Saturday, July 03, 2010

Responding to Norman Geisler's Defense of Ergun Caner - Part 2

In the previous post, we addressed a first group of "misspeaks" identified by Dr. Geisler (link to post). In this post, we'll look at some of the charges that Dr. Geisler identifies, as well as the responses he provides. I'll try to address each in turn.

The Charge that He Could Speak Arabic when He Can't. - He only claims to be able to speak Arabic the way most non-Arabic Muslims do. Although he was raised in Sweden by a Swedish mother, Ergun learned enough Arabic (as most Muslims do) to read the Qur'an and speak it in prayer.
He may only claim that now. However, as documented here (link to documentation) he stated: "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." Similarly, as documented here (link to documentation) he stated: "Every debate I've ever had, the Muslim, 'Ah you do not understand Islam, you need to understand the Arabic,' What's next? That was my language before English."

I don't see how Dr. Geisler could possibly think that Dr. Caner was just saying he could sound out the Arabic words the way that many non-Arabic-speaking Muslims can. He claims to speak it alongside Turkish and that he understands it, with it being a language of his before English! I suspect this is simply another example of Dr. Geisler not being familiar with the evidence.

The Charges that He was not Turkish as He Claimed. --This stems from a confusion of his nationality and the country of his birth. Ergun was born in Sweden, but he was a Turkish citizen. According to Swedish law a child born in Sweden has the nationality of his father, and Ergun's father was Turkish. Indeed, he traveled to Turkey with his father to establish his Turkish citizenship. When he came to America, he came as a Turkish citizen with a Turkish passport.
First, let me note that I don't know whether Geisler's claim regarding Swedish law is even true. Likewise, I have no way of verifying that Caner traveled with his father at some point (who knows when) to establish Turkish citizenship.

However, Dr. Caner's claim was not simply to being a Turkish citizen. He claimed to be "100% Turkish." (see here, for example) I've never heard someone express citizenship that way. Have you? Has Dr. Geisler? I think, again, Dr. Geisler is just unfamiliar with the evidence.

The Charge that He was never trained in Jihad at a Muslim School. - The charges that he trained in a Sudanese or Lebanese School (Madrassa) are false and are based on wrongly assuming his statement of “Islamic youth jihad” was in reference to a specific terrorist organization. He trained in the one attached to his Mosque as all Muslim children do. And he was trained there in Jihad, as all the other children are-even those who never take up a gun.
What Caner claimed, as documented here (link to documentation) was this: "Until I was 15 years old, I was in the Islamic Youth Jihad. So, until I came to America, until I found Jesus Christ as Lord, I was trained to do that which was done on 11 September, as were thousands and as are to this day, thousands." If that is a claim that all Muslim schools (madrassa can be a generic term for school) teach people to do what was done on September 11, that seems unlikely, and I'll leave it to the Muslims to specifically testify as to whether Geisler's claim in that regard is true. But otherwise, again, it seems like Geisler is probably just unfamiliar with what the evidence actually is.

The Charge that Ergun claimed he “Always Lived” in a Muslim Country before Coming to the US. - Although, the phrase “always lived” is not precise. There is no evidence of an evil intent to embellish here, as his critics say. True, Sweden was not a Muslim country, but he did live as a Muslim with a Muslim father while in Sweden. After all, Ergun's father was from a Muslim country, Ergun was a citizen of a Muslim country, and he lived as a Muslim in Sweden. It would be an embellishment saying that if he was not a Muslim and not a citizen of a Muslim country.
It looks like an embellishment saying that you lived in majority Muslim countries (plural) (see documentation), when you haven't lived in even one majority Muslim country, even if you lived with a Muslim father for many years. For example, he states: "And in every country where I had lived, we had always been in the majority. I am Sunni. About 90% of the Muslims in the world are Sunni. That includes the Wahabi, which is a subset, which is what Bin Ladin is. But I had never been around Christians." (documentation) Does Geisler really think that it is not an embellishment to say "in every country where I had lived, we had always been in majority ... I had never been around Christians" when he only apparently ever lived in Sweden (for his infancy) and Ohio for apparently, essentially his entire childhood? Once again, it looks like Dr. Geisler is not familiar with the evidence.

The Charge that He false Claims that “I Came as a Jihadist from Turkey”. - Ergun denies making this statement, and I have not seen any document refuting his claim. He does claim to have been trained in Jihad, as all Muslim children are. And he is of Turkish ancestry. The rest is apparently extrapolated by his detractors
I don't recall Dr. Caner using those exact words. Hpwever, as documented here (link to documentation) his words were this: "Until I was 15 years old, I was in the Islamic Youth Jihad. So, until I came to America, until I found Jesus Christ as Lord, I was trained to do that which was done on 11 September, as were thousands and as are to this day, thousands." The original context of these words appear to be Dr. White's following comment:
8) How does he explain his often published claim to have come to the United States in 1978 or 1979? How can this be seen as anything other than a purposeful distortion necessary for his “I came as a jihadist from Turkey” rather than “I came as a son of a Muslim father and a Swedish mother to Ohio as a small child” persona?
(source) Whether or not that is an accurate characterization of the persona, I trust Dr. White is willing to let those who hear Dr. Caner's speeches decide.

The Charge that Caner Falsely Claims to have been a Devout Muslim. - Caner photos prove of his activity in the Islamic religion. He has a picture of his masallah (when circumcised at age 12); a photo of him praying in the mosque; a picture of his reading the Qur'in recitation. He also has a photo of his receiving a certificate from an Imam. His bother Emir, also a former Muslim, has vouched for the veracity of his claims.
If there are pictures of Dr. Caner's circumcision, I guess I'm glad that Dr. Geisler didn't share them.

That said, what is a "masallah"? The word "maşallah" is a Turkish word that literally means something like "God willed it" but which is an idiom for something good or wonderful (a little like the way we in English use "hallelujah" sometimes, though perhaps even a bit more secular). Perhaps Dr. Caner has an old photo with the word "masallah" on it, and he doesn't know what the word means? I'm just speculating on that here. I'd be happy to have Dr. Geisler explain what a "masallah" is, and why Dr. Caner's circumcision ritual was deferred from infancy to age 12 (see discussion here)(additional discussion here).

As for the other pictures, I haven't seen them, and Dr. Geisler doesn't provide them or provide access to them. What was the certificate for? for the circumcision? We have no idea. In any event, the few photos that theoretically exist don't seem to show much more than what one might see of a "Christian" child whose family had them go to Vacation Bible School one summer. It proves participation, not devotion, does it not?

The issue of devotion, however, is something that seems to me to be fairly subjective. It's easy to say "I was devout," and it is hard for anyone to disprove that.

The Charge that Caner Claims to have Learned “Perfect” English in Brooklyn. - Caner denies that he said his English was “perfect.” But he did learn some English while living in the old Jefferson Hotel while the family first migrated to the United States. They moved to Ohio where his English improved.
I don't know who claims that Caner claimed to have learned "perfect" English in Brooklyn. Caner does claim to have learned English there. It's interesting that Geisler claims "he did learn some English while living in the old Jefferson Hotel while the family first migrated to the United States." How long were they in the hotel? His brother Erdem was born in Sweden in 1968, and his brother Emir was born in 1970, with the family's migration to the U.S. apparently occurring in 1969. But his brother Emir was born in Ohio, apparently in a little town north of Columbus.

I can't seem to find any record of the "old Jefferson Hotel" in Brooklyn, NY. There is a famous "old Jefferson Hotel" in Richmond, VA, which is not all that far from where Dr. Caner presently resides. Perhaps he is confusing that one with something else? It would be pretty hard for a child of such tender years as Dr. Caner was to remember the name of a hotel that his family stayed at, even if they stayed there an extended period of time. Or perhaps the "old Jefferson Hotel" was simply too small to have left a trace 40 some odd years later.

