Sunday, May 23, 2010

Response to Norman Geisler on Ergun Caner

Dr. Norman Geisler's alleged comments on the Caner scandal may be found here (link). The following is a detailed response.

A. Odd Rhetorical Structure

Geisler's remarks have an odd rhetorical structure. In this structure there appear to be three motifs.

1. The Innocent Caner Motif

One of several motifs in Geisler's open letter is the idea that Caner is innocent. Geisler describes the accusations against Caner as “slanderous” and “libelous” and states that “Dr. Caner has done nothing heretical, immoral, or illegal.” Additionally, Geisler states: “He ... to my knowledge has done nothing unorthodox or malicious.”

2. The Somewhat Guilty Caner Motif

A surprising overlay on the Innocent Caner Motif is the idea that Caner is somewhat guilty. Geisler describes the facts as “whatever ambiguous or misstatement that may have been made” and sums up the situation as “Christians have a bad habit of shooting their wounded. Let’s pray for and encourage our brother.”

3. The Judgment Withheld Motif

One might think that innocent and somewhat guilty would exhaust the possible contradictory motifs. Geisler manages to include one more where he encourages people to withhold judgment. Geisler states: “I urge all to consider him innocent unless proven guilty. He has welcomed an inquiry from the Liberty authorities. Let’s await their findings.”

B. Deficient Substantive Content

The three motifs above share as their common thread an attempt to negate the idea that it has been shown that Caner did anything seriously wrong. However, there is little substantive content to Geisler's remarks, and the little content that exists is illuminating.

1. Familiarity with the Charges

Geisler states: “I am familiar with the slanderous charges that have been made against Dr. Ergun Caner generated by some Muslim groups and other extremists.” There are two interesting things about this comment, Geisler does not identify even one of the charges with any specificity and Geisler does not accurately identify any of the critics. Mr. Mohammad Khan is one source of some of the charges. He is a Muslim, but not a Muslim group. I'm confident that Geisler cannot name a Muslim group (let alone two) that have been generating charges. Geisler also mentions “other extremists.” This is odd for two reasons. First, it seems to assume that the referenced “Muslim groups” are themselves extremists. Second, it seems to suggest that the other vocal critics are extremists. But who could Geisler possibly have in mind? Geisler's notorious book, “Chosen But Free,” used the pathetic rhetorical ploy of referring to five-point Calvinists as “extreme Calvinists.” Could that be what Geisler intended? After all, some of the people bringing the accusations are Calvinists. In any event, the folks who have been making the accusations public include a wide range of people. Geisler appears to be unfamiliar with the broad range of folks bringing the charges.

2. Familiarity with the Evidence

Geisler describes his investigation of the charges. Geisler states: “I have looked into the matter, talking with Ergun and other principal parties at Liberty ... .” We would hope that both Caner and other “principal parties” would be candid with Geisler. Geisler, however, seems to be unaware of the fact that those who have criticized Caner have also criticized the words attributed to Elmer Towns co-founder of Liberty University and dean of the School of Religion, who was recently quoted as saying “It’s not an ethical issue, it’s not a moral issue,” and “We give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage. The arguments of the bloggers would not stand up in court.” Likewise, Ergun Caner had stated: “The truth is, I would be surprised if no discrepancies were discovered, given the hundreds of messages I have given during all that time!” And further: “I have never intentionally misled anyone.” (see discussion here) If Geisler were familiar with the actual evidence presented, he would realize that these sort of blanket assertions don't address the evidence.

3. Straw Men

Geisler seems to present a few straw man positions. Geisler states “Dr. Caner has done nothing heretical, immoral, or illegal” and “He ... has done nothing unorthodox or malicious.” While there have been some minor comments about illegal activity (speeding tickets and the like) and doctrine (Caner's apparently erroneous view of Incarnational Sonship) the real charges of immorality do not include things like saying that Caner has committed sexual immorality but are limited to untruthfulness. Since his alleged lies are about himself, it would not be obvious for them to be malicious.

C. To the Man (ad hominem)

Geisler's comments employ ad hominem both positively and negatively. Negatively, the comments call Caner's critics “extremists.” Positively, the comments simply amount to Geisler stating his final judgment of the matter. Geisler does not tell us what charges he examined, what evidence he considered with respect to those charges, and why he reached his conclusions in view of the charges and evidence. Instead it simply appears to be an attempt to appeal to folks who have high regard for Geisler's opinions in general.

