Saturday, June 05, 2010

Is There an Ergun Caner Failblog Entry?

All of the following quotations (obviously excluding the linked material) come from a sermon titled, "The Greatest Day in Church" apparently preached Calvary Chapel Old Bridge (Old Bridge, NJ), on January 25, 2009 (sermon available for sale or free for streaming here). I understand this is the church of the same "Pastor Lloyd" whose interview with Caner we recently addressed (link to discussion of interview). References in parentheses are to the approximate starting place of the clip from which I'm quoting. There is just so much here it is hard to organize it. However, I have tried to organize it. It includes many, though not all, of the apparent embellishments we have seen. The time stamps are approximate, and the transcription is my own. If you find errors in it, please alert me.

Ironic Comment of the Day - Winner

(5:30) "I can't - I don't tell jokes. I tell stories all the time, but I can't tell like set-ups, like 'a man walked into a room ...'"
  • Sadly, it seems this point about telling stories is true.
Ironic Comment of the Day - Runner Up

(20:55) "I've now written sixteen books. Big deal. My books ain't nothin'. I don't think I've read sixteen books. I'm an idiot. If I got a PhD, anybody in this room can get a PhD. I've been teaching for ten years. For some reason, people started buying my books. I was like, 'ok.' They say, 'We want you to write on this,' I was like, 'Man, I am only going to write about what I am passionate about.' 'No, no, write this! We'll give you money!' 'Dude, I wouldn't buy it, if I wrote it.' My books mean nothing. Because most of you in this room have had a greater impact and will have a greater impact on the kingdom than I ever will."
Name Claim

(2:45) "My full name, Ergun Mehmet Caner"
  • We've seen official documents where his name is listed as Ergun Michael Caner.
100% Turkish Claim (With English in Brooklyn and Warrior Training Claims)

(22:35) "I am 100% Turk.

(1:00) "I am an immigrant, I'm Turkish, 100% Turkish, for which I usually have to apologize, because we have horrible atrocities that Turks do, all the time, but I came to America through Brooklyn, NY and learned English at Aquinas (some Brooklyn folk? yeah!) and then moved to Ohio (I'll tell you a little bit about that later) but moved to Ohio and then became a Christian. I was a Sunni Muslim and a jahideen not a mujahideen, not a holy warrior, but I had not made it that high, but I was a jahideen when I got saved."

(34:15) "Jesus strapped himself to a cross, so I wouldn't have to strap a bomb to myself."
  • It's unclear how Caner, whose mother is Swedish, can be 100% Turkish.

  • Note also the claim to have learned English in Brooklyn at "Aquinas" before settling in Ohio. Since Emir Caner was born in Ohio in 1970, and since Ergun Caner must have been 3 years old when he attended "Aquinas" in Brooklyn, if the story is true.

  • Note the claim to have been a "jahideen," and apparently on track to be a "mujahideen." It's hard to disprove this claim, but if there were folks training to be "mujahideen" in Central Ohio, we assume that the U.S. government would probably want to be aware of this. (UPDATE: a number of readers have pointed out that the -een ending is plural, and at least one has pointed out that while there is a real Arabic word "jahid" it is a verb form of the word for "struggle." If I've correctly understood Arabic grammar on this point (see here, for example), the "mu-" in "mujahid" is a prefix that turns a verb relating to warfare into a participle for the person who does the warfare. Thus, removing the "mu-" does not appear to be a qualifier meaning "holy," such that it could be removed to express a lesser type of warrior. Of course, I await someone whose Arabic knowledge is greater than my own to confirm this.)
Father with "Many Wives" Claim (and half-brothers claim)

(39:20) My father had other wives, Amen [responsive to clapping presumably about the brothers' salvation, not the alleged polygamy] My father had other wives, but from our mother all three boys, Ergun, Erdem, and Emir - all three born again - all three married to hot Christian wives."

(43:10) "My father had other wives. My father died in '99, never accepted Jesus. I have half-brothers and sisters who don't know Jesus."
  • We can only find evidence that Caner's father had two wives: Caner's mother and a woman that Caner's father apparently married after Caner's mother was divorced from Caner's father.

  • We can confirm that Caner has two half-sisters from Caner's father's second wife, but we cannot identify any half-brothers. Indeed, while the Caner's are mentioned in their father's will, no other male offspring are mentioned. (link to will)
Racial/Ethnic Comments

(2:30) "I married a southerner. We are the ultimate mixed marriage."

(3:30) "Her Father is from Possum Kill, NC, so you can guess he was thrilled when the towel-head showed up at the door to date his daughter"

(5:10) "You eat squirrel brains, you redneck. You eat innards and call them 'chit'lings,' you can eat this. " (reportedly his words/thoughts in response to his father-in-law's suspicion of his cooking)

(6:55) "We have two beautiful, wonderful, half-breed children. [childrens personal info omitted] They ignore me in two languages." (In another address, he identifies the two languages as "Turkish" and "redneck" - 10:20 at the link.)

(9:15) "I thought, 'There's a black man with a question!'" (pretend scared voice)

(22:35) "And I know there's two types of Muslims that come to America. One type running away from Islam and those that are coming to propitiate it. You've seen the ones who are running away. Usually, they come to America - they're in love with it - they wear the tight polyester pants. Come on - I've seen my people - you ain't gonna embarrass me by any of these things. We got the one eyebrow - we've got it slicked back. We've got our designer impostor perfume on. And we tryin' to make our move - we tryin' to mac. We're like, 'How you doing beautiful woman, come dance with me, dance with me. No, no, my name is Kanye - come on dance.' That wasn't us."

(40:30) "One church - one Pastor - one's pastor's wife: Yuki Miller was from Japan. Clarence met her when he was overseas. They were a mixed marriage too. And Yuki was this tall. Couldn't understand a word she was saying, she'd start praying, we do a prayer thing at night, all join hands, and she'd start: [using exaggerated far-east accent]'Heavenry Faddah - we thanka you fo [unintelligible] today.' Man, I didn't know what she was saying, but she was talking to somebody I wanted to know."

(46:35) "Thanks for listening to a towel-head."
  • I don't think Caner actually has any antipathy or hatred either for southerners or those of his own or other races/ethnicities. Nevertheless, it is surprising to see such a volume of these sorts of comments. Sadly, some of the "Caner haters" have drawn some very negative conclusions from these sorts of comments. My advice to Caner is to discontinue these. (In another clip, you may recall, Caner even refers to White people as "crackers" about 3/4 of the way through.)
Sexual Comments

(39:55) "All three married to hot Christian wives. You go to Facebook (R), man. Look at pictures of my wife. My wife is fergalicious, man."
  • I am glad he loves his wife and finds her attractive. I can't believe that folks think it is appropriate for him to be suggesting that folks ogle her on Facebook (R). I've never seen his wife, and I'm content to take his word for it, as to her physical beauty. I would again, however, encourage him not to make a spectacle of her.
Debate Claims

(9:20) "I'm a professor. And most of the time in my life I'm with hostile crowds, as you could tell with debate. You can go on iTunes (R) and get all my debates for free. No subscription or anything, you just type in my name. And you'll see, I debate anybody. And I teach apologetics, that is defending the faith, specifically to hostile crowds, to world religions. Global apologetics is defending Christianity in light of near eastern, middle eastern, far eastern religions."

(10:10) "And so, most of the time, I'm not with fellow believers. Only when I'm in the classroom. And even there, I tell the students, we bring them into our classes, for interviews. We bring in Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and such. And we do these debates. And I rarely get to talk about how I ended up here."
  • We've previously looked at his debates, and found that all we could locate were rather tranquil interviews (link to discussion).

  • Note that Caner even seems to acknowledge that the "debates" are just "interviews" in his classrooms.

