Archive for the ‘Links Rich’ Category

Ergun Caner, Sri Lanka, and an Embellished Autobiography

May 15, 2010

One of the many errors attributed to Dr. Ergun Caner is an error that he made with respect to Sri Lanka. At the 2009 Value Voters Summit Dr. Ergun Caner spoke (scroll down through the videos at this link to find his near the bottom). During this conference he stated (at 15 minutes into the presentation): “In 36 countries around the globe, including Sri Lanka, it is a punishable offense by death for a Muslim to convert.” And then again at around 19 minutes into the presentation, “Sri Lanka puts my people to death. We are Murtad – we are converts.”

Here are the problems:

  1. Sri Lanka is not a majority Muslim nation. The vast majority are Buddhists, with a sizable Hindu minority. Muslims and professing Christians each make up less than ten percent, and are groups that are about the same size. There appear to be about forty-eight majority Muslim nations in the world, about thirty-seven of which appear to have some form of Sharia.
  2. Sri Lanka has some religious persecution, from what I’ve found. However, sites like “Voice of the Martyrs” report a small number of killings there, and those killings are murders.
  3. Specifically, Sri Lanka does not have Sharia law and does not punish conversion (although it does punish those who force others to convert, a provision sometimes apparently applied wrongly against Christians). Apostasy is an offense punishable by death under the most literal form of Sharia, but Sri Lanka does not have Sharia.
  4. While Sri Lanka does have capital punishment on the books (for crimes like murder, rape, and drug trafficking), from what I can tell their last official execution was in 1976 (although there are allegations of war crimes that Sri Lanka denies).

So, it seems clear that Dr. Caner made a mistake. This mistake was made in connection with concern that Dr. Caner had for another ex-Muslim, Rifqa Bary. His concern was well-intentioned but apparently misinformed. Frankly, we have no reason to think that this error was a lie, and I hope none of my readers will come away saying that I said Dr. Caner lied about Sri Lanka. He made a mistake. He apparently made a mistake as well about the number of majority Muslim nations.

The root of the problem may simply be that Dr. Caner is not really an expert in Islam. Growing up having a Muslim father gives one more of a background in Islam than not growing up with a Muslim father, all things being equal, but the same is true of having a Christian father. Simply having a Christian father and even growing up in a church doesn’t make one an expert on Christianity.

Undoubtedly Dr. Caner has more knowledge of Islam than the typical evangelical, but unfortunately he’s being presented as though he were an expert. And sadly Dr. Caner is contributing to this by apparently exaggerating or embellishing his Muslim background.

In the same speech, he also made a number of troubling autobiographical statements:

  1. at 3:30 “My father was an ulima in the Mosque” (questionable: there is no evidence that his father was actually an ulima, sometimes Dr. Caner claims that his father was a muezzin, sometimes an ulima, sometimes both)
  2. at about 3:50 “My father had other wives” (questionable: the evidence is that his father had one other wife, a woman he married after he and Ergun’s mother were divorced)
  3. at 4:00 “We were devout Muslims” (questionable: there is little evidence that suggests that the Caner boys were devout Muslims – there is strong evidence that their Mother, who had their primary custody, was not a devout Muslim)
  4. at 4:10 “We were devout, keffiyeh-wearing Muslims.” (doubtful: There is no evidence of either Ergun or his Father or brothers ever wearing a keffiyeh. There are photos of them not wearing a keffiyeh, however.)
  5. at 4:45 “As a freshman, devout Muslim kid” (questionable: There is no evidence that Ergun was a devout Muslim in high school.)
  6. at 5:50 “going to the Mosque on Jumu’ah” (doubtful: there is no evidence that Ergun went to the mosque for prayer every noon on Friday – that would have required him leaving school during the day, and remaining out of school for the length of the prayers – ten minutes or more – plus the ten minute drive each direction – it’s possible, but since there is evidence that his custodial parent, his mother, did not support his being raised in Islam, it seems unlikely that this happened)
  7. at 6:50 “it was as devout as it gets” (doubtful: see above)
  8. at 9:20 “Jerry Tackett started in our freshman year and he kept coming for four years” (false/misleading: from what we can tell, Dr. Caner was converted either in his Junior or Sophomore year, perhaps earlier – from what we can tell, Jerry did graduate with Dr. Caner, but the impression given is that it was four years of witnessing that lead to Dr. Caner’s conversion)
  9. at 9:50 “Going into my senior year I finally decided to challenge him” (false: from what we can tell, Dr. Caner was converted before his senior year – also see below where he claims he was converted in 1982, which is either the first part of his junior year or the latter part of his sophomore year, assuming he’s stating the right date)
  10. at 15:00 “That night I went home and I told my father, ‘Baba, I’m a born again Christian,’ and my father disowned me, 1982.” (questionable/misleading: Dr. Caner lived with his mother throughout the school year on school days – and while he may have told his father immediately, there is some evidence from his other that he did not, there is also reason to doubt that the year was 1982, it appears it may have been 1981 – it is true that his father disowned him)

