2 Samuel 16:9,11 - "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head...let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him."

Matthew 7:15 - “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11 - “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Caner Interrupted - A Prominent Georgia Baptist Finally Speaks and Answers: Was Caner Really "Innocent Before the Consistory"

"Defiant before Pharisees, Innocent before the Consistory." 
Ergun Caner's self-description on his Twitter feed tagline

"I am aware of the videos and all charges you have mentioned. If I were to sin as Ergun has and been employed by FBC Woodstock I would repent publicly here and claim God's forgiveness. I like Ergun would be fired, he was. It cost him dearly and I feel it has humbled him." 
Johnny Hunt's direct reply to FBCW church member, January 2014 

One of the untold stories so far of Ergun Caner's appointment last December as the president of the Georgia Baptist Convention's Brewton-Parker College, is the growing concern of Georgia Baptist church members as to whether monies they are giving to their local church are helping to pay the salary of a potentially unrepentant serial liar and charlatan as the president of one of their state convention's colleges.

If many of these concerned church members are just now beginning to look at the Caner controversy, they don't have to look very far on the Internet to see examples of Caner's deceptions over the past nine years in churches all over the country. The video evidence is out there for all to see, as well as credible news reports from both Christian and secular news outlets.

So the first level questions for many of the casual observers in Georgia who are concerned about their money possibly going to fund Caner's salary are: were Ergun Caner's lies that the videos seem to show just innocent "misstatements"? Was he actually fired from Liberty University for his lies, or did the investigation at Liberty, and another investigation at Arlington Baptist College and then at Brewton Parker - did these investigations "exonerate" Caner from any serious wrong doing?

If Caner was exonerated in these investigations, and if he really wasn't fired at Liberty, then a concerned Georgia Baptist might put his/her mind at ease and not be too concerned over the hiring of Ergun Caner at Brewton Parker.

But if Caner was NOT exonerated, if he WAS fired for having committed serious sin by purposely deceiving Christians after 9/11 about his past, then Georgia Baptists have a genuine right to be concerned over Caner's hiring by Brewton Parker, and rightly should demand that their church stop donating money to the GBC.

So who are we to believe in the questions of Caner's exoneration and sin? Who is speaking out on this matter?

Well, if you listen to Caner, he claims he says he did not sin, and he claims he was exonerated by Liberty:

The only thing Caner has ever admitted to are "pulpit mistakes" and he says flatly "I never intentionally misled anyone". In his official "apology" posted here, he doesn't admit to sin, only:
"For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better."
In a September 2010 interview with the Lynchburg News and Advance, Caner downplayed the seriousness of the charges of lying and deceit by painting himself as the victims of "frustrated people" creating "edited videos":
“Every pastor in America, ask them if you can go through 200-odd hours of your sermons. Would they find where you said your kids’ names wrong or dates wrong? Yeah, of course. You just smile and move on....it takes more than edited videos to take me down.”
So it is crystal clear: From the days before the Liberty University began, to just after the Liberty University investigation was announced and Caner lost his job as president of the Liberty seminary, Caner admits to no sin, only harmless misstatements that anyone might make, and that he is the victim of bloggers, Muslims, and Calvinists.

But fast forward to 2013, and Caner still claims his innocence. He never has admitted to any sin and has not publicly confessed to misleading congregations for nearly a decade. In fact, he claims that the investigation at Liberty "exonerated" him.

In a Twitter exchange last year regarding his need to repent over the video and audio of his falsehoods, Caner says he won't repent for sins he did not commit.

In this tweet, Caner flat out says that the investigation of 3 schools found that he was "exonerated". To exonerate means an official body has examined the evidence, and cleared a person from any wrong-doing.
"It seems that Liberty is moving in a direction to say nothing further (on Dr. Caner). In that vein we at SBC Today will not discuss this issue any further. This matter is behind us and we praise God that Dr. Caner is exonerated as he is retained at Liberty on faculty." SBC Today Website, quoted by Wade Burleson.
So was Ergun Caner exonerated?