  • Where is the evidence of Caner debating in a "hostile" crowd? Perhaps he has done so, and there is just no evidence of it, but it is very strange that there is plenty of evidence of the interviews and none (that has come to my attention) of him debating folks in a hostile environment.
Dressing Funny Claim (And "last day I saw my father" claim)

(31:50) "Tackett goes, 'Here he is!' Like you've got to point out the boy in the dress, right?"

(35:05) "In the middle of the sermon, when I felt he's talking right at me, I stepped out and walked to the front. And there Clarence was, handkerchief in hand - preaching '(vocalizing of preaching rhythm) - What?' There's this boy standing in front of him in full gear."

(23:40) "We wore keffiyeh ..."

(36:40) "We went to Afterglow, that's where all the youth went out after church, Denny's IHOP, etc. I took my keffiyeh off, told the waitress I was saved, ordered ham. I'm all about my ham. And I go home, and I told my father, 'Papa, ishulaha umuduru hai esus isa ibn ara turrah,' Jesus is my Lord and savior. And it was the last day I saw my dad."
  • There's no evidence that we can find that Caner ever wore keffiyeh - in fact his high school pictures make him look like a pretty ordinary kid. (see the discussion here)

  • Also, it is not typical for Turkish Muslim laymen, even in Turkey, to wear keffiyeh and robes, as far as we can tell. Watch the recent Gaza relief flotilla funerals and notice how, aside from the clerics, everyone is dressed in basically Western clothes.

  • Finally, the "last day I saw my dad" comment isn't accurate. Caner saw his father again before his father died, according to his own testimony elsewhere. That's very sad that he was cut off from his father for many years, but he is slightly embellishing by claiming it was the last time he saw his father.
Grandmother Claims

(42:00) "In 1995, at almost the age of 100, my grandmother got saved. My mom is a church planter in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Grandma, five foot tall and shrinking. Meanest woman on the planet. Anyone else got a mean grandma? They beat the livin' tar out of you - anyone else? Grandma wouldn't negotiate. Grandma wouldn't do time out. Grandma would do knock out - choke out, black out, that was my grandma. When my grandma got saved, someone blew up the Koran-the the the Bible, like - her Koran was large print - they got the idea and they said, 'ah' - they got our big Bible, they blew it up, they led her to Jesus. Emir, my youngest brother, got to baptize her. Stood in the waters with her - started crying. I'm sitting in the crowd, weeping. Erdem weeping. Our wives weeping. Mormor, grandmother, looked up at Emir [sound effect] smacked him. Smacked him in the baptistry, 'Do it!' That's what she said."
  • The accusations of physical abuse by his grandmother strikes one as a little extreme. It has the sound of an exaggeration, though how could anyone know?

  • What is especially odd is that "mormor" is the Swedish word for maternal grandmother, yet Caner suggests that this grandmother had a large print Koran.
Came to America in 1978 Claim

(23:35) "And when we came to America in '78, through Brooklyn, we settled in Columbus, OH, to build mosques. "
Conversion Senior Year or Later Claim

(22:35) "I am 100% Turk. That's not as important as telling you I lived 18 years of my life as a Sunni Muslim."

(27:25) "Jerry Tackett was an obnoxious kid trying to earn an AWANA badge. I don't know - I mean I don't know what it was. But beginning in my freshman year, and going until my senior year, Jerry Tackett never took "no" for an answer. For three and a half years, almost four years, Tackett kept coming after me. 'Dude, you want to come to the lock-in? Dude, you want to go roller skating? Dude - fifth quarter, hotdog hog-out, pizza pig-out,' all those youth things that people do. 'No, no, no.' Freshman year, Sophomore year, Junior Year, 'Leave me alone!' I have my prayer rug in the locker room and I'd roll it out and I'd be praying and my forehead to the ground and I'd come back up and there he's standing, 'Hey!'"

(28:40) "Going into my senior year, I figured I found the way to shut him up. I said, 'I'll go with you to your church, if you come to the mosque. So this high school senior, this seventeen year-old boy named Jerry Tackett walked to the mosque on Broad St. in Columbus, OH, walked in with a Bible in his hand, and a 'Jesus Saves' t-shirt."

(30:20) "I was trying to be anonymous, sit in the back, and there comes Tackett, and there comes his friends, and there comes all these youth. Four years they'd been going on me and they never gave up."

(39:20) "I was in college, eight months later, my phone rang. I discovered that both my brothers had gotten saved. My father had other wives, Amen [responsive to clapping presumably about the brothers' salvation, not the alleged polygamy] My father had other wives, but from our mother all three boys, Ergun, Erdem, and Emir - all three born again - all three married to hot Christian wives."
  • From what we know, Dr. Caner graduated from Gahanna Lincoln High School in the spring of 1984 (link to discussion here). Based on the apparent fact that he was born in late 1966, he would have been 17 years old when he graduated.

  • Conversion at 18, therefore, would be during his first or even second year of college.

  • Caner's senior year was in 1983-84. When we've heard him give a date for his conversion, the date has been November 4, 1982. That would be the the first part of Caner's Junior year, not his Senior year.

  • Eight months after November 4, 1982, would be July 1983, the summer before Caner's Senior year.

  • The illustration above is taken from one of Caner's yearbooks. The caption in the yearbook states: "While on the foreign langauge hayride, junior Ergun Caner gets bombarded with hay. The hayride was an annual event held at Kitzmiller Farm in New Albany." Compare that illustration also to Caner's claims about dressing funny, above. Note that American hayrides are typically a fall activity, when the hay is harvested. So, it may be that this could have been taken after November 4, 1982, or before it. Perhaps Ergun Caner will stop by to tell us when the hayride actually took place?

  • Finally, we've elsewhere seen Ergun's brother Emir claim to be saved in November 1982. They seem to agree that Ergun Caner was saved even earlier than his brother, Emir. So, it's unclear whether in fact the date of Ergun's conversion perhaps should be his sophomore year, instead.

  • The 1982 date, interestingly, can also be derived from 1995 date for his grandmother's conversion and the following quotation, i.e. 1982 plus 13 years equals 1995.
(44:10) "It took four years for Jerry Tackett to get to my heart. Five years for my brothers. Another nine years for our mother. Another thirteen years for our grandmother."

Radical Devotion Claim

(23:30) "My father's name is Acar Mehmet Caner. I say it out loud, because just telling the story you don't get to do that often, and most Muslims who are Muslims have never met a murtad. I am a murtad. I left Islam, I am a believer in Jesus Christ. My father was an ulima in the mosque, an ulima is a scholar. And he was an architect by vocation. And when we came to America in '78, through Brooklyn, we settled in Columbus, OH, to build mosques. That is exactly what my father did until the day he died in 1999. We were not the casual Muslim, we were not the comfortable Muslim, we were the devout. We wore keffiyeh, we spoke Arabic and Turkish, we read the Koran, we fasted 40 days during Ramadan, we lived by the rules of halal and haram and mushbu, the dietary restrictions. We prayed five times a day facing Mecca, you know, "Bismillah r-rahim wahamdullah al r-rahim." We didn't look like you. We didn't act like you. I didn't dress like you, and let me be very clear with you: I hated you, because I was raised to."

(1:00) "I am an immigrant, I'm Turkish, 100% Turkish, for which I usually have to apologize, because we have horrible atrocities that Turks do, all the time, but I came to America through Brooklyn, NY and learned English at Aquinas (some Brooklyn folk? yeah!) and then moved to Ohio (I'll tell you a little bit about that later) but moved to Ohio and then became a Christian. I was a Sunni Muslim and a jahideen not a mujahideen, not a holy warrior, but I had not made it that high, but I was a jahideen when I got saved."

(34:15) "Jesus strapped himself to a cross, so I wouldn't have to strap a bomb to myself."
  • We've seen the warrior training claims above. The only evidence that has been presented, apparently to substantiate it, has been called into question. (link to discussion)

  • We've also addressed issues of how Ergun looked and dressed above.

  • It's hard to justify Caner's claim that only rarely gets to tell his story. At any rate, I've heard his story told many times.

