Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Tim Guthrie and False Witness
07/30/2010 - James WhiteAs I have pointed out a number of times, the small cadre of Caner defenders seem to be drawn from the same circle of influence defined by Liberty University, Veritas Evangelical Seminary, etc. Yesterday on the Dividing Line I pointed out another connection that exists between one of the most emotional, vitriolic, and simply irrational of Ergun Caner's defenders, Tim Guthrie. Here is the Google archive of what appeared just yesterday on the Watchman Fellowship website. You will note that it lists Tim Guthrie as a board member of Watchman Fellowship, right along with Ergun Caner. I had wondered what the connection was, and that seemed to explain it. I then went through some of the wild-eyed accusations Guthrie had posted on his blog, explained where he has once again missed the obvious, and moved on from there.
So I was just pointed to further commentary from Tim Guthrie, this time accusing me of bearing false witness. Why? Because he is no longer on the board of Watchman Fellowship. Well, isn't that special? It is also irrelevant, of course, since my point was that there was a connection (no one is disputing that Caner and Guthrie served on the board concurrently) between the two, nothing more. Whether Guthrie has rotated off the board is irrelevant to the fact that this explains the connection between the two.
Now, as a professional courtesy I wrote to James Walker, the head of Watchman Fellowship, yesterday afternoon before the program and let him know I was going to be addressing the connection between Guthrie and Caner. He wrote back---the time stamp on the e-mail in my system is 3:55pm. The DL starts at 4pm, and as those who have operated the sound board know, I am normally in the studio well before that, as I have to set up the camera, hook up the sound, and engage in various other preparations. Hence, I got Mr. Walker's e-mail after the program, not before. As I noted on the program, someone called, but did not stay on the line, who likewise said Guthrie is no longer on the board. As Mr. Walker indicated, his term had ended in 2009. All of which is interesting information, but irrelevant to the point I made, and that is that Guthrie, like everyone else coming to Ergun's side, has previous connections that clearly cloud judgment and introduce partiality and prejudice.
Now keep in mind the facts: as of yesterday afternoon anyone going to http://www.watchman.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.staff would have seen a board listing (no dates were given) that included Ergun Caner and Tim Guthrie. That has now changed due to this incident. But, despite this factual reality, what has Tim Guthrie done today? Well, you can guess, given that he cannot see the obvious truth regarding Caner's mythology: I have born false witness! I have attacked Tim Guthrie! Read this amazing outpouring of emotion and irrationality yourself. What is his case? It is easy to summarize in two points: 1) I based my comments on "a website" or an "Internet search" rather than contacting him personally, and 2) Guthrie never met Caner during his tenure on Watchman's Board. My response is brief, and simple:
1) Guthrie never once in his entire long diatribe mentions one little devastating fact: THE WEBSITE I WAS REFERRING TO IS THE OFFICIAL WATCHMAN FELLOWSHIP WEBSITE! How devious do you have to be to refer to the official website of the organization under discussion as "a website"? Note his exact words, "He revealed that he had found a website that listed me serving on the Board of Directors of Watchman Fellowship with Dr. Caner." Found a website? I didn't have to search! The listing is provided right there! If you wanted to know who the board members of Watchman Fellowship are, well, you go to Watchman Fellowship! It's public information, isn't it? Not once does he admit, "Well, Watchman had not updated the board listing on their website, so it is easy to understand why someone would assume I am still a board member, and easy to understand why someone would think there is a connection between myself and Ergun Caner, as we both sit on the same Board." Yes, that would be the logical result, but not for Tim Guthrie! No, it is MY fault that the website was a year out of date, and therefore I am guilty of bearing false witness! Remember, this is the same man who thinks Ergun Caner was "exonerated" by Liberty's seven sentence statement. I'd love to see Guthrie quote "Hadith 2425" and explain its relevance to the Qur'an, too.
2) It is utterly and completely irrelevant whether Tim Guthrie is Ergun Caner's bosom buddy BFF Facebook Friend Twitter Pal "He's on my speed dialer and we talk every ten minutes" soul mate. Once again Guthrie demonstrates the same incapacity for simple logical thought that marks so many of those in his clan: he can't seem to see how facts fit together into narratives. What point was I making? That those who are defending Caner are not unbiased, unprejudiced individuals who have examined the mountain of evidence against him fairly and fully. They are biased, prejudiced individuals who have been, to greater or lesser extents, influenced by those connections. Is Guthrie claiming he knew nothing about Ergun Caner prior to February of this year? Is he claiming he did not know Caner was on the board of the same ministry? That would be hard to believe. The fact remains that a connection exists: when you serve on a board, you had better know who else is on that board. That is one reason I have refused many invitations to do the same thing, as I simply do not want connections to exist that might come back to haunt me. You cannot completely avoid such things, of course, but some effort has to be made to check things out. So I don't care if Caner and Guthrie have never met or not: I am closer to some people I have never met than to a lot of folks I have. I have never met TurretinFan, for example, but consider him a dear and close brother in Christ, in whom I would place implicit trust. Same with Gene Clyatt, and a number of other folks that I know only remotely, but with whom I have regular and fruitful interaction. Guthrie is simply blowing smoke across the real issue: his own grossly biased defense of the indefensible. Why not deal with the further "misstatements" we discussed yesterday? Why not address Caner's continued Trinitarian struggles and problems? No, silence on substantive issues, but all the time in the world for more ad-hominem.
It is not surprising then that Peter Lumpkins passes over the obvious problem with Guthrie's diatribe and instead demonstrates that there are, indeed, people who are out for personal destruction---but it is not I in reference to Ergun Caner (we have always sought the same thing: confession, repentance, restoration), but it is Caner's defenders who seek my own. I will let Lumpkins speak for himself:
Already White lost his teaching privileges at GGBTS, one reason of which was over his insane obsession to bring EC down. And, I'm told by very reliable sources--I'm trying to get permission to go public with detailed info, a post I *would publish* if I can manage the permission--that there's already significant fallout with James White's ministry, including pulling his teaching materials, etc. from the data base.
Also, there is talk of invitations either being withdrawn or was going to be extended to him but, due to his ceaseless obsession with all things Caner, the consideration to invite him was dropped.
These are hints which suggest what I mentioned about James White shearing his own wool by insanely baa-baa baaing about EC.
With that, I am...
Who is out to attempt to destroy others? Lumpkins, Guthrie, Daliessio, etc. These are the kinds of people who will use every political tool available to them, to be sure. They may well succeed in making sure that the man who has debated Muslims on three continents and who has debated Bart Ehrman and John Dominic Crossan, etc., is kept away from teaching apologetics to a certain range of students, all for exposing a man who has lied for years in claiming to do the same things. Twisted, isn't it? It is, but it is nothing new. Remember, we are given insights into the kinds of attacks launched against Paul, John, and Peter, in the early church. Paul often had to make reference to lies and falsehoods told about both his teaching and his own character. You cannot read Galatians or the Corinthian corpus and not encounter this. So it is to be expected, especially when you dare gore the sacred cow of Celebrity in certain circles.
7/29/2010 - Dividing Line
07/29/2010 - Micah BurkeSince no one else has blogged it yet, here's the link to today's podcast. Discussed today: A May recording of Ergun Caner talking about haters. Dr. White also took two calls.
The Unofficial Catholic Apologist Commentary #13
07/29/2010 - James SwanRoman Catholic apologists often let us know how crucial it is to have an infallible magisterium and church Tradition in order to interpret the Bible correctly. With so many Catholic apologists now commenting on sacred scripture, I thought it would be interesting to provide their commentary on the Bible.
Let's see how they've been able to rightly divide the word of truth, in this instance, Galatians 2:11-16.
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?" We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
According to Pope Benedict, this text shows the perspectives of the two apostles were different, not contradictory. Both Peter and Paul were trying to protect the faith of those in either the Jewish or gentile groups. The Pope stated, "For [Peter], the separation of the pagans represented a way to teach and avoid scandalizing the believers coming from Judaism. For Paul, it constituted, on the other hand, the danger of a misunderstanding of the universal salvation in Christ offered as much to the pagans as to the Jews." Peter and Paul didn't contradict each other: "For [Peter], not losing the Jews who had embraced the Gospel, for [Paul], not diminishing the salvific value of the death of Christ for all believers." In other words, it appears Peter and Paul misunderstood each other. Benedict holds this confrontation "showed itself to be a lesson both for Peter and for Paul. Only sincere dialogue, open to the truth of the Gospel, could guide the path of the Church."
Dr. Robert Sungenis, the director of Catholic Apologetics International, strongly disagrees with this interpretation: Pope's Exegetical Blunder on Peter/Paul Conflict in Galatians 2 (pdf). Dr. Sungenis took the opportunity to correct Pope Benedict's interpretation of Galatians 2:11-16. Here are some choice excerpts:
"Although I admire Pope Benedict XVI, to be very honest, I believe he is quite incorrect in his analysis of the conflict between Peter and Paul in Galatians 2:11-16. I don't know anyone in the history of the church who has taken his side on this passage. Previous exegesis has taken the thesis-antithesis approach wherein Paul presents a thesis, and Peter's antithesis is not only wrong but it is akin to perverting the Gospel."
"I'm afraid to say that the pope's understanding of this passage falls right in line with the liberal hermeneutic that we have seen so often in the last forty years. It is the theological version of the Hegelian synthesis. Not surprisingly, the pope's interpretation of Galatians 2 is the precise way Protestant liberals,following Hegel, had interpreted the passage."
"Why is it, also, that Pope Benedict seems to have no qualms about scandalizing faithful Catholics by having an unconverted Jewish rabbi speak to the hundreds of bishops at the current Synod on Scripture, yet he allows for Peter to claim that the Jews would be scandalized by seeing Peter eat with Gentiles? I submit there is a double standard working here. It seems that the pope's criterion in both cases is how the scene affects the Jews, not how it affects Gentiles."
"Unfortunately, here the pope makes another exegetical blunder, for he is mixing very different contexts, Romans 14 and Galatians 2."
Now in case you're confused as to which personal interpretation to follow, here's an interesting related comment from Thomas Aquinas on the same passage. Note his description of Jerome's fourth argument, that Paul only pretended to rebuke Peter. This certainly is not an example of the "previous exegesis" that has "taken the thesis-antithesis approach."
Thomas Aquinas commenting on the Disagreement between Augustine and Jerome with respect to Paul's rebuke of Peter:
Thirdly, they disagree on the sin of Peter. For Jerome says that in the dissimulation previously mentioned, Peter did not sin, because he did this from charity and, as has been said, not from mundane fear. Augustine, on the other hand, says, that he did sin-venially, however-on account of the lack of discretion he had by adhering overmuch to one side, namely to the Jews, in order to avoid scandalizing them. But the stronger of Augustine's arguments against Jerome is that Jerome adduces on his own behalf seven doctors, four of whom, namely, Laudicens, Alexander, Origen, and Didymus, Augustine rejects as known heretics. To the other three he opposes three of his own, who held with him and his opinion, namely, Ambrose, Cyprian, and Paul himself, who plainly teaches that Peter was deserving of rebuke. Therefore, if it is unlawful to say that anything false is contained in Sacred Scripture, it will not be lawful to say that Peter was not deserving of rebuke. For this reason the opinion and statement of Augustine is the truer, because it is more in accord with the words of the Apostle.
"Fourthly, they disagree on Paul's rebuke. For Jerome says that Paul did not really rebuke Peter but pretended to do so, just as Peter pretended to observe the legal justifications, i.e. just as Peter in his unwillingness to scandalize the Jews pretended to observe the justifications, so Paul, in order not to scandalize the Gentiles, feigned displeasure at Peter's action and pretended to rebuke him. This was done, as it were, by mutual consent, so that each might exercise his care over the believers subject to them. Augustine, however, just as he says that Peter really did observe the justifications, says that Paul truly rebuked him without pretense. Furthermore, Peter really sinned by observing them, because his action was a source of scandal to the Gentiles from whom he separated himself. But Paul did not sin in rebuking him, because no scandal followed from his rebuke [St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Saint Paul?s Epistle to the Galatians, trans. F. R. Larcher, O.P. (Albany: Magi Books, Inc.1966), Chapter 2, Lecture 3, pp. 51-52].
A faithful Roman Catholic can choose either the interpretation of the pope, Sungenis or neither. There probably isn't anything infallible as to who is right, so the text can be interpreted as one sees fit. For all the talk about having an infallible authority, a Roman Catholic can still read this text however he wants to, even coming up with something similar to Jerome's interpretation.
As David King points out in Holy Scripture, The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Volume 1:
Let us be clear. In exercising private interpretation, Sungenis is not exempt from the charge of uncertainty to which he strongly objects. He leaves his reader with the mistaken impression that his own exegesis of Scripture is an accurate reflection of official Roman Catholic teaching on the passages he adduces. But where are these official interpretations? In reality, the communion of Rome condemns and thus precludes any certainty in the exercise of private exegesis. In contrast to Sungenis, Roman Catholic scholar, Raymond Brown, informs us that: "Roman Catholics who appeal explicitly to Spirit-guided church teaching are often unaware that their church has seldom if ever definitively pronounced on the literal meaning of a passage of Scripture, i.e., what the author meant when he wrote it. Most often the church has commented on the on-going meaning of Scripture by resisting the claims of those who would reject established practices or beliefs as unbiblical [pp. 90-91].
07/28/2010 - James WhiteA discussion of the difference between even consistent misstatements over time, and lying. Hopefully some helpful thoughts.
07/28/2010 - James WhiteI have really lined out an incredible schedule for myself this fall. Beginning next week I fly to New York twice in August, with a trip to Detroit sandwiched in between. I will be debating twice in New York, once with David Silverman, national representative of the American Atheists, and once with Christopher Ferrara, a Roman Catholic spokesperson and attorney. In the middle of the month I will be in Detroit, doing live programs on ABN (be watching!) and recording other programs during the day, then speaking at the God and Culture Conference that weekend. While some of those costs are covered sometimes (airline tickets, etc.) others are not (rental cars, food, sometimes hotels). Then September has me in Santa Fe and Southern California on consecutive weekends (two debates with Sungenis in Santa Fe, speaking on the doctrines of grace in the Escondido area the next weekend), with a major debate on the Tuesday in between where I will be teaming up with Michael Brown to debate Sir Anthony Buzzard and another unitarian! What a ten day stretch that will be! Then in October I am up in Minneapolis for a Bible conference, and the very next weekend in Newberg, Oregon for another debate with Sungenis. Barely ten days home and off to Peru with Heart Cry Ministries to train pastors in apologetics. Some of the costs for these trips are covered by the sponsoring churches and groups, some are not.
So, I wanted to let our supporters know of the continuing need to meet the extra expenses associated with the large amount of travel I will be doing over the next few months. I'd think some folks would want to donate just to get me out of town! But even looking beyond this fall, next February I need to get back to the United Kingdom. I will be seeking to visit a number of important papyri that are housed at Oxford or up in Dublin as well. So if you can help with these ministry efforts, please do so. Few things are more helpful than to go into these debates with a clear mind, undistracted by financial concerns and shortfalls. Click here to help!
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Continuation of the Slick/Sungenis Discussion on Today's DL
07/27/2010 - James WhiteToday we pressed on listening to Robert Sungenis illustrate "sola ecclesia" to the nth degree. Here's the program.
You will note I mentioned waiting for the FedEx van to show up. Well, it did, just a few minutes after the program. It brought me a package that I knew was coming, but, I did not know, for certain anyway, what it contained. Some of you who have attended my talks over the years have heard me speak on the history of the Greek text. As I go through the early printed editions I mention having seen the 1550 Stephanus text back in the late 90s, and how I informed the collector who had it that he needed to put me in his will so that I would someday have that text. Well, thankfully, that good brother decided not to wait for his homecoming. I have that gorgeous text (it is in INCREDIBLE condition for being 460 years old!) right next to me on my desk. Now to find a way to protect it so that when I speak on that topic in the future I can bring it with me. In any case, it is a tremendous encouragement to have this great monument to the transmission of divine writ down through the ages as a part of the ministry's resources.
