Sunday, July 04, 2010

Wrapping Up Geisler's Defense of Caner

In a first post, I introduced Dr. Geisler's latest error of judgment with respect to the Caner scandal (link to post). In a second post, I addressed the first group of "misspeaks" that Geisler identified (link to post). In a third post, I addressed the list of various charges and responses that Geisler aimed to address (link to post). In this post, I'll respond to Dr. Norman Geisler's "Concluding Thoughts" on the subject.

Dr. Geisler begins:
Reviewing these allegations reminds me of the numerous similar statements I have made in the past. I could easily be proven a liar on similar ground. For example, when ask where I was born, I have given at least three different answers over the years: In Detroit, in Warren, and in Van Dyke, Michigan. All are true. It was metropolitan Detroit (literally a half mile into the northeastern suburb). It was in a place once called Van Dyke and now called Warren.
The comparison to Dr. Caner is almost comical. While those three answers are all different, there is a real sense in which they are the same. There's no way that the answer "Stockholm, Sweden" is the same as the answer "Istanbul, Turkey" (see the documentation here). That's not similar to saying Detroit, or Warren, or Van Dyke. It's not like Stockholm is a suburb of Istanbul. Now, if the two answers were Istanbul and Constantinople, ok (see discussion here). But Stockholm vs. Istanbul is not comparable.

Geisler continues:
When asked what my father’s name was, I have said Fonse (which is what most people called him, or Alphonse, or more formally Alphonso). If one’s motives are to discredit, it would not be hard to discredit me or almost anyone with the kinds of arguments used by Caner’s critics.
I doubt Dr. Geisler has gone around claiming that he watched a show years before it came out in a country in which he never lived. (compare the discussion documented here) It's not hard to see how someone could view him negatively for making that kind of claim - it does not take "motives ... to discredit" in order to get to a negative result. I myself entered the discussion trying to discredit the Muslim critic's claims, but there are simply so many (as they have been called) self-contradictory statements of a factual nature.

Geisler continues:
If, on the other hand, one wants to be fair, then there are no real grounds to support the allegations of Caner’s critics that he is a liar and a fraud who repeatedly embellished things to support his own claims. No group authorized to investigate his statements have proclaimed any such conclusion. Nor did the Board committee at Liberty University that examined him. Rather, they said, “After a thorough and exhaustive review of Dr. Caner’s public statements, a committee consisting of four members of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees has concluded that Dr. Caner has some factual statements that are self-contradictory [as we have discussed above]. However, the committee found no evidence to suggest that Dr. Caner was not a Muslim who converted to Christianity as a teenager…. [as his critics had charged]. Hence, The university has offered and Dr. Caner has accepted an employment contract for the 2010-2011 academic year. Dr. Caner will remain on the faculty of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary as a Professor.”
No grounds? Seriously? What level of a pattern of wrong claims about his past would be necessary to be "some grounds" if the current evidence is "no grounds"? More likely, however, Dr. Geisler is simply unfamiliar with all of the evidence. He hasn't had to sit down and listen to Caner speaking for hour on end, hearing the different stories in their relevant context. Perhaps I'm wrong about that, but if I am - I have to wonder how Dr. Geisler could say what he says in good conscience.

As far as "No group authorized to investigate his statements have proclaimed any such conclusion" goes, I'm not sure we will actually ever know. Do we know who the investigative committee at Liberty was? Was their report, which was given to the committee of Liberty trustees, ever released to the public? Will it be released to the public? Does Dr. Geisler have access to it? Have any other groups except that one been authorized to investigate his statements? Did Dr. Geisler's school authorize an investigation in parallel to Liberty's investigation?
Clearly, Liberty found no moral culpability or doctrinal deviation or else they would not have kept him on the faculty. One can only speculate as to why his contract as Dean was not renewed. Certainly, it could not have been because Liberty is an institution that has eschews controversy. For it could be said that the founder Jerry Falwell, whom I have greatly admired and praised, had “controversy” as his middle name! My own guess, having taught at Liberty University and knowing many of its leaders and workings quite well, is that the decision was more institutional in nature.
What does "institutional" mean? Was Dr. Caner unfairly relieved of his position at Liberty? If he was, and if someone can show that to me, I will be his most vocal advocate to get that position back.

Or does Dr. Geisler think this was just a coincidence? It's a little hard to buy that.

But if it was fair decision, doesn't it suggest some form of moral culpability was the perception of the trustees? Or was the reason a question of competence? Or something else?

The trustees certainly did not say that they found no evidence of wrong-doing on Dr. Caner's part, something we would hope to see in any announcement that also announced that Dr. Caner was not continuing as Dean, if that's what the trustees wanted to convey.