  • There's no evidence that we've seen to support Caner's claim that his father was an ulima. Perhaps he was, but we cannot see any evidence of that.

  • I would love to see some evidence that Caner's father actually built mosques. It may be true that he helped in some way, but I cannot find any evidence that he actually served as an architect even for the Islamic Foundation on Broad St., although I have tried to find confirming evidence.

  • While Dr. Caner's father undoubtedly spoke Turkish, and while the essential Muslim prayers are in Arabic, we don't have any evidence that Caner actually spoke Turkish and Arabic. In fact, we have some evidence to the contrary.

  • It's not possible that the Caners fasted 40 days during Ramadan, because Ramadan doesn't last 40 days for Sunni Muslims (or for anyone - it's a lunar month, which means it is never more than 30 days long). Wouldn't a former devout Muslim know how long Ramadan was? Perhaps it's just an error of memory, which is what I thought at first, when I had only seen two instances. (see the clip embedded below) With this third instance, however, I am finding it hard to believe that it is simply something that Caner has forgotten.

As far as I can tell, halal and haram and mushbu are the three categories into which a particular food can fall: permitted, forbidden, or (in essence) maybe. I'm not really sure if "mushbu" is a standard term: the first hit I got for it in the literature was John Ankerburg et al. quoting Ergun Caner (link). The terms halal and haram, however, do not refer just to dietary rules but to rules for life generally.

Arabic/Turkish Knowledge Claim

(36:40) "We went to Afterglow, that's where all the youth went out after church, Denny's IHOP, etc. I took my keffiyeh off, told the waitress I was saved, ordered ham. I'm all about my ham. And I go home, and I told my father, 'Papa, ishulaha umuduru hai esus isa ibn ara turrah,' Jesus is my Lord and savior. And it was the last day I saw my dad."

(23:35) We wore keffiyeh, we spoke Arabic and Turkish, we read the Koran, we fasted 40 days during Ramadan, we lived by the rules of halal and haram and mushbu, the dietary restrictions.
  • We have no good reason to think that Ergun knows Arabic, as I've mentioned above.

  • It's not clear which language or languages Caner is trying to speak in the first identified clip. It does sound a little like the pseudo-Arabic that Dr. White and his tutor previously critiqued (link to critique).

This sermon was an absolute mess. I had hoped to take a break from Caner-related stories for a while. However, upon having this sermon brought to my attention, I realized it should help to illustrate to Caner himself and to his supporters that this goes beyond an occasional discrepancy or an accidental one-time misstatement. Instead, this looks more like a pattern. Unless there is some good explanation - and we have not seen any explanation from Caner - it is hard to see in what positive way could interpret these comments from Caner.

For me, the truly sad thing is this. I greatly appreciate Caner's speaking abilities: he's a great orator, in my opinion. I also think he has an amazing testimony underneath all the embellishment. A lot of what Dr. Caner writes and says is very good. Despite the fact that a significant portion of this sermon was about Caner's life story, Caner drives home the message of the need to evangelize, and I am in full agreement with him on that.

These comments that Dr. Caner has been making, he has been making publicly. If they are not true, he really ought to repent and seek the forgiveness of those whom he has misled, regardless of the reasons he had. Please be clear as well, I don't think that Dr. Caner had bad reasons for what he did. I think, as the first quotation I provided above illustrated, he just likes telling stories, because he thinks they help illustrate the point and make it memorable.

I don't know his heart, and I am saddened both by the rabid "attack the messenger" response from folks like Peter Lumpkins and by Caner's own hesitance to come clean, as he appeared to be starting to do in February. I pray that God will bring repentance (if it is called for) and healing to Dr. Caner, and that God will enable those Christians who are upset at apparently having been misled to forgive Caner.


Friday, June 04, 2010

Ergun Caner and Pseudo-Arabic

In the following video, Dr. White and his Arabic tutor (a Christian who is a native speaker of Arabic) critique the alleged Arabic presented by Dr. Caner on a variety of occasions.


The Unchanging God

One of God's attributes is immutability. All Creation changes, but God does not change. This is expressed in two ways. The first way is directly:
  • Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

  • James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
A second way is indirectly using the concept of "enduring forever":
  • Psalm 9:7 But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.

  • Psalm 72:17 His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.

  • Psalm 102:12 But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.

  • Psalm 145:13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
We begin to see this applied to Christ even in the Psalms. There the seed of David is said to endure forever:
  • Psalm 89:4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

  • Psalm 89:29 His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.

  • Psalm 89:36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.
While "seed" can be collective, we learn from Paul's epistle to the Galatians that in the Old Testament prophecy it was was intentionally singular:
  • Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
That was referring to the promise to Abraham, but the same is the case here in the promise to David. It was a promise first given by Nathan the prophet:
  • 2 Samuel 7:12-13
    And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

  • 1 Chronicles 17:11-12
    And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.
While there was a typological fulfillment of this promise in Solomon, Isaiah shows us that the complete fulfillment was yet to come:
  • Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
We can also see another cross-connection in that the LORD's throne is described as unending:
  • Lamentations 5:19 Thou, O LORD, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation.

  • Psalm 45:6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
In any event, the final link of this proof of Jesus' divinity is the implicit application to Jesus:
  • Hebrews 1:12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
And the explicit application to Jesus:
  • Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Let us, therefore, worship Jesus our Immutable Lord!


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Pastor Lloyd Interviews Ergun Caner

One of the readers of this blog, bruineric, brought to my attention an interview of Ergun Caner by Pastor Lloyd (link to interview). The interview is dated January 2009. The listing for the interview states:

Pastor Lloyd interviews Ergun Caner

Ergun Caner is the President of Liberty Theological Seminary at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. When Dr. Caner was named to the position in 2005, he became the first former Muslim to become the leader of an evangelical seminary. Along with his brother Emir, Caner has become a leading voice for evangelicalism on the national stage. He has been a guest on such networks as FOX News, MSNBC, CNBC, the BBC, and TBN. Dr. Caner has debated Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Bah'ai over sixty times at universities and colleges. He has written fourteen books, including When Worldviews Collide (LifeWay 2005), on the subject of global apologetics and defending the Christian faith.
The fourteen books are not listed. The debates are not listed. To my knowledge, we cannot find evidence of "over sixty" debates in which Dr. Caner has participated. (see here regarding his debates) (see here regarding his books)

The first 45 seconds are Pastor Lloyd essentially reading the paragraph above. I won't repeat the critique already provided above.

Starting at 1 minute, 4 seconds, Caner gives his one-minute testimony. He states:

"I am Turkish, raised 100% Turk, and came to America in 1978 as a teenage boy. We came here because my father was a muezzin in the mosque, the one who does the call to prayer. And very devout Muslims - and settled in Columbus, OH, because my father built mosques. And so, as an architect, his use to the mosque was that he would do that, and he did that until his death in 1999. And so that brought me here. I'm the oldest of his three sons from our mother. He had other wives, but - the conversion took place in 1982 - I became a believer in Jesus Christ and subsequently lost my family. And so, from that time until now, in studies and basically getting my degrees because I was just curious. I had never been around Christians until I became a Christian and so I had a lot of catching up to do, as you can imagine."
  1. From what we know, Dr. Caner's mother was Swedish. Someone has suggested she may have been adopted from Turkey. I've seen no evidence to support this. Furthermore, as we have illustrated in Caner's own words elsewhere, Caner's Swedish grandmother was active in his upbringing (link to comments).

  2. Dr. Caner came to America, from the records we have, around 1969-70, as a toddler, not 1978 as a teenager.

  3. Dr. Caner lost his father, which is a terrible loss. He did not, as far as we can tell, lose his mother and grandmother.

