Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Sword and the Trowel, The Scalpel and the Suture--The Right Use of Law and Grace

Today, a lawmaker said of Goldman Sachs, It's not enough just to say, 'I'm sorry.'" Politicians and the American people want Goldman Sachs to punitively pay for the company's part in our nation's 2008 financial and real estate collapse. Also today, Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of Great Britain apologized five times for being caught on microphone saying of a grandmother "She's just a bigoted old woman" after she had questioned him about his immigration policies. A television reporter said of Brown's multiple apologies "They may not be enough to save him politically." It seems the press and citizens in England  want a proverbial piece of Prime Minister Brown's flesh for his gaffe.

In both cases today, the wrongdoings were exposed far and wide. When there are attempts to coverup wrongs, then there is a need to press for their exposure. But once there is wide exposure, and the press and the people know fully the egregious gaffes, then the right thing to do is to focus on the steps needed for correction,  healing and restoration.

I have written about Ergun Caner three times and his brother Emir once. I've asked questions that I believe Southern Baptists need to ask. It is very important, in my opinion, that Southern Baptists take the lead in asking the tough questions of the Caners. Were those outside the Southern Baptist Convention to begin asking questions and go on to discover actual deception has taken place by Ergun Caner, then it could not be said that Southern Baptists sat by in silence, either duped by our dumbness or silenced by our sychophancy. In other words, judgment must begin within our Convention, or most certainly condemnation will come from outside our Convention.

National press organizations are now aware of the Caner issue and are beginning to ask questions. The exposure and corresponding awareness of the issues associated with Ergun Caner's Muslim background, differing biographies and changing academic credentials is growing. My emphasis is now shifting. I believe some very, very tough days are ahead for Liberty and the Caners. Ergun Caner released a statement a few weeks ago, what has been called by his supporters as "an apology." Here is a portion of the Ergun Caner's statement.

I have never intentionally misled anyone. I am sure I have made many mistakes in the pulpit in the past 20-plus years, and I am sure I will make some in the future. For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better.

At the time, I thought to myself that if the national media were to catch wind of the documented discrepancies from Caner's own public speeches, they would raise a collective eyebrow at his "apology." Why? The secular press and people of this world don't take to kindly to people who simply say, "I'm sorry, I didn't intend it," particularly when it seems clear that the wrong actions brought financial gain to the wrongdoer. For example, when someone like Ergun Caner profits from speaking and writing, the words "intentional" and "unintentional" have very narrow and specific definitions. The world is by nature always skeptical and always unforgiving. We who have been called out of the world are called to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. We, above all others, should know when to draw the sword and when to scrape the trowel. We Christians should only cut in order to heal. The scalpel ought always lead to the suture. In short, when the law has convicted, then grace should be applied.

I personally believe it is time for grace to be applied to Ergun Caner and his brother Emir. Not everyone will agree with me, but I will give my reason for believing the way I do and close, forever, my blog to the Caner issue. The secular world, press and the enemies of the SBC are all about to hammer Ergun Caner and his brother Emir and it will not know when to let up.

Ergun and Emir are my brothers in Christ and I wish for them nothing but the best in terms of their careers, their families and their future ministries. The damage of an exaggerated testimony, embellished resume, and changing biographical facts will linger until there is true confession, humble repentance and merciful healing. Some of Ergun's friends claim he has already confessed. Other Christians believe that his statement "I have never intentionally ever misled anyone" is simply a way to avoid the consequences for publicly lying about his past. I personally don't think there is really any need to continue the debate.

Others have picked it up. Others who will not be as kind. But, in the end, they will not be able to accuse Southern Baptists of sticking our collective head in the sand as is the case when it comes to exposing our wrongdoings. In other words, thank the Lord there are Southern Baptist blogs to counterbalance the cheerleading of Baptist Press.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

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