Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Mike Warnke of this Generation?

A Plea to Ergun Caner

Back in the late 70s and early 80s before I was genuinely saved, I was a church attending kid who merely enjoyed running around the game circle and drinking red punch. I had a low interest in anything Christian at all. Later when I reached my teens and entered the high school and college youth groups, my church interests turned from game circles to the Christian "sisters" if you know what I mean. I might have had a wider interest in Christian related issues by that time, but still, it was marginal at best.

I did however begin to take an interest in the then growing contemporary Christian celebrity scene with music by Petra and Amy Grant, and the ever increasing popular "Jesus Junk" paraphernalia like "This Bloods for You" tee shirts. One specific celebrity I was drawn to was Mike Warnke. Warnke was the first official Christian comedian/speaker I ever heard. His testimony was earth shaking. He told the story about his rough up bringing at a truck stop, his early years as a fundamentalist Baptist kid who hated Catholics, his going into the Vietnam War, his involvement with drug abuse and free love, and eventually his introduction to witchcraft and eventually Satanism.

Warnke claimed he became a Satanic high priest who led all sorts of horrific rituals of sacrifice and sexual deviancy. He even told how he could command spirits to do levitations and other such supernatural acts. Eventually, he was saved by Jesus Christ from this wretched lifestyle and became an evangelist warning people, especially youth, against the evils of Satanism. He gained something of a reputation as an "expert" on Satanism, even writing a book on the subject incorporating his testimony called The Satan Seller. He even began to make the interview circuit on the TV news shows when commentary was need to explain the Satanic origins of Halloween.

I liked him because he told a good story. I must have handed out dozens of bootleg copies of his "testimony" tape, Mike Warnke Alive, not so much because I wanted to evangelize as I thought the man's story was wild and interesting. But wild is what really described Warnke's story.

In the early 90s, some reporters for Cornerstone Magazine, did a full investigation of Warnke's background and uncovered how all of it was an outright lie. A complete fabrication. He was never a satanic high priest. The original articles are still online detailing his background. Even more disturbing was his sexual immorality and the multiple divorces and marriages, 4 all together if I am remembering correctly. The guy's life was an utter sham. Slowly, his "ministry" and comedy album making days began to come unraveled.


I share all of that about Warnke because I see another similar situation happening with another Christian celebrity in our current day: Dr. Ergun Caner. Ergun Caner has written a handful of books on the subject of Islam. His testimony is that he was raised a Muslim in a family committed to Islam. As a teen, he was saved and eventually led his entire family to Christ. His background as a Muslim provides him a platform of sorts to speak as an "expert" on the religion, so he has a position of credibility. He is a well loved speaker at SBC youth conferences and other gatherings. He is also the president of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. Meaning he has a significant position in one of the major Baptist schools in the United States affiliated with the SBC. That's pretty big.

Ergun Caner boasts of doing a number of "debates" with Muslim opponents. One would think that if you are former practicing Muslim who is now a leading apologist of sorts in the SBC, debates with practicing Muslims would be expected. The problem, however, is that no one can find any proof of his public debates. The Muslim apologists Dr. Caner claims to have debated testify that they have never met the man, let alone debated him. That is a rather serious charge if it is true.

All of this is coming to light recently with a series of blog posts between James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries and supporters of Dr. Caner addressing the issue of Dr. Caner's integrity as to his ministry. Dr. Caner has had harsh words in the past against the Reformed faith James White holds to. I'll admit I stand with Dr. White on the issue of Calvinism; but laying that aside for the moment, I am much more concerned with the continual exposure of Dr. Caner's dishonesty regarding his apologetics resume if we could call it that. What is to be gained by standing before an audience of teenagers to tell them you have several debates with leading apologists from all the various world's religions when in fact you don't? Even more troubling is how it has been brought to light that Dr. Caner claims to have debated specific Muslim individuals who clearly deny they have never even met him. James White goes into more detail here: A Response to Dr. Ergun Caner.

Look: I don't care if Dr. Caner hates Calvinists and has a disdain for James White and his supporters. I do, however, Care [with a capital "C"] about the integrity Dr. Caner brings to our faith when he represents it before both a believing and unbelieving world. Muslims don't care what he thinks about Calvinists. They do care that he tells the truth about the things he says about Islam and their apologists.

Moreover, and specifically to the point, Dr. Caner is the president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.

Did you read that carefully? The PRESIDENT.

He represents the theological seminary for one of the major Baptist colleges in the world. Being the [let me note that again] PRESIDENT of a theological seminary means he sets the academic tone for the entire school in the studies of theology [that means the "study of God"]. Did you get that? When people hear Dr. Caner speak, they are hearing the PRESIDENT of a theological seminary speak to them! He reflects what is being taught at that seminary at that major Baptist school. Is there not one colleague, professor, fellow academic - a pastor! - who either teaches at that same college or is an alumni who is the least bit troubled by these revelations of Dr. Caner's public persona? Additionally, Dr. Caner is a Christian. He not only reflects the integrity of the entire Liberty university, but he reflects Jesus Christ. Does that matter to any of his supporters!?