Norman Geisler says that the moral charges are unsubstantiated. Geisler says that the decade-long deception by Caner were just "factual misstatements" that we all make!
“Having examined all these charges against Dr. Caner carefully and having looked at the related evidence, I can say without hesitation that all of the moral charges against Dr. Caner are unsubstantiated. Further, no one had demonstrated moral intent on any of the factual misstatements he made (which we all make).” Norman Geisler
Even the very respected war hero and evangelist Tim Lee says the same. I wrote a blog article back in 2011 after it was announced by Arlington Baptist College that they were hiring Caner. I wrote that a reliable source within Liberty claimed Caner was fired. Tim Lee responded within my blog post, coming to Caner's defense, claiming:
"I was the Chairman of the committee that crafted the statement concerning Ergun. We never once found that he lied....It was Ergun's decision to leave. No on pushed him out. No one threatened him in to leaving. So you are wrong on this matter.". Tim Lee
Then there are the numerous statements of Peter Lumpkins, VP of Communications at Brewton Parker, and Tim Rogers, board member of the Traditionalist Group "Connect 316" ministry and pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in North Carolina. Both have claimed Caner's exoneration by "three independent investigations" at Liberty, Arlington Baptist College, and now Brewton Parker.

So that leads us to the question: who are Georgia Baptists to believe? Bloggers who have documented the video and audio evidence of Caner's lies and deceits from just after 2001 to mid 2010? Or should they believe the defenders of Caner such as Tim Lee, Norman Geisler, Peter Lumpkins, and Tim Rogers?

Was Caner "exonerated"?

Well, I am going to put forth another source - one that has the credibility to trump the bloggers and the Caner defenders on the matter of whether Caner sinned and needs to repent, and whether he was fired from Liberty for his sin, and whether he was exonerated, and if he decided to leave Liberty on his own.

That source is former SBC president Johnny Hunt. Johnny Hunt has the credibility to speak on this issue. He himself has quite a dramatic conversion testimony on par with Caner. Imagine the damage that would be done to the SBC were it found that Hunt made up his stories of growing up in the projects of Wilmington, North Carolina, beginning to drink at age 11, dropping out of high school to manage a pool hall. So Hunt knows the importance of the credibility of one's testimony.

And Hunt is not a Calvinist, blogger, or Muslim. Caner and his defenders have claimed the charges are a conspiracy concocted by Calvinists trying to bring Caner down, along with disgruntled bloggers and Muslims.

So Johnny Hunt has the credibility. I suggest that Georgia Baptists trying to determine if Caner sinned, if he was fired at Liberty for this sin, or if he was exonerated, listen to Johnny Hunt.

I am in possession of an email exchange between Johnny Hunt and one of the members at his church, First Baptist Woodstock, who is concerned about the possibility of FBCW monies going to the Georgia Baptist Convention and then to Brewton Parker and Ergun Caner.

The direct response of Johnny Hunt to one of his church members will be helpful to Georgia Baptists:
"I am aware of the videos and all charges you have mentioned. If I were to sin as Ergun has and been employed by FBC Woodstock I would repent publicly here and claim God's forgiveness. I like Ergun would be fired, he was. It cost him dearly and I feel it has humbled him."
Johnny Hunt was a Liberty University trustee at the time of the Caner investigation. And in a candid moment he admits Caner WAS fired, that he DID commit sin that required repentance.

Hunt says he is aware of the "videos and charges" - yet does NOT downplay them as just "misstatements" or "pulpit mistakes". Instead, Hunt refers to the videos as evidence of Caner's "sin", sin requiring repentance and dismissal from his place of service.

So there you have it Georgia Baptists. It is clear: according to Johnny Hunt, prominent and respected Georgia Baptist leader, Caner was NOT exonerated by Liberty University. According to Hunt, Caner did commit serious sin, and according to a LU trustee, Ergun was fired, and rightly so. When Caner and his supporters claim Caner just uttered "misstatements", that he was "exonerated" by investigative committees - remember the words of Johnny Hunt.

