Is Inerrancy An Essential?

Is Inerrancy the litmus test for orthodoxy? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

We would have liked to have hoped that Geisler had ended his obsession, but alas, this is not the case. Of course, this has been also because of his web site where he has a petition for people to sign to stand up for the Bible before it’s too late!

Because we all know that Mike Licona, one of the strongest defenders of the resurrection of Jesus today, is just going full throttle in an attack on the Bible. Reading Geisler and seeing his obsession, you’d think Mike Licona is some master villain making it his goal in life to destroy the faith of Christians.

Of course, as has been pointed out with regard to this petition is that Geisler is the one who determines who is the true upholder of Inerrancy and who isn’t. I have in fact demonstrated this pointing out how Geisler has deleted my signature from the petition, even though I agree with what it says. See here. This also has happened to Craig Blomberg.

If you think I sound extreme in this, keep in mind that there is even a question asking if Mike Licona is the next Bart Ehrman. Think I'm kidding? Think again. It’s my understanding that this was from a paper at Veritas Evangelical Seminary. If that’s right, I’m pretty sure that if Geisler graded it I know what the reaction was.

Of course, it’s bizarre to say Mike is the next Bart Ehrman. In fact, the more likely scenario is someone in Geisler’s camp would be the next Bart Ehrman since Ehrman was one who put too many eggs in the Inerrancy basket and not just Inerrancy, but a literalist Inerrancy. If Geisler thinks that that is not a problem, I’d like him to meet the several ex-Christian atheists that I’ve met online who in large part left Christianity because they had the Inerrancy doctrine called into question when they in reality held to a modern view of Inerrancy, like Geisler’s.

So now, let’s see what Christopher Haun has to say on his article on Inerrancy and if it’s a litmus test for orthodoxy.

It’s worth pointing out that this starts with a quotation from Daniel Wallace in his review of Defining Inerrancy, the Ebook that J.P. Holding and I co-wrote together with a review by Craig Blomberg. You can find a description here:

If you want to, you can go here and buy a copy and help support Deeper Waters at the same time! Please leave a positive review!

Keep in mind also, that this is a book that a response has not been written to. We are sure Geisler will just be thrilled when the print version comes out expanded to include the works of scholars in the field as well.

At least we can be sure that it has been noticed as is indicated by Haun’s review.

What’s the relationship between biblical inerrancy and orthodoxy? Recently Daniel Wallace suggested that Carl Henry opposed the importance of inerrancy, claiming it was not a litmus test for orthodoxy. Wallace wrote:
And it is this very problem that one of the architects of modern evangelicalism, Carl Henry (who could hardly be condemned as being soft on inerrancy!), addressed in his book, Evangelicals in Search of Identity. It seems that many evangelicals are still not listening. And yet Henry saw, forty years ago, that the evangelical church was making inerrancy the litmus test of orthodoxy to its discredit.

That is of course Wallace being quoted but note what is said at the start. Wallace said nothing about Henry opposing the importance of Inerrancy. He said the opposed it being used as a litmus test for orthodoxy. If that is the case, then there should be no disagreement.

In fact, Wallace himself says that Henry was not soft on Inerrancy. Wallace’s point then is that Henry did see Inerrancy as highly important, but he did not see it as an essential for orthodoxy. Those interested can see the whole quote here:

In Defining Inerrancy, the authors note that they have known many evangelicals who have abandoned the faith precisely because they started out with such a hardening of the categories. This rings true: I get countless emails from people who have either jettisoned their beliefs (or have friends or family members who have) because their starting presupposition was that it’s inerrancy or nothing. Such people would throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater! And it is this very problem that one of the architects of modern evangelicalism, Carl Henry (who could hardly be condemned as being soft on inerrancy!), addressed in his book, Evangelicals in Search of Identity. It seems that many evangelicals are still not listening. And yet Henry saw, forty years ago, that the evangelical church was making inerrancy the litmus test of orthodoxy to its discredit. Yet again, I digress. Holding and Peters are not in the least denying inerrancy; they are simply rejecting a rigid form of it that they see as dangerous to the health of the evangelical church.

If you’re wanting to make sure I’m quoting it right, just go here.

Interestingly, Haun leaves out the problem that is noted here. Also left out is the point that Inerrancy is not being denied but a rigid form that Holding and I see as dangerous to the health of the evangelical church, something I take Wallace to agree with since he speaks about getting numerous emails from people who abandoned Christianity because they have the impression that it’s all-or-nothing with Inerrancy.

Wonder where they got that idea from….

Once again also, we must stress that no one in this is attacking Inerrancy. Wallace believes in Inerrancy. Holding believes in it. Licona believes in it. Blomberg believes in it. I believe in it. It is in Geisler’s world and that of his followers that if you disagree with a more literalist interpretation, a style that is foreign to the text, then you disagree with Inerrancy. It doesn’t matter if you say you believe in Inerrancy, as long as you disagree with the interpretation of Geisler, you deny Inerrancy.

If writers are interested in why so many are saying they are moving away from Inerrancy and moving to authority, it is not because we have found a problem with the Bible. Not at all! It is because we are looking at this modernistic view and saying “If what it means to believe in Inerrancy is to believe in what Geisler says, then we need to find something else to believe in.”

But let’s look at some of what else Henry said.

Inerrancy is the evangelical heritage, the historic commitment of the Christian church.

A quote like this I find concerning. It shows me that our emphasis moved from Jesus to the Bible. Now to be sure, the Bible is the best witness we have of Jesus today. Still, the Bible is not Jesus. The church did not start with people proclaiming the Scripture, but it started with people proclaiming the resurrection and the Scripture in part was a testimony to that.

If the strength of American evangelicalism rests in its high view of Scripture, its weakness lies in a tendency to neglect the frontiers of formative discussion in contemporary theology

This one is worth noting because that is exactly what is being avoided. Keep in mind Geisler did not show up at the round table discussion about Licona’s view on Matthew 27 but decided afterwards that this was a good time to go after Blomberg for the great crime of standing up for Licona. (And noteworthy that he had to go back thirty years and find a paper that no one batted an eye at and try to find a way Blomberg supposedly denied Inerrancy in it.)

Geisler has this idea apparently that the way to respond to Licona’s interpretation of the passage in question is to wave a flag that says “Inerrancy” and say “Since the passage is Inerrant, therefore Licona is refuted.

This might sound like an odd notion, but to refute someone’s interpretation, you have to show the text does not mean what they take it to mean. It would not work to have the Jehovah’s Witnesses come by and when they say Jesus is not fully God to say “Inerrancy!” and act like they’re answered.

To be fair, Geisler has tried to do this some, but his arguments have been highly lacking and have not shown an interaction with New Testament scholarship. The proper attitude at that point would have been to just back away from the discussion until further research had been done. Waving the flag that says “Inerrancy” does not give Licona any reason to think his view is wrong. Now if Geisler does make an exegetical argument one day that Licona sees and makes him say “I am convinced now that Matthew is treating this as a historical event, but I think he was wrong” then I and Holding and others will certainly say that that is a denial of Inerrancy. That has not happened yet.

Those who reject inerrancy have never adduced any objective principle, either biblical, philosophical, or theological, that enables them to distinguish between those elements which are supposedly errant in Scripture and those that are not.

At this point, it is clear that New Testament scholarship has not been interacted with. Now of course, I disagree with those New Testament scholars who say the Bible is in error, but at the same time, I do agree we need a historical methodology to show that the Bible is not in error. Inerrancy is not a presupposition, but rather a conclusion.

