"Declaration, Revolution" by Dr. Ergun Caner, Thomas Road Baptist Church April 9, 2006 (AM)
18:31 So looking in the camera, I said, "Yeah, I'll give you some statements." "So, when did you come over?" "Well, we finally settled in 1978."
"Why I Am Predestined Not to Be A Hyper Calvinist" by Dr. Ergun Caner, Thomas Road Baptist Church April 9, 2006 (PM)
There are a lot of issues with this sermon, but the issues are not autobiographical, as far as I could tell.
"Racism in the Face of Diversity" by Dr. Ergun Caner, Thomas Road Baptist Church July 30, 2006 (AM)
16:05 I am one - please pay attention - I am one who was raised to hate Israel. As a Muslim, we were taught that the Jews drink the blood of the Palestinian children. I was raised to despise them. In Arabic the speakers in the mosques and the masjids will stand up and say, "We will push them into the peninsula."
"Personal Testimony" by Dr. Ergun Caner, Thomas Road Baptist Church September 17, 2006 (PM)
9:30 My testimony is no different than yours. Because my testimony shares the exact same thing as yours. It always ends, "and then Jesus Christ saved me." Mine just happens to begin from a position of animosity. I hated you. I am twenty-one generations a Turk. I am the oldest of three sons of an Islamic muezzin. My father, Acar Mehmet Caner, was in my eyes a giant. He was a man that I believed could do anything. He played rugby, soccer, any sport where you could kick somebody else. My father was a man. My father feared nothing but he was devout as a Muslim. And in Turkey, Istanbul, Ismir (sp?) we came America with an express purpose. My father was an architect by trade. And we came to America to build mosques.
We went to Monclova (sp?) Ohio, Toledo - the largest mosque in the Midwest was there. And having received orders, my dad moved us to Columbus, OH, where we began the Islamic foundation on Broad St. That's how I got here.
I learned English here. I learned culture here. But I was raised devout as a Sunni Muslim. And I hated you.
Everything we ever knew about Christians - everything we ever knew about Christianity - we learned from the mosque, the masjid, the madrassa, or our imam. Our training, our Sunday school, our Pastor.
Everything we knew about you, we knew only because we were taught from outside.
I had no contact with Christians - I had no contact with Jews. Because the Koran teaches expressly, Surah 5, take no friends from among the Jews and the Christians for you bring their judgment upon you.
That was my world. We came to America, having lived in countries where we always the majority, and now I was the minority.
We dressed differently, spoke differently, worshiped differently, ate differently, and now we were surrounded by you. This was a difficult adjustment. We were devout.
There are two types of Turk who come to America. There are the devout and then there are the not-so-devout.
Let me lay aside some of your worries. I have never in my life, ever driven a taxi. I don't have a single silk shirt that I wear open to the navel with my fake gold chains turning my neck green entangled in my chest hair. I don't slick back my single eyebrow with my designer impostor perfume. I don't have a basket full of snakes, flying carpet, and I don't work at 7-11. But there are many of our people who do come to this country, and they are not devout. They come here as Muslims casting off Islamic legalism, and then they come to America and they become nothing.
And then I was the second kind. We came suspiciously. We came devout.
Every Muslim on the planet be they Sunni or Suffi, Shia, Ismali, be they Nation of Islam, a subset of the Sunni, be they Wahabi or Alluhit (sp?) - every Muslim knows there are five pillars and six foundations.
There is Abinadab [sic for ...], Salat, Zakat, "Swan" [sic for sawm], Haj.
But all of them can be summarized in one simple concept - work till you're good enough to make it in heaven.
The 23rd chapter of the Koran, Surah 23, verses 102 and 103 say this: he who finds his scales heavy will find perdition, he who finds his scales light will find blessing, paradise.
We are taught that from the moment you are born, your mother takes the fig and rubs it in your mouth, your father whispers the Shahada in your ear. And from that moment, every word, every deed, every desire, every motivation, every act, every will, every thought, every emotion, everything goes either on good scales or on bad scales, so that at the end of your life you you've got to have more good than bad to make it into paradise.