From the evidence that we’ve seen, it appears that some of the statements Dr. Caner made about his autobiography are false. There are also a significant number of statements that he made that are doubtful or questionable. In some cases it is hard to say with any certainty whether they are false. I am sure that for some of Dr. Caner’s supporters, this is good news: it’s hard to prove that Dr. Caner wasn’t a devout Muslim (isn’t devotion somewhat of a subjective, internal matter, to least to some extent?), and it may even be challenging to prove that he was not one who was “as devout as it gets,” since it is hard to quantify devotion, even in Islam.

It’s hard to prove he didn’t get excused from school every Friday for a half hour or more to attend prayers at the Islamic Foundation on Broad St. It’s also hard to prove that Caner and his family did not wear headscarves. It’s hard to definitely prove that Dr. Caner’s father was not an ulima.

I realize that some will read the examples above and think that perhaps he was just having a bad day, or perhaps I’ve isolated statements that are not representative of his speeches. The good news is that some of his speeches have relatively few of these sorts of remarks, others have more.

Here are some examples:

“Church House or Jail House?” North Alabama Bible Conference-2005 (Dr. Ergun Caner speaking) afternoon of January 12, 2005 (link to audio).

We’ll skip over the issues in the introduction, since that’s not Dr. Caner himself speaking, although there are some incorrect statements and Dr. Caner does not take the time to correct them.