In fact, it’s ironic that there is a statement like this because it does indicate a more presuppositional approach.

Simple question. How would someone like Henry know that the message of the Bible is true rather than say, the message of the Koran or the message of the Book of Mormon? Both of those claim to be from God as well after all.

If he points to historical claims that are known about what happened in Scripture without the doctrine of Inerrancy, then our case is made. If he says that he knows that it is true because it is the Bible and the Bible is the Word of God, then we are getting into circular reasoning.

In fact, this is the approach of a minimal facts technique where the Bible is treated the way liberal scholars treat it and we STILL have the conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead. Once you establish the resurrection, Inerrancy becomes much easier to establish. It does not work however to try to establish Inerrancy first since you will inevitably need to show the resurrection to do that.

So do we have an approach to show some parts of the Bible are at least reliable? We do. We use historiography. Surely Geisler has been pleased to see archaeological findings that have corroborated the Bible and shown that the Bible was right about such and such a person or place existing. No doubt Henry was a great champion of Christianity, but he was simply wrong here.

If one asks what, in a word, eclipsed the biblical doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture, what theological redefinition of inspiration in nonconceptual categories, and what encouraged neo-Protestant denial of inspiration as a decisive New Testament concept, the answer is modern biblical criticism.

There is some truth to this. There were liberals who wanted to take an approach to the Bible that would jettison the miracles and “supernatural” phenomena. (I do not like the word supernatural as I think it points to an Enlightenment dichotomy that I do not hold to.) Thus, they attempted to make arguments to show that the text was not reliable. There is nothing wrong with doing this as we make arguments to show Mormon texts are not reliable.

Picture yourself as an evangelical Christian if you’re not one and you have just got done presenting a host of problems with the text of the Book of Mormon such as contradictions and archaeological mistakes and matters of that sort to a Mormon who has come to the door and the Mormon responds by saying

“I have a testimony from the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God, and the Mormon Church is the true church of God.” When you hear this, are you going to sit back and say “Well darn it. I guess I can’t refute that.

Instead, you are more likely to see it as a defense mechanism. When I have dialogued with Mormons and they have said that, I have interpreted it to mean “Ah. There is a point that they cannot answer.”

Now picture yourself as a modern Biblical critic who is agnostic or atheist. You go to Christians and present to them what you think are a number of mistakes in the Bible such as archaeological mistakes, disagreements with modern science, contradictions, etc. Now suppose you hear this back.

“The Bible is the Inerrant Word of God and if the Bible says it, then it is true and therefore, Jesus rose from the dead.”

You are not going to be convinced.

But what if that’s what Christians did in the face of criticism? What if in the face of charges that the Bible had errors, our response was to just make a statement saying that the Bible has no errors? That’s no more a response than the Mormons making a statement that the Book of Mormon is from God and that is known because of a testimony from the Holy Ghost.

Now I am not opposed to making statements on Inerrancy, but statements do not answer questions alone. Statements should be made after questions have been answered. Unfortunately, many Christians chose to retreat. When liberals came to colleges that had been set up to proclaim the Christian faith, Christians set up their own Seminaries instead of staying to fight the battle against the liberals. How are those colleges doing today?

The problem was not Biblical criticism. The problem was bad methodology and faulty premises and conclusions. The way to respond to this is to respond with good methodology and true premises and conclusions. The way to respond to bad historiography is with good historiography. The way to respond to bad science is with good science.

If we uphold Scripture as Inerrant, then we should not fear any methodology that seeks to call it into question. If it is Inerrant, then we should not be afraid of scientific research if we think the Bible is addressing scientific questions. If you truly think the Bible teaches a young Earth for instance, you should welcome the scientific research of the scientific community because that should establish it. If you think it teaches evolution, you should welcome that. If you think it teaches an old Earth without evolution, you should also welcome that.

If you think the Bible teaches that Jesus died and rose again, you should welcome the historical research and if you are convinced that historians who say otherwise are wrong, you should seek to point to problems in their methodology or the evidence that they present. Just making a statement of what you believe will not constitute an answer.

In other words, we should be able to meet our opponents at their own game and be able to face them and win. If the Bible is historically true, then if we do history right, we will find that the Bible stands up. Of course, we can’t prove EVERYTHING historically, but if we go through and find we can trust what we can test, then we have good reason to give the benefit of the doubt to the rest. If we think the Bible speaks on scientific matters, then we should welcome the science and if it is wrong, we should be able to show it scientifically.

This is why when it comes to evolution, I stay out of the debate. I am not a scientist and I do not speak the language. If you think evolution is false and want to argue it, here’s what you do and I don’t think even the staunchest evolutionist will disagree with me on this point. Go do your study and preferably a degree in a science that is related to the field, such as biology, and study the arguments for and against and make your own arguments and present a case from the sciences that refutes evolution. If evolution is bad science after all, the way to refute it is with good science. This is the same way that if denying Jesus rose from the dead is bad history, the way to refute it is good history.

If Geisler does not want to get involved in the field of New Testament scholarship and answer Licona on an exegetical level, that is fine. The best course of action then for him to take is frankly to stay out of the debate. Perhaps he can instead rely on others who he thinks are New Testament scholars who will address the problems that they see with Licona’s view and leave the Inerrancy question out of it.

As long as Geisler goes with the Inerrancy question, then he is simply chasing windmills. The sad tragedy is that he is not driving people to Inerrancy but rather driving them away from it as more and more are looking at what is happening and saying “If this is what Inerrancy entails, I want no part of it.”

It is ironic that people like myself and Holding are lifting up a view of Inerrancy that is defensible and this according to NT scholars like Wallace. Haven’t we seen someone say that those who defend Inerrancy are being attacked while those who attack Inerrancy are being defended?

Now if anyone wants to see if I am quoting Haun rightly, and to be fair I am not responding to everything as I don’t disagree with Henry who is cited profusely, then one can just look at the original article here.

It is still my contention that those who are defending a modern literalism based on a modern Western view of Scripture no doubt mean well and their intentions are good and noble, but they are simply doing more harm than they realize to the body. Again, I have interacted with several ex-Christian atheists that lead me to this conclusion.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Response to James White On Defining Inerrancy

Has James White’s critique of my position in Defining Inerrancy been accurate? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

By now, it should be no secret to readers of Deeper Waters that I am the co-author of the Ebook “Defining Inerrancy“. I thank everyone who has bought a copy and I hope many of you will write positive reviews on Amazon and your own blogs and web sites.

Some of you have also contacted me to tell me that James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries has apparently read our book and spoken about it on his latest podcast. I was not surprised to hear that the review was not a positive one, but at the same time, it is good to have press anyway.

So what is being said?

To start off, one line of White’s which I agree with is that of “If I’ve learned one thing from Norm Geisler it’s that I don’t want to be like him.” The more and more I have seen of this, the more and more I have been embarrassed by my former admiration.

In White’s review, he wanted to save most of what he had to say for the final chapter which happened to be written by me. When told about it I was told “Well he certainly got your viewpoint wrong.” Those who I shared it with who I consider mentors all were saying the same thing.

It’s important to point out that White does say he agrees with Geisler on the interpretation of Matthew 27. It should be pointed out that so does my co-author. Holding thinks that this is a real event that happened. What’s my position? The interpretation of Matthew 27 is actually the focus of the Master’s thesis I am working on so at this point, I am claiming agnosticism. It would be foolish to give a public viewpoint before really digging in and doing the research directly.

