Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ergun Caner is Brewton-Parker College's New President

The big news in Baptist higher education (such as it is) this week comes from rural South Georgia, where trustees of the fledgling Brewton-Parker College unanimously elected a new fundamentalist president. If B-PC rings a bell to our Oklahoma friends who may not know much about Georgia Baptist life, it may be because we've written about Brewton-Parker here before.

As usual, Associated Baptist Press has a solid write-up:
Caner, 48, comes to the post in Mount Vernon, GA from Arlington Baptist College in Texas, where he served as provost and academic dean since 2011.  Before that, Caner was the dean of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, VA, named by the school's founder, Jerry Falwell, in 2004. 
Controversy arose in 2010, when bloggers questioned written descriptions of Caner's academic credentials and apparent embellishments in recorded versions of his "Jihad to Jesus" testimony popular with evangelical audiences in the aftermath of 9/11.
That rustling of paper you hear is the faculty of Brewton-Parker dusting off and updating their CVs.

Caner's election signals that B-PC and the Georgia Baptist Convention continue to believe that unassuming moderate, competent administrators are not the way forward.  Instead, their strategy is to double down on fundamentalism and controversy in a naive hope that somehow there will be enough GBC cash and new revenues from fundamentalists willing to send their children to nominally accredited Bible colleges.

As many people know, the Reverend Dr. Ergun Caner may be the most controversial intellectual in the Southern Baptist Convention -- and that's saying something!  His bizarre statements are well known and have been widely reported elsewhere.  Far from being a liability to future employment, it seems that Caner's lies and delusions actually make him a more competitive applicant for a leadership position in Southern Baptist institutional life.

I do know that a veteran college administrator who has extensive experience within and outside Baptist higher education never had an opportunity to be considered for the position because, although this person is a principled conservative with a high view of Scripture, he is just not conservative enough for today's fundamentalist Georgia Baptist Convention.

It looks like the GBC's executive director, the Reverend Dr. Robert White, did not have to personally intervene to get his man.  The fundamentalist majority on the B-PC Board of Trustees could be trusted to deliver a yes-man no matter who it chose.

Caner's brother, the Reverend Dr. Emir Caner, is president of Truett-McConnell College, which is also affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.  Unfortunately for all you other Baptist colleges out there, it looks like there are no more formerly jihadist Caner brothers to lead you into the future.

From an OBU perspective, I must say that Caner makes OBU's president, provost, and religion dean look fantastic!  Hopefully, fundamentalist encroachment at OBU is all in the past.  But in the fraternity of Southern Baptist-affiliated college presidents, I fear there is always pressure on members to one-up each other and prove his fundamentalist bona fides.  Therefore, please pray that OBU leaders never perceive that God is calling them to out-Caner Caner.