Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Washington Post Article on Caner Scandal
06/30/2010 - James WhiteI have talked to a lot of journalists since last Friday, but so far the best article I've read came from William Wan and is found in the Washington Post here. Mr. Wan had even written back to me to double check some facts, and I found that encouraging. I do find it indicative of this entire scandal that one side is open and transparent, one side is secretive and mainly silent. One side sounds like they take Jesus' exhortation to openness and honesty seriously, the other seems far more politically oriented, seeking to do damage control. If Ergun Caner has been "exonerated," as some radical supporters are claiming, why has he refused to come out and provide the "truth" to the journalists looking into the situation? Instead, he hides behind the stone wall of silence. I believe that says volumes. Reminds me just a little bit of the "spin" he and others put on their scuttling of the 2006 debate at Liberty. One side made all the information available, was open and transparent, the other---not so much.
I remain utterly amazed and quite offended by Norman Geisler's statement on his Facebook page. Without engaging a single fact of the case, explaining a single contradiction or examining any of the evidence that proves beyond all dispute that Ergun Caner was telling multiple stories about his past at the same time to different audiences (when speaking to folks he knew could detect problems in his story, he told the truth; to those he evidently judged to be gullible, such as large congregations of Baptists, he would produce, and then embellish, his jihadi Muslim persona), Geisler has pronounced him "exonerated" and relegated the mountain of false statements, embellishments, and downright lies, more often than not uttered from behind a pulpit and tied directly to the gospel of Jesus Christ, to the scrap heap of simple "misstatements." As I pointed out on the DL yesterday, one can hardly see how atheists and other enemies of the faith would not be fully warranted to see the cavalier way Geisler has handled a scandal that is sitting right in his lap (the attention over Caner has been focused on Liberty, but Caner teaches for Geisler's Veritas Seminary as well, and they are closely connected) and the level of documentation related to it (video clips, audio clips, court documents) and say, "Well, if Norman Geisler can't see the obvious truth of a matter that has this level of documentation, why should anyone think he has handled the ancient and considerably less full documentation regarding the resurrection accurately?" I call upon Dr. Geisler to set aside his partisanship and do a serious inquiry into the facts of this matter. If Dr. Geisler claims to have the answers, then maybe he can answer the questions Caner and Liberty refuse to address. In fact, in light of his statement, it would seem he is obliged to do so.
Christopher Hitchens Undergoing Chemotherapy for Esophogeal Cancer
06/30/2010 - James WhiteI just learned that Christopher Hitchens has announced he is undergoing chemotherapy for esophogeal cancer. Here is his announcement. I fully expect this to lead to the cancellation of our August 30th debate, though I do not yet have that official word.
I have listened to many, many hours of Christopher Hitchens speaking. I've read his attacks upon my faith, listened to him blaspheme in public, etc. And yet I cannot help but like the man personally, who has such a quick sense of humor and a streak of honesty that I know comes straight from common grace. He has surprised me many times, showing an insight into the errors of his evidentialist Christian opponents that many others lack. Let's pray for Mr. Hitchens that God will use this providence to bring to his mind the many, many times he has heard the truth. His detestation of the Christian faith runs very deep, but as we all know, God is glorified when God-haters are turned into God-lovers. Should God mercifully extend his life, I hope we will get a chance to meet. May God be pleased to reveal to him the Lord of Glory, and turn his heart from rebellion to realize that the one thing he rails against most, that of submission to one's Creator, is the greatest freedom the creature can know.
Irony of Ironies
06/29/2010 - James WhiteDuring the Dividing Line today the UPS man came by our offices. Upon completing the program, which was focused upon the Caner Scandal, I opened the box to discover my brand new copy of The God of Calvinism by our ol' buddy, Louis Ruggiero. I had not ordered it for the content of the book, as we saw Lou's exegetical modus operandi years ago (and have noted his boasts about his abilities a few times since then). No, the only interest I had in yet another anti-Calvinistic screed was noted right on the front cover: Foreword by Dr. Ergun Caner.
Ergun Caner's detestation of Reformed theology is well known. His utter lack of balance in his anti-Calvinism, at the time I first experienced it in 2005/2006, was difficult to understand (oh, how clear the issues have become since then!). So it is hardly surprising that Caner would put his name on a work by a non-scholar whose grasp of basic exegetical principles, systematic theology, and historiography is significantly less than minimal. But note the first words from Caner's pen, now permanently inscribed in Lou Rugg's book: "For the first half of my life, I was raised a Muslim. My father, an ulema (that is, a scholar in Islam) drove home the key concepts of Islam that guided every single step of our lives" (vii). We have seen that this is an improper use of the language. Ulema (علماء) is a plural form; alim (عالِم) is the singular form, "a scholar." So Caner is basically saying, "My father was a scholars." What is more, being a muezzin is not the same as being a scholar or a cleric: anyone can be a muezzin, one who calls to prayer. Once again, the Caner penchant for myth-making comes to the fore. No evidence has been produced that Caner's father was part of the ulema or was anything more than a regular Islamic layman.
