Saturday, June 12, 2010

Michuta Contra Athanasius

Athanasius' canon of Scripture, presented in his 39th Festal letter is famous. It's not nearly as famous as his "Athanasius Contra Mundum" rejection of the Arian heresy, but it is probably the second most famous aspect of Athanasius' life today (his excellent letter to Marcellinus on the Psalms was famous in ancient times and perhaps we can revitalize interest in that excellent work as well).

The most famous aspect of Athanasius' canon of Scripture is the fact that his list of New Testament books is the earliest list that we have that is exactly right without expressing doubt about any of the canonical books. Another famous aspect of Athanasius' canon of Scripture, however, was his attempt to follow the 22-book Hebrew canon. In doing so, he gets it mostly right, despite the fact that he omits Esther and counts Ruth separately from Judges. In particular, Athanasius explicitly rejected many of the so-called deuterocanonical books.
But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings. But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose, bestowing upon them their approbation, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple.

Greek: Ἀλλ' ἕνεκά γε πλείονος ἀκριβείας προστίθημι καὶ τοῦτο γράφων ἀναγκαίως, ὡς ὅτι ἔστι καὶ ἕτερα βιβλία τούτων ἔξωθεν, οὐ κανονιζόμενα μέν, τετυπωμένα δὲ παρὰ τῶν πατέρων ἀναγινώσκεσθαι τοῖς ἄρτι προσερχομένοις καὶ βουλομένοις κατηχεῖσθαι τὸν τῆς εὐσεβείας λόγον· Σοφία Σολομῶντος καὶ Σοφία Σιρὰχ καὶ Ἑσθὴρ καὶ Ἰουδὶθ καὶ Τωβίας καὶ Διδαχὴ καλουμένη τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ ὁ Ποιμήν. Καὶ ὅμως, ἀγαπητοί, κἀκείνων κανονιζομένων, καὶ τούτων ἀναγινωσκομένων, οὐδαμοῦ τῶν ἀποκρύφων μνήμη, ἀλλὰ αἱρετικῶν ἐστιν ἐπίνοια, γραφόντων μὲν ὅτε θέλουσιν αὐτά, χαριζομένων δὲ καὶ προστιθέντων αὐτοῖς χρόνους, ἵνα ὡς παλαιὰ προφέροντες, πρόφασιν ἔχωσιν ἀπατᾶν ἐκ τούτου τοὺς ἀκεραίους.
- Athanasius, Festal Letter 39, Section 7.

As James Swan has noted, however, Roman Catholic Bibles are Bigger than Athanasius' Bible. They include "The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit," which Athanasius indicated that he did not accept as part of the canon of inspired Scripture.

Roman Catholic lay author Gary Michuta provides numerous alleged examples from Athanasius, where Athanasius is allegedly quoting the apocrypha as scripture. One in particular is of interest:
Athanasius calls the Book of Judith Scripture. (FN: See Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 2.35, [L. Deus autem non ut homo est, quemadmodum testatur Scriptura], quoting Jdt 13:15. See Breen, Introduction, 374.)
- Gary Michuta Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger, p. 112.

A careful investigation of this claim requires us to take a look at Judith 13:15. My friend James Swan found the following:
  • Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition: "And all ran to meet her from the least to the greatest: for they now had no hopes that she would come."
  • Vulgate: "et concurrerunt ad eam omnes a minimo usque ad maximum quoniam speraverunt eam iam non esse venturam."
  • KJV: "So she took the head out of the bag, and shewed it, and said unto them, behold the head of Holofernes, the chief captain of the army of Assur, and behold the canopy, wherein he did lie in his drunkenness; and the Lord hath smitten him by the hand of a woman."
There's nothing close to these in Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 2.35 (see page 367). This may seem somewhat puzzling. The puzzle begins to be resolved when one examines the secondary source on which Michuta was relying (amusingly, Michuta's ccArmstrong in tertiary-sourcing the subject avoids this particular problem when he relies on Michuta, because he cuts off Michuta's footnote).

Michuta's reference to "Breen" is apparently a reference to A.E. Breen, A General and Critical Introduction to the Holy Scripture, [Rochester, New York: John P. Smith Printing House, 1897]

The puzzle increases, because there's nothing about Judith or Athanasius on page 374 of this book. A little further searching leads to some mention that appears relevant. On page 155, Breen does present a list of similarities from Athansius citing the Apocrypha:

Judith XIII.15
"...non enim quasi homo, sic Deus comminabitur, neque sicut filius hominis ad iracundiam inflammabitur."