  1. at about 5:50 “came to this country in my teens” (false – he came to America as a toddler, as shown by his mother’s affidavit)
  2. at about 6:50 “I did wear keffiyeh” (questionable: see above)
  3. at about 7:20 “Our father was a muezzin in the mosque and an ulima” (questionable: see above)
  4. at about 7:30 “We wore keffiyeh; we wore robes” (questionable: except that they may have once or twice worn robes – see this photo (link to photo) note that Dr. Caner’s website had identified this as being a photo of Ergun and his father, though the man in the photo looks much older than Dr. Caner’s father.)
  5. at about 8:20 “Somewhere around fifty times a year my brother and I do debates with Muslims, Baha’i, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, on college campuses” (questionable: see my previous discussion of Dr. Caner’s debates)
  6. at 15:50 “He is from Johnston County, NC, from a city entitled, and this is the name of the town, ‘Possum Kill'” (joke/idiom – I’ve included this one simply because others have raised this an objection – see discussion here)
  7. at 17:10 “I said [to his father-in-law], ‘There’s no cotton in sand, Dad.'” (He may have said this, but he doesn’t appear ever to have lived in a sandy desert area.)
  8. at 49:30 “I always lived in majority-Muslim countries and then I came to America” (false: he was born in Sweden which has never been a majority-Muslim nation, and there is no evidence that he lived in any other nations besides that (for 2-3 of his first years) and the U.S. for the remainder.)
  9. at 49:42 “He [Caner’s father] had many wives” (doubtful: We can only identify Dr. Caner’s mother and the woman to whom Caner’s father got remarried. In his will, Dr. Caner’s father lists as offspring only the children from those two marriages.)
  10. at 49:50 “Every debate I’ve ever had, the Muslim, ‘Ah you do not understand Islam, you need to understand the Arabic,’ What’s next? That was my language before English.” (false/questionable/doubtful: Arabic was not his language before English. He was born in Sweden, but came to the U.S. apparently at 2-3 years old. His family may have spoken Swedish and/or Turkish, but they do not appear to have used Arabic, aside from the rote prayers. Finally, in the email exchange that Dr. Caner had with Nadir Ahmed, the closest thing to a debate with a Muslim that we can document Dr. Caner having – see here for more discussion of Dr. Caner’s debate, dialogs, and discussion – Nadir did not raise the issue of Arabic language knowledge, although I have heard Muslims make similar claims in debating Dr. White.)
  11. at 55:00 “I kept telling him, ‘No,’ for three years” (doubtful/misleading: Notice that above Dr. Caner had claimed 4 years. If the 1982 date that Dr. Caner has claimed is correct, and if Jerry Tackett started to talking to Dr. Caner in Caner’s freshman year, then the actual time was a little under two and a half years. However, there are reasons to think that the real year was 1981, which would make it a little under one and a half years (According to page 19 of their book, Unveiling Islam, Ergun invited Emir to a revival service “the following year” and Emir was born again on “November 4, 1982”).
  12. at 1:03:15 “I went home and told my father. I said, ‘Abi, I am born again – I’m saved.” It was November the 4th, 1982, and it was the last day I saw my father. ” (false/questionable/doubtful: It was not the last day he saw his father. When his father was dying, he saw him again. There is really no way he could forget about seeing his father on his father’s deathbed (his father died in 1999). Additionally, the date is questionable. That date is also alleged, as noted above, to be the date of Emir Caner’s conversion, but his conversion was allegedly a year later than Ergun Caner’s. Also, as noted above, the evidence suggests that Dr. Caner lived with his mother, not his father.)
  13. at 1:04:00 “My father disowned me as an act of mercy. Church became my family. You know those kids who show up who don’t smell really nice – don’t look good – got two different kind of shoes – back in the day of wally baby and the bus ministries – if it weren’t for the bus driver I wouldn’t be here – if it weren’t for for an 80 year old Sunday school teacher that for some reason wanted to teach high school boys – I wouldn’t be here. I was a church orphan. A year later both my brothers got saved. All three of us born again.” (questionable/misleading: It may well be that Dr. Caner’s mother did not support his conversion to Christianity, but his father disowning him did not leave him an orphan. His mother had primary physical custody of him according to the court records we have. Note, however, that he maintains the idea that his brothers got saved a year later. This is consistent with what his book says, although it would mean either that he got saved in 1981 or his brothers got saved in 1983. What is truly remarkable is that I have yet to see any account from his or his brothers where they give any date for conversion other than November 1982, yet they continue to mention that they were saved one year apart.)
  14. at 1:05:20 “In 1991, my mama got saved. In the baptistry took off her hijab.” (doubtful/misleading: We know that in the 70’s Dr. Caner’s mother was opposed to a motion from Dr. Caner’s father that would have required Dr. Caner to be raised a Muslim, and there is no evidence that Dr. Caner’s mother continued to wear hijab once she was in the U.S., if she ever wore it. The evidence is that Dr. Caner’s mother was not a practicing Muslim from some point in the 70’s onward. That does not make her baptism in the 1990’s less, but it is sad that Dr. Caner appears to have tried to suggest that she was a devout Muslim woman up to that point.)
  15. at 1:14:10 “There was a time when I was cool. 18 years old, foot-long Muslim mullet hanging off the back of my head. And I drove a Camaro … and women would just jump in the thing, forget the little towel-headed, olive-skinned boy …” (questionable/misleading: Dr. Caner was no longer a Muslim by the time he was 18. He had something of a “punk” hairstyle in high school, but not (as far as we can tell) either foot-long hair or a mullet (UPDATE: Some folks tell me that one of the hairdos in this recent post constitutes a mullet.), and there is no evidence that we’ve seen that he wore a keffiyeh, indeed, around the hour mark he specifically claimed to have taken it off as a symbol of his conversion. I have no doubt that there was a time when Dr. Caner was cool – he still seems like he would be a fun guy to hang out with.)

A couple more examples can be provided:

Here is a video from Dr. Caner:

(download here)
As you can see, he’s a good, compelling speaker. Much of what he says is actually good and helpful. Much of what he says about Christianity is good and actually much is probably more monergistic than he intended. However, when it comes to Dr. Caner’s autobiography, there is an inconsistency.

