Geisler Again Being Irrelevant

What’s the take on what Emir Caner has said? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Recently, Geisler put up a response to an endorsement from Emir Caner of Geisler’s position. What difference does this make? In a word, none.

So far on the Facebook page of Geisler’s, only two comments have been made and that’s asking and answering if this is Ergun Caner’s brother. When I have done a websearch of posts on this issue in the past 24 hours, only myself and J.P. Holding come up as having new information. (A link to Holding’s response will be at the bottom)

In other words, this whole thing should be declared dead already and Geisler’s obsession with this need to prove himself right reveals much more about him than it does about the debate. Does Geisler just have an inability to let go and make amends and seek to have peace between himself and Licona?

Why do we do this then and answer? Someone should. Furthermore, unless Geisler says anything, I really don’t either. When I’m not debating the material that is put up, I have my own interests I am working on in the blogosphere. In all of this, I still do hope to sometime soon find a copy of “Defending Inerrancy” and review it.

At any rate, let’s get to what Emir Caner has said. (Link below)

The path to liberalism is paved by an incremental process that places a question mark over the theological and historical veracity of Scripture.

Absent in all of this is the notion of truth. It is not asking if Licona’s view is true or false. It is just saying that it automatically undermines Scripture. I remind the reader again that Licona has brought out that Henri Blocher in his book “In The Beginning” undermines much of a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3. He was a signer of ICBI and yet, Geisler is not sicking the heresy hounds on him. I find this interesting.

Could someone tell me why Blocher can do it but not Licona?

At any rate, what Licona is doing is not seeking to undermine the theological and historical veracity of Scripture any more than William Lane Craig has when he has stated the exact same interpretation in a debate. Licona has not once said “Scripture is in error” or “Matthew made a mistake” or “I don’t think this happened because I have a problem with the miraculous.” He has taken that route because based on literary clues he has found, he thinks that’s what Matthew is saying. He could be wrong. He’d be fine with that and if he can be shown he is wrong, he will change his view. He will not however change his view because of cries to recant. Licona has this strange view amongst evangelicals apparently. He just wants to go where the evidence leads. Would that Geisler had the same view!

And of all doctrines where liberals desire to interrogate Scripture under its dim light of naturalistic presuppositions, none is more coveted than the doctrine of the resurrection.

Note we have been told about the path to liberalism. Keep that in mind. We do agree that the doctrine of the resurrection is the central doctrine. Is it news to Emir Caner that Licona agrees? Perhaps that is why he has written a whole book on the topic.

Really. This is all that needs to be said. Imagine this dialogue between a skeptic and Licona.

Skeptic: I have read your book and I do not accept that Jesus rose from the dead.

Licona: Okay. How do you explain the evidence I presented?

Skeptic: It’s simple. You say the saints did not rise in Matthew 27 and therefore I conclude your evidence that Jesus rose is unreliable.

Licona: The evidence in both cases is different. We simply have one text in Matthew 27 and external sources are ambiguous. With the resurrection of Jesus, we have all four gospels, we have the Pauline epistles, we have the creed in 1 Cor. 15, we have the empty tomb, we have the claim of the apostles consistently that they saw the risen Christ, we have the change in social structure of the early church, we have the conversion of James, the brother of Jesus, and we have the conversion of Paul.

Skeptic: Oh I don’t care! I don’t have to explain any of that!

Licona: Until you do, you are making a false analogy and you have no case.

As I said in an earlier post, the miracles are different and the resurrections are different. Is the faith of Geisler and Emir Caner so weak that they think that if by chance one passage of Scripture was not literal or, horror of horrors, there was actually an error in the Bible, (Which I don’t think there is) then we have to throw out all of Christianity? In other words, if Jesus did not literally turn water into wine, for instance, then that means the case for the resurrection no longer exists?

Sure looks that way.

This is presenting Scripture as an all-or-nothing game, when even Geisler does not do this. Geisler holds to an old-earth interpretation of Genesis 1-2. Do you know how many evangelical Christian leaders would say at that point that Geisler is undermining the authority of Scripture and allowing the naturalistic presuppositions of science to come in and overrule what the literal account says?

Note that that information Geisler uses is also information the writer and readers of Genesis did not have. Once again, it is okay to use 20th century information, but you dare not use 1st century information and genres that Matthew’s authors would have been familiar with.

It is imperative, then, that Bible believers stand firm on the historicity and trustworthiness on this doctrine and warn those, like Dr. Licona, who are undermining the historicity of parts of the Gospel record, even some texts associated with the resurrection, thus placing the resurrection of Jesus itself in jeopardy.

Notice the parallel here. Bible believers must stand firm. They must stand firm against those like Licona. What does that mean? Licona and those like him obviously do not believe the Bible. Once again, there are several young-earth creationists who would say the exact same thing about Geisler. In fact, Henry Morris did not sign ICBI for this reason. Is Geisler going to say Morris is going against Inerrancy for that? I am quite sure what Morris would think of Geisler’s wanting to include old-earth under Inerrancy.

Here we have again simply the panic button pushing. It is not the question of if the account is true. It is the question of “What will it mean if we allow it to be considered as possible? We must not do that! People will become liberals!”

Could some? Yeah. Of course. On the other hand, the young-earth crowd will say the exact same thing about Geisler’s interpretation. Geisler gets a free pass however. In fact, Blocher gets a free pass as well when Blocher is also using genre consideration. Why is Licona outed?

What Geisler is forgetting is that people who are really interested in truth will come to Christianity if it is true, which I believe it is. If they want to know whether Jesus rose from the dead, they will not stop with simplistic objections. They will search for the truth and follow the evidence where it leads.