  4. While I don't approve of serial polygamy, as far as we can tell Dr. Caner's father only had two wives, which would not qualify as "other wives."
Continuing on, Caner is presented with a question regarding the importance of anonymous Christians. As a part of his answer, Caner responds:

"In my case, it was a high school boy who was an AWANA RA/GA type kid. And was trying to earn a badge and for four years came after me. And for four years kept witnessing to me to become a believer in Jesus. And of course I dressed differently, I didn't look like anyone else, spoke differently, ate differently (I lived by halal and haram - you know the dietary restrictions). And so, a huge influence on me."
  1. As far as we can tell, Caner converted not later than 1982, which would have been the first part of Caner's Junior year. So, that's less than three full years of high school in which Jerry Tackett could be influencing him.

  2. As far as we can tell, Caner dressed like everyone else. Even if Caner dressed like a Turk, Turks typically do dress in "Western" clothes, so Caner's "look" would be expected to be similar to that of his classmates.
The final discussion I'd like to address comes from about 14 minutes in:
Lloyd: On a lighter note, I just happened to come accross that you were recently, in fact I saw the video, I believe it was you, that you were tased in a church service. What on Earth were you thinking, man!?

Caner: Every Wednesday night, here at Liberty, I do Campus Church. And its what we call "Church for the Rest of Us." It's volunteer service and six thousand kids. It's a grunge service. The music is industrial, more goth-oriented. I'm not in a suit. I'm not much of a suit person to begin with. But I'm not in a suit, its more of a --

Lloyd: Well, you don't have to wear one here.

Caner: Well good. Hallelujah. It's more like Diesel Jeans and Afflication Shirts, and a lot of tatted kids and pierced and etc. And I just had to have an illustration. And I decided that, you know, if I'm going to pick an illustration that's going to fit, the illustration was, small sins cause the biggest problems and the largest doors of God's blessings turn on these tiny little hinges. So, I showed them the tiny fish-hooks from the taser and then just said, "Why not? Let's do it."

Lloyd: (chuckling)

Caner: And 50,000 volts later- uh - I'll never do that again.

Lloyd: I was going to say. That's probably a one-in-a-lifetime thing. I had a little electric thing I got someone on. I got this big old cop and he was crying and whining, "uh whaddya do to me man - it's killing me - my mouth won't work" I can't imagine getting tased.

Caner: Oh, it was brutal, and I had to finish the sermon.

Lloyd: [3rd commandment violation removed]

Caner: My point is that not all sermons look the same, not all pastors look the same, not all preachers look the same, you know I've got a beard that's about a foot long, ZZ Top-ish. That's just because it's what works for me right now.
My response:
  1. First of all, yes, he really had the ZZ Top-ish beard, see the videos linked-to below.

  2. The tasing incident can be found on Youtube (far-away shot from audience right)(shot of screen at event)(close shot audience left)(close shot stage right - from front of Caner)(close shot stage left - from Caner's back) From a distance, it looks like he's getting tased, and the taser makes the distinctive buzzing noise. However, as can be seen from the two close shots, one of the barbs bounces harmlessly off Caner's back, thereby preventing the taser from actually shocking him (compare reported testimony of a cop regarding the function of a taser).
One of the reasons I posted this is because some people have suggested that Caner's apparent embellishments are simply an occasional misstatement given in the heat of the moment in the midst of a sermon, where the details of the testimony were not the issue. In this interview, Caner is plainly speaking cold. It's not "riled up" sermonizing, it's a calm interview without any live audience to stir up the emotions or confuse Caner's memory. This is not a "fog of war" scenario. Caner is asked to give his testimony up front, and he immediately provides a testimony that does not appear to square with the facts that have come to light. As the discussion continues, he continues to apparently misstate the facts in a way that appears designed to make him sound less like a nominal Muslim and more like a devout Muslim.

Finally, he seems to insist that he was really tased, although the video evidence appears to indicate that one of the leads didn't actually make a connection, which would have made it hard for the taser to actually deliver 50,000 volts. Getting jabbed by one of the barbs is doubtless not a fun experience, but Dr. Caner has the opportunity to say, "It wasn't actually as bad as it could have been," and instead says, "Oh, it was brutal, and I had to finish the sermon."

- TurretinFan

Ergun Caner in Arabic-ish Gear

An anonymous commenter left this link, which he alleges: "may be the video that ends it all." The only thing it is likely to end is your dour mood by giving you a chuckle. In any event, it does have Ergun Caner and he is wearing Arabic-ish gear (think Aladdin):
(link to video)Enjoy! (and note the tags for this post)


Ergun Caner Awards

I've previously discussed Ergun Caner's books (link to discussion). What I did not note is that some claim distinction, according to Ergun Caner's website (link to website).
  1. "Unveiling Islam nominated for the Gold Medallion Award. In Fall 2003, The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association awarded the Gold Medallion to Unveiling Islam in the Missions and Evangelism category" (verified - received in 2003).

  2. "VOICES BEHIND THE VEIL nominated as a finalist for ForeWard [sic] Magazine’s Book of the Year Voices Behind the Veil was selected as a finalist for ForeWard [sic] Magazine’s Book of the Year in the Religion Category for 2004!!!" (not found in list for 2004)(found in the list for 2003)

  3. "MORE THAN A PROPHET nominated for Outreach Book Awards OUTREACH MAGAZINE named More Than a Prophet as a finalist for the Best Outreach Resource of 2003!" (I could not find any definitive list of 2003 finalists, to either confirm or deny this claim.)
This is probably not that helpful, but I've included it simply for the sake of being thorough.


What Catholic Answers Isn't Telling You About the New Mass Translation

Over the past few months I've seen a number of requests for funding from Catholic Answers to support what is billed as the "new translation" of the Order of the Mass. Some of the earlier requests seemed vague as to why this is important. The latest email claims that the issue is that the current translation is "clunky" whereas the mass is supposed to be "sublime."

On the one hand, one can hardly imagine this same conversation happening 50 years ago, when it had been Rome's practice for centuries to essentially use Latin only (plus the Greek words kyrie eleison) in the order of the mass (with a few exceptions, such as the homily). To that time, one would expect to see reused the arguments against the Reformers as to why it is better not to place the mass into English.

Nevertheless, it was put into English and, as Catholic Answers' recent email has noted, they (the mysterious "they" that makes decisions for the English-speaking portion of Rome's church) did not simply reuse the existing parallel English that had been prepared for the aid of English-speaking priests. Instead, a new translation was provided.

What Catholic Answers hasn't been mentioning in the emails I've seen (though perhaps I'm not privy to all their communications) is that there are theological issues with the translation that has been in use for the last few decades. One prominent example is the issue of the very wording of the consecration.

The order in use offered four alternative "Eucharistic prayers" but all of the alternatives stated:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it;
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all
so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.
(source - see the "institutive narrative" section)

The new translation of the mass fixes this erroneous statement with respect to the atonement. In relevant part it states:
(caps in source)

This is a theologically significant change, and one that has been grist for the mill of sedevacantists, as can be seen at the following link from a sedevacantist site (link to arguments for the invalidity of the new mass).

While it may be true that the order of mass in use for decades in the English-speaking world has been clunky, has Catholic Answers' mission ever been to improve the style of American Romanism? One possible explanation is that at least some of the arguments of the sedevacants against the new mass are compelling enough to force a revision that reverts the language to the more traditional form.

I've addressed one issue, an issue that was brought to my attention by Peter Dimond's debate with William Albrecht on the subject (link to debate). I've also addressed this theological issue because it has significance to the issue of the atonement.

The words "shed for many for the remission of sins" should remind us:

1) That the shedding of Christ's blood, not the drinking of his blood, is the way by which the guilt of sins is remitted. Not "drunk ... for the remission of sins" but "shed ... for the remission of sins."

While we are taught that we must eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ to have life in us:

John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

It is because Christ is our source of life, not because it is the eating and drink that provides forgiveness. It is the shedding of the blood that provides the forgiveness.

2) The only way that sins are forgiven is by the shedding of Christ's blood.

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

3) The sacrifice of Christ is a time-bound event. It was future at the time of the institution of the sacrament, though it is past now.

Hebrew 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

4) Christ's aim in having his blood shed was to remit the sins of many, not all.