Caner's foreword is brief, and predictable. It contains the standard straw-man misrepresentations that Caner is well known for. It is signed "Dr. Ergun Mehmet Caner" and he is listed as the President of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.
Those Who Live in Another Reality
06/29/2010 - James WhiteI will be addressing Liberty's seven-sentence political statement on the DL in less than an hour, but I was just directed (HT: JD) to one of the most amazing statements I have read so far in response to the demotion of Ergun Caner by Liberty University. There are some folks that we all knew were completely disconnected from the space-time universe in how they handled (or refused to even acknowledge) the overwhelming factual information demonstrating Ergun Caner's purposeful, and to this point, unrepented of, dishonesty. Some folks are beyond reasonable interaction and thought. But when I read this on Norman Geisler's Facebook page, I was left without words (briefly, anyway):
Norman Geisler An extensive independent investigation has exonerated Dr. Ergun Caner of all the false charges made against him by extreme Muslims and others and has been retained as a Professor at Liberty University. In spite of a few misstatements (which we all make and he has corrected), nothing has diminished his testimony and orthodoxy as one of the great Christian voices of our time. I totally support him.
If Liberty exonerated Caner, why is he no longer Dean/President of the Seminary? What was he "apologizing" for? We are left to wonder. But the utter disconnect between a man who claims the facts support Christianity and his utter unwillingness to deal with the facts in this case can only be explained by abject cronyism. The "good ol' boys network" run amuck. What a blight upon evangelicalism that without even a half-hearted attempt to interact with the mountain of documentation, Dr. Geisler would make such an outrageous statement. His willingness to engage in politics (Caner teaches for the seminary he is now promoting) at the expense of integrity and honesty in Christian apologetics is a sad commentary that will only encourage Caner to continue in his refusal to repent and seek restoration. Further, it should be noted that Dr. Geisler had accused those who had spoken the truth about Caner of libel and slander, and yet, when Liberty acknowledges at the very least "self-contradictory" statements, does he offer an apology? No, just as he somehow managed to find "free will" in John 6:44, he can find exoneration in the announcement of Caner's demotion.
In contrast to this "facts? What facts?" attitude, Tom Chantry has provided another insightful commentary here.
A Geek Video (iPad/Kindle/Touch/HTC Incredible Discussion)
06/28/2010 - James White
Christianity Today Picks Up Quotes: Jerry Falwell Jr. and Glenn Beck
06/26/2010 - James WhiteTwo interesting items from the news today. First, Christianity Today picked up a set of quotes from yours truly that appeared in the local Lynchburg paper. Under the title "Liberty University cuts Caner as seminary dean" the CT article summarizes the actions Liberty took (and only announced at the end of business late Friday afternoon--a classic political move designed to minimize press coverage and hence damage to the institution) and provides quotes from only one person:
A news article in the Lynchburg News and Advance, quotes apologist and vocal Caner critic James White: "Simply removing him as dean and allowing him to continue teaching the same subjects he was teaching before really isn’t going to lead to a conclusion of the controversy." The university's statement “raises all sorts of questions about what did [Caner] apologize for," White said. "The students ... deserve an open response."
Exactly. I think the brief snippets summarize well what I said to the News and Advance reporter yesterday. I said before Liberty announced its investigation that nothing less than a full, open, honest and complete response to the most fundamental issues and questions must be provided, and as it stands right now it seems that neither Ergun Caner nor Liberty University has any intention of providing that kind of closure. Damage control, not biblical repentance or restoration---preservation of political capital, is the watchword in the inner sanctum of the leadership of Liberty University. And the students? How could anyone argue that they are not owed a full and complete accounting of the lies they have been told by Ergun Caner? Will they get such an accounting? We can only hope.
The political orientation of Liberty's leadership was expressed as well by a comment made by Jerry Falwell, Jr., being interviewed by Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck, a confused convert to Mormonism, and hence a follower of a religion that, to my knowledge, is the most polytheistic religion ever devised by man, was invited to address Liberty's most recent graduation ceremony, leading to a number of public exchanges between Beck and Falwell, Jr. In the above linked article, however, we encounter this statement from Falwell: "And there are bigger issues now, we can argue about theology later after we save the country."
