Monday, June 28, 2010

Lynchburg, We Have A Problem...

The train wreck that is Ergun Caner continues.

(Other posts on this subject: Like Watching a Train Wreck & The Caner File)

On Friday, May 21, 2010, I received an e-mail from Basyle Tchividjian, Assistant Professor of Law at the Liberty University School of Law regarding the investigation into Ergun Caner's multiple and contradictory biographical assertions. Professor Tchividjian worked as a prosecutor for 7 years in Florida. He then worked in a private law practice, also in Florida, before joining the faculty at Liberty University School of Law.

Mr. Clyatt:

A colleague and I have been asked by the LU administration to investigate the various claims against Ergun Caner. I have reviewed your site and found it extremely helpful as you link the primary source to each allegation. The purpose of this note is to inquire whether you or anyone else for that matter has;
  1. Made any contact with Jerry Tackett, the individual who allegedly led Ergun Caner to Christ. Do we know if he has verified Ergun’s conversion account?

  2. Made any contact with Ergun’s brother, Erdem, and verified anything about their upbringing?

  3. Confirmed Ergun’s claims regarding his post high school education?

  4. Talked with anyone who knew Ergun during high school, college, or post-secondary school prior to 9-11?

Mr. Clyatt, we would appreciate if you could keep this email and the enclosed inquiries confidential. It is our objective to seek and obtain the truth during this investigation. Our God is too holy to allow us to do anything short of that objective. Much thanks.


Basyle 'Boz' Tchividjian
Assistant Professor of Law
Liberty University School of Law

I sent the following reply to Professor Tchividjian on Saturday, May 22, 2010:

Mr. Tchividjian,

Thank you for your kind words regarding my blog; I tried to be accurate and thorough.

However, all I did was compile the research done by others. I’ve not attempted to contact Jerry Tackett or Mark Caner. Nor have I looked into Ergun Caner’s academic records. As you are no doubt aware, the bulk of the research was done by Jason Smathers and TurretinFan.

I will respect your wishes to keep this e-mail private until the investigation is complete. Know that I am praying for God to guard the integrity of all who are involved in this investigation, and for the truth to be honored.

God Bless,

Gene Clyatt Jr.
A Squirrel in Babylon

Well, it seems that Liberty University has concluded their investigation into the Ergun Caner situation. With that conclusion, my agreement to keep Professor Tchividjian's e-mail confidential is also concluded. I am grateful that Professor Tchividjian found my compilation of information helpful. I agree with him that "Our God is too holy to allow us to do anything short of... seek[ing] and obtain[ing] the truth." I have no doubt that Professor Tchividjian and his colleague did just that.

I also have no doubt that Dr. Ron Godwin and the committee that he formed know exactly what the truth is in this matter. What they have done with this knowledge still kind of boggles my mind a bit.

Ergun Caner has been removed from the office of President and Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He will, however, remain as a full professor, at least for the 2010/2011 school year.

Here's the full text of Liberty University's statement announcing their actions:
After a thorough and exhaustive review of Dr. Ergun Caner’s public statements, a committee consisting of four members of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees has concluded that Dr. Caner has made factual statements that are self-contradictory.

However, the committee found no evidence to suggest that Dr. Caner was not a Muslim who converted to Christianity as a teenager, but, instead, found discrepancies related to matters such as dates, names and places of residence.

Dr. Caner has cooperated with the board committee and has apologized for the discrepancies and misstatements that led to this review.

Dr. Caner’s current contractual term as Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary expires on June, 30, 2010.

Dr. Caner will no longer serve as Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.

The university has offered, and Dr. Caner has accepted, an employment contract for the 2010-2011 academic year. Dr. Caner will remain on the faculty of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary as a professor.

Right away, we see that Liberty University is trying to minimize Dr. Caner's position at the school. The statement says, "Dr. Caner will no longer serve as Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary." Yet the biography at LBTS's website listed Dr. Caner as "President and Dean of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School."

Then there is the phrase, "Dr. Caner has cooperated with the board committee and has apologized for the discrepancies and misstatements that led to this review." It sounds an awful lot like Caner's statement of February 25, 2010, in which he said, "through two decades of ministry and hundreds of sermons there exist discrepancies in my testimony. In all honesty, I probably could have saved them a lot of time and trouble. The truth is, I would be surprised if no discrepancies were discovered, given the hundreds of messages I have given during all that time!"

This is nothing less than classically Clintonesque. “Misstatements” are things like saying “San Diego” when you meant to say “San Bernardino,” and “discrepancies” are saying something happened at 10 o’clock in the morning to one group and saying that the same event happened at 3 o’clock in the afternoon to another group. In other words, normal mistakes that any public speaker could make, and all public speakers do make, sooner or later. Dr. Caner's actions are something on a different order all together.