In any event, a boy of two or three would be quite precocious to learn any large amount of the language. In any event, the claim that I documented (I believe there may be another claim that mentions a street name) is this: "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." (documentation here) And this less specific one: "Until I was 15 years old, I thought every single one of you hated me. See, I'd been taught my entire life that Christians were hateful, vengeful - that you'd have nothing from me but death - and that we were at war. We came to America through Brooklyn, NY, that's where I learned English. (laughter from crowd) Yup yup. Settled in Columbus, OH. Do you know how I found Jesus? I found Jesus while I was still a devout Muslim - devout Muslim - I was a PK [preacher's kid] for lack of a better term. I had a 'drug' problem: my father drug me to the mosque every time the doors were open." (documentation here)
The Charge that Caner could not have Offered his Muslim Prays in the School Bathroom as he said that he did. - This was neither a shameful or unacceptable practice for Muslims, as some critics claim. The Islamic Hadith allows it, and it is done by devout Muslims to this day as has been pointed out by former Muslim Hussein Wario (
Mr. Wario is another Muslim who, like Dr. Caner, converted at a young age. It might be advisable for Dr. Geisler not to assume that Mr. Wario is some sort of expert in Islam.

It is certainly not normal for Muslims to perform their prayers in the bathroom. There are basically two places where Muslims normally do not feel permitted to perform their prayers: bathrooms and graveyards.

Is it possible that Dr. Caner performed his prayers in the bathroom at high school? Of course it is possible. Anything is possible. But we have no good reason to believe that he did that, or that such an action would be consistent with him being a devout Muslim.

The Charge that Caner Claimed Ramadan was Forty Days Long. - Muslims claim this feast is only 30 days long, and Caner said it was forty days. Caner cites Muslim authorities to the contrary, showing it can last up to forty days. Even the Qur'an (Sura 2:51) speaks forty days of fasting.
Ramadan is the name of a month (see discussion here). Islam uses lunar months, so they are always one lunar cycle long, and the moon has never taken 40 days to cycle (normally it is 29-30 days). Ramadan is also the name of the fast during the month of Ramadan (see discussion here).

Caner may cite to Muslim authorities to the contrary, but that's really beside the point. He doesn't just claim that Ramadan is 40 days, he claims he personally fasted 40 days during Ramadan: "we fasted 40 days during Ramadan" (documented here) See also these clips:

So, while there may be some argument to be made that some tiny group of Muslims somewhere fast for forty days, that argument doesn't seem to be applicable to Caner.

As for the reference to Surah 2:51, read what it says - here are three translations:

YUSUFALI: And remember We appointed forty nights for Moses, and in his absence ye took the calf (for worship), and ye did grievous wrong.
PICKTHAL: And when We did appoint for Moses forty nights (of solitude), and then ye chose the calf, when he had gone from you, and were wrong-doers.
SHAKIR: And when We appointed a time of forty nights with Musa, then you took the calf (for a god) after him and you were unjust.

And here is the Arabic:
وَإِذْ وَعَدْنَا مُوسَىٰٓ أَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةًۭ ثُمَّ ٱتَّخَذْتُمُ ٱلْعِجْلَ مِنۢ بَعْدِهِۦ وَأَنتُمْ ظَلِمُونَ
So, yes, that verse of the Koran mentions "forty days" but it does not say that Ramadan is supposed to be forty days. This prooftexting reminds one of the prooftexting that Dr. Geisler's book, Chosen But Free was criticized for using, as Dr. White explained in The Potter's Freedom.
The Charge that Caner Confuses the Shahada with the Beginning Words in the Surat at-Fatiha. - It is alleged that no knowledgeable devout Muslim would confuse these two. But both are part of Islamic prayers that are recited many times every day. The first is the confession and the second is a recitation.
This response does not seem to make much sense. The entire point is that a devout Muslim would be familiar with both prayers. Such a person confusing the two prayers for one another does not seem to make much sense. Can you imagine a devout Roman Catholic confusing the Lord's Prayer with the Hail Mary, even in Latin in the old days? It's almost unimaginable. Both are very familiar prayers.

The Charge that His Family Did Not Disown Him When He Converted to Christianity as Caner Claimed that they Did. - It is true that after the divorce he was raised by his mother who obviously had not disowned him since she was no longer a Muslim. But his Muslim father who had remarried did disown him. This is the Muslim “family” to which he referred. This was very painful to him since he lived only a half hour away but could not even speak to him.
It may be obvious to Dr. Geisler that Caner's custodial family didn't actually disown him, but I question whether it was obvious to any of the groups to whom Caner spoke. For example, when Caner said “I had no family,” after his conversion (documentation) was the audience supposed to somehow know that Caner just meant that he didn't have the second family that lived half an hour away? Or what about when he said on the Zola Levitt show: "They won't dilute. Islam is Islam - and that was me coming to America: a fiery young man - all three of us, the three sons from our mother - all three of us devout Muslims - our father just this hero to us and when I converted - disowned by my family - completely disowned - father cut me out of the pictures - a year later both of my brothers became believers." (documentation) How does one go from "completely disowned" to simply being disowned by a non-custodial parent?

Yes, I'm sure it was painful - and there is no need to minimize or trivialize that. On the other hand, saying things like "completely disowned" or otherwise suggesting that, when his mother and grandmother with whom he lived did not disown him does sound like an embellishment, does it not? Again, I'm not sure if Dr. Geisler is really familiar with the facts.

The Charges that He was not Turkish as He Claimed to be. --This stems from a confusion of his nationality and the country of his birth. Ergun was born in Sweden, but he was a Turkish citizen. According to Swedish law a child born in Sweden has the nationality of his father, and Ergun's father was Turkish. Indeed, he traveled to Turkey with his father to establish his Turkish citizenship. When he came to America, he came as a Turkish citizen with a Turkish passport.
This is a duplicate of one that is already addressed above.
The Charge that Caner Falsely Claims that he has had more than Sixty Debates with Muslims. - Critics challenge this statement and claim it is an intentional embellishment. But they mistakenly assume that all debates are formal. Caner lists many formal debates in the last ten years or so. But he has also engaged in multiple informal debates as well. There is no evidence to deny his claim. Indeed, given his numerous encounters with Muslims, it is reasonable to assume there were at least sixty.
Caner lists many formal debates in the last ten years or so? Where? We've reviewed Dr. Caner's debating claims before (see the discussion here - we cannot seem to find these formal debates, or even any informal debates).
The Charge that no Knowledgeable Muslim Would Mis-cite the Hadith as Caner Did. - It is charged that Caner often cites the Hadith without mentioning the actual name of the collection. But, as even Muslim scholars admit, there is no “official” way to cite the Hadith. It is often cited without reference to the collection.
What Muslim scholars does Dr. Geisler have in mind? Citing a specific Hadith saying by simply saying "Hadith 3:16" is the same as saying "Bible 3:16." Maybe a person will correctly guess the book (in the case of the Bible) or the collection (in the case of the Hadith), but a citation to "Hadith 3:16" would be an incomplete citation. The wording of this answer appears to strikingly similar to Hussein Wario's claim:
I said “there is no “official” way to cite Hadith. The most authentic Hadith collection is Sahih Bukhari. Many times when it is quoted, it comes without the name because it is the most authentic and widely referenced.
(source) Is Hussein Wario supposed to be Geisler's "Muslim scholars" admitting things? I hope not! As noted above, he's a Christian who converted as a teen, like Ergun Caner (or younger, like Emir Caner). There may be Muslim scholars who would cite Sahih al-Bukhari without specifically saying so, because in their context a person would know that this is the one collection they are using. However, the Caners, in their books, do not rely only on that one collection. (more discussion of the Hadith citation issue here)

The Charge that Caner did not Debate Shabir Ally in Nebraska. - Dr. Caner has admitted that this was a mistake and has publically apologized for it. He did, however, engage another Muslim while in Lincoln, NB. No one has proven this was an intentional deception, as some critics claim.
First of all, the appropriate abbreviation for Nebraska is NE. The fact that Dr. Geisler got this wrong doesn't mean he's not a real American. Of course, it may not be that Dr. Geisler himself actually even wrote this section.