The final chapter that White wishes to comment on is the chapter I wrote called “Lordship over Scholarship?” In giving a sense of it he says that I am quoting Geisler and says “Geisler says further ‘As evangelicals we must beware of desiring a table at the seat of contemporary scholarship which is riddled with presuppositions that are antagonistic to Evangelical Christianity.’ “(White agrees 1000%)

White then wants you to hear my response.

“On the contrary, I think we should eagerly be desiring that. How are we supposed to make an impact in the world of scholarship if we don’t want a seat at the table. Imagine what it could mean for Christianity if Christians were seen as trusted authorities in each field. Instead of fearing antagonistic presuppositions, what happened to correcting them with real scholarship?”

White says that paragraph really concerns him and is muddled in an amazing way.

Not a shock that White hones in on presuppositionalism.

Now I am not a presuppositionalist at all, but it does not mean that recognizing presuppositions play no role whatsoever in my thinking. White thinks that to sit at the table of scholarship is to compromise and give in to the presuppositions and to say there is a moral neutral ground. He also says that it is saying we should lay aside our commitment to the absolute Lordship of Christ and to the radical elements of that.

I think those of you who know me well are recognizing that I have no desire to do something like that. White tells us that Geisler recognizes that sitting at the table of scholarship is doing that and then adds “But I don’t know where Nick Peters is coming from.”

At this point, it would have been better off if he didn’t know where I was coming from to try to contact me. I’m not hard to find. My blog is there. My own podcast is there. All of them are ways to contact me. If he has no idea where I’m coming from, all that needed to be done was to ask.

Instead, White will proceed to talk about a position assuming that that is mine even though by his own words, he does not know where I am coming from.

White says he hopes I am saying that we should be seeking to challenge those presuppositions, but that that wasn’t what Geisler was talking about.

It’s a shame White didn’t go with his first inclination of what he hoped I was saying. What he hopes I am saying is in fact what I am really saying in that chapter.

White repeats my saying how are we supposed to have an impact if we don’t sit at the table? White suggests that we do so by showing that the presuppositions that they accept are in fact incoherent and by critiquing their worldview. Now I would not do it in a presuppositional way, but I would in fact challenge them.

White then thinks that my statement about having a Christian be a trusted authority in each field is problematic. Can that be given outside of the worldview?

Sometimes, yeah.

Who is it that heads the Human Genome Project? A Christian like Francis Collins. What I am saying is simply what C.S. Lewis said. Imagine what it would mean if the most learned authority in any particular field was a Christian and that in order to learn about a position, unbelievers HAD to go to Christians because Christians put the best material out there.

“I want to learn law!” “Well read this book by this Christian lawyer.”

“I want to learn botany! “Read this book by a Christian botanist.”

“I want to learn economics!” “Read this book by a Christian economist.”

The Christians should be seeking to dominate academia and be the most learned people that they can be.

White goes on to say that there are many people who are embarrassed by the open confession of the Lordship of Christ over every area of knowledge.

Again, this is the kind of accusation that it would have been good to make absolutely sure of before making a statement about it. This especially since he has no idea where it is that I’m coming from and yet seems to know exactly where I’m coming from.

White has said how Dan Wallace endorses the book. I am sure Wallace would have told him as well that White’s position on me is false. In fact, on the same blog where Wallace reviews our book, he also has a link up to where he was interviewed by me on my show.

What is my position? My position is this. That if Christianity is true, and I am convinced it is, good research will show that it is true. If we are doing our history right, it will line up with Christianity. If we are doing our ethics right, it will line up. If we are doing our philosophy right, it will line up. If we are doing our science right, it will line up. If we are doing our hermeneutics right, it will line up.

Chesterton once said something along the lines that if Christianity is not true, it is of no importance. If Christianity is true, it is of great importance to everything out there. I agree entirely. Since Christianity is true, it means Christ has something to say about every area of our lives.

Thus, I am not just a husband. I am a Christian husband. I am not just someone who studies history. I am a Christian who studies history. Every facet of my life is to be submitted to Christ entirely. When I study, Christ has something to say. When I take Allie out on a date, Christ has something to say. When I watch TV or a movie, Christ has something to say. When I play, Christ has something to say. When I drive, Christ has something to say. (Probably has a lot to say to me then especially)

What will I do when I approach a non-Christian? I have told people they are allowed to have their own interpretation. Everyone does, and sometimes we’re wrong. What they are not allowed to do is have their own data. You do not get to dismiss data because it goes against your worldview. You do not get to give it a place it should not have because it goes with your worldview.

So what do I do when I come to the table? I talk about the data. Joe Friday is my kind of approach. Just the facts. Then we discuss the facts. This is also why I think it’s important to have a philosophical background so you can properly interpret the data. Suppose someone brings up miracles not happening for instance. I point to research done by Craig Keener in this field and say it does not work to just dismiss them because they disagree with your worldview. I’m not allowed to do that. Why should you be?

And while I am not a presuppositionalist, I spend plenty of time questioning the worldviews of people who I encounter as to why I should take the stance. As an Aspie, I really can’t stand it when I spot something that is an inconsistency and when people treat Scripture by a different standard than they do other historical works, I don’t bend on that.

Now if someone does not come to Christ if the evidence is there, then naturally there is some other reason they are not, be it emotional or volitional, and it would be foolish of anyone to claim emotions play no role in their thinking. We are all whole human beings and unless we have some condition such as being a sociopath, we are all affected by our emotions, though some are more affected than others.

What happens if we retreat from the world of academia? That’s what we did when evolution showed up. We made a knee-jerk reaction and we’re still paying for it today. When liberal scholarship showed up at our Seminaries, instead of facing it head on, we retreated and set up our own new Seminaries. Colleges, Universities, and Seminaries once firmly held by the Christian worldview are now bastions of secular thought.

I wonder how many people have been lost because of that?

Christ told us the gates of Hell would not stand against the church. Gates are defensive measures. We should in fact be the ones on the offensive and putting those who are not Christians on the defensive. To do that, we will have to learn the best ways of doing history, science, literature, philosophy, and any other field. We will have to climb to the top more and more and present the data that if anyone denies it, it is clear that they are someone who refuses to see. (Think of the Christ-mythers who put up the most ridiculous standards of history.)

I’ve told my wife several times that we could reclaim America for Christ easily. What would it take? Christians waking up. Christians getting up and actually doing something instead of secluding themselves from the culture entirely and running into their little safety bubbles. I’ve written about this in this post. When Christians retreat, it’s no shock that the world gains a stronger voice.

And of course, we absolutely don’t surrender in our convictions. Of course, not every hill is worth dying on. If the hill you are willing to die on is pre-tribulationism or the age of the Earth or the usage of tongues in the church today, then you are fighting the wrong battle. Your position in fact is to be fought on the hill that says the triune God revealed Himself in Jesus of Nazareth and that when Jesus died, the Father raised Him from the dead. Jesus is now king of this world.

We are to follow the Pauline principle of defeating arguments and bringing them under the Lordship of Christ. It’s not a question of Lordship or scholarship. It’s both. Our Lord is not honored by poor scholarship. He is not honored by poor science. He is not honored by poor philosophy. We are to give him the best of our labors and that includes the best of our academic and intellectual endeavors.

