"...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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Trinity Baptist Church Members: PLEASE DISOBEY YOUR PASTOR

[Photo Removed Due to Copyright Claim]

Fundamentalist Baptist Churches are experts in controlling their members. They get members to not speak of sins (and sometimes even crimes) involving their clergy and members by convincing them that by remaining silent they are obeying scripture. To talk about such matters is "slander" and "gossip" their leaders tell them.

Another case of this is the sickening events that transpired 13 years ago at Trinity Baptist Church in Concorde, New Hampsire - an independent, fundamentalist baptist church. Allegedly a member raped and impregnated a 15-year old, the girl was made to confess her "sin" to the church, and was brainwashed to think it was her fault. And worse - she was whisked away to Colorado to have the baby and the police were unable to interview her and thus her rapist went free for 13 years - until last week.

Here's the point of this post: it's unbelievable....Trinity Baptist Church's pastor, Brian Fuller (pictured above), sent a letter to his congregation last week telling them not to speak to anyone but "our Lord".

As reported by The Washington Post, Fuller's email said:

"Instead of engaging in talk about this incident, I beg you to pray for all those impacted by this crime," Fuller wrote. "I love you tenderly and am confident you will only talk of these matters to our Lord in prayer."
That's code for: don't talk to anybody about this. This will only embarrass our church. Jesus will be happy if you just stay mum. God is the one who will take care of this. If you talk, you'll be hurting Jesus and the gospel.

This is the same hogwash that was said when Gilyard was arrested. Religious zealouts told Tiffany Croft that she should close down her blog, and let God handle things. They said she should mind her own business, she was told that her blog was hurting the church and powerful SBC leaders that for years and years promoted Gilyard were embarrassed by her blog.

Her blog hurting powerful church leaders? Tough poop, as my grandpappy used to say - and he didn't say "poop".

As I said before, God was looking for someone to help stop Gilyard, to expose him. So many failed over two decades, even powerful church leaders, but Tiffany stood her ground and helped bring Gilyard to justice.

Now God is looking for some church members in Concorde, New Hampshire, to come forward and help put the rapist in jail, and hold anybody accountable if they participated in obstruction of justice that allowed this creep to walk around for 13 years. And God forbid that this guy preyed on any other young girls at the church in the last decade.

Brian Fuller ought to be saying the following - since he won't, the Watchdog will:

Members of Trinity Baptist Church in Concorde, New Hampshire: If any of you were around at the time of the events surrounding the rape of this 15-year old at your church - if any of you were present at the "discipline" meeting, if any of you know facts surrounding the events that led to this girl being sent to Colorado and the police not being able to interview her...if any of you know of the allegations against the rapist and might help justice be served, please, please, please, contact our police department, and feel free to contact the local newspaper who is investigating.

Our God is all about TRUTH and JUSTICE...yes, he is about salvation of souls, but just as much as that he is interested in JUSTICE FOR THOSE WHO ABUSE THE WEAK AND POWERLESS. You have a Christian and American duty to speak of these horrible, abusive events that took place at your church. Jesus is looking for some men and women of integrity. Do not listen to your pastor, but instead:

Sing like a canary if you have facts related to this case. Speak to God about it, yes, but just as important speak to the police - because God is using THEM to bring justice.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Disturbing Story at Christa Brown's Blog

Readers: I urge you to go to Christa Brown's blog and read about a church in New Hampshire that disciplined a 15-year old in front of the church in 1997 for her "sin" of getting raped and pregnant by a 30-year old man in the church.

"Police Say Girl Raped, Then Relocated" - by Christa Brown.

After the discipline session, the victim was moved across the country making it impossible for the police to interview her, and the case sat for 13 years unresolved while the rapist went unpunished, and according to the police the pastor of the rapist and the victim refused to give a statement to the police regarding the matter.

How sick. The pastor did it all for Jesus, didn't he? Just being true to scripture, disciplining those who have "sinned" - and not wanting to "gossip" about the matter to police, I presume.

But thank the Lord Jesus Christ for the Internet and blogs and discussion forums, as this victim, 13 YEARS AFTER HER RAPE....got in touch with a woman who runs an online group for victims of church abuse.

Yes, an online discussion group helped encourage this woman who was the victim of a rapist and an abusive church, to realize she was a victim and that she should come forward to see justice served. Sure blows out of the water the "beauty shop gossip" label applied to online blogs and forums by one prominent pastor back around the days of Darrel Gilyard's arrest.

And the NH man who raped the 15-year old in 1997 was arrested last week, 13 years after the rape.

And now the pastor, who has since moved on to another church, gets the privilege of answering questions of what happened 13 years ago and why this girl was relocated, and why she was humiliated in front of the church for her "sin". While the current pastor of the abusing church tells the parishioners to "only talk to God" about this matter.

Hmmmm...this Trinity Baptist Church in NH relocated the victim across country...the Trinity Baptist Church in my city relocated the abuser across the ocean to Germany...I guess whichever is most convenient, in the name of Jesus and for His sake, of course.

Another fine example of the truth that the mills of the gods sure grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.

Amen? Amen!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Do We Christians Really Love Muslims? If So, How Do We Show It?

