Sunday, April 06, 2014

Is it Important to Pronounce Biblical Names "Authentically"?

Some people point out that the way we pronounce "Jehovah" and "Jesus" today are definitely not the way that the names were pronounced at the time the Pentateuch and Gospels were written.  For one thing, pronouncing the names with a hard J sound at the beginning represents the evolution of English/French.  Similarly, pronouncing "Jesus" with an "H" sound at the beginning represents the evolution of Spanish.

So, in some sense, we are pronouncing the words "wrong," in the sense that we are not pronouncing them as they were originally pronounced.  But does or should that matter?  With respect to Dominic Bnonn Tennant (who provides three nice reasons opposite to mine), the answer is no.

After all, the New Testament itself does not provide Greek transliterations that would lead to identical pronunciations of the Hebrew proper names that are being referenced.  Instead, the New Testament generally applies the same kinds of transliteration concepts that we see in the ancient Greek translations of the Old Testament.

Thus, for example, the name "Jehovah," is not even transliterated, but merely replaced by κύριος (kurios).  Likewise, the name "Jesus" is actually a transliteration for the same Hebrew name we transliterate in the Old Testament as "Joshua."

That first example is also the rebuttal to one of DBT's "particularly egregious examples."  DBT argues:
The fact that we inherited a silly Jewish superstition that YHWH should be pronounced “Adonai” (lord) in Hebrew, because to say the actual name of God amounted to blasphemy, is not a good reason to render it “LORD” in English. 
The problem with that argument is that we seem to have inherited it from the Holy Spirit who inspired the New Testament, in which the quotations of the Old Testament do not transliterate YHWH.  I'm not saying that transliteration is forbidden - but I think calling it a "silly Jewish superstition" seems extreme.

-TurretinFan

Friday, April 04, 2014

Follow Jesus

Jesus said:

  • Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19)
  • Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. (Matthew 8:22 / Luke 9:59)
  • (To Matthew aka Levi) Follow me. (Matthew 9:9 / Mark 2:14 / Luke 5:27)
  • (To Philip) Follow me. (John 1:43)
  • If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24 / Mark 8:34 / Luke 9:23)
  • If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (Matthew 19:21 / Mark 10:21 / Luke 18:22)
  • And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)
  • Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)
  • My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (John 10:27)
  • If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. (John 12:26)
  • (To Peter) Follow me. (John 21:19)

Do what Jesus said: follow Jesus.

-TurretinFan

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

"Many Wives" or "Other Wives" vs. "Two Wives" - Norman Geisler's Indefensible Defense of Caner

In his so-called apology, Ergun Caner claimed "I have never intentionally misled anyone."  I don't see how to reconcile that claim with the many times (not just one or two times) that Caner has described his father as having "many wives" or "other wives."  How was that not intended to mislead the listeners?

Recall that Norman Geisler attempted to defend Ergun Caner in this way (link to defense):
7. Ergun claimed his father had many wives and two half-brothers and two half-sisters, but there is no evidence for the half-brothers.

Response: Ergun’s father did have two wives, having divorced the first one.  He had three sons by his first wife (Ergun and his two brothers).  So, Ergun has two full brothers and two step-sisters (from his father’s second wife).  While speaking quickly on one occasion, he mistakenly called his brothers his “half” brothers.  This is hardly evidence of an attempt to embellish or deceive.  After all, he had the right number of each sibling, and he didn’t claim to have ten brothers or sisters!
Ergun's father did have two wives - one after the other -  not many wives.  Yet Ergun repeatedly claimed his father had "other wives" besides Ergun's mother.  "Two wives" does not support that claim, even if it could somehow be used to support the "many wives" claim.  Ergun also claimed that his father immigrated with "wives."  That also does not match the two serial marriages story.

Furthermore, Ergun did not use the "half-brothers" claim only once.  He used it at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge and in two different messages at Ashburn Baptist Church.

And Ergun was not referring to his brothers when he said it.  At Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, Ergun said "I have half-brothers and sisters who don't know Jesus."  Likewise, at Ashburn Baptist on June 3 Ergun said, "And so in 1978, my father, my mother, my two brothers, my father's other wives, and my half-brothers and sisters came to this country."  And then again at Ashburn Baptist on June 5 Ergun said "I have half-brothers and half-sisters in Chicago, in New York, and in Turkey, who live here, who are still lost as geese" and again a few second later "How dare I give up! My half-brothers, my uncles, my aunts, How dare I give up!"

In short, while part of what Geisler wrote in defense of Ergun on this point is true ("two wives" and two half-sisters) much is untrue: it was not just once that he referred to "half-brothers" and he was not referring to his own brothers when he did so.  Even the true part falls short of defending the "other wives" claim or - bluntly speaking - even the "many wives" claim.

This and a number of other serious problems with Caner's autobiographical claims are documented in the Caner Affair article (link), which is mostly an index to other posts that document a lot of what Ergun Caner has said.  Currently, the list of source posts is around 54 or so (and growing), but some of those source posts deal with more than one speaking occasion.  For example, Dr. Caner has spoken multiple times at some churches, and generally those messages are grouped together in a single source post.

-TurretinFan

Ergun Caner - West Cabarrus Church

Apparently, on July 18, 2010, Ergun Caner spoke at West Cabarrus Church, on Acts 12, "Will You be a Rhoda?" (link) This was after the results of Liberty's investigation of Caner had been completed (link to source).

1:00 "Turkish, born in Stockholm, Sweden, but Turkish"

It would be nice if he said "half Turkish," but ok.

1:20 "I ended up in the ministry, having been raised in Islam, and then born again later in life, I ended up in the ministry"

"Later in life"?  Try high school?

6:10 "We have two kids who are beautiful half-breeds, half me and half mama, and some day they're either going to speak Turkish in a southern accent, or they're going to ignore me in two languages."

Since when does Caner speak Turkish?

6:25 "Jill does not call me 'Ergun,' my name, Ergun Mehmet Caner"

No, Ergun Michael Caner.

25:50 "Raised as a Muslim, do you know what we did five times a day? We faced Mecca, and we prayed! But do you know what we're doing when we pray? We're repeating the first chapter of the Koran over and over. Six verses."

No, seven verses.

28:25 "the guy with a 2.0 through high school"

We know he was a pretty good student in college, but interesting claim nonetheless.

32:50 "We came to America to build mosques."

He came as a toddler.