Second, who is the mystery Muslim that Ergun Caner debated in Lincoln, NE? Is his name something like Shabir Ally? Does he look anything like him? How did the two get confused if (as Geisler seems to think) this was just an honest mistake. Dr. Caner himself gave the following "apology" apparently regarding the Shabir Ally situation (the apology discussed here - alternative link for apology here):
Finally, there is a legitimate complaint which I must address, namely, referencing a Muslim scholar that I have never met. Listening to the audio, I honestly have no idea who I was referencing, but it certainly could not have been the man I referenced. For this unintentional but nevertheless horrible mistake, I repent for saying his name, and I ask the forgiveness of all those who heard it. Sin is sin, and if I am dumb enough to say something like that, I should be man enough to deal with it and aim to never make such a grievous error again. This applies to any time when I wrongly used names. I shall be more careful.
Perhaps in the interim between February and now, some new debate in Nebraska has come to Dr. Caner's mind and he has conveyed this to Dr. Geisler. If so, perhaps Dr. Geisler would be kind enough to share this information with us. It would be especially nice if it turned out that this was an actual debate and not simply that Dr. Caner happened to share the gospel with a Muslim barber while having his hair cut in Nebreska (an exceedingly unlikely scenario, I know - and let me point out that it would still be great if he shared the gospel with someone, even if it is not good that he turned that into a claim to have debated one of the leading Muslim apologists). The bottom line is that it sounds like Dr. Geisler is simply speculating that Dr. Caner may have mistakenly used the name "Shabir Ally" instead of the name of a different Muslim debater.

The Charge that Caner has Used various Names in Publications. Dr. Caner has used “E. Michael Caner” in one book while using “Ergun Mehmet Caner” in other books. Why? His mother desired that he use Michael, a name she always wished to give him, while Dr. Caner used “Mehmet” in honor of his father, especially after his father's passing in 1999. Some have even attacked his nickname, “Butch,” which he has used since moving to the South and was a name given to him by those who had difficulty pronouncing his first name.
Those sound like great explanations that would seem to be a good explanation for why a person might use various pseudonyms. But Dr. Caner has made claims about what his name is - not just used various pen names.

So what is his real name? He has claimed his real name is something that sounds like "Ergun Michael Mehmet Giovanni Caner" (example)(see longer discussion of name issues here). Is that the truth? Or is Michael the truth? Or is Mehmet the truth? Does Dr. Geisler even know?
The Charge that Caner Claims to have a Ph.D when it is Only a Th.D. - Actually, his degree is a D. Theol. But these degrees are equivalent, as even accrediting agencies attest. Many seminaries have converted the Th.D into a Ph.D program.
D. Theol. and Th.D. are the same thing. While a Ph.D. may be an equivalent to a Th.D. in terms of the work involved, the issue is not just that Dr. Caner seems to have sometimes claimed he had a Ph.D. when he did not, but that he (or others on his behalf) claimed to have it in addition to his Th.D. (discussion of the credential issue).

Perhaps in a final segment we can discuss Dr. Geisler's concluding thoughts.

- TurretinFan

Responding to Norman Geisler's Defense of Ergun Caner - Part 1

As promised in a previous post (link) this post begins to address Dr. Geisler's defense of Dr. Caner.

Dr. Geisler says "no one has proven an evil moral intent in any of them" referring, apparently, to "some factual misstatements" for which "Dr. Caner has admitted to and apologized ... ." Dr. Geisler goes on to say, "For those who have no mercy for those who make honest mistakes, I would only say: Let him who is without mistakes cast the first stone!" Dr. Geisler does not come right out and say, "All of Dr. Caner's mistakes were honest mistakes," though that appears to be his intended message.

The first cluster of "misspeaks" that Geisler identifies are the following:

"1) He said he was 18 instead of 16 which he repeatedly said he was."

If this were a one-time error by itself, folks would probably not make much of a big deal about it - at least I hope they wouldn't. Who hasn't occasionally misstated a number?

But if it is also done more than once and accompanied by things like saying that he was saved in his "senior year" of high school (link to evidence analyzed)(another example)(third example), then it begins to look different. The more times it happens, and the more times it is accompanied by related marks that are connected to it, the more it looks intentional.

There's also a further problem, if Unveiling Islam's account is correct (see discussion here), then Ergun Caner was actually 15, not 16 (as does a Turkish newspaper report). So which is it? Well, Dr. Geisler doesn't give us any new information, so we're stuck with the unresolved contradictions. Is it really 16? or is it really 15?

Dr. Caner does not seem to have studied this matter very closely, since he appears to be unaware of the evidence pointing to conversion at 15 or younger.

"2) He said Shabir Ally had died (who is alive) when he meant another Muslim (who is dead);"

I agree that this was an honest mistake. I can even venture a guess as to who Caner was trying to identify: Ahmed Deedat (who is dead, having died in 2005).

Of course, the more serious issue with respect to Shabir Ally is Dr. Caner's claim to have debated him, but that will be discussed in a later post.

"3) Ergun said they moved to America in 1969 and in another place he said it was 1978. More precisely, he got his citizenship in 1978."

First off, I have seen no evidence that Dr. Caner got his citizenship in 1978. It may be true, and I'm sure that it would have to be a public record somewhere, so presumably evidence can be found if the citizenship-in-1978 claim is true. This will have to be categorized under the "wait and see" category of claims. Who knows where Dr. Geisler got this information from - he certainly does not cite any evidence or identify the source of his information. (UPDATE: As an alert but anonymous reader pointed out, at least one biography of Caner indicates he became a citizen at age 18, in 1984 - link to bio with colorful photo of Caner and Ms. Schatz has pointed out that Dr. Caner himself has claimed to have gained his citizenship in 1982 - see his article "Hatriotism")

Secondly, even if Caner did become a citizen in 1978, is the claim that Caner meant to refer to when he became a citizen? How could that possibly be what Caner meant in the context of, for example, the Rick and Bubba Show interview? (link to discussion/analysis) Again, it appears that Dr. Geisler is not familiar with the evidence.

"4) Ergun once accidentally said Mulema instead of Ulema which is the Arabic word for scholar."

Actually, Dr. Caner may have done that several times. I've tried to always assume he's trying to say "an Ulema" although his diction often makes it sound like "a Mulema." So, while one instance of what sounds like "Mulema," it may not be the only time.

But there is a more significant aspect to this particular mistake. Ulema is the Arabic word for scholars not scholar (as discussed here). Again, Dr. Geisler is not familiar with the evidence.

"5) He mispronounces Sawm as 'Swam.'"

Sometimes it even sounds like "swan" the way Dr. Caner pronounces it. This is obviously a mistake, but I don't think even Dr. Caner's most severe critics think this is supposed to be a lie. It just goes to show that his alleged familiarity with Islam is probably not as extensive as folks might think based on his autobiographical reports.

What Dr. Geisler fails to mention is that Sawm is one of the five pillars of Islam. It's not just some obscure word that most Muslims would not know, even if Dr. Geisler himself or his expected audience is not aware of what it means. If Dr. Caner were not claiming to be an expert in Islam, I don't think anyone except his most severe critics would give a second thought to the fact that he does not pronounce it correctly. But Dr. Caner is sometimes presented as though he were some kind of expert on Islam - in that role, consistently mispronouncing one of the five pillars is somewhat more troubling.

"6) He is charged with lying because look [sic] away or crosses his legs or arms (which is symptomatic of lying)!"