Idem contra Arianos, Orat. II.35
" 'Deus autem non ut homo est, quemadmodum testatur Scriptura.' "

(also mentioned at p. 160)

Breen is quoting the following from Athanasius:

But God is not as man, as Scripture has said; but is existing and is ever; therefore also His Word is existing* and is everlastingly with the Father, as radiance of light And man's word is composed of syllables, and neither lives nor operates anything, but is only significant of the speaker's intention, and does but go forth and go by, no more to appear, since it was not at all before it was spoken;

Breen makes the following comment:
To judge rightly St. Athanasius' attitude towards Holy Scripture, we must recall what has been said respecting Meliton. We must readily admit that in these ages a distinction was made between the two classes of books, but it did not deny divine inspiration to the deuterocanonical works. A greater dignity was given by some Fathers to the books that had come down to the Church from the Jews; but these same Fathers testify to the veneration in which the deuterocanonical works were held by the Church, and to the part they played in the life of the faithful. It must also be borne in mind that Athanasius flourished in Alexandria the fertile source of Apocrypha, and in his zeal to repel the inventions of heretics he was most conservative in treating the Canon. His location of Esther among the deuterocanonical books is unique, and was probably caused by the sanguinary character of the book, which also led some Jews to doubt of its divine inspiration.

His omission of Maccabees seems to be an oversight since he adverts to their history in his writings. We do not seek to establish that the status of the two classes of books was the same with Athanasius; but we judge it evident from his writings that he venerated these same books as divine, although not equal in extrinsic authority to the books officially handed down from the Jews. The testimony of Athanasius that the Fathers of the Church had decreed that these books should be read in the Church manifests clearly the Church's attitude towards these books; and the following passages, taken from the writings of Athanasius, show how deeply he also had drunk from these founts.
There are several layers of issues and problems that unravel this puzzle.

Typo in the Reference
It looks like the reference (XIII:15) is a typo.

Judith VIII:15 is
  • Vulgate: "non enim quasi homo Deus sic comminabitur neque sicut filius hominis ad iracundiam inflammabitur"
  • Douay-Rheims Bible translates this as: "For God will not threaten like man, nor be inflamed to anger like the son of man." (which appears to be an accurate translation of the Latin)
  • Corresponding King James version (via the original Greek) has: "Do not bind the counsels of the Lord our God: for God is not as man, that he may be threatened; neither is he as the son of man, that he should be wavering." (Judith 8:16, in the KJV)
  • Greek: ὑμεῖς δὲ μὴ ἐνεχυράζετε τὰς βουλὰς κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν, ὅτι οὐχ ὡς ἄνθρωπος ὁ θεὸς ἀπειληθῆναι οὐδ᾿ ὡς υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου διαιτηθῆναι. (Judith 8:16, in the LXX)
Ambiguous Reference
The second layer of problems for Michuta and Breen is an ambiguous reference. The second quotation he provided (for comparison in Athanasius' works) is from Athanasius' Four Orations against the Arians, Discourse 2, Section 35. Here is the relevant English translation in its immediate context:
Now man, begotten in time, in time also himself begets the child; and whereas from nothing he came to be, therefore his word also is over and continues not. But God is not as man, as Scripture has said; but is existing and is ever; therefore also His Word is existing and is everlastingly with the Father, as radiance of light.

ὁ δὲ θεὸς οὐχ ὡς ἄνθροπός ἐστι, τοῦτο γὰρ εἶπεν ἡ γραφή [fn1], ἀλλ' ὤν ἐστι καὶ ἀεί ἐστι [fn2] (Greek: )

Fn1: Judith 8:16 [15 Vulgate] Fn2: Exodus 3:14
Perhaps you notice the issue: immediately following "as Scripture has said" there is a Scripture text from Exodus 3:14.

Proto-Canonical Alternative

Furthermore, even assuming the ambiguous reference is to the phrase preceding "as Scripture has said," the "οὐχ ὡς ἄνθρωπος ὁ θεὸς" is the LXX for Numbers 23:19, and Judith 8:16 has exactly the same "οὐχ ὡς ἄνθρωπος ὁ θεὸς," at least according to my LXX (I'm not aware of any reason to think that Athanasius' LXX differed on this point). Thus, especially in view of Athanasius' explicit rejection of Judith as being part of the inspired Word of God, it seems unreasonable to conclude that this reference in Athanasius is a statement that Judith is canonical Scripture.


What is amusing about this from my standpoint is that Michuta is obviously relying solely on his secondary source, Breen. Furthermore, Breen has overlooked (for whatever reason) the apparently equally good canonical reference to Numbers 23:19, possibly based on familiarity only with the Latin translation, or other secondary reference (such as the source I've linked above, which provides only the apocryphal reference).

- TurretinFan

Friday, June 11, 2010

Karl Joseph von Hefele - A History of the Christian Councils: from the original documents

The work of von Hefele in assembling the materials regarding the history of Christian councils is significant. While his opinions and conclusions may be subject to bias, I have yet to hear any criticism that he falsified the source materials included in his work. With that in mind, I present the following downloadable editions of his work in English translation (translation from the German original by William R. Clark):

Second Edition, Revised (1872)

Volume 1 (second copy)


Volume 2 (Second Copy)

Second Edition, Revised (1883)

Volume 1


Volume 3 (Second Copy)

Second Edition, Revised (1894)

Volume 1 (Second Copy)


Volume 4 (Second Copy)


Volume 2

Volume 5 (Second Copy)

(all links are to


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Falwell on Ergun Caner

I recently discovered a February 12, 2005, article in World Net Daily by Jerry Falwell (link to article). There are a few interesting things to note from the article.