When the Warnke scandal was made public, I had a friend who I knew in high school, to whom I gave a copy of Warnke's testimony tape, call me out of the blue. He was not a Christian and I hadn't really spoken at length with him for a few years because our lives took us into different directions after graduation. His call was sad, because he saw in Warnke a man who overcame great odds (as Warnke had told them on his "testimony") by the help of Christ. I tried to explain to my friend that the Bible is clear that many false prophets will deceive many and that Warnke doesn't represent biblical Christianity. To my friend, he didn't seem to care. This man had failed in his Christian faith and my friend didn't see any hope in further pursuing anything church related he had known as a kid.

My hope is that Dr. Caner will come to his senses and realize he cannot continue in a public ministry based upon dishonest academic credentials. At this point I could never recommend his published works as being reputable. In the long run, this dishonest boasting will only lead to the ruination of souls. I pray that Dr. Caner will repent and change how he describes his background for the sake of Christ and His Church.

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Blogger Steven said...


I appreciate your post with regard to this subject. However, I would like to point out that Liberty is a baptist school, but not a Souther Baptist school. The SBC does not have any direct ownership, managerial, or other authority over the school as it does over its six seminaries.

Thanks and keep up the good work.



8:09 AM, February 26, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Thanks for the clarification. What denominational affiliation, if any, does the school tend to lean towards, if that makes sense? Or do you know. I hear the SBC often in conjunction with the school.

8:12 AM, February 26, 2010  
Blogger DJP said...

Me, I think Caner's about out of sharks.

He jumped the first one when he signed that comment, "Elected because I selected." I literally found the hubris of that signature breathtaking. Literally.

The second shark was how he dodged the debate with James White.

Haven't found him interesting since.

8:35 AM, February 26, 2010  
Blogger donsands said...

Thanks Fred. Excellent post.

Christ be with you this weekend and Lord's day.

9:52 AM, February 26, 2010  
Blogger Escovado said...

I've never heard of Ergun Caner. Is he as popular as Mike Warnke once was?

7:51 PM, February 26, 2010  
Blogger Highland Host said...

Very worrying, this. A man who pads his resume, as Caner has obviously done, and makes up apologetics encounters, is obviously not very trustworthy. I do not think I would want to recommend a seminary with such a president to anyone, and I suspect that a lot of pastors will feel the same way (I hope so!).

What's interesting is that Benny Hinn has a similar testimony, expet that he claims to have been saved out of the Greek Orthodox, and to have brought his whole family out.

2:37 AM, February 27, 2010  
Blogger P.D. Nelson said...

Very nice Fred and very timely I remember Warnke I attended his concert once and had the books, tapes, LPs (for those of you younger than I LPs are big disks of vinyl on which you played upon a record player) of him. I was blown away when the truth came out about him.

Now when the truth about Ergun Caner is being brought to light he should admit to his fabrications, repent, so that he can be restored to fellowship. Also the trustees of Liberty need to look into this seriously.

10:56 AM, February 27, 2010  
Blogger Steven said...


I looked on line, but could not find out much about LBTS. It is affiliated with the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, an independent, fundamentalist Baptist university. It is not, however, directly affiliated with the SBC.


2:36 PM, February 27, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I've never heard of Ergun Caner. Is he as popular as Mike Warnke once was?

In SBC circles, he is legendary. His claim is that he was raised a devout Muslim and was converted as a teenager to Christ. Over the last 12 years or so, he has become something of a "go to" expert on Islam. After 9/11, his "expertise" was sought by many individual news outlets that looked to him to give an explanation as to how to deal with Muslims. He is frequently on various news programs like FOX.

He came into James White's borders maybe 2 or 3 years ago when he accused the Founders, a Reformed movement in the SBC, of turning the denomination Presbyterian by promoting Calvinism. He has been instrumental in feeding his followers bad teaching regarding the history of Calvinism and calls it heretical. He has called White a hyper-Calvinist which is patently a falsehood.


6:51 PM, February 28, 2010  
Blogger David Wayne said...

Ugh - dittos to all of this, what a mess. You and I must be of roughly the same age because I remember going to several of Warnke's "concerts" and stuff and really liking him.
I also remember being in a Christian bookstore once around the time the news about Sandy Patti's adultery came out and a few rumors were floating around about some other Christian celebrities. The bookstore guy was saying that Christians were wrong in dealing with those issues - we should just support those folks and not let their sin be known.
This seems to be part 2, 3 or whatever of a story that has been going on for quite a number of years.
It also occurred to me that the Notre Dame athletic dept. has showed more integrity on matters like this than the Christian church. When George O'Leary was found to have padded his resume a bit he was out. But when the popular Christian seminary president is caught in multiple lies some circle the wagons and tell everyone else to stick their heads in the sand.

2:22 PM, May 03, 2010  

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