So now, Georgia Baptists, you can move on to the second question. Armed with the knowledge of Caner's sin and that he was NOT exonerated by Liberty, and that Caner has NOT publicly repented of this sin for which he was rightly fired by Liberty, then is Caner fit to serve as a president of one of your educational institutions?

And if not, what are YOU going to do about it? You have the power, actually, Georgia Baptists in the pew. You, Georgia Baptists, are the ones who can set this straight by having a conversation with your pastor and finance committee, and then using the power of the pocketbook.

Your collective wallets and revenue flows to Brewton Parker - THAT is the language that the leadership in the Georgia Baptist Convention understand. Make your voice heard.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Time for Churches to Look to the Jews on How to Fund a Church - and It Ain't the Tithe!!

The time has come for churches to face the facts: their current system of raising money for their churches isn't working. Listen to any preacher during his stewardship emphasis series, and he'll sing the same hard-luck tune: 20% of the people are giving 80% of the revenue. As pressure mounts for more income tax in a socialistic state, and as tax breaks for ministers and churches are likely to be reduced in the future, things are only going to get worse. It is a tough racket indeed.

The current system where the freeloading 80% are getting to enjoy the same benefits of church membership as the ultra-committed, is simply not sustainable. And as I've already mentioned, no gimmick will fix the problem. Getting a free-loader to participate in a march where they place a rock at the foot of the cross on the stage, or to tape a post-it-note with a prayer on a cross, or to participate in building a phoney-baloney cardboard Nehemiah's wall - all that will do is make the freeloading Sanballats feel they ARE doing something for Jesus without pulling out their wallets! The churches don't need to construct a cardboard wall - they need COLD HARD CASH for their buildings and salaries. Kindergarten exercises won't work.

But not is all lost. There is hope. That is why the Watchdog is here. I want to help. I have it figured out. And unlike Maurilio, I won't charge your church a huge consulting fee for my advice. I offer this advice free of charge because I love you all and I want your church to be able to repair its buildings, get new carpet....and most importantly eventually hire more seminarians.

Just as pastors have looked to the Jew's Old Testament model of giving: the 10% tithe - they must now look at the modern-day Jewish practice of funding the temple, and it is NOT the tithe. No, even the Jews are not telling their faith community to voluntarily "bring the tithe". They're too smart. They know the Old Testament tithing system was a national tax of sorts, and to try to fit that model to a modern day faith community in a developed country not connected to Israel is nothing short of madness. They know it won't work.

So what are Jews doing today to fund their faith communities? Easy! They have instituted a membership system, with different membership and seating levels. Look at these examples:

Beth Am Synagogue - Baltimore: Notice at left the annual fees for the Beth Am Synagogue in Baltimore. The annual fees for a family are reduced for single-parent families, and for younger families! What a novel idea! If you're single, your fees are also reduced.

And look at the "Legacy Membership" - why if your mom and dad are long-time members, you can get a reduced membership fee!

And also at their dues information page, you'll see that you can get a pro-rated membership fee if you join in the middle of the year, although a "surcharge" may apply.

Are the bells going off? Trustees, deacons, and pastors, don't you see the opportunities here? Membership drives, special deals like "Join by the end of April and you get two months free." and other great pricing and marketing opportunities!

Now, let's look at another example:

Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City:  At the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City, they have much wealthier members, so as you would expect, the pricing is much different as you see below.

Now we're getting somewhere. Here we have "Regular" membership, and "Associate" membership. And look, this is priced according to seating preference! Now this would be great for megachurches. You could let the poor slobs from the Westside and Middleburg buy a much reduced membership and sit in the balcony...and maybe a cheaper one for the "upper balcony" and "lower balcony".

If you are a "regular" member you get reserved seats for Easter and Christmas and for the other "High Holy Days".

