Liberty University's board of directors has declined to take public action against Ergun Caner, president of the university seminary, as bloggers raise doubts about Caner's account of his childhood as a Muslim.
Elmer Towns, co-founder of Liberty University and dean of the School of Religion, says there will be no official reprimand or demotion of Ergun Caner. Towns, who had a hand in hiring Caner, says the Liberty board has held an inquiry and directors are satisfied that Caner has done nothing theologically inappropriate.
"It's not an ethical issue, it's not a moral issue," Towns told Christianity Today on April 27. "We give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage. The arguments of the bloggers would not stand up in court."
By all accounts, Caner is an energetic, entertaining, and engaging professor who has tripled enrollment at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary since his installation as president of the Lynchburg, Virginia, school five years ago.
Caner and his youngest brother Emir gained prominence as Muslim experts following the September 2001 terrorist attacks. The following year, the brothers wrote Unveiling Islam: An Insider's Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs (Kregel).
In 2003, Jerry Falwell Sr. hired Ergun to teach theology and church history at the Southern Baptist-affiliated seminary's School of Religion. When Caner became the first former Muslim to head an evangelical seminary in 2005, he gained further appeal on the apologetics lecture circuit.
But lately, both Muslims and Reform-minded Southern Baptists are questioning biographical details provided by the 43-year-old Ergun. The blogosphere has been abuzz with critiques of statements Caner has made about himself in speeches, sermons, and online videos.