Ergun Caner Out as Seminary Dean
Geisler blames Muslims for inspiring the probe and "extreme Calvinists" for "shoving him under the bus." Geisler believes Liberty made a mistake in letting Caner go as president because it implies guilt.
"People who know Ergun know he is a man of honesty, integrity, and Christian commitment," Geisler says. "The charges that he intentionally lied and embellished are totally unfounded."
Some apologists and blogging critics figure Liberty handled the situation as best it could, going through with the agonizing step of demoting a popular leader. Yet others are incensed that the school has retained Caner; they figure if his offenses are great enough for him to be dismissed as dean, he shouldn't be retained as a religion professor. Many opponents remain unsatisfied that the 43-year-old Caner hasn't made any kind of public statement on the matter since February, when he wrote, "I have never intentionally misled anyone" on his website.
Reformed Baptist blogger Tom Chantry wrote that Liberty's statement "has neither exonerated nor destroyed [Caner]" and "it is impossible to pass final judgment on the career of Ergun Caner." He acknowledged that the decision to demote Caner was "a very difficult one" for Liberty, and suggested that "Caner's failings are the failings of the whole church and that every Christian must shoulder a portion of the blame" for the Charles Finney-inspired emphasis on pastor personalities.
"While Caner's misstatements have become unusually public, they are hardly unique to him," said Chantry. The bigger problem is that "it fails to appear scandalous to Christians who have become comfortable with the idea that preachers regularly tell fibs in the pulpit."
Liberty has given no indication exactly what Caner's future duties will be or who will be the new seminary dean. And it remains to be seen whether the whole episode will hamper student recruitment.
John W. Kennedy is a CT contributing editor based in Springfield, Missouri.
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Earlier Christianity Today coverage of the Caner controversy includes:
Bloggers Target Seminary President | Liberty's Ergun Caner accused of false statements in his testimony about converting from Islam. (May 3)
Liberty University cuts Caner as seminary dean | Trustees' investigation showed "self-contradictory" statements. Caner to remain as professor. (Liveblog, June 26)
Liberty Panel to Investigate Seminary President Caner's Statements (Liveblog, May 10)
CT also posted an editorial on conversion stories.