Then, the Park Avenue Synagogue has a huge asterisk paragraph at the bottom of the Membership Dues page that reads:
"In addition to membership dues, all members are required to pay a fee for Synagogue security of $275 per family, $125 for single members; and a building surcharge of $375 per family, $175 for single members.  Members are also required to pay $74 per family, $37 for a single member, for dues to the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, & $25 per family or single membership to the Jewish Theological Seminary. Permanent seat holders with more than two seats will be responsible for the cost of extra seat(s) plus a premium of $150 for the third, $500 for the fourth, $700 for the fifth, & $700 for the sixth and each additional seat. In addition to membership dues, all new seat holding members are required to make a $2,000 contribution per family, $1,000 for a single member, to the Park Avenue Synagogue Maintenance Fund. "
Look at that! This is what Baptist churches need!! You not only pay for the membership, but then you have special add-ons for special services like a $275 security fee, and a fee that goes to the pastor's favorite seminary, to the state baptist convention, and to Lottie Moon. Make THEM pay extra for these, so your membership dues are staying at home!

And the best one is that last red-lined emphasis: A MAINTENANCE FEE!!!  How many Baptist churches have run-down facilities that are in disrepair? Easy solution - when you have special maintenance needs coming up, you bump up the "maintenance fee" per family. Leaking roofs and ratty carpet will be a thing of the past.

Central Synagogue, New York City: Look at this membership page...this synagogue has no new memberships available! They are completely filled up! But you can buy an "Associates" membership to put yourself on the list in case someone dies or moves away - like getting in line for a Green Bay season ticket. This opens up many possibilities when the church maxes out its memberships: if someone is caught blogging or criticizing the pastor, they can be trespassed opening up a slot for a new Associate to come in and take the membership slot vacated by the recalcitrant. Or just start a satellite at a local school and sell memberships there.

Let me summarize the advantages that such a system will provide to a Baptist church:

1. No More Tithing Sermons: Think how wonderful it will be for "Pastor" to not have to come up with cute stewardship emphasis sermons. No more talk of "curses" and "redeeming" your money, no more sermons on how God collects from the stingy members by punching holes in their purses or causing the roof to leak. In short: pastors can stop lying to the congregations over tithing.

2. Get Rid of Free-Loaders: Most pastors secretly loathe these penny-pinchers who don't tithe. As Ronnie Floyd has said in no uncertain terms: non-tithers probably aren't true believers, so why would you want these wolves in sheep's clothing in your church - these are fake Christians posing as real Christians. Let them go mooch somewhere else. If it means a reduction in total members, that is OK. The ones that stay will probably pay LESS than they were before (happier members, less complainers), but those non-tithers who do opt to stay and pay membership fees will willingly increasing their giving.

3. Better Recruitment: What better way to encourage members to get new members to visit and join, than knowing that more members means a possible reduction in family dues the following year? In fact, there can be a new-member recruitment award program. For each family that you recruit, you get $50 rebate on next year's dues. Or if you recruit 5 new families you get a free pass on the Pastor's next cruise or trip to Israel. And by pricing events for "members" and "non-members" - such as youth camps, Wednesday night dinners - you incent people to go "all in" and be members to enjoy reduced costs on services offered. So many wonderful marketing and promotion strategies will be available, necessitating a full-time marketing and promotions expert on staff.

4. No More Gimmicks. Only real marketing and promotional strategies. No fake gimmicks like marches involving rocks, sticks, post-it notes, shoe boxes, commitment cards...and best of all...no more phony tithing testimonies.

5. Capital-Project Funding. Churches could build in a capital fund surcharge each year if they know expansion is needed. Better than that, if a church knows their market for membership fees well, funding expansion plans can be done through future estimated revenues based on the capacity increases. Or new members for a certain number of years are the ones that pay a capital surcharge.

6. Improved Satellite Strategy: You can incent current members to help start satellites by pricing the memberships accordingly! No need to beg members to leave the mother church and start the satellite. Just start the satellite memberships at a greatly reduced cost, and you'll have to take applications from members to move to the satellite!

