Why The Ergun Caner Scandal Matters

Posted: January 3, 2014 in Apologetics, Ergun Caner
Tags: , ,

By Dr. James Ach and Dr. Elisha Weismann

As independent fundamental Bible believing Baptists, we avoid most other denominations due to several doctrinal differences that we believe mandates separation from such believers. However, we still acknowledge many of the truths that some of them espouse to, and still consider many of them Christian brothers and sisters. Nevertheless, there are times when the actions of some churches and their leaders and supporters have an impact that affects us all.

We started this website after the scandal surrounding former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Jack Schaap, was arrested and convicted of child molestation. While we were still in America, we saw how the scandal affected the credibility of many Baptist churches across the US. Baptists had doors slammed in their face when out door knocking, and several new Facebook groups (“Do Righters”) were started that gained thousands of followers, and many of those groups are now a virtual haven for atheists and skeptics. One man’s actions turned several thousand people into critics, skeptics, atheists, and fundamentalist bashers. (We have dealt with facts beyond that generalization elsewhere, so don’t go into a tizzy about commenting us that it wasn’t just Schaap.)

The scandal surrounding Ergun Caner is beginning to have the same effect, even here in Israel (thanks to James White constantly reminding the Muslims about it for the last four years). Although it has not been so prevalent a topic as we have seen in America, there have been more than one occasion when we have attempted to witness to Muslims in Jerusalem where Ergun Caner has been brought up. It has already been dangerous enough with some of the work we have done (and hence why our personal information has been kept private) without the problems faced with this added scandal.

In our opinion, if Ergun Caner was to be tried in a criminal court with the testimony given by him in videos, and publicly written statements by him, he would be convicted of perjury.

We fear that many of his supporters are supporting him out of the fear that since the majority of his attackers are Calvinist, that it will somehow lend credibility to them as a group if Caner concedes to their accusations. Now those who follow us on here know we are just as much opposed to Calvinism as most of Caners supporters, and we are by no means a fan of James White, who has been undoubtedly the loudest opponent against Caner. But, James White has a point, and regardless of his other faux pas, I believe it is to the detriment of all of the churches involved to ignore this issue’s importance. Anytime any popular “religious” leader is involved in a scandal, it is always used as fodder against the rest of the church. Now we can’t be expected to police every little action or stupid thing some pastor or church member does, but we need to at least address the ones we can, especially when they have the potential to ruin the reputation of Christians on such a large scale.

We are going to view the following facts as we would have when we were both working in the legal field.

The Investigators Defense

This is probably the number one defense that others have offered for Ergun Caner. The problem with this is that, to our knowledge, we don’t know who the investigators were, and specifically, what they were looking for. Investigators always begin with a “hunch” which often leads to additional evidence. Or, they have a few very specific questions and suspicions that are the hallmark of the case, and the investigation begins by building a view based upon certain facts relevant to what the investigator believes is necessary to prove the case.

If the investigators were not specifically looking for deliberate lies, then their ultimate findings will be “we find no fault”. Furthermore, it also depends on which lies they were looking at. If the only matter they investigated is whether Ergun Caner was untruthful about the date of his arrival in the United States, then a simple acknowledging by him that a mistake was made would lead an investigator to conclude that their was no deliberate misconception. But we don’t know what they were looking for. 

As an independent investigator, I would have to conduct my own review of the facts and questions if the full report from the previous investigator is not available or disclosed. I could not simply rely on the conclusion without knowing how they arrived at their conclusion, because I need to know whether or not those conclusions can survive cross-examination in court. Investigators some times have biases, and I need to be able to prove my investigator a credible witness before I put him on the stand.

Therefore, we could not simply rely on the conclusions of these investigations without knowing their qualifications for investigating these kind of matters, what evidence they considered, and what kind of questions  they asked.

Apparent Cover Up of Information

This matter above all else, is what sold us on the scandal. When we first located Ergun Caner’s bio, this is what is now posted on his website, and pay close attention to what we have highlighted in bold:

Ergun Caner is a Professor & Apologist at the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School in Lynchburg, Virginia. Raised as a devout Sunni Muslim along with his two brothers, Caner converted in high school. After his conversion, he pursued his call to the ministry and education. He has a Masters degree from The Criswell College, a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Theology from the University of South Africa. [1]

However, we decided to use a website that maintains a permanent cache of information on websites. The following was Ergun Caner’s biography in this same section as above as follows from July of 2009:

Ergun Mehmet Caner (B.A., M.A., M.Div., Th,M., Ph.D.) is president of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School at the Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Raised as the son of a Muslim leader in Turkey, Caner became a Christian shortly before entering college. Serving under his Chancellor and President, Jerry Falwell Jr., Caner led the Seminary to triple in growth since his installation in 2005. A public speaker and apologist, Caner has debated Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and other religious leaders in thirteen countries and thirty-five states. [2]

The first issue to notice is

a) Caner’s initial bio stated he was raised the son of a Muslim leader IN TURKEY. This information is removed from the recent bio. If the contention was that Caner simply lived there for a short time, or merely visited there, why not correct the mistake by revising the bio to read “was raised in Ohio, and born in Sweden”. Why doesn’t the current bio reflect where he was actually born? It is common to include place of birth in bios, and he had already listed it once, but not only is the information now different, but any information about his birth place is totally missing from the bio altogether.

b) The original states that Caner has debated Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and other religious LEADERS in 13 countries and thirty-five states.