I hope this sets the record straight. For those who wish to think I am compromising on Christian principles after listening to White, who has absolutely no idea where I’m coming from, I hope this sets the record straight. I also hope you’ll realize that while I seek to give the best, I will fail repeatedly at this as will all of us and this is where I depend on those inside and even outside the faith to correct me. As Benjamin Franklin said “Our critics are our friends. They show us our faults.” If an unbeliever can point to a legitimate error in a position I hold, I need to respond to that somehow just as much as if a Christian does it.

After all, if one sits at the table, one had better be prepared to make the case that needs to be made.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

No True Inerrantist!

Who exactly counts as an Inerrantist? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Over at his Facebook, Norman Geisler is making much about how he has a web site defending Inerrancy which is endorsed by Billy Graham and Ravi Zacharias and several prominent Seminary leaders. How many NT scholars endorse this is strangely absent. So any way, what do we find when we go to Geisler’s site?

We’ve lost a growing number of scholars over the issue of inerrancy. This is a problem because pastors follow scholars. And ordinary people follow pastors. So it’s only a matter of time before we could see the full erosion of the Bible within our generation… unless we take action to alert the Christian community. And please sign this petition to tell your friends that you stand up for the Bible.

Yep. So here’s the deal. Mike Licona writes a huge book defending the resurrection of Jesus from the attack of opponents. Geisler finds one part that he disagrees with that most people would most likely gloss over and say “Well that’s interesting” and move on. Immediately, Geisler shifts to an attack mode pulling out all the guns he can find and firing as much as he can. Why? Because Mike Licona is attacking Inerrancy!

Because, you know, the best way to do that is to seriously work at exegeting the text and look at many readings of it and come to a conclusion on it all in a work that is built around defending the bodily resurrection of Jesus. It’s a wonder Licona was able to do this while wielding his pitchfork at the same time and cackling about how much damage would be done to the church.

No. It’s not that Licona simply made a mistake or is in error for Geisler. Licona is instead attacking inerrancy and is seeking to redefine it. Of course, it’s only Licona who’s doing this despite Licona pointing out that J.I. Packer, one of the framers of the ICBI statement has his own interesting views. As Licona says

One of those who penned CSBI is J. I. Packer. Packer says Genesis 1 in its entirety is a “prose poem,” a “quasi-liturgical celebration of the fact of creation” and by no means describes what we would have seen had we been hovering above the chaos of creation. He goes on to say he does not know whether Eve actually spoke to a serpent or whether there actually was a Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. And he says it does not matter because poets of the period who wrote outside of the Bible used trees in a metaphorical sense in their literature.

Where does Packer say this? Licona says

See Packer’s relevant comments begin at 20:00 and go through 49:00.

This apparently is okay to say and be in line with inerrancy. To say that Matthew 27 contains something figurative is not. Unfortunately, we have no direct statement from Packer himself. We only get everything second hand from Geisler. We would like to see some interaction from Packer himself. We don’t want it to come from Geisler. To the sources!

But of course, we know that if people like Licona are not stopped, we will lose the Bible in a generation!

Someone please wake up and smell the coffee! People are falling aside from the faith left and right and you know what, it’s not because they deny inerrancy. While one of Geisler’s students wrote a paper asking if Mike Licona is the next Bart Ehrman, it’s more likely that someone following Geisler will be the next Bart Ehrman.

Why is this? Because Ehrman gave inerrancy a huge position in his Christian worldview. When it fell, that’s when the floodgates opened. It’s a Damascus Road experience that shows up constantly in his books. In fact, inerrancy, along with young-earth creationism, are two major reasons youth are falling away.

Why? Because if you have to take the Bible “literally” (Who came up with that rule anyway?) then they’re convinced that the Bible teaches young-earth creationism. (Which ignores the fact that the account is not written to be a scientific account.) If the Earth is old, then that also means inerrancy has to go, and if the Bible is not inerrant, then it’s not the Word of God, and it’s not the Word of God, then it’s just another book and you can’t trust it.

Now Geisler of course holds to an old Earth. (A view that he holds thanks to modern science, because we all know it’s okay to use 20th century science to exegete a Biblical text but it’s not okay to use 1st century genres that the authors had access to to interpret a Biblical text.) Geisler doesn’t see that as denying inerrancy. People at AIG and other places however do see it that way, but Geisler is allowed to hold that position because, well, he’s the one in charge after all and if he says its within the bounds, then its within the bounds.

Now getting back to this web site, Geisler has a petition up on the site. What does it say?

“I affirm that the Bible alone, and in its entirety, is the infallible written Word of God in the original text and is, therefore, inerrant in all that it affirms or denies on whatever topic it addresses.”

That can be found here.

I did a search on the page. There is no mention of ICBI. If this is all that is meant by inerrancy, I have no problem with it. I hold to that. If the Bible affirms something, then that is true. If it denies something, then that is also true. The question is “What does the Bible affirm or deny?” An inerrancy statement doesn’t tell you what that is. It just tells you that whatever it is, that that statement is either true or false.

So as I said, I have no problem with the statement.

So you know what? I did what Craig Blomberg did. I signed it.


There. See? I signed it.

“Yeah! Well I don’t see your name there or Craig Blomberg’s!

That’s right. They were removed.


It would be good to know on what grounds it can be said that I do not affirm inerrancy. Is it because I disagree with Geisler? Has this become the grounds now for holding to inerrancy? If you do not agree with Geisler’s view, then you do not agree with inerrancy period? This even though the statement that I signed has absolutely nothing to say about ICBI? Now Geisler might say “Well I know that when I wrote the statement, I meant the ICBI view.”

Well sorry, but that won’t work. All I have there is the text and I cannot read Geisler’s “authorial intent” after all and so just going by the words that are right there on the page, I fully agree and I have zero problem.

More likely, we have a No True Scotsman fallacy. No True Inerrantist disagrees with inerrancy the way Geisler presents it after all and if you say you do but you disagree with him, then you are not a true inerrantist! And all true inerrantists in history would have agreed entirely with ICBI!

It’s almost as if someone really wants to be a Pope.

And that someone can determine who truly believes in inerrancy and who doesn’t.

It’s as if he knows their minds, you know, the authorial intent and all.

We’ll just have to ask how much more division must take place in the body before Geisler finally realizes the harm that he’s doing in trying to defend his legacy. If anything, by his own actions, he’s already destroyed it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

In Defense of Craig Blomberg

Is Craig Blomberg a scholar that should be avoided? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Craig Blomberg’s excellent book “Can We Still Believe The Bible?”. I found it to be an excellent book that I highly recommend.

Apparently, some others didn’t think so.

Specifically, Norman Geisler, ever on the hunt for people who are going after his version of inerrancy.

There is no need to guess what Geisler’s stance is. He outright tells us.

“Denver Seminary Prof Denies Inerrancy


Dr. Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary attacks inerrancy in a recent book titled “Can We Still Believe in the Bible?” While he believes the Bible is reliable, he denies it is inerrant in the same sense that the 300 scholars of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy meant when they produced and signed the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (the same statement adopted by the Evangelical Theological Society’s ~3,000 members) and the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics.”

Well let’s look at this part alone.

Does Blomberg deny inerrancy? No. He doesn’t. In fact, as a member of ETS, he would have to hold to inerrancy in some sense. Therefore, right at the start, the well is poisoned as the reader will think that Blomberg does deny inerrancy.