7. Get Maximum Value for Premium Seating: Did you ever notice that the front sections of a mega church auditorium are filled with mostly the nuttiest, most over-zealous crazies in the church?  And usually these nutburgers don't have deep pockets - I'm generalizing here, I know - and these nuts really should be in the upper balcony sections, as far away from the man of God for safety reasons. This then frees up the premium seats to be sold to the wealthier members just as the Park Avenue Synagogue is doing. Praise the Lord.

8. Happier Wealthy Members: Let's be honest: why should the multi-millionaire member have to pay so much more then the guy making 1/50th his income? They both enjoy the same benefits, so let them all pay the same membership, and make the freeloader pay his fair share. And imagine the perks coming your way, pastor, if you free up an extra $100k or so for the richest church members! They will be eternally grateful - and this will mean money in your pocket through land gifts, free cruises and vacations with luxurious accommodations! Definitely a win-win.

And pastors, you can sell this. I know you can. I mean look what you've been selling the last 30 years; you've been standing in the pulpit and selling curses on non-tithers, "first fruits", Achan burying his stolen tithe, God causing leaking roofs, God collecting his tithe through holes in purses and premature balding tires and broken refrigerators. You've even been selling possible early death to non-tithers just like Ananias and Sapphira.  If you've been selling THAT crap for all these years, surely you can sell this new plan based on sound marketing and pricing principles.

You can tell the members that the Lord has shown you the Old Testament tithe is actually 23 1/3%, and it only applied to grain, produce, and livestock and not money. And there is a verse in the New Testament that you might have missed about people "purposing in their hearts" what to give and not to give under compulsion. This plan is right in line with that verse, since people can decide to be members or not, and there is no compulsion. You pay to play at the church. And you can even tell the peeps the Lord has shown you the evil nature of the tithe when you discovered that the Mormons believe in the tithe, and they are a cult, and therefore you don't want to be a cult (they'll believe you, trust me). Instead, you are going to follow the Lord's people, the American Jews, as surely the Lord has led them and we can adopt their same practices without fear that the Lord will strike us dead.

So there you have it, friends. The Watchdog has this all figured out. I didn't come up with this plan overnight. The Lord has been showing this to me for about a year, maybe two. I've prayed about it, and met with many of you in your homes to discuss this plan and get your input.

Now, to get your commitment on this new plan, we're going to have a march where you decorate a shoe box....wait a minute, I said no more gimmicks, right?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ergun Caner, Professional Wrestling, and Modern Evangelicalism

I saw this weekend that Ergun Caner loaded up the kiddos and headed to the Wrestlemania XXX professional wrestling event this past Sunday night at the Superdome in New Orleans.

It might seem strange that a minister, a Christian college president, would be a fan of the phony, make-believe world of professional wrestling. I mean I am not sure that I even know of a single person - certainly no Christian minister - who would hop on a plane to go watch the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Wrestlemania event.

Yet here is Ergun Caner, ordained minister, Christian college president, who loves professional wrestling, who posts pictures of himself and his kids hanging out with some of the professional wrestling old-timers like Ted DiBiase and Rick Flair. Caner is and for many years has been fascinated with the wrestlers of WWE. Caner seems to be able to identify with these wrestlers/performers.

This weekend if it finally hit me. Caner's fascination with professional wrestling makes perfect sense. Too much sense. And sadly, as one considers the similarity between Ergun Caner's world of Christianity make-believe he lived for 9 years, it also seems so clear that modern evangelicalism is beginning to resemble the world of professional wrestling - and its fans are as gullible as the WWE fans who go and pay to watch their favorite wrestling star.

Let's first take Ergun Caner. As most civilized, educated people know, professional wrestling is a staged, choreographed "sport".  Fans pay to watch larger than life wrestlers - who have taken on fake personas and stage names -  act out their profession according to a wrestling script in front of cheering, adoring fans who eat it all up. Fans actually PAY to watch these men with fake names and fake stories pretend to wrestle and fight each other. They marvel at their antics, laugh at the jokes, and cheer the wrestling moves. But it is all fake.

