Archive for May, 2010

Dr. Ergun Caner – Qualifications

May 31, 2010

While Dr. Caner may have embellished his autobiography, he does have a number of qualifications. In other words, while I think that what Dr. Caner has done is serious and needs to be addressed, I still think he has the necessary qualifications to be Liberty University’s Seminary President.

Dr. Caner’s qualifications occasionally come up in Liberty University materials. I have tried to review those to see the extent of Dr. Caner’s embellishments, if any. There appear to be few such examples. The following list of materials comes from a Liberty University document apparently from November 19, 2007 (link). While most of the information was verified, there were a few items that were either unverified, or whose accuracy is highly suspect.

  • BOOKS
    editor. Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2008.
  • 27 ARTICLES: Agnosticism, Animism, Baha’I, Buddhism, Christian Identity Aryanism, Church of Christ, Cultural Apologetics, Deepak Chopra, Global Apologetics, Historical Apologetics, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, LogicalFallacies, Mythology, Nature and Attributes of God, Reconstructionism, Secular Humanism, Seventh Day Adventism, Sikhism, Socratic Philosophers, Theosophy, Tibetian Buddhism, Tritheism, Types of Apologetics, Types of Sin, Zen Buddhism
  • with Mac Brunson. Why Churches Die: Lethal Poisons in Body of Christ. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2005. [Verified, about 220 pages]
  • When Worldviews Collide: Christianity against Religion. Nashville: LifeWay, 2005. [Verified, about 150 pages]
  • Christian Jihad: When Christians Kill. Grand Rapids: Kregel 2005. [Verified, with Emir Caner, about 240 pages]
  • Sacred Desk: Addresses of the SBC Presidents. Nashville: Broadman and Holman 2004. [Found “Sacred Desk: Sermons of the Southern Baptist Convention Presidents” B&H Publishing Group (May 2004), with Emir Caner, about 360 pages]
  • Sacred Trust: Sketches of the SBC Presidents. Nashville: Broadman and Holman 2003. [Verified, with Emir Caner, about 260 pages]
  • Voices Behind the Veil: Women in Islam. Grand Rapids: Kregel 2003. [Verified, about 220 pages, Caner is the general editor. He contributed an introduction and his wife contributed one of the chapters, about 5 pages and 15 pages respectively. Chapter 5 by Susie Hawkins becomes significant later in this list. The introduction, at pages 16-17 states: “This book also is written in a decidedly different fashion. We have attempted to allow each contributor to “speak in her own voice,” with the only editing being grammatical or textual. In each chapter, the reader will be able to sense the heartbeat of the author.”]
  • Out of the Crescent Shadows. Birmingham: New Hope, 2003. [Verified, with Emir Caner, about 160 pages]
  • More Than a Prophet: Islamic Objections to Christianity. Grand Rapids: Kregel 2003. [Verified, with Emir Caner, about 270 pages]
  • Unveiling Islam: Insider’s Look at Muslim Life. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2002. [Verified, with Emir Caner, about 260 pages]
  • Hills and Hearts of Gold. Atlanta: Brentwood, 1995. [Verified, about 445 pages]
  • Baker Cult Dictionary, H. Wayne House, editor. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008
  • 12 ARTICLES: Advaita Fellowship, Ahura Mazda, Ankh, Baha’u’llah, Buddhist Zarathushtra, Maulana Muhammed Ali, Muhammed, Sikh Dharma, Sikh Foundation, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Qur’an, Zoroastrianism [I found a book by a similar title that is planned for publication this year. I could not, however, find any book like this from 2008.]
  • ARTICLES IN PUBLISHED BOOKS
  • Apologetics Study Bible, Norman Geisler, editor. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, October 2007
  • 2 ARTICLES: Is Allah Identical to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?, How is Jihad Understood in Islam? [Verified, 4 and 6 pages respectively.]
  • The Last Sermon I Would Preach If Jesus Were Coming Back Tomorrow, Forrest Pollack, editor [Semi-verified, book has about 420 pages and Caner contributed, size of Caner’s contribution not known]
  • Bell Shoals, FL: Encouraging Word, August 2007 “Is God a Man or a Woman?” [I could not verify this, although one of Caner’s famous sermons has that title.]
  • ARTICLES IN ACADEMIC JOURNALS
  • “Voices from the Past; Voices for the Pew,” Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry. Fall 2004. [Verified, 16 pages, available here.]
  • “The Metaphor of the Veil,” Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Summer 2004). [I could not verify this. The closest result was “The Essence of the Veil: The Veil as a Metaphor for Islamic Women” by Susie Hawkins in the Spring 2004, there is no Summer 2004, issue of the JBM&W. (link to pdf of article)(link to html version of article)(link to entire journal issue) The title line has the following footnote: “This article was originally published in, and has been slightly adapted from, Ergun Mehmet Caner, ed., Voices Behind the Veil: The World of Islam through the Eyes of Women (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2003) 93-106. Used by permission of Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. All rights reserved.”]
  • “Disciplinarianism v. Complimentarianism [sic]: Contrasting the View of Woman from the Qur’an and the Bible,” Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Summer 2003). [Not verified. There is no Summer 2003 issue. The Fall 2004 issue has an article by Rob Lister that reviews Dr. Caner’s Voices Behind the Veil and mentions Ms. Hawkins’ article. (link to pdf of article)(link to html version of article)(link to entire journal issue)]
  • “The Doctrine of Holy War in the Hadith,” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. (Spring 2004). [Verified, under the title, “The Doctrine of Jihad in the Islamic Hadith,” with Emir Caner, 10 pages, available here]
  • “Answering the Purpose Driven Mosque,” Faith and Mission Journal. Fall 2003. [Verified except date, Fall 2002, abstract available here – see also “The Purpose Driven Mosque,” Fall 2005 Christian Apologetics Journal, abstract available here]
  • “The Exhorters Bench: The Call to Decision in the Preaching of W.A. Criswell.“ Criswell Theological Review. Fall 2002, 49-56. [“The Mourner’s Bench: The Call to Decision by Dr. W. A. Criswell” found in CTR, Volume 1, number 1, November 2003]
  • “Resurrection: Myth or Reality- Response to Bishop John S. Spong.” Faith and Mission Journal. Spring 1995, 82-92. [Not Verified – Appears to be a book review of Spong’s book.]

