Ergun Caner Update

Ergun Caner, the president of Liberty University’s Baptist Theological Seminary, continues to come under scrutiny over discrepancies in his biography, and his claim to have converted from extremist Islam (see my blog entry here). A few days ago, the university issued a statement:

Following inquiries from several members of the mainstream media, Liberty decided to initiate its own investigation. “Liberty does not initiate personnel evaluations based upon accusations from Internet blogs,” Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. said. “However, In light of the fact that several newspapers have raised questions, we felt it necessary to initiate a formal inquiry.”

By “accusations from Internet blogs”, Falwell means serious evidence and links provided by various people – some of whom are well-known Christian speakers and writers themselves – which cast serious doubt on Caner’s alleged past. The fact he would try to spin the story in this way does not bode well.

However, one defender has apparently stepped forward – a statement has been posted on-line at this Southern Baptist blog, attributed to Jamal Jivanjee, another ex-Muslim Christian:

My name is Jamal Jivanjee, and I was born and raised in the greater Columbus Ohio area. My mother is an American & my father was born and raised in East Africa and is of Asian Indian decent. My father was a devout Muslim and we attended functions at the same mosque/ masjid that Ergun, Emir, & his family attended on east Broad street in Columbus, Ohio. Ergun & Emir’s father, Mr. Acar Caner, was a very prominent leader within the Islamic community that we associated with and was very involved with this mosque. As a result, I remember as a young child going to their home with my family to have dinner with their family. Mr. Acar Caner was also the acting landlord of the apartment community where my family and I lived for a number of years…

Curiously, the owner of the blog does not explain why the statement has been passed to him, and there is no reference to it on Jivanee’s “Illuminate” ministry website.

While Southern Baptist bloggers are hailing this as an exoneration of Caner, not everyone is convinced – a Reformed blogger named Francis Turretin writes:

It would be interesting to know what approximate year Mr. Jivanjee remembers visiting the Acar house. From what I could find on the Internet, Mr. Jivanjee is about 35 years old, meaning he was born about 1975. As such, in November of 1982 (the date Caner indicates as his conversion), Mr. Jivanjee would have been about 7 years old.

…Notice that Mr. Jivanjee doesn’t say he or his family regularly attended or worshiped at the Broad St. Islamic Foundation, but just that they “attended functions” there… Notice as well that Mr. Jivanjee does not claim to have personally known Ergun and Emir, but just to have dined once with Mr. Acar Caner and “his family” (which may well have referred to Mr. Caner’s second wife and daughters).

Some of Dr. Caner’s fans seem to think that Mr. Jivanjee’s comments above prove that Dr. Caner was not just from a Muslim family but a devout Muslim, and that this evidence exonerates Dr. Caner from all the accusations of dishonesty that have been swirling around him. The problems are (1) that’s not what Mr. Jivanjee says and (2) it doesn’t appear that Mr. Jivanjee, being only about 7 years old and in a different branch of Islam at the time Dr. Caner apparently converted, would have been in a position to know whether Dr. Caner was a devout Muslim.

Jivanjee was in the news last summer, as part of the Rifqa Bary saga. He was her pastor in Ohio, and claims that supernatural power manifests through her:

Each time we met with her, I left a changed person. This young girl not only lived out the kingdom of God in word, but in deed! The Lord has used her to physically and spiritually heal people, and bring people into a relationship with God everywhere she has went. She has done this in places like high school, summer jobs, and more recently…jail cells. I do not say these things to brag about her, but to brag about the reality and power of Jesus in her!

He also went to Florida, where he was interviewed by Pamela Geller.

Caner also contributed to the Bary story, with a bit of commentary about Sri Lanka in September:

Liberty Theological Seminary president Dr. Ergun Caner told Christians attending the Values Voter Summit in Washington Saturday that if Bary is returned to her parents and they move back to Sri Lanka, she will be killed because “Sri Lanka puts my people to death.”

This is revealing. When someone comes to prominence as an authority based on their supposed private histories, if they are genuine they will keep to what they know about.  By contrast, chancers tend eventually to over-reach themselves by pronouncing on subjects about which they have no expertise at all – I saw this in relation to Walid Shoebat here.  Sri Lanka does not put Christian ex-Muslims to death – insofar as there is religious discrimation, the country favours Buddhists. There’s no real risk of an honour killing there, either.

14 Responses

  1. Just a quick note. Caner is the president of the Seminary at Liberty University, not the entire school.

    Thanks!

    LU Senior

  2. Christians, mostly are looking for something sensational in church; kinda like National Inquirers on Sunday morning. That is why the Caners with their lies are popular among the Baptists. They are not looking for truth. Truth does not need personal embelishments. Baptists are known for their exaggerations. Now lies are not new among ministers. This is just one but not the only case. If you listen to their stories from the pulpits they tend to fabricate things about themselves. I tend to think 99% pastors alwas doing this kind of chep technique of communication. I think most of their stories are made up lies.