One of the things I've learned in the past few years as a "recalcitrant" blogger, is that we fundamentalist evangelical Christians can become ignorant to what it means to love people as Christ commanded us. In our religious zeal we can even excuse hatred and bigotry in the name of Jesus Christ. We sometimes can't recognize spiritual abuse, we can't recognize failures and abuses in our pastors, because of our blind loyalty to our church and the elevation of the position of "pastor" to a pope-like status. We see examples of this all around us in modern fundamental, evangelical Christianity.

And it is also true: those who are NOT Christians, can be more Christ-like in loving people, than we Christians - and again we are blind to this, because in our zeal we believe our actions toward groups of people are born out of our devotion to Christ and the bible, and thus we confuse bigotry for love in a most perverse way.

I think a prime example of this has played out before the citizens of Jacksonville, Florida, in the past month, and this should be a wake-up call to evangelicals, and Baptists especially. Let me explain.

On Tuesday May 10, 2010, at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, a man planted and detonated a pipe bomb at the exit of the building while 50 or so Muslims were inside. The FBI has said this blast if detonated inside the building would have caused numerous casualties. Security cameras captured the image of the man who did this dastardly deed, but as of yet he has not been caught. A $20,000 reward has been offered for information leading to his arrest.

While in the past year leading up to this bombing it seems Baptists in Jacksonville have expressed more fear of than love toward our fellow citizens who are Muslims - this week it was reported that a local Jewish men's group from the Jacksonville Jewish Center actually demonstrated an act of love toward Muslims by offering their services to repair the damage to the Islamic Center from the blast.

As this News4Jax article points out, the day of the bombing, May 10, 2010 was also the day that Parvez Ahmed, a Muslim and a professor at the University of North Florida first took his place on the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission. As the article points out, this might just be a coincidence, but I definitely think it is NOT a coincidence. I tend to think this was a message being sent to the Muslim community that they are not welcome to participate in local politics.

How does this connect back to Baptists?

Mr. Ahmed's appointment to the Human Rights Commission by the Republican Mayor John Peyton was met with much opposition by members of the Jacksonville City Council who needed to affirm Ahmed's appointment. Four of the members of the City Commission are members of First Baptist Jacksonville, and the two most outspoken against Ahmed's appointment were councilmen Clay Yarborough and Don Redman (the other two FBC Jax council members did vote to affirm Ahmed).

Clay Yarborough sent a series of questions to Ahmed about God, gay marriage, and his ties to Islamic groups in advance of the council meetings discussing his appointment. But when Times Union reporter Mark Woods asked similar questions to Yarborough, he got some troubling responses:

Woods: "Do you believe Muslims should be able to hold public office in Florida? Some of those who have criticized your questions have wondered if that’s what you were getting at ... "

Yarborough: "That wasn’t the intention of the questions."

Woods: "OK, but do you believe Muslims should be able to hold a public office in Florida?"

Yarborough: “I would have to think about that. I would have to think about that. What kind of office? An elected office? Would you consider the human rights commission to be a public office?”

Woods: "Just in general, do you believe Muslims should be able to hold any public office in Florida?"

Yarborough: “I don’t know.”

That is unbelievable. A long-time Baptist, a member of First Baptist Church, an elected official in the United States of America, and he "doesn't know" if a Muslim should be able to hold any public office in Florida.

I know. Most Americans know. Mark Woods knows. The answer is that any American should be able to hold any public office, regardless of their faith, if they are duly elected or appointed.

Next is Don Redman, long-time member also at FBC Jax, and I've already blogged about him trying to get Mr. Ahmed to "pray to your God" in front of the City Council at Mr. Ahmed's confirmation vote. This gained some national attention, and served to embarrass our city as a bunch of redneck hicks. To Redman's credit, he did later apologize to Mr. Ahmed.

And I don't point these examples out to blast Yarborough or Redman. I know Yarborough from my days at FBC Jax, and he is a fine young man. But I think too many of us Baptists have this same mindset as Yarborugh and Redman of fearing Muslims and their religion.

Where do we Baptists lay folk get this? Perhaps we get it from our preachers. As I blogged in 2009, preacher Jim Smyrl at FBC Jax expressed concern that this same Islamic Center that was bombed in May 2010 dared to put up "domes", while Christians did nothing about it. His sermon, almost exactly 1 year prior to the bombing, was in the context of motivating the congregation to convert Muslims, but Smyrl engaged in what I consider fear mongering by saying:

"I'm riding my motorcycle down 9A the other day. I look over, and the dome on Jacksonville's newest Muslim mosque is being put in place. It's amazing,
Christians will rally for everything but what God says is important...But when it comes to engaging the enemy and the greatest weapon he's used in the last 1400 years, listen, to conquer all of Asia, to conquer much of Europe, what he's doing today he's doing it the same way with Islam in America today and the church is silent. And a big dome goes up in our city and we sit back passively and say 'Well, if that's what they want to believe, alright."
Well, get ready brother, 'cause your grandchildren are going to come under Muslim law if you keep silent."
Unbelievable. Let's convert these Muslims or we'll all be under Muslim law, says Smyrl, implying of course that Muslims in America do NOT like our freedoms and long to change our system of governance. This is absolutely ridiculous. Muslims here in this country cherish the freedoms we have to worship and live our lives and have come here to precisely because of our freedoms. Sure, there are some extremist Muslims who both might want the country ruled according to their religious doctrines - but hey, I think we can say the same about some fanatical Christians. But to characterize the vast majority of Muslims as wanting to put us under Muslim law is ignorant and offensive, and it helps institutionalize the fear that Baptists lay people like Yarborough and Redman, and many of us, have displayed.

