Yesterday, a press release came from Brewton-Parker College (Mt. Vernon, GA) announcing that Dr. Ergun Caner was unanimously elected as the 16th President of this Georgia Baptist Convention (GBC) institution. Dr. Caner has advanced degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv & ThM) and the University of South Africa (ThD). He previously served as the Dean of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (2004-2011) and, most recently, as the Provost and Academic Dean at Arlington Baptist College (2011-2013).
If you are familiar with Dr. Caner’s story, you know that he has been involved in some controversy concerning his background and testimony (Dr. James White has gone to great lengths to “expose” Dr. Caner) as well as legal battles that are ongoing. This controversy led to Dr. Caner being removed as the dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, though he remained on faculty as a professor.
Before I offer some thoughts, let me lay my cards on the table. I serve on the Education Commission for the Georgia Baptist Convention which is a group of GBC pastors who act as liaisons between our 3 GBC colleges/universities and our GBC churches. I have tremendous respect for our college/university presidents and love that these schools are championing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
With that said, here are some thoughts I have on Dr. Caner being named President of Brewton-Parker College:
1. It is clear Dr. Ergun Caner is a Christ follower. We should never forget that Dr. Caner is a fellow brother in Christ.
2. It is clear Dr. Ergun Caner preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have watched numerous sermons delivered by Dr. Caner and he preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ unapologetically. This is encouraging for Georgia Baptists – we can be certain that the gospel will be proclaimed at BPC and the institution will continue to stand on the authority of Scripture.
3. We should pray for Dr. Caner and Brewton-Parker College. Dr. Mike Simoneaux, the outgoing president of BPC, has done a great job stabilizing the school (improving finances, enrollment, etc.) but there is still much to be done. This will not be easy and the weight of that responsibility will be great for Dr. Caner as he steps into this position.
4. It makes sense that the BPC trustees would move in this direction. Dr. Caner’s track record at both Arlington Baptist College and Liberty Baptist Seminary offers great hope for BPC. While at both institutions, enrollment grew tremendously and this is what BPC needs to continue moving forward. Dr. Caner’s high profile personality should bring excitement to the school, which should, in turn, help the school’s reputation. It also does not hurt that Dr. Caner’s brother (Dr. Emir Caner) has done exceptional things at Truett-McConnell College.
5. Some will not be pleased with this decision. I have already heard from pastors who are not pleased with Dr. Caner’s appointment as president of BPC. Most cite the controversy over his background, followed by a lack of repentance on Dr. Caner’s part, as grounds for their concern. I do believe it would be helpful for Dr. Caner to address this issue in a public, humble, and clear way. This could certainly go a long way in repairing his image in the minds of many of his detractors.
6. We should expect attacks. Attacks on Dr. Caner and BPC will come, both from inside our own camp and from outside. Above all, we need to unite as followers of Christ and Georgia Baptists behind BPC’s new president. Regardless of the way you feel about Dr. Caner or BPC, recognize he and the school need our prayers, encouragement, and support.
**Dr. Caner – if you happen to read this post come on over to Dublin and I will buy you a cup of coffee!