Perhaps we will never know - and we can speculate all day about what motivated the Liberty trustees. To all appearances, the Liberty trustees are not talking about this any more than they already have. All we can see is that they found that statements were made that were not true (self-contradictory), and they took negative action with respect to Dr. Caner. They confirmed what we already knew: that Dr. Caner was a Muslim who converted as a teenager.

If only Geisler were as cautious as the Liberty trustees, he would not be faced with putting himself in the position he now finds himself, as he digs himself deeper and deeper in his attempt to defend Dr. Caner. While I can certainly appreciate his obvious loyalty, I think he's making a mistake here.

Then again, perhaps there are appropriate answers to the responses I have provided above. I would like nothing better than to be shown that Dr. Ergun Caner is completely innocent of all the charges that have been placed against him. If Dr. Geisler or anyone else can do that, may God give them speed to do it quickly!

-TurretinFan

18 comments:

Peter Pike said...

Hey TF,

You've dealt with Arminians, and surely have more than a passing familiarity with Geisler himself. Given he is someone who is capable of reading "It is not he who wills" as "It *IS* he who wills", I'm frankly surprised that you are shocked he would so badly misread all the Caner data. After decades of having to twist the Scriptures into saying the opposite of what they do say, I openly speculate on whether Geisler is even capable of reading anything anymore.

I wish my comment was more satirical than serious. :-(

Strong Tower said...

PP-

I agree. Both Caner and Geisler are guilty of serious "Pulpit Crimes." If you want an example of just how badly it fares for the Arminian camp just check out Triablogue... oh, that's right...

The controversy though, as White and TF have many times pointed out, is not the struggle between "extremist Calvinists" and level headed Arminians, it is simply a matter of integrity. The defenders would hope to make it other than about truth and honesty.

We would hope for sound reason and that people would not assign guilt by association. But that is the big game, is it not? That is why one side is pitted against another, rather than trying to achieve the same goal. It is because of association, flashing lights and named attractions and popularity pimping, Muslims vs Christians, Arminians vs Calvinists, etc, that this all came about. It is all about the center stage in the greatest show on earth. Unfortunately, people pick sides. I wish it was not true that people hang on the words of celebs as they do, but that is not going to change soon. Name recognition accounts for more than ninety percent of the votes in any election and like the sales of popular products it is the margin that determines the champions of the world. Fortunately, we have the Power of the Gospel that will tear down any lofty arguement that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Even in our weakness, though our arguments are not cunningly devised, we still have Christ and him crucified, and he will prevail. Scatch that, he has over-come the world.

eric opsahl said...

How can you give Mr. Geisler this free pass:
More likely, however, Dr. Geisler is simply unfamiliar with all of the evidence. He hasn't had to sit down and listen to Caner speaking for hour on end, hearing the different stories in their relevant context. Perhaps I'm wrong about that, but if I am - I have to wonder how Dr. Geisler could say what he says in good conscience.

In light of what Mr. Geisler testifies:
Having examined all these charges against Dr. Caner carefully and having looked at the related evidence, I can say without hesitation that all of the moral charges against Dr. Caner are unsubstantiated. Further, no one has demonstrated moral intent on any of the factual misstatements he made (which we all make).

Should we not take Mr. Geisler at his word when he makes such a testimony?

Pressing On,
Eric

Turretinfan said...

Geisler writes like someone unfamiliar with the evidence. I'd rather think it was that, than that he was being dishonest.

Bennett Willis said...

I thought that TF was making a reasonable effort to courteously respect Dr. Geisler's past contributions and accomplishments, recognizing that all this is the will of God.

I, on the other hand, being firmly convinced that all of us, including Dr. Geisler, have free will am becoming less charitable. :0

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I was a bit shocked that someone who is touted as a scholar presented us with such shoddy scholarship. Even the grammar and structure of the defense was elementary with many mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Has Geisler written forwards or blurbs for any of Caner's books?

Turretinfan said...

Anonymous:

My guess is that Geisler didn't write this himself, or at least did not write all of it himself.

I'm not sure about what books they have worked together on.

The most obvious connection is that Norman Geisler is President of Veritas Evangelical Seminary and that Ergun Caner is Visiting Staff.

-TurretinFan

Paijo Budi said...

Keep up the good work TF and Dr. White. In Indonesia it happens to some former Christians - now Muslims.

I hope Christians in Indonesia will not repeat the mistakes of Christians in the US commit in the case of Caner.


God bless you and your ministry.
Paijo (Indonesia)

Peter Pike said...

Strong Tower said:
---
The controversy though, as White and TF have many times pointed out, is not the struggle between "extremist Calvinists" and level headed Arminians, it is simply a matter of integrity.
---

I agree. My point is merely that when people lack integrity in approaching Scripture, it's no surprise that they lack integrity when approaching any other text. Or put it this way: the more hoops you have to jump through, or the more magical hand-waving you have to do, to continue in a set position, the more you convince yourself that hoops and hand-waving are the legitimate way of examining any issue.

Personally, I think it's for this reason that White has said he'd be even more critical of Caner if Caner had been Reformed. I know I would be too. For instance, if TF had done the things Caner has done, there'd be many posts over on Triablogue about it right now :-D

In any case, thus far I think the only Arminian I've read who has acknowledged Caner's behavior was reprehensible has been William Birch. Perhaps others agree and are just remaining silent. Perhaps even the majority are in that position. But it is alarming that all but one who have spoken so far have defended X = ~X.

Cheryl Schatz said...

Peter Pike,
You said:

"In any case, thus far I think the only Arminian I've read who has acknowledged Caner's behavior was reprehensible has been William Birch. Perhaps others agree and are just remaining silent."

I am a non-Calvinist and I have not remained silent. The issue of lies and cover-ups is not an issue of Calvinism and Arminianism. It is an issue for the Christian church at large to deal with to call Dr. Caner to account for his sin so that he can go through repentance, healing and restoration.

natamllc said...

PP

you wrote ST: "...In any case, thus far I think the only Arminian I've read who has acknowledged Caner's behavior was reprehensible has been William Birch. Perhaps others agree and are just remaining silent....".

The way they slaughter Calvinists for being wrong or adverse, what do you think they would do to their own? Would they do the same seeing the comments Dr. White gave: "if Dr. Caner were a Calvinist under authority he would go after him far more critically, even so far as contacting his authority base and bring up charges against him"??

Silence can be just as loud in sending a message as smoke signals from some Indians! :)

By the way, now that I mentioned it, why do all Indians get tagged as blowing smoke all the time when it was a cultural thing? My people couldn't afford to do the smoke signal thing as we would burn down our forests! We had our own cultural ways of getting our message out. :)

Which leaves me with, whew, is this the way Arminians bring correction to liars within their camp? If so, I am glad I am not in that house! And sadly, some conclude that is being Christian!

Here's our approach to matters on earth:


Ecc 5:1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.
Ecc 5:2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.

Peter Pike said...

Cheryl Schatz said
---
I am a non-Calvinist and I have not remained silent.
---

Thank you for that. That makes two now.

Sadly, all the other Arminians I've seen who have talked about this issue have said something along the lines of: "Maybe Caner misspoke, and maybe he even did lie here and there, but the Calvinists are being dishonest in pointing this out because they have ulterior motives."

Let's pretend that there's even an inkling of truth to that claim. How is that relevant to the issue of whether or not Caner lied from the pulpit? Why should the truth be ignored if the wrong person states it? That sort of thinking galls me; yet it is the prevailing attitude amongst Arminian apologists on this issue.

So I am glad that there are some exceptions. It worries me that there are so few. It also worries me that the exceptions do not include people such as Geisler, who a decade ago I would have believed incapable of defending such obvious, documented falsehoods.

The bitter irony is that had Caner simply fessed up and asked forgiveness for what he had done, he would have lost none of his current defenders and would have gained most of his accusers to his side too.

Bennett Willis said...

I suspect that if you poll the commenters that you will find there are more Calvinists here because they feel they must support Dr. White. When you have a friend (of any sort) being abused,you tend to speak up.

This probably explains EC's defenders Arminian nature to some extent--and I doubt there are many Calvinists (who knew EC before this started) who had warm/fuzzy feelings toward him. But you also have the "head in the sand" crowd. And the "I hate Enid" crowd. Participating in this is not a random event for many but a support of "friends" or friends of friends.

Is it necessary to further choose sides--do you want us out? Do Calvinists want the true side of this discussion all to themselves? This discussion is a place to show common Christian goals.

Personally, I got into this because things that are not true should be pointed out--and cleaned up if possible. I think that this line of discussion is inappropriate--and hope that it is a bit of comic relief after the tedious discussions.

A couple of years ago I got into a "thread analysis" of Christian behaviors. I determined (to my satisfaction) that I could not look at the behavior of a Christian who was doing the "work of Christ" and tell which "camp" they were from. The actions would be the same. I think that the EC problem is an example of that situation. And applying that observation--"camps" are not worth talking about. Just act like a Christian--in this and other things. Let's hang in there and get this done--together.

Fredericka said...

"The most obvious connection is that Norman Geisler is President of Veritas Evangelical Seminary and that Ergun Caner is Visiting Staff."

I would make plans to be absent from 'Veritas' when EC lectures, lest the sky catch on fire.

Fredericka said...

Peter Pike wrote, "Thank you for that. That makes two now."

You mean the people who comment here? I'm a non-Calvinist. How can you possibly know if people are non-Calvinists? You can smell them?

Turretinfan said...

"You mean the people who comment here? I'm a non-Calvinist. How can you possibly know if people are non-Calvinists? You can smell them?"

ROFL

Turretinfan said...

For some reason the display of comments is rather delayed at the moment. They are posting, however.