Monday, February 17, 2014

Tom McCall - Conversation with Dr. Ergun Caner

This conversation, between Tom McCall and Ergun Caner, was recently posted to Youtube, but appears to be from several years ago, while Ergun Caner was with Liberty Theological Seminar (not sure how many years ago, exactly) (link to video).  It has some of the usual claims, and some interesting situations.

Around 45 seconds in, the host says that he believes Caner was originally from Turkey. Caner responds: "Well, I am Turkish, 100% Turkish, and came to America as an immigrant, and as the son of a muezzin.  My father was a leader in the mosque and we built mosques - this was part of our background.  And so, because of this, we came here to work on the mosques."

Caner was a toddler when he came and we have found no evidence to corroborate this claim that his father built any mosques.  Possibly, Caner's father helped remodel the building that served as the Islamic Foundation on Broad St. in Columbus, Ohio.  As for being a "muezzin," we again have nothing to substantiate this claim.

Also, Caner now admits that his mother was Swedish.  Even if his mother were Turkish but merely a Swedish citizen, or something like that, it still pops out that Caner does not correct McCall's wrong impression that Caner is from Turkey, but instead provides information that will lead McCall to continue to think what he thought.

Around 1:30, the host asks what the reaction of Caner's family was to his conversion.  Caner responds: "Well, I was saved on a Thursday night.  And so, the next night I went back to the mosque, masjid is on - you know - jumiyat is on Friday prayer, and told them that I was a believer in Jesus.  That was not well received.  But I was disowned by my father, and disowned by my family. Did not see my father until 1999, till right before he died.  But my church was my new family."

Apparently, Caner was disowned by his non-custodial father.  However, Caner was not - as far as we can tell - disowned by his hippy-universalist mother nor by his Swedish Lutheran (background, at least) grandmother, who raised him.

Around 5:30, Caner states: "I get to Genesis, and Abraham, in Genesis 22, sacrifices his son, Isaac.  This is exactly opposite - the polar opposite - of what the Quran teaches, that Abraham sacrifices Ishmael."  The host mentions how he first heard that this was the Muslim view. Caner then responds, "And the Quran is explicit in this, and Mohammed's teachings in the Hadith are explicit in this. And then, I find out, 2200 years after Moses wrote it, and add 500 years to that, 2700 years after it actually happened, Mohammed changed the story."

As I previously wrote:
This is actually a widespread modern Islamic view, namely that Abraham nearly sacrificed Ishmael, not Isaac. Sam Shamoun points out, however, that the early Islamic literature actually supports the fact that it was Isaac. The idea that nearly sacrificed son was Ishmael is apparently a later Islamic development (see Sam's excellent discussion here). So, it's probably not accurate to say that Mohammed changed the story, but rather that his followers did.
In short, it's not explicit in the Quran, and it's not even clear from the Hadith.

Around 8:15, Caner states: "Those with lies can only threaten, because the truth is its greatest danger.  ... Those that don't have the truth, the only thing they have left are lies and threats and screaming."

This cliche seems oddly appropriate in these times where Caner has threatened action against those who are presenting the truth.

Around 8:30, Caner states: "Most of my life I spend with people yelling at me in debates and such, but that's ok, you know."

Where are any of these debates?  We cannot find any evidence of these happening.

The host then asks Caner about the fact that Caner had indicated that he likes to debate and spends a good deal of time debating on college campuses and elsewhere.  Caner replied, "I go into debates - open debates - which means pro bono, nobody makes any money. We don't want any Christian sponsorship for them. I debate anyone who comes: Buddhist, Bahai, Zoroastrian, Sunni, Shia, Suffi, Nation of Islam, I debate anyone."

Again, we cannot find any evidence of these debates actually happening.

The host then asks Caner who invites him to these debates. Caner replied, "Sometimes it's college ministries and churches. But I tell them, you know, if you're going to set this up, this needs to be with the approval of the school and it must be an open forum - anybody can speak. And my only rule is that no Christian can ask me a question. Only the unbelievers can ask me questions, because I think if I'm going to spend my life planting seeds, I'm not going to plant a seed in a Christian, he's already saved. And the Muslim will suspect it, or the Buddhist, he will suspect the question. I let them ask whatever question they think. They spend their lives thinking they are going to stump us, you know, and so throw your best shot."

Yet again, we cannot find evidence of any of these debates actually occurring.

The host then asks what happens at the debates.  Around 9:50, Caner replied: "Well, sometimes it becomes the gospel according to Jerry Springer. Sometimes it becomes yelling and cussing and etc. But not on my end. You know, we have to be bold but not brash. The difference is bold, you attack the lie, but if you're brash, you attack the person."

We definitely have noticed the tendency of Caner and company to attack the people who point out Caner's untrue statements.  Regarding Jerry Springer, recall this previous post (link).

Around 12:45, Caner says: "I love my job at Liberty, but if I was ever to leave Liberty University, it would be to teach at a secular school.  You know, put me on a floor where I'm surrounded by lesbians, and liberals, and idiots, and potheads, because where else is Christianity going to be effective? We have never been called, God never called us to apathy, he never called us to sedation.  He called us to engagement. And it's not jihad, like I lived, it's an engagement of converting the enemy, loving the enemy, who is not really the enemy, but is someone for whom Christ died."

Now, since Caner has left Liberty, he's served - as far as we can tell - only at Christian colleges.  Of course, he could not predict the future, so we can't totally hold this against him. Still, one wonders what efforts Caner has made to try to teach at a secular school, if any.

Also, note Caner's claim to have lived "jihad." Of course, that claim could presumably be justified by treating jihad as an internal struggle, but Caner has elsewhere objected to using the term jihad that way.

Around 17:10, Caner says, "The Josh McDowell of the Islamic world, Shabir Ally, is famous for asking the question in debate, he always says, 'Well, what does his death have to do with me?' You have to find a way to explain the atonement to a Muslim."

If only Caner had stuck with this version of the story rather than inserting himself into the story in other versions of this story!  Still, one wonders if Shabir Ally ever even said this in any of his debates.  I have listened to some of Shabir's debates and I don't recall hearing this line.