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.
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.