Dr. Caner states (around 1 minute in): “Finally, my senior year in high school to show him, I walked into this little church.” Dr. Caner’s senior year of high school was 1984 (link to site showing his class list). However, in his book, Dr. Caner claims to have surrendered to the gospel the ministry in 1982 (link to book page). Even if that was December of 1982, that would be in Ergun’s junior year of high school, and that’s when he allegedly surrendered to the ministry, not when he got saved.

Here’s a second video:

(download here)
Here he claims (early in the video): “And in every country where I had lived, we had always been in the majority. I am Sunni. About 90% of the Muslims in the world are Sunni. That includes the Wahabi, which is a subset, which is what Bin Ladin is. But I had never been around Christians.”

He also makes an error with respect to when Mohamed’s first alleged revelation came, it was when Mohamed was 40 years old, but not on his birthday.

Later in the video (around 11 minutes in) he claims: “And starting in my sophomore year in high school, he just wouldn’t let up. All the way through, almost my senior year, ‘Dude – you wanna come to this … ‘.”

Later in the video he appears to confuse Shabir Ally (still living) with Ahmed Deedat (famous Muslim apologist who is now deceased).

At about 19 minutes 50 seconds in, Dr. Caner states that on “November 4, 1982” he got saved. However, as you’ll note at the link to his book above, that’s the same date that the book claims that Emir got saved and the book claims that Emir was saved as a result of the fact that “Ergun invited Emir to a revival service the following year.”

And around 21 minutes in, Dr. Caner states that “A year later, both my brothers got saved.” This is the same year gap as in the book, but now it makes it sound as though Emir (and Erdem) got saved in 1983, not 1982, or possibly Dr. Caner got saved in 1981 (his sophomore year), not 1982 (his junior year).

You’ll notice that these last two examples, which are all I’ll post for now, have far fewer autobiographical issues than those above – and they are still enjoyable to listen to. The man is quite a speaker – he really knows how to work the crowd. Unfortunately, it seems that his comments about his own Muslim background or about Islam in general are not always strictly accurate.

– TurretinFan

Caner Materials

March 7, 2010

Some folks have suggested that Ergun Caner’s critics are getting their material from a Muslim “hate site.” To those folks, I’d like to provide links to Ergun Caner himself speaking or writing, or to general or Baptist press reports of what he has said.


November 2007 NW Baptist Convention (Number 1)(Number 2)

Sermon: “The Greatest Day in Church” (CD for sale, streams for free)

Transcript of “Christian Jihad” interview on CBN (link)

Transcript of “What Do Muslims Believe” (four part series on the John Ankerburg Show)(link to pdf)

Interview for SBC Today (link)

Prestonwood Sermon (link)

Two Sermons from each of Ergun and Emir (link)

Three Ergun talks (link)

Pastor Lloyd interviews Ergun Caner (link)


Living With Joy Radio – “Ergun Caner: From Islam to Christianity”
Part 1 – November 2, 2009
Part 2 – November 3, 2009
Part 3 – November 4, 2009

Interview on “For Faith and Family” (August 27, 2007)

FRC Action Speech (September 2009)(you have to scroll almost to the bottom of the speakers to find Caner)

Discussion on Islam in Seattle (not sure the date)
Islam 101
Islam 201
Islam 301

Zola Levitt Appearances (dates are the first dates of airing – I don’t know whether they aired live or were pre-recorded)

Episode: “Behind the Veil” with Ergun Caner
Part 1 – April 18, 2004
Part 2 – May 2, 2004

Episode: “Dr. Ergun Caner: An Arab-Christian”
Part 1 – June 23, 2002
Part 2 – June 30, 2002

Signs of the End 2001: “Now a Christian” (Ergun Caner)
November 4, 2001 [Update: 3/8/2010 – I’m having trouble with this link]

Episode: “The Darkness That Nearly Engulfed Us”
October 21, 2007 [Portion of the episode with Caner begins about 19 minutes into the clip.]

Craig von Buseck Interview (at CBN)

Pat Robertson Interview (on the 700 club) “Islam Unveiled”
Transcript Another? interview transcript

John Ankerberg Show
“Is Islam Opposed to Democracy and Christianity?” (May 30, 2004)
“Former Muslims Testify About Islam” (2003)

Undated/Unsourced Video of Caner (link) [Caution: some of the ads on the hosting site are unsavory.]

