A Truett-McConnell “Evangelist” Who Doesn’t Need to Think

*Please note that the following statement includes my opinion of the deeds and character of those mentioned based upon the information to which I have been exposed. 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.

“And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, alsochains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:32-38

In the spring of 2000, on the evening of my senior prom, I received a letter from the University of Georgia informing me that I had not been accepted to study at that institution. Being understandably upset, I lamented about my situation to my date, Samantha, as we made our way to Tonsmeire Studio to have our picture taken before the big dance.  Samantha’s response to my teenage calamity was rather unsympathetic. “Screw it; go to Truett,” she said.  Samantha was referring to Truett-McConnell college in Cleveland, Georgia.  Among the students at Cartersville High School, Truett-McConnell was known as sort of a college of last resort.  To draw an analogy using the prom, Truett was like the the girl you asked to go to the dance after the girl you first wanted to go with turned you down.

I did not take Samantha’s advice.  Looking back, I think it was a good decision.  You see, there’s a problem at the Georgia Baptist institution that is Truett-McConnell.  Among other things, that school trains students who make statements like this:

Don't need to think

This absolutely stunning comment was made by self-proclaimed “Evangelist” Caleb Stevens in defense of the charlatan Ergun Caner.  Caleb is under the false impression that Ergun Caner is a man of integrity. When presented, by me, with evidence to the contrary, the above tweet was Caleb’s response.

Caleb claims that he does not have to think.  Why?  Ergun Caner’s brother, Emir, is not only Caleb’s mentor but one of his “heroes of the faith.”  Let’s break Caleb’s logic down:

1.  If I respect someone’s brother then that someone is a man of integrity.
2.  I respect Ergun Caner’s brother.
3.  Therefore, Ergun Caner is a man of integrity.

There is no need to think about this, according to Caleb.  Of course, if we do think about it, we can consider a counterexample.  Let’s run Christopher Hitchens and Peter Hitchens through Caleb’s logic. Christopher Hitchens is one of the most vociferous anti-Christian atheists in western history.   His brother, Peter, is a Christian.

1.  If I respect someone’s brother then that someone is a man of integrity.
2.  I respect Christopher Hitchens’ brother.
3.  Therefore, Christopher Hitchens is a man of integrity.

Thinking matters.

Given what Caleb says here ,one must question if students are being taught to think at all at Truett-McConnell!  Of course, it could be the case that Truett-McConnell is a place that attracts the kind of student who doesn’t like to think.  Just look at Caleb Stephens.

At this point, you may be thinking,  “Hold your horses, Seth.  This is just one young student.  It’s not fair to draw a conclusion on the whole college based on what Caleb Stephens says.”

That’s a good thought, but here’s the problem: If we can trust Caleb’s website, he is archetypal of a student that Truett-McConnell wants.  Here’s what Emir Caner, President of Truett-McConnell College, has to say about Caleb Stephens on the “References” section of Caleb’s site:

If revival will come to America, it will come as God calls out young men like Caleb who will preach the love of Christ to a lost world.”

Caleb has a published biography on his website. (One that he apparently wrote about himself in the third person.)  It bothers me.  Here’s why:

Caleb’s major is “Christian Studies/Theology.”  Both he and his fiancee are student interns at FBC Atlanta.  Given his education and connections, Caleb will likely be appearing in a pulpit near you in the near future…and he doesn’t have to think.  His “Statement of Faith” page makes that quite apparent.  There, as an article of faith, he states:

I believe in an invitation. Every time we see Jesus call someone in Scripture He calls them publicly.I believe in the Sinners Prayer.

I have no problem with invitations or (sincere) sinner’s prayers, but these things aren’t articles of faith and there is certainly no biblical formula for a “sinner’s prayer”.  What these things are, when included in the articles of faith of a self-proclaimed Georgia Baptist “Evangelist”, are political firebombs.

The website of this archetypal Truett-McConnell student is just scratching the surface of the real problem that’s brewing around the body of Christ.  The fox, my friends, is in the hen house and something needs to be done about it.

Why is a Georgia Baptist Convention school conditioning students not to think?  Why is Emir Caner considered a hero of the faith this student (or anyone)?  Why does “Evangelist” Caleb Stephens respond to criticism of a Caner brother by calling a stranger a name?

Here’s the deal.  I’m not writing this piece to run down some guy I’ve never met in the flesh.  He’s wrong, he’s human, and he’s young.  I’m wrong sometimes, too, and was so a lot more when I was younger.  I’m not trying to despise Caleb’s youth.  I’m just trying to point out evidence of a problem.  Bad men are using decisionism as a political tool to play upon the fears of an aging church population in order to gain power and positions of influence.  It’s either that…or these men are just too obtuse to be fit for leadership (which declining baptism numbers may indicate).

If you’re bothered by what’s going on, you need to turn to the person on either side of you at church and consider if he is the target market for the kind of schilling that gets preached from the Truett-McConnell crowd’s pulpits.

I, myself, have decided to follow Jesus…no turning back…no turning back.  When I look ahead and beside me.  I don’t see Truett-McConnell types with me.  I’m a thinking Christian.  I hope you are, too.


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