My Email to Dr. Norman Geisler and His Facebook Statement in Response
Dear Dr. Geisler,
I appreciate the work you have accomplished on behalf of the Kingdom in areas of philosophy and apologetics. Your textbooks and manuscripts will help numerous generations of evangelicals understand why they should believe what they believe.
I am writing to ask a favor. A few weeks ago you issued a statement regarding Ergun Caner and, according to Peter Lumpkins, you requested the statement be spread “far and wide.” Your statement reads:
To Whom It May Concern:
“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. I am also convinced that whatever ambiguous or misstatement that may have been made, Dr. Caner has done nothing heretical, immoral, or illegal. I stand with him against these vicious attacks. He has taken a strong stand on important issues that stir up controversy, but to my knowledge has done nothing unorthodox or malicious. I urge all to consider him innocent unless proven guilty. He has welcomed an inquiry from the Liberty authorities. Let’s await their findings. Christians have a bad habit of shooting their wounded. Let’s pray for and encourage our brother.”
Sincerely in Christ,
Dr. Norman L. Geisler
I am pastor of a church in Oklahoma. One of my church members, a truck driver’s wife by the name of Debbie Kaufman. Debbie had become acquainted with a Muslim who was questioning Dr. Caner’s Muslim background. Her goal was to build a friendship with this Muslim man in order to share Christ with him. During the course of her online conversations with this Muslim, Debbie herself began to wonder about Dr. Caner’s Muslim background. She eventually wrote a few posts of her own, questioning Dr. Caner’s testimony and background .... Debbie felt it important that Christians ask some of the same questions the Muslims were asking because she saw validity in what was being said. As you know as an apologist, truth is truth, regardless of who speaks it.
When your statement was issued, some men wrote to Debbie Kaufman and called her many ungodly and ugly names. They believed they had warrant to do so because a respected scholar such as yourself called charges against Dr. Caner “slanderous” and lumped Christians like my church member Debbie into the category of “extremists.”
Now that the Liberty Committee assigned to investigate Dr. Caner has officially concluded that he has given “factual statements that are self-contradictory” and removed him from the Presidency of Liberty, would you be so kind as to issue a second public statement that will exonerate people like Debbie from the label of extremist and slanderer? I think it would be helpful to Debbie and will go a long way toward repairing her reputation as well as her confidence in evangelical leaders such as yourself.
In His Grace,
At 11:30 AM Central Time, three hours after my sending the above email, the following statement was made by Dr. Geisler on his public Facebook page:
"An extensive independent investigation has exonerated Dr. Ergun Caner of all the false charges made against him by extreme Muslims and others and has been retained as a Professor at Liberty University. In spite of a few misstatements (which we all make and he has corrected), nothing has diminished his testimony and orthodoxy as one of the great Christian voices of our time. I totally support him." Norman Geisler
(Update and Follow-up)
Since my post today, Dr. Geisler has emailed me personally. He has reiterated his belief that Ergun Caner's "factual statements that are self-contradictory" are simply misstatements. He also said I am misinterpreting Liberty's official statement since Dr. Caner has been exonerated by Liberty.
I sent to Dr. Geisler the following email this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Central Time:
Thank you, Dr. Geisler.
I believe you will find there is disagreement over what you call a “few misstatements,” for some believe that those misstatements represent an intentional embellishment of one’s testimony and background for the purpose of self-advancement. In other words, it’s hard to understand how the public and well documented “factual statements that are self-contradictory” are anything but intentional lies to create an aura of personhood and/or personality that has been fabricated and is not real.
In other words, it’s hard for a typical mid-western boy who has lived in Ohio since the age of three, and happened to have a Muslim father who abandoned his Christian wife and family when the boy was young to be deemed as powerful an expert in Islam as a man who was born in Turkey, raised in a terrorist organization to be a jihadist, came to the U.S. as a teenager speaking no English and believing all Americans and Christians were his enemies, living with the intent on destroying America as the 9/11 bombers died trying to destroy America, but came to faith in Christ and had his life powerfully changed by the grace of God. The first testimony doesn’t sound as flashy as the second.
Yet, the “factual statements that are self-contradictory” given by Caner are precisely the statements above. My prayer is that you in your years of wisdom will not allow loyalty, Veritas economics, or even a heart of compassion (which we all feel), to handcuff you from encouraging your friend to come to brokenness and repentance over his embellishments, apologize to those whom he has intentionally deceived, set the record straight, and move forward with the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ. Were this not to take place, I believe you will find the ministries of Ergun Caner to be severely limited in the future.
We may simply wind up agreeing to disagree on this issue, and if so, then we will enjoy fellowship with one another for eternity through the wonderful grace of God which cleanses us all of our sins.
In His Grace,