So OF COURSE Ergun Caner can relate to these wrestlers - he lived out the same life as these wrestlers: a fake story line - lived in front of adoring fans who paid to watch his antics, laugh at the same choreographed punch lines and stories and jokes. He delivered the same show week in and week out, pretending to be a former Jihadist. And his fans loved it.

Ergun Caner was the professional Christian equivalent to Hulk Hogan of the professional wrestling world. Only Caner was better - he actually had his fans believing that his story was true - when we all knew that Hulk Hogan was just an act.

Caner's career began at the exact moment when the planes flew into the towers on September 11. Just
before the tragic events of 9/11, Caner existed as the mild-mannered Michael Caner, a balding and chubby minister who looked more like George Castanza of "Seinfeld" than he did a trained terrorist. Soon after 9/11, Michael Caner slid into the shadows, "Ergun Mehmet Giovanni Caner" emerged - a former terrorist trained in Islamic Jihad, "trained to do that which was done on 9/11", saved by Jesus Christ just in the nick of time before he himself committed heinous terrorist acts like those on 9/11. Ergun Mehmet Giovanni Caner was born even before the ashes at the World Trade Center had cooled.

Why did this fake personna of Ergun Mehmet Giovanni Caner emerge after 9/11? Why did "Michael Caner" slip into the shadows and give way to "Ergun Mehmet Giovanni Caner? The same reason that Terry Bollea emerged as "Hulk Hogan" back in the 1980s: because there was a market. Terry had a very talented wrestling promoter who was an expert in the marketing of professional wrestlers, and knew he could market a "Hulk Hogan" because he knew what the fans wanted. Hulk Hogan's story line, his fake persona would sell. Of course he had the enormous physical stature, he was very charismatic, and had a menacing stare.  Money could be made. Instant stardom could be had. It was there for the taking. So "Hulk Hogan" was born.

You see, after the events of 9/11, there was a HUGE need in the evangelical community for a former terrorist who had been saved by Jesus before HE himself committed terrorist acts. If such a former terrorist did exist, and if he were a talented speaker able to draw a crowd, he would be perfect to speak to churches everywhere on the evils of Islam - and he would be proof that THEIR religion of Christianity could triumph over radical Islam. This former terrorist - if he did exist - would be able to give Christians hope that their faith was the answer to preventing future terrorist acts like those of 9/11. This former terrorist - if he did exist - would help Christians make sense out of the senseless tragedy of 9/11 - and this former terrorist - if he did exist - would help pastors maintain the crowds drawn to their churches after 9/11, helping them raise money and to convert non-believers.

If such a former terrorist trained in Islamic Jihad DID exist, he needed to be found and found quickly.

The only problem: this former terrorist DID NOT EXIST.

But no problem. In America - if there is a need, if there is a market - if money is to be made - someone will emerge able to fill the need. So this former terrorist who did not exist, needed to be created. And once created, he needed to be promoted. 

And as we now know, Michael Caner was that man, hand-picked by the Christian promoters and King Makers at the time, Jerry Vines, Paige Patterson, and Jack Graham. Christians should have seen this coming, especially after the Darrell Gilyard fiasco that was the direct result of Jerry Vines promoting Darrell Gilyard in the late 1980s resulting in many ruined lives in Texas and Florida from Gilyard's well-documented sexual abuse. But in 2001, before social media was around, most people were unaware of Gilyard's abuse and Vines', Falwell's and Patterson's attempts in promoting and protecting Gilyard. And isn't it ironic: Gilyard's introduction by Vines included the phony story of him growing up homeless under a bridge.

Take Hulk Hogan for example: his name is actually Terry Bollea. Terry was transformed into "Hulk Hogan" in the 1980s, with the help of promoter Vincent J. McMahan. If Caner was going to be the former terrorist trained in Islamic Jihad, the guy saved-just-before-he-got-on-the-planes, he needed a huge introduction. His first large venue was Prestonwood Baptist Church, then First Baptist Dallas, then at the big-dog, First Baptist Church Jacksonville in November 2001. All of this was done while the rubble was still smoldering at the World Trade Center.