Falwell makes the same "an ulema" mistake we've seen elsewhere:
On Feb. 4, to the surprise of thousands of Liberty University students, I arose in a convocation service to announce that Dr. Ergun Caner, a converted Sunni Muslim and son of an ulema (Muslim scholar), was to be the first former Muslim to become the dean of an evangelical seminary in the United States. In fact, he will become dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary on the campus of Liberty University, the school I founded in 1971.
Falwell also seemed to think that Caner had already had numerous debates, although no one can seem to locate them now:
Dr. Caner has also become a voice for evangelical Christianity in the national media, debating Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Bahai leaders on more than 50 college and university campuses.
Falwell seems familiar with 1982 alleged conversion date and the claim that Caner's "family" disowned him, despite the evidence that his mother and grandmother raised him:
A Turkish immigrant who converted to Christianity in 1982, Dr. Caner immigrated with his family to America to build mosques in the Midwest. It was while he was in high school in Ohio that a young friend invited him to church and led him to Christ. He was subsequently disowned by his family.
"I still see myself as that little church orphan boy, sitting in the pew in a country church outside of Columbus, Ohio," Dr. Caner stated. "I cannot imagine how such a thing could come about."
Falwell seems to think that Caner received his doctorate from the University of South Africa in 2000, although the evidence suggests a later date (see also here):
In 2000, Dr. Caner received his Doctor of Theology from the University of South Africa in residence in Johannesburg.
I don't have any reason to doubt Falwell's sincerity, but it is troubling to think that his selection of Dr. Caner seems to have been premised on a number of things that are open to doubt: debates we cannot find and other claims that don't seem to match the facts.


UPDATE: See also this video of Falwell discussing Caner at Liberty University Superconference 2005, note the "they'd come from Turkey" idea that Falwell had.

"Intellectual Pit Bull of the evangelical world"

One of the claims that formerly appeared on Dr. Caner's website was as follows:
He has been called the "Intellectual Pit Bull of the evangelical world" by the national media.
(see here)(see it copied at here)

A friend encouraged me to track this down. I did find a few references in the national media to such an expression. I found it in three articles:

May 5, 2005, a Marine Corps Press Release stated, among other things:
Caner has appeared on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and PAX, publicly debated Michael Moore, director of Fahrenheit 9/11, in a syndicated newspaper column, appeared in the LA Times and Washington Post, and is known to national media as the "Intellectual Pit Bull of the Evangelical World," according to his Web site.
May 1, 2005, Bill Broadway (name in "Compiled by" line) writes in the Washington Post:
The new dean of the theological seminary at the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., is a former Muslim who has been called the "intellectual pit bull of the evangelical world," according to his Web site. And Falwell's appointment of Ergun Mehmet Caner to take over the 2,000-student seminary in July has Muslim and Arab American groups bristling.
February 19, 2005, Ron Brown writes in the Winston-Salem Journal (It seems to have been published there, though Ron Brown writes for the Lynchburg paper, the News and Advance):
Caner, dubbed the "intellectual pit bull of the evangelical world" by a Thomas Road Baptist Church advertisement, has become known for his humorous and pointed preaching.
Before February 19, 2005, I could not find any reference in the "national media." If anyone is aware of any factual basis for the claim that the national media referred to him as "intellectual pit bull of the evangelical world," I'd like to see it. Obviously, the national media goes beyond my favorite form of media (print) and also includes television and radio. Perhaps Ron Brown accurately reported the TRBC advertisement, but overlooked that the advertisement was based on some earlier (as yet undiscovered) media dubbing of Caner.

- TurretinFan

Photo Credit: Lance Cpl. Michael Angelo took the photo above, which is public domain (photographer credit requested).

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

"Second Wife" vs. "Many Wives" or "Other Wives"

Unveiling Islam, page 19, relating to the Caner brothers joining their father at his deathbed states: "His second wife had convinced him to see us, and we flew in from all over the country, hoping." Compare that to the "many wives" or "other wives" claims that we've documented in Ergun Caner's speeches (here), (here), (here), (here), and (here).


When Was Emir Caner Disowned?

Listening to Ergun and Emir Caner talking about their reconciliation with their father on his deathbed, I noticed an odd comment from Emir Caner. He indicated that it had been 17 years since Ergun Caner had seen his father, but that it had been "a decade for me" (link to clip). That 7 year difference was quite unexpected. It had been my understanding from numerous other Caner family testimonies that the gap between the conversion of Ergun and Emir was not more than about a year, and that both the brothers were disowned not later than late November 1982.