Looking in the article itself, we see the following:

“The real answer to the question posed by Craig Blomberg’s book title is: Yes, we can believe in the general reliability of the Bible, but No we do not believe in its inerrancy, at least not in the sense meant by the framers of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI). Blomberg mistakenly attributes his own version of inerrancy to the ICBI.”

I find this incredible. The Bible is reliable, yes, but this work is going against ICBI and therefore it cannot be accepted?

Frankly, as an apologist who debates much more online and elsewhere than I’m sure Geisler is nowadays, I would be ecstatic just having people realize that the Bible is reliable. I really don’t care for this all-or-nothing game where we either have to go with all-out inerrancy or else we must remain skeptical.

And I do say that as an Inerrantist.

Yet Geisler goes on to say that Blomberg does not believe in its inerrancy, at least not according to the standards of ICBI. So this raises a question.

Can someone disagree with ICBI and still believe in inerrancy?

It’s kind of the same situation Blomberg addresses in his book about KJV-onlyists. If the KJV is the only true form of Scripture, does that mean mankind was without Scripture until 1611? Does that mean someone must learn King James English to know what Scripture says?

In the same way, does this mean that until ICBI came along that no one knew what inerrancy was or no one truly held to a view of Scripture that could be called inerrancy? If ICBI does equal inerrancy, then it would mean that inerrancy would not be a historical doctrine of the Christian church. If ICBI does not equal inerrancy, then one could believe in inerrancy without holding to ICBI as inerrancy is a doctrine that can exist independently of ICBI.

Geisler says Blomberg attributes his own version of inerrancy to ICBI. Is that really what’s happening? Why not just go with Blomberg’s own view of his view? If Geisler considers himself authoritative to interpret the ICBI statements, shouldn’t Blomberg’s view of his own position be authoritative? Shouldn’t he be the best one to say what he really believes?

And if he says then that he believes in inerrancy, should we not accept that?

The Geislers of this world will have nothing of it. It’s either their way or the highway.

And this is why so many people today are really starting to say that they don’t want to identify with inerrancy like this any more. If Geisler wants to blame someone for his legacy of ICBI going to waste, nay, for his entire life’s work being tarnished entirely, then all he needs to do is look in the mirror. There are several looking at Geisler’s approach in all of this and saying “If this is what is meant by believing in ICBI, I want no part of it.”

Count me as one of those.

Keep in mind some didn’t sign the ICBI document because they thought it gave too much leeway. It’s my understanding that Henry Morris would not sign it because it would allow for old-earth creationism. Does that mean that Henry Morris denies inerrancy? While I would disagree with Morris’s interpretations, I would hardly say that not signing ICBI meant a denial of inerrancy.

Let’s also deal with a misnomer. These were not 300 scholars who signed this. No doubt, some were scholars. No doubt, some are not. Hal Lindsey, for instance, would not be counted as a scholar. You do not get to call someone a scholar because they know a lot of stuff about the Bible (Supposedly) or some other field. I would consider myself quite well-read on Scripture, but in no way would I consider myself a scholar at this point. That’s a goal to aim for, but it has not been reached.

So anyway, let’s move on.

“However, our response here is not with persons but with principles. So, our critique is not against any person but only the ideas expressed. Our evaluation is focused on what they teach, not on their character or motives. We respect the individuals as scholars who disagree with inerrancy and love them as brothers in Christ. Our concern is with one thing and one thing only: Is their teaching in accord with the doctrine of inerrancy as defined by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI)? So, when we use of the word “inerrancy” in this article we mean the ICBI view of inerrancy as expressed in the following documents.”

Well it’s nice to know that there’s nothing personal in all of this. If this were true however, it would certainly be quite different from the hounding that went on after Mike Licona. Yet I am sure I am not the only one concerned about this last statement. The only concern is if the teaching is in according with ICBI inerrancy.

I have made a statement before that I think Geisler has ICBI in the back of his Bible.

I am now convinced I was wrong.

It is in the very front.

” Blomberg is aware of all these ICBI statements on inerrancy and even cites some of them (Blomberg, Can We Still Believe the Bible? [hereafter B], 136, 149, 170, 178, 222, 262). He even goes so far as to claim agreement with everything in the “Chicago Statement’ (CSBI) on inerrancy except one implied word (B, 273), the word always in the last line. He believes that ICBI is claiming that a denial of inerrancy always has grave consequences. Otherwise, Blomberg even calls the “Chicago Statement” on Biblical inerrancy (CSBI) “a carefully crafted document” (B, 149). Further, he praises Article 18 of CSBI, saying, “this affirmation reinforces everything we have been discussing” (B, 170). In addition, he commends the “reasonably well highlighted” statement on genre criticism in CSBI (B, 178). Strangely, Blomberg even commends one Chicago statement more than the other, declaring: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics CSBH) has not had nearly the lasting effect that the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy did, which is a shame, because in many ways it is the superior of the two documents” (B, 261, n. 98).”

Looking at the references here, it’s noteworthy that on page 178, Blomberg does say it could have been highlighted more. He goes on to say “Institutions or organizations that claim to abide by it must allow their inerrantist scholars the freedom to explore the various literary options without reprisal.”

If only these words could be written in gold.

This is indeed the situation. If a scholar says he believes in inerrancy, let him make his case. Let him use the best scholarly tools for examination. If his case is false, it will not hold up. If it does not have the support from the data, others will not follow it. On the other hand, if it is true and if it is supportable, then we should seek to go with it. Are we not to be people of truth?

If Christians are called before an inquisition of sorts because they are wanting to explore an option, then we have reached a dangerous day for Christianity. We can no longer then say we are people of truth if we fear to look at where we think the evidence could lead.

Consider the case for the resurrection. If we assume inerrancy at the start, it would be easy to write a book defending the resurrection. Here’s how it goes.

The Bible is Inerrant.

The Bible says Jesus bodily rose from the dead.

Jesus bodily rose from the dead.

And then we can all sleep well tonight as the case has been proved.

Or you could actually have to do the real scholarly work of examining the texts, not assuming inerrancy, coming at it from the grounds that a skeptic would, and still being able to demonstrate the Bible is right on the question of the resurrection.

I would even suggest that a minister wanting to get up and teach on the resurrection on Easter Sunday while he will likely hold to inerrancy in a conservative church, he should still give reasons from a scholarly perspective about why the resurrection is true. (In fact, I did this when I spoke at my grandmother’s funeral. I had ten minutes to speak. The first five was building a case for the resurrection as briefly as I could. The last five were explaining what a difference it made.)

Geisler says there are some points that according to Blomberg one can believe without denying inerrancy. What are these?

“1. He denied the historicity of Jesus’ command about getting the coin from the mouth of the fish (in Matthew 17:27), saying, “Yet even the most superficial application of form criticism reveals that this is not a miracle story, because it is not even a story” (“NT Miracles and Higher Criticism” in JETS 27/4 [December 1984] 433). But this is a futile attempt to defend his disbelief by diverting attention from his denial of the historicity of this text on the grounds that it was not a story but a command (B, 263, n 113). By focusing on these factors, attention is deflected from a crucial point, namely, that Blomberg does not believe this event ever happened, as the Bible says it did. Blomberg added, “Further problems increase the likelihood of Jesus’ command being metaphorical” (B, “NT Miracles,” 433).”