The Glorious Sonoran Desert
07/26/2010 - James WhiteGiven that more information (important information) is about to come out about the Ergun Caner Scandal and resultant Great Evangelical Cover Up (specifically, the recording of Caner's lecture to the US Marines has been obtained by the indefatigable Jason Smathers), I wanted to do something enjoyable real quick. Sadly, one of the pictures I took on my ride this morning simply disappeared from my camera, but I did get these three. But the story behind them is what makes them a bit more special.
I started riding in 1993. Sometime back in the 93-98 time frame I met Eddie McKee. And I introduced Eddie to cycling. Took him on his first 50 mile ride, and almost killed him. Had to ride alongside him and push him home the last few miles. It's called bonking. But Eddie is a natural cyclist, and in the years since, the student has become the master. Eddie is a monster on a bike. Massive aerobic capacity. And it was his being a cyclist that got him his wife! And that's where this story gets fun.
I had heard for years about how Eddie and Lucy met. Eddie lives on the "East side" of the Valley (I live on the West, which is not nearly as interesting as the East). And Eddie had started riding "Tortilla Flats." First, the name is very, very misleading. The Tortilla Flats ride is anything but flat. 36 miles (shortest route, 18 out and back), 3119 feet of ascent. Lots of climbs, lots of descents. It's a tough ride. If you are into that kind of thing, here is a link to the route and you can click the "show elevation" box to see the profile. Anyway, one day, many years ago, Eddie rode Tortilla Flats. The ride takes you out to a point where the pavement ceases and it becomes dirt. Only mountain bikers go beyond there, us roadies like the pavement. And while Eddie was stopped out there (and the first two pictures I'm providing were taken at that very spot), along came some more cyclists. And who did Eddie meet in that group of cyclists? Lucy. And let's just say that some of the floral decorations from their wedding at PRBC were in our sanctuary for years afterward. So, in a sense, Eddie owes his marital bliss...to me! :-)
Well, Eddie and Lucy had talked about Tortilla Flats many times, but now that I'm getting well into the "riding is really fun again, climbing is enjoyable again" weight range, I decided I needed to find out about this ride. Problem is, it is on the other side of creation from me, and this is summer in Phoenix. Get your ride done by 90 minutes after sunrise or be prepared to pay a steep price. And even then, with the dew points stuck in the 60s for the foreseeable future, long, hard efforts are going to drain you. So, you start early. Very early. In the dark early. So a few weeks ago Eddie and I planned to ride Tortilla Flats this morning. So, the alarm went off at 3:07am...that's how far a drive it is to the start from where I live. And off we went, around 5:10am, Eddie, myself, and Dave, a retired engineer who, in his sixties, can still outrun me up any hill on the planet (but he's the guy you want with you on a ride because I am convinced he could actually build a functional bike with the tools in his pack and the debris you can find alongside the road). In fact, my climbing bike Dave built himself years ago (passed it on to Eddie, who passed it on to me---bikes are expensive, and I don't know any rich folks who want to donate a 58cm Trek Madone for me to ride, so I'll take the hand-me-downs with thankfulness!).
To say it was an enjoyable ride is an understatement. To say it was a workout would be an understatement, too. I took a shot at Canyon Lake, and evidently did not save it correctly to my camera. The first two pictures are at the turn around point 18 miles in, and this one I just had to stop and take on the way back. Just a few minutes before I took this picture I had been flying down the steepest portion of the climb (9%) at 43.4 mph...I'd say "hair flying in the wind" but that would be a bit of an exaggeration. The road is not nearly as smooth as South Mountain, and I would not want to be on it Friday through Sunday (it is the main route boaters take to and from the Salt River lakes), but this morning we had the road to ourselves. It was a little windy, rather humid, but a glorious morning for a ride. And I have decided that next time, I'm taking my Droid and its 8 megapixel camera! No more cheapie flip phone pix. This kind of scenery deserves at least a few megapixels.
The Sonoran desert is truly gorgeous. It can seem stark and foreboding to many when they first see it. You have to respect it. A fellow in the parking lot where we finished our ride was telling us that they had just given up looking for three hikers in the very same area who had disappeared three weeks earlier. This is the area of the "Lost Dutchman Mine" and the like. But it has a stark beauty that you grow to appreciate over time. There are so many places like this in Arizona, from the incredible forests on the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff through these vistas in the Superstition Mountains to the beautiful views from Mt. Lemmon in Tucson---Arizona is truly a wonder.
Is Mohammad Prophesied in the Bible? London Debate with Shabir Ally, 2008
07/26/2010 - James White
Yet Another Reason to Get Up at 3:45am
07/24/2010 - James White
The heavens declare the glory of God.
(Taken on my cheapie riding phone at the corner of Jomax Road and Westwing Parkway at 5:37am, over an hour into my ride. Total for the past two days: 100 miles, and that while fighting off a bug. I think I've discovered a miracle cure!).
Is Jesus Prophesied in the Old Testament? Parts 1 and 2 vs. Shabir Ally, London, 2008
07/24/2010 - James WhiteHere is the YouTube video of the first of two debates between myself and Shabir Ally that took place in London in November of 2008. We are thankful to those who made it possible for us to finally have this footage.
Today on the DL: Veritas Seminary and More on Rome
07/22/2010 - James WhiteStarted off with a brief discussion about this amazing and sad story about the degradation of our culture. Then moved on to the Veritas "exoneration" of Ergun Caner, and then moved back to the Slick/Sungenis discussion, in particular, on the issue of tradition and Scripture. Here's the program.
The Ergun Caner Cover-Up: A Geisler Excuse Self-Implodes
07/22/2010 - James WhiteYou will recall that Norman Geisler has taken the lead in the cover-up of the Ergun Caner scandal, seemingly intent upon protecting his fellow Veritas professor from the great Calvinistic conspiracy at all costs. A hand full of surface-level excuses have been offered by Geisler, all of which have been reviewed and found to lack much in the way of real veritas by myself and others. But the clip I posted last evening contains a full refutation of one of Geisler's many erroneous defenses of Caner. Remember what Geisler wrote:
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!
So, has it ever been rational to interpret Caner's "my father had many wives" statement as "my father divorced my mother and married another woman"? Of course not, for we all know that Caner made those statements in a particular context of demonstrating his alleged pedigree in things Islamic, and the point was brought up in the context of living in Turkey (myth) and how his father was an Islamic scholar (well, an ulema which is the same thing as saying he was a "scholars"). Everyone in the audience knew what he meant, but those involved in this scandalous cover-up are grasping at straws, so this amazing excuse has been offered by Dr. Norman Geisler, Provost of Veritas Evangelical Seminary.
But now the question needs to be asked of Dr. Geisler, in light of Ergun Caner's claims, made in front of an audience on September 22, 2006 (Dr. Ron Rhodes is seen in the video sitting on the front row, hence, the accuracy of the video can be verified by known attendees), whether he will withdraw this excuse and ask Dr. Caner to answer the question with honesty? All one must do is watch the video posted earlier, fast forward to the 4:05 time mark, and listen for yourself. What does Caner say? He calls his father a polygamist, and plainly tells the audience that his father used the "Abraham lie" so as to bring his multiple wives with him. How can this be denied? To even attempt to make an excuse for this is to throw common sense and rationality out the window. Caner made the claim. Will Norman Geisler show respect for truth and 1) remove the false excuse he has offered on his website, and 2) ask Ergun Caner to explain himself?
I would like to suggest a further course of action. Norman Geisler is clearly in contact with Emir Caner, Ergun's brother. Ask Emir Caner to openly and publicly tell the entire world: did his father come to the United States with other women in tow, as a polygamist Muslim? Who are these women? Where do they live? Why is there no mention of them in the divorce papers or in Acar Caner's will? Are we truly to believe that given the acrimony involved in the divorce that Monica Caner, who, according to Emir, stopped practicing Islam and became a "hippy," would not have mentioned the fact that Acar Caner had other wives and was breaking the laws of the United States by practicing polygamy while living here?
Roger Beckwith's Classic Work Back in Print
07/22/2010 - James WhiteI am thankful I purchased this book back when it was initially in print from a major Christian publisher. It went out of print, and at one point a friend of the ministry even paid to have a special print run done, so valuable is the historical information contained therein. For anyone with an interest in the field of the study of the canon of Scripture, and in particular, relating to the apocryphal writings that Rome has defined as canon Scripture, Roger Beckwith's work is a must have. Once we saw it was back in print, we hurried to get a small supply. Click here to order your copy today!
Reformed Hermeneutics/Homiletics (Update)
07/22/2010 - Jeff DownsI just finished uploading a conference that Dr Joseph Pipa and Dr. Richard Gaffin, Jr. participated in back in 1998. The theme of the conference was Reformed Hermeneutics and Homiletics. Those interested in preaching and the various issues in homiletics such as the redemptive-historical approach, this audio will be of interest to you.
Richard Gaffin has been a professor at WTS since1965 and is the author of numerous articles and books including Resurrection and Redemption: A Study in Paul's Soteriology and By Faith, and Not by Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation.
You can also listen to some of his courses from WTS such as The Canon or The Theology of Hebrews by signing up here.
Of course, you should not forget Dr. White's own contribution to homiletics in his Pulpit Crimes: The Criminal Mishandling of God's Word.
Update: You can read Richard Gaffin's essay The Glory of God in Paul's Epistles in the latest edition of Theology in Community The Glory of God.
A Sampling of Ergun Caner's Myths
07/21/2010 - James WhiteThe "exoneration" statement by Veritas Evangelical Seminary came to my attention on the same day I viewed the footage contained in the following brief video. I collected together the various elements of mythology--untruths, lies, exaggerations, etc., and put them into a less than ten minute montage. And so I ask a simple question: what kind of thinking could possibly lead someone to the conclusion that the consistent, decade-long repetition of these "misstatements" can be dismissed in the cavalier fashion exemplified by the Veritas statement that dares to parallel the failures of imperfect people with this kind of purposeful, systemic, consistent misrepresentation on Ergun Caner's part? It boggles the mind.
(This video from the California Christian Apologetics Conference, September 22, 2006 at the Harbor Light Assembly of God in Fremont, California.)
Oh, and by the way. I still have not heard any response from Norman Geisler about my challenge to him. Remember what I challenged him to do:
So my question, Dr. Geisler is this: please quote for us Hadith 2425 and explain its relevance to the Qur'an. If you cannot do so, please explain your defense of Ergun and Emir Caner's use of a citation system that cannot lead one to the proper citation, but instead would leave one to have to guess.
Remember, "Veritas" is the Latin Word for "Truth"
07/21/2010 - James WhiteI had missed this official statement from Veritas Evangelical Seminary regarding Ergun Caner. It concludes by saying,
Since Dr. Caner’s conversion testimony was validated, he was not charged with any legal, moral, mal-intent, or theological heresy, only “misstatements” (common to all speakers, for which he has apologized), VES will be retaining Dr. Caner as a valued adjunct faculty member and regular speaker at VES conferences. In light of these findings, VES considers Dr. Caner exonerated from all charges.
Exonerated. I guess that's why he isn't teaching this fall and isn't Dean any longer? Words have meanings, and stretching them to the breaking point should be something we leave to the atheists or the cultists, don't you think?
I was sent a video of a 2006 presentation by Caner at a conference in which he repeats all of his "misstatements," including some new ones. All mythological, all false. I wonder if VES is going to start changing their material so that Joseph Smith's statements about, say, the First Vision, are no longer "false" but just "misstatements"? That would at least be consistent. In this video Caner again claims to have come to the US in 1978, but this time he claims to have studied in a madrassa in Beirut. Yes, Beirut. And he says his father brought his wives, plural, with him to America. Uses the term polygamy. And in the context of talking about how dedicated he was to Islam, how fearful he was of the "scales," he again claims to have rolled out his prayer rug in the bathroom in high school. He likewise talks about wearing the Islamic garb (not just a cap, the entire wardrobe), and how his mother took off her Islamic clothing in the baptistry when he baptized her (though Emir said she had been a hippie for at least 15 years before this). It is a veritable myth-fest, and the folks in the audience really seemed to enjoy it (including at least one current Veritas professor that I could see). There was very little Veritas in Caner's presentation---perhaps he should teach for Dolus Evangelical Seminary instead?
I am trying to fight off a bug right now, so maybe I will have time to put together a series of clips from the presentation.
And the cover-up goes on...
07/21/2010 - James White
Tuesday Miscellaneous (Doesn't Sound as Good as Monday, but It's Tuesday)
07/20/2010 - James WhiteFirst, I've been hearing from a number of sources that Ergun Caner's name has disappeared from the Fall teaching schedule at Liberty. This seems to lend a fair amount of support to the supposition that the year "teaching" contract was nothing more than "Here, take a year to look for another position." Those who have been running about yelling "Exonerated!" might wish to consider what it would really mean if Caner is not teaching at Liberty in the Fall. It will be interesting to watch this situation and see what develops. If, in fact, Caner does not teach, and "finds another calling" for next year, it would be hard to avoid the conclusion that Liberty's action was thoroughly political and intended to make it easier for him to get a position elsewhere "once this dies down." In other words, about as unbiblical an approach as could be taken to a serious situation involving a total breach of trust in the pulpit and in the classroom.
Phil Johnson noted this article from BioLogos that caught my attention. The article speaks of the "consensus" that exists amongst scientists regarding evolution (whatever type of that particular theory they might be referring to), and concludes with these words:
A scientific consensus represents a hard-won victory over every imaginable sort of opposition. We should not set aside such consensus just because a tiny group of articulate outsiders offer us some ideas that we might like better. The ID movement has people with Ph.D.s to be sure. And a few of them have conventional scientific posts. But their pleas that we set aside scientific consensus must be ignored.
If the true nature of BioLogos had not been obvious before now, it should be. I had a brief discussion with someone via Twitter about the comment I made regarding Phil's citing of this article. I wrote, "BioLogos: Intellectuals in love with the world's wisdom, ashamed of the Lordship of Christ, ignoring the evidence of Creation. Sad." Nobody mentioned Peter Enns in response, but someone did mention Bruce Waltke. Evidently the thinking is, "A group's actions represent every single individual associated therewith, and hence all comments about the group as a whole can be immediately applied to each individual." I do not know what Bruce Waltke thinks about that article. I only paid cursory attention to the dispute that broke out when he indicated that rejecting evolutionary theory puts us in danger of becoming cultic. I have fought that battle far too long to invest much effort worrying about those who have obviously not taken the time to seriously consider the glaring, obvious, "right in front of your eyes if you would but open them" evidence of the designed nature of the universe around us, and even more so, within us. I learned from the lectures of evolutionists that life is not the result of random chance acting without teleological direction over vast amounts of time. (In fact, ironically, I ended up talking about that during the adult Bible Study class this past Sunday, found here).
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Yesterday on the DL: Glenn Beck
07/20/2010 - James WhiteI had so many people contact me asking whether what Glenn Beck was saying was classical LDS theology I took the time to go over his comments and compare them with official LDS sources. Result? Who knows? But hopefully it was educational! Here's the program.
Abdullah al Andalusi Debate from London
07/20/2010 - James WhiteRich Pierce has been working hard to get certain video projects completed. Here is my debate with Abdullah al Andalusi from February of this year in London, "The Great Trinity Debate."
Intercession in the New Testament
07/19/2010 - James WhiteContinuation of our study of the Epistle to the Hebrews, PRBC AM service.
Sharia Love? What is That?
07/17/2010 - James WhiteThe following video was posted two weeks ago. It is titled, "Arrested in Dearborn? Not! Sharia Love in Dearborn 2010." It was posted by Josh McDowell's ministry.
Let's leave aside, for the moment, the inappropriateness of the background music. The accusation that has been repeated for the past number of weeks is simple. How can folks like Josh McDowell get along just fine at the Arabic Festival but Nabeel Qureshi and David Wood can't? I mean, they are all Christians, and clearly, since we have video and audio, even Josh McDowell had cameras and recording equipment, just like David and Nabeel. So how come David, Nabeel, Paul, and Nageen ended up in the slammer, and nobody else did? They must have done something wrong!
I found this video interesting for many reasons. At the end you have a number of stills that, seemingly, are meant to communicate the idea that a lot of witnessing was going on. But, if you look carefully, you will see one man in three of the shots: Nadir Ahmed, sometime Islamic apologist (if you need a reminder about Nadir, click here). I do not know if McDowell's folks know Nadir Ahmed, but I would love to have heard those conversations. Remember, Nadir even showed up at PRBC one Sunday night demanding I debate him.
The second thing I found interesting was the books being given away free. They are not, of course, specifically on the subject of Christianity and Islam. They are fictional novels, as I understand it. While there is nothing wrong with that, I do have a hard time equating distribution of fictional literature with gospel proclamation. The video ends with the saying, "Until the whole world hears." Hears what, specifically? Well, the gospel of course. But what is involved in making sure Muslims "hear" the gospel? Well, let's step away from this immediate context for a moment and answer the question in another context, then come back to Dearborn.
For years we have stood outside the Mesa Easter Pageant in Mesa, Arizona, witnessing to Mormons. If you want the Mormons to "hear" the gospel, what must you do? Well, you have to know what Mormons believe. They think they know the gospel better than anyone else. They believe they alone possess the gospel in its fulness. And their gospel finds its origination in an exalted man from another planet who became a god. The end of their gospel is a ritualized system of works righteousness that leads to exaltation to godhood. In other words, there are a whole host of foundational issues that must be addressed with Mormons before they will have "heard" the gospel. Simply telling them, "Believe in Jesus!" is insufficient. They already think they do. Telling them to repent does no good, since they think they already have. No, to attempt to get the Mormons to "hear" the gospel requires very specialized discussion about specific issues. ...
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More on "How to Lie in a Police Report"
07/17/2010 - James WhiteAnd we wondered why the Dearborn PD held onto those cameras for so long....
I sure hope there is a means of remedying the filing of simple lies in police reports.
The Arrest of Nabeel Qureshi and David Wood
07/17/2010 - James WhiteWe finally have video of the arrest of David Wood and Nabeel Qureshi in Dearborn. I am truly incensed. I am incensed, of course, at the grossly unconstitutional actions of the Dearborn PD (and the clearly politically based cover up by the Dearborn city government, especially the chief of police and the mayor, that has followed). I am not really upset with certain Muslim rabble-rousers who have been attacking David and Nabeel: they are only showing their hearts by their behavior. But I am most incensed at the Christians who have borne false witness, to me personally, about the behavior of David and Nabeel. I have known David and Nabeel for a few years now. Before I post the video, let me give you some context.
I had spent about an hour with Nabeel, David, and Nageen (I am uncertain if Paul was with us at lunch) the afternoon they were arrested at the ABN studios. I was talking with the head of ABN when they came in (we had gotten some burritos for them at a local restaurant). As soon as Nabeel came in he told me he had just finished a class on systematic theology, said he thought he had a good grip on the issues relating to Reformed theology, and launched a series of good questions for me. This led to a discussion on the key elements of my beliefs as a Calvinist. It was not an argument, it was a good period of questions on Nabeel's part, answers on mine. And Nabeel was listening carefully to my replies. This is how I know Nabeel...as an honest hearted young man, brilliant (a medical doctor!), teachable, intense. I have tried to be a good example of a more mature believer for him, as little contact as we have had. And I hope I have done the same for David (this was the first time I met Nageen).
In any case, when I had people telling me about bad behavior of Nabeel and David, I was immediately suspicious. But why would Christian groups bear false witness about them? Well, why has Hussein Wario become a wild-eyed defender of Ergun Caner? I do not know, but it happens. But I have said to a number of folks, "How about we just wait for the video footage?" And now we have it.
Please note something: every objection these kids (and they are kids Nabeel is talking to---Nabeel attracts young people) are throwing at Nabeel are standard, every-day Islamic objections to the Christian faith. I have answered every single one of them many, many times, during debates, after debates, in all sorts of contexts. And Nabeel answered every single one exactly as I would have. He was bearing witness to a relatively small group of young people exactly as I have done literally hundreds of times over the years in places like Salt Lake City and Mesa, Arizona. And in the vast majority of those instances, officers of the law were nearby. And I have never been arrested, because, obviously, there is absolutely, positively nothing illegal about what Nabeel was doing, or what David was doing, or what Paul was doing, or what Nageen was doing. And every single person in the Dearborn PD and city government knows it. Or, they will, after the courts get done explaining the Constitution to them, anyway. Nabeel Qureshi was arrested for presenting the Christian faith clearly and openly in the face of Islamic objections. The video proof now exists. I think a lot of Christians owe Acts 17 major apologies. I hope they offer those apologies, publicly.
Pray that this case will be handled correctly. Our Constitutional rights are at stake here. The arrest report is clearly fraudulent, as this evidence demonstrates. The parties responsible need to be held accountable to the law. Not Sharia, to the Constitution of the United States of America, where this took place.
Advantages to Being Up at 3:45am
07/16/2010 - James WhiteIf it were not for this time period during the year, everyone would live in Phoenix. But, just as there are brutal weather periods back East, so this is our "the Chamber of Commerce would rather you didn't mention conditions right now" time. Predicted high today? 115. Low this morning? Well, I was riding by 4:15am (I have a great headlight for my bike) and I have a thermometer on my Garmin 500 that plunged at one point to a bone-chilling 93.4F. That was the low at sunrise. And no, with dew points now in the upper 50s and lower 60s (even had a little rain for a few miles), it is not dry and enjoyable like it was back in May and June. So that is why you get up at 3:45am and get going, so you can get 35 miles in before the sun begins to bake you.
About ninety minutes into my ride this morning I came out from an underpass and saw this. I carry a cheapie old flip phone while riding (I have very rarely fallen, but if I do, I don't want my Droid underneath me when I land) so the picture is less than impressive (I think I will find a really light upgrade phone with a really good camera next time, as I do see some great things while riding, now, 51,000+ miles mainly in the desert). But the rain squall was creating a glowing curtain of light, and it was gorgeous. A few minutes earlier the light had been coming from the West instead of the East as it was reflecting off of cloud tops to the West but was not penetrating the thick cloud layer to the East. That was an eery feeling, as it looked like sunset instead of sunrise. In any case, the desert has a grandeur all its own, and I often find myself humming "How Great Thou Art" as I wonder at God's creation, and give thanks that I get to enjoy the health to be out there in those early morning hours.
Rome's Apologists and Trinitarian Accuracy
07/16/2010 - James WhiteThis morning I was directed to a new feature of the Catholic Answers website, their video wall, found here. And what to my wondering eyes should appear right at the top of the "wall" but a video I reviewed over two years ago when Steve Ray linked to it by one Russ Rentler. At the time I produced the video below pointing out that not only was it historically inaccurate in many places, but it is simply not orthodox. It presents a modalistic view of the Trinity, with the Father becoming incarnate! But, as a further example of how rarely Rome's apologists even bother to see what is being said in response to their tired old arguments, here is the same unorthodox video posted on the Catholic Answers website. It really does make you wonder why Rome's apologists find Trinitarian accuracy so irrelevant. I wonder---if the performer had presented an understanding of, say, one of the Marian dogmas, that was clearly unorthodox, would they be posting his video? I doubt it. Tells you a little something about the priorities on the far side of the Tiber River. Here's that video, and the easy refutation of its claims, from March of 2008:
07/15/2010 - James WhiteHad to share this.
More Official Documentation Comes to Light
07/15/2010 - James WhiteJason Smathers has produced more official, legal documentation relating to the many mythological claims made by Ergun Caner over the past nine years. The key fact established beyond question here? The exact date when the Caner family arrived in the United States from Sweden: September 13, 1969. Relevance? Ergun Caner was born November 3, 1966. That means Ergun Caner was two years, ten months, and ten days old when he came to these shores. Unless we are to believe that the Caners took so many trips to Turkey with young Ergun that he never went to school in Ohio, it is obvious, beyond all question, that Ergun learned English in the Ohio school system, even participating in school plays in high school (as documented from the relevant yearbooks). So remember this as you listen to the many sermons Ergun Caner has preached in which he narrates his coming here in 1979, from Turkey, where he lived "most of his life," and how he wore Muslim garb and did not know anything about Christians (because there are so few in Turkey) and how he spoke broken English as he spoke to the Baptist pastor who led him to faith in Christ. And then compare the reality seen in the legal documentation, and consider the ramifications of the actions not only of Ergun Caner, but now of those who are enabling him to avoid confession and repentance.
Think as well on the impact on the gospel of joining such self-promotional myth-making to the telling of a conversion story, and how this must sound to Muslims who now know the truth (and see Caner refusing to be open and honest). What of the Christians who knew Ergun as a young boy in elementary school in Ohio? Surely some of his teachers were Christians. What must they think? What about those who knew him then? Or his fellow high school classmates? What kind of testimony is it that you can rise to the heights Caner rose to on such a foundation of myth-making?
And what about the folks who have signed up to attend the Veritas Seminary apologetics conferences beginning next weekend? Will they hear from the speakers about the need for truthfulness, honesty, and integrity in handling the Word of God, history, and argumentation? Will any of them ask Ergun Caner how he can exhort us to be truthful witnesses for Christ when he is refusing to speak openly and honestly to the mountain of legal documentation, video recordings, and audio recordings, that document his dishonesty while standing before the people of God? Will Norman Geisler be asked to quote Hadith 2425 and explain its relevance to the Qur'an, as we have challenged him to (as a glowing example of the illogical nature of his attempted defenses of Ergun Caner's errors)? Only time will tell.
More on the Slick/Sungenis Discussion
07/15/2010 - James WhiteI continued my review of the Slick/Sungenis discussion, today discussing issues relating to sola scriptura and textual critical issues. We will continue with a discussion of tradition and Scripture on the next DL, which will be Monday afternoon at 4pm. Here's the program.
A Few Miscellaneous Items
07/14/2010 - James WhiteTom Chantry has offered another insightful commentary on the Ergun Caner Scandal/Evangelical Cover-Up here. He concludes:
I suggest this. Pick one sermon - say the Prestonwood Baptist Church sermon from 2001. (Sorry that the link is to AOMin, but hey, I'm not the one taking down links to my sermons all over the web!) Listen to that sermon, and compare it to the established facts about Caner's background. The conclusion is inescapable.
A kid from Ohio went around right after 9-11 telling churches that he was trained as a Jihadist/terrorist while he was growing up in Turkey.
Next, I happened to see a person who claims to be a "former Calvinist" linking to a piece by a Roman Catholic priest exhorting folks to pray for Christopher Hitchens. Of course, lots of folks have done the same thing, and, in fact, as soon as the news hit, we called for such prayer here on this blog, and altered the banner ad to include that exhortation as well. Yet, this alleged "former Calvinist" gives a glaring example of "convert syndrome memory loss" by saying that such an exhortation would have been considered "humanistic drivel" back when this person was a "Calvinist." What is "drivel," of course, is praying to saints or angels or Mary to grant Christopher Hitchens life and repentance. Christopher needs God's grace---not a grace that tries to save, but powerful, saving grace. And that "former Calvinist" no longer claims to know a God capable of such powerful grace.
Programming note: I will need to move next Tuesday morning's regularly scheduled Dividing Line to Monday afternoon, 4pm MST (4pm PDT, 7pm EDT). We will probably still be reviewing the Sungenis/Slick discussion, as I have a lot to say!
Reflections on a Passed Saint
07/14/2010 - James WhiteI attended a memorial today for a saint of God I knew many years ago. In fact, I was his assistant for a period of time when I was in college. His name was Pastor Harold Green. He was the associate pastor of the North Phoenix Baptist Church back in the 80s and 90s (I was a member there from 1978 to 1989). Harold was the kind of guy who always had a positive word for you, always directed you to look to Jesus. He had the fastest sense of humor west of the Mississippi. I still chuckle at some of the stories he told, and cringe at the few times I tried to get one past him (it just wasn't possible). He had a real pastor's heart. The church was very, very large, and when you came in looking for guidance or help, it was normally Harold Green who you ended up dealing with.
I would like to share only two Harold Green stories briefly here. The first showed his humor. We were attending either a wedding or a funeral at the church. I even remember where we were sitting in the very large main auditorium, and I happened to be sitting next to Harold Green (which makes me think this was a wedding, since, in your late teens/early twenties you attend a lot more of those than you do funerals, and the slow and noticeable transition between the predominance of the one over the other is, I think, part of God's way of reminding you that your a mortal and you should be considering eternity). In any case, they started that well known song, "Morning Has Broken." Harold leaned over to me and in his own inimitable style said, "Please, whatever you do, make sure they do NOT sing this song at my funeral." Well, I just attended the funeral, and his wishes were carefully observed.
But the far more important story relates to something he said to me that I have carried with me my entire life. (I am thankful that I and my father had lunch with Harold about two years ago or so, and I had the opportunity to tell him about this incident, and how much it had impacted me). The staff at NPBC was very large, and as is the case when you put redeemed sinners together in close quarters, sometimes friction developed. Well, I saw Harold mistreated, clearly, by one of the other staff members out in the main area of the offices (I had a small office directly across from Harold's). I followed Harold into his office and asked him, "Harold, how do you put up with that?" And he turned to me and said, "Jim, if you ever get your eyes off the Shepherd and onto the sheep, you will burn out of the ministry quickly." I have never forgotten those words, to be sure, and am thankful for the wisdom I learned from Harold Green.
The memorial was more like a reunion. It was surreal to see so many people I had not seen, in most cases for twenty one years. Some had changed little, some had changed a lot. But, we had all changed. I had hoped Rick Green would be there, Harold's son, and he was. Rick and I had sung in a group there at NPBC called "Liberation." Some of my fondest memories go back to Liberation and the traveling we did, singing in churches all over the area (we even won the small group competition at the Christian Music Festival in Estes Park, Colorado, in the summer of 1981). Rick sang tenor, I sang bass. Time has been far more kind to him in appearance than it has to me, to be sure! And I really wanted to make sure to get a chance to say hello to Pastor Richard Jackson. My wife was with me, and I knew that he would never recognize me, but he would probably recognize my wife, since she, like Rick Green, looks almost identical to how she looked when Richard Jackson officiated at our wedding in June of 1982. Pastor Jackson was very gracious, and said that he has kept up with my work, and is thankful for what the Lord has done in my life. It was great to get a chance to speak with him, if only briefly.
I am sure Harold Green would have been pleased that some of us (myself included) had to stand along the walls of the chapel building (which is larger than most church buildings, seating over 500) for his memorial. And yet, there was much laughter, much joy, for you just could not think back upon your interactions with Harold without smiling. So many of us had gone our various ways, and it was a reunion tinged with sadness, yet, with an abiding joy and thankfulness for a life lived in service to Christ.
07/14/2010 - James White
Robert Sungenis and the Bodily Assumption of Mary on the DL!
07/13/2010 - James WhiteI had been contacted by a number of people regarding the encounter between Dr. Robert Sungenis and Matt Slick that aired a week ago Monday, so I started reviewing the program and interacting with the claims that were made. (In fact, I started typing this post, had to stop as I was on Matt's program for about half an hour, and am now picking back up). I will continue that next program as well. I will be covering a lot of topics including scriptural authority, tradition, the early church, the text of the New Testament, exegesis, etc., so I hope this series is useful to everyone. Here's the program.
