Some things just don’t go away by ignoring them, spinning them, or yelling louder that your critics are meanies. Ergun Caner’s myth-making is becoming more widely known despite the wall of silence he, and evidently, the leadership at Liberty, are hastily attempting to erect. I’m seeing other sites picking up on the story, and today ran across a very interesting comment made by someone with deep connections in the SBC, Wade Burleson. In the comments on this blog entry Burleson writes:
Though I have never written on this subject, I have read yours, Debbie Kaufman’s and James Whites articles with interest. I do not know Ergun Caner, but I hope he comes clean-quickly. What is available in published form is enough to indict his truthfulness, without ever going to motive. An “apology” for “mistakes” of “unintentional misleading statements” is like a CPA apologizing for “unintentionally” ignoring GAAP accounting principles and the law of the land – he may be sorry but there are consequences when the issue goes to the heart of one’s calling.
The new bio of Dr. Caner will go up this week on his website. It has been approved by the Chancellor himself, Jerry Falwell, Jr. When I say, “approved,” I mean the Chancellor sat at his desk, read it, and said, “Post it.”
As of this morning, Caner’s “Bio” link on his website still 404’s. It has been that way for over a month now, if I recall correctly. The “apology” from February 25th remains MIA as well. Since that time documentation has been posted blowing holes in his “I came here at 15 trained to be a jihadist” story. He grew up from age 4 in Ohio—heartland of the good ol’ USA. So much for “I had always lived in majority Muslim countries” and “I came here via Beirut and Cairo” and claiming his first language was Arabic and training in a madrassa in Turkey—all of it, simple hype meant to sell his story to undiscerning listeners. Ergun Caner has been creating a myth about himself for years now, aided, it seems, though probably unknowingly, by the “superstar” mentality that pervades certain portions of the Southern Baptist Convention. Got a great testimony? Come on up here and tell us about it! Maybe those first few times in the spotlight after 9/11 sealed it for him, I do not know. But I do know that this is a simple matter of truth vs. falsehood, honesty versus deception, and for Christians who follow Him who is the Truth, there is no wiggle room here, no place for neutrality. If you let the President of Liberty Theological Seminary make up his entire history just to “impress” the audience, upon what ground can you ever stand to 1) claim the Gospel message is REALLY true, or 2) demand integrity from anyone in what they claim or teach?
Here is what I expect will happen: as long as Ergun Caner provides Liberty with a + sign on the “paying customers” side of the ledger (enrollment), the wall of silence will remain up, the massive holes blown through Caner’s story being patched quickly by the diligent servants on the other side. As soon as the + sign becomes an = or a – sign, the wall comes down, “Oh, we had no idea, we must do the right thing” will become the mantra, and Ergun’s defenders will all of a sudden find themselves needing to, shall we say, attend to other issues. What began as primarily an amazing insight into the psyche of one individual leader is now beginning to reflect upon the structures that have not only allowed him to live in a self-made world of mythology for so many years now, but seem intent upon assisting him to perpetuate that myth even in the face of a clear demonstration of the truth.