Saturday, August 07, 2010

Ergun Caner's So-Called Apology (Part 2)

I previously blogged on the subject of Ergun Caner's so-called apology (link to my post). Recently, someone directed me to DeMarcus Sullivan's blog post (link) on the topic. He writes:
But ladies and gentlemen, here is the official statement of apology made by Dr. Ergun Caner back in FEBRUARY when he first addressed these allegations as I mentioned in a previous post. So, for the internet blogging mob that are demanding a public apology from Dr. it and shut up.
Keep in mind that Sullivan is a recent graduate of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, with his degree being in Theology and Apologetics, as his blogger profile proudly trumpets.

Look, however, at the shallowness of his defense of Dr. Caner! He encourages folks to "read it and shut up." We have to wonder why Sullivan thinks that Caner's so-called apology would suffice?

I. What is Denied in the so-called Apology?

The so-called Apology explicitly denies having intentionally misled anyone. Caner says specifically: "I have never intentionally misled anyone." My understanding of this is that Caner is denying that he lied to people. If he had lied to someone, he would have intentionally misled them, right? So, as I understand what Caner is saying, he did not lie.

II. What is Admitted in the so-called Apology?

The so-called Apology admits the following: "I am sure I have made many mistakes in the pulpit in the past 20-plus years, and I am sure I will make some in the future. For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better."

- misspoke
- said it wrong
- scrambled words
- was just outright confusing

It also admits one other thing: "Finally, there is a legitimate complaint which I must address, namely, referencing a Muslim scholar that I have never met. Listening to the audio, I honestly have no idea who I was referencing, but it certainly could not have been the man I referenced. For this unintentional but nevertheless horrible mistake, I repent for saying his name, and I ask the forgiveness of all those who heard it. Sin is sin, and if I am dumb enough to say something like that, I should be man enough to deal with it and aim to never make such a grievous error again. This applies to any time when I wrongly used names. I shall be more careful."

- unintentional[ly] referencing a Muslims scholar that [he] never met
- saying his name
- wrongly used names
- [not being] more careful

We can see what Caner thinks he is apologizing for most clearly in his final section: "Criticism is many times helpful. In this particular instance, it has enabled me to correct the careless mistakes I addressed above. "

- careless mistakes

III. Is the Apology Accurate?

The apology makes three sentences of autobiographical claims in an opening section:
  1. I was born in Sweden, with a Turkish father and our mother who was a Turkish citizen.
  2. I was born and raised a Sunni Muslim, just like my brothers.
  3. I was led to Christ at the Stelzer Road Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, just like my brothers.
As to (1), I cannot confirm whether Caner's mother was a Turkish citizen. Apparently, it is presently possible for a foreign woman to gain Turkish citizenship by marrying a Turkish man (link to source - note that the same source observes that monogamy is a requirement of Turkish law). I do not know, however, whether that was possible in 1966, when Caner's parents married, nor do I know whether Caner's mother elected to be a Turkish citizen.

As to (2), aside from his brother, I am not aware of anyone who has stepped forward to confirm the idea that he was "raised a Sunni Muslim." I don't doubt that his father tried to influence him for Sunni Islam.

As to (3), in their book (Unveiling Islam, page 19) the Caner brothers state that Erdem Caner was saved "in the basement of their home." And Kregel Publications claims to have done their own investigation and somehow confirmed the facts as presented in Unveiling Islam (link to evidence). In fact, Kregel writes: "Kregel Publications has found no credible evidence that contradicts the biography as presented in Dr. Caner’s books." (source) So, if Kregel is right, then in this very apology for misstatements about his past, Dr. Caner has made another misstatement about his past. Alternatively, Kregel hasn't done a very careful investigation.

IV. Is the Apology (so-called) Enough?

If Ergun Caner lied about being born in Turkey, living in Ankara and along the Iraqi border most of his life, being trained at madrassahs in Istanbul in Cairo, coming to the United States in 1978, getting misconceptions about America by watching U.S. TV in Turkey, having a polygamist father, and so forth, then how could the apology possibly be enough?

If, on the other hand, all the untrue statements that Ergun Caner made are nothing more than times when he
  • misspoke
  • said it wrong
  • scrambled words
  • was just outright confusing
or were otherwise careless mistakes, then yes, the apology was fine and people should shut up and stop asking Dr. Caner to apologize for something he's already apologized for. There would be no reason to ask him to apologize for speaking carelessly. But are Caner's critics simply accusing him of speaking carelessly? Or are they accusing him of lying?

V. An Important Post-Script

Dr. Caner originally posted this so-called apology on his own website. He subsequently withdrew it from there. He did not explain why. Also, Dr. Caner apparently apologized (in some form) to the students of Liberty University at a meeting of "Campus Church" there.

Dr. Caner also apparently apologized to the board of Liberty University. Dr. Caner may further have apologized in private to many other people at many other times. And, of course, we don't know whether Dr. Caner has repented to God for more than what he has publicly apologized for.