33:15  "One boy, one boy heard from God, Jerry Tackett. And when nobody believed him, and when he kept coming and I kept telling him no, freshman year, sophomore year, junior year - I kept telling him shut up, leave me alone, I don't want to go to your church, I go to the mosque ... "

If it was the first half of his junior year, that could have been 1982, but that would still not match the account in the Caners' book.

37:00 "A year later, my brothers were both Christians."

That has been one of the constants in the various stories.  I hope it is true.

-TurretinFan

Monday, March 31, 2014

Emir Caner - Salem Baptist Church

If you have an interest in the Ergun Caner affair, consider listening to a message Emir Caner delivered in 2013 at Salem Baptist Church (link to page)(link to mp3). You will hear things like "My father's Turkish, my mother's Swedish" and "Swedish was my first language, English was my second language."  I do wish Emir would come out and correct the many errors that we have documented Ergun making (link to documentation).

Then again, if I followed the sermon correctly, it sounded like Emir placed his own disowning by his father close to his conversion, and says he did not see his father for - if I heard correctly - "fourteen" years, which would seem to place Emir's conversion around 1985, rather than the 1982 mentioned in his book.

Ergun Caner - First Baptist Church, Mount Vernon, Georgia

Dr. Ergun Caner very recently (March 2, 2014) spoke at the First Baptist Church, Mount Vernon, Georgia (link to video).   Pastor Karl Hay (apparently one of the trustees that voted to call Ergun Caner to Brewton-Parker) has a rather gushing introduction to Dr. Caner at the beginning of the video.  It is another one of Caner's sermons regarding the feeding of the 5,000, exalting "anonymous" saints. It avoids some of the more extravagant embellishments we've seen - but the historical account it provides is not consistent, neither with itself nor with the testimony provided in the Caners' book.

8:05 "Turkish, born in Sweden, immigrant, Yankee"

That's better than some of the older presentations.

8:15 "Born as a Muslim, you know, raised in an Islamic home, born in Stockholm, Sweden, but Turkish. Come to America, my father builds mosques. Got saved in Columbus, Ohio."

a) I have yet to see any evidence corroborating this idea that his dad built "mosques."
b) He was apparently "raised" primarily in the non-Muslim home of his mother and grandmother.
c) He was "raised" after coming to America.  I know he doesn't say he's telling the story in order here.

8:50 "I got saved going into college, in high school going into college."

That does sound like he's suggesting his senior year, doesn't it?

9:30 "My full name Ergun Mehmet Caner."

No, it's Ergun Michael Caner.  Ergun Mehmet Caner is a pen-name or pseudonym, like "TurretinFan."

9:40 "Ergun, Ergun [using a different pronunciation], Mehmet, my father's middle name - I took it when he died and Caner is Caner [using a different pronunciation]."

Well, it's nice to see him pointing out that this was not his birth name.  But the evidence is that Caner took this name as his pseudonym shortly after the September 11 attacks in late 2001, rather than in 1999 when his father died.

10:30 "Her father is from Possum Kill, NC."

It would be great to see any evidence that such a place exists.

23:40 "It was a high school freshman who wouldn't shut up until our senior year, Jerry Tackett. Almost four years, Jerry Tackett kept coming - invited me - invited me. Now picture this, the Muslim kid moves to Columbus, Ohio, I don't look like you people, I don't know what you people do in your church, I have no idea what these Christians are, I don't want nothin' to do with you. We go to the mosque. Except in that case, the masjid was not yet built, but we would go to gather, we would do our prayers, we would spend our time, and we were surrounded by you people. And anything I ever heard about Christianity, I heard by rumor."

a) Aside from his Swedish Lutheran grandmother that lived with him?
b) Was he really saved in his senior year 1983-84 or earlier, like around 1981, as alleged in his book?
c) What does he mean, the masjid was not built yet?
d) He did look like us people based on the photos of his childhood.
e) Doesn't he mean "Muslim toddler" to be more precise? That's not the impression his story gives, is it?

25:40 "I couldn't even tell you how many times Tackett asked me. He'll tell you. 'Cause he and I are still buddies, and you'll see him, 'cause I'm bringin' him. And when that guy shows up, he hates it when I use his name. 'Cause that's all he does is witness."

This should be interesting, if Tackett will clarify the timeline.

27:00 "Finally, in my senior year in high school, at Gahanna Lincoln High School, in Columbus, Ohio, I decided to shut him up."

Still sounds like senior year...

33:25 "I go home, that night, to tell my father, [something apparently gibberish, sounds like mubin-allah], I'm saved. It's the last night I see my dad, until seventeen years later when he passes away."

His father died in 1999.  1999-17=1982  But that would be his sophomore year or junior year, since he graduated in 1984.  So, which is it?

33:45 "A year later, both my brothers got saved, all three boys raised as devout Muslims"

There's some kind of edit in the video around 34:20.  I have no idea what was deleted or how long the deletion was.  My guess, based on similar sermons, is that it was only a few seconds of lost/removed material, but there is no way I know of, to be sure.

- TurretinFan

Ergun Caner - First Baptist Church Pearl City, June 1, 2007

Ergun Caner spoke at First Baptist Church Pearl City, June 1, 2007, as part of a conference from May 31 to June 2, titled "Possess the Land:Equipping for Evangelism" (see this archive).  This message is the one that, if I recall correctly, opened my eyes to the fact that there was something fishy going on with Dr. Caner's autobiography.  I would love to link you to a copy of the full video for this, but unfortunately for you the church's website no longer carries this video or indeed the conference materials found at the archive above.

0:10 "My brother is exactly right I am sure that serving here you guys probably have people all the time going 'You know, brother, I feel led to come,' because it's Hawaii. Well, let me assuage some of your fears. I am not going to the beach once. No offense to the beach - the beach is beautiful and it's gorgeous - I'm just not a beach person. I was born in Istanbul, Turkey. I am a sand monkey. Been called worse. I came to America after going to Beirut and then Cairo. And when I came to America in 1978 at the age of 14 years old, I have lived a very urban life. I am a very citified person. Never had a lawn to mow, I've never fished - hunted - I'll share more about this in a little while, but it's all to say, I wanted to come for a number of reasons, one of which was the work that I do. Being raised a Sunni Muslim, speaking Arabic, and being raised in the world, we have - my brothers and I - find out about some of the things that the Muslim community is doing ... ."

a) No, he was born in Stockholm, Sweden.
b) There's no evidence we've seen that he came to America from Sweden via Beirut or Cairo.
c) He came in about 1969, not 1978.
d) He was two or three when he came, not fourteen.
e) He does not "speak Arabic," though he has apparently memorized the Surah Al-Fatiha and the Shahada, and knows a smattering of other Arabic words.

