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Wednesday, May 18, 2011 

Emir Caner Should Apologize for Tweet: UPDATED!!


On Monday, Dr. Emir Caner, President of Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, GA took to his iPhone to tap out the following tweet:

The military discovered a large stash of pornography in bin Laden's compound. I was unaware that Islam had its own Acts 29 Network.
It's hard to imagine the president of a Southern Baptist college, which is supported by the Cooperative Program ($1 million a year in fact), would stoop to such levels as to place on his Twitter account such an unChristlike statement.

There has been some reaction and backlash to Caner's tweet, but from my standpoint not enough. I am thankful for Danny Akin's tweet yesterday:

@EmirCaner I love you my brother & I am proud of U in so many ways. You a better man than your bin Laden/Acts 29 tweet.
My hope is that Dr. Caner will recognize his error and how it hurts the Body of Christ and causes division and seek to rectify this wrong by apologizing and removing the tweet from his Twitter page. If you join me in calling Dr. Caner to apologize, please say so in the comments. I hope to direct a trustee or two of Truett-McConnell to my blog tomorrow.


This morning, Emir Caner posted the following statement to his blog:

I have come to realize over the past few days that Driscoll's vulgarity is far too serious an issue to simply put out a satirical tweet. While it is easy to find Driscoll crossing the line (see articles by John MacArthur and Cathy Mickels) it should not be likewise with me, and for that I apologize.
Soon after seeing this I was contacted by a few pastors who expressed their displeasure with Caner's statement. While speaking to one such pastor, I was contacted by Mike Dorough, Youth Pastor at Second Baptist Church, Warner Robbins, GA, and current Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Truett-McConnell College. He noted that Emir Caner had asked him to call and hoped that his statement would be sufficient.

I informed Mr. Dorough that no one that I have spoken with was pleased with the statement. Mr. Dorough's words were that it was more than he had expected Dr. Caner to say and that he had spoken to others who felt the statement was sufficient.

After a tense, but (I believe) God-honoring discussion by both of us, we parted ways without any resolution, but (I hope) without any ill feelings. Mr. Dorough is a fine man and I appreciated very much his call to me. However, during the discussion one area of disagreement we had was on whether or not I should have blogged about this incident.

As I indicated to Mr. Dorough, Dr. Caner's original inappropriate tweet was public and thus his call to repentence should be public as well. Mr. Dorough brought up the principle of Matthew 18 - a passage that I believe is very essential for us as Christians to understand. I explained to Mr. Dorough that Matthew 18, when read properly speaks about private sin ("if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone"), not public sin. The two passages that show us how to deal with public sin are Galatians 2 (where Paul confronts Peter publically) and 1 Corinthians 5 (where Paul calls out a couple engaged in sin that is publically known). Again, because Dr. Caner's actions were performed in the public domain, a public call to repentence is necessary.

Now, having read Dr. Caner's statement and his tweet, what do you think about his apology? Is it enough? How might Dr. Caner's statement been more conciliatory and satisfying to his brothers and sisters in Christ that he harmed?

I'm with you!

I'll go even further than apologize. Repentance is needed. Slander is a serious thing. He has a lot of people looking up to him. He should do the right thing. The post was public, the apology/repentance should be public. I hope that more people will contact him in love about his statement if he refuses to see his error.


I completely agree, it is almost unbelievable to see someone in Emir Caner's position make this kind of public statement. No matter what his opinion may be of the Acts 29 network, a statement like that is more than just uncharitable.

I thought Justin Taylor's blog on this was also really helpful too.


Whoops, that was not Sara. That was totally Kevin.

Not that Sara would disagree with me. Or agree with Caner. ; )

Hmmm. It seems that Emir has decided to join Ergun in self-marginalization.

I agree. Caner should repent and apologize. You will notice that the response from Acts 29 leaders has been far from reactionary, and graciously biblical. If Caner repents, he will be extended a generous offer of forgiveness. Some say that Caner's tweet was satirical and just a joke. However, satire would include some sort of truth claim. There wasn't one in his tweet. So, it can't be a joke. He didn't even say "LOL".

Dr. Caner issued an apology this morning. I would respectfully submit that this current blog is now irrelevant and should be removed.

I agree that the apology was not much of an apology. The offending tweet has been removed so now there is no original reference for the apology. (Not that this invalidates the apology.)

Ironically, in the book Why Churches Die by Ergun Caner and Mac Brunson they call for public repentance of public sin.

