of the land of Egypt. Later he destroyed those who defected. And you know the story of the angels who didn't stick to their post, abandoning it for other, darker missions. But they are now chained and jailed in a black hole until the great Judgment Day. Sodom and Gomorrah, which went to sexual rack and ruin along with the surrounding cities that acted just like them, are another example. Burning and burning and never burning up, they serve still as a stock warning.

This is exactly the same program of these latest infiltrators: dirty sex, rule and rulers thrown out, glory dragged in the mud.

The Archangel Michael, who went to the mat with the Devil as they fought over the body of Moses, wouldn't have dared level him with a blasphemous curse, but said simply, "No you don't. God will take care of you!"

But these people sneer at anything they can't understand, and by doing whatever they feel like doing—living by animal instinct only—they participate in their own destruction. I'm fed up with them! They've gone down Cain's road; they've been sucked into Balaam's error by greed; they're canceled out in Korah's rebellion.

These people are warts on your love feasts as you worship and eat together. They're giving you a black eye—carousing shamelessly, grabbing anything that isn't nailed down. They're—

Puffs of smoke pushed by gusts of wind;
late autumn trees stripped clean of leaf and fruit,
Doubly dead, pulled up by the roots;
wild ocean waves leaving nothing on the beach
but the foam of their shame;
Lost stars in outer space
on their way to the black hole.

Enoch, the seventh after Adam, prophesied of them: "Look! The Master comes with thousands of holy angels to bring judgment against them all, convicting each person of every defiling act of shameless sacrilege, of every dirty word they have spewed of their pious filth." These are the "grumpers," the bellyachers, grabbing for the biggest piece of the pie, talking big, saying anything they think will get them ahead.

But remember, dear friends, that the apostles of our Master, Jesus Christ, told us this would happen: "In the last days there will be people who don't take these things seriously anymore. They'll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts." These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves. There's nothing to them, no sign of the Spirit!

Anonymous said...

Oh the connections to the Southern Baptist and why they will cover for Caner. Ronnie Floyd who is the leader of the Southern Baptist Task Force, has a son who is a Fast Tracker and will be graduating May 15 from LTS:

"The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal recognized Nick Floyd as one of the top fifteen professional leaders in their 20’s. These leaders are referred to as “Fast Trackers” in their professional career. Of course, we are grateful for this professional recognition of our son, but also to our Preaching Assistant. You can read the article about Nick and the others in the present edition of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal.

Nick will graduate from Liberty Theological Seminary with his Doctor of Ministry degree on Saturday, May 15. This is a big month for him and we are grateful to God he is beside us here. He will also become our Campus Pastor at our new Fayetteville location in late 2010.

Nick and Meredith are two great young adults whom the hand of God is upon. We are grateful for their love for Christ, one another, and this church. We are blessed."

Link

Anonymous said...

MJ, Are you saying the Libety Leadership possesses some secret facts that can prove Caner did not lie when he lied? Over and over for 9 years?

Did Caner have amnesia? Was he taking non truth serum drugs? What?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

MJ - if you want to lecture us about "devouring" people, please save your breath here, and take it on over to Tim Guthrie and Tim Rogers and others who viciously went after Debbie Kaufman and Mohammad for daring to shine a light on Caner's deceptions.

The devourers are the pastors who have attacked those who shone the light.

Deal with it.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I-s-t-a-n-b-u-l
C-o-l-u-m-b-u-s

They both have 8 letters.

And his "Youth Jihad" was really his "Youth Gee, Hahd".

He had a friend name "Hahd" who was a wild and crazy guy, and down at the Mosque in Columbus they would all yell "Gee, Hahd", when he did his crazy antics. So he really was in a "Youth Gee-Hahd".

So he wasn't technically lying about that.

:)

Anonymous said...

"They more than likely have more information than any of us at the moment. If Ergun Caner is half as passionate about following Christ as he appears, then is it not safe to assume that if he is in the wrong the Holy Spirit is going be convicting him? Or is that not have we replaced Him in that duty?"

How do you know that this is not the work of the Holy Spirit? How do you know whether or not Caner's heart has just been hardened and that Elmer is standing in the way true repentance by insisting it is not a moral or ethical issue therefore defending reprehensible behavior on the part of Caner for years.


did it ever occur to you that 9 years of lying, no confession or repentance during that time could mean something much worse.

Have you ever read Matthew 7?

Anonymous said...

God is Spirit and those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and TRUTH!!!!

Anonymous said...

The first time I heard this guy at FBCJ, he just didn't "ring true" for some reason. Each time thereafter, I didn't attend when he "preached"(?). I just questioned why Vines was so pushing him in the ministry. I assumed it was just "something different" a new approach so to speak. I guess it just proves that "spiritual discernment" is present in some of us. Now, when I have a "question" about something spiritually presented to me, I pay attention to my spiritual discernment.

Anonymous said...

Its Gilyard all over again. When will they ever learn? Where have all the flowers gone?
You know what, the worst part for me is...I don't care anymore.

Slow to speak said...

