|By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©2013|
|Dr. John Ankerberg writes an open letter on why he invited Emir Caner and Ergun Caner to the John Ankerberg Show.|
Those of you who watch our program know that in the past I have invited Muslim and Christian scholars to debate the truth claims of Islam and Christianity. In one such debate, I invited Muslim authorities Dr. Jamal Badawi, Chairman of the Islamic Information Foundation, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Dr. Hussein Morsi, Director of the Islamic Cultural Center of Chicago, Illinois to come and debate Christian authorities Dr. Gleason Archer who received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and Dr. Anis Shorrosh, a Palestinian Arab Christian.
Today, as a result of watching world events, people can see Islam is expanding. In the Middle East we have watched many countries become Islamic Sates and implement Sharia law as the law of their land. Many see this expansion as a threat to individual freedoms and basic human rights. After the United Nations, the Organization Of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the largest inter-governmental body in the world, overseeing 57 Muslim member countries. According to the OIC’s website, the organization "is the collective voice of all causes close to the heart of over 1.5 billion Muslims." In 1990 this body adopted the Cairo Declaration, "which officially exempted all Muslim countries from compliance with the UN Universal declaration on human rights and replaced it with Islamic law (Sharia)." The agenda of this group has been to use the United Nations to criminalize criticism of Islam.
All of this has raised many questions that need to be addressed. To help inform, encourage, and instruct the Christian church, I recently extended an invitation to two former Muslims, Dr. Emir Caner and Dr. Ergun Caner, to be guests on our television program. The goal was to answer such questions as: What are Christians experiencing in countries where Sharia law has become the law of the land? Why is Sharia so important to Muslims? What is Sharia? Where did it come from? What is it that makes Sharia so dangerous to Western society? Sharia not only dictates how Muslims should live, but also how Muslims should treat non-Muslims. What impact is Sharia having on Great Britain and other European countries?
Muslim imams (religious leaders of local mosques) in the UK now outnumber the UK’s Christian pastors. There are now more than 1,700 official mosques in Britain. Why has the UK allowed the establishment of 85 Sharia councils (said to have tried some 7,000 cases decided up through 2010) and five Muslim arbitration tribunals in the United Kingdom? These Muslim arbitration tribunals operate under the United Kingdom’s arbitration act of 1996, and therefore their rulings are binding under UK law –even though some of these rulings are contrary to UK law. Further, these tribunals are not providing the legal safeguards many Western court systems have.
For Americans, which Islamic organizations in America are working to establish Sharia law in our nation? How successful have they been? What have they accomplished? Finally, the role of women in Islam is of extreme concern to many in the world. More than 700 million Muslim women live under the teachings of Muhammad, and Islam is a religion that covers everything in their lives from the cradle to the grave. What does Sharia law require of Islamic women? How has it been applied historically and how is it being applied today?
I believe Drs. Emir and Ergun Caner are two men uniquely qualified to speak about these topics. They are both former Sunni Muslims who grew up in a home where their father built mosques in America. They became Christians as teenagers while living in Columbus, Ohio, and have since obtained doctoral degrees in theology or history, and now teach at Christian universities. They have also taught in countries overseas and are in communication with Christians currently living in Islamic States. Both have authored numerous books that speak about the differences between Christianity and Islam from a Christian perspective. Emir and I have also co-authored three books together: The Truth about Islam and Jesus, The Truth about Islam and Women, and The Truth about Islam and Jihad.
Emir’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies from The Criswell College in Dallas, Texas, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1993. He followed in 1995 with a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and earned a Doctor of Philosophy in History in 1999 from the University of Texas at Arlington. Emir served as pastor and in staff positions in churches in Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia and Texas for a decade before entering higher education.
From 1999 to 2004 he was Assistant Professor of Church History and Anabaptist Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and during the 2004-2005 academic year, he served as the seminary's Associate Dean of Southeastern College at Wake Forest as well. In 2005 he became the founding Dean of The College at Southwestern, Director of the Center for Free Church Studies and Professor of History at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and remained there until he accepted the call of Truett-McConnell College to become its eighth president in August 2008. A prolific writer, Dr. Caner has written or contributed to 18 books. Unveiling Islam, co-authored with Ergun, received the Gold Medallion Book of the Year award, has sold nearly 200,000 copies.
Ergun’s educational background includes a Masters degree from The Criswell College, a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Theology from the University of South Africa. From 2003-2011, Ergun served at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, including serving as President during this time. In 2011, he became Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Arlington Bible College in Arlington, Texas, where he also serves as a professor. He has co-authored numerous books with Emir and speaks at events across the U.S. and worldwide.
Some have questioned our invitation to Dr. Ergun Caner in light of attacks from extreme Muslims and others who spread rumors and accusations in 2010 claiming he was not a devout Muslim and challenging some of his spoken statements about his background. These accusations were addressed by an independent committee at Liberty University, that concluded with a June 29, 2010 statement that read: “After a thorough and exhaustive review of Dr. Caner’s public statements, a committee consisting of four members of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees has concluded that Dr. Caner had 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…. [After a thorough review of 200 hours of his lectures and sermons, only about 5 minutes of which were in question] Liberty stated, Dr. Caner will remain on the faculty of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary as a Professor.”
Apologist and founder of Veritas Seminary, Dr. Norman Geisler, has defended and thoroughly documented the information surrounding these accusations against Dr. Ergun Caner in two articles freely available online: http://www.normangeisler.net/articles/ErgunCaner/default.htm.
Here is an example from Dr. Geisler's article of a factual statement that Ergun made that was self-contradictory. 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.
Dr. Geisler concluded: “Having examined all these charges against Dr. Caner carefully and having looked at the related evidence, I can say without hesitation that all of the moral charges against Dr. Caner are unsubstantiated. Further, no one had demonstrated moral intent on any of the factual misstatements he made (which we all make).” He added, “Dr. Caner is a man of honesty, integrity, and loyalty to Christ.”
Also, “Kregel Publications concluded that the Kregel titles by Dr. Caner are trustworthy, factually accurate, and helpful to both Christians and seekers wanting to know more about Islamic beliefs and how those beliefs compare and contrast with biblical Christianity.” (Kregel, July 6, 2010)
Since no credible evidence was supplied to suggest that Ergun's ability to instruct or communicate the information related to his areas of expertise was found, I had no concerns in inviting him as a guest.
Both Drs. Ergun and Emir Caner have stood against much persecution as a result of converting to Christianity from a Muslim background. Initially, their father disowned these men after Ergun and Emir became Christians, though many of their immediate family members later converted to Christianity. However, many who dislike their teachings continue to use accusations to cause problems that would limit their ability to communicate the gospel message.
Let me be clear. I believe the information you will hear these men present on our television programs is truthful and is fully documented in the Qur’an and the Hadith. I hope that you will join us to watch these programs when they air.
I believe that Jesus Christ claimed to be God, and proved He was telling the truth about who he was by performing miracles and literally resurrecting from the dead. Muhammad, some 550 years after Christ lived, taught a false picture of Jesus that is not supported by the historical evidence. It is my desire to help present the truths Jesus taught, and specifically the gospel—that Jesus, who was God in human flesh, died for everyone's sins while on the cross, and will forgive and give eternal life to anyone who admits they are a sinner and will place their faith in Him. He offers this gift freely to all sinners; it is not based on any of our good works. Jesus was more than a prophet; he is the risen Son of God who alone provides eternal life (John 3:16, John 14:6).