In February, Dr. Caner said, "I have never intentionally misled anyone." No, what Dr. Caner, did is called lying. He has deliberately, repeatedly, & knowingly told audiences things about himself & his upbringing that he knew were untrue. Whether he lied for financial gain or in an effort to obtain some sort of ego gratification is immaterial. Why he lied really does not matter. He lied, and the powers at Liberty University know that he lied. To say, "I have never intentionally misled anyone," is just another lie.

Instead of addressing Caner's lies head on, Liberty University has chosen to, once again, try to sweep the whole mess under the rug. Knowing that the evidence is too overwhelming to ignore completely, Liberty University has made a token gesture in an attempt to appease their critics. There doesn't seem to be any consideration at all among Liberty's leadership about trying to please a Holy God.

Let me address Liberty's leadership directly for a moment. Why all the obfuscation, Liberty University? Vague hints at “factual statements that are self-contradictory,” and unspecific references to clandestine apologies "for the discrepancies and misstatements that led to this review" in the face of the overwhelming mountain of documentation of Ergun Caner's interminable pattern of dishonesty before multiple church audiences over a period of almost 9 years seems inadequate. If you're trying to save face, it is backfiring. As James White said, "While I am thankful that Liberty has at least confessed that there is, in fact, an elephant in the room, when are they going to get around to explaining how he got there?"

And why extend Dr. Caner a professorship for a year? You can't have liars lead the school, but you think that it is okay for them to teach there? Is there a different standard of integrity for administrators then for faculty members? Or for students? Back in 2001, Notre Dame fired George O'Leary as football coach for falsifying his resume, and, just recently, Texas A&M senior vice president for administration Alexander Kemos resigned when his claims to have been a US Navy SEAL were shown to be false. Are your moral, ethical, and academic standards less then theirs? As I tweeted last Friday, “Retaining @ErgunCaner in a professorship damages LU's academic integrity (what they've got left...) What's he gonna teach? Lying 101?”

God’s standard is to do what is right, without favoritism or partiality. Deuteronomy 1:16-17 says, "Then I charged your judges at that time, saying, 'Hear the cases between your fellow countrymen, and judge righteously between a man and his fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God's. The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.'” Has Liberty’s judgment is this matter been righteous or impartial?

A lot of people have asked me, "What do you want to see happen?" That’s a good question, and it deserves an honest answer. The short answer is that I want to see “fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:8)

Here’s the long answer:
    I would like to see:
  1. A public statement from Dr. Caner in which he admits, without any prevarication, that he intentionally and repeatedly lied in order to inflate his testimony and embellish his conversion story (& an apology for the same.)

  2. His immediate resignation from the faculty of Liberty University as a sign of contrition for having intentionally and repeatedly lied in order to inflate his testimony and embellish his conversion story.

  3. A tour of all the churches to which he intentionally and repeatedly lied in order to inflate his testimony and embellish his conversion story to make public restitution by telling them the unvarnished truth this time.

  4. An honest and forthright version of his testimony and the story of his upbringing in Ohio in a broken home. (The truth is actually a very compelling story, from what I’ve been able to put together from the bits and pieces I can find.)

  5. I would like to see a statement from Ergun Caner's brother Emir Caner, president of Truett-McConnell College, explaining his role in aiding and abetting Ergun Caner's lies. (Over the years, they spoke at many of the same events. There is no way that Emir was ignorant of Ergun's penchant for lying.)

At this point, I think that it is highly unlikely that we will ever see any of that. There are two possibilities that I do see happening.

  1. Dr. Caner, Liberty University, & everyone else involved completely refuse to say anything more on the subject. Liberty University’s academic integrity continues to erode, and Liberty University fades into insignificance as pastors stop recommending it and parents stop sending their children there to be educated.

  2. Or

  3. The public discussion of Dr. Caner’s lack of integrity and Liberty University’s lack of male anatomy in dealing with Dr. Caner’s lack of integrity continues, and the continued pressure that results causes Dr. Caner to resign for undisclosed "personal reasons” and Liberty University tries to ignore the whole thing.

I would like nothing better than to stop talking about Ergun Caner and Liberty University. I've listened to more Ergun Caner sermons than I ever wanted to, believe me! And I'm more than tired of the accusations of ulterior motives being ascribed to myself and others as to the "real reasons" we're "going after" Ergun Caner. Yes, I'd love to be done with it all, but, unfortunately, I don't think this train wreck is over just yet.

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[There are a many others who have commented on this situation, some that I think are worthy of your attention are; James White, Carla Rolfe, Rosemarie, & Daniel Spratlin.]