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Ergun Caner hangs out his ‘Islam Expert for Hire’ shingle

Ditched amid uproar as dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary but (huh?) retained as a professor, Ergun Caner visited Bristol, Va., Friday to dismiss it all:

We saw it (controversy) coming. My brothers and I have been dealing with it for years. This just happened to bounce big, and I paid no attention. News means little to me, and the Web is — well, bloggers for the most part — are just frustrated people in their basements.

His speaking skills are of course still for hire. His successor as seminary dean , Elmer Towns, did say, “… I see Ergun with a long, profitable ministry.”

Also still for hire is Crying Wind, the not-an-Indian whose profitable history of pretending to an American Indian life story is detailed by Phil Johnson in Evangelical Bunco Artists. There is a long list, to which Johnson sadly appends Caner.

Caveat emptor.

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October 7, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , | 2 Comments

Huh? Caner out as dean; still a professor

By Steve DeVane

Liberty University decided to end one contract with Ergun Caner because of his “self-contradictory” statements, and offer him another.

Liberty announced June 25 that Caner would not be dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary after June 30, according to a report in the Lynchburg News and Advance. Whereupon the school offered to let him stay on the faculty, and he accepted.

The university’s statement said Caner made “factual statements that are self-contradictory.” It also said the school’s investigation found “discrepancies related to matters such as dates, names and places of residence.”

A post on the SBC Today blog managed to somehow focus right on the phrase in the announcement which says there is no evidence Caner was not a Muslim, thus allowing the blogger to conclude that Caner was “exonerated.”

In fitting response, Wade Burleson says, “Huh?”

Liberty’s decision to keep Caner on its faculty is not surprising given the way school officials have reacted to accusations against him. At one point, a school official said the discrepancies were neither an ethical nor a moral issue.

Again: Huh?

Media inquiries eventually prompted the university to investigate. Those questions led to stories in newspapers across the country.

The statement from Liberty said Caner “apologized for the discrepancies and misstatements.”

Will another round of newspaper (not blog) articles move the school to explain why it has different standards for “discrepancies and misstatements” by deans and professors?

Unless Liberty plans to leave us all with a resounding: Huh?

June 26, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , | Comments Off on Huh? Caner out as dean; still a professor

Media coverage heightens pressure on Liberty’s Ergun Caner

Posted by SteveDeVane at 7:22 AM

Accusations that Ergun Caner fabricated parts of his background hit newspapers across the country this week increasing the likelihood that the president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary will have to resign.

For months, Liberty University administrators stood by Caner as bloggers questioned statements he made about his background. Then newspaper reporters started calling, and last week school officials decided to investigate.

If questions from reporters prompted an investigation, one would think the recent articles would force the school to show Caner the door.

GetReligion highlights stories about Caner by Associated Press, The Tennessean and The News & Advance in Lynchburg, Va., where Liberty is located.

The AP story was picked up by papers ranging from the San Francisco Chronicle to the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

The GetReligion post correctly notes the importance of a paragraph in The Tennessean story that says several Southern Baptist leaders who have supported Caner in the past declined to comment. One of those who wouldn’t talk is former Southern Baptist Convention president Paige Patterson.

Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, has close ties to Caner and his brother, Emir.

Any chance Southwestern will have an opening for Caner on its staff?

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Education, SBC | , , | 1 Comment

Protesting, Liberty investigates Ergun Caner claims

Liberty University officials will investigate allegations that the president of the school’s seminary fabricated much of his life history, a decision they say they made only after members of the “mainstream media” inquired (not, alas, Wade Burleson, FBC Jax Watchdog and/or other bloggers).

Ergun Caner, the president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, faces questions regarding discrepancies in statements he has made about his background. A resolution being circulated would ask the Southern Baptist Convention to distance itself from him.

The investigation signals a change for Liberty, which had previously stood by Caner, saying he had done nothing “theologically inappropriate” and the issue was neither ethical nor moral.

University Provost Ron Godwin is forming the committee to conduct a “official inquiry” into the allegations with plans to finish by the end of next month, according to a statement on the university web site.

