UPDATE: there's been considerable chatter from JD Hall's defenders that I "cleverly" misused an article I quoted to make Hall out to say he regretted and decided to stop what Hall confessed was a "muckraking campaign" against Ergun Caner when Hall, they claim, said no such thing. This claim serves as the quintessential example as to why one cannot reasonably take, at face value, the claims Caner critics like JD Hall, James White, Thom Rich, and a host of others make about their subjects. Inevitably, they skew the record. And ironically, they skew the record only to claim the other person is skewing the record!
Let me show you what I mean.
Note the statement in the article below, the statement that White and/or others claim I "cleverly" used to make JD Hall claim something they insist he most cetainly did not:
According to an article in the Christian Post, Hall reportedly said he had "decided to stop pursuing a decade-old muckraking campaign against Braxton's father, Ergun." The article went on to record Hall's claim concerning "death threats" he received since he went underground.
Now, compare the above statement I wrote with the Christian Post article I quoted below:
A Baptist preacher under fire for engaging in a Twitter clash with Braxton Caner, the teenage son of pastor and Brewton-Parker College President Ergun Caner, weeks before he reportedly committed suicide, expressed deep condolences to Braxton's family Thursday and suggested that he has decided to stop pursuing a decade-old muckraking campaign against Braxton's father, Ergun (emboldened added).
In response to their jaded complaints, I quoted the article, and what the author of the article itself concluded--namely, that Hall said or suggested he'd decided to stop a decade-old muckraking campaign against Ergun Caner. I neither implied nor stated what JD Hall actually said. I made this clear in the statement. "According to an article" and Hall "reportedly said" are very specific rhetorical phrases routinely used in mainstream media to suggest the evidence or claims being made are dependent upon the validity of the sources being cited.
Hence, if Hall, White, or any number of others wants to fault someone for "cleverly" misusing words, they should fault the Christian Post. But, of course, critics other than Hall cannot legitimately fault the CP; Hall defenders don't know what Hall indicated since they presumably were not privy to the interview the CP had with Hall. Hall himself can claim fault for sure since he probably remembers what he said. So, perhaps the CP did misquote or misunderstand what he meant. Granted. However, what's that got to do with anyone who makes a factual statement accurately quoting what the CP claims? Namely, according to the CP article, Hall reportedly said he's stopping a decade-old muckracking campaign against Ergun Caner? Would Hall, White, or another dispute the CP article I quoted does indicate Hall suggested he was stopping a decade-old muckracking campaign against Ergun Caner? That Hall can claim the CP got it wrong, we fully and gladly grant. But the issue is, whether I got the CP article wrong. I did not.
Once again, therefore, Caner critics are visibly unfair in their criticisms against their opponents. For this reason alone, the public would be well-served to systematically resist the continued claims of cyber-stalkers, "watchdog" critics, or other internet critics obsessed on morally and publicly condemning and destroying other people and/or their ministries. Their agenda inevitably surfaces to the top when one examines closely their continued claims.
We read a bit of good news today (Sat. August, 9). Montana pastor, JD Hall claimed he's backing away from his campaign to destroy Ergun Caner's ministry. According to an article in the Christian Post, Hall reportedly said he had "decided to stop pursuing a decade-old muckraking campaign against Braxton's father, Ergun." The article went on to record Hall's claim concerning "death threats" he received since he went underground.
Assuming the media got Hall's claims correctly, Hall wrongly states that within 48 hours, he had put up an apology for engaging the 15 year old Caner teen on Twitter.
"I feel it [is] unfair to call my brief interaction with Braxton an 'attack.' I apologized for my interaction with him within 48 hours and still stand by that apology. Unfortunately, it has been said that I 'cyber-bullied' or 'stalked' or 'harassed' Braxton," said Hall in response to questions from The Christian Post Thursday.
In addition, Oklahoma pastor, Wade Burleson, claimed similarly Hall had posted an apology "less than" 48 hours after Hall engaged the late Braxton Caner: "I did not know JD Hall, so when I read Peter Lumpkins, I went to JD Hall's blog to read what he had to say about the Twitter exchange with Braxton. Surprisingly, I read an apology. When I looked at the time line, I noticed that the apology was posted less than 48 hours after the Twitter exchange took place."
Burleson says when he examined the time line, he surprisingly discovered it to be "less than 48 hours" that an apology was offered for his engagement with the young Caner. Really? And where would Burleson find the "less than 48 hours" at? The twitter discussion between Hall and Caner began approximately noon on Tuesday, July 2. I put up a piece criticizing Hall for his horrifying interaction with a teenager, Jul 02, 2014 at 05:19 PM entitled "Time to Stop Social Media Abusers." Hall put up his "On Caner's Son" sometime later since he alludes to my piece in his (beginning of 5th paragraph). The time line (time stamp on the posts), therefore, is absolutely of no use in determining Hall's apology was "less than 48 hours" after the Twitter exchange since Hall's post merely indicates it was posted "July 2, 2014 JD Hall · The Pen."
Moreover, the apology to which Burleson points has no time stamp indicating when the apology was added--Yes, the apology was added after Wednesday evening, July 2 when Hall posted his original piece. But reading Burleson, one does not get the impression Hall added the apology to his original post. How, then, does Burleson conclude Hall apologized for his engagement with Caner "less than 48 hours" after the exchange? The only thing I can figure is, Burleson got that information from his conversation he had with Hall on this past Sunday not the apology Hall posted online, the apology Burleson quoted.