I don't put a lot of stock in the body language clues for lying. This is really one of the most trivial objections - if that were all that Caner's critics had, they should be laughed at.

"7) It is charged that Ergun has shoes on in a mosque picture which is forbidden (Wrong. It is not forbidden in the outer court)."

First of all, is the claim that these photos are from the "outer court" of some mosque or mosques? (link to photos and discussion) If so, which mosque? What "outer court" in

Second, how is the outer court "in the mosque"?

Again, it doesn't look like Dr. Geisler is really familiar with the evidence.

Dr. Geisler's First Conclusion

Dr. Geisler's article looks like the work of more than one person. The first conclusion comes right above a section titled "Some Muslim Allegations against Dr. Caner" and then there is a later "Concluding Thoughts" section. We'll address the "Concluding Thoughts" later.

This conclusion is as follows:
Several things are worth noting here. First of all, none of them are morally culpable since no one has proven intentional deception or embellishment. Furthermore, when Ergun becomes aware of any mistakes, he owns it, corrects, and apologizes for it. In addition, most of these allegations range from the trivial to the ridiculous. . Finally, not one of them involves a moral or doctrinal deviation from the Faith.
There are several issues with this summary. First, if (1), (3), and (7) are true charges, they would be morally culpable, and Geisler's response is hardly adequate to clear Dr. Caner of the charges. Second, Dr. Geisler has not documented apologies for the mistakes that Dr. Caner has made, and we have trouble believing that he could document apologies for more than a very few mistakes. Perhaps he has privately apologized for others - I'm not sure what significance (if any) those private apologies would have. The idea that "most of these allegations range from the trivial to the ridiculous" is really questionable. But let's assume that he were right - the issue is really the serious charges - not the chaff. It's hardly a defense of Dr. Caner to claim that there is a lot of chaff mixed in with the wheat, though it would explain why a defense is a long time coming. Finally, lying is a moral issue - and lying is what Dr. Caner has been accused of, according to Geisler's own article. I'm not sure if Dr. Geisler is trying to use "moral" as a euphemism for "sexual" or what he's trying to do. Dr. Caner's theological issues (any "doctrinal deviation from the Faith") are really an entirely different story (one is discussed here, if anyone is interested).

This is a good place to stop this particular post, leaving the remainder of Dr. Geisler's defense for another post.

- TurretinFan

Geisler Digs Yet Deeper!

Rather than apologizing for claiming that Dr. Ergun Caner's critics were engaging in libel and slander, Dr. Norman Geisler has decided to make an attempt to defend Dr. Ergun Caner (link to attempted defense). In the following series of posts, we'll examine Dr. Geisler's defense of Dr. Caner to determine whether it has any merit. The first thing I want to point out is that Dr. Geisler provides no primary source material to corroborate anything that Dr. Caner has said, with one exception. The one exception is a citation to the Koran: "Surah 2:51." We'll address that one in turn in one of the following posts. But the bottom line is this, Dr. Geisler provides no new primary source material, such that the pool of evidence is increased. Nevertheless, he provides a certain amount of commentary and reference to alleged further information, and we'll address that in the posts that follow.


Sungenis Claims: "the Church did not receive any divine revelation on the nature of Purgatory"

In a recent (2009) response to Dr. White, Robert Sungenis made some interesting admissions regarding the absence of knowledge of what Purgatory is in Roman Catholic theology:
Since the Church did not receive any divine revelation on the nature of Purgatory, and since the Church declined to make any official statements on its nature, it is only natural that people of different eras are going to come to different views of what precisely constitutes the Purgatorial experience.

... we have not settled on the nature of Purgatory ...

... the nature of Purgatory is an admitted area of unsettled knowledge in the Catholic Church ...

After we have already admitted that being in the 15% area of unsettled doctrine
the nature of Purgatory continues to be debated among “modern Roman Catholic advocates,” the truth is, it really doesn’t matter a whole lot. The fact is, Purgatory exists. It can be shown from Scripture, the Patristics, the medievals, and the Magisterium. Whether it is “days” or some other measurement is not really a make-or-break issue.
(Source: Sungenis' article oddly titled: James White, Alive but Still Struggling)

The underlying problem here, though, is that Sungenis has not fully identified the reason for the lack of common assent regarding the nature of Purgatory. While it is true that God has not revealed the nature of "Purgatory," the primary reason for the lack of common assent regarding the nature of Purgatory is that (a) Purgatory is a fiction and (b) Purgatory is a relatively new fiction. The medieval era in the West is where we really see the development of a view of Purgatory. There is no mention of any "Purgatory" in the fathers.

As Jacques Le Goff explains, "Until the end of the twelfth century the noun purgatorium did not exist: the Purgatory had not yet been born." (Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, p. 3 - see also, Appendix II: "Purgatorium," the History of a Word)(emphasize is Le Goff's) There may well have been vague concepts of purgation either upon death or at the day of judgment (or the like) but the idea of a third state or place given the name "Purgatory" was a long time in development from some vague comments about purging by Augustine in the 5th century (I'll leave the debate over those comments for another post).

But there is an interesting background against which Sungenis is making his claim. Benedict XV praised Dante Alighieri's work (The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradisio) this way:
It is thus that, according to the Divine Revelation, in this poem shines out the majesty of God One and Three, the Redemption of the human race operated by the Word of God made Man, the supreme loving-kindness and charity of Mary, Virgin and Mother, Queen of Heaven, and lastly the glory on high of Angels, Saints and men; then the terrible contrast to this, the pains of the impious in Hell; then the middle world, so to speak, between Heaven and Hell, Purgatory, the Ladder of souls destined after expiation to supreme beatitude. It is indeed marvellous how he was able to weave into all three poems these three dogmas with truly wrought design.
- Benedict XV, In Praeclara Summorum, Section 4, 30 April 1921

Dante Alighieri lived from about 1265 to 1321. His work on the subject of the afterlife, including Purgatory, is one whose influence in the late medieval period, particularly in Italy, is hard to overstate. He is referred to both as the Supreme Poet of Italy and the Father of the Italian language.

His work makes clear that his view of Purgatory is that it is a place like Heaven or Hell in that it is a place having space and time. It is, for Dante, a Mountain that is to be climbed. We also see a similar view of Purgatory as a definite place in the works of Thomas Aquinas:
Article 2. Whether it is the same place where souls are cleansed, and the damned punished?

Objection 1. It would seem that it is not the same place where souls are cleansed and the damned punished. For the punishment of the damned is eternal, according to Matthew 25:46, "These shall go into everlasting punishment [Vulgate: 'fire']." But the fire of Purgatory is temporary, as the Master says (Sent. iv, D, 21). Therefore the former and the latter are not punished together in the same place: and consequently these places must needs be distinct.

Objection 2. The punishment of hell is called by various names, as in Psalm 10:7, "Fire and brimstone, and storms of winds," etc., whereas the punishment of Purgatory is called by one name only, namely fire. Therefore they are not punished with the same fire and in the same place.

Objection 3. Further, Hugh of St. Victor says (De Sacram. ii, 16): "It is probable that they are punished in the very places where they sinned." And Gregory relates (Dial. iv, 40) that Germanus, Bishop of Capua, found Paschasius being cleansed in the baths. Therefore they are not cleansed in the same place as hell, but in this world.

On the contrary, Gregory says [The quotation is from St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei i, 8)]: "Even as in the same fire gold glistens and straw smokes, so in the same fire the sinner burns and the elect is cleansed." Therefore the fire of Purgatory is the same as the fire of hell: and hence they are in the same place.

Further, the holy fathers; before the coming of Christ, were in a more worthy place than that wherein souls are now cleansed after death, since there was no pain of sense there. Yet that place was joined to hell, or the same as hell: otherwise Christ when descending into Limbo would not be said to have descended into hell. Therefore Purgatory is either close to, or the same place as, hell.