There are a couple of issues of consistency in play here too. If Dr. Caner's apology is sufficient then why isn't Mark Driscoll's?

Also, should we be allowed to use the same tactic of guilt by association using Dr. Caner's tweet to speak poorly of Truett-McConnell?

He said he crossed the line and apologized....thats called an apology. what more do you want?

Personally I find the tweet and the apology bizarre coming from a president of a Baptist college. When I read the quote I thought it was over the top but I gave him the benefit of the doubt because I know my humor can get me in trouble at times. The apology made it worse because it took a jab at Driscoll and really did not address anything to do with Acts 29 network. I could not in good conscience recommend any of my students graduating from High School attending an institution with this type of leadership.

aaron arledge

There is no ill will between us. We agreed to disagree concerning Dr. Caner's apology and the need to air the dirty laundry of the family of God in public. Dr. Caner removed the tweet and apologized. Christ is most honored if we put this behind us. Additionally, Dr. Caner didn't "ask" me to call you. He indicated that your message requested a call from a Trustee. The incident should have ended with the public apology for the public Tweet. Let's all be about Kingdom work now and stop beating dwead horses. Amen?

Von, what would you say Emir was apologizing for?


When I can, I will change the post to reflect the fact that Dr. Caner did not ask you to call me. Right now I am having trouble with Blogger (again!).

As to your comment, as I noted to you on the phone, the "apology" is the problem. Not only does Dr. Caner not actually clearly delinate between porn and Acts 29, but he uses it as an opportunity to attack a brother in Christ for past actions that he actually already apologized for.

As one man put it to me, "if Dr. Caner's apology is good enough, then why isn't Driscoll's" (Good point by the way Mark).

I didn't jump into this, Dr. Caner threw himself in this and if he honestly, truthfully is remorseful and wants to heal the Body of Christ all he has to do is actually issue a reasonable apology that doesn't attack Mark Driscoll and clearly points out that Acts 29 should not be equated with pornography in any way. Were he to have done that from the beginning, as opposed to the apology he offered, this issue would be done.

By the way, I have now heard statements from 3 DOM's via others I have spoken with who agree that both the tweet and the apology are inappropriate. Two of those DOM's recommended a further letter be written to the Trustees and the GBC.

Mike, I just don't think you are being honest with yourself in regard to how bad this looks. I hope that you will before it's too late. If you really want to get on with Kingdom work then do the right thing and have Dr. Caner do the right thing. You are making this more difficult than it has to be.

As Baptist sometimes we want to sweep things under the rug and that's what it looks like you are trying to do. But it is always much better to confront the problem, have real reconciliation, and then move on. Otherwise, these sorts of problems will linger for years. So why don't we confront the problem instead of ignoring it?

No one likes it when sin is exposed. That doesn't mean that it shouldn't be. I agree that Matt 18 is a private sin that should be dealt with in the loacl church. I think the context shows that. This was public and should be dealt with public.

D.R. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said:

"if he honestly, truthfully is remorseful and wants to heal the Body of Christ all he has to do is actually issue a reasonable apology that doesn't attack Mark Driscoll and clearly points out that Acts 29 should not be equated with pornography in any way. Were he to have done that from the beginning, as opposed to the apology he offered, this issue would be done."

I think the apology was a back handed one at best. He either needs to say that he was wrong in this association of pornography and Acts 29 or show evidence that he is right. To attack Driscoll's past in an apology is sad.

He might not say much more, but hopefully those who care about Truett-McConnell will. I hope he does in fact clarify the issue instead of making it blurry, which he did with his statement.

I realize I am very late coming into this, however after reading all of this...if I were a new Christian, I would ask "Where is the love and forgiveness of God?" in all this. Many of you like Job's friends...but I wonder how much time in prayer was spent on this. Is our God not big enough to forgive? Or is your god too small you can't trust Him to answer your prayer. You requested an apology, he gave one and now you want more. You want him to feel shame and remorse and what??...guilt? Isn't that the job of the Holy Spirit? My Father is Great and Just and in obedience I can trust Him to answer my prayers the way He sees fit. I do not have to guide my Father in what is the right thing to do. Do you? Really? I believe we all need to be on our knees to our Father and thank him for his grace and forgiveness.

His Daughter,

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I am sorry that you found this post to be ungracious and unforgiving. I am sorry that you felt that many of us are like Job's friends (though I am not sure how anyone's comments here reflect theirs).