And You Thought August 30th Had Gotten Boring
07/13/2010 - James WhiteIt's been a busy day around the A&O headquarters. Had a great DL on some really important topics (I will blog that next). Then I was invited (and I accepted, despite what this is going to mean as to preparation time and effort) to join my good friend and brother Michael Brown in a televised two-on-two debate with Sir Anthony Buzzard and another Unitarian on the Trinity right here in Phoenix on September 14th (how could I possibly say no?). This will be only a few days after my two-debate encounter with Bob Sungenis in Santa Fe! Then, I got word from Chris Arnzen that Fr. Peter Stravinskas has agreed to debate me on the role of Mary in the life of the Christian at a large Roman Catholic high school in Long Island on Saturday, August 28th. So, I will do that debate, preach at Lynnbrook Baptist Church and the Massapequa Church of God on Sunday, and then do the debate with American Atheists VP David Silverman Monday evening. Turning into one of the most intensive late summer/fall seasons I can remember! Pray for the now scheduled six debates between now and my trip to Peru at the beginning of November!
Imam Reality TV
07/13/2010 - James WhiteSo, how long till we see this in America, replacing pastoral search committees at mega churches?
It Takes a Long Time to Clean Up Falsehoods
07/12/2010 - James WhiteThe Internet is such a huge "place." It takes forever to clean up evidences of your past---if you are trying to do that, anyway. I was just referred to this press release on Ergun Caner's own website (better click fast, it will be gone before long!). Note this further example of the mysterious "misstatement" that Ergun Caner seemed to me making over and over and over again for years on end:
The shaven-headed, goateed Mr. Caner, whose family emigrated from Turkey to Toledo, Ohio, when he was a teenager, converted to Christianity in 1982 after a persistent teenage friend kept taking him to the Stelser Road Baptist Church.
Emigrated from Turkey? As a teenager? I wonder where they got that information?
Let's start a countdown and see how long it takes for this press release to go the way of so many of Ergun Caner's sermons and videos that are, inexorably, disappearing from the net?
Leviticus 16: Day of Atonement
07/12/2010 - James White
A Cover-Up Piece That Misses the Point
07/09/2010 - James WhiteThis endorsement sheet was just posted to Norman Geisler's website, which seems to be the new clearing house for the defense of Ergun Caner (who has gone silent since his removal as Dean of LBTS). It is titled "In Support of Dr. Ergun Caner By Noted Christian Leaders." As if in fulfillment of the words of Phil Johnson this morning on his blog, wherein he documented the odd capacity of evangelicals to overlook charlatans in the camp (while pointing them out vociferously outside the camp), this is little more than the rooting section for the cover-up of Ergun Caner's myth-making in the pulpit. However, it contains errors and needs to be corrected. It also contains a lengthy statement from Emir Caner, and since Emir Caner has many questions outstanding that he has, so far, refused to answer, he needs to be encouraged to start doing the right thing as well.
The document begins by once again citing a document that Dr. Caner himself removed from his website in early March, the now famous apology for unnamed "misstatements," etc. I am sure many others find it just as strange as I do that a statement that appeared on Caner's website for a grand total of approximately two weeks, and is today nowhere to be found (will it suddenly re-appear?) would be re-cited as if Caner has been open and above board in his responses to the challenges that have been made to his stories!
Next, it is hard to believe that any rational person who has examined the consistent, years-long pattern of embellishment and myth-making on the part of Ergun Caner can pretend that this is a matter of the rare slip of the tongue, the scrambled brain while speaking excitedly. I'm sorry, but that flavor Kool-Aid should not be on the evangelical menu.
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A Native's View of Ergun Caner's Stories
07/09/2010 - James WhiteMy little fellowship includes a couple whose native tongue is Arabic. Rudy Jabouri was born in Baghdad. He has been following the Caner Scandal, and sent me some of this insights. I asked if I could share them with my readers and he agreed.
I wanted to let you guys know that southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq are my families ancestral home. My Grandfather (father side) was born in Aqrah, Iraq & my mother & all her family were born in Tinna, Iraq. They are all less than an hour from the Turkish border. I was born in Baghdad which is about 6 hours from Turkey. My wife & mother in law grew up in Baghdad but they also lived in Turkey for 3 years. My wife spoke Turkish fluently. My grandfather used to make regular trips back and forth from Tinna to Hakkair Turkey to sell & trade. I know this part of the world & the languages spoken there very well!
On Tur8infan blog today on AOMIN (Rebutting Norman Geisler regarding Dr. Ergun Caner) there were a few more errors that I'm not sure you guys caught.
1. around the 13:30 mark after he used derogatory terms to describe the middle-easter culture "Sand Nigger", Caner said this "I don't care what you call me, I'm Persian". Persian? I thought you were Turkish? There are no Persains in Turkey, unless they immigrated there from Iran.
2. He also made reference to Turkish television being very Islamic restricted. THIS IS NOT TRUE!! Let me put it to you this way; if you ever visit Turkey, DO NOT LET YOUR CHILDREN WATCH IT! Their TV would make Hugh Heffner blush. American TV is FAR MORE decent then Turkish TV! My wife was telling me about a game show that was very popular in Turkey that put the loser being left totally naked on your screen. Turkey is the most liberal Islamic country. The majority of Turkish culture is more influenced by Western Europe than by Arab society.
3. He ridiculed Arab Christians for using the word Allah to describe God. The Arab word for God is Allah. This does not mean that Arab Christians worship the god of Islam. You can ask any Arab speaking Christian whether Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox they all use the word Allah when speaking the Arabic language. Now in the Assryian/Chaldean language, which are very similar to Aramaic & not Arabic they use the word Alla-ha. Now for Jesus they do differ sometimes, many Muslims will call him Issa & most Christians call him Yesuq & the Assyrian will use emsheha.
Natalie and I sat down and very carefully listened to his so call Arabic speaking. We tried to see if maybe he was using any of the other languages that might be native to the Turkish Iraq border & was confusing it with Arabic. I can tell you this, he is not speaking Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, Assryian/Chaldean, or Syryani/Syryoyo which are all languages that are spoken in that area.
Phil Johnson Comments on the Caner Scandal.
07/09/2010 - James WhiteA must read, though this section is ominous:
Caner himself is stonewalling while a handful of his most outspoken supporters are doing their best to demonize his critics. If Liberty continues officially to offer sanctuary to Caner, he will eventually be able to weather the controversy without ever actually admitting any specific wrongdoing. Evangelicals—who have no stomach for protracted controversies and a 40-year habit of offering unconditional restoration to fallen leaders whether they truly repent or not—will soon turn against Caner's critics.
The Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit
07/09/2010 - James White
Three Questions for Norman Geisler
07/08/2010 - James WhiteAnd for Emir Caner, and of course, we'd love to hear from Ergun Caner (though rumor has it he is under orders to stay quiet---whose orders, I do not know).
Dr. Caner is scheduled to teach at two upcoming conferences sponsored by Veritas Evangelical Seminary, of which Norman Geisler is Provost. The first is July 24th in Littleton, Colorado, and the second is July 31st in Downey, California. Norman Geisler is likewise scheduled to speak at both events.
I would ask Dr. Geisler to provide full, documentation, logical responses to the following questions. I would suggest that if no meaningful, full, defensible answers are forthcoming, the leadership of Veritas Evangelical Seminary, and the speakers at the conferences, should request Dr. Caner step down from speaking and, should that not take place, surely those considering attending should contact Veritas and explain that until open and honest answers are provided, and in this case, confession and repentance take place, they will not be attending conferences featuring Ergun Caner speaking as an expert on the topic of Islam.
Question #1: Dr. Ergun Caner has claimed, not once, not twice, but dozens of times over a period of approximately nine years, to have grown up in Turkey, speaking the native language spoken in Turkey, living in particular places in Turkey, living in a majority Muslim country, coming to the United States in 1979 as a teenager.
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Calls, Calls, and More Calls on the DL Today
07/08/2010 - James WhiteThe first thing I said in channel after the DL was over was, "How am I going to remember all those calls when I blog the DL?" Well, I can't. But we covered a wide, wide range of issues. The lines lit up, and stayed full. Even had one fellow who was going to call about the ending of Mark who simply could not get through. But those who did made it quite interesting. We even went about 8 minutes long just to get everyone in. Here's the program.
The Practicality of Doctrine
07/08/2010 - Jeff DownsDoctrine is practical. In scripture we have a pattern of the indicative and then the imperative (see this book for a defense of this pattern). Paul begins his letters stating his doctrinal concerns, then the "therefore..." this is how you should live!
Those who read through systematic theologies know that for the most part, doctrines are stated, but not applied. This is not the case with at least one systematic theology I'm familiar with and use regularly.
While no true lover of books will be satisfied with online material, (come on, you can't pick it up, you can't smell the combination of ink and paper); online books are certainly helpful in various ways (size, searchability, etc.).
If I were to recommend one systamatic theology (and that perhaps would not be easy), I would recommend Wilhelmus à Brakel's 4 Volumes A Christian's Reasonable Service (here is an alternative place to purchase).
You can currently dowloand (in PDF format) all four volumes by clicking here.
The publisher's description reads:
Wilhelmus à Brakel (1635-1711) demonstrates one of the strengthsof the Dutch Nadere Reformatie (Second or Further Reformation), namely, the balance between objective truth and the subjective experience of that truth. The Christian’s Reasonable Service is a systematic exposition of Christian doctrine, covering all of the intricacies and debated points of Reformation and post-Reformation dogmatics. This is done is scholastic fashion, with great precision and theological acumen. That being said, it was primarily written for the author’s congregation and is a tremendous work of piety and pastoral concern. Brakel labors to bring practical application to each doctrine he treats, showing the value and use of the truths of God’s Word. It is not enough to assent to right doctrine; one must also engage these truths with hearts of faith and repentance. Let this work be an encouragement to all who read it, and an example to today’s ministers in directing doctrine to its proper end.
The translator of A Christian's Reasonable Service Rev. Bartel Elshout has a blog, so everything you ever wanted to know about à Brakel, I would recommend you go here.
Another Attempt to Make Lemon Juice Out of Lemons....
07/07/2010 - James WhiteIs lying in the pulpit not a "moral" failure? How did we get here in the evangelical church? Some thoughts.
Rebutting Norman Geisler regarding Dr. Ergun Caner
07/07/2010 - Tur8infan
Norman Geisler has still not given up on defending Dr. Ergun Caner (link to his further defense), stating that "a number of unjustified attacks have come to my attention." He has responded with 7 points to the 9 numbered points in my previous post (link to my previous post) , collapsing four of my numbered points into two of his and ignoring the last (unnumbered) point about the fact that Dr. Ergun Caner's answer on Ramadan cannot match the facts.
Dr. Geisler also states: "Not one of these charges is substantial, involving any major doctrinal or moral issue." Is speaking the truth a moral issue? If not, then I fully agree with Dr. Geisler. Who has alleged any "major doctrinal" issue?
I appreciate the fact that Dr. Geisler has taken the time to respond to my post. I offer the following comments matching the numbers of his post:
1) Dr. Caner's Claim to Have Been Born in Istanbul, Turkey
Dr. Geisler somehow thinks that a person can understandably misstate their birthplace from their actual birth country (Sweden) to the homeland of their ancestors (Turkey). Dr. Geisler's justification is that "Since both Ergun and his father were Turkish citizens, he strongly identified with that ancestry."
How many people so strongly identify with their father that they claim to have been born where their father was, even if their father was born over a thousand miles away from where they were born? Is this normal behavior in Dr. Norman Geisler's book?
2) Dr. Caner's Claim to Have Lived in Ankara and along the Iraqi Border
Dr. Geisler alleges that the accusation relating to Dr. Caner claiming to live in Ankara and then along the Iraqi border is - well - here are his words: "This allegation against him is a mere assumption without evidence which illustrates the desire to defame Ergun by his critics." (grammar and/or syntax errors are from Geisler's page)
In fact, however, there is evidence. Here is the mp3 (link to mp3). When you get about 10 minutes into the mp3, tell me whether you hear this:
Coming to America, the only thing that I understood, I was fifteen when we came, the only thing - or - thirteen when we came, the only thing that I understood about American culture, I got from American television. And the only television that we were allowed to watch was the television that was - that passed the conscriptions of the censors in Turkey. I lived in Ankara, but then I lived toward the east for the most part of my life, on the Iraqi border.Dr. Geisler speculates thus:
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.
Please tell me whether that matches what Dr. Caner said. Leave aside for the moment the papers from the divorce decree that (on paper) prevented Dr. Caner from traveling (""In no event and under no circumstances shall either party hereto cause or allow any of the minor children of the parties to leave or be taken from the Continental Borders of the United States of America." ). After all, maybe the parties ignored that, or maybe the alleged travel to Turkey took place before that.
Instead focus on what Dr. Caner said: "I lived in Ankara, but then I lived toward the east for the most part of my life, on the Iraqi border." How would visits to Turkey, even if they happened, be the same thing as living in Ankara or living along the Iraqi border?
And even if such visits could somehow count for that, how could they be considered a legitimate justification for saying: ""for the most part of my life"?
My friend Dr. White (who strongly identifies with his Scottish ancestry) sometimes travels to Scotland and England. If he said in public, "I lived in London, but then I lived toward the north for the most part of my life, on the border of Scotland and England," (based on one or more of his trips) would that be the truth? Do normal people talk that way? Or would that be an embellishment aimed at making Dr. White sound more Scottish than he actually is? It's easy to apply common sense and answer those questions.
Now, apply common sense to Dr. Caner's statement and see whether Dr. Geisler's answer holds any water.
3) Dr. Caner's Claim to have Received Misconceptions about the USA from Turkish Television Prior to Immigration to the USA
Dr. Geisler claims that the statements about watching the Dukes of Hazzard in Turkey and getting a misconception about America from them was just a joke and was always taken as such. Listen to that same mp3, for which I provided a link above. The Dukes of Hazzard bit comes right after the comment about living "for the most part of" his life in Turkey. Was the part about growing up in Turkey also supposed to be a joke? Or did the two statements that appear to be untrue statements serve to work together to create a false impression that Caner came to America at 15 (or 13) rather than at 3?
Dr. Geisler also claims that Dr. Caner has been using this anecdote for "more than a decade." I cannot speak to the truth or falsehood of Dr. Geisler's claim in this regard. He provides no evidence of Dr. Caner using this anecdote more than a decade ago, and I cannot seem to find any evidence of Dr. Caner using this anecdote before Dr. Caner started referring to himself as "Ergun Mehmet Caner" (is that his real name or is that more of Dr. Caner strongly identifying with his ancestry?).
Please keep in mind that "more than a decade" would mean that Dr. Caner used this anecdote before July 6, 2000. Can Dr. Geisler substantiate this claim?
Was the context of the anecdote the same back then? Perhaps we will never know. It may be very hard to find any recordings of Dr. Caner from back then using this same anecdote.
As for whether it was meant to be taken literally, compare the lead-off story in this presentation:
("Don't Mess with the Book" mp3) dated 1/5/2009 according to SermonAudio.com. Listen for when the audience begins laughing at his claim regarding getting the Andy Griffith show in Turkey and thinking that all of America was like Mayberry. What does he say - does he say "it's true"? And when he gets to the part about watching Georgia Wrestling in Istanbul, does he say, "this is a little embarrassing, but it's true" and then does he go on to claim that he would get this wrestling show every two weeks in Istanbul for two hours, even specifying the channel?
That particular version of the story about watching TV in Turkey doesn't include the Dukes of Hazzard - so it is harder (probably next to impossible) to prove that the story is not true. But does Dr. Geisler believe it? Is it a credible story? (in light of what Dr. Caner seems to now admit)
4) The Three Possible Dates of Caner's Citizenship (1978, 1982, or 1984)
On the issue of when Dr. Caner became a citizen, Dr. Geisler simply asserts "It is well known that Caner became a US citizen in 1978." Dr. Geisler, however, provides no documentation to support the claim that Dr. Caner became a citizen then.
Dr. Geisler does not explain why the biography of Dr. Caner at TrueLife.org states:
Ergun was born in Stockholm, Sweden to Turkish parents and in 1979 immigrated to the United States with his parents, grandmother, and two brothers. Ergun became an American citizen in 1984 and currently resides in Lynchburg, VA with his wife and two sons.