As noted above, these are the articles etc. listed here (link). The places where issues arose were:

  1. Baker Cult Dictionary: it appears that Dr. Caner may have contributed articles for this work and may have expected the work to be published in 2008. However, it does not appear that it published then or in 2009, and I cannot find any record that it has actually printed this year either. What’s odd is that in anther list of “Qualifications,” The date of the dictionary is given as “2004” (see this list).
  2. “The Metaphor of the Veil,” Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Summer 2004). This appears to be the work of Ms. Suzie Hawkins, not Caner.
  3. “Disciplinarianism v. Complimentarianism [sic]: Contrasting the View of Woman from the Qur’an and the Bible,” Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Summer 2003). I cannot locate anything that comes close to this. The closest article seems to be Ms. Hawkins’ article above, or perhaps the review of Caner’s book.

In an October/November 2009 “Faculty Focus,” I found a seemingly very accurate list of Dr. Caner’s many qualifications. This list omits all of the questionable or dubious items above, but includes one further item that list did not have, namely a book published in 2009:

“Holier Than Thou” Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2009. [Verified, about 110 pages]

Additionally, the list included some qualifications in terms of prior ministry experience. I’ve summarized and attempted to verify those qualifications as well:

Pastor
Youth Director, Manchester Baptist Church (KY)

Roger Williams
Pastor, Annville Baptist Church, Annville KY
Roger Williams holds an undergraduate degree from Cumberland College, Masters in Education from Eastern Kentucky University, an DMin from Southwestern Seminary and an Honorary doctorate from Liberty University. Williams is a Longtime friend of Liberty University and had the privilege of preaching the installation service for Dr. Ergun Caner as President of Liberty Theological Seminary.

Dr. Williams has pastored 7 churches in Kentucky and Ohio over 35 years of ministry. His 1st pastorate was Manchester Baptist Church, Manchester Ky and while serving this church had Ergun Caner as his youth director. Currently he serves the Annville Baptist Church of Annville, Ky and has been there 6 years.

(source)

While here, I really got my start in ministry. I preached in area churches on weekends, served in the BSU, and then got my first fulltime ministry job, as youth pastor at Manchester Baptist Church in Manchester, Kentucky.

(source)

Twenty-five years ago, I served as a youth pastor at a church in Kentucky.

(Holier Than Thou, page 67)

Pastor Associate and Youth Pastor, Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Vincennes, Indiana

Rev. Ergun Caner had been called in June of 1990, as Associate and Youth Pastor. He began the Powerhouse Youth Ministry which grew to over 100 youth, and ministered to the church membership until August, 1991.

(Source)

Pastor, Wood Baptist Church (Wood, NC)

Dr. Ergun Caner, now president of Liberty Baptist Seminary in Lynchburg, offered many of these challenges to his church when he was a student pastor at Wood Baptist Church, Wood, NC. His church averaged 60 in Sunday School. He actually had to do the sky-diving thing!

(source)

Compare:

In many ways, Ergun is an adrenaline junkie. He has parachuted, bungee jumped, parasailed, and scuba dived. On one occasion, he challenged his deacons at Wood Baptist Church in Franklin County, North Carolina, to a Bible study goal they had never acheived. The town of Wood had a population of 115, and though the worship attendance was equal to the town’s population, the Bible study attendance was averaging only 60. So his challenge was this: If on Easter Sunday the church had at least 115 in Bible study, then he and his associate pastor (brother Emir) would parachute at the area airport.

(pages 162-63 of Brunson and Caner’s Why Churches Die)

And again:

It was Ergun’s first Wednesday night prayer meeting at his new church. It was supposed to be part of the “honeymoon” period. Instead, it turned out to be a nightmare.

Walking into the sanctuary of that small country church, Ergun felt like he was in a dream. It was his first full-time church, complete with a parsonage. In a town of 115, the pastor would obviously be a central character.

(page 47 of Brunson and Caner’s Why Churches Die)

One of Emir’s biographies provides this description of Emir’s presence at WBC:

Interim pastor, Liberty Baptist Church, Hampton, Va., 2004-05; interim pastor, Wood Baptist Church, Louisburg, N.C., 1999-2001; other staff positions in Ohio, North Carolina, Texas.

(source)

And another provides this:

* Interim Pastor, Liberty Baptist Church, Hampton, Va., 2004-05
* Interim Pastor, Wood Baptist Church, Louisburg, N.C., 1999-2001
* Co-Pastor, Friendship Baptist Church, McKinney, Texas, 1996-99
* Other staff positions in Ohio, North Carolina and Texas
* Seminars, mission conferences, mission trips, revivals and addresses in a variety of settings including 25 states, Europe (including The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania), Asia (India and China), and The Bahamas.

(source)

Also compare:

After moving to North Carolina in August 1992, I ended up in my first pastorate! I pastored the Wood Baptist Church in Wood, North Carolina, in Franklin County, where I met my wife Jill. Loved it here, and it was only about a 45 minute drive to seminary.

(source)

Additional evidence in the “middle name” post (link to post).

Pastor, Central Baptist Church (Aurora, CO)

(Plenty of evidence from the era of the Littleton massacre, see the “middle name” post linked above.)

All in all, it is an impressive resume. While Dr. Caner may have embellished his autobiography at several points, he still does have qualifications that can be verified, in terms both of writing and pastor experience.

– TurretinFan

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Turkey, Many Wives, and Many Half-Brothers and Sisters

May 29, 2010

Lecture: “Don’t Mess with the Book” (mp3) dated 1/5/2009 according to SermonAudio.com

The recording of the sermon starts off with Ergun Caner making more claims about watching TV in Turkey (no Dukes of Hazzard mentioned as in other lectures). When the congregation laughs at his claim that all of America was like Mayberry he says, “it’s true” and when gets to the part about watching Georgia Wrestling he says, “this is a little embarrassing, but it’s true” and goes on to claim that he would get this wrestling show every two weeks in Istanbul for two hours. He even specifies the channel as “BEER-oo-key.”

Like a number of other countries, Turkey’s television channels were originally numbered channels. TRT 1 is the first channel, TRT 2 is the second channel, and so forth. More recently, with a proliferation of television, there have been additional channels. However, it appears that until 1986, it was just TRT 1 (TRT 2 began transmission in 1986)(TRT 3 began transmission in 1989)(TRT 4 began transmission in 1990)(and so forth).

My familiarity with Turkish is obviously limited, but the Turkish word for “one” is bir (apparently pronounced “beer”) and the Turkish word for “first” is birinci (apparently pronounced “beer-EEN-jee”). There is apparently a separate word, ilk, for the one-and-only, first-of-a-kind. So, it occurs to me that it is questionable whether there was a channel “BEER-oo-key” in Turkey before 1982 and whether or not Dr. Caner is simply mispronouncing birinci to try to provide some gravitas to the presentation of what otherwise appears to be a false story of growing up in Turkey.

This sermon is also one where Caner makes his infamous joke about women being behind the pulpit. He says something to the effect of that when people ask him about whether women should be behind the pulpit, he responds “how else are they going to vacuum back there.” The joke get the hoots and hollers of the crowd, although Caner goes on in the next line to point out that the feminists who advocate for women in the pulpit will not only learn his view on the subject, but will also refuse to talk to him about this for a while, which he views as a good thing. Some people have suggested that this is a “sexist” joke, but I don’t buy into that – he’s poking fun at feminism and feminists, not at women as women. I’m not saying it is a wise joke to tell from the pulpit, but it’s hardly a matter of major significance, compared to the other things we’ve seen.

In an interesting twist, in this same sermon, Caner suggests that the pastor who lead him to Christ, Clarence Miller, was a KJVO pastor. Caner even claims that Miller taught them to sing: “The B-I-B-L-E, and the version is the K-J-V, I’m going to heaven with the 1611, the B-I-B-L-E!” and then Caner followed that song up with another like it: “I dreamed I went to heaven, and I dreamed I went to hell, because you wouldn’t witness to me, I walked along the lake of fire and read the N-I-V.”

Later in the sermon, Caner states: “In my family, my father had many wives. I had many half-brothers and sisters.” (around 21:29 into the sermon) The only children that Acar Caner mentions in his will, however, are Caner’s two half sisters who were both the daughters of Acar Caner’s second and surviving wife (link to copy of will). At least, we cannot find any record of Acar Caner having any other wives except Ergun’s mom and the woman who married Ergun’s father after Ergun’s father and mother got divorced.

One interesting thing is Caner’s comment (around 43 minutes in) that “my grandma didn’t have 81 types of medicine, she had Bactine, Merthiolate, monkey blood, y’all know what I’m talkin’ about?” The comments suggests Caner was raised by his grandmother, although the rest of his references were to “mama” so perhaps it was just a misstatement by Caner.