Thomas Aquinas explains it this way:
Objection 8: Further, as was already observed, Christ's Passion sufficed for all; while as to its efficacy it was profitable for many. Therefore it ought to be said: "Which shall be shed for all," or else "for many," without adding, "for you."

Reply to Objection 8: The blood of Christ's Passion has its efficacy not merely in the elect among the Jews, to whom the blood of the Old Testament was exhibited, but also in the Gentiles; nor only in priests who consecrate this sacrament, and in those others who partake of it; but likewise in those for whom it is offered. And therefore He says expressly, "for you," the Jews, "and for many," namely the Gentiles; or, "for you" who eat of it, and "for many," for whom it is offered.
- Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Third Part, Question 78, Article 3 (Objection/Response 8)

- TurretinFan

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Curious Caner Tidbits

In reviewing the various books that Dr. Ergun Caner has produced, I came across a number of curious tidbits, which I've arranged by book below.

When Worldviews Collide
In the war on terror, Caner understands both sides because he has been on both sides. He was reared the son of an Islamic leader. In 1982 he converted to the Christian faith after immigrating to this country. As a consequence of this conversion, he was disowned by his family.
(Section: About the Author)
When I became a Christian in 1982, my father, a devout Sunni Muslim, immediately disowned me. Overnight I went from having an intimate relationship with the man who was my hero to being a virtual orphan.
(Section: Week 1)

The concerns about these tidbits are the 1982 date (which is questionable), the misleading suggestion that 1982 was somehow close to when Caner came to the country, and the misleading suggestion that Caner's "family" disowned him, when it appears just to have been his father (though that itself is very significant). The "virtual orphan" comment is certainly more accurate, though the reader is probably left uninformed that custody was maintained by Caner's mother.

More than a prophet: an insider's response to Muslim beliefs about Jesus and Christianity
In the interest of fairness and candor, let us disclose a few details of our background.

First, we are proud to be Turkish in ancestry. To many Middle Eastern Muslims, though, this means we were "half-breed secular Muslims." In the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938), abolished the caliphate and established a secular government without mullah rule. So many believe that Turkish Islam is not the real thing, so we are disqualified to discuss the subject as former members of the Islamic faith. Certainly we were both raised to be faithful Muslims within the Turkish culture, yet our religious upbringing and understandings were those of devout Sunni Muslims anywhere. We are more influenced in our Turkish culture by our homeland's horrible treatment of the Kurds during the twentieth century than by the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. We do not come from an Arabic-speaking heritage, but then only a minority of the world's Muslims do come from homes in which Arabic was the primary language.

Second, we both converted from Islam to Christianity before we reached adulthood. Some Muslims contend that we left the faith while we were too young to fully comprehend Islam. Whatever deficiencies we may have had in our understanding have been compensated by over twenty years of study in Islam as we have tried to understand the Muslim mind.
(pages 19-20)

These paragraphs seem to be artfully crafted. They acknowledge, to some extent, the "secular" nature of Turkish Islam. They also never explicitly claim that they ever lived in Turkey. While they call Turkey their "homeland" and while they completely downplay the Swedish influence of their grandmother, they may be justified in calling it a "homeland" in the sense of "fatherland."

They also truthfully state that they were converted before adulthood. In Emir's case, he was apparently converted at age 12. Ergun was apparently converted around 15-16 years old, although the precise date is not clear.

Finally, it is interesting to note that they attempt to bolster their credentials with "over twenty years of study in Islam." It's unclear what study they have in mind. Their books on Islam appear to be only published post-9/11, although evidently the preparation for at least one of those books preceded 9/11. None of their degrees appear to be directly related to Islam, although Dr. Ergun Caner's ThD thesis related to the Christian side of the Crusades.

Unveiling Islam
Ergun Mehmet Caner (D.Min, Emmanuel University; Th.D., University of South Africa)
(reverse cover)

That "D.Min." from Emmanuel University is a credential that Dr. Caner appears to be shying away from using now. He has suggested that it may have been "honorary," though it is not clear why he would list it on the cover of his book, if it were honorary.

Holier Than Thou
A public speaker and apologist, Caner has debated Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and other religious leaders in thirteen countries. The author of seventeen books.
(reverse cover)
I was raised in Islam, and when I became a Christian in 1982, I lost everything -- my family, my friends, my mosque, my culture, even my identity. My father disowned me, but my church family adopted me.

It was a difficult transition at first. I had never held a Bible, a hymnal, or a Sunday school quarterly. I was unaccustomed to the language of the church. I did not even know what a bulletin was.

In addition, I was forced to adjust to life without my father. In many countries, including my home country of Turkey, to become a murtad (convert from Islam) was a capital crime, punishable by death within the span of twenty-four hours from indictment. Being disowned was a decidedly less horrific option, but no less traumatic to an eighteen-year-old young man.

A year following my conversion, I had surrendered to the gospel ministry.
(page xii)
When my mother became a Christian in 1991, she had already endured a difficult divorce. Our father blamed our mother for the conversion of their three sons to Christianity. The long, drawn-out court proceedings were painful, excruciatingly so. The only pain witnessed that was worse than the human tug-of-war that ensued between my parents was the scorn heaped upon my mother as a divorcée. That was true even in the church.
(page 19)

The "debating" "leaders" claim seems to be misleading (as discussed here). The "seventeen books" claim is questionable. I cannot locate seventeen books authored by Ergun Caner - even if I included the books where he is a named editor, I cannot find that many books.

"I lost everything" seems a little overdramatic, though again, losing one's father is no small thing. Suggesting that Turkey makes conversion to Christianity a capital offense does not appear to be an accurate description of Turkey's legal system, either in 1982 or now. And it seems pretty certain that Ergun Caner was not 18 years old when he converted (that would have been late 1984 or 1985).

Ergun's father blaming Ergun's mother for their conversion raises a number of interesting questions. It seems to provide additional confirmation that Ergun's mother did not assist in raising the Caner brothers in Islam, or that Ergun's grandmother was, in fact, instrumental in his conversion (as alleged in one pre-9/11 testimonial that we have discovered)(see also this post).

Why I am a Christian, Chapter 14, Why I am no Longer a Muslim
Recognizing the attendant risks, my father, Acar Mehmet Caner, came to America not to fulfill dreams but to build mosques. He was an architect, and along with his three sons, our mother, and our grandmother, he moved to this country because Islam was spreading into the West at an unprecedented rate. He was more than just a casual or cultural Muslim. He was devout, as were his father and mother, and their parents before them. We were committed Muslims many generations back.

Two types of Muslims move to America. A few come hoping to escape their Islamic background and restrictive lifestyle. They take on the culture of America readily – the dress, the speech, and the exuberant way of life.

We were not in that category. We were among the majority: those who come to America to change it. We were proud of our Islamic heritage. We prayed five types a day as the Qur’an demanded, and ate by the dietary restrictions of halal (allowable) and haram (forbidden). We understood that while America was intriguing, it was also a land of great temptation where many Muslims lose their way. Our father was determined not to let this happen to his family.

There was no mosque in the community where we first settled, Columbus, Ohio. So the local Muslims began meeting at the Ohio State University campus. The group became known as the Islamic Study Center and was lead by an imam (pastor) who was also teaching at the university. The Muslims of Columbus were united in their vision and determined to see America become an Islamic nation.

It was 1979, and the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had recently declared that Muslims would not relent until America was an Islamic nation. We shared his vision and longed for that day. We believed the Islamic eschatology that Allah would judge mankind once the word was subjugated to Sharia (Islamic) law.
(pages 254-55)

I suppose one might justify his statement about the three sons moving to America on the basis that Ergun's mother was already pregnant with Emir when she moved (if that is indeed the case, we have not been given the precise date of their arrival in the U.S.).

The statement "it was 1979" in this context suggests that they moved to the U.S. then. In fact, from what we can tell, 1969 would be a more accurate date, since Emir was born in the U.S. in 1970, from what we can tell.

