By Noted Christian Leaders
Released July 9, 2010
Converted Muslim, Dr. Ergun Caner has been under attack by extreme Muslims and others who have challenged his integrity and character, claiming that he was not a Muslim, let alone a devout one, and that he intentionally made false statements related to his Muslim background and conversion to Christianity. While Dr. Caner categorically denies these charges, he acknowledges making several misstatements over the past decade for which he publicly apologized on his web site in February, 2010, saying in part, I “never intentionally misled anyone…. For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better.”
brother Emir (also a converted Muslim) who has been in the best position to
know almost all the facts, writes: "Over the past year or so, my brother
has sustained an unprecedented and orchestrated barrage of attacks from extreme
Muslims and extreme Calvinists. The attackers first attempted to prove
that Ergun (and I) were never Muslims, a lie that was easily exposed.
Then, their bitter efforts alleged we were never devout Muslims, an attack that
even took cheap shots at our father, his devotion to Islam, and his devotion to
his family. Documentation including court records once again illustrated
their lies. Finally, they are now attacking my brother's character,
alleging a few incorrect statements are the equivalent of embellishment and
intentional deceit. Through this entire ordeal, my brother has shown an
unquestionable Christian character, asking forgiveness for any mistakes and
persevering while his entire life was unbiblically placed in front of the
world. As his brother, I am prouder of him today than I even was before this
situation occurred. His character, integrity, and bold witness are truly
an emulation of a shepherd's heart (1 Timothy 3:1-7) and an evangelist's
passion (Ephesians 4:11). I am simply grateful to be his brother.”—Emir
Caner, President of Truett Mc Connell College, Cleveland, GA.
Liberty University (where Dr. Caner teaches) announced: “After a thorough and exhaustive review of Dr. Caner’s public statements, a committee consisting of four members of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees has concluded that Dr. Caner had made factual statements that are self-contradictory. However, the Committee found no evidence to suggest that Dr. Caner was not a Muslim who converted to Christianity as a teenager…. Dr. Caner will remain on the faculty of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary as a Professor.” ---Liberty University Statement (June 29, 2010, emphasis added)
While Caner’s exoneration* from the false charges has not satisfied all his critics, who continue to rehash old criticism, a flood of support has come in for him from noted Christian leaders and others around the country:
“Kregel Publications has concluded that the Kregel titles by Dr. Caner are trustworthy, factually accurate, and helpful to both Christians and seekers wanting to know more about Islamic beliefs and how those beliefs compare and contrast with biblical Christianity.” ---Kregel Release July 6, 2010
“[TV host] John F. Ankerberg, who interviewed Caner for more than a dozen television programs, has posted on his website that he is disheartened by the attacks upon his friend’s integrity and character. Ankerberg said he believes Caner’s testimony is ‘completely true.’” ---Christianity Today, posted 7/02/2010
“ In a day of negativism and bad news, I am rejoicing today over many things. I rejoice over faithful witnesses of Jesus in a small Ohio Baptist church that loved two Moslem boys to Christ and then encouraged them to live for Jesus. I am grateful to God for the many people that have come to Christ through the witness of those two men. I continually thank God for His unbelievable plan to use sinners and mistake-prone men like the Caners, and even more amazing, people like me, to accomplish some things of great value in His kingdom business. Only eternity will reveal the good that two former Moslems have done. I thank God for them both.”--- Paige Pattersonn, president of Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas
“I know Dr. Caner and have done a number of apologetics conferences with him, and have witnessed God using Ergun in a powerful way. He has always spoken words of grace to others, and I thus find it disturbing that some have chosen to show NO grace to Ergun in the midst of his current trial. If God only used perfect vessels, who among us would be qualified? I know of none. I urge all those who respect my work to take the word of someone who knows Ergun personally (me): He is a good man with a heart for God.” ---Dr. Ron Rhodes, author and President of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries
Apologist Dr. Norman Geisler declared: “We posted complete and detailed response to criticisms against Dr. Caner on our website (www.normgeisler.com).” He concluded that, “Having examined all these charges against Dr. Caner carefully and having looked at the related evidence, I can say without hesitation that all of the moral charges against Dr. Caner are unsubstantiated. Further, no one had demonstrated moral intent on any of the factual misstatements he made (which we all make).” He added, “Dr. Caner is a man of honesty, integrity, and loyalty to Christ.”---Dr. Norman Geisler, author and Professor of Apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary
“Dr. Geisler’s response to the charges brought against Dr. Ergun Caner by some Muslims and other groups has hit the mark. The charges on the surface sounds formidable until they are met with TRUTH, then they quickly evaporate away losing all power to condemn – leaving the accusers to contemplate their actions. Dr. Geisler’s responses serve to confirm what I had already known about Dr. Caner’s sincere character and tireless efforts to reach the lost with the gospel and equip Christians to defend the faith in a hostile world. Dr. Geisler and Dr. Caner are the two spiritual warriors I would most like next to me in the trenches doing battle for the cause of Christ.” ---Dr. Joseph Holden, President of Veritas Evangelical Seminary, Murrieta, CA
*“Tim Rogers of SBC Today (A Southern Baptist news organ), declared and defended his claim that Ergun Caner was “exonerated” of the charge against him by citing Merriam-Webster’s definition “to clear from accusation or blame.” He wrote, I used “exoneration” in the post announcing the completed investigation of Dr. Ergun Caner…. If one looks at the definition and then looks at the statement released from Liberty University, one has to admit that exoneration is not a stretch. Why? Notice what the statement says; “the committee found no evidence to suggest that Dr. Caner was not a Muslim who converted to Christianity as a teenager [which was the claim challenged by the critics]….Thus, I used the term “exoneration” because according to the statement released by the committee from Liberty University they cleared him from accusation or blame” (Posted June 29, 2010).