By the way, who told the folks at TrueLife.org that Caner's parents, plural, were Turkish? Who told them that Caner immigrated in 1979?
There are many possibilities about where the data on that bio may have come from. It may have come from someone who was unaware of the "well known" data that Dr. Geisler relies upon without providing us with any documentation. Another possibility is that it came from the man in this video: ...
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Advice for Living a Godly Life
07/07/2010 - Jeff DownsGreenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is offering A Summer Course on The Epistle of Paul to Titus with Dr. George Knight, III. Who is George Knight?
Dr. Knight is adjunct professor of New Testament at Greenville Seminary. He is an ordained minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, serving as teaching elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, North Carolina. He has taught at Covenant Seminary for 19 years and served as the founding administrator and dean of Knox Seminary.
Dr. Knight, III has authored (among others):
Pastoral Epistles in the NIGTC series. Role Relationship of Men & Women: New Testament Teaching And he has also contributed to the latest edition to the Calvin 500 Series Tributes to John Calvin: A Celebration of His Quincentenary.
This class has as its purpose to explain the meaning and authenticate the authorship of the Letter to Titus. Dr. Knight will do this through translation and exegesis of the Greek text, revealing the self-testimony of the letter and evaluating the validity of alternatives.
The class is about to be cancelled to a lack of participation. It is only $40 to audit this course only $340 for credit. To register either call the Registrar 864.322.2717 or Email.
It is my understanding that you can take this course live online, but you'd want to check with the registrar.
07/06/2010 - James WhiteNorman Geisler has posted a statement that, though unsigned, is supposed to represent a statement from Kregel Publications. It is the standard party-line statement, but it includes this amazing line: "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." There is no question of the fact, provided by Mr. Smathers' research, that Ergun's father was a Muslim who wanted his sons raised as Muslims. Such has, of course, never been in dispute. But truly, how balanced and fair is a statement that makes reference to "anti-Caner websites"? Anti-Caner websites? What on earth is that?
Geisler Posts Some More Caner Replies, Includes Attacks on Those Who Have Raised These Issues
07/06/2010 - James WhiteIronically, while Norman Geisler includes an attack upon all of us who have sought to bring out the problems in Ergun Caner's claims upon a misapplication of Matthew 18 (as we will note again later), I know I have not heard privately from Norman Geisler about this issue at all. Evidently, a double standard is being employed.
For the sake of accuracy and completeness I will, once I am ready for tomorrow evening's study at PRBC, and well into my preparations for Sunday's Hebrews sermons, go through each and every statement in Geisler's additional statement (found here). But for the moment, I note that this further posting is a direct response to TurretinFan's article, posted here.
1) Geisler repeatedly makes reference to the deleted "apology" of 2/25/2010. How ironic that Geisler depends upon an apology that Caner himself has pulled! It was a bland apology for "misstatements," not a confession and repentance for lying. Everyone knows this.
2) Language no longer has meaning. "I lived" in such and such a place now becomes "I visited such and such a place when I was two." Geisler continues to completely ignore the reality that Caner moved here when he was but a little child. He wants to assert visits to Turkey, but, he refuses to provide any substantiation, dates, etc., which he must do, in light of legal documentation that the Caner brothers were not to leave the United States due to the divorce proceedings. When did these visits take place? Facts, Dr. Geisler, facts. You are an evidentialist. How about some evidence?
3) Geisler continues the "divorce statements from their original context" procedure, continuing his parallels with the defenders of Joseph Smith. This is how he can now excuse the Dukes of Hazzard error, by insisting this was only a joke! Listen to Caner's actual presentations---any indication he meant this as a joke? Of course not. It was part of his entire "came here from Turkey in 1979" persona.
4) Geisler posts a picture of Ergun in a kufi (Geisler identifies it as a keffiyeh). More ignoring of original context. First, will Dr. Emir Caner tell us where this picture he seemingly has provided was taken? What year? In Turkey, as Caner has claimed about his birthday picture? Or in Ohio, as the documents suggest? Given that Caner made these comments not about him as a child, but in high school, how about some interaction with the high school photos that have been provided?
5) Geisler actually buys into the excuse Caner offers of his claim that his father had "many wives." It is hard to believe anyone could possibly be so gullible.
6) Geisler actually invokes American law about "innocent until proven guilty" while ignoring biblical parameters of integrity in the pulpit. This while he continues to remove "lying" from a sin that would be a serious breach of morality for a Christian. One is left speechless at Geisler's words.
Finally, Geisler takes specific aim at TurretinFan for being anonymous in his blogging and writing. Yes, I know why this is, and I affirm that he has perfectly moral and proper reasons for remaining anonymous. Of course, Norman Geisler co-authored a book with Abdul Saleeb, a Christian using a pseudonym. Evidently that was OK for Geisler? I point the reader to the care with which TurretinFan has documented his posts, and compare this with the simply ridiculous credulity exemplified by Geisler in just repeating, without even bothering to provide meaningful documentation, the excuses offered to him by Caner. Who has reason to be embarrassed, I wonder?
Today on an Extended Edition of the Dividing Line
07/06/2010 - James WhiteStarted off with a solid twenty minutes on the use of lexical sources and, in particular, recognizing the difference between scholarly facts and scholarly interpretation, using the graphics provided immediately below. Then the calls started, and we (expectedly) went over the Caner situation, and the Geisler statement. I told the story of what happened just under a decade ago with Norman Geisler and a local radio personality. Then we took some more calls, including one on sola scriptura and one on natural and general revelation. Went ten minutes long to get to everyone! Here's the program.
In celebration of the Netherlands making it to the World Cup Final, you may wish to use this link to play a now familiar sound while listening to the DL. Then again, maybe not.
Graphics for Today's DL
07/06/2010 - James WhiteI am going to discuss the use of lexical sources in exegesis and apologetics at the beginning of the DL today, and the following graphics will be helpful for those listening live (or those listening later, I suppose!). These are all in reference to the meaning of ζημιόω in 1 Corinthians 3:15.
Three Upcoming Roman Catholic Debates
07/05/2010 - James WhiteUnless something changes, my next debates will be in September/October, all in the area of Roman Catholicism. I have shifted my studies over to that area on my rides. For example, while climbing some 15% grades this morning I was listening to Bill Webster lecturing on penance (an interesting conjunction, in that Bill and I have ridden together in the past). In any case, I refuse to just repeat what I've said in the past on these topics, I need to do new studying, new research, improve my arguments and presentations. The Lord, and the audience, deserves nothing less. So I have put some resources I would like to try to incorporate in my preparation on the Ministry Resource List. If you would like to help me prepare for these debates, this is always a very encouraging way to do so.
Words of Encouragement
07/05/2010 - James WhiteWe have heard so much of the angry "friends of Ergun" that I feel it would be well to let others speak. No names, just the heartfelt expressions of brothers and sisters who see what is important and are just as amazed as I am at the games being played about a serious subject.
I wanted to send you this e-mail on this celebration of the Lord granting independence to our great country to encourage you in you upholding of biblical integrity in regards to the Caner and LU situation. In our time when post-modernism and emergency comes to the forefront, your stance for biblical integrity is an honor and praise to God....
Many do not consider this what you are doing an act of love, but I see it as just the opposite. As a former Oneness Pentecostal minister, who was converted in Feb. 09, I have seen nothing but lacks of integrity in ministry in my time. Now, God has granted me grace in regenerating me, and allowing me to see integrity both in you and your work as well as with my own local church.
Be encouraged in your work and in this time of service in the courts of our King. (WP)
Thank-you (once again) for fervently defending the truth in the case of Ergun Caner. (I am referring to the most recent three postings "Of Joseph Smith and Ergun Caner".)
In my view this issue is big enough to warrant this kind of a thorough and persistent response. You are taking on a formidable establishment and also a formidable opponent in Dr. Geisler.
But this issue is not about reputations, it is upholding the concept of truth and the honour in which this concept is held by those who claim to be aligned with Jesus Christ who is the truth and with a God who is unspeakably holy.
I am extremely grateful that you are pursuing this issue even when it is clear that this effort entails a significant investment of time. Much is at stake here. This is a battle not just about what is true re Ergun Caner, but about what kind of concept of truth will be allowed to stand as such. This is a significant spiritual battle as I am sure the arch-enemy of truth would like to put his stamp on this debate.
May God grant you the support you need to be able to continue this pursuit. (WS)
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Some Things that Dr. Geisler Overlooked
07/05/2010 - Tur8infanDr. Geisler provided a number of items of response in his "defense" of Dr. Ergun Caner. I'd like to highlight a few additional items that Dr. Geisler seems to have overlooked. These are some troubling issues in addition to the many that Dr. Geisler identified. I don't know whether Dr. Geisler's "defense" of Dr. Caner intentionally omitted these, or he dealt with them and I missed it, or whether he accidentally omitted them. I suspect that the latter is the case.
I wonder whether Dr. Geisler would care to let us know how Dr. Caner is innocent of wrong-doing with respect to the following issues. Please note that I'm not trying to say that these are things that have been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. I'm saying that these are concerns that have been raised, and I haven't seen a clear answer that vindicates Dr. Caner from himself or any of his supporters with respect to any of these.
For ease of reference for those who are replying, I've avoided restarting the number of the troubling issues within each of the major sections.
I. Birth, Place, and Manner in which He Grew Up
1. Claimed to have been Born in Istanbul?
As documented here (link to documentation), Dr. Caner claimed to have been born in Istanbul. Most of the rest of the evidence that anyone has brought forward shows that Dr. Caner was born in (or around) Stockholm, Sweden. How is the statement regarding Istanbul a true statement or an honest mistake?
2. Lived in Ankara and Along Iraqi Border?
As documented here (link to documentation), Dr. Caner has claimed that he lived in Ankara and along the Iraqi border. Are those an honest mistake for some other place that Dr. Caner lived? If so, which place was he thinking of?
3. Watched Dukes of Hazzard and longed to marry Daisy Duke while growing up in Turkey?
As documented here (link to documentation) (second instance), Dr. Caner has claimed that while he was living in Turkey he got misconceptions about America by watching the Dukes of Hazzard. How is that somehow an honest mistake or simple misstatement? Please bear in mind that it is not possible that he watched the show, "The Dukes of Hazzard" before it began to show in 1979 (link to documentation).
4. Citizenship in 1978?
Dr. Geisler claims (he does not identify the source of his data) that Dr. Caner became a citizen in 1978. Why is it that at least one seemingly official biography of Caner indicates he became a citizen in 1984 - link to bio with colorful photo of Caner and Dr. Caner himself has claimed to have gained his citizenship in 1982 - see his article "Hatriotism." Which of the three stories, if any, is the truth?
Or is the citizenship-in-1978 claim just an excuse for apparently untrue comments like this one: "In 1978, his family moved to the United States so his father, an architect, could build a Mosque in Columbus, Ohio." (which STILL appears on Dr. Caner's blog as of 5 July 2010 - note that this comment appears to be an English translation of an article originally written in Korean, thus it has some really bizarre comments like: "His father was somewhat similar to an Islamic priest, a scholar of an Islamic sect called Ulima.")
5. Claims to have worn "a keffiyeh"
As documented here (first example)(second example), Dr. Caner has claimed that before his conversion he wore a "keffiyeh." The photo evidence we have of him, however, almost always shows him bareheaded (link to an amusing exception). Did he hide the keffiyeh when photos were being taken? (this example does not count)
II. Date of Conversion and Connection to Brothers' Conversions
6. November 4, 1982?
Dr. Ergun Caner has identified the date of his conversion as November 4, 1982 (example). However, his book, Unveiling Islam, gives that as the date for Emir Caner's conversion and indicates that Emir was saved "the following year" after Ergun. (Unveiling Islam, p. 19) How is this possible?
7. Relationship to Brothers' Conversions
Dr. Caner seems to have stated several accounts regarding the relationship of his conversion to that of his brothers. One account is: "that day my father disowned me, but both of my brothers accepted Christ" another is that Erdem was saved in the basement of "their home" and that "the following year" Ergun invited Emir to a revival service at which Emir was saved. Another account is that "a year later" than his own conversion, his brothers came to Christ. (link to documentation of these) In another account, his brothers get saved when Caner preaches his first sermon (see documentation here) How are these honest mistakes or somehow all reconcilable truths?
III. Claims About His Family
8. "Many Wives" of his father vs. Two Wives of his father
As documented here (link to documentation) Dr. Caner has claimed that his father had "many wives" when the evidence suggests that his father had two wives, one at a time.
9. "Half-brothers" that can't be found
As documented here (link to documentation - second source) Dr. Caner has claimed that he has half-brothers, sons presumably of those "many wives" that his father had. We can find record of two half-sisters by the the one second wife we can locate, but no half-brothers.
These are just a few of the issues that Dr. Geisler did not address, at least I couldn't find them addressed, in his recent "defense" of Dr. Caner. May I respectfully suggest that Dr. Geisler is simply not familiar with the troubling evidence. In view of this apparently new evidence that has come to light, is Dr. Geisler willing to say, "Upon further consideration, I have come to the conclusion that Ergun Caner did indeed embellish his autobiography," or will Dr. Geisler come up with some new justification for these documented states made either by Caner himself or by seemingly official websites?
Finally, as a tenth troubling issue, let me highlight the issue of Ramadan being "forty days" long according to Dr. Caner on multiple occasions (link to documentation). Dr. Geisler has tried to say that Dr. Caner has some justification of this. I suspect that what Dr. Geisler has read is similar to the material that the "Fake Ex-Muslims" site attributes to Dr. Caner here (link to site). That documentation alleges that there are some tiny groups of Islam that do fast for 40 days. Let's take that explanation as completely 100% true without actually investigating it. Does that being true justify this comment:
"We wore keffiyeh, we spoke Arabic and Turkish, we read the Koran, we fasted 40 days during Ramadan, we lived by the rules of halal and haram and mushbu, the dietary restrictions." (link to documentation)
Does that claim about a couple tiny sects of Islam fasting for 40 days justify the claim that the "lunar month" of Ramadan is forty days as documented in this video clip?
Or is the attempt to find a few tiny branches of Islam an attempt to cover up the glaring error of saying that Ramadan is 40 days long, when it is actually a lunar month of 29 or 30 days long?
I'm asking the questions, because I would like to believe that the issue is simply that Dr. Geisler is only familiar with the charges and Dr. Caner's private responses to the charges, and that Dr. Geisler is not familiar with the evidence itself or with a variety of the charges for which it would appear that Dr. Caner and his supporters have no good answer. Will Dr. Geisler respond? Who knows! I would encourage my friends to give Dr. Geisler some time to consider the evidence and respond before assuming that he will simply do what other of Dr. Caner's supporters have done and attack the messenger.
Hebrews Series Posted
07/05/2010 - James WhiteThe Rookie has been uploading madly to Sermon Audio, and has now gotten the entirety of my current series on Hebrews posted. It's amazing to realize I've been in the book for nearly two years now. It really doesn't seem that long, and, of course, I only preach two sermons a month (or sometimes, like this month, four). But hopefully the study has been edifying to the people of PRBC, and now, via Sermon Audio, some folks beyond our fellowship. Entering into the heart of the epistle now in chapter seven.
My All Time Favorite Commercial
07/05/2010 - James WhiteI almost never post stuff like this, but this has got to be the most classic commercial ever. The expression of the chess player is absolutely perfect. Clear, yet understated. And as a USCF member (United States Chess Federation) who is enjoying the World Cup (go Netherlands!), the combination is absolutely classic.
Anti-Calvinist Derangement Syndrome
07/04/2010 - James WhiteSome folks hate Calvinism so much they lose touch with reality. Here's an example. Note in the combox that though I specifically addressed the Matthew 18 issue (the Caner situation is NOT a Matthew 18 situation to begin with) only a few hours later one person asks the question again...completely ignoring everything I said about it. But note the original article and the imbalance it represents. Truly amazing. This is even worse than iPad Hatred Syndrome!
