Official Statement from Dr. Ergun Caner
Originally Published on Thursday, 25 February 2010 21:43 at SBC Today.com
The following is a statement from Dr. Ergun Caner, President of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, regarding the recently renewed accusations and criticisms of his life and ministry. He issued this from his website erguncaner.com Thursday evening, February 25, 2010. We have reproduced it here, by permission of the author, for your convenience.
STATEMENT RELEASED ON 25 FEBRUARY 2010:
Recently a concerted effort has been made by a small group of professing believers, joined with a particular Muslim that posts videos, questioning my conversion, and the conversion of my brothers. And, what saddens my heart immensely is, this small band of professing Christians have now cited the Muslim's videos as reason to attack my testimony as well. Indeed, the Muslims have used clips that attempt to show that through two decades of ministry and hundreds of sermons there exist discrepancies in my testimony. In all honesty, I probably could have saved them a lot of time and trouble. The truth is, I would be surprised if no discrepancies were discovered, given the hundreds of messages I have given during all that time!
Nonetheless, while normally it is wise to ignore these types of attacks, the Muslim's videos- now surprisingly being cited by professing Christians- have sadly produced such ardor that I feel the need to speak to the issue. This has been done repeatedly to Muslim converts, but in this instance, I bear some responsibility to clarify.
I was born in Sweden, with a Turkish father and our mother who was a Turkish citizen.
I was born and raised a Sunni Muslim, just like my brothers.
I was led to Christ at the Stelzer Road Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio,
just like my brothers.
Now, on to the other issues:
Every minister has made pulpit mistakes. Being called a "liar," however, is a serious charge, especially when it is made by Christians. That would indicate that (1) the accusers can know the motives of the accused person's heart, and (2) the accused person intentionally misled people.
I have never intentionally misled anyone. I am sure I have made many mistakes in the pulpit in the past 20-plus years, and I am sure I will make some in the future. For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better.
A second question raised concerns debates. One gentleman believes it is misleading to call my interaction with people from other faiths and world religions "debates." Since his definition of debate is limited to moderated, formal debates, that is his prerogative. He can call them whatever he wishes. My podcasts are readily available online through this website. If he finds them less than satisfying or helpful, then he does not have to listen to them. I do not offer them for his approval or his attention. Please feel free to look elsewhere. God has been gracious to call many Christians to practice evangelism and apologetics in a variety of ways.
The truth is, several evangelical apologists employ the "formal" debate template and are very effective in their presentations. Norman Geisler, Gary Habermas and William Lane Craig come to mind. Nevertheless, I will continue to do exactly as I have done. In fact, in order to attempt a measure of peace, I am more than happy to call my engagements "interviews," or even "dialogues." Since this is historically my method of choice, I shall continue to offer these podcasts here, for the edification of those who care to listen.
However, I would caution all evangelicals that no single method meets consensus. Nor is there only one exclusively biblical model. Certainly there is much good to be found in formal debates, and I also believe that there is enough room for all types of interaction. In fact I believe there is great value to be found in all forms, including conversational and informal methods.
Finally, there is a legitimate complaint which I must address, namely, referencing a Muslim scholar that I have never met. Listening to the audio, I honestly have no idea who I was referencing, but it certainly could not have been the man I referenced. For this unintentional but nevertheless horrible mistake, I repent for saying his name, and I ask the forgiveness of all those who heard it. Sin is sin, and if I am dumb enough to say something like that, I should be man enough to deal with it and aim to never make such a grievous error again. This applies to any time when I wrongly used names. I shall be more careful.
As for the countless other volleys aimed at discrediting the work I do, I am unsure how to respond. If my pronunciation of Arabic phrases is not correct, then I apologize. The language of my lineage is Turkish, not Arabic. Even Arabic dialects differ regionally, such as Jordanian and Egyptian. Indeed, 80% of the Muslim world does not speak Arabic, so I doubt anyone will be fully satisfied at this juncture. I must add, however, the misguided attempt by Muslim apologists to discredit converts to Christianity is not limited to me; in fact it seems to be standard operating procedure. I do not believe I can do anything to stop these attacks. All I can do is continue to teach as I have for years, and continue to serve the Lord with the best I can give.
A FINAL WORD ABOUT THIS CURRENT SITUATION:
Criticism is many times helpful. In this particular instance, it has enabled me to correct the careless mistakes I addressed above. Nonetheless, I want to be clear about this current situation. This constant stream of criticism, blogging and berating is not acceptable between believers. I am as guilty as anyone else in instigating such things over the years, but these personal attacks are too much. I shall not participate in this anymore. This is absolutely of no interest to me. So, may the Lord judge between us.
To all who are reading this, I want you to know- I am a clear example of a person who is constantly in need of God's grace. Because Jesus Christ died on the Cross for the world, that includes all of us. He died to forgive my sin, and resurrected to give me life. He did the same for you. When I repented of my sin, and put my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, He gave me new life. He can do the same for you. We are all sinners, and in need of forgiveness. If you will trust Jesus Christ and turn from your sin, you can find forgiveness and freedom from all the guilt that is upon you. Jesus loves you.
When Dr Caner first published this statement, I predicted men like James White and Mohammad Khan would not find it acceptable in any way. I was right. White continues to harass and hound Ergun Caner over three years after Caner publicly apologized. It's hard not to conclude only a deep-seated personal hatred could fuel a crusade to decimate one man's character and life. Even so, Dr. Caner should under no circumstances give in to White's deplorable cyber-bullying tactics in attempting to force Caner to apologize for something he did not do. Namely, while Dr. Caner conceded he'd made misstatements concerning his life, by no means does it follow Dr. Caner created a fictitious past in order to dupe the public which is what James White and his attack crew are suggesting. The fact is, Dr. Caner's life is well-documented in the numerous books he's published, books White and others completely ignore when criticizing Caner. If ever there's been a one-sided assessment of a person's life, it's the completely bogus, uncharitable assessment James White and Muslims like Mohammad Khan have concocted from a selective compilation of Caner's quotes.