While Acar Caner may have left Turkey to build mosques in the West, as far as we can tell Acar moved to the U.S. from Sweden, which is also a western country, though not in the Western Hemisphere.

There is no evidence that the Caner family did not dress like Westerners. As we've noted in other posts, Turkish people generally do dress like Westerners. So do Swedish people. "Devotion" is hard to measure, but if devotion is really shown by how you dress (as the passage quoted above seems to suggest), the evidence we have shows Caner to be in the "dress like Westerners" category.

For what it is worth, I do buy the story about his father being involved in starting the Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio. It was started in 1970, though, as we discussed previously (see the discussion here).

- TurretinFan

Update: "Why I am a Christian" was edited by Norman Geisler.  In addition to the points I've noted above, Caner states: "All our lives we talked about moving to 'Oz,' where we could make more in a week than our parents made in a month." (p. 254)

Ratzinger, Material Sufficiency? (by David King)

(The following is a guest post by my friend, Pastor David King)

Cardinal, now Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, while commenting on the documents of Vatican II (article nine of Dei verbum), stated that “no one is seriously able to maintain that there is a proof in Scripture for every catholic doctrine.” See Joseph Ratzinger’s “The Transmission of Divine Revelation” in Herbert Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969), Vol. 3, p. 195.

When I quoted this some time ago (here), Mr. Waltz commented: “As for David’s isolated quote, he [Ratzinger] was dealing with interpretation (formal sufficiency) and not simply material sufficiency. David King clearly misspoke; but you know, everyone makes mistakes, and the bulk of his work/s should be judged on their OVERALL merit and content.” (link - that page seems to have been removed - here's a cached page containing the quotation)

What I suspected then, concerning Ratzinger's inconsistency on the question of material sufficiency, is now cleared up (I think) in the work, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, God’s Word, Scripture—Tradition—Office, Peter Hünermann and Thomas Söding, eds., Henry Taylor, trans. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005). Some of this material has been reworked from an earlier publication, namely, Karl Rahner and Joseph Ratzinger, Revelation and Tradition (New York: Herder and Herder, 1966).

Now, to be sure, I have always thought that our Roman disputants are themselves inconsistent on their affirmation of the material sufficiency of Scripture. But I think this later work by the man who is now Pope makes it clear that he does not affirm material sufficiency in any positive sense, and I did not (as Mr. Waltz charged) misspeak on this issue. I would encourage any Roman disputants to remain calm, at least until they’ve read the extended quote below.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI:
Geiselmann starts from a new interpretation of the Council of Trent’s decrees about the nature of tradition. Trent had established that the truth of the gospel was contained in libris scriptis et sine scripto traditionibus. That was (and is to this day) interpreted as meaning that Scripture does not contain the whole veritas evangelii [truth of the gospel] and that no sola scriptura principle is therefore possible, since part of the truth of revelation reaches us only through tradition. Geiselmann took up the point, already made by others, that the first draft of the text provided the formulation that truth is contained “partim in libris scriptis partim in sine scripto traditionibus”. Here, then, the doctrine of a division of truth into two sources (Scripture and tradition) was clearly articulated. The Council renounced the use of partim—partim, however, and contented itself with the simple conjunction et. Geiselman concludes from this that they had turned away from the idea of a division of truth into two separate sources, or had at least not explicitly defined it. And he further concludes that consequently even a Catholic theologian can argue the material sufficiency of Scripture and can also, as a Catholic, hold the opinion that Holy Scripture transmits a material sola scriptura thoroughly acceptable even for a Catholic—indeed, he believes he can show that this has much the stronger tradition in its favor and that the Council of Trent, likewise, intended to point us in this direction.

It is easy to understand how such a thesis could count on widespread agreement in view of the quite new opportunities for contact between Catholic and Evangelical Christians that it seemed to open up. [Here Ratzinger offers a footnote concerning how he and H. Fries, in another work, gave a survey of everyone who agreed in principle with Geiselmann] I hold it to be quite indisputable that it does indeed represent appreciable progress in objective terms. Nonetheless, as soon as one analyzes it somewhat more closely with respect to both its historical and its factual basis, a whole series of questionable points emerge that make it impossible to stop at that. In the second section, we will attempt a few remarks on the historical side of the problem; meanwhile, we turn directly to the problems of the subject itself, and any investigation of this will probably first of all produce the question: What does “the sufficiency of Scripture” actually mean? Even Geiselmann, as a Catholic theologian, cannot get beyond having to hold fast to Catholic dogmas, and none of them can be obtained by means of sola scriptura—not the early Christian dogmas of the former quinquesaecularis consensus, and still less the new ones of 1854 and 1950. What kind of meaning does talk about “the sufficiency of Scripture” still have, then? Does it not threaten to become a dangerous self-deception, with which we deceive ourselves, first of all, and then others (or perhaps do not in fact deceive them!)? In order to go on maintaining that Scripture contains all revealed truth, on one hand, and, on the other, to maintain that the 1950 dogma [which I pressed on Mr. Waltz repeatedly] is a revealed truth, we would have at least to take refuge in a notion of “sufficiency” so broadly conceived that the word “sufficiency” would lose any serious meaning.

This, however, opens up the second and really decisive question: In concerning ourselves with the idea of the “sufficiency” of Scripture, have we grasped the real problem involved in the concept of tradition at all, or are we lingering over a relatively superficial symptom of an issue that in itself lies much deeper? The introductory reflections from which we started should have made it clear that the answer to this question must clearly be Yes. The question of the sufficiency of Scripture is only a secondary problem within the framework of the far more fundamental decision that we glimpsed a little while ago in the concepts of abusus and auctoritas, and that thus concerns the relationship between the authority of the Church and the authority of Holy Scripture; everything else depends on how we understand that.

To make further progress, it will therefore be necessary to deepen our approach, not being preoccupied with such superficial implications as the sufficiency or insufficiency of Scripture, but presenting as a whole the overall problem of the mode of presence of the revealed word among the faithful. Then we can see that we have to reach beyond the positive sources of Scripture and tradition, to their inner source: the revelation, the living word of God, from which Scripture and tradition both spring and without which neither can be grasped in the importance they have for faith. The question of “Scripture and tradition” remains insoluble so long as it is not expanded to a question of “revelation and tradition” and thereby inserted into the larger context in which it belongs. In what follows, therefore, I should like to unfold the concept of tradition in a positive sense, on the basis of its inner impulse, in thesis form, without going into the details of possible arguments. I do this in the hope that some part of an answer to the Reformers’ question may be found in it and that the whole may thus prove to be a part of a conversation, the necessity of which is being recognized with increasing clarity on both sides.
See Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, God’s Word, Scripture—Tradition—Office, Peter Hünermann and Thomas Söding, eds., Henry Taylor, trans. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), pp. 48-51.

As he indicated, Ratzinger proceeds to offer another “thesis” than that of Geiselmann and others. Two things are clear, he does not affirm the material sufficiency of Scripture in any positive sense; and if his language is to be understood at all, he thinks that such a formulation misses the bigger point of what he calls “revelation and tradition.”

Jerry Tackett Speaks?

In the comment box of this post, Jerry T., who claims to be "THE Jerry Tackett from Doctor Caners past" submitted a comment on May 18, 2010. His comment indicates that he was disappointed that the only people who had contacted him were Muslims. He doesn't provide much useful information for corroborating the disputed portions of Dr. Caner's autobiography. He indicates the following:
  • He doesn't know where Caner lived prior to high school.

  • Caner's father was a devout Muslim.

  • Caner's mother and grandmother are from Sweden.

  • Caner's grandmother never spoke any English.

  • Caner's parents' divorce was hotly contested.

