Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Response to John H. Armstrong on the Caner Situation

Mr. Armstrong writes:
The board of Liberty University, which no one would rightly suggest had any reason to cover up the facts if they found them worthy of letting him go, has retained Dr. Caner on the Liberty faculty. I think fair-minded and gracious Christians should leave it there. It is none of their business to engage in this dialog any further when proper channels of authority were followed and a process justly concluded that said the charges against Dr. Caner were not sufficient to warrant dismissal.
(source - link in original)

Since Mr. Armstrong seems to have a few misconceptions, I hope he will allow me to clarify matters.

1) I am certainly not calling for the dismissal of Ergun Caner. I am glad that he has not been dismissed from Liberty University. My objective is his restoration, not his punishment or condemnation. I realize not everyone who is critical of Caner shares my sentiments in this regard, but that's fine.

2) In light of (1), I am willing to hope that those at Liberty who know Dr. Caner personally care even more about him than I do. As such, I don't see why they would need to dismiss him in order to acknowledge the legitimacy of the criticisms leveled against him.

3) Stated more clearly, there's more than one action that the Liberty Board could take if they found evidence that the charges against Dr. Caner were mostly true. It does not come down to simply firing Dr. Caner if the charges are true or retaining him if they are false.

4) As to (3), we have actually seen folks note this with respect to Dr. Caner's removal as president. Some folks who are critical of Dr. Caner were quick to note that this negative action by the Board with respect to Dr. Caner proves that the Liberty board found culpable wrongdoing on Dr. Caner's part. However, as Caner's defenders were quick to reply, the Liberty board could be taking that action for other reasons, such as simply to avoid controversy or distraction.

5) The sum of (1)-(4) is that Liberty's personnel decisions are not necessarily guided in any direct way by the strength of the charges against Dr. Caner. That principle applies to the favorable action of continuing to list Dr. Caner as a professor, although we cannot seem to locate any classes he will be teaching in the fall semester. That principle likewise applies the negative actions of not continuing to permit Dr. Caner to serve as president of the seminary, and not listing Dr. Caner as professor for any classes.

6) As to possible reasons why Liberty might cover up unfavorable facts, there are - of course - innumerable possibilities. The following are just possibilities, not facts or certainties. They are speculation, but Mr. Armstrong's statements calls for speculation by stating: "
... no one would rightly suggest [that the Liberty Board] had any reason to cover up the facts ... ." Here are some possible reasons:

a) To save face

Elmer Towns (one of Liberty's founders) made statements before the investigation to the effect that the charges against Dr. Caner would never stand up in court. It would be embarrassing to Towns for Liberty's Board to highlight any true charges against Dr. Caner.

b) To avoid getting sued

I have no idea what Dr. Ergun Caner's views on suing other Christians or Christian organizations is, so I'm not trying to suggest that Dr. Caner would actually take other Christians to court. However, as a general principle, when employers fire employees they have the risk that the fired employee will sue them. So, it's certainly reasonable to imagine that Liberty, as an employer, would be cautious as a matter of organizational policy.

c) Out of love

Dr. Ergun Caner is a very likable guy. I know this from hearing him speak, listening to how churches and other crowds react to him, and seeing the blog responses from those who consider themselves his friends. One would hope that the Board of Liberty would have a personal relationship with the president of the seminary. If that's the case, it would be hard on them to publicly release findings of the investigation that are negative with respect to such a nice guy as Dr. Caner. Out of love (whether misplaced or not), it is easy to imagine Liberty's board covering sins of one of their friends. Christians serve a merciful God, and it is easy to imagine a Christian board showing mercy.

7) Further to (6), the Liberty Board did not actually release the results of the investigation. They did not make the negative facts that came to their attention known beyond extremely general characterizations. Whether their reason was one of the reasons in (6) or some other reason, we may never know. Because ...

8) Further to (7), Liberty's Board is refusing to discuss this matter further. So, they are continuing to conceal any information that they may have received during the investigation. I'm not suggesting that they are not entitled to do this. They are free to conduct their own investigation of their employee however they like. However, it is clear that Liberty's Board is not being transparent with the public regarding the investigation. That lack of transparency should limit the scope of inferences that we draw from their extremely brief comments on the matter.

