"Now I want to tell you something. The word of God instructs me as a major priority to preach the word to you. The second thing the word of God makes clear to me is this, I am to guard and protect this body and I will do it with my life." Mac Brunson, May 1st, 2011
---------------------------What happened to his promise to "guard and protect the flock"? The context of Brunson's statement above had to deal with those in church who "create upset" and "raise controversies". He said the church is to have nothing to do with them, to leave them alone. I guess that doesn't apply to his friends, however.
I have confirmed from a reliable source that FBC Jax church leaders have decided to bring in Ergun Caner to speak to the FBC Jax high schoolers' and middle schoolers' at their summer youth camp that will be held August 1st-5th at the Georgia Baptist Convention's Norman Park Conference Center in Tifton, GA.
But they must not want many people to know, as his presence at the camp is not highlighted on their camp info web page. Strange, you bring in a big name like Caner, and no mention of it anywhere.
Brunson told his congregation on May 1st he is to "guard and protect this body" ...but where is the protection of the young people from an unrepentant fib-teller in the pulpit who uses racial and gender stereotypes in his speaking? Of all possible special speakers to come in and preach to the young skulls of mush, why Caner? Caner still has not publicly apologized and repented for his decade of deceit - including his lies spoken to FBC Jax in November 2001 when he portrayed himself as a former terrorist raised in Europe, trained in Jihad to commit 9/11 attacks - when in fact he was raised in the 'burbs of Columbus, Ohio since the age of two.
Is Caner the best example of integrity and truth that First Baptist can find for their young people? Of course not....but Caner is good friends with Pastor Mac Brunson, and Ergun Caner and Mac are co-authors of a book that they have been working together on for a second edition. So at FBC Jax these days, it sure seems that a personal and business relationship with the pastor trumps the need to find the best role model for kids at camp. Bringing in the pastor's buddy and co-author for a speaking gig trumps his "guarding and protecting" the flock, apparently.
One of the problems SBC and other evangelicals have with youth is the rate at which they are leaving church and abandoning their faith once they leave home. Teenagers question everything, and they haven't drunk the baptist Kool Aid for decades like most of their parents. Once they become aware of Caner's antics shortly after 9/11, his efforts to recreate himself from E. Michael Caner to Ergun Mehmet Giovianni Caner the trained terrorist from Turkey, how he duped our own Marines preparing for battle, when they realize great "men of God" refused to hold Caner accountable they will wonder why this man has not repented of this publicly as they are taught in church. They will wonder why their pastor and youth directors allowed an Ergun Caner the privilege of speaking to them rather than an Anthony George, or a Calvin Carr or a myriad of other ministers. They will wonder why their lay leaders didn't stop it. They will wonder why supposed great "men of God" didn't hold Caner accountable and still propped up his celebrity status while he hasn't publicly repented.
And the answers to their questions, the conclusions to which they come, will potentially cause great harm to the kids' faith and to the body of Christ.
I hope at least some of the parents of middle schoolers and high schoolers at FBC Jax are disgusted at this choice for their young people. I hope the lay workers at FBC Jax who work with these kids are disgusted. They work so hard all year to instill values of truth and honesty in the kids, and their professional seminarian church leaders go and bring in Caner to preach to their kids during the spiritual apex of the church year. Of course most young people at FBC Jax are not up on what has happened over the past year with Caner - they will eat up his stories, laugh at his jokes, and Caner will rebuild his brand with the next generation of FBC Jax'ers. Heck, at camp Ergun might slip in a story or two of his days growing up learning of American culture by watching Istanbul TV as a kid. Maybe he'll elaborate on his days of "Islamic Youth Jihad" and describe the training he received to perform 9/11 style attacks as he claimed at their church in November 2001.
But maybe some good will come of this. Young people at FBC Jax, let this serve as a prime example for you that your church leaders - your senior pastor especially - don't always have the best interests of the people they are leading at heart. The pastor is not some sort of super-spiritual "man of God" like a priest or prophet who always knows best. Your pastor is not a "God-appointed agent to save you from your ignorance", as Al Mohler has claimed. Pastors are not to be blindly trusted. Your pastor claimed recently that his number one priority is to "guard the flock", yet I believe he is failing to guard you in this instance as he promises. Perhaps the Lord can use you to let your parents know, and your church leaders know that you aren't happy with this selection for your camp.
And young people, this is a lesson for you of what NOT to do when you become a lay leader in your church. Don't be a "yes man" deacon or trustee or lay leader. Stand up to your pastor when they make a wrong decision such as this. You don't have to be silent and "let God handle it", or just say "well, Pastor is God's man"....no, YOU are God's man or woman at that church and maybe God wants YOU to speak up and demand accountability for a terrible decision such as this. Don't let the pastor convince you that you are sinning by raising this "controversial issue" and demanding that it be fixed. God has placed plenty of men and women in your church - including YOU - who should stand up to your pastor and say "No" to them bringing Ergun Caner to your camp.
There still is time for FBC Jax and Mac Brunson to change their mind about bringing Caner to camp. If not, perhaps they can film the sessions with Caner and market it as "Ergun Goes to Camp". Heck, Tifton, GA is not too far away from Atlanta - why not call Eddie Long to come down and help out with camp and be a cabin chaperone for a group of 6th grade boys? Creflo Dollar can come down too.