– TurretinFan


UPDATE: In a lecture called The Gospel According to Oprah (mp3) dated 2/8/2010 according to SermonAudio.com, Caner makes similar comments around 30 minutes in suggesting that he was raised by (and even received corporeal discipline from) his grandmother in addition to his mother. Perhaps it is just a coincidence but he mentions them as being the ones who disciplined him.

N.B. It seems that some of materials I have been linking to have been disappearing from the sites where they are hosted. The same thing may happen to this sermon, but SermonAudio.com permits you to download this sermon at the link I’ve provided above.

UPDATE: to replace Mathylaid (sp?) with Merthiolate, thanks to John Bugay.

Early Testimonies of the Caners – 2002

May 29, 2010

In the following, I’ve tried to identify the relatively early post-9/11 testimonies of the Caners, as reported in the press:


A high school buddy invited Caner to a small church revival in Columbus, Ohio. His friend was not intimidated by Caner’s Muslim clothes or flawed English. And no one in the congregation ridiculed him with epithets of “towel head” or “camel jockey,” as he had heard at school.

(April 17, 2002, AP)


Born in Stockholm to a Swedish mother and Turkish father, Caner lived in Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt before coming to America as a missionary. His father was a muezzin, the official at a mosque who gives the call to prayer.

(April 17, 2002, AP)


When the Caner boys came into the world, their Turkish-born father, Acar, the man who called the faithful to prayer at the mosque, whispered in their ears the words they were to live by: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah.”

But they were living in Columbus, Ohio, far from Acar’s Sunni Muslim origins. After their parents separated, others were soon whispering in the Caner boys’ ears.

Ergun Caner, the oldest of Acar’s three boys, was the first to convert. He was 15 when he accepted a friend’s invitation to a weeklong church revival.

To him, his relationship with Allah was impersonal, ritualistic. The message he got at Stelzer Baptist Church was something completely different.

“Christ died for man. That was one thing for me to hear. It was quite another thing for me to hear that Christ died for me. Ha. Then it becomes personal,” says Ergun, now 35. “I thought this was good news for all Muslims.”

Instead of welcoming the news, Acar Caner told his son he no longer wanted to see him. When younger brothers Emir and Erdem (who now goes by Mark) went for visitation with their father, there was no talk of Ergun; their elder brother’s face had been cut from family photographs. Despite that, the two younger brothers soon followed Ergun’s path, with the same results.

(July 2, 2002, AP)


The Caners are convinced otherwise. As boys growing up in Ohio, the two converted to Christianity after being invited to a Baptist church in their neighborhood when they were teenagers. Their conversion cost them the love of their father, who disowned them for more than a decade.

Emir Caner said the break came at dinner one day when he was 12 years old. “I told him I could not pray to Allah anymore. I found Jesus Christ as my savior,” Caner recalled. “He said, ‘You either choose between me or your religion.'”

(Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2002)


But at 16, Ergun attended Stelzer Road Baptist Church in Columbus and says he found salvation through Jesus Christ. When he told his father, Acar made him choose. Ergun lost his earthly father, he says, by choosing his heavenly Father.

“My father thought what he was doing was an act of mercy by disowning me,” he says, pointing out that his father could have sent him to Turkey to immerse him in Islam. In other places in the world, he says, people who leave the Islamic faith are to be put to death.

“This was hard for me,” he says. “My father was my hero. My father was everything to me.”

Ergun’s two brothers would follow suit within 18 months. And just as he had done with his oldest son, Acar Caner broke ties with his young sons. Emir and another brother would go live full-time with their mother, who later converted to Christianity. The sons wouldn’t see the father again until days before his death.

(Dallas Morning News, September 14, 2002)


In 1999, they received a surprise call from a stepsister whom they had never met when their father was dying from cancer. They flew to Ohio not knowing whether he would want to see them, and they thanked God when he did.

“It was, of course, awkward,” Ergun says, noting that men from the mosque were also present. “We tried to share the gospel with him. He tried to share Islam with us, trying to get us back.”

(Dallas Morning News, September 14, 2002)


Some people have suggested that the earlier testimonies are more accurate than the later ones. It may be possible that Caner’s family lived very briefly in “Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt” before coming to the U.S. However, Caner himself was apparently two or three years old when the Caners arrived in America.

I do wonder whether the “15 years old” information is correct. That report is inconsistent with the November 4, 1982, date that is sometimes given, but it is consistent with the idea that Emir Caner came to faith on November 4, 1982, and that Ergun Caner was saved about a year earlier.

The “15 years old” information would be consistent with Emir’s “12 years old” information and a gap of one year between their conversions. However, it is not consistent with the “16 years old” and the “18 months” gap suggested by the final story quoted above.

In short, even if we go with only the Caner testimonies that are presented in the press in 2002, we already see a set of seemingly impossible to reconcile differences emerging.

UPDATE: Fredericka in the comment box has identified an article apparently from Connection Magazine, September 2002 (link to article).