2:30 "I have seven degrees post-high-school, and I am going to continue to take classes and get degrees until I die."

We have found evidence of five earned degrees (link to discussion here).  Where are those extra two degrees? Is there any evidence he took any degree work after he was awarded his doctorate from the University of South Africa?

4:15 "I married a girl who does not call me by my full name. My full name is Ergun Michael Mehmet Giovanni Caner. She calls me Butch."

No, his name is Ergun Michael Caner.

27:05 "I graduated 216th out of a class of 394. Top third of the bottom half."

Compare with his claim at Olive Baptist to be 207 out of 404 (link to Olive Baptist excerpts).  I'm guessing both numbers are just made up.

29:05 "Young'uns, there was a time when I was 18 years old, and had a foot-long Muslim mullet hangin' off the back of my head"

It is possible he grew his hair out when he was 18, but he was apparently in Bible college in November 1984, when he turned 18.

35:25 "I spend my life, on purpose, around heathens."

It looks like he was spending a big chunk of his life speaking to churches and church groups.

41:45 "Until I was 18 years old, I hated you. I know that's harsh, but that's absolutely the truth. I can state it. I was raised to hate you. My father was a muezzin in a mosque - the one who does the call to prayer. And so we came to America because he was an architect and he built mosques. And He built the mosque in Columbus, Ohio and he modified the mosque in Toledo, Ohio, built the mosque in Kettering, Ohio. My father was an architect. We came here as missionaries to you."

a) Notice the reference again to age 18.
b) I question whether his father did anything more than occasionally do the call to prayer.
c) I also question this claim that his father was an architect.
d) I looked for a mosque in Kettering, Ohio.  I couldn't find one.  Maybe you can?
e) He came as a toddler, and there is no evidence I've seen to corroborate the idea that his father intended to be a "missionary."

42:25 "I dressed differently, spoke differently, acted differently, walked differently, ate differently, and I lived in a country, for the first time in my life, as a minority. And I hated you."

a) We've seen his photos.  He looked pretty much the same and I would be surprised if he sounded much different.

b) Muslims were a minority in Sweden, his birthplace, as well as America, the place he moved.

44:10 "One kid who for four years, hunted me down. He started when we were freshmen in high school in Gahanna Lincoln High School, in Gahanna, OH, and he did not stop until I was a senior - going into my senior year. 'Dude do you want to come with me' 'Dude, do you want to come with me to roller skating?' 'yeah, there's not a lot of roller skating in sand, so no.'"

a) He was a senior from 1983-84, i.e. when he was 16-17, and if it was the summer before his senior year, that would be 16.

b) What does sand have to do with it?

45:45 "so, finally, going into my senior year, I decided I would show him. Now bear in mind, I am in full keffiyah. "

He may have worn "Muslim" garb on some rare occasions, but the pictures we have of his childhood almost all show him in western clothing.

51:50 "Papa, Isa bin Allah - I believe in Jesus - [some gibberish apparently supposed to sound like Arabic] It was November the 4th, 1982, and it was the last day I saw my father. I was out. His oldest son, and I was out. I lost my family, and discovered that the church was my family. I lived in people's basements and garages."

a) It's disappointing that Caner would pretend to speak in another language.
b) His mom had custody of him at that time, so there is no reason he would need to live in someone else's home.

53:10 "A year later, I was called to preach. I don't know how y'all do it, but I came forward that morning. My grasp of the Bible was horrible. I didn't know what he was calling me to. But Clarence turned me around in front of that church, and here's what he did - handkerchief again, he said: 'Well, Bless God! This morning Brother Arrogant' - 'cause he never could get my name right - "This morning Brother Arrogant comes forward to surrender to the gospel ministry. He'll be preaching his first sermon, tonight.' I had four hours, 'cause our church didn't get out at 12, honey. It was a seven minute sermon and it was the night that both my brothers got saved."

That would mean he was preaching some time after his senior year, but he apparently when off to Bible college after high school.

55:20 "Now listen, the rest of my family - my father died a Muslim, his other wives, his other children, still Muslims."

Dr. Caner's dad apparently remarried once after divorcing Caner's mom.  But "other wives" would imply at least yet another wife beyond those two.

- TurretinFan

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ergun Caner - Harold Hendrick Interview

Apparently, on September 3, 2009, Harold Hendrick interviewed Ergun Caner (link)(link to mp3).

0:35 Harold Hendrick: "He's the son of a Muslim leader, born in Turkey I believe, right Dr. Caner?"
Ergun Caner: "Yes Sir"

Ergun Caner was born in Sweden.

4:45 Ergun Caner: "Even my country, Turkey, which is sadly trying to be part of the European Union, refuses to admit - you know - refuses to admit what we did - the genocide on the Armenians, which we actually did do, and refuses to admit that honor killings take place in Turkey as well."

There may in fact be "honor killings" in Turkey, and there may be some sense in which Turkey is Caner's country: it's the country where his father and paternal ancestors were born and he may possibly even have received a Turkish passport when he was a child.  By itself this statement wouldn't be very objectionable, but in this case it serves to reinforce the previous "Yes sir" to the direct question about being born in Turkey.

-TurretinFan

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jacques Le Goff - Reflecting on "The Birth of Purgatory"

In The Medieval Imagination, at p. 86, Jacques Le Goff reflects on his earlier work, The Birth of Purgatory (footnote omitted):
Not long ago I completed several years of work on the birth of Purgatory. From the early days of Christianity Christians have shown by their prayers for the dead that they believed in the possibility of remission of sins after death. But the time, place, and manner of purgation for a long time remained quite vague, despite the suggested solutions to the problem put forward by Clement of Alexandria and Origen in the East, where Purgatory never took hold, and by Augustine and Gregory the Great in the West, where the location of Purgatory was never really defined before the twelfth century, in the final three decades of which the noun purgatorium first emerged. This veritable "birth" of Purgatory can be seen as part of a major shift in attitudes and feelings that took place around the turn of the thirteenth century, resulting in a new geography of the other world and in a new relation between the society of the living and that of the dead.
I offer several comments:

It should be clear that Purgatory was not an Apostolic tradition.  It was something that developed over time, and developed primarily in the West.  There were some early Christians who prayed for the dead, hoping that their sins would be remitted, but keep in mind that some of these were hoping that people would be released from hell.