I answer that, Nothing is clearly stated in Scripture about the situation of Purgatory, nor is it possible to offer convincing arguments on this question. It is probable, however, and more in keeping with the statements of holy men and the revelations made to many, that there is a twofold place of Purgatory. One, according to the common law; and thus the place of Purgatory is situated below and in proximity to hell, so that it is the same fire which torments the damned in hell and cleanses the just in Purgatory; although the damned being lower in merit, are to be consigned to a lower place. Another place of Purgatory is according to dispensation: and thus sometimes, as we read, some are punished in various places, either that the living may learn, or that the dead may be succored, seeing that their punishment being made known to the living may be mitigated through the prayers of the Church.

Some say, however, that according to the common law the place of Purgatory is where man sins. This does not seem probable, since a man may be punished at the same time for sins committed in various places. And others say that according to the common law they are punished above us, because they are between us and God, as regards their state. But this is of no account, for they are not punished for being above us, but for that which is lowest in them, namely sin.

Reply to Objection 1. The fire of Purgatory is eternal in its substance, but temporary in its cleansing effect.

Reply to Objection 2. The punishment of hell is for the purpose of affliction, wherefore it is called by the names of things that are wont to afflict us here. But the chief purpose of the punishment of Purgatory is to cleanse us from the remains of sin; and consequently the pain of fire only is ascribed to Purgatory, because fire cleanses and consumes.

Reply to Objection 3. This argument considers the point of special dispensation and not that of the common law.
- Thomas Aquinas (as completed by Reginald of Piperno), Summa Theologica, Supplement to the Third Part, Appendix 2, Article 2 (Although Reginald is given credit for adding this material to the Summa Theologica, the material is essentially taken word for word from Thomas Aquinas' Commentary on [Peter Lombard's] Sentences, Book IV, Distinction 21, Article 1, with some omissions of the materials found there, but no obvious insertions that affect the meaning)

Notice that in this discussion, Thomas Aquinas (lived about 1225 - 1274) suggests that Purgatory occupies two places: one place is in or below Hell - the other is at various specific times in other places for particular purposes.

Notice as well that Thomas Aquinas concedes that Scripture does not tell us about the "situation" (that is, the place where it is sited - it's location) of Purgatory. Thus, he's not willing to be dogmatic about it. However, Thomas Aquinas does believe that there were "revelations made to many" about Purgatory.

The bottom line is that, as Le Goff said, the Purgatory is something born in the 12th century. It is something that took shape as a definite place in the writings of folks like Dante and Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. Yet it is something that one today hears promoted as simply a state, not a place, from sources like EWTN (example) based on comments such as the following from John Paul II:
Purification must be complete, and indeed this is precisely what is meant by the Church's teaching on purgatory. The term does not indicate a place, but a condition of existence.
- John Paul II, General Audience, 4 August 1999, Section 5

So, while we certainly agree with Mr. Sungenis that Rome has not received divine revelation about the nature of Purgatory, we would simply take that a step further and note that the current teachings one gets from Rome (whether from the pope or anyone else) lack the authority of divine revelation generally. Scripture does not speak of a Purgatory, and there is no good reason for accepting the changing traditions of Rome on this subject. Waving ones hands and saying that the things that are not known are not important doesn't really address the issue behind the fact that Roman Catholics cannot even tell us with certainty whether Thomas Aquinas or John Paul II is right, when it comes to Purgatory.


N.B. As an aside, Mr. Sungenis makes reference to the idea that there is a "15% area of unsettled doctrine" in his religion. He made this number up out of thin air. He has no way of knowing how much additional doctrine his church will define this century or the next, and consequently he has no way of knowing whether the real number is 15% or 0.000001%. All he can really say is that his church makes more dogmatic statements than most other churches do.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Two Eastern Fathers Whose Views Conflict with Purgatory

Here are some quotations from some of the "Eastern Fathers," namely Basil of Caesarea (A.D. 329-379) and John Chrysostom (A.D. 349-407).

In this first quotation, notice what Chrysostom is saying about where sin can be remedied, in terms of this life or the next:
So there is no righteous person who does not have sin, and there is no sinner who does not have goodness. But since there is a recompense for each, see what happens. The sinner receives as his due the fair recompense for his good deeds, if he has even a small evil deed; and the righteous person receives his due the fair judgment for his sin, if he has done even a small evil deed. So what happens, and what does God do? He has set a boundary for the sin between the present life and the age to come. If a person is righteous, but has performed some mean action, and is ill in this life and is handed over to punishment, do not be disturbed, but consider with yourself, and say that this righteous man has done some small evil deed at some time, and is receiving his due here, in order that he may not be punished hereafter. So if someone is righteous and suffers some misfortune, he receives his due here for this purpose, in order that he may put away his sin here and depart clean to the other world. If someone is a sinner, laden with wickedness, ill with innumerable incurable evils, rapacious, avaricious, he enjoys prosperity here for this purpose, in order that he may not seek a reward hereafter.


Οὐκ ἔστιν οὖν τις δίκαιος, ὃς οὐκ ἔχει ἁμαρτίαν· καὶ οὐκ ἔστι τις ἁμαρτωλὸς ὃς οὐκ ἔχει ἀγαθόν· ἀλλʼ ἐπειδὴ ἑκάστων ἐστὶν ἀντίδοσις, βλέπε τί γίνεται· Ὁ ἁμαρτωλὸς ἀπολαμβάνει τῶν ἀγαθῶν αὐτοῦ ἰσόῤῥοπον τὴν ἀντίδοσιν, ἐάν τι ἔχῃ κἂν μικρὸν ἀγαθόν· καὶ ὁ δίκαιος ἀπολαμβάνει τῆς ἁμαρτίας αὐτοῦ τὴν ἰσόῤῥοπον κρίσιν, κἂν μικρόν τι ποιήσῃ κακόν. Τί οὖν γίνεται, 48.1043 καὶ τί ποιεῖ ὁ Θεός; Ἀφώρισε νόσον τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, τὸν παρόντα βίον καὶ τὸν μέλλοντα αἰῶνα. Ἐὰν οὖν ᾖ τις δίκαιος, καὶ ἐργάσηταί τι φαῦλον, καὶ νοσήσῃ ὧδε, καὶ τιμωρίᾳ παραδοθῇ, μὴ θορυβηθῇς, ἀλλʼ ἐννόησον πρὸς ἑαυτὸν, καὶ εἰπὲ, ὅτι οὗτος ὁ δίκαιος πώποτε μικρόν τι κακὸν ἐποίησε, καὶ ἀπολαμβάνει ὧδε, ἵνα μὴ ἐκεῖ κολασθῇ. Πάλιν, ἐὰν ἴδῃς ἁμαρτωλὸν ἁρπάζοντα, πλεονεκτοῦντα, μυρία ποιοῦντα κακὰ, κἂν εὐθυνῇ, ἐννόησον ὅτι ἐποίησέ ποτε ἀγαθόν τι, καὶ ἀπολαμβάνει ὧδε τὰ ἀγαθὰ, ἵνα μὴ ἐκεῖ ἀπαιτήσῃ τὸν μισθόν.
- John Chrysostom, De Lazaro Concio VΙ, §9, PG 48:1042-1043; Catharine P. Roth, trans., St. John Chrysostom On Wealth and Poverty, 6th Sermon on Lazarus and the Rich Man, §3 (Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984), p. 123.

Notice what Chrysostom is saying: there is no punishment for the sin of the righteous in the hereafter. That's a view that is inconsistent with the Roman Catholic fiction of Purgatory. The reason, of course, for this inconsistency is that Chrysostom did not believe in Purgatory - he had never even heard of it.

On a slightly different note, consider what Basil says in the following quotation:
I find, then, when I take up the divine Scriptures, in the Old and New Testaments, that disobedience towards God is plainly judged to lie not in the multitude of sins nor their magnitude, but in the mere transgression of any one command, and that there is a common judgment of God against all disobedience.