That article says Ergun was 17 (which is even more inconsistent with the accounts above), “But he was raised in a strict Muslim home in Ohio and was a devout worshiper of Allah until age 17, when he was led to Christ through the witness of one of his high school friends.”

The article also indicates that Ergun lead Emir to Christ: “Caner in turn led to Christ his own brother, Emir, who today is a professor of church history at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.”

The article even quotes Caner thus:

“For the first 17 years of my life, I assumed that I was to be at war” with Christians, Jews, and other non-Muslims, Caner recalls. He adds that according to a conservative U.S. State Department estimate, there are currently 300,000 Muslims worldwide with that identical driving ideal – the doctrine of jihad.

Caner is also quoted claiming to have worn Muslim robes:

“It wasn’t through the eloquence of a preacher, or the beauty of a building that I came to Christ,” Caner explains. “It was through the simple witness of a high school boy who did not care that I wore my [Muslim] robes, and looked different, and spoke different, and had poor English. He did not care that I hung out with other Muslims because everyone else was an open enemy according to my faith. All he knew was that Jesus Christ had died for him and had died for me, and he was saved and he wanted me to get saved, too.”

That high school boy invited Caner to a four-day revival campaign at a local Baptist church in Columbus, Ohio, where Caner experienced the love of God for the first time. “That church loved me to the cross of Jesus Christ,” Caner recalls. “They were nice to me in spite of my open hatred toward them as Christians.”

For four days, Caner heard the good news that Jesus Christ was more than just a prophet of Allah as he had always been taught. He was God who came in the flesh to die for the sins of all people. By the fourth night, the 17-year-old devout Muslim was ready to become a new creature in Christ. Caner recalls that the pastor explained God’s mercy and grace in the simplest possible terms.

-TurretinFan

Haram Koran Handling?

May 28, 2010

The July 2, 2002, Associated Press article about the Caner brothers provides a very touching portion that shows the love of Acar for his sons, despite their departure from Islam (Republication of Article here).

Sitting in his office on the picturesque Southeastern campus at Wake Forest, Emir Caner flips open the cover of a thick blue book. It is the Quran his father, Acar, presented him from his deathbed in 1999.

“To my son Emir,” reads the inscription on the first page. “This is yours. Please take the time and read each word for you and for me. Your father.”

Let me anticipate one objection. Someone may say that this shows that Acar Caner did not completely disown his sons, because he still refers to Emir as “my son” and calls himself “Your father.” To me, that’s a trivial objection. All it shows to me is that he still loved his sons.

But there are two other things that cause me to raise my eyebrows. Acar Caner has been presented as an exceptionally devout Muslim. Perhaps one of my Muslim readers will be able to tell me whether (1) giving a Koran to a non-Muslim is permitted and (2) writing in a Koran is permitted.

I don’t claim to be a Islamic scholar, but both of those things strike me as inconsistent with the strictest and most devout forms of Islam. The rituals associated both with handling and reciting the Koran involve a large amount of outward purity. Giving the book to a non-Muslim (particularly an apostate Muslim) or writing in the book, just intuitively seem to be at odds with the kind of precautions Muslims are supposed to take with respect to the Koran (see some examples here). Perhaps one or more of my Muslim readers will be able to clarify this for me.

-TurretinFan

Dr. Caner’s Testimony Before 11 September 2001

May 26, 2010


Dr. Caner’s testimony before 2001 is something that his critics and allies alike would like to see, but finding a copy of it is proving elusive. (Photo at left, circa 2001, is hosted by middlecreekbible.org, I’m just linking to it.)

First, here are some post-9/11 testimonies.

Testimony on the 700 Club

According to a transcript, in one appearance on the 700 Club, Caner appeared to indicate that he was led to Christ, then his brothers, then his mother, and finally his grandmother.

What’s wonderful is that day my father disowned me, but both of my brothers accepted Christ. My younger brother teaches at a seminary, I teach at a Christian College, my middle brother is a strong Christian and a member of a church, our mother accepted the Lord and is married to a church planter, and my grandmother accepted the Lord right before she died.

(Source)

Testimony in Unveiling Islam

The Caner brothers’ book, Unveiling Islam states that Jerry Tackett was “an active member at Steltzer Road Baptist Church.” Jerry invited Ergun Caner to revival services there. (Unveiling Islam, p. 18) Unveiling Islam goes on to state that on some unspecified day, which was a Thursday, Ergun came to Christ. Then, at a later unspecified date, Erdem came to Christ in the basement of “their home.” Next, “the following year,” Ergun invited Emir to a revival service. It states, “On November 4, 1982, Emir was born again.” The book goes on to state that “In 1982, Ergun surrendered to the gospel ministry. It was the last time he saw [his] father for seventeen years. Acar disowned his sons … .” (Unveiling Islam, p. 19) Unveiling Islam later states that it was Jerry Tackett who led Ergun to Christ and that it was Clarence Miller, the pastor of the Steltzer Road Baptist Church, who led Emir to Christ (Unveiling Islam, p. 21).