It was at that point that I noticed that the Caner brothers' book, Unveling Islam, has this interestingly worded passage at page 19:
In 1982, Ergun surrendered to the gospel ministry. It was the last time he saw our father for seventeen years. Acar disowned his sons, although it could have been worse: according to hadith 9.57, all three of us brothers should have been killed.

Tragedies and Commitments

Seventeen years later, we Caner brothers were reunited with our father, four days before he died. His second wife had convinced him to see us, and we flew in from all over the country, hoping.
The book never actually states that Emir was disowned in 1982, though one gets that impression. One wonders whether the Caners' father disowned them because of the conversion itself or because they indicated that they were called to the ministry. It would be interesting to ask Emir Caner to clarify this matter, if he would be willing to do so.

- TurretinFan

Emir Caner's Odd Description of the Kaaba

Listening to Ergun and Emir talking about Islam, I came across a very odd description of the Kaaba. In the clip, Emir calls it a 30 foot by 50 foot stone (link to clip). The kaaba is a building, made of granite and usually covered in black cloth. It is made from stone, but not a single stone. There is a famous black stone there, at one corner of the Kaaba. Muslim pilgrims often try to kiss that stone, although apparently kissing the stone is optional. The black stone itself is relatively small, and was broken into pieces in the middle ages. The stone is said to be about 1 foot in diameter.


"Debated ... Over Sixty Times" Claim Still Up At

Although Liberty University has altered the bio page for Ergun Caner to remove the claim that "For the past twenty years, he has debated leaders in twelve major world religions, including Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Bahai, Mormons ... " there are still several places where the claim that Caner "has debated Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Baha’I over sixty times at universities and colleges" can still be found (here)(here)(and here) These all appear to be various versions of the 2009 "Viewbook." We presume this will eventually be removed, since there does not appear to be any evidence to back up the claim of 60 debates. In fact, no one can seem to find video of even 30 debates ... or 20 ... or 10 ... or 5. If anyone reading this blog is aware of some video or audio of Caner actually debating someone, please let me know. The closest I've seen falls into the category of interviews featuring both Caner and a Muslim (example).

Dr. James White on Iron Sharpens Iron

Dr. White was interviewed earlier today on Iron Sharpens Iron (link to mp3) The show airs on a Spanish-language station, so there is some Spanish-language material before the actual show starts. The topic was the Caner scandal. The show actually starts about 2 minutes into the mp3. Among the folks calling in was Wade Burleson, who has also become something of a lightning rod for criticism by some Caner's worst enemies: those who are not calling him to public repentance but instead are attacking his critics.

- TurretinFan

Ergun Caner's Testimony - 28 Minute Video

Perhaps my readers are tired of clicking on mp3s. The video at the following link is 28 minutes long (link). Watch and see if you can spot where he:
  • Claims to have lived in majority Muslim countries.

  • Claims to have worn "a keffiyeh."

  • Talks about "not an imam, not the mullah, not the mulima," although ulima (not "mulima") is the word for scholars, and the singular (to be parallel with the singular, imam and mullah) would be alim.

  • Provides a story about Mohammed's first alleged revelation, citing to "the beginning of the Hadith" for a story about Mohammed foaming and roaring like a lion. (Bonus, can you find any reference to this story in Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Chapter 1?)

  • Mistranslates the most core creed of Islam, the Shahada, by adding the word "final." (see the correct translation here)

  • Claims that Jerry Tackett began evangelizing him "starting in my sophomore year in high school he just wouldn't let up, all the way through almost my senior year."

  • States, "They didn't call me a 'towel-head,' because I walked into that church in full gear."

  • Attributes a saying to Shabir Ally, as something Ally said, "before he died."

  • Identifies the date of his conversion as November 4, 1982.

Defining "Christian" so as to Deceive Christians

Over in the comment box of the GreenBaggins blog, Dave Armstrong asked:
First of all, how could one who accepts the Nicene and Apostles’ Creed not be a Christian? I think that is something you should ask yourself.If those do not help clarify who is and who is not a Christian, what in the world does? This is the very purpose of creeds and confessions: to determine in a concise manner who is within and outside of the fold.
One has to ask why, i.e. upon what pretense, Dave selects the creeds of those councils, and not the Tridentine creed?

If one is going to include "heretics" who do not accept the Tridentine creed, why not accept heretics who do not accept the Nicene creed? After all, from Rome's perspective, both Arians (who reject Nicaea) and the Reformed (who reject Trent) are "outside the fold" in the same sense. Trent is not less of an ecumenical council in Romanism, nor is its authority any less.

I understand that there are Christians out there who like to use one of those creeds as being a true definition of what is involved in being a Christian. That's because they think that the essential doctrines of the faith are captured in those creeds. That's not Rome's position - Rome doesn't permit people to differ over what Trent has said: if you deny Trent, you can't reasonably call yourself a Roman Catholic.