I worry about folks who think they have been called to "save the country" first of all. What if God intends to punish a nation that is filled with hatred of His ways and His truth? I thought Christians were called to be salt and light and to proclaim the gospel to all people. If God chooses to use the gospel to save any nation, that is His business. But it seems Falwell has bought into the same "America = Christianity" mindset that has infected so many others, leading to rank confusion. But the set of priorities revealed by the above statement, uttered to a Mormon in the context of the conflict between Mormonism and Christianity, sheds a good bit of light on how Liberty has handled the Ergun Caner situation as well. Theology? Eh, we can debate that some other time. It's secondary. Gotta save the country first! Only logical conclusion: theology has nothing to do with how you save a country, hence, saving a country is a political endeavor, not a theological one.
One of the main differences in the two "sides" of the Caner controversy has been the obvious disconnect in the standards each side uses. One side demands biblical standards of Christian leadership, integrity, and truthfulness. We think the pulpit is a sacred place, and that speaking in the name of Christ carries with it certain responsibilities. But the other side is quite pragmatic in their approach. Their standards are downright political in nature. So what if someone exaggerates behind the pulpit? Did it "get results"? Is "our side" bigger than it was before? If it works, well, then it's good! We see this as well in the handling of the investigation into Caner's claims: politically motivated and oriented, and the statement released at the end of business on a Friday (talk about politically motivated!) is classic political rhetoric, including incoherent lines like "factual statements that are self-contradictory" (a politically correct attempt to talk about lies uttered by a Christian leader, repeatedly, knowingly, most often in the context of the pulpit and alleged "preaching"). There seems to be quite a consistent theme here that helps us to understand why Liberty is acting like the world, protecting its own interests, at the cost of full disclosure, rather than acting like a Christian institution with Christian standards and morals. Evidently, having to admit that its former dean would be drummed out of Liberty for violating its own honesty standards IF they were consistent and held their leadership to the same standard they hold their students to was just a bit much to be expressed in clear language. But I have a feeling a large group of Liberty students are plenty insightful enough to get the double standard.
The Full Liberty Statement
06/25/2010 - James White
After a thorough and exhaustive review of Dr. Ergun Caner’s public statements, a committee consisting of four members of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees has concluded that Dr. Caner has 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, 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. Dr. Caner’s current contractual term as Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary expires on June, 30, 2010. Dr. Caner will no longer serve as Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. The university has offered, and Dr. Caner has accepted, an employment contract for the 2010-2011 academic year. Dr. Caner will remain on the faculty of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary as a professor.
1) When was the issue ever whether Caner had been a Muslim? How many times does this canard have to be put down?
2) Factual statements that are self-contradictory. Is that the same as a "lie"? If I said to my kids (when they were young), "Did you lie to me?" and they responded, "No, we gave factual statements that are self-contradictory," would that save them from discipline? It seems the folks at SBC Today think so, since they say Caner has now been exonerated. Seriously, I can't make that kind of thing up. In other breaking news, Nixon was not a crook, and "is" actually has 48 meanings, just as Bill Clinton said.
3) "Discrepancies about dates, names and places of residence" is the PC way of saying, "Ergun Caner lied to everyone and their second cousin about being a jihadi from Turkey, and we all bought it, hook, line, and sinker, until...THOSE people pointed out the obvious."
4) If Dr. Caner has cooperated, then I call upon the Board of Liberty University to release the entirety of its findings, not a short statement, including providing answers to the questions I sent to them in my open letter of May, 2010.
5) Dr. Caner has apologized for exactly what? For lying about his past, making up an entire persona that catapulted him to national prominence and gave him the position he enjoys, claiming to have done debates in at least eleven countries and 35 states against Muslim clerics and others? Is that what he apologized for? These questions must be answered, and Liberty cannot afford to be silent.
6) All Liberty teaching contracts end on June 30th. This is merely a non-renewal of the contract, replacing it with a lesser contract to teach. But to teach what? Apologetics? Upon what basis? Will he honestly tell his students that he has lied about his experiential expertise in that field for nearly a decade? Or is Liberty hoping their students do not surf the net very often?
Aside from the "we really have no touch with reality" responses of Ergun Caner's supporters, we are still left with a non-statement here. I have said for months: Liberty must answer the real questions, the questions about integrity (not just Caner's, but now, their own) openly, fully, and honestly. A seven sentence statement is not enough. Answers must be given. Honesty and Christian integrity demands it, and the ministry of the gospel to Muslims demands it as well.
06/25/2010 - James WhiteThe local Lynchburg paper called to get a comment on the action of Liberty in not renewing Ergun Caner's contract as Dean of the seminary, but in extending a one-year teaching contract to him. The reporter indicated that he is not expecting further details from Liberty. He asked questions, such as who was on the committee, etc., but they declined to give answers.
He did read me the 12-or-so line statement, which included weasel words like "misstatements" rather than "lies." Sadly, we have become so accustomed to our politically-correct age where such language is used that it hardly phases us anymore, but, this is an ostensibly Christian institution we are discussing, therefore, direct language should be used about what one says as the head of an important part of that institution, especially when those words are uttered in the name of Christ and behind the sacred desk.
