Wednesday, August 29, 2012

By 2006, 61 debates with Muslims

First, I should present Ergun's definition of the word "debate" as presented in his 2010 apology.

One gentleman believes it is misleading to call my interaction with people from other faiths and world religions “debates.” Since his definition of debate is limited to moderated, formal debates, that is his prerogative. He can call them whatever he wishes. My podcasts are readily available online through this website. If he finds them less than satisfying or helpful, then he does not have to listen to them. I do not offer them for his approval or his attention. Please feel free to look elsewhere. God has been gracious to call many Christians to practice evangelism and apologetics in a variety of ways.

The truth is, several evangelical apologists employ the “formal” debate template and are very effective in their presentations. Norman Geisler, Gary Habermas and William Lane Craig come to mind. Nevertheless, I will continue to do exactly as I have done. In fact, in order to attempt a measure of peace, I am more than happy to call my engagements “interviews,” or even “dialogues.” Since this is historically my method of choice, I shall continue to offer these podcasts here, for the edification of those who care to listen.

However, I would caution all evangelicals that no single method meets consensus. Nor is there only one exclusively biblical model. Certainly there is much good to be found in formal debates, and I also believe that there is enough room for all types of interaction. In fact I believe there is great value to be found in all forms, including conversational and informal methods.

Essentially Ergun counted certain interactions of his with people as "debates".   In this context,one has to wonder, how he kept count.  Well, every "debate" had two rules.
  1. Nobody was paid or made money off the "debate".
  2. No Christians were allowed to ask him questions.
So these were not just random conversations, according to Ergun.  There were some boundaries.   One of these interactions is mentioned in Unveiling Islam at the University of North Texas.

By 2002, a book reviewer claimed that in between Ergun and Emir, these events had been done in three languages in mosques and universities. By 2006, Ergun was claiming that he had done 61 of these "debates" with Muslims alone.  By 2008, he was claiming that he had done more than 100 "debates" total.  Last Sunday, Ergun resumed claiming that he has had these events in 13 countries and 35 states.

This is all possible. All Ergun has to do is give a lecture/sermon followed by a Q&A with non-Christians present.  However there are a couple of reasons to doubt it.
  1. Where are the audio recordings, video recordings, or written records?  I have listened to many of Ergun's sermons.  By my guess, he preaches about a 100 times a year: Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, conferences, youth camps.  I still have over 60 Ergun sermons on my IPod that I have not listened (at least since I was a Seminary student).  Ergun speaks a lot and the windfall is a minority of his sermons online.  Surely with over a 100 events before hostile audiences there would be more of it online.  Then again, perhaps all that made it onto the internet, even with hostile sources was Ergun's ITunes account.  This is possible. Still, one would expect some Muslim, Calvinist, or Mormon trying to make a Macaca moment.
  2. While Ergun probably has preached in 13 countries (listen to his sermons from Israel) and 35 states (listen to his lectures from Hawaii), what are the names of the countries and states where he debated?   Ergun's ITunes account is gone, but from what I remember most of the podcasted "debates" were recorded in Lynchburg.  More specifically, most were recorded in his university class attended almost entirely by evangelical students.  Apparently these count, even though it would be hard to find a non-Christian to ask him a question.  Still that is one state, Virginia.  In Unveiling Islam, we have Texas.  He has mentioned the University of California and the University of Chicago.  OK, that is four states. (The Israel and the Hawaiian sermons do not count, because they were entirely Christian audiences.)  Ergun has claimed to have traveled to Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Britain, France, Sudan, India, and Sweden.  Those are nine countries, but did he have these "debates" in Iran?  Ergun has yet to provide a list of the countries and states that he has had these "debates".  Remember there is supposed to be more than 100 of them, with at least 61 with Muslims alone.  Yet in 2007, he only gave the name of Mel White to the Rational Response Squad
Having attended Liberty, exaggerated claims get made all the time.  Rumor quickly becomes reported as fact.  I am sure that whoever wrote Ergun's website biography may have heard somewhere about the 13 countries and 35 states.  Yet Ergun's claims that he made about himself are not passive, but active.  Ergun allowing a church to make these claims about him after the "controversy" is not passive anymore, but active.  Ergun should provide a list, before he continues to make unsubstantiated claims. 

HT: James White

PS ~ In Defense of Dr. Ergun Caner which is no longer on Norman Geisler's website gave the following defense.

The Charge that Caner Falsely Claims that he has had more than Sixty Debates with Muslims.—Critics challenge this statement and claim it is an intentional embellishment. But they mistakenly assume that all debates are formal. Caner lists many formal debates in the last ten years or so. But he has also engaged in multiple informal debates as well. There is no evidence to deny his claim. Indeed, given his numerous encounters with Muslims, it is reasonable to assume there were at least sixty.

This defense makes it even more ambiguous about what Ergun means by "debate".  Under what criteria did he keep count.  Obviously, if Norman is right, Ergun does not seem to be using the ruled criteria that he pronounced.  

No comments:

Post a Comment