Testimony on the John Ankerburg Show

On the John Ankerburg show, Ergun Caner states that “a year later” than his own conversion, both his brothers accepted Christ (link to clip).

Testimony in Sermon “Church House to Jailhouse”

On the “Living with Joy” Radio interview, Ergun stated:

Finally he invited me to a revival. And so I walked in to Stelzer Road Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio in full gear with a coat on. … I stepped out of the second pew, walked to the front. Clarence was preaching and he had his eyes closed. “What?” I said, “Isa bin Allah. I believe Jesus is God. I want saved.” And he said, “Could you wait for the invitation?” I said, “No.” He led me to Christ standing in front of the whole church. … I went home and told my father. I said, “Abi, I am born again. I’m saved.” It was November 4, 1982 and it was the last day I saw my father. … A year later both my brothers got saved.

(transcript here)

Testimony of Tim G.

Tim G. has claimed to have some inside knowledge of the Caner situation. He states:

The man who led him to Christ is still alive. Clarence Miller. He has attended all his inaugurations and graduations. If he or Emir were two white boys lying about being devout Muslims, do you really think he would abide that?

(source)

Interestingly, Tim G. also claims that Ergun Caner’s mother was adopted, that she was not Swedish, and that the name of Ergun’s grandmother is “Maria Eleonora Lindberg” the woman to whom Unveiling Islam is dedicated. Other things that Tim G. says (such as the reference to Ergun’s two half-sisters) appear to be accurate. (Wade Burleson identifies Tim G. as Tim Guthrie, later in the comment box.)

Before 11 September 2001

However, before 11 September 2001, what was Ergun’s testimony? It is hard to say. The image below (which I’m linking to … it’s hosted at archive.org) states that “Ergun Caner is the son of a Muslim clergyman. He was led to Christ by his grandmother and is currently completing his Ph.D. at the University of South Africa.” The accompanying April 2001 newsletter states: “As you will see in the brochure, Dr. Caner is the son of a Muslim clergyman. His grandmother led him to Christ, after which his father disowned him.” (source)


There are some inaccuracies in the poster for the conference. For example, Dr. Caner was at that time apparently studying for a Th.D. not Ph.D, and his father was not a Muslim clergyman, as far as we can tell.

-TurretinFan

Caner’s Old Biography Photos

May 26, 2010

One of the troubling things that Dr. Caner has done was to post the following three photos, with the captions set forth below each.(source)

Caption: “Dr. Caner Reading in Mosque”


Caption: “Dr. Caner in the Mosque with his father.”


Caption: “Dr. Caner in the Mosque youth group holding a rifle.”


There are a few problems with these photos. First, in the top picture one can clearly see that the boy is wearing shoes. Normally Muslims remove their shows on entering a mosque. Second, in the middle picture, the man shown is not Acar Caner, the father of Ergun Caner. Also, again notice that each of the boys is wearing shoes. It’s less clear whether shoes are being worn in the third image – the boy on the left does appear to be wearing shoes. Finally, the “rifle” in the bottom picture appears to be a BB gun, such as one of the models shown in this advertisement:
Returning again to the third picture, note that there is no obvious safe backdrop for a real rifle to be used. However, if you look very closely, you will see above the elbow of the boy’s left arm an unusual shadow that could be the shadow of the horizontal portion of a small shelf or stand, or it could be a shadow of a paper target held in the boy’s hand – or any number of things. It’s really not clear. Such a target or stand would be consistent with playing some sort of shooting/target practice game, although the target and the support for the target is more or less completely obscured by the boy at left. Perhaps someone with sharper eyes than mine can make it out.

– TurretinFan

(Please note that I’m not hosting the photos here, just linking to them at archive.org – they don’t appear to be under copyright, but if someone has a claim, please be advised that the hosting site is archive.org – I think that the use here is still “fair use” in most jurisdictions)

The Credentials Issue

May 26, 2010

Essentially, some folks have raised the spectre of Dr. Caner claiming a false PhD and/or DMin degree. Considering that Dr. Caner did earn a ThD, I’m not sure how serious this charge is, but I’ve tried to identify the relevant evidence below.

In 2003, when Ergun Caner was moving from Criswell College to Liberty University, the Baptist Press reported the following:

After receiving a B.A. from Cumberland College, Caner received the M.A. from The Criswell College, M.Div. and Th.M. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and completed a D.Min. at Emmanuel Baptist University and a D. Theol. at the University of South Africa.

(source)

In 2005, Caner’s personal website stated:

Caner has three Masters Degrees and two Doctorates, the Doctor of Theology coming from the University of South Africa.

(source)

In 2005, when Ergun Caner was made dean at Liberty University, the Baptist Press reported:

Caner holds a doctor of theology degree from the University of South Africa in Johannesburg; master of divinity and master of theology degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.; and a bachelor of arts from Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Ky.

(source)

At the same time, World Net Daily ran an article by Jerry Fallwell that stated:

In the years that followed, Dr. Caner surrendered to the Gospel ministry and continued his education. He received his Bachelor of Arts in biblical studies and languages in 1989 from Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Ky. In 1992, he received his Master of Arts in history from The Criswell College in Dallas, Texas. In 1994, he received his Masters of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and in 1995, he completed his Masters of Theology at Southeastern. In 2000, Dr. Caner received his Doctor of Theology from the University of South Africa in residence in Johannesburg.