Unfortunately, Geisler has not paid attention to the story, strange for someone who wants to go by what the text “literally” says. Nowhere in this account do you hear of Simon Peter going and catching a fish and getting a coin out of its mouth. Blomberg would not deny that it could happen, but the text does not say that it did. This would be strange as with many miracles, even where Jesus is not directly present, there is a record that the event took place. Here, there is not.

So could there be a metaphor? Let’s consider something. I know it’s a bizarre idea, but how about we examine Blomberg’s case and critique it from a scholarly perspective? Otherwise it becomes this.

The Bible is Inerrant.

Geisler’s interpretation is what the text says.

Therefore, Geisler’s interpretation is Inerrant.

Blomberg’s interpretation disagrees with Geisler.

Therefore, Blomberg denies inerrancy.

It’s at this point that one wonders if Geisler has become his own pope.

“2. According to Blomberg, “The author’s intention [in Genesis] is almost entirely to narrate the “who” rather than the “how” of creation” (B, 151). So, almost nothing informs us about how origins occurred, whether by creation or by evolution.”

In fact, I would agree with this. This is in fact why I interviewed John Walton on The Lost World of Genesis One</a. I agree with his view that Genesis is meant to tell us about the nature of God and His purpose in creating rather than how He did it or if He used evolution or not.

Has Geisler made a sufficient case that the Genesis account must answer our apologetics questions about origins? That might be what the big debate is about today, but was it really the question that would have been on the mind of Moses's readers? Was it really the argument they would need? Would they be more interested in how the creation came about, or in dealing with the polytheistic accounts around them?

Since this is in fact my position, if I say Genesis is focused on God and His purposes, how is that a denial of inerrancy? It seems quite odd really as well. It's like saying "The problem with Blomberg's view is that He allows for an approach that focuses on the God of creation rather than how He created."

Hmmmm. Which position do we think is more important in Genesis? Is it the who or the how?

And keep in mind, a view that was very much framework in its approach was that of Henri Blocher in his work "In The Beginning", which was in fact endorsed by J.I. Packer. Packer, we must remember, is one of the framers of ICBI. Such a view could allow for theistic evolution and it would not be a problem.

Therefore when we come to point 3

"3. Blomberg claims that “Some [inerrantists] opt for forms of theistic evolution in which God creates the universe with all the mechanisms built in to give rise…to each new development in the creative ‘week’” (B, 151). This too is deemed compatible with inerrancy according to Blomberg."

We have it answered already then. Geisler wants us to rise up in defense with the code word of "evolution" as if to assume that this must be stomped out at all costs. Strange this comes from such a defender of Thomism since many Thomists really have no problem with theistic evolution.

#4 on the list is

"4. He adds, “Must there have been a historical Adam and Eve? . . . Many scholars, including a few evangelicals, think not” (B, 152). Blomberg adds, “Nothing in principle should prevent the persons who uphold inerrancy from adopting a view that sees adam (“man” or Adam) and hawwa (“life or Eve) as symbols for every man and woman…” (B, 152)."

And once again, we have a code situation. If Geisler wants to argue against this view, what he needs to do is to critique a position like that of Lamoureux in "Four Views on the Historical Adam" which I reviewed here. It won’t work to say “Inerrancy, therefore the position is false.” Geisler has to show that his interpretation is the right one. Now I do not find Lamoureux’s position persuasive, but I am not ready to go after him. I am happy to say it is not an area of expertise for me so I am indeed speaking as a layman on that matter.

“5. Further, Blomberg believes that “None of this theology [about Job’s view on suffering] requires Job to have ever existed any more than the teaching of the parable of the Good Samaritan requires the Samaritan to have been a real person” (B, 156). He added, “Almost nothing is at stake if Job never existed, whereas everything is at stake if Jesus never lived” (B, 223).”

Question then. Would the lesson of Job be true even if Job never lived? Answer. Yes. Would Christianity be true if Jesus never lived? Answer. No. Why? Because Christianity is entirely dependent on real actions taking place in space and time. The lesson of Job is not dependent in that way. Does that mean it is untrue? No. I have no problem accepting Job as a historical figure.

“6. Likewise, he asserts that “Surely, however, someone might argue, Jonah must be completely historical, because Jesus himself likens his death and resurrection to Jonah’s experience with the great fish (Matt. 12:40; Luke 11:30). Actually, this does not follow at all” (B, 157). ”

Unfortunately, here Geisler gives part of the argument and then ignores the rest. The last sentence would tell you there is more. Blomberg makes the point that one could talk about Frodo going to Mordor and make a lesson out of it without thinking Frodo is a historical figure. The amazing thing is Blomberg makes a case for the accuracy of Jonah right after that and this is completely ignored by Geisler. It will sadly be ignored by his readers as well who will refuse to read Blomberg’s book and get the treasure trove of knowledge he has for us.

“7. Further, “Ultimately, what one decides about its [the Book of Isaiah’s] composition or formation need not have anything to do with biblical inerrancy at all” (B, 162, 163), even though he admits Jesus mentioned “the prophet Isaiah” as being author of texts in both sections of Isaiah (B, 161).”

And in dealing with this, Geisler will need to deal with an approach such as that found in The Lost World of Scripture, which was co-authored by John Walton who I referred to above and by Brent Sandy, who I interviewed here.

“8. Isaiah may not have predicted “Cyrus” by name 150 years in advance (in Isaiah 45:1) of his reign because “Cyrus could in fact be a dynasty name (like “Pharaoh” in Egypt) rather than a personal name (B, 162). This too is deemed compatible with inerrancy.”

How could this be incompatible? If Cyrus is indeed a name of a dynasty, then this would be an accurate statement. Geisler can only assume that it is not. If the Bible is teaching about a dynasty that will free the Jews from exile, then he is speaking the truth. I in fact wonder if the same could be going on with the ruler Abimelech in Genesis. The name can be translated as “My Dad is King.” Could this not point to a dynasty as well?

“9. According to Blomberg, the prophet Daniel may not have predicted all the things his book indicates because “Perhaps two works associated with the prophet Daniel and is successor, written at two different times, were combined” (B, 164).”

See my reply to #7 for this.

“10. Blomberg, argues that treating sections of “Matthew as Midrash” and not as history would have been taken by his audience “who would have understood exactly what he was doing, not imagining his embellishment to be making the same kinds of truth claims as his core material from Mark and Q” (B, 166).”

This was the position of Gundry which we will be getting to. I will save it for later.

“11. Likewise, Blomberg believes that the story of “Lazarus” (in Luke 16) is a “parabolic fiction” (B, 150).”

There are many fine evangelical scholars who see the story as a parable. I also see it as a parable and parables are fictional, unless Geisler suddenly thinks the fires of Hell are literal and that there is literally a great chasm between Heaven and Hell.

Well if that’s the case, why would there be someone named in this one?

Lazarus would be named so that he would be seen as honorable in comparison to the rich man. The only unnamed character in Ruth, for instance, is the one who refuses his duty to Ruth. This is a way of shaming him. Jesus’s parable is not meant to give the furniture of the afterlife, but rather to teach us that just because one has wealth in this life, that one is not necessarily living in the favor of God, and vice-versa for poverty. By not even giving the rich man a name, he is showing that the rich man is essentially not someone worth thinking about.

#12 deals with views based on Blomberg’s interaction with Mormonism. Not having read the book, I will not comment.

Moving on to some of Geisler’s responses, I wish to go to #6 straight away since it deals with an area I do consider myself knowledgeable on.