Terry Bollea was able to parlay his stage name and persona into all sorts of other marketing venues over the past 30 years. So too was Caner from 2001 to 2010, landing speaking gigs all over the world, getting the prestigious job of seminary president at Jerry Falwell's seminary, and also writing and co-authoring many books.

Ergun Caner lived the life of a former terrorist raised in Turkey, speaking Arabic, using his phony persona as an "olive skinned" immigrant to tell racial and sexist jokes from the pulpit, telling fibs about his own family members, and misleading congregations everywhere into thinking he was something he was not. Caner had crowds eating out of his hand, cheering him and howling at his jokes as he spoke of growing up in Turkey - even claiming that he watched professional wrestling while growing up in Istanbul. He couldn't help but to even bring up professional wrestling as part of his phony story! Ergun Caner became so popular that his brother Emir was able to ride his coattails into speaking gigs and a seminary presidency even without telling the fibs himself.

It was quite a ride Caner had. Ironically, there was a sick and twisted intersection of the Caner hoax and the fallout of the events of 9/11 from which the Ergun Caner persona emerged. In 2005 Caner was hired by our U.S. Marines to speak to troops preparing for battle in Afghanistan. Caner posed as an expert in Turkish culture, telling our Marines many of the same fibs he told to Christians in churches all over America. Think about that: Caner used the events of 9/11 as reason to create a false ex-terrorist persona, and then used that fake persona to gain an audience of our troops engaged in the war resulting from the events of 9/11. This is the stuff of a John Gresham novel.

But unlike Terry Bollea, Michael Caner's fake persona started to unravel at the hands of bloggers who helped Christians connect the dots. Everyone knows that "Hulk Hogan" was someone else. We knew it was pure entertainment, fiction. But Christians everywhere didn't know there was a Michael Caner prior to 9/11. They thought what they saw on stage in Ergun Mehmet Giovanni Caner was real. But sadly, to the shock of many, it was just a story, a fake persona that was marketed and promoted to gullible Christians everywhere.

Ergun Caner was a hoax born out of the events of 9/11, perpetuated on gullible Christians - and I was one of them - that wanted so badly to know for sure that their Christian faith was the answer to 9/11. We trusted Jerry Vines to have vetted Caner's story - and Vines failed us, and he failed a young Michael Caner who COULD have been a credible spokesperson after 9/11 if he had been completely truthful about his real past. Michael Caner needed Jerry Vines to guide him and keep him from the temptation of embellishing his testimony.

Sadly, to this day, the story gets worse. The Caner debacle continues, as he is still being paid by Southern Baptists in Georgia as a college president, while Jerry Vines and others who bear responsibility in the hoax will not come clean. The longer Vines and Patterson and Graham stay silent - the more long-term damage will be done to the Christian faith. There is the Caner lawsuit against Jon Autry and Jason Smathers for their publishing of the Caner speeches to the Marines in 2007 - still working its way through court. And probably more lawsuits from Caner. And Caner continues to get audiences in Southern Baptist Convention churches.

But maybe the saddest part of all of this Ergun Caner saga is this: modern evangelicalism is now beginning to resemble the same phoniness of professional wrestling. Maybe Caner was just a sign of things to come. Small churches with real pastors who want to minister to people are struggling and failing - while the large mega churches with the rock-star preachers seem to be thriving. Yet these men now are being exposed as grand marketers, using their churches and their notoriety to build their brand and build their market share. That Caner still exists in the evangelical community as a man with any credibility just serves to further blur the lines and confuse the difference between what is real in the Christian faith, and what is fake. We now see Mark Driscoll using church money to buy a fake "New York Times #1 Best-Selling Author" designation, and we see Steven Furtick using his notoriety to build a mansion - while Ronnie Floyd - the next SBC president - along with most mega church pastors now preaches a prosperity gospel that shamelessly requires 10% of one's gross income to be handed over to their church to avoid the curses of the God that loves them.