Emir Caner’s view is not based on evidence then but pragmatism. We are not told in this why Licona is wrong. We are just told of the consequences.

If that’s the case, then I have a new refutation of “The God Delusion.”

“If we accept this book, then we will have accepted the destruction of Christianity and of civilization with it. Therefore, there is no need to contend with the arguments. We know the consequences will be dire and therefore, this book is wrong.”

You don’t accept that? Good. Neither do I. Appeal to consequences is a fallacy for a reason.

As I think about what Emir Caner said, I imagined this earlier message that would have been heard centuries earlier.

“The authority of Scripture has always held a high position in our history and we must do all we can to stop those who will undermine it. Therefore, it is imperative that Bible believers take their stand against the investigations of Galileo. We cannot risk having what the Scriptures clearly teach on geocentrism being shown to be false. If Galileo is allowed to have his way, who knows what else in Scripture will be called into question? It is imperative that we who believe in the Bible stand with the Pope and all others against this for the sake of Scripture.”

Yet today, the majority of Christians in America believe the Earth goes around the sun, even if they read places in Scripture that on the face could seem to say otherwise. Does anyone see any serious undermining of Scripture that has gone on as a result of that? If there is any, it is not because of the interpretation, but because of the response to the interpretation.

Now I am not saying Galileo was entirely innocent. I don’t believe he was. I am also not saying that the evidence was on his side then. I don’t think that was the case either. I am also not saying the way the skeptics present the case today is an accurate portrayal. I don’t think it was.

But I am saying we still have egg on our faces today because we did not handle an opinion that went against the majority correctly.

Have we learned nothing from the past?

Believers through the centuries have fought with their very lives to defend the complete truthfulness of Scripture

Indeed they have, and indeed so is Licona. Once again, several young earthers would say that Geisler’s interpretation is doing the exact same thing. Note that the implication is that Licona is saying the Scripture is not true. This is a very serious charge and rather than being debated, the way it should have been, it has been assumed and the argument has gone from there.

we cannot, in the name of friendships or sincere motives, let our guards down when a generation of new believers are relying on present Christian soldiers to take their proper stand.

Ah yes! It is obvious the only reason someone would stand with Licona here is because of friendship or something of the sort. Well Emir Caner, I will tell you why I am standing with him.

I am standing with him because I do not believe he is denying Inerrancy and the attacks on his family, including myself then being married to his daughter, are unjust. I believe that this seriously undermines evangelicalism and leads to a hermeneutical method that cannot stand up to scrutiny.

If I thought Licona was denying Inerrancy, I would be telling him the same thing. I do not hesitate to tell my in-laws when I think they are wrong on something. In fact, we have areas of Christianity that we disagree on and they know well that we disagree on and that we’ve had back and forth on.

The consequences for this kind of behavior done towards Licona are undermining of the idea to follow the evidence where it leads. This is not following the evidence. It is refusing to look at the evidence. Having stated my argument, I will point out other consequences, as the fallacy is pointing to only consequences.

Tell me, is R.C. Sproul next on the list? He was a signer and he holds to a Preterist interpretation of the Olivet Discourse and Revelation. Is he thereby undermining Scripture and now a signer of ICBI will have to be held to account? Are all Preterists then automatically heretics?

What about the age of the Earth? Will we have to single out young-earthers or old-earthers? If we approach it this way, upon what grounds will Geisler say external evidence is allowable in one case but not in another? Should not an investigation of truth take into account all information?

What we have been shown we need is accountability in evangelicalism. Geisler is in this position today because we put him there. It is because too often Geisler has been held up as a paragon of apologetics and now whenever he speaks on any subject, even those outside of his expertise, we can hear the old cry changed to “Geisler has spoken. The case is closed.”

Thus, evangelicalism needs an accountability structure set up with people who hold to many different interpretations to make sure no one person has too much power in the church. As we do not have this now, then the question at this point is “Who can call Geisler to account?”

The answer is we can.

We might not be able to do something formal, but for the start, people can avoid buying his books and materials and not attending conferences he’s speaking at. It’s the pathway of speaking with you wallet.

We definitely need evangelical leaders to stand up now and say “Whether we agree with Licona or not, he has done a great service to Christianity and this kind of treatment of him is unacceptable.”

I understand several are concerned about losing reputation or losing jobs.

Yet I seem to recall someone long ago saying something about people who were seeking the honor of men rather than of God. I recall about how some would not stand up for Jesus because they sought the praise of men instead of the praise of God.

Of course, Licona is not Jesus, but are evangelicals willing to stand for the truth? We are told that we are to be ready to die for our faith in Jesus in an instant if need be. How can we have the ability to face real persecution when we cannot even stand up against one of our own and rein him in and say “No more!”

I ask evangelical leaders then to stand up with Licona, not in agreement of his interpretation necessarily, but in agreement that he is orthodox and not denying Inerrancy. If you are not a leader, like myself, I ask that you stand up with your wallet and also if you blog, with your blog.

As I watch the net, the main defense of Licona in all of this is being done by J.P. Holding, Max Andrews, and myself. There have been a few others who have written elsewhere, but the long-term has been the three of us. None of us are scholars. We are all educated, but we are not scholars. We are ordinary people who love truth and want to take a stand.

This show has gone on long enough and this whole thing should have been done by now. I pray the evangelical world will rise up and do something to stop this from happening now and from ever happening again.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Emir Caner’s post can be found here

Holding’s response can be found here