“Traditionally, many have considered the Gospels to be a genre of their own (sui generis) because of their unique nature as a revelation of God. However, Blomberg buys into the currently popular notion that the Gospels should be interpreted by extra-biblical genre. He wrote: “Once we determine, as best we can, what a passage affirms, according to the conventions of its style, and genre, a commitment to inerrancy implies acceptance of the truth of those affirmations. But a commitment to inerrancy does not exclude a priori any given literary style, form, or genre that is not inherently deceptive” (B, 164). In short, we must determine first what a passage means according to its genre. We cannot know in advance that it is going to be historical just because it is a narrative or is in a historical book. Further, the genre can be an extra-biblical like the Greco-Roman genre. Hence, an extra-biblical genre can determine the meaning of a biblical text. This is, of course, contrary to the ICBI statements on genre for several reasons.”

The notion is not the “Currently popular” one, but the currently scholarly one. Has Geisler critiqued yet the work of Burridge or that of Talbert and shown that their views are false?” If he has not, then he has not grounds for going against the scholarly consensus just because they go against his pet viewpoint.

Also, keep in mind Geisler was challenged on this by my friend Greg Masone, who was subsequently banned from Geisler’s page for pointing out the challenge. Geisler has NEVER accepted this challenge. It can be found here.

Because of this, it means Geisler is expecting his critics to answer his charges, but he is not willing to answer theirs.

Geisler considers these views extra-biblical, but what does this even mean? Is one only allowed to write Scriptures in a certain genre? Would it be that if Matthew began writing his Gospel that he’d hear a voice from Heaven say “Matthew! Do not write as the pagans do even though your work will be read on them! Write in a style completely unique that no one has ever done before!”?

Note also this usage of extra-biblical material is highly selective.

For instance, Geisler thinks that Genesis 1 teaches an old Earth. Why? Because modern science has shown us that it does.

So let’s bring in a YEC at this point. My hypothetical YEC at this point will say

“Geisler believes in an old Earth in Genesis 1, but this is based on the currently popular notion that modern science is right in its view of the age of the Earth. A true biblical interpretation however will not bring in extra-biblical science but will instead allow Scripture to be its own interpreter and show that the Earth is indeed young. Therefore, Geisler’s view is certainly incompatible with inerrancy and he is using extra-biblical science to deny the historicity of a young Earth and therefore the text.”

And yes, this is not my view at all. If this is said, what can Geisler say? If he points to his own authority, is he not making himself a pope of inerrancy?

In fact, none of Geisler’s defenses work here. Consider the first.

” First, ICBI Article XIII forbids the use of extra-biblical genre to determine the meaning of a biblical text. It reads “We deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual” (emphasis added). Further, CSBH Article XIV says: “We affirm that the biblical record of events, discourses and sayings, though presented in a variety of appropriate literary forms, corresponds to historical facts” (emphasis added). ”

So extra-biblical genre cannot be used, but extra-biblical science can be used. The Jews in the time of Jesus would know about Greco-Roman bioi. The Jews in the time of Moses would not know about modern science. Was the truth of Genesis 1 then lost until modern science came along? Why can Geisler use information the Jews did not have to interpret Genesis 1, but Licona and Blomberg cannot use information the Jews did have to interpret the Gospels?

“Second, ICBI demands interpreting “Scripture by Scripture” (CSBI Article 18), not the Bible by extra-biblical genre. That is, nothing external to the New Testament text should be hermeneutically determinative of the meaning in the text. In some cases, one can derive the meaning (use) of a term from contemporary use of the word. But the meaning of a text is discovered from studying the text in its grammatical and historical setting, as compared to related Scripture on that text.”

Nothing external to the NT should be used to determine the meaning of the Gospels, but science that is external to Genesis one can be used to determine the meaning of Genesis. Why not have Scripture interpret Scripture? (Even though that is a nonsense statement. Interpretation is done by minds. Scripture comes from a mind but it does not have a mind itself.)

” Third, the alleged “purpose of the author” of which Blomberg speaks is not the determinative factor in understanding a text. For there is no way to know what the author had in his mind behind the text except by what he affirmed in the text. Hence, the appeal to the linguistic philosophy of John Austin to determine the illocutionary (purpose) act or the perlocutionarly act (results) is futile. Usually, all we have in Scripture is the locutionary act (What is affirmed). So, the locus of meaning has to be in what is affirmed, not why it is affirmed because often we are just guessing about that. Thus, the genre critic Blomberg is using extra-biblical ideas to determine the meaning of the biblical text.”

And if this is the case, then why does Geisler keep pointing to what the founders meant when they wrote X statement in ICBI? When Geisler has done that, he has just given us another text and we cannot understand his intent. Why do we keep hearing about what the founders intended and how that matters for ICBI, but we can’t try to know what the authors intended?

Keep in mind that this is not really a Thomistic stance. No less a Thomist than Mortimer Adler has written on how one should seek to understand the authorial intent of a text. Keep in mind that also because we do not know why a practice was affirmed, it does not mean the readers at the time did not know.

Yet this whole situation gets even more bizarre.

“Not only do the ICBI statements repeatedly contradict Blomberg’s view on inerrancy, but he repeatedly distorts the ICBI statements and demeans the character of those who defend the inerrancy of Scripture. We note first of all his unscholarly and unprofessional characterizations of those who defend the historical biblical view of inerrancy as represented in the ICBI statements.”

Yes. Because coming out and saying that people deny inerrancy and seeking to have their livelihood removed and passing around petitions behind their backs is perfectly acceptable behavior.

Geisler is like the schoolyard bully who goes after the other children who refuse to play the way he does, but when someone stands up to him, he then cries “Foul!”

“Blomberg often employs condemnation and exaggeration instead of refutation related to inerrantists claims. He labels inerrantists, for example, as “very conservative” (B, 7), “overly conservative” (B, 217), “ultra conservative” (B, 11, 214), “hyperconservative” (B, 13), “extremely conservative” (B, 7). Of course, this tends to make his views look more moderate by comparison, when, as we shall see, they are in direct opposition to those the mainstream evangelical view as reflected in the ICBI statements. He even likens ICBI defenders of inerrancy to Nazis and Communist (B, 8)! He quotes with approval the statement, “the far left and the far right—avoid them both, like the plague” (B, 8). At one point he stops just short of questioning the Christianity of ICBI supporters (B, 254). What is more, he sometimes makes it very clear about whom he is speaking by name (Robert Thomas, David Farnell, William Roach, and myself)–all Ph.D. in biblical related studies who have written critical reviews of Blomberg’s positions. He also addresses Dr. Al Mohler and Master’s Seminary in negative terms.
Such exaggerated language is not only unprofessional and unscholarly, it borders on being morally libelous, as the following statements reveal. Strangely and inconsistently, Blomberg responds strongly when other scholars use a negative term about his views (B, 254).”

It is amusing to see Geisler say Blomberg compares them to Nazis. What Blomberg does is refer to an English teacher in high school who lived through Nazism and Communism and gave the advice to avoid the far-right and far-left both like the plague. He referred to what she went through because that was relevant. It is bizarre to think that Blomberg was saying that people like Geisler are like Nazis. (Though it is obvious Geisler thinks he knows the authorial intent of Blomberg)

As for questioning the Christianity, Blomberg does not do this. What does he say? He points out how Robert Thomas referred to scholars who use form and redaction criticism as experiencing a “satanic blindness.” Blomberg in the note in the back says “I have no idea how a self-confessed evangelical Christian author dares to use such language in speaking of fellow evangelical Christians!”