By Norman L. Geisler
July 6, 2010
Since issuing a recent defense of Ergun Caner against his critics, a number of unjustified attacks have come to my attention. Many of them are just a rehash of old ones already answered with a futile attempt to prove his intent to embellish and deceive. Not one of these charges is substantial, involving any major doctrinal or moral issue. Nonetheless, since left unanswered they tend in the minds of some to imply moral guilt; a brief response to them will be helpful. It is charged that many times Caner embellished and deceived in that:
1. Ergun Caner claimed to have been born in Istanbul when he was actually born in Sweden.
Response: All of Caner’s books (see Unveiling Islam, 17) and nearly all of his interviews and sermons state that he was born in Sweden. Since both Ergun and his father were Turkish citizens, he strongly identified with that ancestry. Thus, an occasional misspoken word about his birthplace is understandable. Nonetheless, Ergun publically apologized for this and other mistakes on February 25, 2010 (see “Sixth” below).
2. Caner claimed to have once lived in Ankara (Turkey) and along the Iraqi border which he did not.
Response: Ergun traveled with his father to Turkey several times. Later, he was along the Iraqi border as he said he was. It should not be deemed strange that Ergun has spent time in Turkey. After all, he has a Turkish father and was a Turkish citizen who came to America on a Turkish passport. This allegation against him is a mere assumption without evidence which illustrates the desire to defame Ergun by his critics.
3. He claimed to have watched Dukes of Hazard and longed to marry Daisy Duke while growing up in Turkey before the show was even on TV in 1979.
Response: This statement was intended as humor and was taken as such by the audience. Indeed, Ergun has made this joke for more than a decade and never once was it taken as a matter of fact. He was illustrating the misconceptions between Americans and Muslims.
4. He claimed in one place to have become a US citizenship in 1978 and in another place he claimed that it was in 1982.
Response: It is well known that Caner became a US citizen in 1978. The other date is from the period of his call to the ministry and is sometimes lumped together with the earlier date in his testimony. No intent to deceive existed, nor has it been established by this conflation of dates. Since it is well known by Bible scholars that this kind of thing is found in the Scriptures (which are without error), then any Christian pressing this charge would, by the same logic, have to impugn the Bible as well (see The Bible Knowledge Commentary, vol. 2, p. 40).
5. Caner claims to have worn a Muslim "keffiyeh"(head covering) before his conversion to Christianity, yet photos show him with his head uncovered. This reveals that he was not a devout Muslim and that he intended to deceive when claiming to be one.
Response: Ergun’s brother Emir vouches for their devout Muslim background. He has provided a picture (below) of Ergun with his head covered (sitting down). Of course, there were other times when he had no covering on which would be natural.
Other evidence of his being a devout Muslim is available, such as Ergun’s circumcision ceremony and participation in the reading and recitation of the Qur’an. Further, that Ergun was reared a devout Muslim is proven by his father’s testimony recorded in the divorce proceedings documents which ironically Ergun’s critic placed on the internet.
6. Ergun claims he was saved in 1982 but also claims his brother Emir was converted in 1982, yet elsewhere Emir’s conversion is said to be a year later (1983).
Response: Both men agree that Emir was saved a year after Ergun. There is some confusion about the exact year. Given that Ergun was converted in 1982 (as he claims), this would put Emir’s conversion “a year later” (as they both acknowledge). Again, there is no intention to deceive here but simply a problem of memory about exact dates.
7. Ergun claimed his father had many wives and two half-brothers and two half-sisters, but there is no evidence for the half-brothers.