For the final points, recall that Armstrong wrote: "
a process justly concluded that said the charges against Dr. Caner were not sufficient to warrant dismissal" (link in original)

9) Processes don't do things, people do things. The Board took action, reached conclusions, and so forth. It may seem a little pedantic for me to point this out, but the reason for doing so is to highlight that this is not an impartial machine at work, but living, breathing folks who (as far as we can reasonable determine) have worked with and know Dr. Caner personally.

10) Whether or not the conclusion of the process is just (whether there was procedural justice), is something that Mr. Armstrong cannot know without some sort of inside information. I don't believe that Mr. Armstrong is claiming to have inside information. Without such information, however, we cannot know whether the process used by the board was a just process or one that was unjust. There is, as I noted above, no transparency to Liberty's decision. That is a two-edged sword, by the way. Without Liberty releasing the details of its investigation, we can no more say that Caner was justly removed from being president than we can say that Caner was justly retained as professor.

11) The Board did not officially state that there were "not sufficient reasons to warrant dismissal." The Board's action was not immediately dismissal, but the Board did not explain its decisions. As noted above, the Board's actions were not transparent, and there is no expectation that they will clarified.

With all due respect to Mr. Armstrong, Liberty's decision did not settle the matter either for or against Dr. Caner. Those who wish to be fair minded both to Dr. Caner and to those who have criticized Dr. Caner should consider the facts, investigate the evidence for themselves, and not rely on second-hand reports - whether from bloggers or boards.



Bennett Willis said...

And there is certainly enough information available to draw a conclusion. It does seem inappropriate to draw a conclusion without at least veiwing a reasonable sampling of the information that is available.

And (as has been said so many times) once you view the information, then you know that things were said that simply were not true. You also know that the Caners benefitted from the statements that were not true.

Then the conclusion choices seem to be either, (a) lies don't matter in the case of the Caners or (b) lies do matter.

Anonymous said...

Of what I just read, TF, I would focus on number 6 c because of these verses and will then express an opinion:::>

Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Eph 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
Eph 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
Eph 2:21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
Eph 2:22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

The last part of 6 c above:

Out of love (whether misplaced or not), it is easy to imagine Liberty's board covering sins of one of their friends. Christians serve a merciful God, and it is easy to imagine a Christian board showing mercy.

As the Apostle Paul wrote there to the Ephesian Churches we are "one" body made up of a membership by the Will of God and it is by His power we are spiritually "One" Body in Christ. We are fellow citizens. We have access through Christ by One Spirit to the same, one and only, Father in the Holy Heavens. And the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. And we shall know one another by the fruit, which, by the way, is not fruits from our spirits, but from the One Spirit Himself, "the fruit of the Spirit. Gal 5:22".

It seems to me, because of this Truth, we are now in a position as members of this same Body through Christ by One Spirit to make judgments about the public knowledge of, experiences with and insights gained from viewing videos/clips or reading Dr. Caner's work or known from him in person.

Liberty University is supposedly a Christian Institution of higher learning and prominent in Christian circles around the world. And as such, as I cited from 6 c, we should expect to see come out of them then the Spirit's "fruit" to come to pass by their actions to reflect what the Apostle Paul wrote about cited above from Ephesians 2. What brings Peace then is uniformity to God through Christ by One Spirit, not the works of man.

The question is this, was the judgment rendered by Liberty University a work of God or men?

And so, let me leave off now with another quotation from Ephesians, Eph. 3:14-21, being mindful that God can "only" save sinful people and liars are just as sinful a people as murderers or any of the other violators of the Commandments. All of us are in need of this sort of "prayer reconciliation" too:

Eph 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
Eph 3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
Eph 3:16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
Eph 3:17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
Eph 3:18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
Eph 3:19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
Eph 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Anonymous said...

