Given what has occurred with the ongoing saga surrounding Dr. Ergun Caner, former president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, I, as an elder of a small church in Greensboro, NC am weary of hearing about the lies and deception that occur in broader Evangelicalism. For the uninitiated, I'll recap Dr. Ergun Caner's scandal in one sentence: it involves fabricating an entire portion of his life that never happened and repeating that lie over and over and over again behind dozens of pulpits and in other apologetic contexts in order to give chutzpah to his current apologetic "ministry". Scandals, cover-ups, and perpetual liars like this are one of the many reasons why I and other pastors like me have no desire to be associated with present-day broader evangelicalism. Reformed and Sovereign Grace Baptists might be a small group, but at least we strive to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth and if we do have a habitual, unrepentant liar in our midst, we follow Scripture in dealing with him or her. But of course, disciplining unrepentant, habitual liars doesn't do well in building huge congregations; which explains why our churches typically average less than 100 congregants (including children and visitors) on any given Sunday. When you follow Biblical protocols for handling unrepentant sin, it doesn't leave much room in the congregation for professing Christians living in habitual, unrepentant sin.
As Johnson points out in his article, evangelicalism and fundamentalism has a sordid history of "snake oil peddlers" including Linda Davidson Stafford, John Todd, Mike Warnke, Alberto Rivera, Bob Larson, and Ted Haggard and even though these folks have been publicly discredited as deceivers, people still follow them. But why do people continue to follow them? 2 Timothy 4:3-4 answers this question:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and turn aside to myths.Timothy says that for whatever reason, some people want to turn aside to myth-makers because it fits with their own desires. Men that ought to know better will even go so far as to"exhonerate" liars and even post an endorsement sheet that further confirms the liar in his sin and undermines the credibility of the person(s) "exonerating" them. After all, if acclaimed apologists are willing to conveniently ignore critical information in order to protect a "brother's" reputation, yet they would be quick to condemn the same behavior in an opponent of Christianity and possibly even use it to further support their apologetic arguments against an unbeliever, why then should an unbeliever take seriously anything they have to say in defense of the faith?
I've seen this kind of thing many times while explaining the false prophecies of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to a Jehovah's Witness. Many of them have admitted when showing them photocopies of their own documents that they have studied the same documents in their Kingdom Hall libraries. They come up with every rescuing device in the world to explain how such blatant false prophecies don't undermine "the organization". It's a shame when evangelical apologists do the same thing. We ought to do more for the truth than what the cults are willing to do for a lie.
Sadly, the gullible and self-deceived follow liars that arise "from among our own selves" (Acts 20:30) because they want the myth-makers to tell them something exciting, sensational, and mysterious, especially if the deceiver can play a tune on their heart strings. Worse, they'd rather have an unrepentant sinner for a spiritual leader rather than a godly man because the sinner makes them feel justified in their own sin. After all, if Ted Haggard can have a homosexual affair and he's been "exhonerated" in some sense, then why can't I? I'm sad to say that Ergun Caner is simply another snake-oil myth maker and people are buying and promoting his "goods" in spite of the fact that he has been publicly discredited.
In spite of the documented fabrication about his past Jihadi training as a child in his own words, Ergun Caner, has been "exhonerated" by the likes of apologists Dr. Norman Geisler and Dr. John Ankerberg even though he was asked to step down from his position as Dean of Liberty Seminary. I'm not up for crucifying anyone, but given his blatant lies, it is my opinion that Dr. Caner should have been fired on the spot and his church should publicly call for his repentance per Matthew 18:15-17. All Drs. Geisler and Ankerberg are doing is further confirming and enabling Caner in his sin and discrediting their own work by supporting an unrepentant liar.
With its emphasis on decisional regeneration combined with a shopping mall/market-driven pragmatism of "doing church", modern evangelicalism has created this mess because it has filled the pews and pulpits with false converts. Yes, I just clearly suggested what other men have been cautious to say, Dr. Ergun Caner's lack of repentance is the mark of a false convert. If any reader of this blog wants to challenge me on that statement, then go ahead. However, if you want to contend that he's a Christian brother given his perpetual lying combined with his lack of repentance in light of his unwillingness to answer clear, unambiguous questions that have been asked of him, then I leave you to your opinion. It's not as if he hasn't been given space to repent after the issues have been clearly laid out before him. So go ahead; defend the defenseless. And yes, I do hope that I'm wrong about Caner's spiritual condition. Believe me, I do not enjoy writing about such things; but given the current state of this scandal, what am I left to think, especially light of what God says about men that continually behave this way? (1 John 3:8-10)
So, when you see the debacles, scandals, scams, and snake-oil peddlers; just remember that pseudo-Christian cults aren't the only unpaid bills of the church.