Εὑρίσκω τοίνυν, ἀναλαβὼν τὰς θείας Γραφὰς, ἐν τῇ Παλαιᾷ καὶ Καινῇ Διαθήκῃ, οὔτε ἐν τῷ πλήθει τῶν ἁμαρτανομένων, οὔτε ἐν τῷ μεγέθει τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων, ἐν μόνῃ δὲ τῇ παραβάσει οὑτι νοσοῦν προστάγματος, σαφῶς κρινομένην τὴν πρὸς Θεὸν ἀπείθειαν, καὶ κοινὸν κατὰ πάσης παρακοῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸ κρῖμα·
- Basil of Caesarea, De Judicio Dei, §4, PG 31:653; tr. W. K. L. Clarke, The Ascetic Works of Saint Basil, Translations of Christian Literature Series I, Greek Texts (London: S.P.C.K.,1925), p. 81.

Notice that in this quotation Basil insists that there is a common judgment for sin. Basil does not here distinguish between "mortal" sins and "venial" sins, which receive different punishments. This view is inconsistent with notion that Purgatory is a place or state for the expiation of "venial" sins in the afterlife.

The same unity-of-punishment-for-all-sins theme can be seen from a slightly different angle in the following quotation, noting especially the last sentence:
However, if I would narrate all that I find in the Old and New Testament, time would soon fail me as I expounded it. But when I come to the actual words of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel, the utterance of Him Who is about to judge the living and dead, which have more weight with the faithful than all other narratives and arguments, I see in them the great necessity, if I may say so, of obeying God in all things, and again, in the case of each commandment, absolutely no pardon left to those who do not repent of their disobedience, since one can hardly venture a different opinion, or even let it enter the mind, in the face of such open, clear, and unqualified declarations. “For heaven” He says “and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” There is no difference made in this passage, no discrimination, no reservation whatever made. He says not “these words” or “those” but “My words.” For it is written: “The Lord is faithful in all his words”—whether forbidding anything, or commanding, or promising, or threatening, whether He refers to the doing of what is forbidden, or to the leaving undone what is commanded. For that leaving of good works undone is punished equally with perpetrating evil works, is shown and proved sufficiently to any soul not afflicted with complete unbelief by the aforesaid judgment in the case of Peter.


Ἀλλὰ ταῦτα μὲν ἐὰν θέλω καταλέγειν, ὅσα εὑρίσκω ἔκ τε Παλαιᾶς καὶ Καινῆς Διαθήκης, ἐπιλείψει με τάχα διηγούμενον ὁ χρόνος. Ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἐπʼ αὐτὰς ὅταν ἔλθω τὰς τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν τῷ Εὐαγγελίῳ φωνὰς, αὐτοῦ τοῦ μέλλοντος κρίνειν ζῶντας καὶ νεκροὺς τὰ ῥήματα, ἃ πάσης μὲν ἱστορίας, πάσης δὲ ἄλλης ἀποδείξεως παρὰ τοῖς πιστοῖς ἀξιοπιστότερα, πολλὴν μὲν ἐν αὐτοῖς καταμανθάνω τῆς ἐν πᾶσι πρὸς Θεὸν εὐπειθείας, ἵνα οὕτως εἴπω, ἀνάγκην· οὐδεμίαν δὲ ὅλως, ἐπ' οὐδενὶ προστάγματι, καταλειπομένην τοῖς μὴ μετανοοῦσι τῆς ἀπειθείας συγγνώμην, εἰ μή τι ἕτερόν ἐστι τολμῆσαι, καὶ μέχρις ἐννοίας λαβεῖν, πρὸς οὕτω γυμνὰς, σαφεῖς τε καὶ ἀπολύτους ἀποφάσεις· Ὁ οὐρανὸς γὰρ, φησὶ, καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσονται, οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρέλθωσιν. Οὐκ ἔστιν ἐνταῦθα διαφορὰ, οὐκ ἔστι διαίρεσις, οὐδὲν οὐδαμοῦ ὅλως ὑπολέλειπται. Οὐκ εἶπεν· Οὗτοι ἢ ἐκεῖνοι, ἀλλʼ, Οἱ λόγοι μου, πάντες ὁμοῦ δηλονότι, οὐ μὴ παρέλθωσι. Γέγραπται γάρ· Πιστὸς Κύριος ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ· εἴτε ἀπαγορεύων ὁτιοῦν, εἴτε προστάσσων, εἴτε ἐπαγγελλόμενος, εἴτε ἀπειλῶν, καὶ εἴτε ἐπὶ τῇ πράξει τῶν ἀπηγορευμένων, εἴτε ἐπὶ τῇ ἐλλείψει τῶν ἐπιτεταγμένων. Ὅτι γὰρ ἐπίσης τῇ ἐνεργείᾳ τῶν κακῶν καὶ ἡ τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἔργων ἔλλειψις ἐκδικεῖται, ἤρκει μὲν καὶ πρὸς ἀπόδειξιν καὶ πληροφορίαν τῇ γε μὴ παντελῆ ἀπιστίαν νοσούσῃ ψυχῇ τὸ προειρημένον ἐπὶ τῷ Πέτρῳ κρῖμα·
- Basil of Caesarea, De Judicio Dei, §8, PG 31:672-673; tr. W. K. L. Clarke, The Ascetic Works of Saint Basil, Translations of Christian Literature Series I, Greek Texts (London: S.P.C.K.,1925), pp. 87-88.

Basil, however, does not limit himself to explaining that there is not a difference between sins of commission and sins of omission. He goes on to explain that there are not "great" and "little" sins with respect to punishment, though there may be with respect to mastery:
How are we to deal with those who avoid greater sins but commit small sins regarding them as venial (μικρὰ, small, little) sins?

First of all we must know that in the New Testament it is impossible to observe this distinction. For one sentence is passed against all sins, that of the Lord Who said: “Every one that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin.” And again: “The word that I spake, the same shall judge him at the last day.” Then there is the sentence of John who cried: “He that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God will abide on him.” Disobedience receives this threat not because it is worse than other sins but because it is refusing to hear. Generally speaking, however, if we are allowed to speak of a little and a great sin, it can be proved unanswerably that for each man that sin is great which has the mastery of him and that is little of which he is the master, just as among athletes he who conquers is the stronger and he who is beaten is the weaker whoever he be. We must then in the case of everyone who sins, whatever his sin be, observe the precept of the Lord Who said: “If thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established. And if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the Church. And if he refuse to hear the Church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican.” And in all these matters let the apostle’s saying be kept: “Why did ye not rather mourn, that he that had done this deed might be taken away from among you?” For long-suffering and mercy should be joined with severity.


