In Further Defense of Ergun Caner

By Norman L. Geisler

July 6, 2010


Since issuing a recent defense of Ergun Caner against his critics, a number of unjustified attacks have come to my attention.  Many of them are just a rehash of old ones already answered with a futile attempt to prove his intent to embellish and deceive.  Not one of these charges is substantial, involving any major doctrinal or moral issue.  Nonetheless, since left unanswered they tend in the minds of some to imply moral guilt; a brief response to them will be helpful.  It is charged that many times Caner embellished and deceived in that:


1. Ergun Caner claimed to have been born in Istanbul when he was actually born in Sweden.


Response: All of Caner’s books (see Unveiling Islam, 17) and nearly all of his interviews and sermons state that he was born in Sweden.  Since both Ergun and his father were Turkish citizens, he strongly identified with that ancestry.  Thus, an occasional misspoken word about his birthplace is understandable.  Nonetheless, Ergun publically apologized for this and other mistakes on February 25, 2010 (see “Sixth” below).   


2. Caner claimed to have once lived in Ankara (Turkey) and along the Iraqi border which he did not.


Response: Ergun traveled with his father to Turkey several times. Later, he was along the Iraqi border as he said he was.  It should not be deemed strange that Ergun has spent time in Turkey.  After all, he has a Turkish father and was a Turkish citizen who came to America on a Turkish passport.  This allegation against him is a mere assumption without evidence which illustrates the desire to defame Ergun by his critics.


3. He claimed to have watched Dukes of Hazard and longed to marry Daisy Duke while growing up in Turkey before the show was even on TV in 1979.


Response: This statement was intended as humor and was taken as such by the audience.  Indeed, Ergun has made this joke for more than a decade and never once was it taken as a matter of fact.  He was illustrating the misconceptions between Americans and Muslims.


4. He claimed in one place to have become a US citizenship in 1978 and in another place he claimed that it was in 1982.


Response: It is well known that Caner became a US citizen in 1978.  The other date is from the period of his call to the ministry and is sometimes lumped together with the earlier date in his testimony.  No intent to deceive existed, nor has it been established by this conflation of dates.  Since it is well known by Bible scholars that this kind of thing is found in the Scriptures (which are without error), then any Christian pressing this charge would, by the same logic, have to impugn the Bible as well (see The Bible Knowledge Commentary, vol. 2, p. 40).


5. Caner claims to have worn a Muslim "keffiyeh"(head covering) before his conversion to Christianity, yet photos show him with his head uncovered.  This reveals that he was not a devout Muslim and that he intended to deceive when claiming to be one. 


Response: Ergun’s brother Emir vouches for their devout Muslim background.  He has provided a picture (below) of Ergun


with his head covered (sitting down).   


Of course, there were other times when he had no covering on which would be natural. 

Other evidence of his being a devout Muslim is available, such as Ergun’s circumcision ceremony and participation in the reading and recitation of the Qur’an.  Further, that Ergun was reared a devout Muslim is proven by his father’s testimony recorded in the divorce proceedings documents which ironically Ergun’s critic placed on the internet.


6. Ergun claims he was saved in 1982 but also claims his brother Emir was converted in 1982, yet elsewhere Emir’s conversion is said to be a year later (1983).


Response: Both men agree that Emir was saved a year after Ergun.  There is some confusion about the exact year.  Given that Ergun was converted in 1982 (as he claims), this would put Emir’s conversion “a year later” (as they both acknowledge).  Again, there is no intention to deceive here but simply a problem of memory about exact dates.


7. Ergun claimed his father had many wives and two half-brothers and two half-sisters, but there is no evidence for the half-brothers.


Response: Ergun’s father did have two wives, having divorced the first one.  He had three sons by his first wife (Ergun and his two brothers).  So, Ergun has two full brothers and two step-sisters (from his father’s second wife).  While speaking quickly on one occasion, he mistakenly called his brothers his “half” brothers.  This is hardly evidence of an attempt to embellish or deceive.  After all, he had the right number of each sibling, and he didn’t claim to have ten brothers or sisters!


Finally,  a Note about Ergun’s Critic:

First, Ergun is an outspoken converted Muslim which in Muslim lands is a capital crime.  Since this is contrary to law in the United States, his Muslim critics have resorted to character assassination instead.  Unfortunately, other extremists who disagree with some of his theological views, have piled on and are kicking him while he is down. 

Second, a blogger-critic refuses to give his real name, using a pseudonym.  This violates a moral and legal rule that one has a right to face his accusers. [This is also a good way to avoid libel charges.] 

Third, his critics often assume, contrary to American law, that one is guilty until proven innocent.  Really, the burden of proof for these allegations is on the accuser, not on the accused.

Fourth, not one of these accusations is about any serious doctrinal or moral issue.  Ergun has never been found guilty of either of these.

Fifth, out of a couple thousand sermons, nearly twenty books, and hundreds of media interviews, the relatively few mistakes are trivial by comparison.  It is like looking at a glass 97% full and complaining that it is 3% empty!   I am sure that anyone who wished to do a search on other leaders who have communicated as much in the past decade or so could do a hatchet job on some of them too.

Sixth, Ergun has readily admitted the mistakes he has made and has apologized for them publically.  In February, 2010, he said in part on his Web site that he “never intentionally misled anyone…. For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better.”   Even the public statement made by Liberty University on June 29, 2010 made this clear when it said, “Dr. Caner has cooperated with the Board committee and has apologized for the discrepancies and misstatements that led to this review.”

Seventh, by comparison, his critics have not apologized for anything they have done, even though they have wrongly:  a) assumed Ergun’s guilt without proof, b) impugned his intentions, and c) assassinated his character.  This is to say nothing of the pain, misery, and agony they have afflicted on Ergun, his family, and the problems this has caused at Liberty University.  For this they owe Dr. Caner a clear and contrite public apology.

Finally, his critics have not followed the instructions of Matthew 18 by going first to their brother and then to his church privately on these allegations.  Rather, they have practiced unbiblical gossip in passing on defaming charges about another brother in Christ to others—indeed, making these charges public.

My experience with Ergun, as that of those who know him well, is that he is a devout zealous believer who lives a life in obedience to Christ and who works diligently to extend his kingdom.  It is a crying shame that other believers have jumped on a band-wagon which is discrediting this sincere, earnest, and faithful follower of Christ.


For Kregel & Caner| See this article