    • John – not all “baptists” feel as you describe above and not all exaggerate the truth. I consider myself a Christian first, and a baptist second. I have had friends outside of my denomination really come down hard on the Caner issue, and I have defended him without hesitation. Unless I have the man’s word that he has intentionally deceived the public, or someone comes up with some absolute, indisputable proof of his deception, then I could care less what the secular media wants to embellish about Dr. Caner. Many wish to see Dr. Caner fall – even within the so-called Christian community it seems – but I am convinced that if this man has done anything at all to disgrace our Lord – without repenting – then God is perfectly able and capable of handling Dr. Caner without our help. I have been accused of having a “sticking my head in the sand” mentality, but I feel that secular media, and sadly, some self-proclaimed Christians, go into “feeding-frenzy” mode when they “catch wind” of a Christian who’s “messed up”! Worse yet, they don’t even wait for the facts to come out! Personally, I am praying for Mr. Caner!

  3. Christians, mostly are looking for something sensational in church; kinda like National Inquirers on Sunday morning.

    Actually, that’s more the purvey of misinformed, paranoid atheists.

    http://www.examiner.com/x-22884-Canada-Politics-Examiner~y2010m5d13-Rise-of-the-religious-right-in-Canada-a-paranoid-tale

  4. By the way as someone who was an Espicopalian and became a Catholic through marriage could someone define waht a Baptist is. I admire many Baptists but have never reasearched the differences.

  5. You said:
    “Curiously, the owner of the blog does not explain why the statement has been passed to him, and there is no reference to it on Jivanee’s “Illuminate” ministry website.”

    After taking a look at the “Illuminate” ministry website it is clear that it is not some sort of running commentary on anything except it’s ministry purpose… so I can’t imagine why there would be some sort of “statement” about this on there… so that doesn’t prove anything.

    Also, the quote the blogger took was from a post by Jivanjee himself on Facebook… http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=120426491321129&v=wall

    As to the rumors and validity of his statements regarding them, I have no conclusion, however your dismissal in the quoted statement is kind of off-base and certainly not telling of anything really…

    • I didn’t “dismiss” the statement’s origin, I simply pointed out that its provenance was unknown. I didn’t say that there should be a statement on Jivanjee’s website, either – but it was not unreasonable to think one might be there.

      Thank you for the Facebook link, but I see Jivanee’s reposting of it there was made only a few hours ago. The “SBC Today” blogger made no mention of where he got the quote from.

  6. Christians, mostly are looking for something sensational in church; kinda like National Inquirers on Sunday morning. That is why the Caners with their lies are popular among the Baptists. They are not looking for truth. Truth does not need personal embelishments. Baptists are known for their exaggerations. Now lies are not new among ministers. This is just one but not the only case. If you listen to their stories from the pulpits they tend to fabricate things about themselves. I tend to think 99% pastors alwas doing this kind of chep technique of communication. I think most of their stories are made up lies.
    posted by John (kindly permit me )
    ——-

    I agree with you John… I admit majority of Pastors used this method… and they knew it… I am a former Pastor of the Baptist sect in the Philippines .

  7. It is very sad when Christian Leaders have to lie and spice up testimonies for the purpose of the Gospel. Kind of an oxymoron. Lying to present the Truth to the lost. A famous pastor in brooklyn uses the same tactics in his books and his books are world famous. Why do we need drama? Because the True message of the gospel has been lost. Who cares what someone was before? Paul said to the Corinthians, “such were some of you but you were washed…….” When the True Gospel is preached which shows that all men are under the wrath of God and that there is none good no not one. When the Person and Work of Christ are preached against that backdrop of man’s total depravity then there is no longer a need for BIG TESTIMONIES. Many of the testimonies are simply 40 minutes of how bad someone was and then 5 minutes about how Jesus saved them. Flip the script! Preach Christ and not yourself and then watch the Power of God convert souls.

    If Ergun Caner is found guilty he needs to step down for he has tainted his office and has brought shame to the Gospel which is the TRUTH! The same goes for Pastors who write books and willingly stretch stories for dramatic effects.

    The world has seen enough Charlatans in the Modern Day Church.

    Truth has stumbled in the street!

  8. Here is something about Ergun Caner that a non Muslim might pick up.

    To ‘prove’ that he is Muslim, he uses a ‘witness’ by the name of Jamal Jivanjee. Jamal says he was a ‘devoute Shi’a Muslim. Ergun claims to have been a ‘devout Sunn’i Muslim.

    I am Sunn’i Muslim. I have some Shi’a Muslimah friends on the internet (there are no Shi’a Muslims where I live in real life) However, Sunn’i and Shi’a do not worship together in the same Masjid.

    Eugun Caner claims that his witness Mr Jivanjee worshiped together in the same Masjid. That is impossible for a Muslimah like me to belive.

    So…the witness Jamal Jivanjee is either lying about being Shi’a, since he says that he and Mr Caner worshiped together, or one, or both of them arent Muslim.

    I do not know enough about Shi’a Islam to judge whether Jamal Jivanjee was ever devout, but I do not belive that Mr Caner was ever Muslim in practice

  9. [...] is far less impressive – and is coming under renewed scrutiny with the recent humilitation of Ergun Caner. Caner is being demoted by Liberty University after discrepencies in his story of being an [...]

  10. [...] late Jerry Falwell’s executive assistant, and his client list includes Jonathan Falwell, Ergun Caner, Benny Hinn, and Mike Hukabee (Hukabee also provided a Foreword for Westover’s memoir, Wow! [...]

  11. [...] of Koinonia’s “Board of Regents“, alongside WND‘s editor Joseph Farah, Ergun Caner,  Jerome Corsi, Alan Keyes, Tim LaHaye, several Calvary Chapel pastors, and others (including [...]

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