A number of times I have been asked to narrate what “started” my involvement in the exposure of Ergun Caner’s plethora of mythical promotional claims. Which is why there is a picture of a huge, yummy, massively unhealthy white chocolate peanut butter tub (that’s too big to be a “cup”) over there to the right. Here’s the story (and note, when I tell a story, I can actually document its historical basis!).
I started using Twitter last summer. On October 14th, 2009, I posted a comment about a Tweet written by Ergun Caner. He had written, “Conservative churches do not need Reformation of doctrine. We believe…We need a Revolution of soul winning.” Here is the blog article I posted. Well, as I recall, the next day I flew out to Montana, via Denver. As I look at the time stamps, sometime in the morning I posted a comment on how some people had questioned the honesty of my citation of Caner’s tweet. Evidently, Micah (our graphics guru) added a screen shot of Caner’s Twitter page after I posted my comments, and that is when I noted the claim in the side column about all of his debates. That is when I put out the call for help in finding Caner’s debates, a call that would, eventually, lead to my hearing from Mohammad Khan.
Then I headed off to Denver, and that is when I took the picture above. What happened was I had a bit of a layover before my flight into Great Falls. As I was walking to the next gate I saw a store that had chocolate and…well, I hadn’t really started my current diet then, you know? So I grabbed that delicious treat and got to my gate, pulled out my MacBook and checked my mail. I took the picture with my cell phone and sent it to my daughter. But in the upper corner you can see that I was looking at the interviews Caner had posted on iTunes. As I recall, someone had sent me a link to those. So I mentioned this in a quick blog post I wrote right at the gate. And note the last comment I made:
So I’m just going to have to ask Ergun Caner directly via Twitter: where are all these debates from forty states and eleven countries? What are the names of these leaders in Islam you have debated? How can the rest of us learn from your debates if we can’t find them? Inquiring minds want to know.
Now, I had mis-remembered this part, as I thought I was looking at his site because he had already blocked me. Instead, it was that tweet that resulted in my being blocked, as I noted the next day (here). So the picture up above is historical indeed: I was just about to send the Tweet that would get me blocked, which would lead to the further inquiries that got me in touch with Mohammad Khan, which led to…everything else.
Now, at the time, I had no earthly idea how nasty this situation would become. I had no idea how much I would learn in the process. But note that I stated my intentions and purposes right at the start:
So why should anyone care about this? Well, let me tell you why I care. I labor in this field. I invest my life in apologetics, and I am working very hard to be a good student of Islam, and a good representative of the Christian faith to Muslims. So I have to be consistent. If there is someone running about the apologetic landscape making claims about his activities that simply do not stand scrutiny, then someone needs to speak up about it. The things that Ergun Caner says in his interviews and videos are often intended to create outrage. Speaking of “towel heads” and using the other kind of mocking language he does is hardly helpful. But here’s the simple conclusion of it all: I have no reason to believe Ergun Caner has ever engaged in a formal, meaningful debate with any leading Islamic apologists, and I’ll be perfectly honest with you: I hope he doesn’t. I do not believe it would be beneficial. But at least I can look a Muslim in the eye and honestly say, “I have called for Dr. Caner to be open and above board about his actual history in debating your representatives, and he has flatly turned my requests for information on that topic down. I do not believe anyone should claim to have done such things when they cannot back up their claims, or when they have to so alter the meanings of words that every conversation they have ever had on a plane somewhere becomes a debate.”
So, for all those who think that I’m a terrible, horrible, mean, nasty man for daring to challenge Ergun Caner to back up his own PR, you go right ahead and think that way. I happen to believe that it is far more important to be transparently honest in seeking to give a sound, consistent reason for the hope that is within us to the Muslim people than it is to cover over a professing Christian’s as yet unsubstantiated claims.
And nothing has changed since then. I am just having to grind out the process that began back then in October, no matter how unpleasant that is.
Speaking of which, TurretinFan was watching some more of the Ankerberg Series featuring the Caner brothers, and noted the errant description of the Kaaba found therein. But I would point you to the end of the clip, where both Caner brothers give vent to their deep-seated detestation of Reformed theology, and their errant connection of al-qadr and biblical divine sovereignty (theology matters, once again). Here is the clip as it is hosted on Lee Strobel’s website:
Is the Kaaba just a huge stone? Hardly. Here is rare footage of what the Kaaba looks like on the inside:
The building itself is not “sacred.” It has been rebuilt many times. It is the Black Stone that is sacred, and is the object toward which Muslims pray. Here is a picture of the Black Stone.
Update: A Muslim has asked for clarification on the relationship of the Black Stone to the Kaaba, etc. Muslims pray toward the “sacred Mosque,” which is sacred because it contains the Kaaba, which has been rebuilt numerous times over the centuries. It would have been more technically correct to identify the entire Kaaba as the focus of the directionality element of Islamic prayers, and the Black Stone as the sole “sacred” artifact that has remained through all of the renovations and changes of the Kaaba itself (though, it was once stolen and removed from Mecca for a period of time). The Kaaba is believed to be the original house of worship built by Abraham but later over-taken by idolatry, but purified by the Muslims and restored to its proper usage.