Social Justice, the Caner Brothers, and What’s Broken in the Southern Baptist Convention

The Southern Baptist Convention is broken. It’s broken, and it’s not because of theology; it’s because of culture. The culture of the Southern Baptist Convention is absolutely untenable and nothing demonstrates this better than the careers and commentary of the Caner brothers: Ergun and Emir.

Recently, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) removed portraits of Paige and Dorothy Patterson from Patterson Hall, a building named after the former President of SEBTS and venerable hero of the Southern Baptist conservative resurgence. Patterson’s long-time friend Ergun Caner provided a public and pointed a reaction to SEBTS’s action.

SEBTS is in the throes of a woke, social justice takeover. The progressive turn of SEBTS and the SBC as a whole is being documented by the filmmakers behind the website that Ergun Caner cited, It is in the course of this leftward turn that SEBTS removed the portrait of Patterson, who was controversially fired from the presidency of its sister seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theologically Seminary, last year. Ergun Caner wouldn’t stand for it and let the world know what a “Godlesss” move he thought it was for SEBTS to remove the portraits. He also went on to say that those who don’t speak to it are “spineless.”

No such critical commentary was to be found on the Twitter feed of his brother, Emir. Emir Caner’s recent Twitter feed documents the goings on the Georgia Baptist school he presides over, Truett-McConnell University.

Herein lies the problem of SBC culture.

There is a 0% percent chance that Emir Caner agrees with the leftward shift of SEBTS and its treatment of Patterson. There is 100% chance he agrees, to some degree, with his brother Ergun. Along with his brother, Emir’s friend and Fox News pundit Todd Starnes has been openly critical of the SBC’s leftward drift. From Emir, an insider from a conservative Baptist state, there is little more than promotion of his school. Why?

Emir, a former professor at SEBTS, can’t break the 11th Commandment of the SBC: “Thou Shalt not criticize the Southern Baptist Convention, its employees, or its entities” and keep his career on track. Insiders like Emir Caner, who see the problems of the SBC as clearly as anyone, are hamstrung by the incestuous, good-ole-boy culture of the SBC. Southern Baptist insiders are expected to only promote each other, never openly rebuke. Problems are swept under the rug, hidden from the public view. If Emir were to publicly criticize SEBTS and general SBC progressivism in front of his many constituents, he would have no more professional potential in the SBC. So why is Ergun Caner free to say something?

Ergun was formerly the Dean of the School of Theology and Liberty University. He lost that job after being exposed for charlatanry. Ergun Caner was formerly the president of Georgia Baptist school Brewton-Parker college. He resigned from that job after being accused of using racist language and engaging in sexual misconduct. His wife divorced him. His was once promising Southern Baptist Career is essentially over. He’s now free to tell the truth. In this case he has.

There are surely professors at SEBTS and SWBTS who feel the same was as Ergun. They put their livelihood on the line if they speak out. How sad. A convention that employs men who put salary and career before a biblical witness simply cannot stand, not within the center of God’s perfect will.

If you are a part of this culture, you are a part of the problem. It’s a culture that largely allowed Ergun Caner to attain a position of prominence in SBC life after being exposed as a charlatan. It’s a culture that keeps men like his brother from speaking out against obvious leftward drift. It’s a culture that simply isn’t tenable.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant