Caner apologizes for calling IMB head a liar
    February 26 2010 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

    LYNCHBURG, Va. — The president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary has apologized for calling the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) International Mission Board (IMB) a liar, saying he got carried away in an interview while criticizing a mission strategy used to evangelize Muslims.

    In a Feb. 24 podcast on the SBC Today web site, Ergun Caner, a former Muslim turned Southern Baptist who has written extensively labeling Islam a false religion, defended earlier statements critical of a strategy called the Camel Method. 

    The method uses verses from the Quran to convince Muslims that what the Christian Bible says about Jesus is true. Caner said that is like using the Book of Mormon as a bridge to someone in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    But Caner said he “became an idiot” and “stepped over the line” in a Feb. 3 SBC Today podcast with comments picked up by other media accusing IMB President Jerry Rankin of lying by allowing missionaries to use the method in engaging church-planting movements in the Muslim world.

    “I believe that the Camel is lying,” Caner reiterated in the new podcast interview. “It assumes the ignorance of a Muslim by saying, ‘Oh, you believe Allah? I believe in Allah.’ That’s one of my ethical issues with the Camel. I think it’s based on deception.”

    Photo by Jon Blair

    Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va., delivers a 2009 service sponsored by the Convention of Southern Baptist Evangelists at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. Caner is the group’s elected president.

    “And then the idiot opens his mouth and says, ‘Do I believe it’s lying?’” he continued, quoting his previous words. “Sure. Do I believe that Jerry Rankin is lying? Yes.”

    “And so what happens is, in one fell swoop I cast aspersion on a brother, and given the last few days I’ve discovered that’s not the biblical thing to do,” Caner said.

    Caner said he acknowledged his mistake before students in a chapel service at Liberty Theological Seminary and in a letter of apology sent directly to Rankin.

    “If you’re dumb enough to say something like that, you’ve got to be man enough to own up to it,” he said. “What does it mean to call somebody a liar? You’re questioning their motives.”

    Caner said one reason he is going public with his apology is to separate his criticism of the Camel Method from his statement about Rankin.

    “I don’t want to confuse the Camel issue — which I believe is absolutely based on deception — and opening my stupid mouth and sinning against a brother,” he said. “I don’t know Dr. Rankin’s motives, and I don’t know why he would believe the Camel is usable, but you certainly shouldn’t say something like that.”

    Caner said he isn’t opposed to using “Allah” as a title for God when discussing the gospel in Arabic, but it should be clear from the outset that the God of the Bible is not the same being that Muslims believe is revealed in the Quran.

    “I think you can use the Quran (for witnessing), just like you can use a Rolling Stones lyric,” Caner said. “The problem comes when you say the Rolling Stones are as inspired as the Bible.”

    Caner said the Camel Method, developed by a Southern Baptist missionary who adapted it from mission strategy already in use in places where large numbers of Muslims are converting to Christianity, “assumes that the Quran is partially correct” and acts as “a valid bridge” toward understanding God.

    “I would argue that it’s not a valid bridge,” Caner said. “I don’t think it’s a good bridge for anything. I think you begin by proclaiming Jesus. What did Paul say? He said ‘I preach Christ and him crucified,’ and the Quran is explicit that Jesus wasn’t crucified.”

    David Garrison, global strategist for evangelical advance at the International Mission Board, said in an interview on The Christian Post web site that he thinks most criticism of the Camel Method is based on confusion about how it actually works.

    Garrison said the method is very explicit about not using deception, and that if a Muslim asks a missionary using the method if he or she is a Muslim, the correct way to respond is, “No, I’m a Christian who loves Muslims.”

    Garrison said he has used the method many times.

    “One of the first questions that Muslims will often ask you if you do get into a conversation with them is, ‘Have you read the Quran?’” he said.

    “And when you can say, ‘Yeah, I’ve been reading the Quran,’ it is easy and natural to follow-up with ‘Have you read the Injil?’ which is the New Testament.”

    Proponents of the Camel Method say it is similar to the Apostle Paul’s conversation with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers on Mars Hill in Acts 17.

    Noticing a city full of idols, Paul acknowledges the Athenians are very religious and then appeals to a particular altar inscribed, “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD,” which he tells them is the Lord of heaven and Earth that they already worship in ignorance.

    But Caner said there is an important distinction between Paul’s appeal to an unknown god and telling a Muslim that God and Allah are one in the same.

    “He doesn’t use any of the gods that they have named,” Caner said, “because, goodness gracious, if you do, now you’re in an area of syncretism, which is confusing the two gods.”

    Caner pointed to recent news coming out of Malaysia, where Muslims have taken Christians to court over the issue of using Allah to describe the Christian God.

    “You cannot use Allah; that is our name for our God,” he quoted the Muslims as saying. “So even the Muslim scholars, even the Muslim leaders — the imams and the leadership — even they know that word is exclusive for the Muslim world.”

    (EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)
    2/26/2010 6:10:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 7 comments

ron west
Caner misunderstands what is happening in Malysia. The Christians in Malysia are saying the term Allah is not exclusive for the Muslim world. They say it was in use before Islam existed and they have as much right to use the term for God as the Muslims. Caner seems to believe the Muslims and not the Christians.
3/6/2010 11:20:36 PM

Larry Whichard
Curmudgeon does not begin to explain you Gene. What do we say to someone who will not except a brothers confession of repentance? Shall we crucify him as well?
3/1/2010 10:26:16 AM

Gene Scarborough
I fully admit to being critical! I guess you would have to call me "John Boy, Jr." for being such a curmudgeon!

However, of what what am I being critical: a bunch of Baptists who are respected as we were, or a bunch which keeps putting its foot in its mouth drawing more and more narrow circles around the monkey tree?
2/27/2010 4:40:47 PM

Dr. James Willingham
Rigidity is a part of the problem, when one does not understand one's own thological background. Dr. Caner made a great attack on calvinists sometime ago and then sort of withdrew from that. Whether he did some research or not, I do not know. However, it is interesting to think the original bibilical position of the orthodox Baptists in North Carolina and Virginia in the 1700s was centered upon Sovereign Grace, that the doctrines of grace, were at the heart of the Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions, that religious liberty comes out of such theology as well as a place for women in ministry, meaning eldresses! Two-sided, apparently contradictory doctrines, paradoxical interventions from Heaven, enable believers to be balanced, flexible, creative, and magnetic. Somehow or other, the paradoxical demands empower the disabled to respond, like saying to the lame, "Rise up and walk." Charles Wesley summed it up well in a line from one of his hymns, "See ye blind, hear ye deaf, leap ye lame for joy."
2/27/2010 3:45:30 PM

Speaking of criticism...
2/27/2010 10:24:20 AM

Gene Scarborough
Caner--again looking properly rotund and auspiciously dressed--is just another fundy beating his chest with righteousness while the sinner is simply saying, "God be merciful to me, a sinner."

If we have less criticism from the constantly co-mingling Fundamentalists, we might have some people outside the organized church respecting us and wanting to join. Nowadays they can't seem to even get along with one another after beating up on folks labeled "Moderate."

This is just another chapter of "The higher the monkey climbs the tree, the more you see his tail!"
2/26/2010 6:40:47 PM

Brent Hobbs
I'm glad to see his apology over his remarks about Jerry Rankin. He still needs to apologize for calling the camel method "heresy." Our IMB missionaries deserve better than that. Plus its nonsense.

SBCImpact had a great post today explaining some of the details of the method, identifying some strengths and weaknesses. It seemed to me to be a pretty balanced article. You can find it here:

2/26/2010 4:10:00 PM

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