It is understandable that Christians "believed in the possibility of" or more precisely "hoped for" remission of sins after dead. After all, we ourselves would wish to have such a chance, should we find ourselves in a similar position.  Nevertheless, such a belief or hope should not serve as a basis for our doctrine, however. Instead, we should cling to divine revelation.

Purgatory is like many other doctrinal innovations.  It can be traced back to a number of lesser precursor errors.  Nevertheless, in the final analysis, it plainly is an innovation.  The reason there was no vocabulary word purgatorium before the second half of the 12th century was because there was no concept of such a place that needed that name.  It's not that the place used to be called something else, it's that - as Le Goff says, there was "a major shift in attitudes and feelings that took place" and consequently there was born "a new geography of the other world and in a new relation between the society of the living and that of the dead."

We ought to reject these innovations, because they are not authentic Christianity: authentic Christianity is based on divine revelation.  These doctrines of Purgatory are not apostolic tradition, nor do they become apostolic tradition, simply because some people had hope for posthumous remission of sins before the innovation of these peculiar doctrines.

-TurretinFan

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ergun Caner - International Missions Conference 2008

Apparently, on November 2, 2008, Ergun Caner delivered a message to the International Missions Conference 2008 at Forest Baptist Church (link to page)(link to mp3). The message was titled, "Your Mission Call" and Psalm 145 was the text (all times are approximate).

1:15 "I've been preaching for twenty-five years"

That would put his beginning to preach back in 1983.

2:20 "My wife and I are a mixed marriage. My wife is from Haw River, NC, and I am from Istanbul, Turkey."

He's not from Istanbul.  He was born in Sweden and grew up in Ohio.

12:00 "I came to this country as a missionary to you - as a Muslim, Turkish, Sunni, Muslim."

He came as a toddler.

24:25 "Do you know who reached me for the gospel? raised as a Muslim, raised as jihadeen, living in a madrassa, coming to America to build mosques, worshiping a false god named 'Allah'?"

There is nothing to suggest that Caner was raised as a jihadi and - as noted above - he came as a toddler.

25:20 "Because if it wasn't for a high school boy, trying to earn his AWANA badge or an RA badge or whatever he was trying to do, I wouldn't be in front of you, I'd be behind you, and up to no good."

This suggestion that Caner would be "up to no good" seems to part of this "jihadi" mystique.  But there is no evidence that I've even seen that the Columbus, Ohio Muslims his dad was associated with were jihadists.

25:30 "Jerry Tackett started when I was a freshman in high school and did not stop until I was a senior. Jerry Tackett never took no for an answer. Jerry Tackett didn't care. I played on the soccer team, I played on the basketball team, he played on those teams. I would be praying on my prayer rug in the locker room, look up, and there he's standing."

Soccer yes, basketball no (according to his yearbook).

Also, Caner graduated in 1984 - his senior year was 1983-84.  I realize some churches make men preachers who are novices, but that would really be something - if Caner were converted and became a preacher in the fall of 1983.  Of course, that still wouldn't fit with his 1982 claims elsewhere.

It's hard to say whether Caner actually said his prayers in the locker room at high school.  I would think that would not be the most likely spot for a devout Muslim to pick.

-TurretinFan

Reading Like an Egalitarian

Owen Strachan wrote: “The curse bore down upon Eve’s primary activity, childbearing, showing that her intended sphere of labor and dominion-taking was the home (Genesis 3:16).”

Rachel Held Evans responded: “Classic. Root feminine identity in the curse rather than the redemptive work of Christ... .”

I'd call Evans' response unfair, if I thought she was smart enough to figure out what Strachan actually meant.

Strachan's point was simple: each was being cursed in his respective sphere. The curse identifies the spheres, it doesn't define them. Women were made for childbearing before the curse, but the curse made that a burden to them. And keeping in mind Christ's redemptive work, the Apostle writes: "she shall be saved in childbearing" (1 Timothy 2:15). Female identity is rooted in creation not merely the curse.

The Teacher tells us: "he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." (1 Corinthians 11:7-9)

Furthermore, in that state of innocence in the garden, the woman - not the man - was deceived. The Apostle again, now in fuller context:

1 Timothy 2:11-15
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

The curse is not what led to women being responsible for childbearing. The curse is what made childbearing laborious and painful. And redemption doesn't free women from maternal responsibility, it urges them on to it!

Titus 2:1-6
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

What Rachel Held Evans has a problem with is God the Father's creation ordinance of human patriarchy. I'm not sure whether she has the ability to read clearly, so I'm loathe to say that she intentionally misrepresents the Bible. Nevertheless, her unwelcome and illogical teachings do not conform to Scripture.

-TurretinFan

Ergun Caner - Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma - Annual Meeting 2009

Ergun Caner apparently addressed the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma at their annual meeting in 2009.  The following are some excerpts from that address (all times approximate) (link to mp3):

0:55 "I was born overseas, to Turkish parents, as a Sunni Muslim. We came to America with my father who built mosques. We settled in Columbus, OH, and it was in Columbus, OH, in 1982, that I found Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior."

a) Did Caner's dad actually build mosques?  I'd love to see some evidence of this.
b) Was Caner's mom Turkish or Swedish?  Her mother was apparently exclusively Swedish speaking.
c) I hope Caner got saved in 1982 as he claimed, but compare below:

8:40 "As a matter of fact, when I got saved at the age of 17 going on 18, I knew nothing about what church was supposed to look like. I knew nothing about Baptists, I had never been in a church, never held a Bible, I didn't go through AWANA, I'd never been to a GA coronation, had never been in a VBS, I knew nothing."

Caner turned 17 in November of 1983, and 18 in November of 1984.  So, was it in 1982 or some other year?

34:10 "I have an entire group of people - an entire cottage industry, dedicated to attacking me and my brother, and those of us who are former Muslims. 'He was never a Muslim! No Muslim has ever converted!' Well, here's one right here. 'Oh, this is all lies - this is all lies.' I maybe see five people saved a year out of Islam. My job is not about keeping score, my job is to be faithful to the task to which He's called me."

a) I hope that Caner has reached people for the gospel.
b) I don't think Caner's characterization of the "group of people" is very accurate.

37:10 "Do you know who reached me for the gospel? A Muslim who moved to this country to build mosques to you? Whose father was, for lack of a better term, a missionary to you?"

a) Caner came when he was a toddler.
b) A better term would be "engineer."  Caner's father was not, from what we can tell, an occupational "missionary" or anything like that.

38:00 "Thank God for Jerry Tackett. You'll never know his name. He's a high school teacher in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, who hates it when I use his name."

