Gene Clyatt, who for some odd reason has a fascination with small furry rodents with large fluffy tails, just tweeted an important development in the Caner Scandal: the story has been picked up and published in the Tehran Times. Here is the story. The English is rough, as one might expect, but it is a fairly wide-ranging summary of the state of affairs. Providing me with a major “I told you so” moment, the article notes,
Many critics regard Caner to be just an opportunist who has sowed tension between the world’s two largest faiths.
“”He’s done enormous harm … To listen to someone like Caner, you’d think house meetings to decide what to blow up next are daily fare for all Muslims,”” said Charles Kimball, director of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma.
Analysts say that Caner’s climb to fame, however, illustrates how important Muslim conversion stories are among American Christian communities today.
It also brings back to mind the longstanding fascination of the American society — dating back to the colonial period — with tales of Muslims converting to Christianity.
When you combine myth-making, exaggeration, and simple falsehood, with truth, this is the result. Not only are true converts maligned inappropriately, but when Caner says true things about Islam, for example, the truth of those statements is automatically tainted and diminished by its consistent conjunction with falsehoods. There is a strong element of truth in the observation that conservative evangelicalism/fundamentalism is rife with a desire to hear the “worst” about Islam. And surely there is much to report about the evil perpetrated by the Taliban, for example. But it has long been my theme that the Christian’s first concern should be an accurate knowledge of the fundamentals of Islam so that a clear, compelling gospel witness can be made. Islam is not a monolith, and just as we are offended when people tar and feather us for the sins of, say, Rome, we have to be consistent and allow Muslims to define their own faith without broad-brushing them in a way that would offend us (and obscure the truth).
So while Ergun Caner’s refusal to come clean and address the mountain of self-contradiction in his own pronouncements has led to further mockery of the gospel in Tehran, I provide a contrast from just a few years ago, when I had the opportunity to record programs for satellite broadcast in Iran itself.