(source)

B.A. Biblical Studies and Languages, Cumberland College: Williamsburg, KY (1989)
M.A. History, The Criswell College: Dallas, TX (1992)
M.Div., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary: Wake Forest, NC (1994)
Th.M., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary: Wake Forest, NC (1995)
Th.D., University of South Africa: Johannesburg (2000) (Dissertation: “Bellum Sacrum vs. Bellum Justum” – Source for title of dissertation, which dates the degree to 2001)

You will notice that the later sources I’ve identified above omit reference to a second doctorate. The first source above, however, identifies as a second doctorate:

D.Min., Emmanuel Baptist University

In this screenshot (link to screenshot) one can see Dr. Caner’s web page claiming a Ph.D. (if you don’t the screenshot, visit Amazon.com and read the author profile for “When Worldviews Collide“)

Dr. Caner’s answers in 2009 seem to admit that this D.Min. was honorary:

In the world of evangelical ministry, honorary degrees abound. The founder of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, received a number of them. In fact most public speakers get them. I have two- a Doctor of Ministry from one school, and a Doctor of Sacred Theology I received last year.

However, note that the list does not include any PhDs or any explanation of claims for a PhD.

“I’ve dedicated my life to education. The only reason I went to college is because I didn’t know nothin’ about the Bible after I got saved. So I went down to Williamsburg, KY, to a little college there, and just kept going. I got a B.A., an M.A., an M.Div. a Th.M, a D.Min. and a Ph.D and guess what, God ain’t impressed.” (around 46 minutes, 25 seconds into this sermon)

– TurretinFan

N.B. Mirele has studied this issue as well.

Ergun Caner’s ThD Thesis / Dissertation

May 26, 2010

I understand that at the University of South Africa they call it a “thesis” rather than a “dissertation.” Nevertheless, in investigating Dr. Caner’s educational claims, I was able to locate evidence of publication of the thesis, though not under the precise name Dr. Caner had provided: Bellum sacrum: the development of the Holy War of the first crusade in light of Augustine’s Just War criteria. (source) It is 416 pages (208 double-sided leaves) and was published in 2003, under the name Ergun Mehmet Caner by the University of South Africa. I did verify that it is available in the library at the Main Campus (apparently) in Praetoria and that it was given with respect to a doctorate in theology (source). If any of my South African readers have the occasion to stop by that library and confirm that the Internet data is correct, I’d be most appreciative.

-TurretinFan

UPDATE: Peter Lumpkins has posted this image purporting to be the title page of Dr. Caner’s thesis:

Note the 2003 date, which makes me think this is the published version of the thesis that I had previously mentioned, as opposed to whatever version he provided in 2001 when he supposedly matriculated.

Ergun Caner on the Pastor’s Perspective Show Compared to Other Testimonies and Evidence

May 26, 2010

On January 22, 2010, the Pastor’s Perspective aired the show that can be found at the following link (source)(found among the other Pastor’s Perspective shows here). This is the source of Dr. Caner’s infamous comparison of the Jerry Springer Show with formal debates (link to Dr. White’s response to that comparison).


  • “Twenty-seven years later I’m still amazed at His grace.” (around 1:50) (suggests conversion took place somewhere between 1/23/1982 and 1/22/1983)

(compare his claim to have been saved at 18 => November 3, 1966 + 18 => November 3, 1984)


  • “I am neither Persian nor Arab – I’m Turkish, so we’re Anatolian” (around 2:50)

Confirming:

Lecture: The Gospel According to Oprah (mp3) dated 2/8/2010 according to SermonAudio.com

“In Turkey, we have Persian, Arab, and Anatolian, I’m Anatolian, and in the Anatolian world the man is not in the birth room, the man is in another room.” (around 12:15 into the sermon)

Compare:

The vast majority of the e-mails, numbering over six hundred, were from grateful Americans, many soldiers, who felt that their voices were not being heard. Mothers and fathers of soldiers who felt grateful that an article would run, supporting our troops from someone like me, a Persian Turkish immigrant and former Muslim.

(source – Article by Ergun Caner)

(Also compare this Zola Levitt Episode titled, “Dr. Ergun Caner: An Arab-Christian,”)

  • “They won’t dilute. Islam is Islam – and that was me coming to America: a fiery young man – all three of us, the three sons from our mother – all three of us devout Muslims – our father just this hero to us and when I converted – disowned by my family – completely disowned – father cut me out of the pictures – a year later both of my brothers became believers.” (around 10:10)

(Compare with the evidence that Caner came to America as a toddler.)


  • “We decided that we would write under our own name.” (around 10:40)

Compare this discussion (link). I think, though, that Caner’s point is just that he didn’t hide from the Muslim persecutors. In this regard, his courage is to be praised. I would classify this as a simple misstatement, if “Mehmet” is not his real name.


