During the last four days several friends have written to me privately about the Ergun Caner controversy and my three posts. One friend, who has been deeply involved in sorting out a major battle revolving around the ministry that he serves, wrote a letter that I think is extremely useful. I have removed all personal references in order to avoid a new fire and spread gossip. This battle, which many would know about if I revealed the content, has also been largely conducted via the Internet. Thus my friend’s insights come from real first hand experience of the very thing I wrote about. Here is his letter (with some highlighting from me for emphasis):

Dear John,

I have followed the Caner mess a little. It does seem that he overstated his resume and perhaps invented some window dressing; not good things. However, the criticism easily gets carried away on the Internet and in other places. You are right about the permanent damage caused by gossip and slander and the fact that the whole matter does little good for anyone involved. I doubt if Caner can ever totally recover from what has happened. Of course, he does bear some of the blame—there is a lot to go around. If Caner is guilty of resume padding (a polite term for lying), and he probably is, then many of his critics are equally guilty of criticism padding and some may be guilty of soft-pedaling their commitment to the truth. Perhaps it's time for some Christian charity to cover all parties. I do believe that Caner is a sincere brother and should receive some grace from his brothers although he may have damaged the gospel among a very needy group; Muslims.

There are a lot of ongoing feuds involved and this only serves to fuel already smoldering hot spots. It heats up non-related matters between various schools of opinion.

I leave this personal letter to support the point I was attempting to make from the beginning. I doubt that the critics of Caner will be satisfied but I have said all that I want to say and will now move on to something without the flash and fire of this tempest.

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  1. Joe Schafer July 31, 2010 at 7:05 am

    John, thank you for this illuminating series of posts. It’s amazing to me how people can sniff out controversy and suddenly appear out of nowhere to post comments on an issue like Ergun Caner, and then suddenly disappear as soon as the discussion moves on to topics that are of greater importance.
    How odd it is that the newsflash “Pssst — John Armstrong is defending Ergun Caner!” could spread so quickly. It reminds me of James 3:5: “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” Perhaps someday we will stop loving gossip and begin to despise it as much as God does.

  2. Ivan Lambert July 31, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Thanks Joe.
    I have been watching the Ergun Caner scandal for some time, and disliking public scandal, I have refrained from posting publicly, though it was so obvious that Caner has in fact often lied. Indeed it is sad that many out there prefer to get involved in public scandal than to be involved in encouraging each other to speak the truth in love.
    Perhaps the church often errs to one extreme or the other? Some may find it easier to go on the attack in anger and self-righteousness and some not having the stomach / faith to hunger for righteousness in Christ’s church excuse, justify and ignore unacceptable behavior in Christ’s church?
    Yet we are not called to either of those extreme poles. We are called to be gentle, meek while we confront our brothers regarding their sin, speaking the truth in love.
    Certainly we are called to a task that is much more demanding than either of the two extremes.

  3. George C July 31, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    I don’t care one bit or know one bit about the Caner “situation”, but you have my condolences for having so many people reading your blog who really are, at the very least, paying little attention to the actual content.
    It seemed pretty clear to me that you were not taking a side, but rather using the “situation” as an example of how poorly we often respond.
    You deserve a drink.

  4. RazorsKiss August 1, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Just as a very longtime blogger – things getting linked will often result in a flurry of comments, from people that don’t regularly read your blog – and it’s been that way from the beginning.
    With the advent of twitter, and other social media platforms, like facebook, they click directly through to your post, from practically anywhere. Additionally, this story has become such a massive polarizing influence in places like the SBC, that there are folks who are lined up across the line snarling.
    Then, there’s folks like me, that have Dr. Caner’s name up as a google alert, because there are defenders (and detractors) of Dr. Caner that have a tendency to write absurd things in his defense, or to attack him.
    As someone who has quite literally read almost everything on the web about Ergun Caner (as I am loosely affiliated, primarily by friendship with the ministry that started the larger part of the inquiry into his history), I’ve found that there are people who are extreme on both sides of the issue – but one of my goals from the first has been to attempt to inject the facts of the situation, both pro and con, into the conversations, to try and make sure this remains a Biblical conversation, to the best of my (albeit limited) ability.
    I appreciate the irenic way you’ve handled yourself, and I thank you for your wisdom and discernment in your comments on it. After watching and listening to dozens of hours of Dr. Caner’s statements, I’m firmly convinced he lied, quite literally hundreds of times. However, I hold out hope that he will be brought to repentance, and later, restoration. The true story of his past is amazing enough – he was a sinner, saved by grace. All of us wish he hadn’t thought of God’s miraculous work in his life, and that of his family as “not snazzy enough”, but we hope that he will one day.
    I’m not a frequent reader of your blog, obviously, but I’ve watched the posts you’ve made come up in my google alerts, so I’ve read the ones I’ve seen, and how you’re responded. Thank you once again for your graciousness. God bless you, and I hope I was at least a bit of help in my comments.

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