July 6, 2002, Associated Press Article

Baptist Press article regarding “What the Media Get Wrong About My People Every Time,” by Ergun Caner (June 16, 2004)

Former Muslim Discuss Conflict In the (July 30, 2006)

When Worldviews Collide : ‘We either adapt or die’ (August 16, 2006)

How Muslims Become Christians – John Ankerberg Show (not sure what date)

What The Qur’an Says About Non Muslims? – John Ankerberg Show (not sure what date)

What Do Muslims Believe? (12 part series – not sure what date)

Caner’s Old Biography Photo Page(apparently captured in 2004)

Caner’s Old Biography Page (apparently captured in 2005) (Another version of Caner’s Old biography)

WayBack Machine Archives for main page (various times)

(thanks to Fusion! for the three links above)

WayBack Machine Archives for all material at (various times)

Caner’s Glossary of Arabic Terms (apparently as of 2005)

Caner’s Topical Index of the Koran (apparently as of 2007)

Caner’s Article titled, “Dirty Little Secret” (apparently as of 2005)

Photo Allegedly of Ergun and his Father (retrieved 2004)

Photo Allegedly of Ergun in a Mosque with a Rifle (retrieved 2004)

Churchhouse To Jailhouse – Ergun Caner (part 1)(part 2)(part 3)(part 4)(audio set to a slideshow of still images)

The Threat of Radical Islam – Ergun Caner (part 1)(part 2)(part 3)(part 4)

Patristics Resouces

May 27, 2009

I realize that there are some of my readers who follow the blog via Google Reader (or other feed readers). Those who do so may not specifically have noticed that I have two sidebars on the blog: one is a list of links to indices of notable patrologies (collections of writings of the church fathers) and another is a link list of the five most recent entries at Ancient Voices, a non-interactive blog that reports quotations that I find interesting from various of the church fathers – one per day at the moment, although I’d like to increase the frequency at some point.

The current list of indices for patrologies is as follows:

Likewise, the current list of the five most recent entries at Ancient Voices is as follows:

Hopefully these resources will help those who are interested in hearing what our predecessors in the faith (as well as some heretics who falsely claimed our faith) already had to say about Scripture. It is also useful for those interested in investigating the historical claims that are sometimes bandied about, and to clear away many myths that prevail regarding the church fathers and their beliefs.


Excellent Recent Posts on Calvinism

December 16, 2008

Here are some excellent recent (well, they were recent when I first drafted this post – they still seem pretty good) posts on Calvinism.



Southern Presbyterian Virtual Library

August 9, 2008

I suppose that the three great Southern Presbyterian Theologians may be identified as James Henley Thornwell, Robert Louis Dabney, and John Lafayette Girardeau. I have attempted to provide below as complete a virtual library of their works as can be accessed as complete works for free. Obviously, there are fragments from these men scattered in numerous other places on the Internet, and there are additional reprintings of their works that are available at a cost. If any of my readers happens to know of links to additional free, electronic copies of the works of any of these gentlemen, please let me know.

James Henley Thornwell

Robert Louis Dabney

John Lafayette Girardeau

To the glory of God,


Bentlism vs. Exclusive Psalmody

August 3, 2008

I ran across this post (link) which provides a useful pair of videos. If you are not already sick to death of Bentley’s demonic anti-Christian “revival,” you may want to watch the first clip in its entirety (especially the reminder at the end). Otherwise, for the point I am making, you need only to watch the first minute or so of each. The post is provided by the blog titled (in this case somewhat unexpectedly) Let My People Read, by someone who is more charismatic (in both senses) than I am.

Now, for the comparison, watch the video embedded in this post (link).

One form of worship shows us the imitation of the world: the other shows the transformation of the world. One video shows man-made worship: the other inspired worship. One is the logical conclusion of strange-fire innovations in worship: the other a restoration of Orthopraxy.

Thankfully most folks who reject the Regulative Principle of Worship (or who consider the lyrics of praise merely an element) do not take it to this absurd logical conclusion.