Matthew 19 and Reaching Western Culture
07/04/2010 - James WhiteHere is this morning's Sunday School lesson in Matthew 19 (part of the multi-year study of the Synoptic gospels) from PRBC. I spent a good bit of time on how we can use such texts as an "entry" into conversation with our secular society, especially on the topic of marriage.
A Clarification at the Request of a Muslim Correspondent
07/03/2010 - James WhiteI had planned on writing this post as the only item posted on the blog today. Well, man proposes, God disposes.
Yesterday I received a note from an insightful Muslim correspondent regarding the Ergun Caner situation. He noted that in his talking with other Muslims the idea that I have pursued the Ergun Caner scandal information due to the Calvinist/Arminian dispute, that is, that I have a theological and personal "issue" with Caner. Though I have addressed this repeatedly (note here, for example---and many times on the DL), please allow me to do so with clarity for any Muslims who might be following this situation.
For the Muslim unfamiliar with the issues, a Reformed Christian (such as myself) believes that God is sovereign over all things. That as the Creator of all things He has a sovereign decree and will that He is accomplishing in His creation, all to His glory. As a result, He has an elect people, whom He chose, individually, not based upon anything He foresaw that they would do (His election being from eternity past) but solely upon the kind intention of His will to the praise of His glorious grace (Ephesians 1:5-6). As a result, our gospel presentation is very much God-centered, Christ-centered, for we believe Christ is a perfect Savior who saves powerfully and freely. To use a specific term, we are monergists: we believe only one power accomplishes salvation, and that is God's. He is not dependent upon the creature in any way to bring about His glory. While He chooses to use men and women as the means of accomplishing His purposes, His sovereign decree as the Creator of the universe and time itself will be accomplished by those means.
In contrast you have the Arminians who are synergists. They believe God is trying to save as many people as He can, but that He is dependent upon the creatures' cooperation to accomplish His desires. This fundamental difference leads to a number of specifics differences relating to specific aspects of Christian belief, mainly relating to the gospel.
Ergun Caner is an Arminian. Well, he's beyond Arminian. He once said (and our Muslim readers will enjoy this), that Calvinists (Reformed folks) are worse than Muslims. He is passionate in his detestation of Reformed theology, as can be seen by reading the correspondence that led up to the aborted 2006 debate at Liberty (found here).
There is no question that I was aware of Caner because of that dispute. As I have said many times, it never crossed my mind that there were any problems with his claims to be a former Muslim (in fact, I encountered Caner before I began my serious studies of Islam). But once I became aware of these issues, I made them public.
Now the impression among many seems to be that I am lying about my motivations. I have never seen any substantiation given to this allegation, of course. But the reality is, if Ergun Caner was Reformed, I would be significantly more stringent in the standards I have sought to apply to the situation, far more "focused" upon immediate disciplinary action by his fellow elders or by the institution giving him a platform. I would hold him to a higher standard, quite simply. I would be able to count on a higher and more biblical form of church government so that I could go to his elders and seek their intervention and assistance. It would be a completely different situation.
But the fact is that Ergun Caner had fallen off of my proverbial radar screen from early 2007 through mid 2009. The sole reason I have pursued this situation is exactly as I have stated it from the start: Ergun Caner claims to do what I actually do, and hence, to be consistent, to have integrity in ministry, I have to expose the frauds on "my side of the fence" if I am going to be a true servant of truth. I cannot say, "You need to stop following all those alleged former Christians who claim to be Muslims who haven't a clue what they are talking about when it comes to Christian theology" while sitting idly by while Ergun Caner spins a fantastic web of myth. It isn't possible. That is why I have done what I have done, not because Ergun Caner is an Arminian.
The Lord Knows All. He Has All Wisdom. He Encourages His Children
07/03/2010 - James WhiteWhen I went to bed last night I had no idea I would spend the entirety of Saturday writing a small book in response to the further promotion of an evangelical cover-up, a sad defense of the blatantly indefensible. But the Lord knew, of course (sorry, open theists, you are just wrong!). Now, I mentioned in my "geek video" posted a few days ago that I have moved from the BlackBerry to the Droid (HTC Incredible, specifically). It is a lot easier, and faster, for me to check my mail on the Droid than it had been on the BlackBerry, so as I was laying down I decided to just take a quick look. Two e-mails had arrived in the few minutes that passed between my shutting down my Mac and getting to bed. They came from two brothers, neither of which I get to see with any regularity. One is local, one far away. In any case, both e-mails were tremendously encouraging, and I was able to go to sleep with peace, thanks to those brothers. They know who they are.
During the day today, as I was laboring on the four-part response, two more brothers sent unsolicited e-mails of encouragement as well. I was reminded of the previous evening, and was once again thankful for the people of God and the fellowship of the Spirit. So to all who have written in encouragement, who understand the necessity of integrity in preaching, exegesis, theology, and apologetics---thank you once again. I know God is still in charge, and we need to remain faithful even in the face of compromise and error.
Of Joseph Smith and Ergun Caner (Part 4)
07/03/2010 - James White
The Charge that no Knowledgeable Muslim Would Mis-cite the Hadith as Caner Did.—It is charged that Caner often cites the Hadith without mentioning the actual name of the collection. But, as even Muslim scholars admit, there is no “official” way to cite the Hadith. It is often cited without reference to the collection.
Just as the citation of the hadith without the collection name is utterly meaningless, so is the citation of unnamed "Muslim scholars." This is, again, a non-disputable point, but since there are many who may be seeing these articles without any further background, a brief explanation is in order.
It would be meaningless for me to assert that in "Bible 3:3 we learn the following…." Bible 3:3 is not a meaningful form of citation since, of course, the Bible is made up of many books. Hence, you would need to know if I am citing Colossians or John or Hebrews or the Psalter, etc., for the reference "3:3" to have any meaning. In fact, if I said, "Well, look it up in Bible 3:3," you could not possibly know with any level of certainty which of dozens of possible references I have in mind.
Likewise, the use of reference such as "Hadith 9:57," found frequently in the public talks of Ergun and Emir Canner, is non sensical. You cannot know what "Hadith 9:57" means, since there are multiple collections of hadith sayings. When the Caner brothers say "Hadith 9:57," they are referring specifically to Sahih al-Bukhari 9:57:
Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to 'Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn 'Abbas who said, "If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah's Apostle forbade it, saying, 'Do not punish anybody with Allah's punishment (fire).' I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah's Apostle, 'Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.' "
Now, to get that text from my Islamic computer program I had to tell it, specifically, which collection I wanted to use. Putting "9:57" or 957 in the search box would not have worked, since there are other collections, such as Sahih al-Muslim, or Abu-Dawood, or Al-Tirmidhi, that I could be referring to. Only someone who is unaccustomed to working with the study of hadith sources would think that making the reference, "Hadith 9:57" is relevant. Someone who actually looks up references in the hadith with any regularity would know better, just as any Christian would know how to cite the Bible as John 3:3, or Colossians 3:3, but never as "Bible 3:3."
Yet, the Caners' books are filled with proper, and improper, citations (seemingly indicating that they took some of their citations from sources that actually know and understand the hadith, but in other instances did not, making the basic error noted above). It is a tell-tale sign that those who do serious work in the field would see, but the vast majority of evangelicals would never catch for obvious reasons. I illustrated this when Hussein Wario (probably the source of this errant information once again) called my webcast a second time. (You can hear his call at the beginning of the program here.)
The resultant exchange, wherein he completely failed to answer my question about this topic, illustrates just how completely inarguable this point is on a logical or factual level. But it likewise makes us wonder more about the relative contributions of Dr. Geisler and Abdul Saleeb to his book on Islam, for if Geisler has done so little primary reading in Islamic sources so as to miss such a basic and obvious error then it is clear the book reflects the expertise of someone other than himself.
The Charge that Caner did not Debate Shabir Ally in Nebraska.—Dr. Caner has admitted that this was a mistake and has publically apologized for it. He did, however, engage another Muslim while in Lincoln, NB. No one has proven this was an intentional deception, as some critics claim.
And I repeat the question I asked Ergun Caner in e-mail back in February when he concocted this excuse then: who? Who did Ergun Caner debate in Nebraska? When? Dates? We would like to contact this person, but, Ergun Caner has refused to tell us for nearly half a year now. And that is what raises the question of intentional deception. Why not answer such a basic question? The logical person cannot follow such reasoning.
But we would likewise add to this the fact that Caner did not claim to debate Shabir Ally only once. He claimed to do so twice (that we know of) in 2007. Here's the evidence:
Now, for some reason Dr. Geisler remains silent about the glaring, almost funny error in the second citation: Dr. Geisler well knows that Ergun Caner never debated Abdul Saleeb, since, of course, Abdul Saleeb means "servant of the cross," and this is a pseudonym for a Christian writer who co-authored a book with Norman Geisler. We likewise know that Caner never debated Nadir Ahmed, either (he had an e-mail exchange with Nadir that he posted on his website). So, you have him linking together three Islamic-sounding names and attributing words to them, all to impress an audience. I see no other explanation for this "misstatement." I wonder why Geisler ignores this glaring problem?
We are again left wondering why Norman Geisler would not think to ask Ergun Caner, "Ergun, wouldn't it be best to tell everyone who it was you debated, and provide the details?"
The issues relating to Caner's name (using Mehmet when his middle name is officially Michael) etc., are only marginally interesting to me at this point. I think it would be interesting to see if the use of Mehmet began after 1999, or after 2001. And the Ph.D./Th.D. response is irrelevant: no one (at least not I!) has had any issue with the validity of the Th.D., we have asked why he would claim a Ph.D. when he has a Th.D. The response offered does not even address this issue.
Reviewing these allegations reminds me of the numerous similar statements I have made in the past. I could easily be proven a liar on similar ground. For example, when ask where I was born, I have given at least three different answers over the years: In Detroit, in Warren, and in Van Dyke, Michigan. All are true. It was metropolitan Detroit (literally a half mile into the northeastern suburb). It was in a place once called Van Dyke and now called Warren.
Of course, all these areas are in North America, all in Michigan. Istanbul is a long trip from Stockholm, Sweden, and once again we find parallels to the failed attempts to defend Joseph Smith by isolating statements from their original contexts. Caner has made the claim to be born in Turkey so as to produce a persona, a myth of his own making, about being a man raised in Turkey as the son of an Islamic scholar, all to increase the "weight" of his conversion story. It worked---he was, until a few days ago, head of a major evangelical seminary. So, Norman Geisler is, once again, in error to create this non-parallel parallel. We all understand how one could create false impressions of lying: when people ask me where I live, I say Phoenix. But, ten years ago I lived in Glendale, the next city over, a suburb of Phoenix. But, I would still say "Phoenix" when asked where I live, since it by far the better known city, and we often identify the general "Phoenix area" rather than using specific names of suburbs. But, of course, Stockholm is not a suburb of Istanbul, and Ohio is a long, long way from the border of Turkey and Iraq. There is no parallel.
Now, in the preceding materials we have seen a breath-taking array of logical and factual errors on the part of Norman Geisler. Yes, I know, it seems he is simply repeating the faux defenses offered by Caner himself (I have a very strong feeling we are seeing the essence of the document Caner would only give to people who came by his office back in April), but he has put it out, without attestation, under his own name. And just as he put out a class project of attempted refutations of my work under his name in the second edition of Chosen But Free, he is responsible for what he puts out under his own name. This attempted defense requires the abandonment of the very methods of thought and inquiry that Norman Geisler has promoted in his published works for years. A defense like this would make Joseph Smith a true prophet, as we have noted a number of times in passing. Yet, despite the complete failure of the attempt, Geisler goes on:
If, on the other hand, one wants to be fair, then there are no real grounds to support the allegations of Caner’s critics that he is a liar and a fraud who repeatedly embellished things to support his own claims. No group authorized to investigate his statements have proclaimed any such conclusion.
Even leaving aside the mountain of evidence that Geisler has ignored, and leaving aside the fact that, as we have proven so clearly, one side has documentation (video, audio, written) while Geisler and Caner and Wario and Lumpkins and Guthrie and Rogers, et al, produce nothing but assertions ("Muslim scholars," "debated someone," etc.), even taking only the less-than-strong arguments Geisler's article attempted to deal with, we have proven, I believe beyond all reasonable doubt, the fallacious nature of the attempted defense. We have found very real grounds, despite Geisler's wishful thinking defense.
We are left to wonder who gets to determine who is "authorized" to investigate Caner's statements? Who authorized Norman Geisler to investigate Joseph Smith or Muhammad or anyone else he has addressed over the years?
As if to end this travesty with a further insult to the truth, Geisler concludes,
Clearly, Liberty found no moral culpability or doctrinal deviation or else they would not have kept him on the faculty. One can only speculate as to why his contract as Dean was not renewed.
We can only speculate? Evidently, removing Caner as dean had nothing to do with the committee figuring out that Caner never lived in Turkey and had lied, repeatedly, about such things. Maybe they asked him something in Arabic? Invited him to give a lecture on Ramadan on the 36th day of its celebration? We can only speculate indeed. But when you have a man of Norman Geisler's reputation willing to sacrifice his reputation and credibility in defense of the kind of serial myth-making that has been documented beyond question regarding Ergun Caner, you know other forces are at work. When Norman Geisler can remove dishonesty in the pulpit as a violation of Christian morality, it is time to look for the real reasons this is happening.
While I invested my day in providing this response, TurretinFan was doing the same thing, separately from me. He has produced a series that, I imagine, will have a fair amount of over-lap with my own. His series is three parts long. Part I, Part II, Part III.
Of Joseph Smith and Ergun Caner (Part 3)
07/03/2010 - James White
The Charge that Caner could not have Offered his Muslim Prays in the School Bathroom as he said he did.—This was neither a shameful or unacceptable practice for Muslims, as some critics claim. The Islamic Hadith allows it, and it is done by devout Muslims to this day as has been pointed out by former Muslim Hussein Wario (www.husseinwario.com).
It is a shame to watch Dr. Geisler destroy his credibility by following a source as notoriously unreliable as Hussein Wario, but evidently, there is no excuse or argument that will not be called upon to defend the indefensible. I have already addressed these issues here and you can listen to Hussein Wario and I discuss this on the DL here. But for documentation's sake, let's remember what the hadith actually says:
The Hadith of Al-Tirmidhi, 242, reads: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) prohibited the observance of prayers in seven places: on a dung hill, in a slaughterhouse, in a graveyard, in the middle of the road, in a bathroom, in the watering place where camels drink and sit, and upon the roof of the House of Allah.
Likewise, we read in Fiqh-us-Sunnah 4.53a, "...they cite the Prophet's hadith: "The entire earth is a mosque except for a graveyard and a bathroom."
As I pointed out, I contacted a real Muslim scholar (Hussein Wario is a convert from Islam who, like the Caners, converted very young) who noted that some ignorant young Muslims might do this out of fear of being seen, but that it is laughable that any knowledgeable Muslim would knowingly pray in an unclean place for any other reason than to save their lives. This again brings us back to the Joseph Smith parallel: by ignoring the context of Caner's claim (that is, that he was an open, fearless, Arabic garb-wearing, praying Muslim in high school---despite the fact that none of his yearbook pictures would indicate that) and opting for the most unusual, "exception to the rule" understanding, they think to defend his statement. But when you take the original claim in its original context, the excuses offered become laughably inane.
The Charge that Caner Claimed Ramadan was Forty Days Long.—Muslims claim this feast is only 30 days long, and Caner said it was forty days. Caner cites Muslim authorities to the contrary, showing it can last up to forty days. Even the Qur’an (Sura 2:51) speaks forty days of fasting.
We are once again left breathless at this kind of excuse-making for simple errors. What Muslim authorities say Ramadan is forty days long? Why not cite them? (Possibly because they would be cited by means that would not allow anyone to look them up, like, "Hadith 957?"). This is simply absurd on its face. And the Qur'anic citation is even worse:
And remember We appointed forty nights for Moses, and in his absence ye took the calf (for worship), and ye did grievous wrong.
