"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 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.