New Biography for Caner

There is a new biography of Ergun Caner posted at Liberty University’s website. It is only five sentences long, but two of the five sentences in the biography are troubling. The first troubling sentence is this: “Raised as a devout Sunni Muslim and the son of an Islamic leader, Caner came to faith in Jesus Christ in 1982, and was subsequently disowned by his family.” It’s troubling because its wording is misleading.

Mr. Mohammad Khan has responded to that sentence this way:

the part about his father being an islamic leader is a lie too.

a mu’athin is merely somebody who gives the call to prayer. not an islamic leader.

even if you read his book – unveiling islam – you will read that his father only gave the call to prayer “on occasion” – he is not even worthy of being called a mu’athin. ergun is basically lying his way out of another lie.

Mr. Khan’s criticism is excessive, but makes some valid points. Caner’s father apparently occasionally (not constantly) served as müezzin (the Turkish equivalent to مؤذن mu’aḏḏin identified by Khan above). That person does lead the call to prayer, and consequently is (in some sense) a leader. Thus, it is not an outright lie. However, a müezzin is not a religious leader, in the sense that an imam is a leader or (in a Church) a pastor is a leader. The expression “Islamic leader” may not strictly speaking be a lie, but it is similar to calling someone who occasionally led congregational singing a “Christian leader.” It conveys an impression that is not accurate.

The statement “devout Sunni Muslim” is also troubling. Caner’s numerous embarrassing mistakes on details of Islam do not suggest that he was a particularly devout youth. Obviously, the claim “devout” is hard either to prove or disprove, so it is difficult for us to evaluate with any certainty whether this is true. It is a troubling claim because of the errors that Dr. Caner has made when speaking about Islam, errors that suggest (but don’t prove) that Caner was only a practicing Muslim, and not a particularly devout one.

Finally, the statement “disowned by his family” is troubling. It is clear from the records we have, both from Caner’s own statements and elsewhere, that only Caner’s father disowned him and not his whole family. Saying he was disowned by “his family” suggests that the entire family (or most of the family) disowned him, when – in fact – it was just his father. Furthermore, in Caner’s specific situation, namely that he was living with his mother who was divorced from his father, it is even more odd to characterize the situation as “disowned by his family” when only his non-custodial parent disowned him.

The second troubling sentence is this: “For the past twenty years, he has debated leaders in twelve major world religions, including Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Bahai, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many others.” It’s also troubling because it appears that the wording is not simply misleading, but false.

Again, this word “leaders” is troubling. Does it simply mean people who have served in any official or semi-official capacity within those religions? Here’s a challenge for Liberty University: name and provide the leadership credentials of even one leader of each of the twelve religions that Dr. Caner has debated. That may be asking too much. Perhaps they could just one leader he’s debated for each of the six religions they listed.

Indeed, as has been previously noted, we’ve scoured the Internet looking for any evidence of any formal debates between Dr. Ergun Caner and anyone at all, much less any “leaders.” The Encyclopedia of Religious Debates doesn’t identify any debates, and the one “debate” that Dr. Caner himself has identified is simply an e-mail exchange with Nadir Ahmed, who is certainly an apologist for Islam, but is not necessarily a “leader.”

I should note that, by contrast, Dr. White actually debated Nadir Ahmed on the topic: “Can We Trust What the New Testament Says about Jesus and the Gospel?” on March 21, 2008, in Norfolk, VA – You can watch that debate here: (link). Sam Shamoun has also actually debated Nadir Ahmed – his topic was “Is Islam a religion of Peace?” and took place on November 3, 2007 at Hope International University, Fullerton, CA (you can watch it here). I’m not sure anyone would call Nadir a “leader of Islam” and I’m not sure whether an email exchange is really a “debate” but let’s be generous to Liberty University and permit them to count this as the “Islamic leader” for this category. So, all they have to do to meet the challenge of demonstrating the truthfulness of their claim is to identify the Buddhist, the Taoist, the Bahai, the Mormon, and the Jehovah’s Witness “leaders” that Caner has “debated.”

I have no doubt that people who are adherents of each of those religions has discussed religion with Dr. Caner. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dr. Caner has tried to defend Christianity against college students who represented even more than a dozen world religions (as well as atheist and agnostic college students) and that’s great.

Incidentally, Dr. Caner’s new autobiography on his personal website is less troubling. The only questionable item I observed there was his claim to have been raised a “devout Sunni Muslim” when, in fact, “devout” may be a little strong.


P.S. Thomas Twitchell has stronger words about the situation (link) and is the place where I found Mr. Khan’s criticism (in the comment box there).

4 Responses to “New Biography for Caner”

  1. Mohammad Khan Says:

    Great article Francis. Well done :)Just a very quick point regarding your saying of "That person does lead the call to prayer, and consequently is (in some sense) a leader."A Mu'athin isn't really a leader, not even in some sense. There are at times, many young children even at the age of 7 or 8 who give the call to prayer, that doesn't really count as being a leader. We have relatives who are merely average Muslims who give the call to prayer at home – if I were to say they were "leaders" or "islamic leaders" in any sense whatsoever, I would be a liar. Overall, I enjoyed reading your post. Well done.You may want to see Ergun's message sent to the faculty at his university at this link too:

  2. natamllc Says:

    uhhhga!The more I read about this guy the more I sigh, "uhhhga"!Here might be a counter balance to it and to what I am sensing is the error here?Php 3:17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. Php 3:18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Php 3:19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. Php 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Php 3:21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. or1Co 1:29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. or1Co 3:21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 1Co 3:22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, 1Co 3:23 and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. or1Th 2:3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 1Th 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 1Th 2:5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: 1Th 2:6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. and one final reference of Scriptures, of many more I could post hereon:2Th 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2Th 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2Th 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 2Th 1:4 Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. It just seems to me as I dig into this whole controversy, Canner is more inclined to seek vain-glory for himself, drawing attention to himself and his familial accomplishments by sticking himself out in front; and there doesn't seem to be anyone in the supposed Christian organization, at Liberty University, that has published this new biography of him, that want to direct attention to the Glory of the Lord instead of him?Hmmmmm?There just isn't a sense of the Holy Spirit leading gently one of His called out ones to a selfless lifestyle, such as the examples all through Scripture.I am not supposing him to be of the dark force. I am supposing immaturity and lack of sense for humility and a demonstrated desire to bring Glory to God for the good things He has done for him instead of what we experience with him when we encounter him by various mediums.Oh, well, just one more then, hopefully this comment isn't to long and will post without redacting it?Rom 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Rom 15:5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, Rom 15:6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Rom 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Amen!!

  3. Rhology Says:

    Did anyone see Wade Burleson's post today?

  4. natamllc Says:

    Rholthanks for the tip. I went there after reading your question!

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