Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Christians ought to tell the Truth! (updated)

We, as Christians, follow Him who is the Truth. As such, we ought to be truthful. It is therefore profoundly disappointing to read this. Not overly surprising, but definitely disappointing. Liberty University has not "exonerated" Ergun Caner. If he was innocent of all wrongdoing, then he would have been retained in post as president and dean of the seminary. These are not merely honourary posts, at least if Liberty functions like a secular University. The deanship is no sinecure, the dean has many responsibilities. The president functions as the public face of the seminary. For Ergun Caner to have been removed from the deanship and presidency is a real demotion, and indicates that the Seminary leadership are in fact convinced that there was real wrongdoing on Ergun Caner's part.

So for the SBC Today blog to say: "This matter is behind us and we praise God that Dr. Caner is exonerated as he is retained at Liberty on faculty." is simply delusional, a failure to face facts. Men are not demoted wen they are found to be without guilt! We can all be glad that there have in fact been real consequences for Ergun Caner as a result of his falsehoods. What we all look for now is a statement from Caner apologising for what he actually did wrong.

As far as I am aware, the issue in Christian circles has never been that Caner was never a Muslim, it is that he claimed an expertise in Islam that he never possessed. It seems that the SBC today blog has forgotten this, and read only the words, "The committee found no evidence to suggest that Dr. Caner was not a Muslim who converted to Christianity as a teenager," without going on to read that he was nevertheless found to have uttered factually incorrect statements about his past. It is therefore less than completely honest to act as if the only real charge was that brought by certain Muslins, that Ergun Caner was a "fake ex-Muslim."

What is at issue, though, is whether or not he was ever a devout Muslim, whose father was a scholar. Many people bought Unveiling Islam because it was written by an ex-Muslim, a former insider with knowledge not available to those outside of Islam. I was one of them. If the book had merely been marketed as written by two Evangelical scholars of Turkish origins, I would not have bought that book. And herein lies another point - Ergun Caner has profited from his deception. His demotion will have brought with it a cut in salary. Unless Liberty is engaging in extremely dishonest behaviour (and there is no indication that they are), Caner will suffer financially.

Now, will he please put an end to this whole saga and make a public statement of repentance for the wrongdoing that led to his demotion? A pattern of embellishment has been recorded, and that pattern can only be denied by shutting one's eyes to reality.

Like Ergun Caner, I was converted out of a false religious system - liberalism. But most of my in-depth knowledge of liberalism comes from after my conversion. Why? Because I was a liberal in the pew, not a serious student of liberal theology. I freely admit this. Yet I attended a liberal Anglican church until 1998, and was confirmed in that tradition, with Bishop Montefiore's Confirmation Notebook, a volume that I have jokingly said teaches its readers how to say the Apostles' Creed without meaning a word of it. There is no evidence that Dr. Caner's knowledge of Islam was any greater than my knowledge of liberal theology was at conversion. I am no expert on liberalism. I was converted at 18, he was converted at 15 or 16 (I can understand that he might be a little hazy about the date, I was until I checked up on some immovable date-markers in 1998).

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