  • Caner's father disowned him once Caner came to Christ.
Whether or not it is the real Jerry Tackett speaking, he concludes his comments with some sage advice: "I do know this: Christ Forgives; and I am afraid many of us if held under the microscope of the Muslim world would come up short. Try to keep things in perspective." (minor edits)

It is very true that we need to be careful in this. I myself have been extremely careful not to make my own background an apologetic or polemic argument; yet, like all who repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation, I am a forgiven sinner.

On the other hand, I would take issue with the idea that the concerns that are being raised are, in essence, only visible under a microscope. The evidence that we have seems to suggest that Dr. Caner's public image has been systematically built around an exaggeration of his Muslim past. There have been picayune objections to things like Dr. Caner's pronunciation of Arabic words, but there are also more serious things that have been alleged.


N.B. Thanks to bruineric for pointing out this comment to me.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Caner Brothers - Raised by Their Grandma

As I listened to various comments in Dr. Caner's sermons and heard other comments relayed to me by others, I began to suspect that Dr. Caner's upbringing was something that primarily fell not on his Muslim father, his mother (whose religion is not well known), but on his grandmother (who has never, to my knowledge, been accused of being a Muslim).

The following two paragraphs are found on pages 1-2 of Ergun Caner's recent book, Holier Than Thou, in which "Mormor" is the nickname for Caner's grandmother (UPDATE: As Lockheed has pointed out in the comment box, "Mormor" is not so much a nickname, per se, as the Swedish word for maternal grandmother):
Compared to Emir, however, Erdem and I might as well have been two homeless squatters living on the lawn. Since Emir was born last, Mormor played a larger part in raising him. Both of our parents were working; and as Erdem and I went off to school, Mormor and Emir spent countless hours togther. They developed a bond that was unbreakable. I have often stated that if Emir and I were in a car wreck, I could be covered in blood and have bones protruding from my flesh, and Mormor would step over me to get to Emir, who would be unscathed.

When called upon to do chores, all Emir had to do was muster a feeble cough, and he was relieved of duty. By simply rubbing his head and moaning slightly, Emir could get out of anything. The workload fell on my shoulders. As I shuffled out the door, I angrily saw Emir, standing behind Mormor, with a slight smile, waving and pointing. I wanted to stab him in the neck -- such brotherly love.
The point of this story about Caner's childhood is to illustrate a problem in what Caner calls "toxic Christianity," namely the felt need to be loved more than others.

Nevertheless, one of the interesting points about the story is that it confirms our suspicions raised in a previous post (link to post where Caner seems to allude to grand-maternal upbringing) and creates greater concern about Caner's pre-9/11 testimony which appears to have been that he was led to Christ by his grandmother (link to post discussing Caner's pre-9/11 testimony).

- TurretinFan

Dr. Ergun Caner's Books

Sometimes Dr. Caner's books are referenced in discussing his qualifications. The following are the books I can find:

Books (other than theses)
  1. Unveiling Islam (2002, with second edition in 2009) (with Emir) - Spanish (2002)
  2. More than a Prophet (2003)(with Emir) - Spanish (2006)
  3. When Worldviews Collide (2005)
  4. The Sacred Trust (2003)(with Emir)
  5. Why Churches Die (2005)(with Mac Brunson)
  6. Holier than Thou (2009)
  7. Out of the Crescent Shadows (2003)(with Emir) (reprint 2008)
  8. Christian Jihad (2004) - Spanish (2005)
  9. The Sacred Desk (2004)(editor)(with Emir)
  10. Hills and Hearts of Gold (1995) (Ergun Michael Caner) (second printing 2006)
Published Theses (apparently with extremely limited distribution)
  1. Expeditio crucis: an examination of the motivation, justification, and implications of the summons to the First Crusade (1096- 1099) (1995)(Appears to be Th.M. thesis publication)
  2. Bellum sacrum: the development of the Holy War of the first crusade in light of Augustine's Just War criteria (2003)(Appears to be Th.D. thesis publication)
Books for which Caner is an Editor
  1. The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (2008) (editor)
  2. Voices Behind the Veil (2004)(editor) - Spanish (2005)
Planned Books
  1. (planned) The Audacious Love of Jesus (2010 - planned)
Contributed to these Books
  1. InnovateChurch (2008)(contributed Chapter 12: "Sheep, Goats, and Wolves: Jude Answers Why We Should Do Apologetics in the Church" - about 14 pages)
  2. Why I am a Christian (2006)(contributed Chapter 14: "Why I am no Longer a Muslim" - about 18 pages)
  3. The Last Sermon I Would Preach If Jesus Were Coming Tomorrow (2007)(apparently contributed one sermon, approximately 10-15 pages)
  4. (planned) The Baker Dictionary of Cults (2010 - planned)(apparently several articles on various world religions)
As I find any additional books, I will add them to this list, assuming they can be documented.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Dr. Ergun Caner - Qualifications

While Dr. Caner may have embellished his autobiography, he does have a number of qualifications. In other words, while I think that what Dr. Caner has done is serious and needs to be addressed, I still think he has the necessary qualifications to be Liberty University's Seminary President.

Dr. Caner's qualifications occasionally come up in Liberty University materials. I have tried to review those to see the extent of Dr. Caner's embellishments, if any. There appear to be few such examples. The following list of materials comes from a Liberty University document apparently from November 19, 2007 (link). While most of the information was verified, there were a few items that were either unverified, or whose accuracy is highly suspect.
    editor. Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2008.
  • 27 ARTICLES: Agnosticism, Animism, Baha'I, Buddhism, Christian Identity Aryanism, Church of Christ, Cultural Apologetics, Deepak Chopra, Global Apologetics, Historical Apologetics, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, LogicalFallacies, Mythology, Nature and Attributes of God, Reconstructionism, Secular Humanism, Seventh Day Adventism, Sikhism, Socratic Philosophers, Theosophy, Tibetian Buddhism, Tritheism, Types of Apologetics, Types of Sin, Zen Buddhism

  • with Mac Brunson. Why Churches Die: Lethal Poisons in Body of Christ. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2005. [Verified, about 220 pages]

  • When Worldviews Collide: Christianity against Religion. Nashville: LifeWay, 2005. [Verified, about 150 pages]

  • Christian Jihad: When Christians Kill. Grand Rapids: Kregel 2005. [Verified, with Emir Caner, about 240 pages]

  • Sacred Desk: Addresses of the SBC Presidents. Nashville: Broadman and Holman 2004. [Found "Sacred Desk: Sermons of the Southern Baptist Convention Presidents" B&H Publishing Group (May 2004), with Emir Caner, about 360 pages]

  • Sacred Trust: Sketches of the SBC Presidents. Nashville: Broadman and Holman 2003. [Verified, with Emir Caner, about 260 pages]

  • Voices Behind the Veil: Women in Islam. Grand Rapids: Kregel 2003. [Verified, about 220 pages, Caner is the general editor. He contributed an introduction and his wife contributed one of the chapters, about 5 pages and 15 pages respectively. Chapter 5 by Susie Hawkins becomes significant later in this list. The introduction, at pages 16-17 states: "This book also is written in a decidedly different fashion. We have attempted to allow each contributor to "speak in her own voice," with the only editing being grammatical or textual. In each chapter, the reader will be able to sense the heartbeat of the author."]

  • Out of the Crescent Shadows. Birmingham: New Hope, 2003. [Verified, with Emir Caner, about 160 pages]

  • More Than a Prophet: Islamic Objections to Christianity. Grand Rapids: Kregel 2003. [Verified, with Emir Caner, about 270 pages]

  • Unveiling Islam: Insider’s Look at Muslim Life. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2002. [Verified, with Emir Caner, about 260 pages]

  • Hills and Hearts of Gold. Atlanta: Brentwood, 1995. [Verified, about 445 pages]

  • Baker Cult Dictionary, H. Wayne House, editor. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008
  • 12 ARTICLES: Advaita Fellowship, Ahura Mazda, Ankh, Baha'u'llah, Buddhist Zarathushtra, Maulana Muhammed Ali, Muhammed, Sikh Dharma, Sikh Foundation, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Qur'an, Zoroastrianism [I found a book by a similar title that is planned for publication this year. I could not, however, find any book like this from 2008.]