I bet he does hate it.  People probably ask him whether these stories are true, placing him in a difficult position.

41:00 "I live a weird life. My kids see me on TV. I got all these books. But I'm the same idiot I was when I was 18 years old and didn't know Ha-bak'-kuk from Ha-ba-kook' - and called Philemon, "Filet Mignon," and I couldn't find a church that would hire me as a pastor, because my English was poor, and look at me - fat, balding since I was 16 - not the good-looking preachers with hair gel - I wear a vest because it's a male girdle. So I couldn't find a church to call me."

Why would his English be poor?  He grew up in America - he was involved in theater in high school.  How "poor" are we to believe his English was?

- TurretinFan

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ergun Caner - Northwest Baptist Convention - 2007 and 2009

Ergun Caner apparently spoke at the November 2007 NW Baptist Convention (Number 1, Number 2) and at the 2009 NW Baptist Student Convention (Number 1, Number 2)  (link to the Northwest Baptist Convention homepage).  All times in the following are approximate.  If history is any guide, it may be beneficial to download the audio soon, before someone asks that it be removed.

  • 2007 NW Baptist Convention - Number 1

4:00 "My full name is Ergun Mehmet Caner"

No, it isn't.

6:15 "I came to faith in Jesus Christ in 1982"

I hope he did, but that date doesn't match his testimony on other occasions.

10:05 "We have two beautiful half breed children - they ignore me in two languages.  ... I speak to them in Turkish, Jill speaks to them in redneck ..."

As far as we can tell, Caner doesn't speak Turkish.

10:25 "With my name Ergun Mehmet Caner, Jill does not call me Ergun Mehmet Caner, she calls me Butch."

"Butch" was apparently his nickname going back at least to college, but "Ergun Mehmet Caner" was apparently his pseudonym following 9/11.

10:40 "I learned the language, coming to this country. And I learned that in the South, each region of the South has a different flavor of their dialect."

I guess that's technically true, given that he came as a toddler.  I doubt he learned about dialects as a toddler, though.

11:20 "Her father is from Possum Kill, NC"

It would be great to see some evidence that this place really exists.

19:45 "I leave here after tonight's service, Dr. Cruz, I have to - apologetically I have to miss, but I'll steal your sermon later, cause I steal everything I've got - I was all into the Warren Wiersbe "Be Stolen" series back when they were coming out.  I drive from here back down to Seattle, because I'm an idiot. I get on an 11:00 flight, I fly to Washington, DC, then to Roanoke, I pick up my son.  The 9 year old Braxton and I then go to Kenya. We got on a 4 pm flight tomorrow.  And I speak at Kabarak University and debate the Maathai tribe there - the Muslims there."

Ergun did go to Kabarak University (as documented here) to sign an academic deal with that university on behalf of Liberty University (see the image and further discussion below).

I'm not sure what tribe Caner had in mind. Presumably, Caner meant the Maasai people (link), but as far as I can tell, those people are not Muslims.

Is there any actual debate that took place? I cannot find any evidence to corroborate that story.

21:00 "For some reason, the little world that I travel in, debate, is big now. And so when we debate, it builds the crowds, and people come and we have a chance to present the gospel."

I can't see how he lives in the world of debate, seeing as he does not seem to have any significant amount of actual debating experience.

22:15 "I'm happy if in a year, Emir and I will see together maybe 5, 6, 7 Muslims come to Christ.  When they come forward, they come forward to yell at us. Arcade Baptist Church in Sacramento, California, a thousand Muslims showed up. At the invitation, the pastor at the time, Daniel Henderson gave the invitation, and they came down both aisles, with Korans in their hand, yelling. Now how do you report that to the director of missions? There's not a block anywhere in that form. They come forward to yell - they throw things - they scream."

I would love to see some documentation of this supposed event.  Is there any audio or video from that day?

Also, I hope that Muslims do come to Christ through the work of anyone at all, including Ergun and Emir.  That said, when would this happen? I've found dozens of recordings of them speaking to Christians - where did they speak to Muslims?

40:15 "I had to become like them. I tried. I got FFA magazines - I did.  If you don't know what that is, Future Farmers of America, I got 4H, I got 4H, I got all those magazines and I'd write down the words they said on post-it notes, and I'd tape them, put them up on my mirror and then as I shaved, I would practice the words they use. And I would try to use the real phrases so that they could understand me.  One Sunday, I was trying to illustrate noetic sin, that man is not a sinner because he sins, he sins because he's sinner, that it's part of who you are, it's your DNA.  And I said, 'It's as natural for a man to sin as it is for a bull to chase after a --' and I forgot -- I know, I know, cow, cow, I know, I know but I said, 'as it is for a bull to chase after a she-bull.' God's truth! I couldn't even give the invitation, I had to walk out. It's the truth!"

I have trouble believing that Caner couldn't remember the word "cow."

  • 2007 NW Baptist Convention - Number 2

4:40 "You know, eight months after I got saved, I went to college. I didn't know much, I didn't know anything. I went to Bible college, because I wanted to catch up."

That would imply he was saved in his senior year of high school.  That does not match with some of his other testimonies.

21:45 "My father had many wives, but from our mother, three boys."

His father, as far as we know, only had Caner's mother and one woman afterward as wives.

26:30 "My mom was divorced when my brothers became Christians. My father left her, blaming her for our conversion."

Ergun Caner's parents first filed for divorce when he was only 8 years old (see evidence here).  His father may have blamed his mother for their conversion, but that could hardly be the reason for the divorce, unless they were converted far younger than any of their testimonies have said.

32:05 "I spend the vast majority of my life, on purpose, among heathens who hate me. I go to community colleges, and universities, and state schools - that's why I'm going to Narobi, to Kabarak, because they throw things, and they yell things, because they've never seen Christians half the time."

Actually, why he went to Kenya was for the reason you can see in the embedded image.  It was to sign a deal between that university and Liberty University (as discussed on Liberty's site here).

And Liberty describes Kabarak University this way: "The country’s second president, Daniel T. Moi, founded the school in 2000 to provide Kenyan students with an academically excellent and biblically sound college education."  That's hardly "heathens," at least as described by Liberty.

35:00 "You go to Youtube and type in Caner and taser and you'll see that I got tasered live on stage in front of 5,000 kids. Why? I can't remember, it hurt that bad."

You can see this event from one angle and it looks pretty convincing (one link).  If you look at this event from another angle (second link), notice the taser operator picking up one of the leads from off the floor.  Then in this third angle, you can see the second lead bouncing harmlessly off his shirt (third link).  A lot of people recorded this, so you get yet a fourth angle here (link).  Still, those second and third angles make it clear that he did not get both barbs.