In any case, one line that caught my attention that I managed to type out, I think, verbatim: "Dr. Caner has apologized for the discrepancies and misstatements that led to this review." How do you apologize for a "discrepancy" unless you created the discrepancy? A real apology for a discrepancy would involve an explanation of why you were untruthful and what motivated you to be dishonest. And saying you lived in Turkey to one audience while at the very same time telling another audience (reporters, those who can check you out) that you lived in Ohio is not a misstatement. It is a lie, plain and simple.
While I am thankful that Liberty has at least confessed that there is, in fact, an elephant in the room, when are they going to get around to explaining how he got there?
And what's more---upon what basis do they think it a good idea to invite him to stick around and teach the next group of students? I could understand that IF Caner produces a full and open confession that is riddled with abject HONESTY for once. Let's hope and pray that statement will soon appear on Ergun Caner's website.
Liberty Announces Removal of Ergun Caner as Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary
06/25/2010 - James WhiteThis was just reported by the News and Advance out of Lynchburg:
Liberty University announced today that Ergun Caner will no longer be dean of the university’s Baptist Theological Seminary.
After an investigation conducted by four members of Liberty’s Board of Trustees, the university said it found that Caner has made “factual statements that are self-contradictory” concerning “dates, names and places of residence.“ The statements included his description of being raised as a Muslim in Turkey, when documents indicate he moved to the United States at the age of 4.
His contract as dean of the seminary expires on June 30 and will not be renewed, according to a statement from LU.
Caner will continue to serve on the seminary’s faculty, as a professor.
I have not found any official statements on the Liberty website (as that is a local Lynchburg paper, they may have received the announcement early) but the same statement is found here where it has the headline:
ERGUN CANER GUILTY: REMOVED AS DEAN FROM SEMINARY
Guilty of self-contradiction? Yes. But I am truly hoping, in light of the fact that Liberty is allowing him to continue on as a professor and teacher, that the reality of his actual life story will soon be forthcoming. We likewise await a statement of confession and repentance from Dr. Caner in light of his continued protestations of innocence. Stay tuned!
Just a Quick Note Before a Long Ride
06/23/2010 - James WhiteI really dislike dishonest men, so when I was directed to the accusation, posted by a critic who has a long track record of incredible prejudice and bigotry, accusing us of "withholding" videos from debates, I was properly incensed. Why do these people insist upon personal attack before doing the first bit of research? Of course, this isn't a "Muslim" thing: the supporters of Ergun Caner have behaved in the exact same way and most of them attend Southern Baptist Churches.
1) We had no control over the recording of the debates in London in 2008.
2) We asked and asked and asked to get the videos. We did so for over a year.
3) We eventually had to raise $2000 to "ransom" the video tapes from the videographer.
4) Once we got them they came in the reverse order we wanted them; that is, we wanted the Shabir Ally debates first, but the other debates came first.
5) The tapes are a MESS. Very poorly recorded, in a different format than our equipment uses requiring difficult conversion, etc.
6) One of the two camera angles for the Ally debates is almost utterly unusable. Part of the delay once we got the tapes has been the huge amount of time it takes to try to salvage anything from the other camera angle and then to splice that into the "good" footage while matching the less-than-sterling audio track.
7) A volunteer was working on the Ally debates but has not completed the project as yet.
8) We are a small organization with limited funding, and I've been really active in doing debates, creating a large back log of projects. For example, everyone who *had* been working on those videos was in Florida to record the debate with Robert Price. When you have a two-man organization and a hand-full of volunteers, lengthy projects can take time.
I have been asking about these videos for a long time. I want them out, I want them available (portions have been available on YouTube for quite some time). They were excellent debates and we are fully confident that once we finally have them in the best form we can provide (which isn't easy to do given how they were recorded), the content will speak for itself. And once everyone can watch, or listen to, these debates, they will see how utterly silly certain critics are in their imbalance and prejudice.
From Gate D26...
06/22/2010 - James WhiteWaiting for my flight home here at the airport in Detroit. I was referred to this blog article by a student at Liberty. I noted the following:
Within the first 20 minutes of class Ergun is chatting about the accusations against him, but made it clear that he isn't worrying about the issue or looking in to it...yet...well never mind. If you're interested I have 7 minutes of his innocence recorded on my cell.
Now those are seven minutes of audio I'd like to hear, personally. Is it not strange that Caner will chat about these issues at the start of a class, but he has purposefully, knowingly prolonged this situation by his refusal to respond to all the documentation that has been provided publicly? He won't talk to CT or the other media outlets, but he will proclaim his "innocence" to his students. Innocence regarding what? What allegations is he responding to? We don't know since, for some reason, he won't openly and honestly respond to the questions that have been asked of him.
