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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « The Reformers’ Hermeneutic: Grammatical, Historical, and Christ-Centered | Main | Responding to Apostasy by Pastor John Samson »

    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.

    Posted by John on March 24, 2006 01:36 PM

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    » Reimagining Jesus from Fountain of Sovereign Grace

    Move over Da Vinci Code.  Now there is something meatier, or muddier, or madder, or, well, you get the idea.  John Hendryx over at Reformation Theology reports that a dangerous book is on...

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    Comments

    This sort of thing has always puzzeled me. God is sovereign. Why has he allowed Dan Brown and Bart Ehrman to have this platform?

    Wasn't every confession, creed and doctrine developed to answer false teachings and heresies?

    I believe that this battle is a serious one. It appears that only the doctrinally sound will be able to answer the call. I also believe that God is in the process of purifying His Church. These sorts of attacks cause His people to get serious about the battle again.

    The sentimental form of Christianity can not face this attack. In fact those who are not doctrinally sound will run for cover when educated skeptics sound off. Only those firmly grounded in the Word of God can stand and not fall or run away.

    Perhaps these attacks are meant to get the troops in shape for what is coming.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

    God is Sovereign. But, let us not forget he still holds humanity responsible for their own actions, and apart from Christ and his saving grace we are slaves to sin and at war against God. Without Christ we would be doing the same thing that they are.

    Richard

    Richard:

    Do not misunderstand. I wholeheartedly affirm that life comes to people through the preaching of the gospel. We cast forth the seed of the gospel and the Holy Spirit germinates it, so to speak. People are not saved in a void but God concurrantly uses the church and our words to bring salvation to people as the Holy Spirit opens our spiritually deaf ears to hear the gospel. Without our preaching, in ordinary circumstances, people are lost. We need to be out there in our apologetics and with the gospel.

    The point I am making, rather, it this. People ALREADY know the truth but supress it in unrighteousness. Romans says of unbelievers, "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened."

    So in what respect do unbelievers "know God"? They know him as an enemy and not as a friend. In other words, people refuse the gospel because of reasons of the heart (as Pascal put it). Those who know facts, therefore, are not the same as those who forsake sin, repent of trusting in their good works, and come to love and trust in Christ. We must, therefore, appeal to the entire person and not merely their intellect.

    God is hidden from man because he loves sin and remains in hostile rebellion against God. This antagonism for the gospel is seated in the affections, and is not because we lack data or are not smart enough. So we appeal to the heart of those bound in unbelief (and believers blinded by error) because God is not to be understood as a mechanical precept or an axiom as found in mathematics. To come to faith in Christ one must first have a desire for Christ and spiritual things; we must perceive and take delight in His unmatched beauty and unsurpassed excellency.

    I believe in vigorous argument and the presentation of facts. But some modern apologists seem to have lost sight of other aspects and think that if we could just convince them intellectually then they would believe. There is more to it than that. That is the point I hope to get across.

    Our lives, attitude and our prayers play at least as an important a role in the Spirit bringing poeple to faith through us.

    John you misunderstood me. I am in agreement with you. I was making a statement about Mikes comment.

    'This sort of thing has always puzzeled me. God is sovereign. Why has he allowed Dan Brown and Bart Ehrman to have this platform?'

    I was responding to that statement.

    Richard:

    Well, that is not the first time I have mistaken someones post as speaking to me. Thanks for clarifying. When no one specifically is addressed I just assume it is speaking to the article. My bad. :)

    For some Christians, the thought of such an attack on God's Word causes a sort of panic, as if the kingdom has suffered a major setback.

    The gospel has been under attack since the the stone rolled away. I am not saying we should not defend the faith. We most certainly should be ready to give "vigorous argument and presentation of the facts", all within a posture of leaning on the God who reigns supreme over salvation and history.

    I also agree with Mike's sentiment that when the church is under attack, we tend to grow stronger in the Word through fighting the good fight. Let the Secularists and the Skeptics pick up their best stones. God's inerrant Hammer is waiting at the rock quarry and is open for service (Jer 23).

    Let us pray that the first stones smashed are their unbelieving hearts. In the end, it is God who holds the hearts of men in his hands. May he raise up men who will contend with all their might for truth.

    Richard, thanks for your comment on my comment. :-) Yes, I understand that. I have a tendency to expect our Sovereign God to eliminate the opposition, so to speak. He doesn't do that all that time. In fact, He does allow people such as Dan Brown to have their voice and platform to accomplish His purpose. We don't "get it" for the most part. That was really what I was speaking to.

    As Steve said, God uses this opposition to cleanse and strengthen His people. The Kingdom of God is eternal and made without hands. It will never be destroyed or left for others to plunder. What a wonderful promise!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

    "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."

    Well said, and therein is found the reason to not despair when confronted with such opposition from the world (as if we didn't expect it!), but with hope and confidence to faithfully defend the faith by the means God has ordained (preaching, apologetics, etc): ..."that conversion is a work of God."

    Dr. Andreas Kostenberger, at the Southeastern Regional ETS meeting, addresses Ehrman's position within the larger context of current trends in NT scholarship. He also discusses Biblical Theology, the "new perspectives on Jesus and Paul", and the gender-role controversy. It is a good overview of where we are, and the paragraph (or two) refuting Ehrman is simple, providing the average pastor with an answer to those who might be swayed by Ehrman's pseudo-scholarship.

    http://biblicalfoundations.org/pdf/pdfarticles/columbia_paper.pdf

    In Response To Matt.

    True, Though God is not the auther of sin. That does not mean that he does not ordain that sin be present in this world. for God is sovereign and nothing comes to pass except he ordain it, and he ordained it when lucifer fell and became the prince of the air. Do not take this to mean that i defend sin. Everything of beauty has a exact opposite that is grotesque. So it is with God, for us to trully appreciate his Glory and his magnificence we have to see the seriousness of sin. That is why i believe God allows sin to continue, to show beyond a doubt that he is Holy and Sovereign. The worse this world becomes so much more glorious it will be when Christ returns. That is our hope that we would be soo undeserving filthy rags, and yet Christ would save us.

    Sin proves the Glory of God, with this in mind

    Pauls says "Should we then keep on sinning, so that grace may abound, may it never be!"

    Thank you so much for bringing this up! Glad to see someone dealing with this. If anyone has a "Bahnsen-esque", presuppositional critique of Ehrman and others of his ilk, I think that would be helpful.

    Christianity has been under attack since the news of the birth of Jesus sounded. Make no mistake, that these attacks will continue until Christ returns to take his own with him.

    I believe that as Christians our role is to continue to be faithful to Christ in the midst of those attacks such as Dan Brown's falsehood against the Church. We must continue to march on in faithfulness. I find solace in what Christ himself said, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against his church. The church withstood hundreds of years of attack and Dan Brown's is not new and will not make a dent.

    Keep the faith and may God strengthen you in this effort.

    In His name,
    EN

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