"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Assertion of Innocence without the Establishment of Innocence

A fellow SBC blogger who is known for ranting against those who question his illogic, has written a defense of Liberty University, stating that those who exposed the public lies of her seminary's President were guilty of quick assertions and false assumptions. This blogger commented:

"What I see at play in the White-Kaufman-Burleson-Kahn coalition to discredit Caner (is) the assertion of guilt without the establishment of guilt...  For me, it’s a horrible crime to publicly charge someone with either moral or societal crime or both without sufficient evidence to establish the charge."

I ask readers of this blog to carefully persuse  this article and compare it to this article. Which of the two uses more facts and testimony from the public record? Which uses more words and testimony from Dr. Caner himself to establish guilt or innocence? Which article would you deem more oriented toward factual discovery? Could it be that the actual problem in this Caner issue is the assertion of innocence without the establishment of innocence?

For sycophants to proclaim the innocence of an ideological hero, when the world itself can read the facts that lead to the establishment of guilt, then that which is ultimately damaged is the message of the gospel itself. For Christians not to press for veracity in the testimony of her leaders is to abdicate truthfulness in the delivery of her message. How can people believe what we say about Christ when they can't believe what we say about us?

The fact that these ideologues can't see the ridiculousness of seeking to share the gospel with a Muslim while simultaneously trying to cover up the lies of one of their ideological leaders is an indictment on their Southern Baptist brand of Christianity. For those with a senstive conscience, this post is not about Caner, but those individuals who have boldly and emphatically declared that a thorough investigation has cleared Caner of all wrongdoing--only to have the Chancellor of Liberty University release the following statement yesterday evening:

"In light of the fact that several newspapers have raised questions, we felt it necessary to initiate a formal inquiry.”
Do you remember what Dr. Towns, Vice-President of Liberty University,  declared  three weeks ago?
"The Liberty board has held an inquiry and directors are satisfied that Caner has done nothing theologically inappropriate.
Well, either the Chancellor and the Vice-President of Liberty don't communicate regularly, or Dr. Towns is also guilty of asserting innocence without actually investigating the facts--just like the sycophants who have oft quoted him these past three weeks as justification for excoriating those who have declared guilt based upon an actual examination of the public record.

It is my opinion that "the official inquiry" by Liberty University, slated to begin soon, will leave no stone unturned. I believe the conclusions and recommendations of the inquiry will be appropriate. The chairman of the committee is a man with impeccable credentials and is known by faculty for both his integrity and honesty. In short, this Caner issue will be resolved one of two ways in light of the established facts via the public record:

(1). There will be an official acknowledgment of the embellishment of Dr. Caner's biographical and professional background, a sincere public apology by Dr. Caner for his unethical behavior, and a statement by Liberty Seminary 's Board of Directors that Dr. Caner will be kept as President of Liberty Seminary, or

(2). Dr. Caner will be removed as President of Liberty Seminary.

I am hoping for the first resolution above, but as long as "friends" of Dr. Caner dogmatically and viciously assert his innocence before they have even thoroughly examined the facts, then they actually work to prevent the former from occuring. So, if Dr. Caner is released from his job, he will have nobody to blame but himself and those sycophants who weren't his real friends, just worshippers of his celebrity and ideology.

35 comments:

Tom Chantry said...

You are entirely correct; the integrity of gospel witness is at stake. We are engaged in trying to convince men of that which they already do not want to believe: that Jesus is Lord, that He rose from the dead, and that He is the only hope for sinners. To muddy the waters by covering untrue statements is a disastrous error. I pray that you are right and that the committee stands up for truthfulness.

Tim Marsh said...

Pastor Wade,

I appreciate your heart in hoping that Caner will not be removed from Liberty. However, I think that Liberty and Caner are already past that point.

I think that the best thing that could happen is that Caner voluntarily resigns from Liberty, tells the truth about who he is and what he did, and then work to prevent this thing from continuing. As I have written on this forum before, I believe that embellishing, even fabricating, illustrations and resumes are things that are commonly practiced. If he can tell why this is occurring and encourage others to stop for the sake of those who hear, then something good will come from this.

Or, option 2 is that he is fired and Liberty can apologize for their slow response. Also, Caner's brother should be terminated from his college for his silence.

Either way, I think that we are past the point that these two can keep their jobs.

Tim Marsh said...

Let me say this: if it was Duke Divinity School, or even Beeson, where I went for my M.Div., the investigation would have been quick, thorough, and immediate. The punishment would have been swift.

That Jeremy Guy said...

I pray that repentance is given and the name of Christ is glorified in this situation. Let us pray for the leadership of Liberty to do what is right and that Dr. Caner also does what is right.

Anonymous said...

Nothing to say about this subject, but I hope you are all safe from the nasty storms.

wally said...

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.


Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.


But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

John 3:19-21

When did Southern Baptists begin believing that lies were acceptable, that defending lies was acceptabe, and that attacking those who expose lies was acceptable?

Thy Peace said...

Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog [James White] > An Open Letter to Dr. Falwell and Dr. Godwin.

RRR said...

One of the sad parts of the entire affair is that those that should have been functioning as guardians of the university's credibility and accreditation failed in their assigned duties.

Those, like the trustees, the chancellor, president or whomever, did not function in the reasonable, responsible and objective manner in which they should be expected to perform and they failed in the trust allocated to them. Even if their initial inquiries into the legitimacy of the prospect’s resume did not raise red flags, the subsequent suspicions and shadows cast upon his credibility should have been taken seriously.

They should never have had to be motivated by press releases and the blogosphere culture to do what they should have done independently long ago. The name of Liberty “University” has taken a big hit as a result and one wonders if it will be perceived by serious pursuers of theological education as more than a Bible school.

It is also disappointing that our SBC Convention power brokers (a number of which apparently serve as trustees of Liberty) continue to place such affirmation, praise and support to those whose primary exceptional traits are celebrity and cleverness, not Christ-like humility, competence, wisdom and sincerity. That’s really what got us to this point. Do these leaders not see the image they are projecting of themselves and of our Convention of being shallow and hypocritical? When will we ever learn? Sorry, but all of this is just terrifically disappointing to me. I can't imagine how the alumni and supporters of Liberty must feel.

Christiane said...

James White has a new post: an open letter to those who will be conducting the inquiry at Liberty University.

I was impressed with the way that he ended his letter. He wrote this:

" Given that the world is now watching (not only the secular world, but the Islamic world as well), nothing less than a full Christian commitment to truth is in order. It is not the “Christian blogosphere” that awaits your report, but the church in general. Thank you."

Now the 'world' gets to see the actions of an organization that people have come to see as 'a community of the risen Lord'.
And yes, the Islamic world will watch closely to see what witness is given.

One thing I don't understand is that Liberty University is now the largest evangelical university in the world. They don't need someone like Ergun Caner telling their students things about the Islamic faith that are misconceptions.
As a Christian university with world presence, they could invite someone with the dignity and grace of Queen Rania of Jordan to speak about her faith to the students. Surely, the university wants to be seen as a place of dignity, if no reason more than to honor Our Lord.

It is important who they invite to teach and to address their students.
An authoritative presentation concerning a different faith does not take place using misconceptions and dishonest stereotypes.

I think Liberty University needs to move to a higher level of responsibility now if it wishes to command the respect of the world as a Christian entity.

JND said...

Comments open on this one. . . .

John W. said...

Pastor Wade, you are 100% correct about the assertion of innocence.

FWIW, when SBC Today first broke the news of the Mohammad Khan videos, I asked if anyone at SBC Today had researched the allegations made against Dr. Caner in the video.

Shortly before the comments were closed, I was told I must either take the word of a Muslim, or the word of Caner's publishing company and university.
Comment Here.

In other words, no they had not investigated. They simply assumed Caner is telling the truth and Khan is lying.

So...those who have bothered to investigate Caner and are assuming guilt based on evidence and are wrong.

All the while those who support Caner are right, even though they are only assuming innocence and ignoring evidence?

They assume Mohammad Khan is guilty, and when I asked, they have no evidence. THEY ARE ASSUMING GUILT! It's Khan's word versus the word of a publishing company and a university. And the word of that university is becoming more questionable by the minute.

Lydia said...

"However, I think that Liberty and Caner are already past that point."

Tim, You are so right and it scares me that others do not see it. Caner has no credibility with the 'outside'. He is not above reproach to the outside as a Christian leader/teacher/preacher to young people and future pastors.

And now, because of what Townes said about it not being an ethical/moral issue, Liberty, as a "Christian" higher ed institution is quickly losing credibility.

They are showing us what they really believe and it is not of Christ. At this point, I am more in fear for Caner's soul than his job. Rev 21

Alex said...

For what its worth, Tim Guthrie of SBCToday.blogspot.com seems to have repeatedly lied about the Muslim man from London. At several places on his blog, Guthrie made the claim that Mohammed Khan's website - www.fakeexmuslims.com is hosted by a Porn Company.

The website http://www.whoishostingthis.com reveals that Khan's website is hosted by Webs.com. The "Terms of Service" for Webs.com explicitly prohibits pornographic material. See #8 on terms agreement.

Why then would Tim Guthrie make such a dishonest claim?

Thy Peace said...

Right Wing Watch > Liberty U. Announces Investigation of Caner Claims.
But didn’t Towns say that the university’s board had already looked into it? Well, it turns out that the board “inquiry” that Towns described to Christianity Today was just a “passing discussion” at a March meeting of the board’s seminary subcommittee. It “wasn’t an inquiry or anything like that,” says Liberty spokesman Johnnie Moore.

gary dilworth said...

Alex
You said, "For what its worth, Tim Guthrie of SBCToday.blogspot.com seems to have repeatedly lied about the Muslim man from London. At several places on his blog, Guthrie made the claim that Mohammed Khan's website - www.fakeexmuslims.com is hosted by a Porn Company.

The website http://www.whoishostingthis.com reveals that Khan's website is hosted by Webs.com. The "Terms of Service" for Webs.com explicitly prohibits pornographic material. See #8 on terms agreement.

Why then would Tim Guthrie make such a dishonest claim?"

I saw that comment too, but I got the impression he was talking about James White's website host company.
When I was trying to get set up with the "chat" section at alpha and omega I saw some "adult" advertising statments of some kind. We live in a dirty world. Some churches are next to strip clubs.
Gary

gary dilworth said...

And Tim G. is logically fallacious to point that out.
gary

Will Cornell said...

FOR THE RECORD: It is Dr. Elmer Towns, not Townes.

As an LBTS student and LU graduate, I am extremely saddened by the way my school has handled this matter. Up until May 10th, Liberty seems to have dismissed all of this without taking a hard look at the obvious discrepancies. I am awaiting a reasonable explanation before I enroll in the fall '10 semester.

Also, in defense of Dr. Towns: I am almost certain that when he is quoted regarding Dr. Caner, he was referring not to Caner's background, but to his speaking out against Christians using the "Camel Method" to evangelize Muslims. His statement regarding latitude in theology does not fit the context of Caner's background.

sdg,

Will

Aussie John said...

Wade,

In the light of some of the replies to your blog and others I share a quote I came across a few days ago.

Speaking of a group of fervent believers in God, the writer said that they "...knew their Bibles; were disciplined in prayer; fasted twice a week; gave about a third of their income to their church; were moral (very moral); many had been martyred for their faith; they attended ‘church’ regularly; they were evangelical/orthodox; and evangelistic.

The interesting thing about the quote is that the writer was speaking of the Pharisees.

Hmmmnn! I wonder!

Maybe the answer is in the word verification for this comment: tinicult!

gary dilworth said...

Mr. Cornell,
Please look at how John Kennedy began the Christianity Today article Bloggers Target Seminary President: "Liberty University's board of directors has declined to take public action against Ergun Caner, president of the university seminary, as bloggers raise doubts about Caner's account of his childhood as a Muslim.

Elmer Towns, co-founder of Liberty University and dean of the School of Religion, says there will be no official reprimand or demotion of Ergun Caner. Towns, who had a hand in hiring Caner, says the Liberty board has held an inquiry and directors are satisfied that Caner has done nothing theologically inappropriate.

"It's not an ethical issue, it's not a moral issue," Towns told Christianity Today on April 27. "We give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage. The arguments of the bloggers would not stand up in court."

Are you suggesting that they "had an inquiry" regarding the camel method?
gary

Anonymous said...

Wade. Has any body heard that Aiken to IMB and Floyd to NAMB?

Stephen Pruett said...

I admire Dr. Towns. He taught a workshop for Sunday School teachers at my church a few years ago, and he had many useful recommendations and clearly still had much enthusiasm for the work of Christ. It is sad that he seems to be supporting inconsistencies that should not be supported.

Even in secular jobs, padding the resume is a serious issue and often sufficient for dismissal. The standards at Christian institutions should be higher than in the secular world.

Bennett Willis said...

Pretend for a moment that you were a trustee of LU. And in the "New Business" section of the meeting there is a short discussion of Dr. Caner and the Camel Method. Or a short discussion (with assurances that it was not important) of either Mr. Kahn's videos or of the comments in some blogs. Or even both--then you go home and get on the net...

As a trustee, I would think that I had been treated like a mushroom. I think that the next trustee meeting will be really interesting. It is a shame it is not going to be on C-SPAN.

Bennett Willis

Debbie Kaufman said...

Wade: You, Rachelle, Paul, Mary, Emmanuel mean so much to me and my husband. This is why. You stood by me when it was the hardest to do. You were attacked for things that I should have been attacked for. Words cannot express....well you know what I am trying to say and frankly can't. My heart knows, but words fail me.

RRR said...

Will Cornell,

Thanks for shedding some light on things from the perspective of one on the inside. It's helpful for us all to hear voices of reason who offer some plausible alternative basis for statements made. It's worth considering and good information helps hose down some of the fervor.

Rex Ray said...

Our wretched species is so made that fools never admit they’re wrong or made a mistake.

They throw good money after bad; their minds are made up; don’t confuse them with the facts. (A ‘twist’ to Voltaire.)

Tim Marsh said...

Stephen,

Towns' enthusiasm at a leadership conference is another problem.

I get flyers about different conferences on a weekly basis. It may be genuine enthusiasm, but it is also stage presence. These folks are not going to be invited, paid to speak and sell their books without enthusiasm.

Who is "acting" and who is not? I wonder if we will ever know.

Matt. 7:20

gary dilworth said...

Mr. Cornell and RRR
I want to make sure I understand you correctly.
Mr. Cornell you said, "Also, in defense of Dr. Towns: I am almost certain that when he is quoted regarding Dr. Caner, he was referring not to Caner's background, but to his speaking out against Christians using the "Camel Method" to evangelize Muslims."
And then RRR you said to Mr. Cornell, "Thanks for shedding some light on things from the perspective of one on the inside. It's helpful for us all to hear voices of reason who offer some plausible alternative basis for statements made."
So...then when Mr. Kennedy of Christianity today wrote, ["Towns, who had a hand in hiring Caner, says the Liberty board has held an inquiry and directors are satisfied that Caner has done nothing theologically inappropriate. "It's not an ethical issue, it's not a moral issue," Towns told Christianity Today on April 27. "We give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage. The arguments of the bloggers would not stand up in court"],
we can reasonably and plausably infer that Dr. Towns was saying that Dr. Caner's ["speaking out against Christians using the "Camel Method" to evangelize Muslims"] was the subject of an inquiry, and they decided Dr. Caner had done nothing "theologically inappropriate." And furthermore, that Dr. Towns was trying to tell Mr. Kennedy of CT that this opinion of Dr. Caner's regarding the camel method is "not an ethical issue, it's not a moral issue... "We give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage" (regarding oppostition to the camel method). "The arguments of the bloggers" (in favor of the camel method) "would not stand up in court."
Do I have that right? Because that would mean Kennedy horribly disserved Dr. Towns, and made himself look pretty bad, too. And why would Dr. Towns think it necessary to assert that pro camel method arguments cannot stand up in court?

Lydia said...

Who is "acting" and who is not? I wonder if we will ever know.

Matt. 7:20

Wed May 12, 12:30:00 PM 2010

Tim Marsh, You are so right on again! We have become enamoured with titles, position and success. Much like Rome.

BibleWheel said...

Though it was mentioned in the article, I think it is quite edifying to view two quotes from Liberty U in stark contrast:

“The Liberty board has held an inquiry

... but ...

“it wasn’t an inquiry or anything like that.”

It's bad enough to say that "A is Not A" but what are we to think when we are told that "A is not anything like A?!"

Statements like these show me that LU is just shooting from the hip and does not care at all about the truth.

One thing I think everyone can agree upon is that LU would NEVER have done anything whatsoever about Caner if not subjected to the outside force of the MSM. This indicates an endemic lack of integrity in that institution.

gary dilworth said...

A good judge may ask if Towns refered to Caner’s past inconsistencies in his testimony, and therefore what repentance if any is necessary? Or, a judge may ask if Towns refered to Caner’s "repentance", and therefore, how could it be morally and ethically meaningful?
Or, a judge may ask if Towns refered to Caner’s past inconsistencies and his "repentance" as well, and therefore is this just a continuation of “ministerial speaking” for the sake gaining additional “theological leverage?” Or, a judge may ask if Towns refered to Caner's passionately defended position regarding the camel method, and therefore, why does Towns say that position Caner holds doesn't have anything to do with ethics or morals?

Will Cornell said...

Gary et al.,

I would like to clarify and apologize for my lack of research.
Gary, you are correct. The article and Towns do seem to refer to the "inquiry". I noticed some confused and illogical language regarding the claims of falsehoods, lying, and embellishing. I wondered what in the world theological leverage had to do with anything and must have gotten confused with a controversy from the (recent) past, not the current issue.

Be it known that I am saddened by the way things have gone down (see my previous post...I am actively looking into other seminary options). My sadness and disgust stem from the lackadaisical manner in which this matter has been handled by LU, to include Dr. Towns and Dr. Fallwell.
From what I have gathered, the initial "inquiry" was a joke. Another commenter noted that it seemed that Liberty was "shooting from the hip". I agree! Liberty's "investigation" board obviously poo-pooed the claims away because the questions weren't coming from the MSM. Who knows if they even checked it out? This disregard for the common voice by "bloggers" is made evident by Dr. Fallwell's comments concerning "bloggers".
I had (wrongly) assumed that Dr. Towns was addressing the Camel Method issue to make a statement like "It's not an ethical issue, it's not a moral issue. We give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage". Clearly lying IS a moral issue and the misrepresentations and false pretenses ARE ethical issues!

I honestly think that the LU "inquiry" had not faced the actual claims or seen the evidence, otherwise how could Dr. Towns respond with answers like this, alluding to "theological leverage"? This isn't a "theological" issue. All I'm saying is that something is weird. I hate to think that Dr. Towns would regard lying and embellishing from the pulpit for personal gain as a matter of theological difference (that doesn't even make sense). This is not logical and is not consistent with Dr. Towns, who I have come to know as a man of great intelligence and integrity. Could I be wrong? Absolutely! I pray that I'm not.

Dee said...

Dee
One of the things that has bothered me about this incident in the downplaying of the Muslim student who was one of the first to raise the issue of Caner's duplicity.
There has bee so much derision thrown at this Muslim, many saying that he had a vendetta against Caner.Do we really believe that a Muslim always lies and Christians don't?

First, if what he said was the truth about Camer's lies, why do we even need to question his motives. We can never fully know others motives, there are times when I barely understand mine.

Secondly, if a Muslim is telling us that this guy doesn't know his language or the various beliefs of the Muslims, why wouldn't we want to listen to him? He is opening our eyes to his belief system and we might learn a thing or two about Islam from him?

Truth is truth. If someone yelled out that the movie theater that I am in is on fire, I probably would run out and not worry about the motives of the individual involved.

I have loved your thoughts on this matter.

gary dilworth said...

Mr. Cornell,
May God bless you and protect you and exert His power in His great love for you in Christ. May He guard you and sanctify you and cause you to grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. May you be filled with His Spirit and saturated in His word, and therefore may you have His comfort to cheer you with unspeakable joy. May He provide all your needs, and guide all your thinking and decisions. And may you be filled with His love and His mercy for your school.
We love and pray for you, for Dr. Towns, for Dr.'s Caner, for LU, for all her leaders, and all her students. May God glorify himself before us all. May He give us His mercy and wisdom. And help us through this darkness by His word and His Spirit, into His light.
Take Care
Gary

Anonymous said...

What I find most troubling is that an investigation at Liberty is now underway because, according to Jerry Falwell, Jr., the world's media is now involved. This bothers me because it shows fear of the world, and no concern for Christian warnings. This is being a friend of the world.

This is the world's religion - politics!

"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

Joe V

Anonymous said...

Breaking News . . .

Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary has just announced that the Law of God will no longer be referenced as the Ten Commandments. From this day forward, the Law of God will be known as the Nine Commandments. “In light of the Ergun Caner controversy, we just felt that it would be better to delete one of the commandments,” Elmer Towns stated. “This will allow us to keep Ergun as our president.” Where there is no law, there can be no sin. No sin, no problem.

Dr. Caner stated that he was relieved to have been found innocent of all wrong doing. "I always knew, deep down in my heart, that I had done nothing wrong, "Caner explained. "Now I can continue to tell my testimony with the full support of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary."