DAILY Photo by Gary Lloyd|
The Rev. Ergun Caner, who spoke Sunday night at a Bible conference in Decatur, is a convert from Islam who often debates Muslims.
Ex-Muslim says Allah not God, he doesn’t fear threats
By Melanie B. Smith
DAILY Religion Writer
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2468
Before the Rev. Ergun Caner spoke Sunday night at the opening night of the North Alabama Bible Conference, the Rev. Phil Waldrep warned listeners to buckle their seat belts tight.
Caner, a former Muslim, had people standing, clapping and whistling before he even spoke. He quickly had them laughing, too.
"You've got the whitest black choir I've ever heard," he said, complimenting the lively worship.
Caner jokingly called himself a one-time "towel-head" and said that before he married, he translated the concept of wifely submission in the New Testament as "love, honor and fetch."
And he was just getting warmed up.
He criticized American culture's insistence on male sensitivity.
"I tell my male students if they have on more makeup than their girlfriends, stay out of my way. And if the last thing they waxed wasn't their trucks ..."
Then he lit into popular spirituality, illustrated by actresses like Paris Hilton wearing bracelets representing Kabala, mystical beliefs based in Judaism.
"Paris Hilton can't spell Kabala," he said.
Caner has written several books about his conversion to Christianity and often debates Muslims. He has appeared on MSNBC and other networks. Since he spoke at the conference last year, he has become dean of Liberty Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va., founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell.
Caner said Falwell recruited him after seeing him on TV. Last year, Caner said, he called Ron Reagan an idiot on a show after Reagan called him biased.
"Troublemakers like other troublemakers," Caner said of Falwell. "At least I never called a Teletubby gay."
Caner was referring to Falwell's famous criticism of a character on a children's TV show.
More seriously, Caner told the crowd at Decatur Baptist Church that he has moved three times and has changed his phone number eight times due to threats from Muslim extremists.
DAILY Photo by Gary Lloyd|
The Rev. Ergun Caner spoke on the opening night of the North Alabama Bible Conference at Decatur Baptist Church.
"What can they do to me? If they destroy my body, I'll be in heaven," he said.
He joked about the threats, too, saying no Muslim had ever said anything to him that a Baptist deacon hadn't said when he was a pastor.
Caner disputes the idea that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. He said the media and liberal Christians who believe that "want everyone to have a group hug, light a candle and sing the Coca-Cola theme."
In the 61 debates he's had with Muslims, no Muslim ever claimed their God is the same as the Christian God, Caner said.
The God of Christianity offers intimacy with God, something other faiths don't claim, he said. Buddha's followers are in hell, and so are Buddha and anyone who doesn't believe that Christ is the only way to salvation, said the preacher.
In an interview, Caner said he moved with his faithful Muslim family to the United States from Turkey at age 13. He said he began to believe that all faiths were the same, but a high school boy told him that Christianity is not a religion but a way of life. After he was "saved," his family rejected him, although many of them later came to Christianity.
Islam is the highest form of man's religion, he said, but is not enough to save man from his sins.
Asked whether his outspoken criticism of Islam is making the seminary he leads a target for terrorism, Caner joked that Falwell did that already. The TV preacher has made a name taking on homosexuality, liberal politics and many other hot topics.
The Rev. Donnell Brown, director of missions for Morgan Baptist Association, said that inviting a controversial figure like Caner might draw curious people.
"The main focus is on elevating Jesus above all other names," Brown said. Sessions continue nightly at 6:30 through Wednesday with the Rev. David Jeremiah, a popular Bible teacher, as the final speaker.
Waldrep, an evangelist based in Decatur, introduced Caner as probably the first former Muslim to ever become dean of a Christian seminary.
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