But again, Hall also claims in the Christian Post article he apologized within 48 hours of his Twitter exchange with Braxton Caner. So, Burleson was correct? Not so fast.
While there was no time stamps on the apology, there surely were some words both preceding Hall's apology and within the apology which gives us a fairly good indication when Hall added his apology to his original post. Consider the introductory words Dustin Germain offered for the apology as well as the first few words from JD Hall within the apology:
It's fairly easy to conclude the apology was added sometime on Monday July 7 (a comment on my site corroborates Monday). Thus, neither Burleson nor Hall seems to get it right as to when JD Hall supposedly apologized. Why this is important will become evident when we see what JD Hall did do within 48 hours and it was not an apology.
On his internet podcast posted Friday July 4th (within the 48 hours Burleson indicated), JD Hall gave an extended defense of his Twitter interaction with the young Caner. Thanks to The WartBurg Watch, a transcription of Hall's words is available online. Below are a few of Hall's claims about his exchange with Braxton Caner. The reader can determine if Hall sounds convinced he felt he should apologize for his interaction with Braxton Caner (all embolden added):
Well, almost immediately you had outrage. Um, how dare you attack his son? Why go after his son? Uh, or why yeah my favorite one – why attack a child? First of all, let’s let’s settle this – he’s not a child. If you’re old enough to post what this young man was posting and to do it publicly in the public marketplace of ideas for all the world to see, you’re old enough to handle someone saying yeah this is this is not right, this is profane, you shouldn’t do that.
Well, again, instant outrage. How dare you try to turn a child against his father. Um, listen, his father is in no uncertain terms an unrepentant liar that has made a living speaking lies about his own conversion. Um, yeah, once again, we’ve talked to people that were in the room uh when he was supposedly converted. Um, this young man needs to, for the good of his own soul, um, see demonstrated for him an actual gospel with demonstrable repentance.
Um, we need to call out sin, and we need to call out public sin. That’s what we need to do. Um, I don’t see a a Biblical age on that.
Uh, should he [his dad] have been the one to call out his son? Um, obviously. But because he [his dad] didn’t doesn’t mean I can’t. But I what I want people to (inaudible) you say I attacked. Define attack. He posted a make-out pic and profanity on his Twitter. Is that an attack? Vicious? And you know or some that would say, well you you’re using his son against him. I’m using his son’s public behavior to demonstrate the immorality that surrounds Ergun Caner and the lack of holiness that he’s spreading to his children.
His son is grown up enough to put profane things out there in public. I pointed people people to it. And yes, I think it’s relevant to [Ergun] Caner. You don’t think it is? I, good, we we disagree, we disagree.
Um, I, I, here let me start here, do I have anything to repent for? Well, you repent of sin. And I ask people repeatedly, what is the chapter and verse that tells me this fifteen year old man’s public sin can’t be addressed publicly?
Um, O.K. I, I sound like a jerk. Great. Do you have a chapter and verse as to why sounding like a jerk is sinful? Why can’t I address this young man’s public sin publicly? And why doesn’t it reflect upon his father, particularly when his father is well aware of his public behavior, when his father is in charge of leading children his age? Why is that not relevant, and why can’t I say it? Well, kids are off limits! Great! You got a verse that says that?
Now do I have anything to repent for? Well, again, repent implies sin. You give me a chapter and verse as to why that’s sinful, not distasteful in your opinion.
Let me say this. I don’t have a problem saying this. I absolutely regret Tweeting that, um not because it was unfair, it was not at all unfair, not because I went after him quote unquote with a vengeance. I in no way went after him with a vengeance. Um, because it’s distracting from the actual issue. Uh, it sent us on a wild goose chase; it got us off the main point. Um, so yeah, was it unwise? Sure, sure, I got distracted, I chased a rabbit. Uh I apologize for that, but being distracted and chasing a rabbit is not a sin unless you give me a chapter and verse.
Rather than apologize within or less than 48 hours after JD Hall interacted with the late Braxton Caner on Wednesday, July 2 as both Hall and Burleson claim, Hall made the above statements on his July 4th internet podcast for everyone to hear. We regret Wade Burleson didn't take the time to listen to JD Hall's words before he put up a misleading post about Hall's apology. We also regret Hall misled the Christian Post into believing he apologized within 48 hours.
Finally, we note a closing point which needs addressing. The question must be raised as to whether Hall ever apologized at all--at least to the deserving parties. Let me be clear: I'm not talking about demanding a detailed apology. Far too many of us reject someone's contrition or confession because it's not detailed enough to personally suit us. I learned a long time ago not to attempt to write another person's confessional. Thus, we should not be quick to reject one's attempt to make amends.
The problem with Hall's apology is not that it lacks either detail or signs of regret. Rather it's the object of Hall's regret which lacks authenticity. Note exactly what Hall regrets. He does not regret his exchange with Braxton Caner because it was wrong to morally attack a 15 year old boy, exploiting a minor to address the alleged immorality surrounding Ergun Caner. Rather, as JD Hall indicates in his own words--I apologize because I got distracted and chased a rabbit.
Let such an apology sink deeply into your mind and think on it awhile.