For a Roman Catholic to select the Nicene Creed or the Apostles' Creed as definitive of what it means to be a Christian is, at best, arbitrary. Trent and Nicaea are equally authoritative for a Romanist. Monothelitism (not condemned at Nicaea) is just dogmatically defined to be a heresy as Arianism. Iconoclasm is as strongly opposed as Monothelitism. And Trent's Canon IX on Justification defines Sola Fide to be as false as any other condemned teaching.

Unfortunately, a number of Christians fall for this sort of sophistry. They imagine that folks like Mr. Armstrong are recognizing them as true followers of Christ by calling them a Christian. You should have seen him squirm, though, when asked the simple question of whether he equated "Christian" and "saved." (he himself documented his own numerous attempts to evade the question on his own blog - link) This confusion is exacerbated by the fact that there are many folks within the Roman Catholic Church who do actually think that non-RCs are just on different paths to heaven: RC members who essentially adopt pluralism. Those two groups read Vatican II's comments "ecumenical" comments in radically different ways.

And which group reads Vatican II correctly?


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Jews Knew the Old Testament Canon - Guest Post by David King

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

One frequent myth often propounded by those who prefer a 4th century Greek canon of the Old Testament (OT) to the Hebrew canon of the OT is the idea that the first century Jews did not know the canon of OT Scripture. The Scriptures abundantly discredit this myth.

Our Lord’s own words (Matt. 21:42; 22:29; 26:54; Mk. 12:10, 24; 14:49; Lk. 4:21; Jn. 5:39; 7:38; 10:35; 13:18; 17:12; ), as well as those of his apostles (Matt. 26:56; Mk. 15:28; Lk. 24:27, 32, 45; Jn 2:22; 7:42; 19:24, 28, 36-37; 20:9; Acts 1:16; 8:32, 35; 17:2, 11; 18:24, 28; Rom. 1:2; 4:3; 9:17; 10:11; 11:2; 15:4; 16:26; 1 Cor. 15:3-4 Gal. 3:8, 22; 4:30; 1 Tim. 4:18; 2 Tim. 3:15-16; Jam. 2:8, 23; 4:5; 1 Pet. 2:6; 2 Pet. 1:20; 3:16), presuppose a recognized OT canon in their day.

Moreover, the Apostle Paul informs us implicitly that the canon of the OT was bequeathed to the NT Church from the OT Church (Rom. 3:2). Many of the early church fathers themselves affirm this to be the case. In other words, if an epistemological crisis concerning an OT canon existed in the time of Christ and His apostles, not only do their own words reveal nothing of it, but the same actually presuppose its identity.

To the contrary, would not such a claim of epistemic uncertainty strip the Jewish people of all responsibility whom our Lord engaged with His indictments of their faithlessness in the face of the testimony of Holy Scripture otherwise (Jn 5:39, Matt. 12:3ff; 19:4; 22:31; Mk. 12:26)? Do not his words presuppose their culpability for not knowing the Scriptures (Matt. 22:29)?

In short, even the apostolic church itself was never without a functioning canon (e.g., Acts 17:2, 11; 18:24, 28; 24:14). Thus, the OT canon of Holy Scripture was commonly recognized in their day, without the aid of any authoritative, conciliar declaration. When then should we entertain the alleged need for such in our day, when already in the time of the apostles themselves the NT canon was being recognized (1 Cor. 14:37; 1 Tim. 5:18 and 2 Pet. 3:16) apart from the same? How does the alleged apologetic against this revealed state of affairs avoid the charge of what amounts to a self-serving agenda of special pleading?

Again, what is being called into question is not simply the sufficiency of Scripture, but the sufficiency of God Himself to reveal and make Himself known in Holy Scripture.

It seems rather difficult to avoid the conclusion posited by Warfield:

The early churches, in short, received, as we receive, into their New Testament all the books historically evinced to them as given by the apostles to the churches as their code of law; and we must not mistake the historical evidences of the slow circulation and authentication of these books over the widely-extended church, for evidence of slowness of “canonization” of books by the authority or the taste of the church itself.
B. B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, reprinted 1970), p. 416.

Caner's Comments at Southwest Baptist Church - January 23, 2010

I managed to locate, via iTunes (R) , two addresses by Dr. Caner presented at the Southwest Baptist Church, Amarillo, TX, January 23, 2010. They are titled: "A Former Muslim Defends the Christian Faith." You should be able to find them through iTunes. However, should you wish to download them directly, I've found mp3s of them here (first presentation)(second presentation)

First presentation

  • 1:30 Explains that Abdul Saleeb is title meaning "slave of the cross"

This contrasts oddly to his claim to have debated someone called "Abdul Saleeb."

  • 2:00 Caner claims that he and his brother write under their real names
  • 6:30 Caner claims his name is Ergun Mehmet Caner and explains that "Mehmet" is "Mohammed in Turkish."