And where do our Baptist preachers get this mindset? Who has been our source of information about Islam in Southern Baptist circles since 9/11? Well, none other than Ergun Michael Caner, who really is not the Islamic expert that we thought. For crying out loud, he characterizes his time as a youth at his Islamic center in Columbus as "Islamic Youth Jihad", being "trained to do that which was done on 11 September". I think many Baptists believe Caner - that all Muslims in America who are devout are just terrorists waiting to happen.

But the point is: if we love Muslims and want them to experience freedom in Christ, how do we show it? Do we express doubts about their constitutional rights as citizens? Should we assume they want to put us under Muslim law and are going to kill us? Do we embarrass them at a public hearing demanding they pray to their god for us? Do we do it by elevating and celebrating an embellishing preacher who uses terms like "sand nigger" and "towel head" to describe Muslims, to the position of seminary president? Should our motivation to convert them be out of fear before they strap a bomb on, as Caner testified about himself ("Jesus died on the cross so I wouldn't have to strap a bomb on to myself")?

Or can we perhaps learn something from our Jewish friends, who extended the hand of friendship to the Muslims at the Islamic Center and said, "Let us help you repair the damage from the pipe bomb." An unexpected act of kindness from a group of another faith.

Funny how we Southern Baptists love to talk about sending missionaries to the "North African Middle East" region around Lottie Moon offering time, to raise money to take bibles and send missionaries to witness to Muslims. We hear from the missionaries that these people are hungry for the gospel, and are very good people who want to know the truth.

But then why do we treat Muslims in our own country who need the gospel just as much as those in the NAME region, with so much fear and contempt?

I think I know the answer. Do you?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mohammad Khan's Videos Back on YouTube

Mohammad Khan's videos are back on YouTube - for the time being.

You can go to Khan's videos by clicking here:


As I have blogged previously, I did not get involved in the Ergun Caner issue until March 2010 when I went back and listened again to the Ergun Caner sermon preached at my former church, FBC Jacksonville, on November 20, 2001. I was there with my family for that sermon, and had not listened to it again until March 2010.

My recollection of that sermon was that he purposely passed himself off to the faithful at FBC Jax as a trained terrorist, a Jihadist, that had converted to Christianity just in the nick of time, before he killed Americans as a terrorist.

And I believed him.

I and others at FBC Jax cheered for him, and I praised Jesus as I had just seen a "miracle" of sorts in front of my own eyes - "proof" that Jesus saved a hardened, trained Jihadist like those that had just slaughtered thousands of Americans. I was proud that my pastor and my church so soon after 9/11 brought in a man who was trained in Europe to kill Americans as the 9/11 terrorists were, yet THIS ONE was saved by Jesus just in the nick of time. This former terrorist didn't kill us thank God, instead he professed that our pastor Jerry Vines was his hero, and we were all so proud to introduce Caner to the world.

Caner and Vines that day, helped give us hope after 9/11 that truly the answer to 9/11 and Jihad, is the gospel. We knew it, but by golly, now we REALLY knew it.

And sure enough, when I went back and listened to the sermon 8 1/2 years later, my recollection was correct.

Then I looked at Caner's own words in he and his brother's book, documenting that they had moved here to the states when Ergun was 3 or 4 - nullifying the sensational, terrorism aspects of Caner's conversion. Then I took a closer look at Mohammad Khan's videos. Then I listened to no less than 20 of Caner's other sermons during the 00's and sure enough, it was the same basic "Jesus saved a trained terrorist just in the nick of time" story - and I was shocked to hear the same racial and ethnic stereotypes uttered by a man who claimed to be "olive skinned" and a "Turkish immigrant" in a "mixed marriage" - implying that it was acceptable for HIM to make fun of Mexicans, blacks, Turks, and Muslims.

And now that we all know a bit more about the embellishments, and we know more about Caner's true upbringing mostly through the blogosphere in the past month or so, we should return to Khan's videos now and examine his evidence more closely. Especially knowing that Liberty and John Ankerberg went to drastic lengths to get them removed from the Internet. Go now and see what they were so afraid of.

So sad, but it seems to be a trend in the SBC: apply pressure to shut down blogs or websites that are critical of Baptist leaders. The professional preachers can't stand criticism, whether it is from a laypeople blogging in Jacksonville or a pastor in Enid, or a Muslim in London. Shut 'em down. Discredit them. Call them names and smear them, apply whatever pressure you can.

