Monday, April 12, 2010

The Silence of Southern Baptists Shall Become the Shame of Southern Baptists

Dr. Ergun Mehmet Caner, President of Liberty Seminary in Lynchburgh, Virginia has been caught in a web of deception of his own making. Dr. Caner has publicly stated that he came to the United States at age fifteen having been trained to be a jihadist. In reality, Caner came to Ohio at age four and lived a comfortable, American life.  Dr. Caner has also publicly stated that his first language was Arabic and he was trained in a madrassa in Turkey. Several International Mission Board missionaries who speak fluent Arabic have emailed me, horrified at what they have heard Dr. Caner try to pass off as his native Arabic during his audio and video sermons at SBC churches. They confirm what others have been saying--he is speaking complete gibberish. The myth Dr. Caner has created about himself seems now to be unraveling. He never came to America "via Beirut and Cairo." He has never been trained as a fundamentalist Muslim. He has never been a jihadist. He has never debated top Muslim scholars, in Nebraska or anywhere else. It is impossible for any of us to understand why someone would fabricate or embellish his past, but there's a great deal of money to be made selling books and DVD's about Islam in post 9/11. Whose a better expert on the subject than a radical jihadist who has converted to faith in Jesus Christ, right?

My friend, Mosab Hassan Yousef, has lived the life that Ergun seems to want Christians to believe Ergun has lived. People like Yousef see right through Ergun. I cannot figure out why some Southern Baptists seem to have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that one of our leaders is capable of lying about his past. The excuse making, the covering up, the dismissals, the justifications, and most of all the silence of Southern Baptist leadership about one of our own will one day wind up turning into our collective shame. What is available in published form is enough to indict Dr. Caner's truthfulness, without ever going to motive. Dr. Caner's apology for mistakes of "unintentional misleading statements" is like a Certified Public Accountant apologizing for unintentionally ignoring GAAP accounting principles and the law of the land - he may be sorry but there are consequences when the issue goes to the heart of one's calling.

The new biography of Dr. Caner is set to go up this week. The old biography, filled with deceptive statements, remains down at Caner's  website . The new one has been directly approved by Liberty Seminary's Chancellor, Dr. Jerry Falwell, Jr. When write I Dr. Falwell has"approved" the new biography, I mean the Chancellor sat at his desk, read the new proposed biography of Caner's life, and said, "Post it." I'm not sure it has even crossed the Chancellor's mind how odd it is to have to rewrite, reread, and repost a biography of his President. Reporters from two national newspapers and producers from a national news magazine are watching with keen interest upcoming conferences where Dr. Caner is speaking. Why is the secular media interested?

Well, according to them, it's baffling how we evangelicals will allow someone who has given us falsehoods about his past to teach us "the truth" about Islam. I happen to agree. But I would also question why we would even allow him to teach us "the truth" about the gospel.