He probably just means that people can link his writings to him. Nevertheless, it is a little odd that he claims this, if Mehmet is not his real name, which seems to be an open question.

This is basically the same story he told when interviewed by Pastor Lloyd about the famous (pseudo-?) tasing incident.

  • 5:15 Caner calls his marriage a “mixed marriage”
  • 7:15 Caner calls his children “half breed”
  • 8:15 Caner calls his marriage the “ultimate mixed marriage”
  • 8:30 Caner claims he has to spray on PAM (R) in order to get a tan.
  • 5:45 Caner mentions his joke about his father-in-law coming from "Possum Kill, NC"
  • 46:00 Caner tells the audience, “Thanks for listening to a towelhead.”

Caner's not politically correct, as we've noted before. The majority of his comments are directed at himself and/or his family, though, so it doesn't seem fair (to me) to accuse him of having antipathy for those he's commenting on.

  • 10:15 Caner claims he didn't get saved until he was almost in college.
  • 40:30 Caner claims, "I was raised to hate you, and until I was almost in college, that's exactly what I did."
  • 42:00 Caner claims that Jerry Tackett started evangelizing him in 9th grade and continued to his senior year, and then “finally in senior year” he went to church with Jerry, where he got saved
  • 43:10 Caner claims the same group led his two brothers to Christ a year later.

We've seen similar claims before (see here for example). This time the separation is a year, not 8 months, but that could just be rounding error. Nevertheless, it's strange that when Caner gives a date is not his senior year of high school, but his junior year or earlier (as mentioned here).

  • 12:45 Caner claims, “I had no family,” after his conversion

As far we can tell, he continued to live with his mother and grandmother after his father disowned him, just as he did before his father disowned him.

  • 24:30 Caner claims he was a horrible pastor, because he doesn't have the gift of mercy - he was a "Christian grump," he says.
  • 27:45 Caner claims, "I stank as a Pastor," and that he drove away lots of people on purpose.

I don't necessarily believe this, though I suppose he may just being humble. He has apparently actually had success in increasing attendance.

  • 41:15 Caner claims, "I lived and died trying to do one more good than bad. And if I couldn't work it out so that I had one more good than bad, I always had the option: jihad. If I was a jahid, if I was a martyr in an act of jihad, then I could get forgiveness."

As noted in a previous post, there does not appear to be any such thing as "a jahid." The term is mujahideen. See also this discussion relating to Caner's Arabic.

  • 43:00 Caner claims he lived with the church after he was disowned.

Perhaps Caner just means this metaphorically, but the only evidence we can find suggests that Caner continued to live with his custodial mother (and grandmother) after his father disowned him.

  • 43:25 Caner claims his father had other wives.

We have only seen evidence of two wives total, and never any evidence of their marriages overlapping.

  • 44:00 Caner claims his grandmother never learned English and was "mean as a snake."
  • 45:20 Caner claims that his brother tried to continue the baptism in “our language” after his attempt in English failed
  • 45:25 and 35 Caner claims that his grandmother hit Emir during the baptism and told him, "Do it!"
  • 45:30 Caner claims that his grandmother’s baptism is on tape.

It's interesting that Caner's comment about his grandmother's knowledge of English is confirmed by what Jerry Tackett allegedly said. The "mean as a snake" claim gets a laugh, but this isn't the first time we've seen that kind of comment from Caner. The idea of the baptism being on tape is interesting - if someone can locate this tape, we can finally get some direct confirmation of one of Caner's stories!

Second presentation

  • 10:10 Caner claims to have learned about America through watching TV in Turkey, based on what the government allowed. He includes the discussion of Dukes of Hazzard and the claim that he wanted to marry Daisy and work at the Boar's Nest. He also mentions Georgia Wrestling and the Andy Griffeth show.

We've previously shown that this cannot possibly be true, because of when the Dukes of Hazzard started to air.

  • 16:00 Caner criticizes political correctness and states, "I've spent ten years just offending everybody, I'm an equal opportunity offender.” He then goes on to explain why he thinks “Dora the Explorer” is an illegal immigrant. (same basic joke around 6:20 here)

I realize that Caner's comments may offend people, but I don't get the sense he does it out of hatred. He makes joking comments, but seems to be doing it to get a laugh, not to make others cry.

  • 19:45 Caner states, "All the debates I've had, and you go to they're free - I'm not selling anything - they're free - the debates are podcasts and you can just do with them what you want - All the debates I've ever had, I have never met one Muslim, who has ever said that the Allah of the Koran and Jehovah God of the Bible are the same god."

We've previously discussed the issue of Caner's debates that can be found on the net. And while I realize it is not a debate, Caner has been on a show with a Muslim who claimed that Christians and Muslims worship the same god.

  • 24:40 Caner states, "I will say this, and I look at my students and I go, to the black students, 'They're coming after you! They're going to get your month. It's going to be "Latin history month" and you're going to be left with Cinqo de Blacko.'"