Those critics who are demanding a public apology from Dr. Caner for lying, should be clear that this is what specifically they want. Not that they just want "an apology" (since "an apology" has been offered) nor even that just want a "a public apology," since Dr. Caner's so-called apology may meet that very broad description.

Instead, if the critics believe that Dr. Caner was lying, they should be asking for Dr. Caner to publicly repent of the public lies that they believe Dr. Caner has committed. Dr. Caner pointed out, in his so-called apology: "Every minister has made pulpit mistakes. Being called a “liar,” however, is a serious charge, especially when it is made by Christians. That would indicate that (1) the accusers can know the motives of the accused person’s heart, and (2) the accused person intentionally misled people."

While Dr. Caner may have bias on this matter, his analysis is correct. It is a serious charge to say that someone is lying, and one is claiming to discern the intent of the person speaking. That does not mean that we can never call people liars, but it does mean that we should be slow to assume that untrue statements are lies, particularly when an ordained man is involved. We should hold an ordained man to a higher standard of integrity, but we should also not be hasty to conclude that such a person is sinning by lying.

After all, lying is a particularly heinous sin:

1 Timothy 1:8-11
But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

Revelation 21:7-8
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Revelation 22:15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Notice that being a liar is grouped in there with sodomy, fornication with a prostitute, engaging in sorcery, and murdering. It's a very serious sin. If Dr. Ergun Caner has (or had) a problem with that sin, I would first of all encourage him to repent of that and seek the mercy of Christ, which mercy is shown toward all who repent. Secondly, if that is indeed the issue, I would encourage those who are relying on Dr. Caner's so-called apology to stop relying on it. It denies that lying took place, and consequently shows no confession of the sin of lying, or any remorse for it. If Caner wasn't lying, then many of Dr. Caner's critics owe Dr. Caner an apology.

Either way, I don't think the very shallow attempt by LBTS master of theology and apologetics, Sullivan, is helpful. Either Caner should be apologizing for lying, or his critics who have accused him of lying should be apologizing for their accusation. Either way, the answer is not to "shut up," but to move forward toward repentance and restoration.



Anonymous said...

My guess is DeMarcus Sullivan is lazy and trusting because he has the "Love of God" working through his being, his spirit, soul and body, to such a degree that he believes all things Dr. Caner yet not sufficient enough to prove what is good, [not a lie] and evil, [what is a lie], in his gullibilities about his belief that Dr. Caner in fact apologized for things not necessary for him to apologize for, all the while there is this big 800 pound gorilla sitting in the small room obstructing the lies he has told and still, apparently, to this day upholds and tells, so as to miss that guilt and shame Dr. Caner was not apologizing for in his February apology that he should have been apologizing for? But, instead, you should read between the apologetic lies, ah, I mean the apology for the lies and cover them as you go on about the business of shutting up instead of exposing the lies and proving all things holding to the Truth that Love covers sin, instead of covering the lies not being apologized for!

I say, if this is the way for one to be reconciled to God and man, love covers the sin for lying both in private and so publicly, forget this admonition then:

1Ti 5:19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
1Ti 5:20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.
1Ti 5:21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.
1Ti 5:22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.
1Ti 5:23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)
1Ti 5:24 The sins of some men are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.
1Ti 5:25 So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.

Bennett Willis said...

Mr. Sullivan took his ball and went home--quickly. I saw no indication that he ever made any effort to deal with the statements that EC has made and to reconcile them with the documentation. His reaction to those who politely (but firmly) asked that he review the information is disappointing. His reaction to those who disagreed with him is humorous.

Ramesh said...

It is very ironic and sad that secular business organizations have very high standards for ethics and morality than our chuches and seminaries.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Mr. Sullivan has not looked at the facts. Norman Geisler has not looked at the facts, the others who signed have not looked at the facts or they could not in all honesty come to this conclusion.

The alternative is that they know the facts and despite them continue to cover for Ergun Caner and I would hate to think that was the case.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope Mr. Sullivan sticks to aviation. He doesn't seem to have the reasoning abilities needed to be a pastor and/or apologist.

Anonymous said...

I spoke to a TRBC member the other day. I asked her if she had watched any of the video or websites about Caner on the internet. She said no. She said that Caner was "caught lying" and demoted and she feels he was guilty and doesn't need to watch the stuff. She's a very sweet person who doesn't want to think bad of anyone..but she's gotten the feeling that Caner is guilty, and so do the other TRBC church members that I know, as well as a seminary student. So maybe the general consensus at TRBC and LU is that Caner did do something wrong. He's been very quiet since that "haters" twitter, not even an update to his website. Someone said he spoke at a conference recently with Geisler...but here's a website that says a recent Aug 4 appearance by him was cancelled.

Anonymous said...

Just saw this on Liberty Student news:

They say Caner has been cleaning out his office and have heard he is leaving. (or he could be moving to a smaller office)