  • “After I lost, you know I lost my family, what else can you lose? I lost my family, my culture, my language, my people, I knew nothing.” (around 12:45)

As far as we can tell, Dr. Caner lost only his non-custodial father (see appeals court decision of 2/6/1979 mentioning the custody issue). While this is a significant and tragic loss, it appears that Dr. Caner is exaggerating.


  • Question to Ergun: “Now how was it that your brothers came to faith? Was it through your witness to them or …”

    Ergun: “No, it was through the work of others. It was through the work of others. I was disowned. And I find out that my brothers had become Christians – I’m in college. And so it is what I hammer a lot, about the anonymous, the silent, behind-the-scenes, in the shadows kind of Christians who literally do the work that guys like ourselves cannot do. They speak to the hearts of people. And both my brothers had their own issues with Islam.” (around 13:05)

Confirming this:

“A year later I’m in college, I find out both my brothers got saved.” (2009 Value Voters Summit, around 16:11 – scroll down to the correct video)

But Compare:

Ergun’s brothers, however, listened. Erdem accepted Christ in the basement of their home. Ergun then invited Emir to a revival service the following year. There, for the first time in his life, Emir heard that God loved him and desired to have a personal relationship with him. Though he had been to church before, this was the first time he could recall hearing a preacher speak openly and honestly about the exclusivity of the gospel. Only through the blood of Jesus, spilt on the cross, can someone be saved. Yet the preacher also spoke compassionately about God’s desire to save everyone. Although there was only one way, the path was open for all who would believe. On November 4, 1982, Emir was born again.

In 1982, Ergun surrendered to the gospel ministry. It was the last time he saw our father for seventeen years. Acar disowned his sons, although it could have been worse: according to hadith 9.57, all three of brothers should have been killed.

(Unveiling Islam, page 19)

And again:

You guys ever hear a first sermon? I went up there with about that many notes, about 4 hours of preparation and lasted seven minutes. You know. I was like, “Jesus – uh – the Devil – uh – lets sing 842 verses of ‘Just as I am.'” But you see, at the invitation, both of my younger brothers stepped out. Both my younger brothers got saved.

(Prestonwood Sermon at around 18 minutes 30 seconds)

– TurretinFan

H.T. Thanks to BruinEric for bringing this mp3 to my attention.

One of Myriad Little Details – the Toledo Mosque

May 25, 2010

The big picture, that Ergun Caner is a real ex-Muslim is true, but Dr. Caner has muddied that issue with what appear to be a myriad of details that are inconsistent and difficult or impossible to reconcile with one another. One is left wondering where the fiction ends and the fact begins. Here’s an example.

“I drove up that highway to go to the mosque in Toledo every Sunday.” (40 minutes, 50 seconds into the testimony here)(Note that, according to Google Maps, it is a two hour, thirty minute drive from Gahanna, OH, to Toledo, OH, today. Marion, OH – Emir Caner’s Birthplace, is about a one hour, forty minute drive to Toledo, OH)

Entering high school, Ergun was a typical young man, except that he was a devout Muslim. Even through the divorce, our parents had maintained our rearing in the Mosque. Each weekend, we would travel to Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio, where our father had helped found the Islamic Foundation. The mosque in Toledo was too far a drive, so the Foundation Center was established. Father did the call to prayer on occasion.

(Unveiling Islam, p. 17)

And further compare:

Since 1970, the Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio (IFCO) has been serving the educational, social and religious needs of the Muslim families of Central Ohio in the United States of America.

(source)

And based on the portions of “One Faith, One Heart” that I’ve read, it seems to be the case that Acar Caner was involved in the founding of the Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio in 1970. (article available here)

But there is another twist:

The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo is the 3rd Mosque ever bult in America. It has been around since the early 50s and since 1981 has been located off of I-75 in its current iteration. … It was not until 1954 that Toledo’s first Islamic Center was built on East Bancroft Street, near downtown, fulfilling the needs of the Muslim Community. With the influx of many more Muslims to the Greater Toledo area in the late sixties and early seventies, the Bancroft Street Center could not meet the religious and social needs of its members. After much deliberation and soul searching, it was decided to build a bigger and better facility in order to meet the ever increasing needs of our members. The present new Center in Perrysburg Township had been in the planning for over a decade. … In 1978, forty-eight acres of land was purchased in Perrysburg Township. The foundation of the Center was laid in October 1980, while the actual construction did not begin until September 1982. The building was officially opened on October 22, 1983. Two wings were added in 1991 to accommodate increased enrollment in the weekend school and to expand the social hall facility.

(source)

But then in the same sermon that started this post he says:

We came to America in ’78 when Ayatollah Khomeini said, “We will not stop until America is an Islamic nation.”

(at 41 minutes 15 seconds in this sermon)

One is simply left wondering what to think. Not all of those things can be true, as far as I can see. And it is hard for Caner to mistakenly think he came in 1978 instead of 1970 or earlier. It is hard for Caner to accidentally think that Toledo was too far to drive, or vice versa to think he drove there every week.

– TurretinFan


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