Again, a politically incorrect joke, but I don't think he means to hurt anyone's feelings.

  • 29:45 Caner states, "I was raised to hate Israel, but now I stand with Israel. It's odd these days, that that seems to be more and more rare. But God will never honor a country - hear me - God will never honor a country that abandons Israel."

Caner is entitled to his opinion, of course, but expressing this kind of opinion publicly is not a great way to win over Muslims.

  • 30:40 Caner states, "And if you know someone, a female, who is dating a Muslim man, first of all, why is that? I don't know. Knowing Islam the way I do, seeing the way my mother was treated, I couldn't possibly imagine why somebody would."

This is about the only negative thing that I've ever heard Caner say about his father, which I say to his praise.

  • 31:40 Caner states, "I was having a debate up at the University of Chicago with a female - ironically - with a female Islamic scholar. And she said, 'Well, you do not understand. First off, the word there means "to tap"' And I said, 'No, the word there does not mean "to tap" and secondly I quote from my wife, "if you ever tap me lightly I will stomp a mudhole in you and walk it dry."'"

I cannot find any record of Caner debating any female Muslims, or any Muslim scholars. It appears that Caner is claiming to have debated “Laleh Bakhtiar” a female scholar who is also Muslim and has been involved in translating the Koran. She is from Chicago, so if Caner were to debate a female Muslim scholar there on that topic, she would be the one - though we must note that Caner did not use her name.

  • 32:42 Claims that his father-in-law is from "Possum Kill."

We've discussed this before.

  • 33:30 Caner states that he told his father-in-law, “You eat squirrel brains, you redneck, you can eat this.” (same comment at 12:40 here)

We've also touched on this before.

  • 37:00 Caner mentions the triple talaq divorce procedure in Islam, and he claims that the husband faces Mecca when he says talaq.

This is something that Dr. White touched on his video regarding Caner's use of Arabic.

  • 40:40 Caner states, "Sharia law is the operational constitution for Muslim countries. The Koran is supposedly one long speech by god - by Allah - false god, but the Hadith, it's actually multi-volumes, nine volumes - its called "Al-Bukhari's Hadith" - and it's the words and teachings and sayings and examples and laws of Mohammed. And the Hadith is the constitution for Sharia law. So if you get caught robbing, your arm is cut off - lying, your tongue is cut off. This is because that is what's taught in the Hadith."

Dr. Caner is not accurately describing the Hadith here. Al-Bukhari's Hadith, known as Sahih al-Bukhari, is one of a number of collection of ahadith (plural of hadith). It can be presented in terms of nine volumes, but of course there are other Hadith collections, such as Sahih Muslim and Sunan Abu Dawood.

  • 47:30 Caner states, "I have websites dedicated to attacking Emir and I. Pastor saw some last night, Youtube videos. Guys that have done an entire Youtube channel to say, 'They were never a Muslim, because no Muslim has ever converted.' Well no Muslim has converted and lived in your country, but I'm standing right here.”

This is not an accurate characterization of Caner's critics. If that's what he sincerely thinks the criticism is, I'd be very surprised, but only God knows Caner's heart.

  • 49:20 “To be really honest, I cannot thank you enough. For a kid, who came to this country in a dress, whose life has been so radically altered that the only thing left is my undying devotion to Rick Flair, for you to sit and listen to me babble on it just means the world to me. Thank you, God bless you.”

This has been addressed above.

  • 54:20 The following exchange occurs:
    Caner: I cannot believe I just did that in front of a church.
    Host Pastor: Hey, just like right up there and wave, would ya? Yeah.
    Caner: You're not filming this are you? I need a job. They're gunna fire me.

I hope that Caner is not fired over this debacle. However, I do think that Caner should be more careful about his speeches, not just in terms of the particular thing that worried him in this instance (apparently it was some sort of wrestling-related action) but in general. Even leaving aside the apparent embellishments, there are a number of improvident comments in his speech. I hope that one benefit Caner receives from reflecting on this situation is that he more carefully guards his tongue.

- TurretinFan

Monday, June 07, 2010

"An Ulima" and "Caliphats" Surrounding Caner's Father

In the following clip, Dr. White addresses two additional Arabic points. The first is that "ulima" (or "ulema" or "ulama") is a plural form, not a singular form (the singular is Alim) - so one cannot be "an ulema" although that's how Dr. Caner referred to his father in his speech at the 2009 Value Voters Summit (link to discussion) and in his sermon at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge (link to discussion).

Additionally, this error even pops up in one of the Caner brothers' books: More than a Prophet has the correct plural usage on pages 18, 42, and 233, but "a Muslim ulema" on page 21. Furthermore, the famous "lost in translation" page on Caner's website has the even more bizarre, "a scholar of an Islamic sect called Ulima." (source)

The second point relates Dr. Caner's claim to have been surrounded by "caliphats" (or "caliphates"?) when he visited his Muslim father, shortly before his father's death. A "caliphate" is analogous to a monarchy, with a "caliph" being the monarch. However, there is no caliphate at present - and no caliph (or - at any rate - no widely recognized one to unite Islam).