39:20 "I was 18 years old and hated you. You know what reached for the gospel as a Muslim given to jihadeen? A Muslim who hated the Jew and the Christian? A kid whose father was muezzin in the mosque - not the imam but the muezzin and an ulima?"

"An ulima" is not grammatically correct.  It should be "an alim," as "ulima" is a plural noun meaning "scholars."  I question whether Caner's dad was a muezzin in any greater sense that he volunteered to do the call to prayer a few times.

If Caner was 18 when he still hated Christians, that would put his conversion at the earliest in November of 1984, which is after he graduated from high school. That does not fit well with his own claim about when he was converted.

40:00 "Jerry Tackett hunted me down for three years. I got kicked out of my home, I lost my family, everything. I lived in people's garages and basements. A year later that same boy in the same little tiny church  reached both my brothers. All three boys, raised as jihadeen, born again."

Apparently, Caner's non-custodial dad disowned him.  However, there is nothing to support the idea that his hippy universalist mother or Swedish Lutheran grandmother did.  So, I really question this "kicked out of my house" idea and the "lived in people's garages and basements" idea.

Likewise, Caner seems to be suggesting that he and his brothers were raised as Jihadis.  There is no corroboration of this story.

  • 2009 NW Baptist Student Convention - Saturday Morning

2:20 "I was bit nervous because, let me explain it this way, and you're probably going to think less of me, but that's the nature of the beast isn't it. When I lived in Istanbul, the only American television that I saw, became the window that I had into your world. The only thing I knew about America, I learned through television. Until I was getting ready to go into high school, that's all I knew was whatever I saw on TV. And so I thought that was America."

Caner came to America when he was about two years old, not when he was getting ready to go to high school.  There is no evidence that Caner ever "lived in" Istanbul, though possibly he visited it.

3:10 "Everything I knew about you, I knew through television. And so I watched Andy Griffith."

He goes on to compare Mayberrry to Brooklyn.  But I doubt a toddler would have noticed the difference.

3:30 "I watched the Dukes of Hazzard. I wanted to marry Daisy."

The Dukes of Hazzard didn't even begin to air until the late 70's, after Caner and his parents had been living in America for a decade or so.

3:50 "Every other week, for two hours, on Mehmet television, in Istanbul, Georgia Championship Wrestlin' - WWE and all that, was America to me."

As far as I can tell, this is a fictional television station.  Also, apparently Georgian Championship Wrestlin' went onto national cable in 1979 (see the discussion here). It's hard to believe it was going international before it went national.

4:45 "So I moved to America and the first two things we did, we went to a Cubs-Mets game ... and then we went to Madison Square Garden to watch wrestling."

I doubt a two year old went to those things as his first thing upon entering the U.S., although I supp

7:10 "You need to understand, my children ignore me in two languages. I speak Turkish and they speak Turkish sometimes, but with a southern accent."

28:00 "So when I talk to those people, and I say, 'Let me tell you what my parents went through. See, my father left my mom, because he blamed her that we got saved.'"

As noted above, that story does not fit the documented timeline.

  • 2009 NW Baptist Student Convention - Saturday Afternoon

0:00 "You don't have to sign anything, you just download whatever debates. I have a two hour debate with the homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, every type of Muslim and Buddhist you can imagine, a Baha'i, I'm going to debate a Baha'i on Monday again. It will be my second one of this four week break. It's just something I want you to have, and I only give it to you because (a) I don't get to spend that much time with you and (b) it's coming here."

I've previously analyzed these so-called debates (see the discussion here).  Calling these interviews "debates," is very hard to justify, as there is hardly any interaction that I could hear.  They may be useful for students, in terms of hearing how various "world religions" describe themselves to Christians, but they can hardly be considered "debates."

0:30 "Every eight years there's a meeting of the caliphat, when the caliphat meets. The caliphat basically religious rulers in the Islamic world - all Sunni. What they do is they target certain states in the United States. They just finished with Hawaii they built three mosques in Hawaii. They just finished Washington, DC - the largest mosque that they built was in Washington, DC. Seattle's next - Seattle, WA, actually the state of Washington itself is next. And what they do is pump money in to that state."

The caliphate is the rule by the caliph, like a monarchy is a rule by a monarch.  There has been no caliphate since Turkish military leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk abolished it on March 3, 1924 (see information here). I have no idea what shadowy group, real or imagined, Caner has in mind.  There is a large mosque in DC, but it opened in 1957 (see information here).

The closest thing I could find to this "every eight years" reference was the following, which describes a practice of Shia Muslims (not Sunni) in Iran:
The faqih generally oversees the operation of the government to ensure that its policies and actions conform to Islamic principles. The faqih is a spiritual leader whose religious authority is above that of the president and any other officials. However, in keeping with the practice established by Khomeini, the faqih is expected to refrain from involvement in the day-to-day affairs of governance. An 83-member Assembly of Experts, popularly elected every eight years, is responsible for choosing the faqih (or a council of three to five faqihs, if there is no consensus on a single faqih) from among the most politically and religiously qualified Shia clergy.
(source) - but I see no way to get from that to anything that Caner is saying.

6:10 "When I came to America, it was my job to get married. I'm the oldest of three sons to my father,he had other wives, three sons to our mom. As the oldest, it was my job to be the first one to get married. I was the  teenager. I had been sworn in marriage at age 8, in Istanbul, but because we moved, I didn't have to be married to that girl who had a better mustache than I did. Turkish women: my people, every Friday night, all the women Nair on their upper lip, all the men, shaving to separate the eyebrow. We all have hairy backs. Is that graphic enough for you? Well I didn't want to marry a Turk - I didn't want to marry a female version of this."

Caner had already been living in America for about 6 years by age 8.  The idea that he came to America as a "teenager" i.e. in late 1979 or later (he was born in November of 1966), doesn't match the facts we know.

Finally, this description of Turkish women is untrue and - of course - offensive.

