Skip to comments.Roiling religious waters (Ex-Muslim teaching theology for the Rev. Jerry Falwell)
Posted on 05/01/2005 2:21:57 PM PDT by wagglebee
LYNCHBURG, Va. - The new dean of the theological seminary at the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University is a former Sunni Muslim known among students for pop culture references that lighten lectures, and for cracking one-liners as easily as he quotes a Bible verse.
But, among major Muslim and Arab-American groups, Ergun Mehmet Caner is viewed as insensitive and hostile - someone who has damaged relations between Christianity and Islam in this country.
"There is a new generation of new evangelists who are provocative, cultural and yet conservative - we will sit in the back of the bus no more," Caner says. Falwell "wants me on national television. He wants guys like me who speak the language."
Now 39, Caner emigrated with his family from Turkey to Ohio when he was a teenager and converted to Christianity in 1982 after a persistent friend kept taking him to the Stelzer Road Baptist Church in Columbus.
"That little church loved me to Christianity," Caner says.
His father, Acar, an architect who built a mosque in Columbus, never forgave him. He died a Muslim, though most of the rest of Caner's family later converted to Christianity, including his brother, Emir.
The siblings both studied at Criswell College in Dallas and did their postgraduate work at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina.
They also wound up at the center of a nasty religious spat in 2002 over their book "Unveiling Islam." While the brothers said at the time that they viewed the text as an act of love - a way of trying to reach out to Muslims and bring them into Christianity's fold - their critique of Islam brought condemnations from a variety of groups.
The Caners claimed, among other things, that "war is not a sidebar of history for Islam. It is the main vehicle for religious expansion." Also, in their view, the prophet Muhammad stacks up unfavorably in comparison with Jesus Christ as a religious leader.
But the incident that brought the greatest attention occurred when a former Southern Baptist Convention president, the Rev. Jerry Vines, told a meeting of Baptist pastors that "Islam was founded by Muhammad, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives - and his last one was a 9-year-old girl." When confronted about the statement, Vines said he was citing Islamic texts as quoted by the Caners.
Ergun Caner says he and his brother were misquoted.
"What I did say was that Muhammad, at age 50, did marry a 6-year-old and the marriage was consummated when she was 9 years old," Caner says, adding that "Muslims are not hateful people."
Muslim scholars, meanwhile, accused the Caners and others of putting a cynical twist on events: Their take was that Muhammad's marriage to the child Aisha was for her education in Islam and to reinforce political allegiances.
Now Caner's appointment to head Liberty's 2,000-student seminary - he'll take over the job in July - has struck a nerve with some U.S. Muslim and Arab groups, who say his frequent speeches around the country could damage fragile relations between Muslims and Americans.
"He's been around a long time and has a very strong conservative view that is more hostile to Islam than understanding of it," says Ray Hanania of Chicago, managing editor of TheArabStreet.com. "If Falwell wanted to send a strong message to Muslims, he might have done it by reaching out to mainstream Muslims, rather than extremists."
But Boyd Rist, Liberty's vice president for academic affairs, said Caner was the clear choice for the job after the former dean left for the presidency of another school.
And many students enjoy the wisecracking, sometimes politically incorrect style of Caner, who joked that "the downside of being a dean is that I'd rather drop off my son at (Michael Jackson's) Neverland Ranch than go to all those meetings."
"In a given lecture, I'll talk about 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,' C.S. Lewis, Plato's Cave and some lyrics by 50 Cent," says Caner, who sports a shaven head and goatee.
Teaching in a packed auditorium of 450 students recently, Caner asked which popular actors they would marry "if she or he was a Christian." A couple of women shouted Vin Diesel and Brad Pitt, while the guys retorted with Cameron Diaz and Halle Berry.
"In your dreams," Caner said with a laugh. His response brought howls, hoots and cheers from the classroom.
"Most college students lose attention every seven minutes, and, with that, it's important to have that humor to bring us back in and teach us more," said Travis Bush, a junior from Rocky Mount, N.C., in Caner's class. "He's the best professor here. With the humor, it keeps us interested."
Says Caner: "The point is, I'll use anything at my disposal. I'm not hiding from culture, and I don't boycott culture. ... We're not satisfied with having representatives who are ignorant, backwoods people. We need national spokesmen who are intelligent, reasonable, humorous and provocative."
Memo to the AP:
TERRORISM damaged any "relations" we may have desired with the "religion of peace."
Something about this guy does not sit well with me? And after reading some of his crazy statements in this article, I am filled with more unease about him. I sense danger from this guy. I hope I am wrong, but time will tell.
"Islam isn't in America to be equal to any
but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of
scripture, should be the highest authority in America,
and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."
This was the sentiment of Omar M. Ahmad, the
Chairman of the Board of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations or CAIR.
"Too hell with islam." MississippiMuddy 5-01-05
Go with your first thoughts "Something about this guy does not sit well with me? And after reading some of his crazy statements in this article, I am filled with more unease about him. I sense danger from this guy."
I can completely understand why CAIR and many Muslims would be angry and/or threatened by someone like Caner who has trusted Christ.
July 4th, 1988 San Ramon Valley Herald. There are many sources too view this quote, this is it in pdf form.
"But, among major Muslim and Arab-American groups.."
Read "But, among Wahhabist fanatics and their stool pigeons.."
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
Read his book "Unveiling Islam". He's a real Christian who is trying to help us understand Islam so that we can fulfill the Great Commission.
As Islam is a sham adaptation of the Judeo-Christian Bible (that acknowledges the existence of Jesus yet denies the divinity, the crucifixtion, and the resurrection).
Mohammed was the "last prophet" so there can be no reformation of Islam. Taking infidel as sex slaves will always be legal under Islam. Their distinctions under the law between a muslim, a Jew or a Christian, and "everybody else" will always be there as well.
The only reformation for muslims must occur at a personal level. They must wake up and reject the ravings of an ancient child-fornicating warrior. His defenders do raise up that he waited 2 years before consumating the marriage. They must find their personal reformation by rejecting the rewritten text and "returning" to the Old and or New Testaments of the Bible (either as Jews or Christians).
I have a wonderful Christian friend who risked his life by converting from Islam in the '90's. Now he's a minister. Superb human being. Still uses an assumed name.
Sir, sense danger from the Wahabbi extremists who want us all dead. Sense danger from the Islamofascists who especially want renegades like Mr. Caner dead. I've spoken to Turks; they are less lockstep about Islam than Arab Muslims. Turks will remind you that Asia Minor (modern Turkey) was the cradle of western Christianity. Mr. Caner is a maverick, but he's a brave maverick. No assumed names here. And just who do these "maintream Islamic groups" think they are, like CAIR, dictating to non-muslims just who we can and cannot associate with?
Tell CAIR to stick it!
I've heard this guy and his borther speak on TV. Very powerful stuff. I like this guy.
Also, there was an article (might have been posted earlier) about a muslim woman from Canada who has written a scathing indictment of Islam. Basically, she blames Islam's faults on Arab culture, that is, the Arab culture (such as it is) which constitutes about 20% of all Muslims has infected Islam with ideas like subjagating women, war, hate for infidels, dhimmitude, etc. Oh, and she's also a lesbian.
Since it is impermissable to "leave" Islam (those who do are fair game for the whack jobs), I would guess that Mr. Caner keeps a little added security.
Inspirational...great article, epecially on this day Of Holy Easter (Orthodox Christians).
There is hope that Turks will one day return to the faith of their ancestors in Anatolia: Christianity.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.