Now, having said that, I think you have overlooked some important parts of the Bible that deal with correcting others, even publicly. For instance, public sin is often met with criticism (and done so approvingly in the Bible). Nathan does this to David. Paul does this twice, once with Peter in Galatians 2 and once with a couple in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 5. Paul also gives instructions for correcting brothers caught in sin.

So correction is Biblical - even public correction. Since Jesus, Himself, inspired the Word of God in those areas through the work of the Holy Spirit, then I assume that He is also able to deal with the hearts of sinful men who might come to this blog and misunderstand what is happening here. In fact, at the end of teaching His disciples how to correct their brother when he sinned against them, He taught that in the very midst of difficult correction "when two or more are gathered in [His] name" He would be with them. So Biblical correction does not come without an assurance from Jesus, Himself, that He is in the midst of it, when done properly.

So, having answered that argument, allow me to turn to your other criticisms, which you voiced in the form of questions:

Is our God not big enough to forgive? Or is your god too small you can't trust Him to answer your prayer?

Certainly God forgives. And I am certain that God has forgiven Emir, but not just for that sin, but every single sin that He has ever committed on the basis of Emir's faith and Christ's perfect righteousness that He secured for Emir on the cross. None of this is in dispute. Neither is it in dispute that those who Emir offended with his tweet have moved on. When you said you were late to the game, you were truthful. No one has posted about this for month. And I haven't seen any posts from Acts 29 guys about this in a while either. I imagine people have forgiven.

In full disclosure I did bring it up recently in a post on another blog, but not to further criticize Emir, but rather to point out that we are inconsistent in our application of public correction. We only seem to correct those we dislike and almost never those we consider friends. Case in point - your criticism of those here for criticizing someone else. You felt it was legitimate to criticize me and others, yet you felt it was not right for those same people to criticize someone else - kind of a double-standard there.

Perhaps you think criticism = a lack of forgiveness. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Moving on, you write...

You requested an apology, he gave one and now you want more. You want him to feel shame and remorse and what??...guilt? Isn't that the job of the Holy Spirit?

Yes I felt, along with others, that his apology was not only poor, but unbecoming of a minister of the Gospel. It was weak at best and scandalous at worst. He could and should have been more contrite and more Christlike. But I recognize that is between he and God. He will have to answer for that one day, not me. But of course, there will plenty for me to answer for one day as well. Still, as an employee of the GBC to which I and my Church contributes money, he should have given some account of his actions and acted appropriately in his apology. And for that, he should (and did) get publicly criticized. And I think again it was in line with Biblical principles.

While I would never take on the role of the Holy Spirit, we also cannot ignore sin and we cannot ignore when people say and do things publicly that are not in keeping with the Gospel. See Galatians 2 for more on that.

You then said:

I do not have to guide my Father in what is the right thing to do. Do you? Really? I believe we all need to be on our knees to our Father and thank him for his grace and forgiveness.

HD, I know I am not the Holy Spirit, but I also know the Holy Spirit uses means - and God most often uses people to accomplish His will. This includes criticism. God can act however He wishes, but He has chosen to act through humans and through the vehicle of the Church. Publicly criticizing someone for public sin is very much a part of how God works. Just imagine if Paul wouldn't have corrected Peter, but had the same attitude you advocate. What might have happened in the Church at Galatia?

If we don't publicly speak out against public sin, then we actually defy the Holy Spirit who calls us in God's Word to correct. Remember 2 Timothy 3:16-17?

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Notice that God's Word is profitable for correction and reproof. If we do not do so, then we violate Scripture.

"His Daughter", I know correction and criticism is never fun, but at the same time, it is often necessary. But people should move on and as far as I can tell, they have. Still, it is fair to say that Emir's words were wrong, they were inappropriate, and they were unChristlike. The apology was bad and almost as much as the original tweet. Was Emir forgiven? Absolutely. Does that excuse his behavior or mean he shouldn't be criticized? I would think the Apostle Paul would disagree.

Thanks again for commenting and I pray you had a wonderful Lord's Day.

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About me

Paul was not interested merely in the ethical principles of religion or of ethics. On the contrary, he was interested in the redeeming work of Christ and its effect upon us. His primary interest was in Christian doctrine, and Christian doctrine not merely in its presuppositions but at its centre. -- J. Greshem Machen.

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