Mohammad Khan is a genuine, devout Muslim - and he has gone to the trouble of documenting the Caner deceptions. Khan has credibility when it comes to the issues of his religion, and thus he is worth us Christians listening to on the Caner matter. Unlike so many of Caner's defenders, I don't call Khan names, I don't smear him. Instead, I consider him a friend and I thank Mohammad Khan for helping us Christians see the truth about one of our heroes - and also helping us see the corruption in our own ranks through the defense tactics used against him.

So go see the Khan videos....

...while they last, until the next legal maneuvering takes them down.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tim Guthrie: A Pastor Defending Caner by Attacking Other Christians

Just about a month ago, Tim Guthrie (left), pastor of Arlington Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, and president of Ecklund Stewardship Ministries, posted a blog article on his blog SBC Today entitled "The Demise of Christian Blogging". The article has since been taken down, but re-printed below.

This is an example of the "defense" that supporters of Ergun Caner have put forth - it's less of a defense, and more of an outright verbal assault on those who are calling for Caner to give answers about inconsistencies in his testimony. Tim can't give a defense, he can only attack.

I find Guthrie's own vitriol, his angry words and name-calling to be highly disturbing. He is an SBC pastor, a trained minister, someone who supposedly was called by God to be a humble undershepherd, a pastor, yet he has stooped so low as to call fellow Christians terrible names and declare them to be heretics. I wonder if his church family knows this is the kind of stuff their pastor writes on the Internet about people that disagree with him. If I were at Arlington Baptist Church, I sure wouldn't want to express any ideas contrary to Tim's, for fear he give me a dose of his pastorly venom like he has here in this article.

But below is Tim's post in italics, with my emphases in red, and my commentary on his words in bold print.

The Demise of Christian Blogging, by Pastor Tim Guthrie

"This is the week we Christians celebrate the greatest event in all the world - the resurrection of our Lord. This is a week when all of Christianity should be reminded of why we live and how important our mission on this earth is to our Lord. As I sit here with a million words racing through my mind, I find a strong disgust overflowing for so called Christian blogging today. How to balance the thoughts of the resurrection, it's message and meaning, with the thoughts of the demise of Christian blogging is tough."

WD Comment: Translation - "I'm about to blast some fellow Christians out of the water and declare them NOT Christians, but I do it because I love Jesus so much. Amen? Amen!"

"For several weeks a few minions have been trying to go after a Christian brother. In doing so the words of our Lord pertaining to conduct have been tossed aside by the ego driven vitriol of a few with nothing better to do with their time and so called calling than to attack a brother in Christ. Even as I write these words I catch myself being tempted to stoop down to their level. Surely my flesh would love to do so. I am reminded that Jesus spoke verily clearly pertaining to what role we are to play in judging and implementing vengeance. Troubling to me is the depth that some will go with self motivation and grandiose self accolades for their "great" work in accomplishing something of pure nothing. Trying to rid myself of the thoughts of the flesh is no easy task. I know what it is like to live in a glass house. I understand the deep concerns for family safety and the tiring task of being beat upon daily while not being able to swing back in self defense at all. I feel the pain that my brother feels and yet I know that even I in my empathy can do very little to assist."

WD Comments: How interesting. Tim refers to those who were exposing the lies of Ergun Caner, as "minions" (whose minions, maybe Satan's?), and characterizes their blogging as "attacks", and possessing "ego-driven vitriol". Hmmm, "vitriol"...that word sounds familiar to the FBC Jax Watchdog.

People such as James White and the infamous FBC Watchdog are minions that will in all likely hood (sic) never go away. They are the cross that many will have to bear. One day Jesus will make all things revealed and their sorrow and shame will be upon them. The Internet has allowed people to spill their garbage. I wonder what could be accomplished if we all took the time invested in Internet fluff and instead served the Lord with all our hearts, energy and creativity. Much could be accomplished in and for the Kingdom for sure.

WD Comments: More "minion" accusations. I think the "garbage" that has been spilled on the Internet are Caner's lies and misrepresentations of his past after 9/11. And Tim, what you couldn't do as a minister if you would only stop attacking bloggers, and get busy ministering to your flock. I'm sure you have some recalcitrants that need a good tongue lashing from you!

"What actually makes me laugh is when I read that these minions have the audacity to think that emailing and calling leadership of one's employment will actually result in some type of public response. This type of activity is not new. For years it occurred with letters and phone calls. It is has now moved up a few notches with the ease of web site formation and blogging. The ability for anyone to make videos (alter and or pick apart) has added to the picture. God has provided this new technology as a means of spreading the Gospel. Yet today we discover that Satan is alive and well in leading us astray to use that meant for good to showcase our sinful natures and total misuse of time, energy and creativity."

WD Comments: More "minion" accusations. That must be the word Tim learned in his "hooked on phonics" tape of the week. Yes, according to Tim the Internet was provided by God for the spreading of the Gospel, but it was never intended to expose the lies of Caner. The Internet is only for those things that Tim deems worthwhile. The hypocrisy is dripping from every paragraph of this article by Tim. He must deem HIS use of the Internet to attack his brothers and sisters as "minions" acceptable, but for bloggers to expose the lies of Caner is unacceptable. This is why it is dangerous to think of zealots like Guthrie and his ilk ever having political power in this country. They would use their power to silence any critics, and they would do it in the name of Jesus Christ.