Conclusion

Geisler's article ends up backfiring on him. His failure to demonstrate any serious investigation of the facts or consideration of the charges suggests that his opinion is based more on his personal esteem for Dr. Caner (Geisler states: “I stand with him against these vicious attacks. He has taken a strong stand on important issues that stir up controversy ... .”) than on any valid criteria. As such, Geisler's comments are just hand-waving, and may be readily set aside. Geisler hangs his comments on his own credibility, but he undermines his credibility by appearing to demonstrate a lack of familiarity with the issues. I hope Geisler will reconsider this idea as more and more facts come to light.

-TurretinFan

27 comments:

Ergun Caner Conman said...

Logic and facts are not the issue here. Geisler is a master in logical thinking. Now is emotional ties and emotional time. They are finding justifications for Ergun Caner's lies. They are talking among and to themselves. They considered themselves too big to listen to the world. The Baptists of Falwell's type is the most extreme type of fundamentalism. Logic does not work here. And Geiler needs a market for himself.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

It saddens me that these situations have a tendency to greatly disappoint me in the area of a person's character. Whatever else I may think of Dr. Geisler's theology, I have had no reason to think less highly of his Christian character, his walk with our Lord.

But the many irrational responses that have been forthcoming in Dr. Caner's defence have given me great pause regarding the true character of these folks. I cannot, nor would I want to, make any judgements; we cannot, after all, know the mind of God as regards His elect. But this kind of bizarre response in the Caner situation tends to only strengthen my impression that there is something really, really wrong here--and it goes far beyond any problems Dr. Caner may have.

On the other hand, Jesus tells us that we will know them (false teachers) by their fruits. That would also apply, I should think, to those who cheer-lead for them.

Where is the discernment of these folks? Or are they so swallowed up in "getting it done for the Kingdom" that they can't see that their self-preservation instincts have kicked in? Could it be that "Kingdom work" and "my work" have become so conflated that they are no longer distinguishable one from the other?

Coram Deo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coram Deo said...

TF,

First some editorial housekeeping:

Spelling of MUSLIM found in paragraph following item 1. Familiarity with the Charges: First, it seems to assume that the referenced “Mulsim groups” are themselves extremists.

Spelling of WE found in paragraph following 2. Familiarity with the evidence: Ee would hope that both Caner and other “principal parties” would be candid with Geisler.

Moving along, wouldn't the logical fallacies identified in item C. actually consist of ad hominem negatively towards Caner's critics by Geisler, and an appeal to authority in the form of Geisler's own reputation? I don't see the positive/negative ad hominem you've identifed, only negative (and an overt appeal to authority).

Lastly, I'm not a betting man, but I would strongly suspect that should one of his students submit an identical paper to that which Geisler has written in defense of Caner for an evaluation and grade, that it would summarily receive an "F" in both rhetoric and logic.

"A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. - Luke 6:40

I struggle to see Christ-likeness in Caner's contradictions as well as in his erstwhile defenders rush to portray him as a victim. Arguably he is a victim of sorts; but the wounds are all self-inflicted.

In Christ,
CD

Pilgrimsarbour said...

LOL TF!

Coram Deo's got nuthin' on me for pointing out others' typos and grammar!

Whoo Hoo! I can retire!

Excellent, CD!

steve said...

Geisler's defense is ironic in another respect. Arminians preach the universal love of God. Yet the Arminians I actually deal with are very cliquish and clannish. In practice they play favorites. They love their own kind. They excuse their own kind.

Turretinfan said...

CD:

Thanks for the typo correction, I've fixed them.

Yes, an improper appeal to authority is the positive version of the ad hominem. I think it's analytically simpler to include both kinds of "to the man" arguments under one heading.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

TF,

Why do you use the word "alleged" in the opening sentence of this explanation of the Geisler response?

Was that prudence on your part because it is a secondary source or because you have a tinge of doubt as to the work product being from Dr. Geisler?

natamllc said...