“Liberty does not initiate personnel evaluations based upon accusations from Internet blogs,” Liberty chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. said. “However, In light of the fact that several newspapers have raised questions, we felt it necessary to initiate a formal inquiry.”

The announcement did not identify the newspapers. The statement was released a short while after Alternet, a news magazine and online journalism site, posted a story about Caner.

After the Caner investigation is complete, Liberty officials might want to launch a “formal inquiry” into how many people get their news from online sources. They might start with this study that found that the internet is now the third most popular news platform, behind local television news and national television news. Or merely confess that in dissing bloggers, Liberty “doth protest too much.”

May 12, 2010 Posted by | Education, SBC | , | 1 Comment

Liberty sticks by embattled seminary president

Officials at Liberty University say accusations of dishonesty against the president of the school’s seminary are neither an ethical nor a moral issue.

Ergun Caner, the president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, is under fire regarding his biographical information, including his Muslim background. The discrepancies have led some to call for the Southern Baptist Convention to distance itself from Caner and others to ask pointed questions of the seminary president.

But Elmer Towns, co-founder of Liberty University and dean of the School of Religion, told Christianity Today that the university’s board of directors held an inquiry and determined that Caner had done nothing theologically inappropriate. He said there will be no official reprimand or demotion of Caner.

“It’s not an ethical issue, it’s not a moral issue,” Towns told the magazine. “We give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage. The arguments of the bloggers would not stand up in court.”

Christianity Today highlights what Caner’s critics call exaggerations and lies, including:

  • Growing up in Turkey, when he actually grew up in Ohio.
  • Being raised in a devout Muslim home, rather than a nominal one.
  • Having been involved in Islamic jihad.
  • Having debated dozens of Muslims about the Islamic faith, although there is no video or audio evidence.

Caner must have a ton of “theological leverage” for school officials to consider such issues neither ethical nor moral. The arguments against Caner might not stand up in a government courtroom, but public opinion is another matter.

Towns affects a lack of concern. He said:

We don’t see any way that bloggers will damage Liberty.

Can school officials not see that highlighted publication of Towns’ statement in a national Christian magazine is evidence that damage has already been done? The article’s real subject was how much damage has been done, not whether any will occur.

Liberty officials can expect more, unless they’re willing to deal with the issue more directly.

Some sign of repentance from Caner would be a start.

Update: More damage

Oklahoma Baptist pastor Wade Burleson blogs that after reading the article we commented on above, he can “no longer recommend Liberty University to students or seminarians.”

FBC Jax Watchdog throws up his hands in despair at Christianity Today’s timidity.

Attack rather than repent: Fake Ex Muslims YouTube channel terminated via complaints, thus eliminating a much-linked-to body of evidence from ready access.

At AO, home of links to Ergun Caner Materials, James White is dismayed by the CT piece.

May 4, 2010 Posted by | Religion, SBC, Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Tangled web tightens on Ergun Caner

A plan is in the works to call for the Southern Baptist Convention to distance itself from embattled seminary president Ergun Caner.

Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, is under fire for discrepancies in his biographical information, including whether his Muslim background.

Without mentioning Caner, Wade Burleson wrote about similar issues faced by Mike Warnke, a Christian comedian whose claims about a Satanic background were disputed by the Christian magazine Cornerstone. Burleson concludes with a quote from a “wise man” who said, “A people unfamiliar with their own history are destined to repeat the mistakes of their fathers.”

Fred Butler is not so subtle. He comes right out and asks if Caner is “the Mike Warnke of this generation” and sees similarities.

Both Warnke and Caner are Christian celebrities, Butler notes. While Warnke passed himself off as an “expert” in Satanism, Caner is seen as an expert on Islam. And they were both popular as speakers.

But more disturbing, Butler says, is the way their actions reflect on Christ.

Gene Clyatt says the Caner situation is “like watching a train wreck.” He tells of plans for a resolution that would call for the SBC to disfellowship Caner and the seminary until he repents.

Clyatt posted a draft resolution in the comments section of his post, which he concludes by asking Caner to repent and resign.

Meanwhile, questions asked of Caner go unanswered.

April 23, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , | 3 Comments

Mohammad Kahn’s request for answers re Ergun Caner

Mohammad Kahn, whose mocking videos have done a great deal to expose the hypocrisy of Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, has a few questions. Well-known Southern Baptist pastor Wade Burleson of Enid, Oklahoma, offered a forum in which to answer them. We perked our coffee here today using heat radiated by the resulting exchanges.

You may wish to watch one of the videos before visiting the steaming stream of comments:

April 18, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , | Comments Off on Mohammad Kahn’s request for answers re Ergun Caner

Was he or wasn’t he a Muslim?

The president of a Baptist seminary is under fire for discrepancies in his biographical information, including his Muslim background.

Baptist blogger Wade Burleson called attention Wednesday (April 14) to the dispute over Ergun Caner’s bio, citing posts in other blogs, especially FBC Jax Watchdog, who has called for Caner to resign as president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.

On Monday (April 12), Burleson wondered why Southern Baptist leaders were quiet about Caner’s troubles and also wrote about the issue in a post about the need to question leadership.

Caner and his brother, Emir, have close ties to Paige Patterson, former SBC president and now president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Caner previously apologized for calling the head of the International Mission Board a liar.

Jason Smathers says Caner is a “real ex-Muslim” in a post on the SBC Voices blog, but still calls on Caner to explain contradictions in his testimony, speeches and biography.

Matt Svovoda sums up the Caner situation in a separate post on the SBC Voices blog, listing several specific areas of concern.

The Watchdog doesn’t think much of Caner’s contention in February that he “never intentionally misled anyone.” The statement Caner released then can be found on the SBC Today web site, but the link that web site uses to the original statement is broken.

Clearly, a full explanation of the Caner discrepancies is needed.

April 15, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , | 1 Comment

Caner apologizes for calling Rankin a liar

The president of a Baptist seminary has apologized for a personal attack on the head of the International Mission Board.

Ergun Caner, the president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, said he got carried away while criticizing the Camel Method of outreach to Muslims, according to a report by Associated Baptist Press. Caner said the deceptive strategy meant IMB president Jerry Rankin is lying.

Caner said he admitted in a chapel service at the seminary that he made a mistake. He also sent Rankin a letter of apology.

“If you’re dumb enough to say something like that, you’ve got to be man enough to own up to it,” he said.

February 26, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , | Comments Off on Caner apologizes for calling Rankin a liar

Attack on the ‘Camel Method’ gets personal/political

It’s intuitively obvious why a former Muslim would criticize the controversial “Camel” method of evangelizing Muslims. But it is startling to hear a Southern Baptist theologian accuse the retiring head of a key mission board of lying.

Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va., is the latest to take issue with the evangelistic method promoted by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) International Mission Board as a way to reach Muslims.

Caner said on a podcast at the blog SBC Today that the “Camel Method” is heresy. He went on to say that the method is based on deception and that means Jerry Rankin, the president of the mission board, is lying.

Caner’s opposition takes on new light considering the wrestling for position brought on by Rankin’s upcoming retirement? Keep in mind that Caner and his brother, Emir, have strong ties to Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a major player in SBC politics.

In his book, Hardball Religion, former IMB trustee Wade Burleson says trustees loyal to Patterson tried to embarrass Rankin with the intention of removing him, according to a review by Baptists Today editor John Pierce.

In 2003, Patterson sent IMB trustees a paper questioning the mission board’s theological foundation. The document was written by Keith Eitel, then professor of Christian missions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where Patterson previously served as president and now dean of the School of Evangelism at Southwestern.

Ongoing efforts to discredit Rankin could convince trustees that a new direction is needed at the IMB. Perhaps one led by Eitel. Or someone else loyal to Patterson and his allies.

February 16, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , | Comments Off on Attack on the ‘Camel Method’ gets personal/political