For those unfamiliar with the Qur'an (and evidently, the author of this, whether Caner, Geisler, or someone else, is just as unfamiliar as most folks), this text has absolutely, positively nothing to do with the length of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month in the lunar calendar. This would be as absurd as attempting to defend the statement by someone that June has 40 days. It is another inane defense of the indefensible. Caner was wrong, and now Geisler is wrong. But by repeating this kind of silliness, one is left wondering where all the accurate information in Geisler's book on Islam came from? Must have come from Abdul Saleeb--the same Abdul Saleeb Caner claimed to debate as a Muslim, I guess!
The fact is all Muslims know how long Ramadan is for many reasons. 1) They know because it is a difficult time of fasting, one that completely interrupts one's normal schedule. As a result, you know exactly how long a lunar month is. 2) Believing Muslims look for Laylat al-Qadr, the night of power, on the odd-numbered days at the very end of the month (21, 23, 25, 27, 29). This is, again, basic Islamic theology, and Caner's ignorance of it, and Geisler's ignorance of it, is very telling. Any Muslim looking for Laylat al-Qadr, a week after Ramadan would be laughed out of the mosque. 3) There are celebrations (Eid ul-Fitr) immediately following Ramadan; the dating of the celebration is after 29 or 30 days of fasting (depending on when the new moon is sighted, where, what legal school you follow, etc.). Eid is a major celebration (check out all the Eid related items at such websites as www.islamicbookstore.com). Tell me, if a "former Christian" who became a Muslim said that Christmas was January 14th, would you be impressed with his knowledge?
The Charge that Caner Confuses the Shahada with the Beginning Words in the Surat at-Fatiha.—It is alleged that no knowledgeable devout Muslim would confuse these two. But both are part of Islamic prayers that are recited many times every day. The first is the confession and the second is a recitation.
Yes, so? I fail to see how this is even an attempted response. Yes, both are repeated many times in the Islamic prayers, daily, and that's all the more reason to wonder how Ergun Caner, raised in Columbus Ohio, who did not live with his Muslim father as a teenager (his father was not the custodial parent) could mix them up if, in fact, he was such a devout Muslim.
The Charge that His Family Did Not Disown Him When He Converted to Christianity as Caner Claimed they Did.—It is true that after the divorce he was raised by his mother who obviously had not disowned him since she was no longer a Muslim. But his Muslim father who had remarried did disown him. This is the Muslim “family” to which he referred. This was very painful to him since he lived only a half hour away but could not even speak to him.
Please note Geisler's statement, "he was raised by his mother who obviously had not disowned him since she was no longer a Muslim." So please, pray tell, why does Ergun Caner repeatedly claim that his mother took off her Muslim garb in the waters of baptism when he baptized her about fifteen years later? It makes for a great story, but why would a woman in Ohio wear Muslim garb when she was no longer a Muslim? Need documentation? We are glad to offer it. Click here and listen to a very emotional presentation by Ergun Caner. If you start around 1:00:00 you will hear lots of problems, including Caner's mis-citation of Sahih Al-Bukhari 9:57 (see below), but more importantly, at 1:05:19 he tells the story of his mother. "In the baptistry, took off her hijab." Great emotions, but---again, why would a woman who left Islam after a divorce in the mid 70s be wearing a hijab until 1991? (By the way: may I suggest interested parties download these items while they are still on the web? There is a concerted effort to remove these embarrassing things from public view, and my citing of them may hasten that process).
The Charges that He was not Turkish as He Claimed to be.--This stems from a confusion of his nationality and the country of his birth. Ergun was born in Sweden, but he was a Turkish citizen. According to Swedish law a child born in Sweden has the nationality of his father, and Ergun’s father was Turkish. Indeed, he traveled to Turkey with his father to establish his Turkish citizenship. When he came to America, he came as a Turkish citizen with a Turkish passport.
This one is easy: Ergun has claimed to be "100% Turkish." He isn't. I don't think it is all that important, personally, but since it is part of his "persona," the embellishment is to be expected from him.
The Charge that Caner Falsely Claims that he has had more than Sixty Debates with Muslims.—Critics challenge this statement and claim it is an intentional embellishment. But they mistakenly assume that all debates are formal. Caner lists many formal debates in the last ten years or so. But he has also engaged in multiple informal debates as well. There is no evidence to deny his claim. Indeed, given his numerous encounters with Muslims, it is reasonable to assume there were at least sixty.
This one really convinces me that Geisler is simply repeating material Caner has sent him (perhaps we are really seeing the secret memo produced back in April?). Where does Caner list "many formal debates in the last ten years or so"? Where? I have been asking this question for a long time now, and no one can answer. iTunes "interviews" are not debates, and Norman Geisler knows it. Indeed, for someone with Norman Geisler's background to defend someone who has claimed to have debated leading religious figures representing Islam and Buddhism and Hinduism, etc., in thirteen countries and thirty-five states (as Caner claimed in print) and yet he cannot name a single one, cannot produce a single video tape, audio tape, or even produce a name of someone we can contact to verify the debate, is a further indication that the term "veritas" needs to be reviewed by the esteemed professor.
I wish to point everyone to the amazing logic produced in the above citation. "There is no evidence to deny his claim." Think about it. Ergun Caner makes a claim to have engaged in a very, very public activity, that of debate. Leaders in various religions. In public. University and college campuses. Even one source says he did so in mosques (in Arabic even!). And Norman Geisler, who has written books on philosophy and logic and apologetics, defends this claim, for which no evidence has been produced by the one making it, with the line, "There is no evidence to deny his claim." When someone makes a positive claim, the burden of proof lies upon…everyone else to deny it? Really? We are left wondering just what kind of evidence one is supposed to produce to meet Dr. Geisler's standards, when Ergun Caner cannot name a single place, a single person, that we can contact? This is not clear thinking, this is blind political allegiance. And it again reminds us of how Joseph Smith is defended every day by the young Mormon missionaries on the doorstep. "Oh, I know Joseph Smith was a prophet!" "Why?" "Because, I have a testimony!" I never dreamed I'd live to see the day when Norman Geisler would be engaging in a cover-up using the same kind of thinking. Amazing.
Of Joseph Smith and Ergun Caner (Part 2)
07/03/2010 - James White
The Charge that He Could Speak Arabic When He Can’t.—He only claims to be able to speak Arabic the way most non-Arabic Muslims do. Although he was raised in Sweden by a Swedish mother, Ergun learned enough Arabic (as most Muslims do) to read the Qur’an and speak it in prayer.
Please compare this excuse with the reality of each of the clips in the following video. Caner directly claims the ability to speak Arabic, so as to be able to tell the story of Abraham and Isaac, for example, while at the Dome of the Rock. Is Geisler aware of these facts, or is he again just going on the basis of what Caner tells him (this list looks like it may well be an edited version of what Caner offered to the staff at Liberty back in April).
But notice something else: why does Geisler say Caner was raised in Sweden by a Swedish mother? Does this not contradict repeated public statements by Caner that he is 100% Turkish? And is this not acknowledgement that his repeated claims to have been raised in Turkey were, in fact, fallacious?
Finally, the vast majority of non-Arabic Muslims I know cannot read the Qur'an. At all. They learn the prayers by rote.
The Charges that He was not Turkish as He Claimed.--This stems from a confusion of his nationality and the country of his birth. Ergun was born in Sweden, but he was a Turkish citizen. According to Swedish law a child born in Sweden has the nationality of his father, and Ergun’s father was Turkish. Indeed, he traveled to Turkey with his father to establish his Turkish citizenship. When he came to America, he came as a Turkish citizen with a Turkish passport.
Confusion created by what? By Ergun Caner's own myth-making, of course! Ergun was born in Sweden alright, so, how does Dr. Geisler explain Caner's claim that he was born in Istanbul?
Has Norman Geisler even seen these videos? We do not know. He may well just be repeating Caner's own excuses. In any case, what evidence does Dr. Geisler offer in support of this new claim (I have never seen it made before, if someone else has, please let me know where), "Indeed, he traveled to Turkey with his father to establish his Turkish citizenship." When? For how long? Why would he have to do this in light of his own claims to have lived in Ankara and on the border of Turkey and Iraq? Are those lies, too? Here again, unlike Norman Geisler, I provide the documentation:
Coming to America, the only thing that I understood, I was fifteen when we came, the only thing - or - thirteen when we came, the only thing that I understood about American culture, I got from American television. And the only television that we were allowed to watch was the television that was - that passed the conscriptions of the censors in Turkey. I lived in Ankara, but then I lived toward the east for the most part of my life, on the Iraqi border." (source)
So which is it, Dr. Geisler? If what you are saying is true, then here are more "misstatements" on Ergun's part. But, they are clearly not misstatements, they are lies. This is what happens when you try to defend the indefensible.
The Charge that He was never trained in Jihad at a Muslim School.—The charges that he trained in a Sudanese or Lebanese School (Madrassa) are false and are based on wrongly assuming his statement of “Islamic youth jihad” was in reference to a specific terrorist organization. He trained in the one attached to his Mosque as all Muslim children do. And he was trained there in Jihad, as all the other children are—even those who never take up a gun.
Dr. Geisler, where was this madrassa? In Ohio? Where is your evidence of this? Would those who built that mosque confirm your statement? Remembering that Ergun Caner was not, in fact, raised in Sweden (contra Geisler's above statement), but in Ohio--is it Geisler's claim that the mosque in Ohio was training youth in jihad in the early 1970s?
The Charge that Ergun claimed he “Always Lived” in a Muslim Country before Coming to the US.—Although, the phrase “always lived” is not precise. There is no evidence of an evil intent to embellish here, as his critics say. True, Sweden was not a Muslim country, but he did live as a Muslim with a Muslim father while in Sweden. After all, Ergun’s father was from a Muslim country, Ergun was a citizen of a Muslim country, and he lived as a Muslim in Sweden. It would be an embellishment to say that if he was not a Muslim and not a citizen of a Muslim country.
Oh, I think the phrase "always lived" is very precise. Always is a good, clear word, isn't it? And in the context in which Caner made the statement, he was explaining why he thought Christians hated him, because, he claimed, he had always lived in a majority Muslim country. That is why the folks at the Baptist Church were such a surprise to him, since, living in a majority Muslim country (Turkey) he had been around so few Christians. But, we have already seen that Geisler has moved Ergun to Sweden to be raised now, when the reality is that he was raised in central Ohio, where, in the early 1970s, there were lots of Christians, were there not? See the parallel once again to Joseph Smith and his First Vision story? By isolating statements from their contexts you can provide a new context and meaning that completely changes the obvious original intent of the author/speaker. Mormons defend Smith's many wild statements this way, and now Norman Geisler has taken a page from their playbook (or, he has rashly agreed to promote Caner's own self-defense, which, to be honest, I think may well be the case, though I cannot know). Remember, Caner came to the US as a child, around 2.5 to 3 years of age. You can hear him make this claim in the context of claiming ignorance of Christians here. And go to 36:45 here to hear Caner use the exact "majority Muslim" terminology and note the context in which he uses it: explaining that he did not know Christians, thought we hated him, etc. This was one of the main points of his sermon, not a mere "misstatement"! (This is followed with his "my father had wives" claim, which is likewise, I believe, bogus---he remarried after divorcing Caner's mother, but that is hardly the same as having "many wives" in this context). Once again we have Caner's own words standing as testimony in their original context against the excuses being promoted by Norman Geisler.
The Charge that He false Claims that “I Came as a Jihadist from Turkey”.—Ergun denies making this statement, and I have not seen any document refuting his claim. He does claim to have been trained in Jihad, as all Muslim children are. And he is of Turkish ancestry. The rest is apparently extrapolated by his detractors
He claims to have been trained in the madrassa in Turkey in jihad. Yes or no? True or false? Evidently, from Geisler's own arguments now presented here, this is a lie. The convoluted story only becomes more convoluted as people attempt to get around obvious facts. But again, to show that one side documents, the other just asserts:
"May I submit to you, until I was 15 years old, I was in the Islamic Youth Jihad. And so until I came to America, until I found Jesus Christ as Lord, I was trained to do that which was done on 11 September."
Source found here. Remember, according to court documents, after ten years of age, Caner could not leave the country. So, Dr. Geisler---your explanation, please?
The Charge that Caner Falsely Claims to have been a Devout Muslim.—Caner photos prove of his activity in the Islamic religion. He has a picture of his masallah (when circumcised at age 12); a photo of him praying in the mosque; a picture of his reading the Qur’an in recitation. He also has a photo of his receiving a certificate from an Imam. His bother Emir, also a former Muslim, has vouched for the veracity of his claims.
The argument has been made that Ergun Caner, if a devout Muslim, would not make the mistakes he makes (some of which will be exposed below) when addressing basic Islamic beliefs. The provenance of the photos mentioned (some of which appear on Caner's Facebook page) is highly questionable. Since Geisler has raised the name of Emir Caner, we can now ask publicly: Emir Caner, is the picture Ergun Caner has posted on his website (which I provide here) a genuine picture of Ergun's tenth birthday, and was the picture taken, as Ergun claims, in Turkey? If not, where was it taken? Dr. Geisler is now saying Caner was raised in Sweden. Was the picture in Sweden? Dr. Emir Caner, since you have been called as a verifying witness by Dr. Norman Geisler, I call upon you to openly and publicly speak to this issue. Did you live in Turkey? When? Why has Ergun Caner said you could be president because you were born in the US? Did you leave the US and live in Turkey as a young person? If so, when? Can you explain the court order precluding your leaving the US found in the divorce papers that have been posted? Dr. Geisler has now involved you, so answers to these questions need to be provided.
The Charge that Caner Claims to have Learned “Perfect” English in Brooklyn.—Caner denies that he said his English was “perfect.” But he did learn some English while living in the old Jefferson Hotel while the family first migrated to the United States. They moved to Ohio where his English improved.
I have never heard any discussion of "perfect" English. But I myself have raised all sorts of issues relating to his claim to have learned English as a teenager having just moved here from Turkey. So, excuse me, but how long was the Caner family at the Jefferson Hotel, given that Ergun was a whopping 2.5 or 3 years old? His English improved? You know, we'd think that would happen, going to kindergarten, elementary school, junior high, and high school in Ohio. English was the predominate language in those schools in the 1970s. Since the records indicate Emir was born in Ohio, and that when Ergun was four, are we to believe he learned English (being a native Swedish speaker) in one year as a three to four year old? How does any of this square with his claims to have learned English in Turkey by watching American TV, a claim he has made numerous times? Click here and go to 10:20 to listen to Ergun Caner claim to have learned English by watching Andy Griffith and the Dukes of Hazzard. Dr. Geisler, was that a lie? Please tell us.
(continued in part 3)
Of Joseph Smith and Ergun Caner (Part 1)
07/03/2010 - James WhiteNorman Geisler has posted a lengthy defense of Ergun Caner on his website. It is a collection of all of the attempts to explain Caner's myths over the past few months, but it ignores major portions of the data that exists relating to Caner's claims. It is a sad spectacle to see the man best known for the defense of the resurrection engaging in this kind of argumentation. It is incumbent upon us to point out the facts in response to Geisler's article. I will keep this response brief, and allow others who have been involved in researching Caner's claims expand upon individual points.
Let's remember the facts: Ergun Caner has said many true things about Islam. However, no one, to my knowledge, has provided the first evidence of any debate, of any kind, with any leading Islamic scholar, Imam, or apologist. Every name he has ever mentioned in the recordings I have heard (Shabir Ally, Abdul Saleeb, Nadir Ahmed) is problematic for Caner's claims. Now, a basic rule of logic is that if you are going to make positive claims (as Caner did on his various web pages) you have to provide evidence. You cannot claim to have done sixty one debates with Muslims (as one 2006 newspaper claimed) and yet provide no evidence of having done even one, let alone sixty more. When Ergun Caner claimed, twice, to have debated Shabir Ally, he knew, without question, that he had never debated Shabir Ally. When I say I have debated Shabir Ally, it is easy for me to prove it:
For months now we have been asking Ergun Caner to substantiate his long-standing claims (now removed from his websites---why remove them if they are true?) to be a major player in the apologetic field of battle. Where is the evidence? What Geisler's article (and his other defenders) provide is not evidence, not data, but excuses. Keep your eye on the goal as we examine some of the major problems with Geisler's attempted defense of Caner's claims.
