NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–For a young Muslim boy, at the end of the day it was all about the scales — how his good deeds compared to his bad deeds.
“Every Muslim child learns about the scales,” said Ergun Caner, professor of theology and church history at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., who grew up a devout Muslim. “The scales are terrifying. The Koran says if your scales are heavy, you will live in paradise, but if your scales are light, you will find perdition. You have to be 51 percent righteous to get to paradise.”
Caner spoke to a group of LifeWay “ministry multipliers” training leaders at a Dec. 1-3 conference sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tenn.
There is only one kind of eternal assurance according to Islam: to die as a martyr. “Do you get it?” he rhetorically asked the group. “Those 19 men [on Sept. 11, 2001] weren’t great Muslims; they were desperate Muslims.”
That very desperation is why there is no shortage of Muslim people willing to strap bombs to themselves and go into restaurants and daycare centers, he said.
Caner lived by the five pillars of Islam as a teenager growing up in Ohio. He wore his Muslim attire to school and kept a prayer rug in his locker. He was proud of his religion.
“But there was this one kid — an obnoxious, wouldn’t-take-no-for-an-answer kid — who kept inviting me to things at his church,” Caner said. “Sunday School, youth retreats, lock-ins, everything. He wouldn’t leave me alone. Finally he wore me down.”
Caner went to the boy’s church and the people loved him. The ridicule he anticipated was absent.
His curiosity about Christianity grew. Caner received Christ as Savior after hearing the pastor explain about the purpose of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. “I realized Jesus strapped Himself to the cross so I didn’t have to strap myself to a bomb!” he said.
Caner’s father disowned him when his son recounted his new faith in Christ. That was the last time he saw his father for 17 years. Being disowned by his father sounds harsh and cruel, Caner said, but, “It’s not that bad. The Koran says, ‘If anyone changes his Islamic religion, kill him.’ In 38 countries around the world, that’s exactly what happens. But my father didn’t kill me; he just disowned me.”
After that, Caner said, “My Sunday School teachers, the little blue-haired ladies, they all sat next to me and loved me. That church became my family.”
Both of Caner’s brothers, his mother and his grandmother eventually came to faith in Christ, but his father died a devout Muslim, never receiving his sons or Christ.
Although Caner’s father didn’t listen to what he had to share, “The world is now listening to us. We must take what we know out to those who are desperate to hear.”