You have to be 51% righteous. It's why we pray five times a day, facing Mecca. It's why we roll out our prayer rug and begin "bismillah ah'rallahim, wa'hamdullah ah'rallahim" [attempted phonetic transcription]
It's why we live by the dietary restrictions of halal and haram. Eating things that are allowable, and avoiding the things that are not allowed - and avoiding pork and avoiding anything that was like lobster and crab - we did not eat these foods because Allah would hold it against us.
And there is only one eternal assurance in Islam - only one eternal absolute. The only people who ever know, according to the words of the Koran - we would read it, kiss it, place it to our foreheads, put it on the highest shelf - according to the Koran, according to the Hadith, the only people who would know where they were going to go. The only people who were absolutely sure were those who died in an act of Jihad, in a signed Fatwa, they were the martyr. It's why now five years following 9-11, it's why there is no shortage of my people willing to get on planes. It's why there is no shortage of us willing to do whatever it takes. It's not just an act of devotion it's an act of desperation.
We fear - we fear - that we will die with the scales unbalanced. We believe that by shedding our own blood and shedding the blood of others, it will get us the one thing that eludes us: forgiveness.
Even this week, the irony is seen. The pope says something that offends the Muslims, he says that - quoting from an Islamic scholar - that paradise is found in the shades of the sword. And they begin to riot. In other words, stop saying we're violent, or we will kill everything you know. That is the most retarded thing I have ever seen the media talk about.
How I found out that my blood was not needed is the point of this story.
It wasn't a massive church. It wasn't a beautiful people. It wasn't a guy on TV hawking Peter and Paul loincloths. It wasn't a magnificent choir.
What reached me for the gospel is a series of anonymous, singularly persistent people. One obnoxious boy who wouldn't shut up. One tiny church. One people.
For three years, Jerry Tackett chased me. I dressed differently, looked differently, yet in Gahanna Lincoln High School he made me his project. Trying to earn an AWANA badge or an RA badge, the guy wouldn't leave me alone. Invited me to everything - invited me to lock-ins, and pizza pig-outs and hot dog hog-outs. And he kept inviting me, and inviting me, and inviting me. And by the way, if you've ever worked a lock-in - I believe it is a tool of the devil. Nothing else would keep me up at 3 a.m. in the morning except trying to find kids hiding in the stairwell trying to make out when I should be asleep. It's the Protestant equivalent of Purgatory.
Three years - no - no - no - no - no - three years - no - no - no. Finally, I give in. Finally, I tell him I will show him. And I walked into the Stelzer Road Baptist Church in Columbus, OH - little church that had one aisle. Little church that had 80 people if everybody was skinny. And they loved me to the cross.
I had never been in a church, never seen other Christians, knew nothing about their service.
I walked in with a Koran in my hand. I walked in thinking I will show them. I sat in the back - eight of them sat with me. The meaner I was, the nicer they were. The more cynical I was - callous, jaded - the more they smiled and overlooked my sin-sickened soul.
It's amazing to me. If you've never been in a Baptist church, it is a bit of an adjustment. It's the reason I'm as non-traditional as I am - I have no baggage. I didn't know when to stand - and to sit. I didn't know what a hymnal was, or the Bible was. I didn't know what a bulletin was, I thought it was the Bible. Some of you still do.
I didn't know when to do anything. Stand, sit, turn around, hug a neck, shake a hand, listen to the choir, grab a baby - it was just so much. Feel the burn - feel the burn - it's Jeezercise. And yet they loved me all the while.
As soon as the service was over, Jerry Tackett dragged me to Clarence Miller - one singular pastor. Clarence Miller had a sixth-grade education. Clarence Miller had sideburns like Elvis. Clarence Miller would wear these green suits with brown piping and he would preach, man, hard and hot.
When he'd get to preaching, I noticed that people would all take their handkerchiefs out, and when they agreed with what he said, they'd wave their handkerchiefs. I thought it was because he was spitting. You see, Clarence used to say if you ain't spittin', sweatin', and slobberin', you ain't preachin'. Man, he'd preach hard. Sometimes he'd preach so hard he'd unclip his tie. But it stayed pinned to his shirt, so it would just flop - right in the front - like that.
Tackett dragged me to Clarence and said, "Clarence - here he is!" (like you had to point out the boy wearing the dress)
(around 20 minutes)