"There is absolutely nothing new being brought to light concerning Dr. Ergun Caner. True indeed is the fact that minions like James White and Mohammad will stop at nothing in their desire to bring harm to the ministry that God has called him to. For the life of me how can anyone not see the ridiculous of Mr. White questioning the integrity of Dr. Caner while failing to admit himself that his "doctor degrees" are non accredited. This is not a major issue accept for the fact that the history of the school has been questioned and Mr. White obviously fails to understand that Dr. Caner had to undergo a major screening to fill the position he now has. How ridiculous is it that a Muslim man who has been out to destroy Dr. Caner is now being linked to and advises Christians while his error of faith goes without question and his eternal life is destined for Hell. I guess when Mr. White says he believes in limited atonement, Mohammad is just out of the equation. I guess Mr. White and a few others fail to realize that Christians are to be separate from the evil ones. Maybe just maybe, this is blind passion of a man who would much rather suck blood from a Christian brother to promote is own false doctrine than to be busy about leading people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ."

WD Comments: Tim is incorrect. Shortly before he wrote this, I put on the Internet excerpts from Caner's November 2001 sermon at FBC Jax - these were entirely new, they had nothing to do with Mohammad Khan, and they showed that Caner had started his deceptions right after 9/11.

Tim is a Pharisee - he accuses Dr. White of being "linked to" a Muslim. This is exactly the kind of crap the Pharisees pulled on Jesus. They accused him of hanging around the wrong people, guilt by association. Jesus refused to play by the rules established by the religous leaders. No, Jesus never said to "separate from the evil ones"...the "evil ones" in Jesus day that he warned us about were the religious leaders who abused their power over people like Guthrie is trying to do here in this blog post.

Notice Tim falsely accuses Dr. White of "sucking the blood" out of Caner, and he wrongly accuses Dr. White of "false doctrine". Yes, White is a Calvinist, but he is a brother in Christ. Can't Tim see what a terrible witness he is as a pastor to be writing like this?

"I know that the counter attacks to this post will call me hypocritical and more. That is the way it works these days. One group is free to attack while the other group is presumed guilty and must repent. How sad is the logic in that. How sad is the person who thinks that by doing some internet research that is old news is now out of nowhere NEW? How sad is it that people who are lost will read once again of Christians attacking other Christians? I wonder how Mr. White and the other minions wake up each day knowing that they are so spiritual and yet have to live in the midst of us not spirituals? It sure must be tough for them. "

"Christian blogging should be more than this. Our conduct as Christians should be better than this. It was this garbage that Jesus died for! Maybe we have forgotten. Maybe we need to be reminded. Maybe some just don't care! "

WD Comments: Yes, Jesus died for the garbage being spewn from Tim Guthrie.

"I will close by saying this to Dr. Ergun Caner. The road may be filled with pot holes and cracks. Do not worry. Do not let your flesh and the pain it feels become your focus. The minions will have their day! You have a ministry that is fruitful and God ordained. Stick to it and keep doing what you have been called to do. The demise of Christian blogging is not your worry. The lost who need to hear of Jesus and His payment for their sins are your priority. Your family will be fine and your ministry will flourish. You sir are in great company with men like Rogers, Vines, Falwell and more. Stay the course as these men did and let God have His way with the minions. "

WD Comments: Two more "minions", bringing the total to six. Yes, let's tell Ergun that he is in the same league as Vines and Rogers and Falwell. Never mind the decade of deception, Tim. Just keep gushing over how wonderful Caner is...and maybe he'll add your church to his speaking schedule where you can gush even more.

"And Ergun, one more thing - I think it was a great gesture on your part to honor your father by using his name in yours. Funny how people just don't stop and think about what is right in front of their own eyes. "

WD Comments: Why did he wait until after 9/11 to change his middle name to "Mehmet" to honor his father? Why not immediately after his father died or earlier.

And Tim, finally: who is the real "minion" here? It is you, you are the Ergun Caner minion.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Is Contemporary Worship Still Contemporary?

I love the video below. Too funny. Too real.

What do you think?


"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Southern Baptists: The Caner Scandal is OURS, Not Just Ergun's

As the Caner scandal goes viral, and I predict will be on the national TV and cable news channels within a week, we Southern Baptist laypeople need to come to grips that this scandal of Ergun Caner is one that is not just about Ergun Caner and his "decade of deception" as I call it.

This is about us.

We can't just throw Caner under the bus and wash our hands of this whole mess.

This scandal is about what WE have helped to create in our own convention, yes, in our own churches over the past 30 years. The transformation of former-Jihadist "Ergun Mehmet Caner" from preacher "E. Michael Caner" after 9/11 reflects on US, and to some extent our leadership like Jerry Vines and Paige Patterson.

We lay folk have allowed ourselves to become a niche market to be tapped by marketing consultants that want to meet our "needs" and tap into our pocketbooks - our need for our own sub-culture complete with our own millionaire singers, artists, evangelists, comedians. We want entertainment. We want excitement and stories, and story-tellers. And we'll pay for it.

We have niche pastors now that are preaching to our felt needs, or they have a certain shtick that sells to their market. We don't just want a spirit-filled Homer Lindsay, Jr. who led a boring life preaching Jesus in his hometown. That's not good enough. We now want preachers who have EXCITING lives, heroes - guys who were former terrorists, or men that travel the world and lead believers on treks to the Holy Land and historical river cruises. We want best-selling authors that convert their sermon series into books, and have 501(c) ministries with TV programs on INSP and TBN. We want guys that are cool dudes, with hired personal brand-building marketing consultants, men who are jet-setters, who rub elbows with other celebrity preachers, millionaires that fly all over to speak to other pastors on how they TOO can be great - for a fee of $300 of course (paid by the lay folk, of course!).

Matt Chandler and Ed Stetzer have talked about this in the past year, as I blogged about here and here.

We have allowed our convention to become less about spreading the true message of Jesus Christ: one of repentence, forgiveness, sacrifice, humility, a life of service to others, working for justice of the oppressed, etc. - into a political machine, a profit-making enterprise, operated by celebrity speakers, that marketing consultants can help build - and sadly, a convention that requires strict adherence to an ever-narrowing band of tertiary doctrines.

So it's no wonder that after 9/11, what we wanted, we got.

We wanted a Christian who could speak with authority on terrorism and Jihad and Islam: and can you make sure that we get one that is a devout Christian - one that is conservative, a Republican, would be great. And please find one with a testimony catch-phrase like "From Jihad to Jesus", that would be wonderful, as we can buy his tapes - and best of all we can tell our friends that Jesus REALLY IS THE MESSIAH - after all, Jesus saved this former terrorist! Here, watch this DVD of his testimony that I bought for fifty bucks!

And we got just what we ordered, as our convention leaders know very well their "market". Caner was hand-picked and hand-delivered by Jerry Vines and Paige Patterson, straight to the folks at First Baptist Jacksonville and Prestonwood Baptist Church within weeks of 9/11.

His name was Ergun Mehmet Caner - born in Turkey and raised in Europe, and "trained to do that which was done on 11 September." But he was Mike Caner, from Columbus, Ohio, trained to be a regular American teenager of the 70s who became a Christian in high school.

E. Michael Caner's true testimony was good enough for Jesus. But sadly, it wasn't good enough for us. Not captivating enough.

Too bad that before they hand-picked E. Michael and vaulted him from virtual obscurity to instant SBC stardom - Vines and Patterson either failed to do their due diligence - or they looked the other way - or they allowed themselves to be duped. I'm not sure which is worse. Same story with Darrell Gilyard.

But now we are left with a mess.

We wanted "Ergun Mehmet" because "E. Michael" wasn't good enough. And we got him.

And now we have to face the music and come to grips with what this says about us and the SBC leaders that we so devoutly follow.

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.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Latest on Caner: Lynchburg Reporter Asks Questions, Caner HS Yearbook Info Surfaces

This morning, reporter Ray Reed of the Lynchburg News & Advance has published an article entitled "Dispute over theology, background led to Caner probe". Things are not going to get easier for Caner - this is just another step toward the main stream media taking interest in this story. And unrelated to Reed's story, yesterday a blogger posted pictures of Caner and excerpts about Caner's extracurricular activities from his high school yearbook that show perhaps he was more of a normal teenager growing up in Columbus, Ohio, than he was a devout Muslim with broken English who was "trained to do that which was done on 11 September".

Above is a picture, allegedly of Ergun Caner in a play at high school. He was an actor. Strange, since he testifies that as a senior when he accepted Christ his English was very poor, being a Turkish immigrant trained in Islamic Jihad. Ouch. But the "actor" - Caner playing roles, pretending to be someone else performing in front of a crowd...that is perhaps the first thing in this story that makes sense.

In his article, Reed presents a series of quotes from Caner, using mostly the FBC Jax sermon of November 20, 2001 and the Prestonwood Baptist Church sermon that same month (that was aired in April 2010 on the Focus on the Family radio broadcast). Reed also summarizes the questions about Caner's degrees and his claims to have engaged in apologetics all over the world through multiple debates of which there is no documentation. Reed is asking the right questions.

Caner still has time to diffuse some of the sensationalistic aspects of future reports if he comes out NOW, and gives a full explanation of what he has done, and repents. But when he instead makes himself to be the victim in all of this, and says that his role is one of being the FORGIVER of those who have "hated" him, it shows he has a long, long way to go. Here is Caner's explanation to his students at Liberty's "Campus Church" back in February 2010:

"I've been under attack for WEEKS, by groups that had nothing to do with each other than to join together to hate me together, you know? Could I have said things better? Sure. Could not have been as boisterous and loud? Yeah. Should have used notes instead of trying to be 'Mr. Fancy' and talk extemporaneously and mix up names? Sure. We may never agree on definitions, we may never agree on what constitutes, etc. etc. But I have to LEARN to forgive and move on. I hope you don't think less of me, but if you do: it must be nice to be perfect." Ergun Caner at Liberty Campus Church addressing Liberty students on February 17, 2010

I hope and pray Caner comes forward very soon to apologize and repent for his decade of deception, and begins to make things right.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

First Baptist Dallas Falls Just Short of $130 Million, But Gets Enough to Proceed

It was announced this morning that the pledges for the First Baptist Dallas campus reconstruction capital campaign, "For Generations to Come", came in $15 million short of the $130 milllion goal. However, they will proceed with the project with a few relatively minor items taken out to lower the cost to be in line with the amount pledged.