(i) One of those who he listed as debating was Shabir Ally, although he has at least now conceded that he never met Ally. But we find it highly unlikely that with as popular as Shabir Ally is in the Islamic community, that a person who claims to have been raised a devout Muslim and speaking Arabic would confuse his name with someone elses. That would be akin to us being raised Jewish confusing Moshe Dayan with Chaim Weizmann, or claiming to have debated James White when it was really Norman Geisler.

(ii)There is not one single report, video, audio program, witness of any debates or formal debates. Others have defended this statement as simply that he may have had an argument and mistook that for a debate. As a person trained in apologetics, we find it hard to believe that he could misconstrue what “debate” means, and considering that he listed it as a credential on a biography, it is simply too illogical to conclude that he did not intend to convey that he  had actually had formal debates, just as he said, with religious leaders in 13 countries, and thirty-five states.

We have also seen that lawsuits that have been filed demanding the removal of videos and internet articles. Why remove them if the truth about your testimony is actually in those videos? If they were “doctored”, then leave them there because they would serve as exemplars to any future “doctored” videos. And, if they were “doctored”, then simply produce the original. Filing a lawsuit, and claiming that videos were doctored implies you can produce the original testimony. Otherwise your complaint would be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Why not produce the original testimony and compare it with the “fake” videos? That would shut James White up permanently (well, maybe not permanently).

There are a number of other anomalies in what we have seen. And keep in mind, this is not based upon ANY information from James White or his crowd. It is no secret how we here, as King James Only Bible believers view White’s views and vise-versa. This is based on our own independent research. These facts alone that we have presented would be enough for us to obtain a warrant for probable cause if we were to try this as a criminal case in court, and deliberate embellishment was a crime.

Now we have clearly shown on here how biased James White has been, the cruel antics of his followers and down right vile tweets, and White’s selective prosecution of those outside of his Calvinist circle (see our article titled “Where was James White” and “Response to James White”) [UPDATE/CORRECTION-Since JD HALL has clarified that he did not intend to state that Al Mohler was complicit, we will be removing those argumentative points when we get a chance] However, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and even though we believe White to be broken in several places doctrinally, he’s right on this one.

If you believe that Calvinists have a bad habit of twisting simple commonly understood terms like “love” “all” “world” etc..then don’t do the same thing to Ergun Caner’s testimony. Would we expect White or Hall to ever repent or apologize for any of their actions? I doubt it, they haven’t so far, and probably never will. But if you want to prove that these Calvinists are dishonest and use misleading rhetoric to the detriment of potential converts, then stop giving them an excuse to point fingers at those of us who oppose their doctrinal views and are trying to engage them in a battle for the truth. Will White and others use it against him forever if he concedes? Probably. White still uses out-of-context quotes from Dave Hunt even after the man has been dead for quite some time now. But who cares about their opinions? It is right to either correct their errors, or confront the accusers and set the record straight, not because James White and his ilk say so, but because it’s simply the right thing to do before God. Caner can still have a productive ministry just as David did, but not if he keeps avoiding this matter, and others continue enabling him to do so.

I understand this will not earn us any brownie points, but the name of our blog is Do Right Christians. Doing the right thing is doing the Godly thing no matter what it costs, and let God sort out the fallout. We are not going to compromise what we believe just because we might lose a few friends over it. And if that’s why any of you are afraid to admit the obvious, then who do you fear more, God or men? Acts 5:29

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Comments
  1. JD Hall says:

    To be fair, and if you could follow a simple line of thought (I’m not presuming that you can), I did not claim Mohler was complicit in anything. I argued that Caner was claiming Mohler was complicit it somehow doctoring, editing or tampering with the audio of Caner speaking at SBTS, given his claim on Twitter last Sunday evening that all the evidence had been tampered with. Please listen to the audio again.

    • drjamesa says:

      Well then you should word your statements more carefully. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and revise my post, something I would never expect any of you to do, even though Mohler defended CJ Mahaney in the SGM scandals. Not one peep out of the Calvies over that one.

      And where is your evidence that Rogers is not saved? Now here’s a conundrum for you. If he’s not saved, then explain how he could possibly profess to seek Christ when your doctrine claims that Romans 3:10-11 proves that no non-elect person can seek God? Will you also claim that Norman Geisler is not saved? Will you claim that John Ankenberg is not saved? I’m come on, be consistent here, if you are going to audaciously label someone an unbeliever because they don’t agree with your assertions about Ergun Caner, then why not slap the label on EVERYONE that has supported him?

      If you can’t prove that Timothy Rogers is not saved, then YOU need to repent and publicly apologize to him for it. And considering that no Calvinist can prove that they themselves are of the elect (even John Piper admits this about his own children) then you can’t possibly claim that he is or is not saved, you can simply say you don’t know, but you CAN NOT say with the certainty of which you so boldly claimed, that he IS NOT saved.

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