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

Monday, March 01, 2010

Caner New Speak

Ergun Caner writes,

One gentleman believes it is misleading to call my interaction with people from other faiths and world religions “debates.” Since his definition of debate is limited to moderated, formal debates, that is his prerogative. He can call them whatever he wishes.


The truth is, several evangelical apologists employ the “formal” debate template and are very effective in their presentations. Norman Geisler, Gary Habermas and William Lane Craig come to mind. Nevertheless, I will continue to do exactly as I have done. In fact, in order to attempt a measure of peace, I am more than happy to call my engagements “interviews,” or even “dialogues.”


However, I would caution all evangelicals that no single method meets consensus. Nor is there only one exclusively biblical model. Certainly there is much good to be found in formal debates, and I also believe that there is enough room for all types of interaction. In fact I believe there is great value to be found in all forms, including conversational and informal methods. [Ergun Caner Statement 2/25/10]

It never ceases to amaze me how the zeitgeist of postmodern relativism has soaked to the bones of our society, even with those who supposedly loathe postmodern relativism. This is most noticeable in the use of language. The meaning and context for words begin to lose their precision. Such is plainly evident in these comments by Ergun Caner as he attempts to defend his chosen definition for the word "debate."

Dr. Caner has made the claim on numerous occasions that he has "debated" individuals from many different religious groups: Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. He further boasts that he isn't afraid to debate any one, any where. Dr. Caner has recently been challenged as to the legitimacy of that claim. In other words, if he has debated these individuals from various religious groups, we would like to hear the audio or watch the video of those encounters. None is available, however, because Dr. Caner seems to define "debate" with the widest possible definition so as to mean any dialogue or discussion with an opponent of a differing point of view. Plus, those "debates" can take place in any location, like an airport lounge, on an email discussion group, in the university cafeteria.

Granted, the word "debate" can mean any exchange between individuals of opposing view points. But the context also adds clarity and precision to a word. In the case of Dr. Caner, he is the President of Liberty Theological Seminary. Moreover, he is the professor of theology, church history, and apologetics. His role as a seminary president and theological professor help narrow down the definition of the word "debate" when he employs it to describe the extent of his ministry in the secular world.

Let me illustrate what I mean: I have had a presence on the internet since I had a personal email account and access to the web at my current work place. It's been around 10-12 years or so. During the decade or more, I have participated on theological internet forums, on email discussion groups, and in the comments of many blogs. I can confidently say I have "debated" many different kinds of heretics, non-Christians, and secularists. I have "debated" JWs, Mormons, Church of Christ, Oneness Pentecostals, Socinians, Universialists, Muslims, and atheists, on such countless subjects as baptism, the Deity of Christ, KJV-onlyism, evolution, the nature of spiritual gifts, election, the existence of God and the list could go on.

Now, suppose out of God's providence, I was invited to join the faculty of a theological seminary. When I submitted my resume for review, how honest would I be in listing a few memorable email exchanges I had with some progressive creationist, an Arminian guy, a KJV-onlyist gadfly, and a couple of post threads on some internet forums with a charismatic and an atheist and describe them all as having participated in "debates"? In that academic context, how would my reviewers define the concept of "debate"?

Hopefully you can see my point as to why there is a deeper matter of integrity and commitment with Dr. Caner's precision of language and his claims of debating.

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Blogger Logan Paschke said...

It's hard to believe that Caner thinks that conversations are equivalent to professional apologetic debates.

Dishonest to say the least.

7:19 AM, March 01, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Even worse is the fact that Dr. Caner is the professor of church history at Liberty Seminary. Thus, as a theologically degreed professor of church history, he should know better than to paint Calvinism in the manner he does. It's shamefully dishonest to the point that I genuinely doubt his credentials. He may not agree with Calvinism, but as a seminary prof on the subject of church history and apologetics, at least present it accurately.

7:49 AM, March 01, 2010  
Blogger Mark | hereiblog said...

It is also interesting that even Liberty University has a debate Institute. They also seem to follow a certain set of debate rules.

7:51 AM, March 01, 2010  
OpenID ostrakinos said...

Caner has simply been hung by his high-hubris WWF persona. It is sad to see the squirming but if one digs into his public record more deeply, I'm sure more exaggerations and hyperbole will be uncovered.

9:00 AM, March 01, 2010  
Blogger The Squirrel said...

This is now Day 4 and counting that the bio has been missing from erguncaner.com. It used to read, in part, "A public speaker and apologist, Caner has debated Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and other religious leaders in thirteen countries and thirty-five states." Now, it just says "file not found"


12:03 PM, March 01, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

*Hmmmmmm* That's interesting...

(scratches chin and smirks)

12:05 PM, March 01, 2010  
Blogger steve said...

And that's not an isolated incident. There's the matter of where he was born. Most folks, unless they are either senile or suffered a bump on the head, are not confused about their birthplace. That's a pretty basic feature of our self-identity.

Not only is there the individual implausibility of his claims, but the cumulative implausibility of his claims.

1:45 PM, March 01, 2010  
Blogger vickilovesboxers said...

It has grieved me no end to watch several youtube vids of Ergun Caner. I am going to link one of them here because it just shows him to be a liar. When he is on with Ankerburg he is careful to say he was born in Sweden--but then in front of what I think may be a group of Baptist youth, that he is sure wont be checking out his facts, he claims to be born in Istanbul, Turkey(even calling himself a sand monkey!). This is a flat out lie!
I was a Baptist for a few years and I must say that the hero worship of their leaders seems to me to amount to idolatry. It is a dangerous thing indeed to put ANY man on a pedestal. Caner needs to stop inviting this among the youth that come to worship him(that is what it looks like).



What a shame that he is found out by the very people who so desperately need to see the gospel lived out. It really takes little research to expose this man as lying.

6:51 AM, March 02, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Thanks for the links. It is a bit troubling, and I don't understand why he thinks he has to alter the facts just to sound like he knows what he is talking about.

At any rate, I hope you didn't "stop" being a Baptist on his account. I'm Baptist because what I know the Scriptures to teach on the subject, not because I was born in St. Louis at the Baptist hospital.

6:56 AM, March 02, 2010  
Blogger vickilovesboxers said...

As a young christian I was in an arminian type Baptist church. I began listening to John MacArthur in the 70's when he went on the radio and I grew in Calvinism as he grew in it(yep I am old)! I am now delighted to be a member of a church with a young man as pastor who graduated from the Master's Seminary several years ago. A true expositor of the Word of God.
That wonderful seminary is one of the few that are making true expositors. You probably know well that once you have a taste of expository preaching-you are ruined for any other type.

8:16 AM, March 02, 2010  

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