Captain Obvious says, “God does not need you to embellish your testimony”

Some people have dramatic experiences when converting to Christianity. Others, like me, got there in a less eventful but no less meaningful way. The question is, Where are you today — right now — saved or unsaved?

I’ve heard of many people who exaggerated their testimony about how they became Christians. They think that having a more dramatic conversion experience will help persuade more people to convert. They are missing a few key points:

  1. God is still big on that honesty thingy. Lying about your witness is not a spiritual gift. He can accomplish all He desires with the truth.
  2. One of the beauties of Christianity is how God brings so many types of people to him in so many different ways. If all the public testimonies have a flair for the dramatic, it causes people to unnecessarily question their own conversion.
  3. If/when people catch you lying it will harm the cause you are trying to advance.

An example of item 3 is Ergun Caner, a convert from Islam caught making repeated and significant embellishments to his testimony (see Caner Debacle Gaining National Attention). This is sad on many levels. His real testimony was powerful enough, but now he is dragging his life’s work through the mud with his defensiveness.

Really, just stick with the truth. The power is in God’s ability to regenerate you, not in your ability to present it in a dramatic way. Rejoice over that.

0 thoughts on “Captain Obvious says, “God does not need you to embellish your testimony””

  1. Another very serious issue with embellishing testimonies is that we seem to have developed this idea that those without drama, those who cannot say they went to the bottom of the pit and God brought them back out, are considered to not have a testimony worth hearing. I so desire for my children and grandchildren to hear from those who could have gone astray, but didn’t. Rather, we are teaching our children that the only way to really have a conversion worth telling is to go off the deep end first.

    Thank you for this post! Perhaps it will discourage drama and encourage truth!

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    1. Good points, Cherry. My youngest daughter gave her testimony at church a few weeks ago and it was along those lines of coming to faith without going off the deep end first.

      Sent from my iPhone

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  2. This is why I don’t encourage the use of testimonies in sharing the gospel. Yes, mention that we are converted, but there is no need to go into the nitty gritty. I got really tired of sharing my testimony in seminary, that I got to a point of NOT sharing it. Yes, it was leaning towards the dramatic conversion, but I realized that by doing so, I was glorifying my sinfulness, and others were glorifying in it as well. It’s enough to say that we were sinners, saved by HIS grace and always safe and right to keep the focus on God’s grace, not our sinfulness. If someone comes to Christ, they will become quite aware of their sinfulness to the point that they loath it.

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  3. This is why I don’t encourage the use of testimonies in sharing the gospel. Yes, mention that we are converted, but there is no need to go into the nitty gritty. I got really tired of sharing my testimony in seminary, that I got to a point of NOT sharing it. Yes, it was leaning towards the dramatic conversion, but I realized that by doing so, I was glorifying my sinfulness, and others were glorifying in it as well. It’s enough to say that we were sinners, saved by HIS grace and always safe and right to keep the focus on God’s grace, not our sinfulness. If someone comes to Christ, they will become quite aware of their sinfulness to the point that they loath it.

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    1. I fully understand the weariness of giving one’s testimony! My heart has always been to show others the beauty of what Christ has done, but there always seems to be a propensity among hearers to desire more details of the condition prior to conversion. It truly is enough to say that we are sinners save by His grace, especially considering that God does not do the “big sin-little sin” nonsense.

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  4. Eeesh! As an LBTS student who admires Caner, this is sad. I see this specific sermon was almost ten years ago, and he probably got too hyped up after 9-11; this sermon was given in Nov 2001. Neil, do you have other examples of when he did this? The fact that he didn’t mis-speak seems clear – he really piled it on from the quotes I read from the sermon. Like you said – his honest testimony is powerful enough, this is why this is so sad.

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  5. Yeah, I’ve heard about this and seen quite a few references to this in the blogosphere. He never lived in Turkey.

    This is disturbing, partly because Liberty is such a good school. It’s a symptom of the “one-upsmanship” that’s sort of typical in collegiate testimony-sharing time, as the previous posters alluded to above.