Pilgrimsarbour,

when I read your comments above I think of King Solomon having similar thoughts himself of situations undoubtedly he experienced in his day as is reflected here:

Pro 24:1 Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them,
Pro 24:2 for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.
Pro 24:3 By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;
Pro 24:4 by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
Pro 24:5 A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
Pro 24:6 for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Pro 24:7 Wisdom is too high for a fool; in the gate he does not open his mouth.
Pro 24:8 Whoever plans to do evil will be called a schemer.
Pro 24:9 The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.


For Liberty University to say they are a house built upon God's Grace and Wisdom and then do an investigation of this matter and not see the folly as "sin" and then allow scoffers to go unchallenged is truly an abomination to us!

On the various internet Christian and Secular News publications printing a newswriter's investigative article for us to read and then read the followup comments from LU current students and staff and alumni students and former co-workers of Dr. Caner that express "no" disbelief but rather, "it's about time he is brought into the light to be held to account" amazes me. It gives me a pause to concur with the Wisdom of King Solomon cited above that that house has some need of repairs to its foundation? How do the scoffers justify the current students and staff and alumni students and former co-workers writing against Dr. Caner, then?

I would hope these people would also be contacting the Investigative body appointed LU to determine the facts and issue findings and a verdict regarding the charges of misconduct by lies and embellishments by Dr. Caner.

It will be interesting to understand whatever the defense is for these evidences that have been brought forth if they give Dr. Caner a pass?

natamllc said...

As for Steve's comments above, Steve, immediately after reading them, I though of the "sin" of the Nicolaitans which God hates.

Turretinfan said...

Peter Lumpkins is the person who claims that Norman Geisler says what is attributed to Geisler. I don't have a high view of Lumpkins' honesty.

gary dilworth said...

To Whom It May Concern:
“I am familiar with the slanderous charges that have been made against Dr. Ergun Caner generated by…extremists. I have looked into the matter, talking with Ergun and other principal parties at Liberty, and am convinced that the charges are libelous…I am convinced that whatever ambiguous or misstatement that may have been made, Dr. Caner has done nothing…immoral…” Sincerely In Christ, Dr. Norman L. Geisler

From the Huffington Post by Walid Zafar: Ex-Muslim Evangelical Leader Exposed as Fake..."In one speech, Caner told a crowd that outside the mosque in Kabul there was a sign that read, "Do not teach the women to read and write." The story may or may not be true, but Caner, to give authority to the tale, told the crowd what was written in the native tongue: "bahasha uwtara muwtara seeteeroh." That's neither Dari nor Arabic nor Urdu nor Turkish nor Pashtu. It is an entirely made up language." Extremists made it up (slanderous) when Caner made it up (nothing immoral). Mr. Zafar Dr. Geisler?
“[Caner] told The Associated Press in 2002 that he was born in Sweden to a Turkish father and Swedish mother, who brought the family to Ohio in 1969, when he was about 3 years old. He said he accepted Christ as a teenager at a Baptist church in Columbus, and then pursued ministry, getting a degree from Criswell College…[but]… In a 2001 sermon at a church in Plano, Texas, he said, "I was born in Sweden, raised in Turkey, came to America in 1978. When I came to America I came through Brooklyn, New York, of all places, which is where I learned English." (Associated Press: Christian leader faces questions about Muslim past by Tom Breen) Different stories made up by an extreme Breen, Dr. Geisler? You really don’t think that do you? And in multiple speeches, over multiple years he emphasized being raised in majority Muslim countries so much (TurretinFan Ergun Caner Index) he came to say, “I was born in Istanbul, Turkey. I am a sand monkey…” (Google Ergun Caner born in Istanbul). That is directional sin.
Sincerely In Christ,
Gary Dilworth

gary dilworth said...

I have emailed Dr. Geisler an appeal to rethink his position on Ergun Caner and those who are raising questions about him (including a reference to the Ergun Caner Index here). I was as gentle as my above comment is gentle. His email address is published at Veritas Evangelical Seminary under the 'contact and directions' tab halfway down the page...
http://veritasseminary.com/edu/pages/contact-directions.php

g

Coram Deo said...

TF,

Not sure if you've seen this yet, but it's brilliant.