  • Apologetics Study Bible, Norman Geisler, editor. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, October 2007
  • 2 ARTICLES: Is Allah Identical to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?, How is Jihad Understood in Islam? [Verified, 4 and 6 pages respectively.]

  • The Last Sermon I Would Preach If Jesus Were Coming Back Tomorrow, Forrest Pollack, editor [Semi-verified, book has about 420 pages and Caner contributed, size of Caner's contribution not known]

  • Bell Shoals, FL: Encouraging Word, August 2007 "Is God a Man or a Woman?" [I could not verify this, although one of Caner's famous sermons has that title.]

  • "Voices from the Past; Voices for the Pew," Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry. Fall 2004. [Verified, 16 pages, available here.]

  • “The Metaphor of the Veil,” Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Summer 2004). [I could not verify this. The closest result was "The Essence of the Veil: The Veil as a Metaphor for Islamic Women" by Susie Hawkins in the Spring 2004, there is no Summer 2004, issue of the JBM&W. (link to pdf of article)(link to html version of article)(link to entire journal issue) The title line has the following footnote: "This article was originally published in, and has been slightly adapted from, Ergun Mehmet Caner, ed., Voices Behind the Veil: The World of Islam through the Eyes of Women (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2003) 93-106. Used by permission of Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. All rights reserved."]

  • "Disciplinarianism v. Complimentarianism [sic]: Contrasting the View of Woman from the Qur'an and the Bible," Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Summer 2003). [Not verified. There is no Summer 2003 issue. The Fall 2004 issue has an article by Rob Lister that reviews Dr. Caner's Voices Behind the Veil and mentions Ms. Hawkins' article. (link to pdf of article)(link to html version of article)(link to entire journal issue)]

  • “The Doctrine of Holy War in the Hadith,” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. (Spring 2004). [Verified, under the title, "The Doctrine of Jihad in the Islamic Hadith," with Emir Caner, 10 pages, available here]

  • “Answering the Purpose Driven Mosque,” Faith and Mission Journal. Fall 2003. [Verified except date, Fall 2002, abstract available here - see also "The Purpose Driven Mosque," Fall 2005 Christian Apologetics Journal, abstract available here]

  • “The Exhorters Bench: The Call to Decision in the Preaching of W.A. Criswell.“ Criswell Theological Review. Fall 2002, 49-56. [“The Mourner’s Bench: The Call to Decision by Dr. W. A. Criswell” found in CTR, Volume 1, number 1, November 2003]

  • “Resurrection: Myth or Reality- Response to Bishop John S. Spong.” Faith and Mission Journal. Spring 1995, 82-92. [Not Verified - Appears to be a book review of Spong's book.]
As noted above, these are the articles etc. listed here (link). The places where issues arose were:
  1. Baker Cult Dictionary: it appears that Dr. Caner may have contributed articles for this work and may have expected the work to be published in 2008. However, it does not appear that it published then or in 2009, and I cannot find any record that it has actually printed this year either. What's odd is that in anther list of "Qualifications," The date of the dictionary is given as "2004" (see this list).

  2. “The Metaphor of the Veil,” Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Summer 2004). This appears to be the work of Ms. Suzie Hawkins, not Caner.

  3. "Disciplinarianism v. Complimentarianism [sic]: Contrasting the View of Woman from the Qur'an and the Bible," Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Summer 2003). I cannot locate anything that comes close to this. The closest article seems to be Ms. Hawkins' article above, or perhaps the review of Caner's book.
In an October/November 2009 "Faculty Focus," I found a seemingly very accurate list of Dr. Caner's many qualifications. This list omits all of the questionable or dubious items above, but includes one further item that list did not have, namely a book published in 2009:

“Holier Than Thou” Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2009. [Verified, about 110 pages]

Additionally, the list included some qualifications in terms of prior ministry experience. I've summarized and attempted to verify those qualifications as well:

Youth Director, Manchester Baptist Church (KY)
Roger Williams
Pastor, Annville Baptist Church, Annville KY
Roger Williams holds an undergraduate degree from Cumberland College, Masters in Education from Eastern Kentucky University, an DMin from Southwestern Seminary and an Honorary doctorate from Liberty University. Williams is a Longtime friend of Liberty University and had the privilege of preaching the installation service for Dr. Ergun Caner as President of Liberty Theological Seminary.

Dr. Williams has pastored 7 churches in Kentucky and Ohio over 35 years of ministry. His 1st pastorate was Manchester Baptist Church, Manchester Ky and while serving this church had Ergun Caner as his youth director. Currently he serves the Annville Baptist Church of Annville, Ky and has been there 6 years.
While here, I really got my start in ministry. I preached in area churches on weekends, served in the BSU, and then got my first fulltime ministry job, as youth pastor at Manchester Baptist Church in Manchester, Kentucky.
Twenty-five years ago, I served as a youth pastor at a church in Kentucky.
(Holier Than Thou, page 67)

Pastor Associate and Youth Pastor, Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Vincennes, Indiana
Rev. Ergun Caner had been called in June of 1990, as Associate and Youth Pastor. He began the Powerhouse Youth Ministry which grew to over 100 youth, and ministered to the church membership until August, 1991.

Pastor, Wood Baptist Church (Wood, NC)
Dr. Ergun Caner, now president of Liberty Baptist Seminary in Lynchburg, offered many of these challenges to his church when he was a student pastor at Wood Baptist Church, Wood, NC. His church averaged 60 in Sunday School. He actually had to do the sky-diving thing!

In many ways, Ergun is an adrenaline junkie. He has parachuted, bungee jumped, parasailed, and scuba dived. On one occasion, he challenged his deacons at Wood Baptist Church in Franklin County, North Carolina, to a Bible study goal they had never acheived. The town of Wood had a population of 115, and though the worship attendance was equal to the town's population, the Bible study attendance was averaging only 60. So his challenge was this: If on Easter Sunday the church had at least 115 in Bible study, then he and his associate pastor (brother Emir) would parachute at the area airport.
(pages 162-63 of Brunson and Caner's Why Churches Die)

And again:
It was Ergun's first Wednesday night prayer meeting at his new church. It was supposed to be part of the "honeymoon" period. Instead, it turned out to be a nightmare.

Walking into the sanctuary of that small country church, Ergun felt like he was in a dream. It was his first full-time church, complete with a parsonage. In a town of 115, the pastor would obviously be a central character.
(page 47 of Brunson and Caner's Why Churches Die)

One of Emir's biographies provides this description of Emir's presence at WBC:
Interim pastor, Liberty Baptist Church, Hampton, Va., 2004-05; interim pastor, Wood Baptist Church, Louisburg, N.C., 1999-2001; other staff positions in Ohio, North Carolina, Texas.

And another provides this:
* Interim Pastor, Liberty Baptist Church, Hampton, Va., 2004-05
* Interim Pastor, Wood Baptist Church, Louisburg, N.C., 1999-2001
* Co-Pastor, Friendship Baptist Church, McKinney, Texas, 1996-99
* Other staff positions in Ohio, North Carolina and Texas
* Seminars, mission conferences, mission trips, revivals and addresses in a variety of settings including 25 states, Europe (including The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania), Asia (India and China), and The Bahamas.

Also compare:
After moving to North Carolina in August 1992, I ended up in my first pastorate! I pastored the Wood Baptist Church in Wood, North Carolina, in Franklin County, where I met my wife Jill. Loved it here, and it was only about a 45 minute drive to seminary.

Additional evidence in the "middle name" post (link to post).

Pastor, Central Baptist Church (Aurora, CO)

(Plenty of evidence from the era of the Littleton massacre, see the "middle name" post linked above.)

All in all, it is an impressive resume. While Dr. Caner may have embellished his autobiography at several points, he still does have qualifications that can be verified, in terms both of writing and pastor experience.

- TurretinFan