Why don't you put him on a Cross? He is absolutely being condemned for what he has already admitted is..."misspeaking". What do you want from him....his soul? Do the individuals on this Blog think that a Seminary President is going to be absolutely clean without any spot or blemish? Maybe we should demand perfection...maybe we should demand total purity..........maybe...(just maybe)... we need to understand grace? (which is severely lacking on this blog)

Anonymous said...

Why don't you put him on a Cross? He is absolutely being condemned for what he has already admitted is..."misspeaking". What do you want from him....his soul? Do the individuals on this Blog think that a Seminary President is going to be absolutely clean without any spot or blemish? Maybe we should demand perfection...maybe we should demand total purity..........maybe...(just maybe)... we need to understand grace? (which is severely lacking on this blog)

May 6, 2010 2:37 PM

No one here is demanding perfection. But truth and integrity. Yes. Basic character? Yes.

Jesus Christ will come for a pure Bride. Not a perfect one but a pure one. If you think a believer can lie for 9 years to audiences as an evangelist and then claim he misspoke without true repentance...because his lies were all public and used to promote himself and then claim purity...well... you simply do not understand salvation and sanctfication.

Most Western Christians don't. Salvation is free. You cannot earn it but folks mistakenly have been taught it is also easy. It isn't.

Celebrity is a huge sin trap. The absolute best thing that could happen to Caner is to lose it all. Then he would have no where to turn but Christ and the Holy Spirit could then convict him. This is what Paul teaches in 1 Corin 5 for those who are hardened. The last thing we should do is make excuses and dumb down the consequences of continual unrepentant sin.

It scares me that so many do not really understand salvation/sanctification. As one follower of Christ told me years ago: The Western church is a huge mission field for they do not know the real Jesus Christ.

I predict persecuted Chinese or Indian missionaries will start missoins to the US to teach us about the true Jesus Christ.

BibleWheel said...

Slow to speak said: "Why don't you put him on a Cross? He is absolutely being condemned for what he has already admitted is..."misspeaking". What do you want from him....his soul?"

Unfortunately, the statement to which you refer was not a repentance in any sense of the word. On the contrary, it contained an additional lie when he said that he "never intentionally misled anyone." So it is worse than no repentance. It added to his sin.

Now as for your question "What do you want from him....his soul?"

BINGO!

That's exactly what I want! Can you imagine what life must be like for him right now? Living in sin, alienated from God and God's people? He has been caught in a mountain of lies but seems unable to repent. My soul ACHES for his soul. I know what sin is. We all know. We all have lived under its power. And so we all should have one desire - to retrieve the SOUL OF ERGUN CANER from power of darkness, sin and lies!

Please work with us on this. Think of the glory of God that would be revealed if Ergun stood up and really told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

In the grace of him who saved me,

Richard

Anonymous said...

Biblewheel,

Praise His Name. You get it. And explained the truth so clearly.

Matt

Anonymous said...

No one here is "crucifying" Ergun Caner. Their interest is the damage so many blatant falsehoods do to the church. Protection of the church's credibility is a noble cause and it's a low blow to call truths a personal attack.

Anonymous said...

Forgiveness doesn't exempt a person from consequences.

Jim said...

Thank God, one segment of our society does not tolerate such "embellishments" of one's personal story. A former Army Chaplain, identified as a Southern Baptist, now faces federal charges of fraud (more than 30 counts) for "embellishing" his military service record. He simply said he did things that he did not do, and claimed honors and awards that he had not earned. He now faces the possibility of 20 years in prison and more than $250,000 in fines. Perhaps he just learned how to "embellish" his record from Caner or others who see no problem with the practice. You call it "embellishing," the military calls it lying and fraud. Its sad, when generals are more ethical than seminary presidents.

Anonymous said...

Jim: Thanks for this post. It's a sad day when preachers lie and other preachers protect them, because they are in the same club. No wonder we are the last church age, it's basically over when the preachers are so compromised they can't preach most of the bible, because they are guilty of what's in it.

Anonymous said...

The difference between the army and the mega pastors is that the army has the Code of Military Justice while the mega's have the code of SILENCE!!!

Anonymous said...

Just a thought. What if these so-called pastors and the professional singers had a regular job like the rest of us and had to "perform" for no salary. How long do you think they would be in the "ministry"? Yeah, I thought so, not for long. Its all about the almighty dollar isn't it???

Anonymous said...

Suppose, preachers, professional singers, church staff, etc., had to pay 10% of their money made from a secular job, to a church in order to preach, sing etc., at that church. No salary from the church, perks, lavish this and that lifestyle. No all expenses paid, like insurance, car allowance. Just pay a church 10% of their salary in order to preach. I don't think there would be very many megas around.

Anonymous said...

These megas will be very surprised when they reach the gates of Heaven. There will be many pastors who had folds of 50-200 and they really cared for and ministered for 40-60 years. The megas will be in a very far back location wondering why they are not up front like Sister Theresa and these little church pastors. Big time operator down here little time operator up there. Humility is the real deal and Jesus knows all about it.

john said...

Baptist's Mafia is untouchable. No matter what. They are stronger and worse than the Sicilian Mafia. Because they assume that God is on their side against the whole world. In this Caner's case they and Caner will in the end win. Again. It is not a question of what Caner has done, but WHO put him in the leadership position. You all know who the almighty Baptist is.