According to Jeffress, the amount on May 2nd was $101 million, but several wealthy members ponied up an additional $15 million to get to the $115 million mark.

Congrats to the members of FBC Dallas and to Dr. Jeffress and his project leadership....however, if this project proceeds without a significant portion of the cash on hand, based on large pledges of a handful of wealthy members, this plan is fraught with financial risk for the church. But I hand it to Jeffress and his team - from what I can tell, they have been open and honest and transparent at every step of this process, and the people have willingly pledged $115 million, and Jeffress will give the church the chance to vote and approve the project in just a few weeks.

I hope and pray that if the project is approved by the congregation, that the pledges will materialize and the church is able to pay for the construction with cash flow from the pledges...else the church will be strapped with crippling debt from such a massive undertaking, "For Generations to Come".

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Jet Fuel for Jesus" - Other Churches Pay for Jet Fuel, Refers to Critics as "Haters"


In the video above, which is a portion of some sort of "interview" conducted by one of his staff members, Ed Young gives some additional information about the jet aircraft leased by Fellowship Church. At the bottom is the latest video from Brett Shipp that discusses Young's use of the jet that I blogged about here.

Good to know that Fellowship Church doesn't pay for Ed's jet fuel - but the OTHER churches he flies to and speaks at...they are ponying up the money: JET FUEL FOR JESUS!!

Some Ed Young quotes from the above video:

"I would not have been able to do what I have done over the last, whatever 5, 6, or 7 years had we not utilized private aircraft. I've had the opportunity to speak probably to over 200,000 pastors and leaders here in North America because of that."

Maybe so, but I find it hard to believe that if not for using a luxury jet he wouldn't have been able to do these events. The counter to that logic is: if you had traveled like the average American would travel, how much more money would you have saved that could have done more. I just reject this notion that Ed Young to accomplish his mighty deeds for Jesus has to do it in a private jet.

"We don't use any of the offerings or the tithes to pay for this aircraft. This aircraft is paid for by other resource streams. And usually when I go into a conference or a church to speak they usually pay for the fuel. And we don't own an airplane. We have a charter deal, and we have a lease situation with one."

I think its disingenous to say that a long-term lease means "we don't own an airplane". And I hope someday Young will open the books to show his church that their tithes and offerings are NOT going to pay for his luxury plane travel, and to explain what "other resource streams" ARE able to pay for the millions per year it costs to lease and operate a luxury private jet. If this is true, why didn't he tell his congregation this back when he had the dog and pony show with John Cross and Mac Richard (prounounced "re-SHARD")?

"Why do we have the ability to fly? Did God give us that ability just to share the gospel? I don't know - but again, what the media will say, or what the haters will say is, ok, a Christian, a pastor, whatever, a man or woman who teaches God's word and shares the gospel should not utilize private aircraft. But it's ok for an entertainer, a professional athlete, its ok for a CEO who is selling this widget or that widget...."

Yep, God had man create the French-made Falcon 50 8-million dollar jets for Ed and Bennie Hinn and Kenneth Copeland to "spread the gospel". I suppose according to Young that Brett Shipp, the WFAA reporter is one of those "haters" (this is typical celebrity-preacher speak - any critics are "haters"). Young is misrepresenting the questions asked by Brett Shipp. Shipp is not saying that a pastor should not ever utilize private aircrarft. Brett Shipp wants to know why the plane is being used for trips to exotic locations, and who pays for those; and Brett Shipp might like to know the lease arrangements and who pays for that.

And the more Young calls him a "hater" and doesn't answer any questions, I'm sure the more determined Brett will be to get answers. These reporters can be mighty determined and persistent.

Interesting that Young compares himself to entertainers, professional athletes, and CEOs and questions if private air travel is OK for them, then why not for him. I would counter that by saying the opposite: if even most entertainers and professional athletes and CEOs do NOT fly around on luxury 8-million dollar jets, why does HE, a "called" minister of Jesus Christ, think that HE needs to? Most millionaires utilize commerical flight. It's just too expensive to lease an 8-million dollar jet. But this goes to the mentality of Ed Young and how he views himself as the "franchise player" of the church, as I blogged about several years ago here.

I'm sure that Brett Shipp, the "hater", will stay on the case.

I'm sure that Brett Shipp still has questions. And when he doesn't get answers and only attacks from Ed Young as a "hater", that raises more questions. I hope he finds answers as to why the jet is used for travel to exotic locations, and who is paying for that.

And memo to Ed Young: according to Chris Rosebrough of the Pirate Christian Radio, Chris has spoken to Brett Shipp and knows Brett Shipp is a believer in Jesus Christ. He is a brother in Christ who has questions, he is not a "hater".

Brett, those of us regular lay people out here know you are not a hater. We love you as a brother in Christ, and appreciate the service you are doing by asking questions of Ed Young.

These CEO pastors don't like people who ask questions and call for accountability.

Bloggers and other lay people like me LOVE people like you, Brett, who ask questions, because CEO celebrity pastors ignore our questions and just tell us to leave the church if we don't like something. You, Brett, are a bit more difficult to ignore.

Thank God for freedom of the press. :)


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ergun Caner YouTube Spoof - Demonstrating Absurdity by Being Absurd

If you haven't seen these Ergun Caner spoof videos yet, check them out.

I appreciate a blogger using parody and hyperbole to make their point, and this guy does a jam-up job. I've tried my hand at parodying the Ergun Caner saga myself in my Willie Mehmet Nazzarino Antonio Watchdog April Fool's post, but this guy is on to something. I predict as the Caner debacle gains steam in the mainstream media, this guy's website will become very, very popular. The horse is out of the barn now, and before the end of the year, sad to say, Caner and Liberty University jokes will likely be on the Tonight Show, I predict.

I hope this "Ergun Caner" fellow produces more. Those of us who are Rush Limbaugh fans know how effective parodies can be in speaking truth, and as Rush says "demonstrating absurdity by being absurd".

Above is my favorite of the three videos currently at the Dr. Ergun Caner YouTube channel, as Ergun is celebrating the "Good Times" of the Christianity Today article and the Elmer Towns quote, and the takedown of Mohammad Khan's Internet videos.

Might want to check in periodically to see future videos: Dr. Ergun Caner YouTube Channel

Monday, May 10, 2010

Liberty Announces Committee to Investigate Caner

Update: I captured and posted the Liberty Statement at about 8:00 pm EST on 5/10/10. Apparently Liberty changed the wording of the last paragraph, as well as added the word "Internet" in the 2nd paragraph, at about 9:30 pm EST, and I have made the corrections below to show the new paragraph and the insertion into the 2nd paragraph. How sad, Liberty seems intent on making the issues of Caner's deceptions more about bloggers and the Internet, rather than about Caner himself.


-------------------------

Just posted on the Liberty University web site is this statement:

Liberty University’s Provost Dr. Ron Godwin is forming a committee to investigate a series of accusations against Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Internet allegations have questioned public statements Caner has made regarding the details of his personal life story.

Godwin is forming a committee to conduct an official inquiry with a goal of issuing its conclusions by the end of June.

Following inquiries from several members of the mainstream media, Liberty decided to initiate its own investigation.

“In light of the fact that several newspapers have raised questions, we felt it necessary to initiate a formal inquiry,” Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. said.

“Liberty does not initiate personnel evaluations based upon accusations from Internet blogs,” Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. said. “However, In light of the fact that several newspapers have raised questions, we felt it necessary to initiate a formal inquiry.”

Story developing....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Caner and Klouda: Turning Blind Eye Toward Deceit While Punishing the Sin of Being a Woman

On this Mother's Day, I couldn't help but think of Dr. Sheri Klouda, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Taylor University, and loving wife and mother.

It sickens me to think of the men who are now defending the lies and deceit of Dr. Ergun Caner, the President of Liberty Theological Seminary - belong to the same theological bunch that supported Paige Patterson's removal of Dr. Klouda from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for the "sin" of, well, being a woman who was teaching college classes to men.

Caner spends a decade deceiving Southern Baptists into thinking he was raised in Turkey speaking Arabic and trained as an Islamic Jihadist watching Dukes of Hazard in Istanbul while learning how to do the deeds of 9/11 - that is fine and dandy - but a female seminary professor happens to have men in her college classes - she has to be shown the door and booted from our convention's seminary at great emotional and financial pain to her family.

Some of these men that are now defending Caner - Tim Guthrie, Bart Barber, Jeff Haney, Tim Rogers, and others - thought that having Dr. Klouda teach men at SWBTS presented a sin, or a danger, or some kind of theological threat to the Southern Baptist Convention. They thought God would be pleased in her dismissal, that the Bible mandated SWBTS to violate U.S. employment law and discriminate against a female professor for being a female.

A documented opportunistic deceiver keeps his job, a woman loses hers for being a woman.

It's a new day in the Southern Baptist Convention: lying to and deceiving church members all over the country for a decade is now no longer a sin. As Elmer Towns says about the decision to keep Caner in his post as president of LBTS: "It's not an ethical issue, it's not a moral issue". But let a female professor who has a genuine Ph.D teach a male student, that's over the top apparently and she has to get the boot.

I'm glad I'm with the bunch that believes what Caner did was wrong (and that believes his racial stereotyping is wrong, too) and he has no business being a seminary president . I'm glad that I'm with the bunch that believes it was wrong to fire a seminary professor for being a woman.

I actually have pity for the other bunch.

Happy Mother's Day, Professor Klouda.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

On the Lighter Side: Maybe Ergun's Embellishments Aren't So Bad After All

Below is one of my all-time favorite Monty Python skits, "Four Yorkshiremen". Its basically four rich men sitting around one-upping each other on how tough they used to have it growing up.

Given recent events at Liberty University and their seminary president, I think it appropriate to watch these four guys "embellish" their past, as they get more and more absurd, to the absolute extreme.

You have to see it. Enjoy!

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.