I'm sorry, but on the one hand we have men in the SBC saying Ergun Caner has "repented," but on the other we have things like this which hardly indicate a serious, let alone repentant, attitude on Caner's part.
So we are eight days out from the June 30th date set by Liberty for its "report." What will happen then? I have no idea. All I know is this: if the questions we have asked are not answered openly, fully, and without spin, this situation will only grow, it will not diminish.
On another note from that Liberty student's entry, we have another example of just how poor Caner's knowledge of apologetics is, at least as it is reflected by this student (if we had not heard the embarrassing face-plant he offered to the Oneness Pentecostal pastor, we might pass over this in silence). But note this paragraph:
We also discussed the various approaches to apologetics. I do not agree with the presuppositional view. This approach is often known as the Limited Atonement approach. Believes that Christ only died for the elect, and that only the elect can understand the evidence. They must first agree on certain presuppositions before the Gospel can be effectively presented.
I sure would love an opportunity to help this student learn what presuppositionalism really is, but given Caner's history of gross misrepresentation of anything even remotely related to Reformed theology, we are hardly surprised to read such a false caricature in the mind of this student. What a real shame. I would invite this student to call the DL. I'd love to provide a meaningful explanation from a Reformed and presuppositional viewpoint.
James White Speaking Instead of Debating Tonight in Romulus, MI
06/21/2010 - Rich PierceMonday June 21st
Doors Open at 6:30pm
"Jesus: A Prophet of Allah or Divine Son of God?"
ALERT: Sheik Awal has unilaterally backed out of this debate therefore James will be giving his presentation ANYWAY!
Come and support Dr. White as he stands in the gap at:
11338 Ozga Road, Romulus MI 48174
Aramaic Broadcasting Network Live Show Tonight
06/19/2010 - James WhiteJust a reminder I will be back on "Jesus or Muhammad" live tonight at 8:30pm EDT. Last night's program has been posted here. Once I get the embedding commands straightened out, I will post it here as well. Tomorrow night I will start the audio live feed from the debate as early as I can, hopefully no later than 6pm EDT.
Tim Rogers Asks A Question
06/16/2010 - James WhiteBefore my first word about Ergun Caner's deceptive statements, my teaching history was documented and well known. There was no question about it, no mystery, no controversy. In fact, I learned recently I have a former student teaching at Liberty (don't worry, I still like this person, so I won't name him). I began teaching Greek for Golden Gate's brand new regional campus in Phoenix in the Fall of 1995. I taught a wide range of classes while the regional campus was still very small, staff-wise. Greek, Greek Exegesis, Hebrew, Hebrew Exegesis, Systematic Theology, Christology, Christian Philosophy of Religion, Development of Patristic Theology (one of my favorites), Apologetics. I was invited to teach in the Denver Campus, and in Mill Valley during summer intensives. As the staff in the Arizona Campus expanded, regular teachers came on board to teach Greek and Hebrew, and I moved to more apologetically oriented classes, including more and more focus upon Islam and atheism. The last class I taught was in January in Mill Valley.
Now, all of this information is on my web page. It was publicly available, and non-controversial. This isn't like claiming to have lived in Turkey or claiming to have debated in eleven countries and thirty five states against leading Islamic apologists (when you haven't debated a single one). Yet, certain men think raising questions about anyone who would put the light on Ergun Caner's claims will somehow accomplish---what? I can't begin to understand their thinking or their motivations. Just another amazing chapter in "What Happens When You Seek Honesty in Ministry."
Caner Scandal Hits Tehran Times
06/14/2010 - James WhiteGene Clyatt, who for some odd reason has a fascination with small furry rodents with large fluffy tails, just tweeted an important development in the Caner Scandal: the story has been picked up and published in the Tehran Times. Here is the story. The English is rough, as one might expect, but it is a fairly wide-ranging summary of the state of affairs. Providing me with a major "I told you so" moment, the article notes,
Many critics regard Caner to be just an opportunist who has sowed tension between the world's two largest faiths.
""He's done enormous harm … To listen to someone like Caner, you'd think house meetings to decide what to blow up next are daily fare for all Muslims,"" said Charles Kimball, director of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma.
Analysts say that Caner's climb to fame, however, illustrates how important Muslim conversion stories are among American Christian communities today.
It also brings back to mind the longstanding fascination of the American society -- dating back to the colonial period -- with tales of Muslims converting to Christianity.