9:00 "I want to do something with you that I can't do in most places, especially if I'm being taped, because it's sort of giving away our cards. But if I go into a community college or I go into a state university, I have two rules for every debate - I will come anywhere - I don't care where it is, I will come, as long as there is somebody who is sponsoring me, and I don't care - I will debate anyone any world religion as long as I know who they are before I walk in. There are two rules by which I operate: Rule number 1, nobody gets paid. What's the first thing they always say about Christians? 'It's always about the money, isn't it.' ... Rule number 2, a little harder - no Christians are allowed to ask me questions. When I go into a debate, I go in knowing that it's going to be hostile. I go in knowing that the questions that going to come to me are from unbelievers. I believe Christianity is only effective if it is applied in a lost world. And thus, I don't even allow Christians to ask me questions in the debates. Cause a lot of you come because you are of that first group - you don't like fights - and you start feeling sorry for me.  And you're not supposed to feel sorry for me. You know, you hear them calling me names and yelling and cussing and you're like 'it's horrible, let's send him an e-card!' or even worse, you will stand up and ask a question."

Where are any of these debates?

And how is that somehow giving away a debating secret or otherwise showing our cards?

18:10 "Inevitably in the debate, somebody will raise their hand and ask what I refer to as the Oprah question. The Oprah question goes like this: 'Umm, are you saying that a good Buddhist is going to hell?' 'Yes.' Don't ever stutter, don't ever hesitate."

What debate, dialog or interview of Caner has ever included a question like that?

21:10 "I would do my prayer time. Do you know what we're doing, aside from putting our foreheads to the ground and sitting up.  Do you know what we're doing? We are repeating the first chapter of the Koran over and over.  That's all we do. Six verses." 

It's actually seven verses, not six verses, in the usual enumeration.

- TurretinFan

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Did Athanasius Say Tradition Plus Scripture?

One oft-quoted passage of Athanaisus comes from his second festal letter:
Festal Letter 2, section 6:
For not only in outward form did those wicked men dissemble, putting on as the Lord says sheep’s clothing, and appearing like unto whited sepulchres; but they took those divine words in their mouth, while they inwardly cherished evil intentions. And the first to put on this appearance was the serpent, the inventor of wickedness from the beginning—the devil,—who, in disguise, conversed with Eve, and forthwith deceived her. But after him and with him are all inventors of unlawful heresies, who indeed refer to the Scriptures, but do not hold such opinions as the saints have handed down, and receiving them as the traditions of men, err, because they do not rightly know them nor their power. Therefore Paul justly praises the Corinthians, because their opinions were in accordance with his traditions. And the Lord most righteously reproved the Jews, saying, ‘Wherefore do ye also transgress the commandments of God on account of your traditions.’ For they changed the commandments they received from God after their own understanding, preferring to observe the traditions of men. And about these, a little after, the blessed Paul again gave directions to the Galatians who were in danger thereof, writing to them, ‘If any man preach to you aught else than that ye have received, let him be accursed.’
Usually the way this is cited is to quote merely the following portion: "But after him and with him are all inventors of unlawful heresies, who indeed refer to the Scriptures, but do not hold such opinions as the saints have handed down, and receiving them as the traditions of men, err, because they do not rightly know them nor their power."  It is stated or implied by the people providing this quotation that when Athanasius says "opinions as the saints have handed down" he means "oral tradition" or something of that kind.  That's not correct.

Instead, the "opinions" Athanasius has in mind is simply the Scriptures themselves taken in their correct meaning.  Likewise the "them" that the heretics receive as "traditions of men" are the Scriptures, not oral traditions.

Athanasius is saying that the heretics do not know the Scriptures nor the power of the Scriptures.  Therefore, instead of following the text and meaning of the Scriptures they prefer to follow the traditions of men.

This can be seen from an examination of the context preceding as well as the context following.  In the context preceding:
Festal Letter 2, section 5:
Oh! my brethren, how shall we admire the loving-kindness of the Saviour? With what power, and with what a trumpet should a man cry out, exalting these His benefits! That not only should we bear His image, but should receive from Him an example and pattern of heavenly conversation; that as He hath begun, we should go on, that suffering, we should not threaten, being reviled, we should not revile again, but should bless them that curse, and in everything commit ourselves to God who judgeth righteously. For those who are thus disposed, and fashion themselves according to the Gospel, will be partakers of Christ, and imitators of apostolic conversation, on account of which they shall be deemed worthy of that praise from him, with which he praised the Corinthians, when he said, ‘I praise you that in everything ye are mindful of me.’ Afterwards, because there were men who used his words, but chose to hear them as suited their lusts, and dared to pervert them, as the followers of Hymenæus and Alexander, and before them the Sadducees, who as he said, ‘having made shipwreck of faith,’ scoffed at the mystery of the resurrection, he immediately proceeded to say, ‘And as I have delivered to you traditions, hold them fast.’ That means, indeed, that we should think not otherwise than as the teacher has delivered.
Notice that "the teacher delivered" refers to Paul as "the teacher."  It is what Paul handed down, namely the Scriptures, that Athanasius has in mind.  The heretics are those who "were men who used his words, but chose to hear them as suited their lusts, and dared to pervert them."  In other words, they did not consider the words as they were written, but as they wished they were written.  To put it in modern terms, they eisegeted rather than exegeting.

Again, in the context following:
Festal Letter 2, section 7:
For there is no fellowship whatever between the words of the saints and the fancies of human invention; for the saints are the ministers of the truth, preaching the kingdom of heaven, but those who are borne in the opposite direction have nothing better than to eat, and think their end is that they shall cease to be, and they say, ‘Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.’ Therefore blessed Luke reproves the inventions of men, and hands down the narrations of the saints, saying in the beginning of the Gospel, ‘Since many have presumed to write narrations of those events of which we are assured, as those who from the beginning were witnesses and ministers of the Word have delivered to us; it hath seemed good to me also, who have adhered to them all from the first, to write correctly in order to thee, O excellent Theophilus, that thou mayest know the truth concerning the things in which thou hast been instructed.’ For as each of the saints has received, that they impart without alteration, for the confirmation of the doctrine of the mysteries. Of these the (divine) word would have us disciples, and these should of right be our teachers, and to them only is it necessary to give heed, for of them only is ‘the word faithful and worthy of all acceptation;’ these not being disciples because they heard from others, but being eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word, that which they had heard from Him have they handed down.
Notice that Athanasius here clarifies what opinions of the saints he has in mind - the testimony found in Scripture, such as Luke's Gospel.

Notice as well that Athanasius says "to them only" it is necessary to give heed.  Notice as well that he clarifies "these not being disciples because they heard from others, but being eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word".  And Athanasius has hit the nail on the head.  The purpose of Luke's gospel was to memorialize the preceding oral tradition and to provide certainty to the readers.

In short, Athanasius was affirming that Scripture is not merely a human tradition, but rather the testimony of eye-witnesses and has apostolic authority, having been handed down from "the teacher."