    I agree that this unconscious competition of who had the most lurid or despicable past is not a good way to give a testimony. Oftentimes, the folks with the most “dramatic” testimonies have a faith an inch deep (I’ve known a few who are all talk – especially in the charismatic movement). We really do need to come back around to just “leading our children up in the way they should go” so that their youth and maturity will always be a sincere one of following Christ.

    FWIW, the only reason I share my uncensored testimony (mostly in writing) is because God’s allowed me to use it in my counseling ministry. It certainly isn’t something I’m proud of, and I kept it secret until a couple of years ago. We really have to think hard and think twice about whether to reveal details – what purpose is served? Is Christ glorified/will this knowledge help the listener in some way? If not, it’s best not to air our dirty laundry in public.

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  6. There are discrepancies in Dr. Caner’s testimony; however, it does not merit some of the accusations levied against him. I am a former Muslim myself and have been communicating with Mohammed Khan regarding some his allegations because he is partly lying. (Please look up videos of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and listen to him pronounce some Arabic words. I can assure you that he does not pronounce Arabic words perfectly. Does that disqualify him as a Muslim? By no means! Mohammed Khan uses a double standard and that was the reason I contacted him.)

    While I cannot speak for Dr. Caner, especially the part about his upbringing, I would like you to know that Muslims can fast 40 days in a year. This is one of Mohammed Khan’s main contentions that it would not be possible because Muslims only fast 30 or 29 days during the month of Ramadhan. Prophet Muhammad said in the Hadith, “There are no days on which Allah likes better to be worshipped than the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. Fasting observed on each of these days is equivalent to a year’s fasting, and prayer during each of these nights is equivalent to prayer during Laylat al-Qadr.” Add 30 or 29 days during the month of Ramadhan to ten days during the month of Dhul-Hijjah, you get the 39 or 40 days. Therefore, it was possible Dr. Caner fasted 40 days in a year as a Muslim and it was and is a perfectly Muslim practice.

    Also, Mohammed posted another video about how Dr. Caner observed salah (prayer) in a high school bathroom. Again, this is debatable because the Hadith also says, “The whole earth is a place of prayer except public baths and graveyards.” It is not just any bathroom where a prayer is prohibited. I am from Kenya and know what public bathrooms are like. Dr. James White and I had this discussion on Thursday on his radio program. I cannot consider a high school bathroom in the United States, where an outsider cannot just walk into the school and use it, public. I have written to Mohammed Khan on these two issues, and so far he has been silent. Mark you; Dr. Caner used a prayer rug when he observed his prayers. On the other hand, the Hadith shows that Prophet Muhammad prayed in the sheep and goats’ fold without (it is not mentioned) even using a prayer rug.

    Please be careful how you go about this issue with Dr. Caner. The Bible clearly tells us if one of us is caught in sin, we should approach him or her gently (Galatians 6:1-2). So far, I have not seen it done even by Dr. Caner main detractor, Dr. James White. I appeared on his radio program on Thursday and he even defended his public “crusade” against Dr. Caner. Is this necessary? Is it biblical? Muslims have a penchant to discredit any Muslim convert to Christianity. I am pretty sure they have tried to take down Dr. Caner for a long time. Now with Christians on their side, I bet they are rejoicing.

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    1. Caner brought this upon himself. First, he lied. Then, when confronted with the truth, he and his supporters chose to stonewall and attack those telling the truth. When that didn’t make it go away they began editing their web sites but still not admitting his errors.

      I listen to some of Dr. White’s Podcasts and read some of his blog posts. He wasn’t on some mission to hurt Caner. He just pointed it out. If Caner would have repented it would have been over long ago. But Caner & Co. attacked White instead.

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  7. Wow. This is all news to me. I have Caner’s book “Unveiling Islam”, heard him speak in interviews several times about the period of the book’s release. I’ve referred to him as a source for info on Islam in discussions on blogs. Sad to hear of his troubles and I hope and pray he finds his way out them honorably. On the surface, however (as it’s as deep as I’ve gotten into it), it doesn’t sound like something that should totally discredit him, even though, well, it ain’t good!

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