When you combine myth-making, exaggeration, and simple falsehood, with truth, this is the result. Not only are true converts maligned inappropriately, but when Caner says true things about Islam, for example, the truth of those statements is automatically tainted and diminished by its consistent conjunction with falsehoods. There is a strong element of truth in the observation that conservative evangelicalism/fundamentalism is rife with a desire to hear the "worst" about Islam. And surely there is much to report about the evil perpetrated by the Taliban, for example. But it has long been my theme that the Christian's first concern should be an accurate knowledge of the fundamentals of Islam so that a clear, compelling gospel witness can be made. Islam is not a monolith, and just as we are offended when people tar and feather us for the sins of, say, Rome, we have to be consistent and allow Muslims to define their own faith without broad-brushing them in a way that would offend us (and obscure the truth).
So while Ergun Caner's refusal to come clean and address the mountain of self-contradiction in his own pronouncements has led to further mockery of the gospel in Tehran, I provide a contrast from just a few years ago, when I had the opportunity to record programs for satellite broadcast in Iran itself.
Ergun Caner Saga
06/10/2010 - Tur8infan"I would fight and die for a Muslim's right to build a mosque in every city in America." That's a line taken from what Caner's website in 2005 described this way:
He debated Michael Moore in a nationally syndicated column entitled “Hatriotism.”I found what appears to be the colorful column (part 1)(part 2). The article is critical of Michael Moore, but it seems questionable to say that "He debated Michael Moore" based on the article, any more than I debated William Lane Craig by posting criticism of one of his articles (link).
The article itself raises a lot of good points. Nevertheless, mixed in there are some odd comments. Caner states, for example: "I am a Persian Turkish immigrant raised as a Sunni Muslim, and in the interest of full disclosure, I must state that I left Islam in 1982, the same year I became an American citizen." But elsewhere I recall him specifically saying he was Anatolian, not Persian. (see more examples here) Similarly his old bio page at Liberty (now gone) and his current bio page at TrueLife.org (link to bio including rather distinctive beard photo) say that he obtained citizenship in 1984, which would make more sense, since that is when he turned 18. One also might ask whether "full disclosure" might have been better served by providing a caveat such as "I was raised in suburban central Ohio." And Caner's book, Unveiling Islam suggests that Caner's conversion was the year before 1982: "Ergun then invited Emir to a revival service the following year. ... On November 4, 1982, Emir was born again." (Unveiling Islam, page 19) ...
[Click Here to Continue Reading]
Official Alpha & Omega Ministries Facebook Page
06/10/2010 - Micah BurkeHey folks, just wanted to let you know that we're now live on Facebook. Mostly a aggregator for blog posts and other relevant info relating to A&O, there are also special discounts available in our store for those who friend A&O on Facebook. You can click the link above or the nice big icon to the right there to access the page.
This is the official Facebook page of Alpha & Omega Ministries, accept no substitutes!
How to Demonstrate You Would Not Recognize the Truth if it Slapped You in the Face
06/10/2010 - James WhiteI just saw the most absurd (not offensive, just absurd) argument in the Caner situation I've ever seen. Someone (I haven't even bothered keeping up with this guy) was arguing that my Arabic tutor, Issam, missed a portion of Surah Al Fatiha in our video, and hence we should be exposed! He begins with the absurd accusation that he's downloaded the video in case we pull it because of this brilliant observation! Then he writes,
Apparently James White Arabic teacher (whom we do not know the name of or qualifications of) was teaching us Surah Al Fatiha.
The man made a huge blunder on this surah. He says bismillah ir rahman ir raheem, ar rahman ar raheem, ....
ummm where is the Al hamdulillahi rabil 'alameen?
Please see here: http://transliteration.org/quran/WebSite_CD/MixYuwsuf/Fram2E.htm
If a teacher of Arabic can make such mistakes this is all the amunition that Caner and his supporters need.
Now I know you may not care for me or my theology as a Muslim, but I do believe that you are stand up man.
I don't really care for White but I believe I can count on you since you have taken White to task for his inconsistent views on baby baptism. Good on you!
I'm sending the same information to Debbie Kaufman, Peter Lumpkins, Tim Guthrie, Hussein Wario etc.
I hope that when we do whistle blowing that it whistle works just as well on Calvinist as it does on Arminians.
Well! Talk about making mountains out of mole hills! Let's see. We have a Christian (not a former Muslim) quoting the text BY MEMORY, not having ever been taught it, but only having heard it in Syrian culture so often that it "stuck," and he misses a single phrase, and this is somehow relevant? Something to be "exposed"? How is it relevant that a Christian who learned the text not by studying it or memorizing it but simply hearing it repeated so often in Syria relevant to the actual argumentation relating to Caner's statements? What about all the other Arabic that was spoken? What about the rest of the information given? This is supposed to be argumentation? The level of abject incoherence in the thinking of such people is shocking. I am not at all surprised this man does not "really care" for me, as I only appeal to people who are consistent in their thinking, and one thing is for sure, this man and consistent thinking are on opposite sides of the planet. But once again, what an incredible example of "focus on irrelevancies, ignore the central point." The only thing more sad is this: such fallacious argumentation could very well be picked up by the likes of Guthrie and Lumpkins, since they, along with this Muslim, show no capacity for logical reasoning and fairness.