- TurretinFan

Olive Baptist - September 13, 2009

On September 13, 2009, Drs. Emir and Ergun Caner apparently delivered four messages (two each - there was a third speaker who delivered two messages, Paige Patterson) at Olive Baptist:

  • "Contend Earnestly for the Faith" 9:30 AM Service Message Jude 3-4 Dr.Emir Caner (link to mp3)

Emir begins by pointing out that he and Ergun were baptized in the same church (as one another) and called to preach in the same church (as one another).  He then goes on to note that the difference is that Ergun was not born in the U.S., joking that Ergun is an "undocumented worker."

Emir tells the story of an annoying kid who kept after him until he went to church.

  • "Preachers in the Hands of an Angry God" 11 AM Service Message Jeremiah 28 Dr.Ergun Caner (link to mp3)

0:15 "I'm not real good at fakin' it."

I am not sure whether to agree or disagree with this.

1:50 "The only reason that you can understand me, is because God has to constantly break me down. When our family came to this country - Turkish, Immigrant, Yankee, Sunni Muslim, our father raised us with the constant admonition, find a woman, marry a woman who is submissive, who will obey you - and I married a southern belle - that don't work."

The only reason you can understand him is because he came to America from Sweden as a toddler and was raised in Ohio.

2:55 "Her father is from Possum Kill, NC"

We have yet to see any evidence that there is such a place.

3:20 "With a name like Ergun Mehmet Caner, Butch"

His real name is Ergun Michael Caner.  His "Butch" nickname apparently goes back to his college days, before he met his wife.

  • "Global Apologetics" 5 PM Service Message [none] Dr.Ergun Caner (link to mp3)

17:10 "When I debate - and all of our debates are free, got to iTunes or whatever and you type in - and you can download all of our debates, they're all free - but when we debate we have two rules number 1 - nobody gets paid, because what do they say about Christians all the time? it's always about money - so we do our debates - they sign the contract, I sign the contract and it says nobody gets paid - and the second part of it is, no Christians are allowed to ask me questions, because if a Christian asks me a question, it sometimes smells like a setup."

We've previously discussed (here) the items Dr. Caner had up on iTunes.  They weren't debates.  Furthermore, as far as I can tell - these were for classes Caner taught at Liberty.  The description, therefore, doesn't seem to match what we find.

20:30 "I was reached because one kid in high school, loved me for four years the way Christ loved him."

This suggests Caner was saved as a high school senior, which does not match other accounts of his alleged conversion date, or that of his brother.

20:45 "After I became a Christian, I lost my family - I lost everything I loved and owned - I lost everything in one fell swoop."

This doesn't seem very accurate - he seems to have lost only his relationship with his non-custodial father.

21:30 "Jerry came after me for four years. When I finally saw that wall, my name was the last one on his list. And every year he put up a new list, and all of his friends had become Christians except for me."

Again, notice the "four years."  Also, compare with Emir's comments regarding the "annoying kid" which apparently refers to the same Jerry.  Why wasn't Emir on the list if he was always annoying Emir and if Ergun was saved before Emir?  This doesn't seem to make much sense.

22:50 "So, I go into places where they hate me, we sign a contract that says nobody gets paid, no Christians can ask me questions ..." 

Where are any of these contracts?

47:14 "Here's a little encouragement for you middle-schoolers and high-schoolers. I was a straight C, graduated with a 2.0, I graduated number 207 out of 404 people. I was in the random middle of my high school class." 

I question this for a variety of reasons, such as that he seems to have made a similar claim about his undergrad (see here) and because it would be surprising to me if about half the graduating class averaged below a C.

  • "An Audience of One" 6 PM Service Message 1 Kings Dr.Emir Caner (link to mp3)

25:15 "I realize I need to baptize her in Swedish, that's our native tongue. That's what she only spoke. She never spoke English in 30 years, living in this country."

I appreciate that Emir was forthright about the fact that his grandma was Swedish and that his native tongue was Swedish, not "Arabic" or "Turkish" or anything like that.  Still, wouldn't it be good for Emir to come out and say, "Yes, when Ergun pretended that he speaks Arabic or claimed it was his language before English, he was lying."

-TurretinFan

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

One of the Challenges to Extreme Pro-Life Rhetoric

The Bible is not explicit about when exactly human life begins. Don't misunderstand me - the Bible is clear that human life begins in the womb, prior to birth. However, the Bible does not explicitly say "life begins at the instant of fertilization." Moreover, such a view encounters some problems. One of those problems is the case of identical twins and - in rare cases - identical triplets (see this cute example).

These identical siblings come from the same fertilized egg. Which of the triplets then began life at fertilization? And did the others begin life at all, since they only had a separate existence after fertilization? Or all of the triplets one person? The first question seems inscrutable, and the other questions seem to suggest that life does not have to begin at fertilization.

Of course, God knows the future and knows whether the egg will ultimately split and form two or more babies. So, God could give a single fertilized egg several souls at once. The problem with this ad hoc response is that if God can give multiple souls, then God also could give zero souls to a fertilized egg that he knows will not implant or will otherwise die. Neither of those ad hoc explanations is from the Bible.

I recognize that for "conservative" Roman Catholics, the view today is that life begins at the moment of fertilization (this differs from earlier views that life begins at a quickening time during the pregnancy). I don't think that Roman Catholics, however, have a compelling response to the problem of identical twins/triplets.

None of the above necessarily implies a particular way of handling the abortion question. It does suggest that we might want to be cautious about being dogmatic about the very earliest stages of pregnancy, namely the time during which it is possible for a single egg to become multiple children.

Likewise, by the same token, it makes sense for us to cautiously over-protect unborn children - perhaps even attempting to legally protect fertilized human eggs prior to any division.  Since we are not sure when exactly God gives a human soul, it makes sense conservatively to protect from the fertilized egg onward.

One may object that the Bible speaks of "conception" and people possessing various qualities from the time they were "conceived" in the womb.  This itself does argue for a relatively early time of human life within the pregnancy.  Nevertheless, remember that we should not read back our understandings of human biology anachronistically onto the text.  Thus, we should not assume that "conception" in these texts refers to the moment of fertilization.

In any event, I post this not to throw cold water on the pro-life movement, nor to discourage people from protecting the unborn. Rather, I post this to encourage pro-lifers to be more cautious and circumspect in their rhetoric - focusing on what we know (that unborn children are human beings with souls) rather than on what we do not know (namely the precise moment of ensoulment).