I have recently noticed that there has been a considerable amount of internet chatter concerning Dr. Ergun Caner, President and Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (BIO HERE).
I first became aware of this new round of assaults directed at Dr. Caner via James White’s Dividing Line program (03-02-2010). Just days before this program, James had devoted a rather large blog diatribe (HERE) at Dr. Caner. Though I certainly have no inherent problem with pointing out some of Dr. Caner’s blunders/errors concerning Islam, when done in an objective manner (and there are some interesting new details that have been brought to light), I cannot help but think that much of the ‘heat’ is of a personal nature—a Baptist ‘soap-opera’ if you will, Baptist vs. Baptist—i.e., a vendetta.
Now, after a bit of online research, I discovered (earlier today), that our old friend TurretinFan (hereafter, TF), has entered into the fray, and, interestingly enough, in defense of Dr. Caner (as it pertains to Dr. Caner’s claim to be an ex-Muslim). TF, in his 02-24-2010 thread links to a Muslim apologetic site that seems to be one of the primary sources for much of ‘fuel’ that is being utilized by Caner ‘stalkers’.
We can certainly applaud TF’s efforts to defend Dr. Caner; however, TF’s defense has some ‘problems’ that need to be corrected (IMO). In his 03-02-2010 thread TF wrote:
In one video that FxM has identified, Ergun Caner claims that both the Sunni and Shia Muslims believe that a caliph named Mahdi disappeared and is hidden somewhere, still alive. According to FxM, this is something believed only by the Shia Muslims. FxM is insistent that no devout Sunni Muslim could be unaware of this difference in belief between the Sunnis and the Shia Muslims.
Result: Again, this seems like a relatively trivial error. The main point of what Caner was talking about was the belief itself. Although he may (as far as I know, he did) erroneously attribute a Shia belief to the Sunni, this doesn't appear to be a significant error.
This may seem “like a relatively trivial error” to uninformed Christians, but I sincerely doubt it is “trivial” to most practicing Muslims. Dr. Caner (in the YouTube snippet) makes some significant errors:
First, Dr. Caner mentions a “Muhammad ibn Haniaf” (i.e. Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah), and claims that “he lived about 870, 880”.
Wrong: Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah died 700/701 (though the Kaysāniyya would say later that he went into ‘occultation’—i.e. hiding). [Dr. Caner is probably confusing Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah with Abu’l Qāsim Muhammad ibn Hasan (b. 868), the 12th Imam of the ‘Twelver’ Shia sect.]
Second, Dr. Caner states that he was “one of the Caliphs”.
Wrong: Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah was never a Caliph, but the Kaysāniyya, under the influence of Mukhtār ibn Abū’Ubayd ath-Thaqafī, taught that the Imamate was transferred to him after the death of the 3rd Imam Husayn.
Third, Dr. Caner said, “the Sunni and the Shia believe that the Mahdi disappeared into the caves, he did not die, he is waiting”.
Wrong: The ‘occultation’ of the Mahdi is one of the core beliefs of many of the Shia sects (most importantly, the largest Shia sect—the ‘Twelver’), but it is a doctrine repudiated by the Sunnis.
Summation: Dr. Caner certainly gets some significant details wrong; details that may undermine his credibility as an Islamic “scholar”. IMO, such errors need to be addressed, and not swept away as “relatively trivial”. However, I must point out that one should attempt to keep such corrections on an objective level, and not turn such ‘blunders’ into some sort of personal vendetta.
Grace and peace,
UPDDATE: Ken Temple has added additional information concerning the quote from the Caner’s Unveiling Islam that Ken and I explored, in the combox of this thread, with this NEW POST at the Beggar’s All blog.