Six Years of Teaching: Creation, Worship, Scripture, etc.
06/09/2010 - Jeff DownsI recently uploaded six years of the GPTS Annual Spring Theology Conferences (1998-2003) to Sermon Audio. There is quite a bit to feast upon including (most include Q&A and some include debates):
1998 THEME: Southern Presbyterianism (NOTE: this was the first conference and the topic was fitting for the occasion; Dr. Pipa became the first president of GPTS)
*Introduction to Old School Theology, Dr. Morton Smith
*Old School Theology & Southern Seminaries. Dr. David Calhoun
*Old School Presbyterians and Social Issues. Dr. T. David Gordon
*Southern Presbyterian Preaching. Dr. Douglas Kelly
*Impact of New School Thought. Dr. Greg Singer
*An Uncommon School for Uncommon Times. Dr. Joseph Pipa
Click here to listen.
Did God Create in Six Days?
Written for Our Instruction: The Sufficiency of Scripture for All of Life
Sanctification: Growing in Grace
Reformed Spirituality: Communing with Our Glorious God
The Worship of God
White Chocolate Peanut Butter Tubs and Ergun Caner's Tweets (w/update)
06/09/2010 - James WhiteA 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."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.
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.
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Important Update on the Michigan Debates
06/08/2010 - Micah BurkeThere are some changes to the debate schedule for the Dearborn (Romulus), Michigan debates. Please note changes in times, debate topics and debaters.
Note: Debates are subject to changes and cancellations
Debates Suggested fees:
$8 Each, $5 Student for each debate
or $15 Each, $10 Student for all debates
The Great Debate Series
June 16 - 21, 2010
Wednesday June 16th, 7pm
"Crucifixion or Cruci-fiction?"
Sheikh Ahmed Mohammed Awal vs Rev. Tony Costa
Thursday June 17th, 7pm
"Who is Jesus?"
Apologist Farhan Qureshi vs Rev. Tony Costa
Friday June 18th, 7pm
“Was Muhammad Predicted in the Bible?”
Apologist Sam Shamoun vs. Muslim Debater (TBA)
(Debate or a lecture with an open mic for Q&A)
Saturday June 19th, 2:30pm
"Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction?"
Apologist Osama Abdallah vs. Professor David Wood
Saturday June 19th, 6pm
"Does Science Show That Islam Is True?"
Professor David Wood vs. Apologist Osama Abdallah
Sunday June 20th, 3pm
"Has The Bible Been Corrupted?"
Sheikh Mohammad Jowad Al-Ansari vs. Dr. James White
Sunday June 20th, 6:30pm
"Has The Qur'an Been Corrupted?"
Apologist Sam Shamoun vs. Sheikh Mohammad Jowad Al-Ansari
Monday June 21st, 7pm
"Jesus: A Prophet of Allah or Divine Son of God?"
Dr. James White vs. Sheikh Ahmed Mohammed Awal
Call for info. 714.391.0463
Dr. James White on Iron Sharpens Iron Today Discussing the Ergun Caner Timeline
06/08/2010 - Micah Burke
Dr. James White will be interviewed on the Iron Sharpens Iron( www.sharpens.org ) broadcast live, 6-7pm EST today reviewing the timeline of his dealings with Ergun Caner and the reasons for the recent controversy. (Please note, before the broadcast starts there is Spanish language broadcasting on the channel.)
For those who have found out about the investigation only recently, this broadcast will hopefully bring you up to speed regarding Dr. White's interactions with Ergun Caner and Liberty University.
Live streaming available at sharpens.org or at rcnam.com.
Important Article by TurretinFan
06/06/2010 - James WhiteI had known about this for a while, but was waiting for the posting of this information. When you are telling the gullible, excitable Christians one thing on Sunday morning from behind the pulpit, and yet you tell the Turkish reporter (who can tell whether you speak Turkish or Arabic and check out your claims to have been raised in his own country) something completely different, this means you know you are making up stories. Whenever we catch a man living two lives, with two families, in two locations, you will find the same kind of "say X to this person, Y to that person" pattern of deception. The AP story from 2002 and this story from mid-2003 are contemporaneous with the post-9/11 push to turn Ergun into a converted jihadi from Turkey. (Note: saying "I lived in Ankara and on the border with Iraq and came here in 1979 and learned English from the Dukes of Hazzard on Turkish television" is not the same as "my father's family is mainly located in Ankara but I've never lived there but instead moved here in 1969 as a little kid and learned English in Ohio elementary schools.")
