Friday, May 21, 2010

Dr. Ergun Caner, Liberty, and Credibility

There has been quite a lot of back and forth surrounding Dr. Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Theological Seminary. If you haven’t heard of the issue (and that wouldn’t be overly surprising), here’s the basic issue: Dr. Ergun Caner has talked publicly, on many occasions, about his youth and how he grew up as a serious or devout Muslim, including wearing Muslim garb and other such details, before his conversion to Christ as a young teenager.

Why is this a problem?

Well the problem has been catalogued by Dr. James R. White on his blog (also an important post was made by a blog contributor, Turretinfan, to this whole discussion). Dr. White’s contends (and I agree) that he can show factually that Dr. Ergun Caner has lied about his story – where he grew up, what he was like, how devout of a Muslim he was, and other things. Similarly, he has lied about who he’s debated in the Muslim community as well as other issues showing an apparent lack of proficiency in understanding the Islamic religion enough to debate it. This is also a problem because Drs. Ergun and Emir Caner have risen to some prominence since 9/11 because of their reputation as Islamic apologists and former Muslims. The primary concern of Dr. White (and myself) is that if Dr. Ergun Caner is exaggerating (at best) or blatantly lying during his public speaking (for whatever his reason may be) and ties that in with his gospel presentation, that it sullies the gospel and calls into question everything he says. Christians or other westerners who are ignorant of Islamic teaching or who are unaware of Dr. Caner’s history may be unaffected entirely by this problem. But the Muslims who are aware of their own religion and come to understand that the details of Dr. Caner’s life have been altered – for whatever reason – will understandably call all of what he says into question.

But this is not the primary point of my comments here. Again, I think there are serious issues that need to be addressed by Dr. Caner & Liberty Theological Seminary. In fact Liberty is investigating, now, Dr. Caner’s comments as they indicated in a public statement here. But it is the final comments from their chancellor that concern me:
“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.”

You don’t have to be part of the bloggosphere for long to know that there is a ton of garbage out there. And there are all sorts of unfounded attacks on persons, institutions, traditions, or whatever that deserves nothing more than to be ignored. And that is what seems to be the vibe from the chancellor’s comments. Now I’ve seen and heard the instances that Dr. White has brought up and what he’s put on his blog, and it is anything but crazy, fictional and wild-eyed ranting. Why should Liberty have waited until the secular media got their hands on this story before investigating when Christians have sought these answers for far longer? Why should it take a media event to get Christians to examine one of our own if there are actual issues that are raised with facts to support them?

Whatever the outcome of the investigation by Liberty, I fear that much damage has been done to the body of Christ. Many will blame men like Dr. White for being relentless in his demanding truth from Dr. Caner. But why should truth be so hard to mine from a Christian, much less a Christian leader, much less the president of a theological seminary.

I hope and pray that the truth comes out, and that the parties (whomever they may be) who have sinned in connection with this will be open, honest, and repentant so that the gospel may be magnified.


Turretinfan said...

Thanks for mentioning me! By the way, I think there may be an error in the link to Dr. White's blog. The correct URL is:

EJ said...

Thanks for pointing that out. And thanks for your documentating the photos of Dr. Caner.

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