You should add this to your Ergun Caner index, link to it here, and mirror it at aomin. It's that good. FWIW Pyros have been tweeting it today.

It would seem that Ergun Caner has "entered a fluctuating mode of negative truthfulness.

In Christ,
CD

Pilgrimsarbour said...

CD,

Thanks for the link to Carl's article. He is, as usual, right on the money with this.

I returned home earlier this evening from Dr. Trueman's installation as our new teaching elder at our church. If you're interested in listening to some of his sermons, you can catch his series on the book of Judges here and navigate to the sermon archives. I very highly recommend this series.

Blessings,

PA

Pilgrimsarbour said...

The humourous lines in Carl's article are wonderful. But some of the best material comes from his assessment of the Caner defenders themselves at LTS:

What is so jawdropping in all this is the clear belief of the people who use this language that the rest of us are complete idiots.

Am I alone in finding it offensive that these people who lay claim to being leaders in the church think that the rest of us are so stupid that we cannot see this for the patronizing dishonesty that it is?

To consider other human beings to be so stupid as not to see through flannel about `theological leverage' and `sins of relational mobility' is patronizing and offensive; but to assume God is moron, as thick as a brick, is, frankly, dangerous. Make no mistake: unlike the evangelical and emergent dupes out there, God is not mocked.

Anonymous said...

Dr. White is as big a liar as Ergun Caner for his trying to pawn Harold Camping off as a Oneness believer. there is no wrangling out of it.

Manuel Culwell

Turretinfan said...

Manuel:

Dr. White hasn't done that, as has been brought to your attention several times.

- TurretinFan

Anonymous said...

This is getting bizarre...Ergun Caner got yet ANOTHER speeding ticket last week. I had a thought this morning...that Ergun is just arrogant enough after his speeding tickets got posted online to go out and get another one. So I decided to check on Virginia's public database....Ergun Caner got a speeding ticket in the city of Lynchburg, VA on May 20th...the very same day that the Fake Ex Muslim website posted his speeding offenses! If that doesn't say something about arrogance...what doesn't? I am beginning to wonder if he is playing with a full deck of cards. Or does he know the end is coming and he just doesn't care? Wonder what Norm Geisler thinks of Christians who continually and purposely break the law?

Coram Deo said...

(***sarcasm disclaimer***)

Anon,

How dare you!

Ergun Caner isn't guilty of speeding! He's merely been involved in "sporadic episodes of high-efficiency mobility".

You see, he's merely been effectively utilizing his "right foot leverage" so as to be a good steward with his valuable time.

After all, the less time he is required to waste traveling, the more time he has to devote to the needs of others.

Please repent, and publicly apologize for your slanderous and libelous remarks here.

In Christ,
CD

Anonymous said...

CD.....that was absolutely the funniest post!!!

I would love to see his wife's face when she finds out about all the tickets. I'll bet she doesn't (or didn't) have a clue.

Anonymous said...

Dude must really drive like a maniac.

I don't think I could get that many speeding tickets if I tried.

Wow.

Turretinfan said...

The way he drives is totally irrelevant to whether or not his autobiography is real.

Anonymous said...

TurretinFan,

The way he drives does not prove his autobiography is real or not. However, it does show that he continually breaks the law...and that is a poor example for any educational institution be it secular or Christian. I think it's a character issue and just one small part of the big picture. There's a big difference between occasionally getting a speeding ticket and making it a practice to get them. Can you imagine what a great testimony that is to the Lynchburg cops who snicker everytime Caner goes by? "There goes that bigwig from LU speeding AGAIN?"

Turretinfan said...

I'm not thrilled that he has them, but it is really the least of his concerns.

natamllc said...

For me the big picture is the stark reality of the Scriptures, like these:

Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.
Rom 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Rom 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Or the severity of these:

Mat 25:41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Putting aside the harsh tone of those verses, wouldn't these verses be light to our way?

Pro 24:10 If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.
Pro 24:11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
Pro 24:12 If you say, "Behold, we did not know this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?

Dr. Caner is in a crucible now mostly of his own making.

I too have been there! You?

Jason said...

I know this does not have any bearing on the Ergun Caner case, but it turns out that Caner wasn't the only member of LU's faculty to have issues.

http://www.wset.com/news/stories/0409/616770.html