Can Unbelievers Speak Truth?
06/05/2010 - James WhiteCan an atheist speak truth? If he says "2+2=4" is the statement less true than if a Christian said the same thing? Many Christians have been saying a Muslim could not possibly be saying something that is factually, really true. But this kind of epistemological bigotry is neither biblical nor rational. Christians should be people of truth in all spheres of life. In the following video I discuss the prejudice that has been expressed by every person who has refused to consider the facts and instead has defaulted to the "A Muslim said it, therefore, it must not be true" defense. I provide two further examples of errors on the part of Ergun Caner, both of which were pointed out by...GASP!...a Muslim! I should have caught them myself, they are pretty basic, but I missed them. If they had been pointed out by a Christian, would they be more, or less, mistakes on Caner's part? Think about it.
Peter Lumpkins: Alexander the Coppersmith Strikes Again
06/05/2010 - James WhiteWhat happens when you seek integrity in ministry and particularly in apologetic outreach to Muslims? You would think many would stand with you, encourage you, appreciate the effort. And, that is the case. By far the vast majority of the contact we have had over the past few months after I challenged Ergun Caner to be honest about his false statements in public (first about debating Shabir Ally, then about debates in general, then about his entire story, as it unraveled under examination) has been positive, thankful, and supportive. Students and faculty alike at Liberty have urged me to stay the course, no matter what the opposition. Of course, they normally have to do so anonymously, for fear of reprisals.
But there have been the few, the proud, the…utterly irrational, who, for various reasons (often because of their anti-Reformed stance, sometimes just because they like being irascible) have taken the "attack anyone who would question a leader in our denomination" approach. The "circle the wagons" mentality has been seen in the fact that these folks never deal with the facts or documentation fairly. If they address it at all they do so one item at a time, looking for any possible way around the problem. For example, one argument that is floating around is that Ergun Caner became a naturalized citizen in 1979, though he came here in 1969, as if this is somehow relevant to his published bio and repeated claims in public. Or another, that Ergun "slurs his speech" when speaking quickly, hence explaining the non-Arabic Arabic (though, of course, Caner speaks fast in English all the time without slurring his words). This kind of "find an excuse for everything while ignoring the combined weight of all of the problems" thinking does not mark a person of honesty and integrity, but instead marks a person with an agenda, a goal that is less than honorable or proper.
But this group of folks rarely spend much time actually discussing the facts of the Caner case. They are far more intent upon the "politics of personal destruction." I have discovered there is no road too low for some of these people to travel. Personal attack is their modus operandi, all the while complaining that the target of their attack is engaging in…personal attacks. Evidently they realize that those who are actually busy in the work of ministry will eventually tire of all of the mud and absurdity that they are producing, and hence move as far away from them, and their pet topics, as possible, out of simple disgust.
Let's look at the situation as it stands today. Ergun Caner stands accused of rank deception in the pulpit, making claims about himself and his past that are not only contradicted by documented facts, but are contradicted by his own testimony! We can demonstrate that he was telling one group of people X, while telling another group of people Y, at the same time and in the same context. That is the very definition of untruthfulness, of deceptiveness. We have a man who has claimed to have engaged leaders of a wide variety of religious groups in debate all over the world, but who cannot provide the first bit of evidence of the truthfulness of this claim---a claim he has used to encourage others to not only believe what he has to say on various topics, but to gain his positions of leadership and authority as well (resulting in personal enrichment in the form of book sales and promotion, etc.). He has likewise been asked to lecture to even our military personnel (see picture) based upon his supposed experience as a Turkish born and raised jihadist. The ramifications of Caner's deceptive and self-promoting behavior are deeply troubling, at least to anyone with the honesty to consider them fully. And yet, we find many seeking to protect this man's position and authority using any means necessary in the process. ...
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Ergun Caner and Arabic Reviewed
06/03/2010 - James White
The Caners Debate in Arabic...and French!
06/03/2010 - James WhiteIt has been pretty difficult for anyone to find any evidence of either of the Caner brothers engaging in debates with leading proponents of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., as Ergun's pre-2010 bio used to claim. But maybe we have discovered why! We were looking for debates in English! This May, 2002 article in SBC Life may help us find those dozens and dozens of elusive debates (more than sixty with Islamic leaders alone, according to one newspaper account). They actually took place in Arabic and French! No wonder we haven't been able to find them! Here's the relevant quotation:
The heightened interest in Islam has drawn each of the Caner brothers into additional debate settings at mosques and universities, speaking in English, French, and Arabic with Muslim scholars. And they have been interviewed by the BBC, CNN, Moody Broadcasting Network, Salem Radio Network, and USA Radio. Talk show invitations have come from Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Marlon Maddux, and Zola Levitt.