ΕΡΩΤΗΣΙΣ Σ Γʹ. Πῶς δεῖ προσφέρεσθαι τοῖς τὰ μείζονα τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων παραιτουμένοις, τὰ δὲ μικρὰ ἀδιαφόρῶς ποιοῦσιν;

ΑΠΟΚΡΙΣΙΣ. Πρῶτον μὲν εἰδέναι χρὴ, ὅτι ἐν τῇ Καινῇ Διαθήκῃ ταύτην τὴν διαφορὰν οὐκ ἔστι μαθεῖν. Μία γὰρ ἀπόφασις κατὰ πάντων ἁμαρτημάτων κεῖται, τοῦ Κυρίου εἰπόντος, ὅτι Ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν δοῦλός ἐστι τῆς ἁμαρτίας· καὶ πάλιν, ὅτι Ὁ λόγος ὃν ἐλάλησα, ἐκεῖνος κρινεῖ αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ· καὶ τοῦ Ἰωάννου βοῶντος· Ὁ ἀπειθῶν τῷ Υἱῷ οὐκ ὄψεται τὴν ζωὴν, ἀλλʼ ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ μενεῖ ἐπ' αὐτόν· τῆς ἀπειθείας οὐκ ἐν τῇ διαφορᾷ τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων, ἀλλ' ἐν τῇ παρακοῇ τὴν ἀπειλὴν ἐχούσης. Ὅλως δὲ, εἰ ἐπιτρε πόμεθα λέγειν μικρὸν καὶ μέγα ἁμάρτημα, ἀναντίῤῥητον ἔδει τὴν ἀπόδειξιν ἑκάστῳ μέγα εἶναι τὸ ἑκά στου κρατοῦν, καὶ μικρὸν τοῦτο, οὗ ἕκαστος κρατεῖ· ὥσπερ ἐπὶ τῶν ἀθλητῶν ὁ μὲν νικήσας ἐστὶν ἰσχυρότερος, ὁ δὲ ἡττηθεὶς ἀσθενέστερος τοῦ ἐπι κρατεστέρου, ὅστις ἂν ᾖ. Δεῖ οὖν ἐπὶ παντὸς ἁμαρτάνοντος οἱονδήποτε ἁμάρτημα φυλάσσειν τὸ κρῖμα τοῦ Κυρίου εἰπόντος, ὅτι Ἂν ἁμάρτῃ εἰς σὲ ὁ ἀδελφός σου, ὕπαγε, ἔλεγξον αὐτὸν με ταξὺ σοῦ καὶ αὐτοῦ μόνου. Ἐάν σου ἀκούσῃ, ἐκέρδησας τὸν ἀδελφόν σου· ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀκούσῃ, παράλαβε μετὰ σεαυτοῦ ἔτι ἕνα ἢ δύο, ἵνα ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων ἢ τριῶν σταθῇ πᾶν ῥῆμα. Ἐὰν δὲ παρακούσῃ αὐτῶν, εἰπὲ τῇ Ἐκκλησίᾳ· ἐὰν δὲ καὶ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας παρακούσῃ, ἔστω σοι ὥσπερ ὁ ἐθνικὸς καὶ ὁ τελώνης. Φυλασσέσθω δὲ ἐπὶ πᾶσι τοῖς τοιούτοις τὸ ὑπὸ τοῦ Ἀποστόλου εἰρημένον· Διὰ τί οὐ μᾶλλον ἐπενθή σατε, ἵνα ἐξαρθῇ ἐκ μέσου ὑμῶν ὁ τὸ ἔργον τοῦτο ποιήσας; Χρὴ γὰρ τὴν μακροθυμίαν καὶ τὴν εὐ σπλαγχνίαν ἐπιφέρεσθαι τῇ ἀποτομία.
- Basil of Caesarea, In Regulas Brevius Tractatas, Interrogatio CCXCIII, PG 31:1288-1289; tr. W. K. L. Clarke, The Ascetic Works of Saint Basil, Translations of Christian Literature Series I, Greek Texts (London: S.P.C.K., 1925), The Shorter Rules, Question & Answer #293 (CCXCIII), pp. 342-343.

We may also note that Basil has the same theme of distinguishing between this life and the next as Chrysostom does. For example, in the following quotation we see him drawing the important distinction:
I beseech you, therefore, through the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for our sins, let us apply ourselves to care for our souls. Let us lament the vanity of our past life. Let us strive for such things as will be for the glory of God, and of His Christ, and of the adorable and Holy Spirit. Let us not remain in this slothful ease, always losing through our slothfulness the present opportunity, and putting off to the morrow or distant future the beginning of our works, lest, being found unprovided with good works by Him Who demands our souls, we be cast forth from the joy of the bridechamber, shedding vain and useless tears, and lamenting our ill-spent life, at a time when repentance can no longer avail. “Now is the acceptable time,” says the apostle, “now is the day of salvation.” This is the age of repentance, that of reward: this of labour, that of recompense: this of patience, that of comfort.


Παρα καλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, τοῦ δόντος ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρ τιῶν ἡμῶν, ἁψώμεθά ποτε τῆς φροντίδος τῶν ψυχῶν ἡμῶν· λυπηθῶμεν ἐπὶ τῇ ματαιώσει τοῦ προλαβόντος βίου· ἀγωνισώμεθα ὑπὲρ τῶν μελλόν των εἰς δόξαν τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ, καὶ τοῦ προσκυνητοῦ καὶ ἁγίου Πνεύματος. Μὴ τῇ ῥᾳθυμίᾳ καὶ τῇ ἐκλύσει ταύτῃ ἐναπομείνωμεν, καὶ τὸ μὲν παρὸν ἀεὶ διὰ ῥᾳθυμίας προϊέμενοι, πρὸς δὲ τὸ αὔριον καὶ τὸ ἐφεξῆς τὴν ἀρχὴν τῶν ἔρ γων ὑπερτιθέμενοι, εἶτα καταληφθέντες ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀπαιτοῦντος τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν, ἀπαρασκεύαστοι τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἔργων, τῆς μὲν χαρᾶς τοῦ νυμφῶνος ἀποβληθῶμεν, ἀργὰ δὲ καὶ ἀνόνητα μετακλαίω μεν, τὸν κακῶς παρεθέντα τοῦ βίου χρόνον ὀδυρό μενοι τότε, ὅτε πλέον οὐδὲν ἐξέσται τοῖς μεταμελο μένοις. Νῦν καιρὸς εὐπρόσδεκτος, φησὶν ὁ Ἀπό στολος, νῦν ἡμέρα σωτηρίας. Οὗτος ὁ αἰὼν τῆς μετανοίας, ἐκεῖνος τῆς ἀνταποδόσεως· οὗτος τῆς ὑπομονῆς, ἐκεῖνος τῆς παρακλήσεως.

First Alternate Translation of the last line:

This present life is a state of penitence, the next of retribution; here we must labor, there we receive our wages; this is a life of patience, that of consolation.

Second Alternate Translation of the last line:

This present world is the time of repentance, the other of retribution; this of working, that of rewarding; this of patient suffering, that of receiving comfort.
- Basil of Caesarea, Regulæ Fusius Tractatæ, Proœmium, PG 31:889, 892; main tr. W. K. L. Clarke, The Ascetic Works of Saint Basil, Translations of Christian Literature Series I, Greek Texts (London: S.P.C.K., 1925), Preface to the Longer Rules, p. 145; first alternate tr. William John Hall, The Doctrine of Purgatory and the Practice of Praying for the Dead (London: Henry Wix, 1843), preface to the Longer Rules, p. 125; second alternate tr. James Ussher, An Answer to a Challenge Made by a Jesuit (Cambridge: J. & J. J. Deighton, 1835), preface to the Longer Rules, p. 32.

Finally, we see the same distinction between the now and hereafter made in yet another place in Basil's works:
Everlasting rest is apportioned to those who strive lawfully in this life; not given in payment as for a debt of works, but awarded by the grace of a bountiful God to them that trust in Him.


Πρόκειται γὰρ ἀνάπαυσις αἰωνία τοῖς νομίμως τὸν ἐνταῦθα διαθλήσασι βίον οὐ κατὰ ὀφείλημα τῶν ἔργων ἀποδεδομένη, ἀλλὰ κατὰ χάριν τοῦ μεγαλοδώρου Θεοῦ τοῖς εἰς αὐτὸν ἠλπικόσι παρεχομένη.

Alternative Translation:

For, eternal rest lies before those who have struggled through the present life observant of the laws, a rest not given in payment for a debt owed for their works, but provided as a grace of the munificent God for those who have hoped in Him.
- Basil of Caesarea, Homilia In Psalmum CXIV, §5, PG 29:492; main tr. Charles Hastings Collette, Dr. Wiseman’s Popish Literary Blunders Exposed (London: Paternoster-Row, 1860), p. 234; alternative tr. FC, Vol. 46, Exegetic Homilies, Homily 22 on Psalm 114, §5 (Washington D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1963) p. 357.