Response: Ergun’s father did have two wives, having divorced the first one. He had three sons by his first wife (Ergun and his two brothers). So, Ergun has two full brothers and two step-sisters (from his father’s second wife). While speaking quickly on one occasion, he mistakenly called his brothers his “half” brothers. This is hardly evidence of an attempt to embellish or deceive. After all, he had the right number of each sibling, and he didn’t claim to have ten brothers or sisters!
Finally, a Note about Ergun’s Critic:
First, Ergun is an outspoken converted Muslim which in Muslim lands is a capital crime. Since this is contrary to law in the United States, his Muslim critics have resorted to character assassination instead. Unfortunately, other extremists who disagree with some of his theological views have piled on and are kicking him while he is down.
Second, a blogger-critic refuses to give his real name, using a pseudonym. This violates a moral and legal rule that one has a right to face his accusers. [This is also a good way to avoid libel charges.]
Third, his critics often assume, contrary to American law, that one is guilty until proven innocent. Really, the burden of proof for these allegations is on the accuser, not on the accused.
Fourth, not one of these accusations is about any serious doctrinal or moral issue. Ergun has never been found guilty of either of these.
Fifth, out of a couple thousand sermons, nearly twenty books, and hundreds of media interviews, the relatively few mistakes are trivial by comparison. It is like looking at a glass 97% full and complaining that it is 3% empty! I am sure that anyone who wished to do a search on other leaders who have communicated as much in the past decade or so could do a hatchet job on some of them too.
Sixth, Ergun has readily admitted the mistakes he has made and has apologized for them publically. In February, 2010, he said in part on his Web site that he “never intentionally misled anyone…. For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better.” Even the public statement made by Liberty University on June 29, 2010 made this clear when it said, “Dr. Caner has cooperated with the Board committee and has apologized for the discrepancies and misstatements that led to this review.”
Seventh, by comparison, his critics have not apologized for anything they have done, even though they have wrongly: a) assumed Ergun’s guilt without proof, b) impugned his intentions, and c) assassinated his character. This is to say nothing of the pain, misery, and agony they have afflicted on Ergun, his family, and the problems this has caused at Liberty University. For this they owe Dr. Caner a clear and contrite public apology.
Finally, his critics have not followed the instructions of Matthew 18 by going first to their brother and then to his church privately on these allegations. Rather, they have practiced unbiblical gossip in passing on defaming charges about another brother in Christ to others—indeed, making these charges public.
My experience with Ergun, as that of those who know him well, is that he is a devout zealous believer who lives a life in obedience to Christ and who works diligently to extend his kingdom. It is a crying shame that other believers have jumped on a band-wagon which is discrediting this sincere, earnest, and faithful follower of Christ.
Kregel author Dr. Ergun Caner will no longer serve as Dean of the Liberty Seminary following an investigation by a university committee of allegations that Dr. Caner made misleading or false statements regarding his past. His contract to serve as Dean of the Seminary expired on June 30 and was not renewed. Dr. Caner does, however, remain a faculty member of Liberty University.
While news sources and anti-Caner bloggers have been quick to seize upon the committee’s finding that Dr. Caner made “factual statements that are self-contradictory,” the report also concluded:
However, the committee found no evidence to suggest that Dr. Caner was not a Muslim who converted to Christianity as a teenager, but, instead, found discrepancies related to matters such as dates, names and places of residence. Dr. Caner has cooperated with the board committee and has apologized for the discrepancies and misstatements that led to this review.
In February Dr. Caner issued a statement on his Web site that said in part that he “never intentionally misled anyone. . . . For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better.”
Dr. Caner’s story, as presented in his 2002 national bestseller Unveiling Islam (co-authored with his brother Emir), has been verified by numerous persons who knew the Caner brothers as teens and throughout their adult lives. Kregel Publications has found no credible evidence that contradicts the facts presented in Dr. Caner’s writings.
Moreover, evidence presented on anti-Caner Web sites, such as the legal documents related to his parents’ divorce proceedings, confirm that his father was a devout Muslim who did his utmost to insure his sons’ training in the Muslim faith. As Dr. Caner acknowledges in the introduction to More Than a Prophet (Kregel, 2003), “We were both [Ergun and Emir] raised to be faithful Muslims with the Turkish culture, yet our religious upbringing and understandings were those of devout Sunni Muslims everywhere. . . . Whatever deficiencies we may have had in our understanding have been compensated by over twenty years of study in Islam as we have tried to understand the Muslim mind” (pp. 19–20)
Kregel Publications has found no reason to withdraw Dr. Caner’s books from publication or revise any substantive statements in his books. We believe the books are trustworthy, factually accurate, and helpful to both Christians and seekers wanting to know more about Muslim belief and how those beliefs compare and contrast with biblical Christianity.