P.S. It’s worth noting that the Psalms are still sung in “Orthodox” churches, normally (if not always) as the Apostles would have done in the synagogues, a capella. There have been some innovative additions in the song of EO worship as well (various Troparia, for example), but less addition is found there (in that regard) than one finds in a typical church that has innovated more freely. A post today by the Romanian Orthodox poster, Lvka provides some examples: (link – there may be some objectionable icons in some of the still images that accompany the audio in the clips Lvka has embedded).

The Backwoods Presbyterian on the Second Commandment

July 9, 2008

Benjamin P. Glaser, at The Backwoods Presbyterian has an interesting and informative series of articles on the subject: Images of the Godhead and the Second Commandment

Part 1 – Introduction

Part 2 – What do the Magisterial Reformers Have to Say Concerning Images?

Part 3 – What do the Magisterial Reformers Have to Say Concerning Images? (Cont.) (Including a quotation from the real Francis Turretin!)

Part 4 – Westminster Divines and of the Puritan writers on Images

Part 5 – Theologians of the 19th Century on Images

Part 6 – Bahnsen on Sources of Anti-Nominianism

Part 7 – John Murray on Pictures of Christ

Part 8 – Lesson from Ancient Israel

Part 8 (Cont.) – Application


Saint and Sinner – Hard at Work

April 27, 2008

Saint and Sinner has been hard at work providing well-composed, concise responses what he characterizes as “High Church” arguments:

The Infallible Knowledge Argument

The Doctrinal Chaos Argument

The Argument from Apostolic Tradition and Succession (Related: The Influence of Greco-Roman Culture on Early Christianity)

The Argument from Canon Certainty

Most of his arguments/assertions seem reasonable. Even though I might quibble here and there – adding in one place and taking away in another – his posts show a lot of effort and systematic thought on the issues.

I hope you enjoy!


Old but Good Books from Google

April 26, 2008

There are a remarkable number of good old books available in whole or in part at Google Books. Here is a list of a few that I have come across recently.

I’ll begin with the what seems to me to be the gem of the collection (links are to Google Books except as noted otherwise):

Ridgley, Thomas – A Body of Divinity, being the substance of Lectures on the Larger Catechism (vol. 1)(vol. 1 – second copy); (vol 2)(vol. 2 – second copy) (pdf/txt/main from Archive); (vol. 3); and (vol. 4)(vol. 4 – second copy)

Watson, Thomas – A Body of Practical Divinity, Consisting of more than 170 Sermons on the Shorter Catechism, 4th Edition (link)

Tenison, Thomas – Popery Not Founded on Scripture (vol. 2)

Usher, James – Eighteen Sermons Preached in Oxford (link)

Gillespie, George – Treatise of Miscellany Questions (link)

Charnock, Stephen – Two Discourse: Of Man’s Emnity to God; and Of the Salvation of Sinners (link)

Sedgwick, Obadiah – Humbled Sinner Resolved what he should do to be Saved (link)

Beveridge, William – Theological Thesaurus (link)

Mather, Samuel – The Figures or Types of the Old Testament by which Christ and the Heavenly Things of the Gospel were Preached and Shadowed to the People of God of Old (link)

I cannot vouch for every word of each book, but they are generally books that have proven their worth over time.

Sola Deo Gloria!


Dr. White’s More Recent Debate

April 15, 2008

While Ponter’s colleagues are raising a tempest about Dr. White’s debate with Steve Gregg, Dr. White has recently concluded another debate: this one against a Muslim opponent.

Here are a couple of crowd reactions to that debate, and even more to some informal discussion Dr. White provided after the debate at a local restaurant:

Fusion! reports at Let My People Read
Glenn Hendrickson reports at Glenn’s Blog (brief) (more depth) (notes from Dr. White’s opening)
Pastor Wyman reports at Walking Together

Here’s the report from Dr. White’s opponent, Jalal Abualrub and basically a repetition from one of his supporters (Rasheed Gonzales). Also, some Muslims have provided comments on the debate in the comments on Jalal’s site, here.

And here are two clips from the debate (Dr. White’s opponent promises to make the entire debate freely and publicly available – we’ll see if/when that happens):

First Segment

Second Segment

Third Segment

May God bless the Muslim community with knowledge of the truth, repentance from sin, and faith in Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, and Savior of the world.


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