This is a follow-on to my previous post regarding Chrysostom alone (link to post). Like the previous post, this one was made with the assistance of Pastor David King.


"Messiah" in the Koran

A recent dialog with a Muslim on the Internet led to the Muslim claiming that Jesus was just "a Christ." He wanted to argue that Mohamed is also a Christ.

[3:45] The angels said, "O Mary, GOD gives you good news: a Word from Him whose name is `The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary. He will be prominent in this life and in the Hereafter, and one of those closest to Me.' (cf. here)

[4:157] And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him - they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. (cf. here)

[4:171] O people of the scripture, do not transgress the limits of your religion, and do not say about GOD except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was a messenger of GOD, and His word that He had sent to Mary, and a revelation from Him. Therefore, you shall believe in GOD and His messengers. You shall not say, "Trinity." You shall refrain from this for your own good. GOD is only one god. Be He glorified; He is much too glorious to have a son. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. GOD suffices as Lord and Master. (cf. here)

[4:172] The Messiah would never disdain from being a servant of GOD, nor would the closest angels. Those who disdain from worshipping Him, and are too arrogant to submit, He will summon them all before Him. (cf. here)

Those of us who are Christians confess with Simon Peter:

Mathew 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Jesus Christ approved of this confession of faith, thus:

Matthew 16:17-19
And Jesus answered and said unto him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

But even after Jesus approved of this, because it was such a significant title, he instructed his disciples to keep that fact hidden:

Matthew 16:20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

But it did leak out, and eventually Jesus was called before the Jewish authorities to answer for this claim:

Matthew 26:63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

Jesus accepted this again:

Matthew 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

And consequently, the unbelieving Jews charged Jesus with blasphemy, failing to recognize that Jesus was really Christ and the Son of God, as he claimed:

Matthew 26:65-68
Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye?
They answered and said, He is guilty of death.
Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

The Koran refers to Jesus as the Masih which is a cognate to the Hebrew word that we express as "Messiah," for which "Christ" is the translation. The Koran even recognizes that Jesus is not simply "a Christ" but "the Christ." But the Koran does not understand that this title of "the Christ" is something that belongs to the Son of God - that there is a connection between the Christ and being the very Son of God.

May those who read the Koran and see this expression "the Messiah" look back to the Bible which came before and see what it meant for Jesus to be the Christ, and when you see what it says, turn from following Mohamed to following Jesus - put your trust in the Messiah of God.

- TurretinFan

100 "Followers"

A reader concisely named "zog" has informed me that he is officially the 100th person to follow this blog. Thanks to zog and the 99 others who have clicked on the "Follow" button and followed this blog. May God use it to your edification, or (if you do not yet serve Him alone) to your salvation.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dr. Norman Geisler Digs Himself a Deeper Hole

Rather than apologizing, as suggested in my prior post (link to post), it appears that on Facebook Dr. Norman Geisler has actually tried to insist that Dr. Ergun Caner was exonerated! (first testimony that Geisler said that on Facebook)(second testimony that Geisler said that on Facebook).

That kind of comment really seems to put Geisler in a completely different league from someone like Dr. John Ankerburg, whose statements seem to reflect him being misled by the Caners:
I have known Ergun Caner for nearly a decade. I am disheartened by the recent attacks upon his integrity and character. I ... believe his personal testimony to be completely true. Otherwise, I would not have allowed him to broadcast his story to the millions of viewers that tune in to my program across the globe. ... For someone to attack Ergun’s selfless sacrifice, especially since they malign his character without any substantiation, is both unchristian and unbiblical. Count me among the many who will stand with Ergun Caner ... .
(source)(emphasis added)

At least Dr. Ankerburg can say now that he was honestly mistaken and unware of the substantiation, and we hope he will say that. On the other hand, what fig leaf can Dr. Geisler hide behind? How can he seriously claim that Dr. Caner was exonerated?


Monday, June 28, 2010

When Can We Expect Our Apology? Part 2

Before the results of the investigation in the Ergun Caner scandal were complete, Dr. Norman Geisler stated: “I am familiar with the slanderous charges that have been made against Dr. Ergun Caner generated by some Muslim groups and other extremists. I have looked into the matter, talking with Ergun and other principal parties at Liberty, and am convinced that the charges are libelous.” (source) The outcome of the investigation was that the committee found: "found discrepancies related to matters such as dates, names and places of residence" (source), which shows that (at least as far as Liberty's committee is concerned) the charges were not "slanderous" and "libelous."

When can we expect our apology?

When Can We Expect Our Apology?

Elmer Towns of Liberty University, prior to conducting an investigation of the facts surrounding the Ergun Caner scandal, alleged: "The arguments of the bloggers would not stand up in court." (source) The outcome of the investigation was that the committee found: "found discrepancies related to matters such as dates, names and places of residence" (source) - exactly the sorts of discrepancies that had been argued by bloggers.

When can we bloggers expect an apology from Elmer Towns of Liberty University?

Yale then ...

... and I was going to add "and now," but I'm quite sure I don't want to know what are the depths of depravity to which Yale has sunk. Suffice to say that the rules posted by Dwayna Litz at Lighting the Way Worldwide would not fly today (link).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Steve Hays on Liberty's Schedule of Discipline

He's joking, of course, but I think his points will strike a chord with lots of people who are bewildered by the mildness of Liberty's decision regarding Ergun Caner (link to Hays' post).

Chrysostom - Passages Inconsistent with an Idea of Purgatory

Chrysostom, in the following passages, provides evidence suggesting that he knows nothing of any kind of post-mortem experience as purgatory…

Chrysostom (349-407) commenting on Matthew 6:12:
Let us know these and let us remember that terrible day and that fire. Let us put in our mind the terrible punishments and return once for all from our deluded road. For the time will come when the theater of this world will be dissolved, and then no one will be able to contend anymore. No one can do anything after the passing of this life. No one can be crowned after the dissolution of the theater. This time is for repentance, that one for judgment. This time is for the contests, that one for the crowns. This one for toil, that one for relaxation. This one for fatigue, that one for recompense.
FC, Vol. 96, St. John Chrysostom on Repentance and Almsgiving, Homily 9.5 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1998), p. 129.

Chrysostom (349-407):
Anticipate the exodus of the soul with repentance and correction, because when death comes suddenly, at absolutely no time will the therapy of repentance be fruitful. Repentance is powerful upon the earth; only in Hades is it powerless. Let us seek the Lord now while we have time. Let us do what is good so that we will be delivered from the future endless punishment of Gehenna, and will be made worthy of the Kingdom of the Heavens.
FC, Vol. 96, St. John Chrysostom on Repentance and Almsgiving, Homily 9.7 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1998), p. 130.

Chrysostom (349-407):
I testify and affirm, that if any of us who have offended shall forsake his former sins, and promise to God with sincerity that he will turn to them no more, God will require no further satisfaction from him.
For translation, see William John Hall, The Doctrine of Purgatory and the Practice of Praying for the Dead (London: Henry Wix, 1843), p. 203.
Greek text:
Ἐγὼ διαμαρτύρομαι καὶ ἐγγυῶμαι, ὅτι τῶν ἁμαρτανόντων ἡμῶν ἕκαστος, ἂν ἀποστὰς τῶν προτέρων κακῶν ὑπόσχηται τῷ Θεῷ μετὰ ἀληθείας μηκέτι αὐτῶν ἅψασθαι, οὐδὲν ἕτερον ὁ Θεὸς ζητήσει πρὸς ἀπολογίαν μείζονα.
De Beato Philogonio (On the Blessed Philogonius), Homilia VI, §4, PG 48:754.

- TurretinFan (with the assistance of Pastor David King)