Sadly, America is watching all of this unfold. And when they see Ergun Caner, Steven Furtick, Mark Driscoll, Robert Morris and Ronnie Floyd as the faces of modern, mainstream Christianity - they are also seeing Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Andre the Giant, Randy Savage, and "The Undertaker" as faces of professional wrestling.

And to most Americans, they can't tell the difference:  all showmen, performers on stage, performing in front of cheering, star-struck fans, selling their stories to earn a buck and gain notoriety, and the only people still buying the tickets are the most gullible among us.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Caner's "Polar Plunge"

Below is the video of Ergun Caner leaving the chapel service this week at Brewton Parker and taking a dive into the school's swimming pool fully clothed. Then a bunch of other lemmings students and staff followed and jumped in with him while he fist-pumped the air.

Apparently Caner challenged his brother Emir to some sort of athletic contest with their schools' respective basketball teams this fall. But what this challenge has to do with Ergun flopping into the pool followed by some of the faculty, staff, and gullible students is unclear. Maybe they were doing it to show they were "all in" for Jesus. Who knows. You can't try to make sense out of Ergun Caner - you just have to sit back and enjoy the show, and marvel how he gets people to follow him.

There you go, Georgia Baptists. You hired him. He is yours. When you put money in the plate this Sunday, you get to help pay Caner's salary. Praise the Lord.

And don't forget to follow Ergun's tweets this weekend while he is at the WrestleMania 30 event in New Orleans.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Paige Patterson and SWBTS Unveil Chapel Stained Glass Window in Honor of FBC Jax Watchdog

Paige Patterson has announced that one of the 70 stained glass windows to be installed in the new J.W. MacGorman Chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will feature the "old recalcitrant fleabag", FBC Jax Watchdog.

The window will feature a round, forward-facing, medallion-style inscription of the Watchdog with a slightly protruding tongue to represent his tireless efforts in blogging about important matters in the SBC and modern evangelicalism. The inscription on the window will read "He blogged from his mother's basement", with a beautiful oval globe to represent the Watchdog's world-wide outreach and to honor how God can use even a seemingly insignificant blogger to spread the truth to so many who need to hear it - all over the world.

The inscription of "He blogged from his mother's basement" is a reference to Ergun Caner and others who have unfairly criticized bloggers as being "frustrated people blogging from their mother's basements." Some have even accused bloggers of writing blogs in their underwear, which the Watchdog has vehemently denied since as he says "..dogs don't generally wear undergarments."

Already there have been nine of the windows installed in the chapel, including W.A. Criswell baptizing a man in the Jordan River while wearing a well-pressed blazer and tie, O.S. Hawkins and his wife, Rick Warren (shown at right), Charles Stanley, Andy and Joan Horner, and Huber Drumright, Jr.

SWBTS student reaction to the announcement of the new FBC Jax Watchdog window was mixed. One student said that no troublemaker like the Watchdog should be inscribed in stained glass - while another student - who wished to remain anonymous - said "Well, I guess if they're going to give a window to Andy Horner and Huber Drumright and Dottie Riley - none of whom I've ever heard of - why not the FBC Jax Watchdog for all he has done to hold misbehaving churches and pastors accountable in the 21st century?"

When asked why the Watchdog would be given such an honor, Patterson said he respects the Watchdog's blogging efforts and his tenacity to endure trials and hardships and efforts to "shut him down", even though he said with a hearty chuckle, "The old fleabag recalcitrant has busted my chops a few times over the past 7 years." Watchdog first wrote about Paige Patterson in 2007 when Patterson called Watchdog and others at his home church "recalcitrants" in the old SWBTS chapel for attacking the "man of God". Watchdog also wrote in 2008 about the Sheri Klouda firing at SWBTS and some of the public statements made by prominent SBC preachers.

The exact location of the FBC Jax Watchdog window within the chapel is yet to be determined. Patterson said it will likely be in the Ergun Mehmet Giovanni Caner Center for Truth in Debating, or perhaps in the window above the last stall in the men's bathroom on the 2nd floor.