Fundy Turned Skeptic
Bart Ehrman, previous evangelical/fundy turned skeptic, in his New York Times bestseller, Misquoting Jesus, argues that we can't trust the New Testament documents and we can never truly know what they originally said. He is getting a lot of press and some are making a bit of noise about it. His most recent book is number 9 on the Amazon list and he was even on Jon Stewart's Daily Show on Comedy Central the other day, which I suppose is an appropriate forum for his speculations :) I suggest if visitors to Reformation Theology.com have not already done so, that you get to know a little about him. As the Davinci Code comes out in Theaters, his theories will likely be brandished about by naive people in the street and you should all be ready to give an answer.
Until recently, Bart Ehrman was basically only known in the academic field of New Testament studies. Among academics, he was mostly well known for his work in textual criticism, and his controversial book, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. In recent months Ehrman made the contents of the academic book into a more more digestible form and popularized it for the masses in the pages of Misquoting Jesus. Ehrman essentially argues that scribes maliciously changed the New Testament text to create doctrines like the Trinity and the deity of Christ. Thus, according to Ehrman, we can't trust the New Testament documents and we can never truly know what they originally said.
Believe it or not, this textual criticism for lay people, has becomes a New York Times bestseller. This guy Ehrman is now all over the place talking about this book--in national television, radio, and print interviews. The recent interview in the Washington Post will give you a bird's eye view of what Ehrman's all about. Perhaps only The Da Vinci Code has a bigger platform for radical skepticism than Misquoting Jesus.
A pastor/theologian friend of mine, J. Ed Komoszewski (who agreed to an upcoming interview with us on the blog on this topic), and two other men, M. James Sawyer and Daniel B. Wallace, have written a book to counter Ehrman's claims. Its called Reinventing Jesus: What the Davinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Won't Tell You. It will be available for purchase in a couple of months.
It is the first book to deal with Misquoting Jesus (though only briefly), and the only book to offer a comprehensive alternative to the skeptical approach taken by Ehrman. It's in a unique position, because it's the only book that deals simultaneously with the primary issues raised by the two biggest cultural attacks on the Gospel today, namely The Da Vinci Code and Misquoting Jesus.
It may also be of interest to you all that William Lane Craig will be debating with Ehrman next Tuesday on the historicity of the resurrection. Please pray for all of these folks who are going head to head with him, for these issues are determining the future of how our culture views Christianity from a factual point of view. Tuesday night's debate with Ehrman is whether there is historical evidence for Jesus 'resurrection. As briefly mentioned, Ehrman is an ex-evangelical Christian who is doing enormous damage in undermining people's faith or potential for faith. As an example of one of Ehrman's positions:
He attempts to undermine the textual credibility of the New Testament, even though the vast majority of scholars recognize that 99% of the text is well-established.
Craig says, "He agrees that Jesus used the title "the Son of Man" in the sense of Daniel 7.14's end-time divine-human figure, but he maintains that Jesus was talking about SOMEBODY ELSE when he spoke of the Son of Man. This even though Ehrman (inconsistently) accepts the authenticity of many of Jesus' sayings about the Son of Man which could only have been applied to himself! Ehrman's bizarre view leads him to almost amusing befuddlement about why Jesus was condemned to death at his trial, since nothing he said was blasphemous--it wasn't blasphemy to say that the Son of Man was coming! That would only be blasphemous, Ehrman muses, if Jesus were referring to himself..." Uh huh! yeah ...
It's seems that really Dr. Ehrman's main objections to Christian beliefs are not historical but philosophical--even though he has virtually no training in philosophy. Perhaps I am cynical but It does not puzzle or surprise me that so many skeptics are leveling attacks against the validity or authenticity of the Scripture since there will always be hostility in man toward the humbling message of Christ. From my perspective, with the recent deluge novel speculations against aspects of the historicity of Christ it is as if they are desperately finding a way to make Jesus go away as if to pacify a guilty conscience.
That is my prognosis as to why the interest in the book is so high. People essenitally WANT TO find any and all evidence (whether true or not) that can sqelch and suppress Christian claims to truth. Presenting people with the facts, therefore, is really only 10% of the real battle. Winning an intellectual argument is usually not enough. Prayer for a change of heart from hostile to friendly is a much greater part of advancing the kingdom. I say this not to denigrate intellectual aruments. God uses them in our apologetic and in bringing people to faith ... but only to remind us that conversion is a work of God. Prayer is, therefore, in order whenver we take these arguments to the people. Any other thoughts?
Christus Nexus Fellow Daniel B. Wallace elaborates in a short review of Ehrman's latest work.
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Fundy Turned Skeptic: