Integrity of character is the infrastructure of the soul - there is a lot that hangs on it.
Integrity is like the frame of the car. It's the 2x4's inside the walls of the house. I could go on, but you get the idea. So much hangs on the integrity of a person - their word, their reputation, the reputation of others who know them, etc. This is particularly true in ministry.
Which is why this post is happening. I just haven't been able to let go of something that's rumbling in the evangelical world but may very well go Iceland-volcanic on us and have ash on a lot more than the key players. The issue is a guy named Ergun Caner, specifically whether or not he's living with integrity in regard to his testimony.
Ergun Caner is the president of the seminary of Liberty University, the school founded by Jerry Falwell and Elmer Towns. He has an islamic background and has been become a very popular speaker on the evangelical circuit regarding Islam. The problem, allegedly, is that he appears to have told different stories in different places that are irreconcilable. After a brush-off last week by Liberty, it appears now that there is an internal investigation into the situation led by the Provost. If you want more timeline details, just google Ergun Caner and there is plenty of info.
As a minister, I know I've said things that I shouldn't have from the platform. Once, when I was in college, I fabricated a story at a retreat - it was on the fly - and had to wake up the next morning and repent to the group. I'm not throwing stones here. My wife and another friend even asked me, "Why do you care?" Here's why I care...
If true, it is ammo in the guns of Muslim apologists. "See, you can't trust those converts to Christianity. They'll tell you absolutely anything to get you to forsake Islam."
If true, it never sits right with me for a charlatan of any stripe to steal resources from the Kingdom. And that's precisely what he's doing - taking money for fabrication - if this proves to be true.
If true, I've lost a lot of respect for Elmer Towns and Liberty. While I have some significant theological issues with LU, I do respect them for trying to train students to think like Christians as they head to the workplace. His brush-off (it's not a moral issue?) and subsequent turn-around doesn't bode well.
If true, everyone in ministry takes a hit. We all get some ash. It was true with Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart and Ted Haggard. It will be true, to a lesser degree probably, here. But the conversations I have with unbelieving neighbors and others who know about the situation will have to first be sanitized with the "I'm not like that guy and neither are most of the ministers in the world" caveat.
Lastly, if true, why did LU wait to take action until the Washington Post, et al, came snooping around. The provost specifically mentioned the pressure from the press in the rationale for starting the internal investigation. Why not when a few bloggers brought it out? Why not when Christianity Today inquired? Why wait until bigger names in the media get involved? Where is the integrity in that? It's one thing if it's not on your leadership radar but another thing completely when you brush it off at first then reverse course.
I long to be the church to one another. Speaking the truth in love, receiving rebuke in love, taking correction in love, encouraging in love, and so forth. Integrity matters. It really does.