It was announced to FBC Jax high schoolers and their parents this past Wednesday night that Ergun Caner will be speaking to the high school students at the Pastor's Conference on Saturday night, January 29th. I assume this is why Ergun Caner's picture and bio appear at the Pastor's Conference website although he doesn't appear any where in the speaking schedule: he must be the speaker at the 7:00 pm "Student Conference" on the conference agenda, for which there is no specific speaker listed. If he is the speaker there, why not put his name on the agenda? Why is the cat let out of the bag only a few weeks prior to the conference?
Pretty amazing that in just 7 months since his removal as President of the Liberty Theological Seminary over his 9 years of telling fibs in pulpits all over America - exaggerations of his testimony including his growing up in Turkey, learning of American culture through watching American TV shows while living in Turkey, how he was trained in Jihad - all false - that Ergun Caner is now given a platform to speak to high schoolers and presumably seminary students at the 2011 FBC Jax Pastor's Conference. I'm sure Caner will be in rare form - the last time he preached at FBC Jax in 2009 he had the faithful yucking it up over stereotypes of black worshippers ("shoes that match their suits that match their cars" and "satellite dish hats with curtain rods down the front") - so I'm sure Caner won't disappoint this time either.
I guess what makes this even worse is that FBC Jax really is where this whole ugly saga started when "Butch Caner" emerged from SBC obscurity after 9/11 as "Ergun Mehmet Giovanni Janel" back on November 21, 2001. It was on that day when Caner preached in the FBC Jax pulpit with Jerry Vines looking on, telling us he was raised in Europe, trained in "Islamic Youth Jihad", had "been trained to do that which was done on 11 September", and didn't know English well as a teenager. But it was all an exaggeration, as he moved to the states at the age of 3 and was raised in Ohio. His 11/21/01 sermon may very well have been a carefully orchestrated attempt to use our church to catapult him to stardom as an Islamic expert after 9/11.
So now he comes back to FBC Jax again, at the 2011 Pastor's Conference.
Make no mistake: with all the SBC bigwigs in town for the conference like Johnny Hunt, Jerry Vines, David Platt and Ed Stetzer - seminary presidents Al Mohler and Danny Akin and Chuck Kelly and Paige Patterson - along with thousands of conservative SBC pastors in town for the conference, this most certainly should be seen as the SBC putting it's stamp of approval back on Ergun Caner. He is back, and he is in the good graces of the SBC pastors and the leadership. The message is clear: pastors, it is now safe to invite him back into your churches to speak.
This rapid return of Caner to SBC prominence perhaps says just as much about the state of evangelical Christianity as did our eagerness to lap up his stories for nine years and roll in the aisles at his racial and gender stereotype jokes. The lesson is if you can tell a good yarn, make people laugh, have superior oratory skills and can draw a crowd and generate revenue - you will be in high demand. It is about the dollar, and who are your friends. Caner is a co-author with Brunson, and Vines is the one who helped him to fame in 2001 when he brought him to FBC Jax.
Neither can afford to let Caner fail.