In any event, Turks who (like Dr. Caner) are familiar with and look up to Atatürk, know that he is credited with ending the attempted caliphate of the Ottoman empire. In fact, from other documents we have seen, it appears that Caner is also aware Atatürk's role in that regard (see about 95% of the way through this clip).

It's not clear why Dr. Caner includes "caliphats" (or "caliphates"?) in his list of the people surrounding his father at his father's death. However, it does not appear that it could possibly be correct.

- TurretinFan

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Ergun Caner - A Turkish Response

An alert reader, gypsyrose, brought to my attention an article/interview published in response to Ergun Caner's book, Unveiling Islam. The date of the article is apparently 13 June 2003. The article can be found at the following link (link)(google machine translation).

The article criticizes the book for being defamatory of Islam and Mohamed. Additionally, the article takes issues with Caner's credentials and research, noting that many of the book's citations are to other works critical of Islam. One interesting portion of the article alleges: "First of all, they do not know Arabic or their father's language, Turkish." The exact basis for this assertion is not stated.

Nevertheless, it should be understood that the Turkish interviewer had to ask questions in English and translate the answers back into Turkish. The most interesting aspect of the article, indeed, is the reported interview. There is, we must note, a "lost in translation" issue possible, such as that found on Dr. Caner's own website where an English=>Korean=>English translation path leads to the bizarre reference to a "an Islamic sect called Ulima." (source)

Likewise, the article states: "The example that Ergun gives that he became a Christian though a friend at the age of 15 whose father was a pastor, and that his brothers followed him afterwards into the religion." Again, the basis for this is not stated. This would be consistent with Caner coming to Christ in 1981, in his sophomore year of high school. Furthermore, the article states: "His father's family had its roots in Istanbul. His father was an engineer and a religious man who was also attached to his secular values. Acar Caner studied engineering in Sweden and then moved to the capital of Ohio, Columbus, in 1969, with his Swedish wife who had converted to Islam." Again, the source of the details here is not explicitly stated. However, the 1969 arrival date is consistent with the details we have located.

With those caveats, the reader I mentioned above, has provided not only the translations of the sentences quoted above, but also the following partial translation of the interview portion (see the original translation and accompanying comments in the previous comment box: here):

Dr. Ergun Caner, who teaches Church History at Dallas's Criswell College, answered the (our) questions put to him, thusly:
[Question] Do you see yourself as a Turk?

Caner: Of course, from my father's side I am Turkish. Most of my family has lived in Ankara or Istanbul. Most of them are still there, however since we moved to the USA in 1969, we have no contact. As a Turk, I feel proud of my heritage. We all have pictures of Ataturk in our houses. [translator note: "Ataturk" refers to the founder of the Turkish republic, M.K. Ataturk] Anyway, there are many Turkish Christians, we are also part of Turkish culture.

Question: The book is written from "Inside" of Islam?
Caner: The word "inside" [tr. meaning devout], was added by the publisher. I cannot be sure how much "inside" [devout] we are/were. Yet, it is a fact that we were raised as Sunni Muslims. My father was active in the mosque until he died. When we finally came to the conclusion that Jesus was not only a prophet, we became Christians.

Question: Why did you write a book like this? [Unveiling Islam]
Caner: We are not experts in Islam. We only read the Qur'an and listened to the Imam. Because Americans are not aware/familiar with Islam, we decided to write a book about Islamic life, how differently the Qur'an is used by Muslims. We wanted to explain it.

It is interesting to note that in this interview, Caner states that they came in 1969, and that they have not had contact with their Turkish relatives since that time. While "no contact" may be a little extreme (the court records suggest that Acar maintained some kind of contact with his brother in Turkey), the fact is that we have an interview dated in 2003, in which Caner appears to be acknowledging a 1969 arrival date in the U.S. He also seems to be acknowledging that the level of devotion may not be as high as the Turkish word corresponding to "inside" would suggest. Dr. Caner appears to blame the editors for that word. However, recall that at the 2009 Value Voters Summit, Dr. Caner described himself as being "as devout as it gets" (link to discussion).

A word of caution: while I have no specific reason to doubt the integrity of the Turkish publication, the review is obviously a critical review that takes umbrage at perceived insults to Islam and Mohamed in the book. On the other hand, I have not seen any complaints from Caner that the article was inaccurate.

Also, while I can compare gypsyrose's translations to google's translations to see if they appear generally accurate, I don't claim any special knowledge of Turkish. I understand that others who know Turkish have been contacted by one of my friends. Thus, if they discover errors in the translations above, I hope they will bring it to my attention.

- TurretinFan