LYNCHBURG, Va. (BP)–Ergun Caner has been named dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, succeeding Danny Lovett, who is leaving the post after 12 years to become president of Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The announcement of Caner’s selection was made by Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University and the seminary in Lynchburg, Va.
Caner, 38, has been professor of theology and church history in the university’s school of religion the past two years.
According to a Liberty news release, Caner is the first former Muslim to become the dean of an evangelical seminary in the United States. He is a Turkish immigrant and son of a Sunni Muslim scholar and architect who helped build mosques in the Midwest. While Caner was in high school in Ohio a friend invited him to church and led him to Christ in 1982. He subsequently was disowned by his family.
Prior to joining the Liberty faculty, Caner taught for two years at Criswell College in Dallas.
He is the author or coauthor of 11 books, including “Islam Unveiled” (2002), named by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association as a Gold Medallion recipient, and has twice preached at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Conference.
Caner holds a doctor of theology degree from the University of South Africa in Johannesburg; master of divinity and master of theology degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.; and a bachelor of arts from Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Ky.
Describing his goals as dean, Caner said, “We will develop Liberty Seminary into the leading evangelical institution for training Christians for a new generation…. God said go to all the world and preach the Gospel. By and large we didn’t, so He brought the world to us. It is no longer sufficient to simply train graduate students in theory and abstract. We must challenge them to reach a world with 140 major religions, many of which inhabit our shores. LBTS will set the standard for global apologetics on a world stage.”
The seminary also “will continue to train ‘special forces’ for the frontlines of cultural debate and contact,” Caner said. Liberty graduates will be equipped as “specially trained generals, not just soldiers. The difference is a general understands the mind of the adversary, as well as the rules of engagement. Christ has called us to nothing less.”
Caner said he intends to re-establish biblical language requirements at the seminary, gain funding for the new Center for Global Apologetics and the Center for Premillennial and Pretribulational Studies and institute classes in logic, rhetoric, debate and all the world religions.
He and his wife, Jill, have two sons, Braxton, 6, and Drake, who was born last November.