I posted all that above to point to these verses here:

Col 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Col 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Col 3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Col 3:4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Col 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Col 3:6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.
Col 3:7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.
Col 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
Col 3:9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices
Col 3:10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

I would find it wishful thinking and foolish for anyone, including Dr. Caner to argue that he has not been found to be a liar?

That said, God is the Redeemer of all of us, including liars.

If Dr. Caner is such an unredeemable person, I am suspect just "Who" I have been touched by and walk in a healthy "fear" of now?

Ecc 7:15 In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing.
Ecc 7:16 Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?
Ecc 7:17 Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?
Ecc 7:18 It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.
Ecc 7:19 Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.
Ecc 7:20 Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

need to know said...

Someone help me please...I heard Caner speak a couple of weeks ago and he said "I was saved at camp-in Ohio." also "I was called to the ministry at camp." Rather than going through hundreds of posts perhaps someone can set this straight. If it's not true, he's still out there lying

I Wonder said...

Hello "need to know",

When you heard Caner speak were you at a camp when he gave his "camp conversion" testimony?

need to know said...

As a matter of fact, it was at a youth camp.

I Wonder said...

The reason I ask is because I expected that. It seems that Caner makes slight variations to his story depending on the audience he is speaking to. As soon as you said he tesitfied to getting saved at camp I knew he had said that to a bunch of campers.

BruinEric said...

From my recollection, the most common claim for Mr. Caner is that he was saved at a revival effort at Stelzer Rd. Baptist Church in Ohio, and also "surrendered to the ministry" there.

So perhaps it is arguable that church revival = camp. Or perhaps it's still a little teensy bit of spice & spin added to a speech to better connect with an audience.

This is from my recollection of various speeches and so I could be making a mistake.

Bennett Willis said...

BruinEric, you are reporting the usual presentation of EC's conversion location. I heard it yesterday--with some details. That has been the most common and consistent statement but maybe it too is not correct--or at least not consistent.

Surely "need to know" is teasing about EC continuing to change the story to fit the crowd. What else did EC say about his early (before age 20) history? Is there any video posted from that meeting? This really needs independent verification.

Bennett Willis said...

A little off the subject but a connection between two of the characters in this little play was noticed. Mark on Watchdog's thread reported this link: You will find Tim G and EC there. This helps me think that I might understand a bit more.

Tom said...

Regarding Caner speaking at a youth camp, it was reported here that he spoke at at the Momentum 2010 event held at Cedarville University this past July 12-18. However, if one goes to the CURRENT version of the Speaker's section on their website, one finds something VERY interesting:

need to know said...

@Bennett Willis- This is in no way a “tease.” I had read extensively blogs about the Caner situation and wanted to hear him for myself. The youth camp was the “Go Tell” camp held in West Virginia. He spoke Wednesday July 16th. I do not have the recording of the event but I heard it for myself and took notes. The recording is probably available from the link below. “Go Tell” is the ministry who brought Caner in. The camp was sponsored by the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists.

need to know said...

Go Tell Link:

Tom said...

It seems that Caner is making the rounds, because that makes at least two youth camps he spoke at during the same week: the one I mentioned at Cedarville University, and the one at West Virginia.

That is why this is not just a "Liberty University issue." As long as E. Michael Caner is going around speaking at conferences and youth camps, it is an issue that each and every Christian needs to be concerned about. That is, unless it doesn't matter to you if your kids are listening to the fables of a pathological liar under the guise of a Christian testamony.

Tom said...

Here's the entry for Caner that USED to be on the Speakers page for the Cedarville event:

“Ergun Mehmet Caner (B.A., M.A., M.Div., Th.M., Th.D.) is president of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Raised as the son of a Muslim leader in Turkey, Caner became a Christian shortly before entering college. Serving under his Chancellor and President, Jerry Falwell Jr., Caner led the Seminary to triple in growth since his installation in 2005. A public speaker and apologist, Caner has debated Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and other religious leaders in thirteen countries and thirty-five states. The author of seventeen books, Caner lives in Lynchburg with his wife Jill and two sons, Braxton and Drake.”