A talented, dedicated, and high effective servant of God and convert from Islam has come under a strong attack by extreme Muslims. Why? Basically, it is because he is a converted Muslim and is an effective living, moving, talking representative of Evangelical Christianity.
Surely some Muslims might attack Ergun Caner for simply being a Christian. However, Geisler has to allow for the fact that there may be many, Muslims and non, who are pointing out the contradictions in Caner's claims who are absolutely honest in their concerns. To broad-brush everyone in the fashion Caner's defenders have done is unfair and unwarranted.
What is their tactic? It was to destroy his credibility by making false and defaming allegations about him. Unfortunately some extremist Calvinists, who oppose Dr. Caner’s more moderate view, have piled on as well. The result? There has been a miserable and painful disruption of his life, his family, and his ministry.
Dr. Caner could have ended all of this long ago, had his claims been true. He chose to make up the story he posted on the Liberty website, claiming to come here in 1979 from Turkey when he had been in the US from 1969. No one, Muslim or Calvinist, forced him to make up that story after 9/11.
Note that Geisler's idiosyncratic terminology (he really does seem to believe he can single-handedly change the historical designations, as Chosen But Free proved) is a thinly disguised attempt to poison the well. Many of Caner's critics are not Reformed at all. He evidently is hoping to play into the massive prejudice that exists in his primary audience (Calvary Chapel folks, etc.) by conjoining "extremist Calvinist" with "Muslim." At this point may I say once again that the fact of the matter is I would have been much faster to the attack on this issue if Ergun Caner was Reformed. I would hold him to a higher standard. It is a bogus and dishonest approach to make this an issue of Reformed/Arminian, and it is sad to observe Norman Geisler promoting this. Of course, we need to remember, Geisler was stung badly by not just the publication of The Potter's Freedom, but especially by the endorsements it carried and by the recognition by most scholars that his book was very poorly written, argued, and thought-out. It was, and is, simply a bad book. So if there is, in fact, any "Reformed/Arminian" element here, may I suggest it is completely on the Arminian side of the fence? Remember, Ergun Caner's radical detestation of Reformed theology has been documented since 2005/2006 (here), and Norman Geisler has refused to engage me in dialogue over those same issues for a decade now. While I have proven my ability to distinguish between Arminians in their approach and behavior (note the sharp, yet brotherly, exchanges earlier this year with Michael Brown), I have seen no evidence of this on Caner's part (his brother, Emir, upon becoming president of Truett-McConnell college, made his anti-Calvinism known quickly through the use of the pink slip), and Geisler's anti-Calvinism is just as well known.
The "miserable and painful disruption" of his life could have been stopped by his being honest in 2001 and saying, "My earliest memories are right here in the United States, from Ohio; I have never lived in a Muslim country, and I grew up in the Midwest, attending elementary school with everyone else. But my father was a Muslim, my mother, after their divorce, was not overly religious. But I was influenced by Islam, and though I am no expert in it, I can tell you that I needed to hear about the true Jesus, and when I did, I believed." That would have been the truth, it would have been glorious, it would have glorified God, and all would be well today. Dr. Geisler wishes to play upon the emotions of his audience, but in doing so, he adopts an unbiblical stance that puts the blame upon the truthful person and excuses the dishonest one.
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 has demonstrated moral intent on any of the factual misstatements he made (which we all make).
I am sorry, but I have never made "factual misstatements" such as the following:
I was born in Germany (when I was born in Minnesota).
I moved to Pennsylvania when I was 15 (when I did so when I was 5).
I have debated Richard Dawkins (when I have not--I've never met him).
I have debated leading skeptics in German universities in German (when I have not, though I can muddle my way through German fairly well---surely not well enough to debate in the language).
Etc. and etc. What is more, to make the parallel complete, I would have to put it like this: To audiences while speaking, I came to the United States from Germany when I was 15; to a reporter from Germany, or the AP, I admit I was born in Minnesota and have never been to Germany. This would be more like the facts concerning Caner's stories, as documented over and over again.
Now, if Dr. Geisler can glibly explain the existence of the 2002 AP story (found here) together with the sermons preached by Caner within a year both directions as "misstatements" with no "moral intent" to them once again boggles the mind. Surely, telling one story to one audience, and another to a different audience, is the very definition of moral intent to lie, is it not? If it isn't, could Dr. Geisler provide us, as one who has written on Christian ethics and morality, a definition of "lying" that would not fit these very facts? ...
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The Caner Scandal Becomes the Evangelical Cover-Up
07/02/2010 - James WhiteYes, I'm sick of this entire thing. I want it to go away. I want to be working on uplifting things, preparing for my fall debates, writing, researching…doing the things of ministry. But here I sit preparing to slam many more doors in my face. Why? Simple. Truth is costly. When I have told Christians and non Christians alike over the past twenty five years that I believe the Gospel is true and consistent and vital, I was actually speaking the truth. That's what I really believe. And I further believe that when you live in a day of compromise and apostasy you may have to invest a whole lot more to be consistent in matters of the truth than those who live in days of relative peace.
The apologetic task facing true believers in Christ in Western Society today is daunting. We are under assault from every angle. There has never been a time when we need to be more consistent, more committed, more heart-felt in our passionate love of the truth. We cannot live inconsistently with our profession. We cannot be hypocrites. If we tell the world we honor the truth, then we need to do so in all of our lives. We cannot pretend that truth is only important in apologetic issues, issues relating to the resurrection or the historicity of the Bible, while turning around and trampling on simple truthfulness in other aspects of our lives. Lovers of truth will love it in all of life, not just in parts.
We went farther and farther into the Evangelical Twilight Zone today with the release of further outlandish statements attributed to Norman Geisler. As some will recall, I have long asserted that Norman Geisler could not have written the error-riddled response to The Potter's Freedom that appeared as an appendix to the second edition of Chosen But Free. I simply did not believe that anyone with his reputation could produce something that rivals Gail Riplinger's worst. But Dr. Geisler's behavior in this matter is beginning to weaken my resolve on that issue. Here is the relevant portion of the CT article:
"They exonerated him on everything except some misstatements on nothing that was crucial," Geisler told CT on Wednesday. "No moral or doctrinal charges were established; no culpability was proven."
Geisler blames Muslims for inspiring the probe and "extreme Calvinists" for "shoving him under the bus." Geisler believes Liberty made a mistake in letting Caner go as president because it implies guilt.
"People who know Ergun know he is a man of honesty, integrity, and Christian commitment," Geisler says. "The charges that he intentionally lied and embellished are totally unfounded."
Let's examine Geisler's words in the light of the documented facts (those pesky things he, and those who join him in this cover-up, ignore). First, let's remember something here. Norman Geisler is associated with Veritas Seminary. So is Ergun Caner. He is not an unbiased observer here. He has direct political connections to Caner, and was quick to attack anyone who questioned Caner weeks ago. Secondly, Liberty's seven-sentence statement is not the result of an independent or unbiased investigation. Liberty has a great deal invested in this matter, and their non-statement, couched in political language, has done little to end this scandal. In fact, its obtuse, confusing, political language has provided the basis upon which a cover-up has now been launched in Caner's service.
Next, it is difficult to believe that anyone, let alone Norman Geisler, has taken as seven sentence statement from Liberty and turned it into an "exoneration" of Ergun Caner. Anyone even remotely familiar with the mountain of documentation in the form of audio and video recordings, court records, printed documents, etc., knows the Liberty statement was crafted to avoid giving specifics. They know what the questions are, they simply refuse to answer them. And Norman Geisler, by putting himself on the line in defense of Caner, now shoulders the moral, ethical, and more importantly, Christian, obligation to answer the questions Ergun Caner refuses to answer. This is even more so the case since Geisler is making claims that are documentably false. Let's start with the first claim:
"They exonerated him on everything except some misstatements on nothing that was crucial," Geisler told CT on Wednesday.
Really? Which misstatements that are not "crucial" was he not exonerated on? Geisler doesn't know, of course, since Liberty hasn't said. Or, if he does know, then he needs to be honest and forthright and tell the rest of the world. But his statements seem to be based upon the Liberty statement, and I see no evidence of his claiming any special knowledge, outside of claiming to have spoken to Caner himself. In any case, the Liberty statement acknowledged "discrepancies" relating to dates and places of residence. What would this refer to, if not his claim to have lived in Turkey, coming to the US in 1979 via Beirut and Cairo? Can someone seriously argue that Caner's entire mythology of being a Turkish born and bred Muslim, trained in the madrassa in jihad, is not "crucial" to his entire story? If you asked anyone amongst the many thousands to whom Ergun Caner has spoken since 9/11 if it was "crucial" that he was telling the truth about his upbringing, what would they say? How about those students, Dr. Geisler, that have come to Liberty, or Veritas, to learn from Ergun Caner, the converted Muslim from Turkey who came here to do what the terrorists of 9/11 did? Do you think they would find that element of his story "crucial"? The answer is obvious.
The fact is Liberty exonerated Caner on one specific allegation: that he was never a Muslim. The vast majority of Caner's critics have granted that from the start, and with the publication by Mr. Smathers of the legal documentation relating to the dissolution of the marriage of Ergun Caner's parents, that matter was put to rest for any rational person. But since that has not been the point for the vast majority of critics, to say that Liberty exonerated Caner on "everything" else is simply absurd. Can Dr. Geisler demonstrate that Liberty exonerated Ergun Caner:
About his debating Shabir Ally?
About his debating Abdul Saleeb?
About his debating sixty one Muslim leaders?
About his debating in mosques, or in thirteen countries, or thirty five states?
About his claiming to speak Arabic?
About his claim to have lived in Ankara, Turkey, or on the border of Iraq and Turkey?
About his claim to have thought Christians hated him, having lived in majority Muslim countries all his life?
About his claim to have broken English even at his conversion in 1982?
etc. and etc. ...
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A Wide Open, Caller-Driven Dividing Line
07/01/2010 - James WhiteAfter announcing the indefinite postponement of the debate with Christopher Hitchens, I also noted the cancellation of the John 10:16 Conference in New York the first weekend in August. Then we went to the phones and covered a wide, wide range of topics from the love of God to election to Mormonism and lots more. Great calls! Here's the program.
Reformed Tiber Swimmers
07/01/2010 - James SwanHere's yet another converts tale. A Reformed person swimming the Tiber has made a fallible decision to submit to a self-proclaimed infallible authority. He set out four possible authority options to submit to now that he's decided to leave his Reformed church. The one that appealed to him is the following:
Submit to a form of Christianity that does not subscribe to Sola Scriptura and which has a interpretive authority which can plausibly claim to be led by the Holy Spirit, so as to remove myself as the authority.The submission to that authority still rests on private judgment, the very thing scorned throughout this conversion story (read it for yourself). Other infallible authorities make claims that their authority rests on plausibility. Who decides which infallible authority is plausible? Why it's none other than our potential convert. Rather than removing himself as the authority, he makes himself his own authority in choosing the correct infallible interpreter. He continues:
This makes the most sense. Catholic and Orthodox ecclesiology takes into account the fact that people will disagree about the content of Divine revelation. Not that disagreement implies errancy or fallibility, but without a magisterium that is supernaturally protected from error, there is no way for me to be sure I am getting the interpretation that is the right one.It may make sense in theory, but in practice our convert is still left with a Bible to interpret. Neither of these alleged authorities has done a good job in infallibly interpreting the content of divine revelation. A while back I mentioned how Roman Catholic apologist Tim Staples stated "There is a lot of freedom with regard to the interpretation of Scripture." Tim affirmed that even the verses infallibly defined by the Roman Catholic Church "are left open to other interpretations as long as you don't deny that which has been infallibly interpreted." How many verses has Rome defined? Some say only a small handful of verses have an infallible interpretation, others deny the Church has defined the literal sense of any single passage. Roman Catholics aren't even united on a basic issue like the inerrancy of Scripture.
The problem for Roman Catholics is compounded even more, because the church also says that a doctrine can be defined, but the scriptural proofs used to support it utilized by the church's theologians might not actually support it. In other words, one can have certainty for a doctrine, but not have certainty in the scriptural proof texts for that doctrine. The infallibility is in the decree, not in the reasoning to that decree. The Catholic Encyclopedia states, ''the validity of the Divine guarantee is independent of the fallible arguments upon which a definitive decision may be based, and of the possibly unworthy human motives that in cases of strife may appear to have influenced the result. It is the definitive result itself, and it alone, that is guaranteed to be infallible, not the preliminary stages by which it is reached." Note the words of Roman Catholic theologian, Johann Mohler: "Catholic theologians teach with general concurrence, and quite in the spirit of the Church, that even a Scriptural proof in favour of a decree held to be infallible, is not itself infallible, but only the dogma as defined." [Source: Johann Adam Mohler, Symbolism: Exposition of the doctrinal Differences between Catholics and Protestants as evidenced by their Symbolic Writings, trans James Burton Robertson (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1997), p.296].
As to a "a magisterium that is supernaturally protected from error" our Tiber swimmer needs to answer fundamental questions. Isn't this simply a presuppositional claim? On what basis does one determine a church is infallible? It is merely assumed. All sola ecclesia groups assume their authority. In regards to Romanism, when asked how the Roman Catholic Church can establish her authority, notice it's most often proved by the testimony of the Scriptures. That is, they will rarely admit to simply assuming it. Rather they quote a handful of Biblical proof-texts. This is a circular argument. Roman Catholics prove the authority of the Scriptures by the Church, and the authority of the Church by the Scriptures.
In regard to being sure he's got the right interpretation once he joins Romanism, once again he ignores the simple fact that it's his decision to trust in Romanism. He'll never be able to escape himself and his own fallible decisions. His certainty will always be a fallible certainty because he's fallible. He continues:
If I am able to toss out the 7th ecumenical council (as nearly all Protestants do) because it doesn't match my interpretation, where will the tossing out stop? If church councils themselves are to be judged by a 21st century layman, theologically untrained, and unordained Christian like me, what is the point then of church councils other than to provide some really good advise from some really great men from the history of our faith? If they were not being guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit in these councils, with the expectation that all believers should submit to their decisions, then what use are they other than to help me form my own interpretation to submit to? The ecclesiologies that claim to have living, breathing successors of the apostles which are Divinely gifted with the ability to define doctrine in certain situations are the only ecclesiologies that make sense.I have nothing against the church meeting in council, but this type of argument assumes more than some of the early councils did. Did they think they were infallible? This is pure anachronism. The Fathers did not profess to be the standard of truth, either in or out of council.
This paradigm also suffers from ignoring the church of the Old Testament. God's people were able to discern God's voice and work, this without an infallible magisterium. They knew which books were Scripture (Romans 3:2) without the aid of any infallible authoritative conciliar declaration. Christ and the apostles held the Jews responsible for knowing and properly interpreting the Scriptures. Never once is it recorded in Scripture that the Jews complained that they didn't have an infallible magisterium. It was assumed by the New Testament writers that God's truth was clear.
As conversion stories go, this one was a typical example of someone who bought the claims of Roman Catholicism without applying the same scrutiny to Romanism. It's one thing to tear down sola scriptura, it's quite another to apply the same scrutiny to Romanism. If one is going to argue against the sole infallible authority of Scripture, they should at least work just as hard to apply the same standards of scrutiny to their new infallible authority. Let's try to point this Reformed Tiber swimmer back to the right shore. I'm fairly confident he'll be reading this, so he can begin with this Primer On Roman Catholic Epistemology. He can follow this up with a positive defense of sola scriptura.