Apparently, Blomberg should have just said Geisler had a satanic blindness about him and that would have been okay. So once again we see the double-standard. Thomas says someone has a satanic blindness. That’s okay! Blomberg raises his own charges going nowhere near that and that’s not okay!

Geisler can complain about this being unscholarly and even suggests it is libelous, but let him remember that he would not have been in this position if he had not thrown the first punch. Geisler goes after others saying they deny inerrancy and even goes after their professional positions, but woe befall anyone who dares to just suggest that he is misbehaving at all. It looks like Geisler thinks not only is his interpretation inerrant, but his behavior is inerrant as well.

Also Blomberg knows about his critiques, but are they all critiques in relevant fields? Being a Ph.D. in philosophy does not entail one to be an authority on Biblical matters. This is amusing since Paige Patterson has referred to Mike Licona as a philosopher, when he is not, and most of those in the Geisler crusade are in fact the philosophers.

“Blomberg goes further than extremist labeling of inerrancy defenders. He claims that we “simplistically” distorted the evidence in order to oust Robert Gundry from the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) over his midrash denial of the historicity of certain sections of Matthew (B, 167). He charges that we engaged in a “political campaign” against Gundry (B, 167). Elsewhere, he alleges that we have utilized a “standard ploy throughout his [my] career” when “trying to get someone removed from an organization” (B, 262 n. 111). He adds the allegation that inerrancy is used as “a blunt tool to hammer into submission people whose interpretation of passages differs from ours…” (B, 125). These charges of an alleged sinister and continuous career of unjustified activity on my part are both untrue, unjustified, and unethical. Indeed, they are serious moral judgments of motives for which Blomberg should apologize. Someone has rightly asked why it is that those who defend inerrancy are attacked and those who attack inerrancy are defended.
Without attributing motives, one thing seems clear: “Blomberg is dead-set on broadening the acceptable borders of orthodoxy on inerrancy, the result of which would be a more inclusive statement that would embrace scholars (like Blomberg himself) who have moved well beyond inerrancy as traditionally understood and as expressed by the ICBI. This may explain the use of such passionate and uncalled for language in describing those who wish to retain a more traditional stand on inerrancy. Perhaps a lot of their passion and zeal arises from the fact that those who hold a more liberal view on inerrancy may fear their view may be deemed unorthodox too. This might explain their pejorative terms about inerrantists such as “watchdog.” But given the analogy, it is certainly better than being a “kitty cat” on these crucial issue. The truth is that evangelicalism needs more watchdogs to ward off the wolves in sheep’s clothing who are attacking inerrancy.”

Blomberg should apologize….

It’s hard to read that without having one’s eyes roll.

Note that no one is going after someone for defending inerrancy. What is going on is people are gone after because of how they are defending it and what they are defending. For the watchdogs, it seems Geisler has lost sight of what really matters. He goes after Licona for a masterful defense of the resurrection because it goes against his view of inerrancy, thus cutting people off from an excellent defense. He goes after Blomberg because while Blomberg shows the Bible is reliable, he does not agree with ICBI inerrancy as Geisler sees it.

The ICBI is driving everything else. It has practically become an idol.

It would be believable that Geisler does not go around seeking to remove people from organizations if we did not have evidence of this. Alas, we do. We saw it happen with Licona and I had immediate experience of this.

You can see a link to such a petition here. This comes from Max Andrews. The only change he has made is to remove the email of Geisler since this is personal information. The content otherwise is the same. Max Andrews has written about that here.

It is no doubt true that inerrancy has been used as a hammer and that hammer has been constantly wielded by Geisler himself.

Geisler then goes on to say the following are untrue.

“1. No one offered an “intelligent response” to Gundry (B, 167). Even Blomgberg acknowledged that D. A. Carson wrote a critique of it, as did Doug Moo. Not to mention the scholarly response given at ETS and articles published in the Journal of The Evangelical Theological Society (JETS, 2003).”

This would work if that had been what Blomberg said. It isn’t. Blomberg said “not a single critic of Gundry who believed his view was inherently contradicting inerrancy has offered what Carson defines as “intelligent response”–wrestling in detail with the exegetical and historical methods and their applications that Gundry utilized.”

It would have been nice had Geisler accurately represented what Blomberg said. Blomberg knows very well of the responses, but keep in mind Moo and Carson did not believe that it was a denial of inerrancy. They were arguing the proper way. They were arguing on exegetical grounds.

“2. A majority of speakers at ETS were in favor of retainng Gundry in its membership (B, 166). This is a misleading statement since, when given a chance to vote almost three-quarters of the membership voted to ask Gundry to resign.”

Blomberg says the majority that showed up showed up after Geisler went around politicizing the event and calling up people to come to the meeting. It’s noteworthy that Geisler in this never responds to how Blomberg shows Geisler after the Pinnock situation with ETS went around calling it the Formerly Evangelical Theological Society. (P. 143) Yes. When the society went against him, it was not evangelical. When he needed someone to go against Licona, it was evangelical.

Funny how that works.

This would deal with #3 as well

“3. The proceeding of the ETS which resulted in Gundry’s removal from membership was not fair or representative (B, 166-167). On the contrary, it was the result of a long (two year) process, during which papers and articles were presented pro and con. The meeting at which the vote took place was deliberate and orderly and the vote was taken properly. Even Gundry accepted its conclusion.”

and to go along with that, #4.

“4. The vote for Gundry’s removal was not a bare minimum “just over” what was necessary (167). The vote was 116 in favor of his removal and 41 opposed (as reported by Christianity Today 2/3/1984) which is almost 74% in favor of his removal. This is nearly three-quarters of the membership present and well over the two-thirds (67%) necessary. ”

Yes. This was the vote. Here’s the question. How many people abstained? How many people were still there period? Does this meant that the ETS at the time only had 157 members? This seems quite unlikely.

“5. ETS did not “expel” Gundry from membership (B, 167). The vote was to ask Gundry to resign, not to expel him. If he had refused to resign, then there could have been another vote to expel which was unnecessary because Gundry voluntarily resigned.”

Here, we see a distinction without a difference. Today, we would not see any difference between asking Eich to resign from Mozilla and expelling him.

“6. The process of Gundry’s removal was a “political campaign” in which “circulating advertisements” occurred (B, 167). This too is false. No “campaign” was held and no “advertisements” were circulated. Each ETS member was given a paper with quotations from Gundry’s book so that they could make an intelligent decision on how to vote.”

Since this process took years supposedly, how about this? How about each person voted being given Gundry’s book to read and decide based on that? If they were given portions of it to read, then who decided what portions?

In fact, that sounds eerily similar to the petition going around against Licona.

Who selected the portions of the book in that case? I seriously doubt it was Licona!

“7. “Gundry’s views were simplistically presented…” at the ETS meeting (B, 167). This too is false. Exact and complete quotations were given of Gundry’s views to each member. There was nothing simplistic about it.”

See above and see the petition against Geisler. Excuse me if I’m skeptical based on the evidence I have right before me.

“8. Geisler utilized a “standard ploy throughout his career…when he is trying to get someone removed from an organization,” namely, getting all the living framers to agree with him in order to oust a member (262 n. 111). I never did and such thing. In the Pinnock issue, Roger Nicole contacted all the founders of ETS, but I was not a founder of ETS and was not part of any such effort. I have argued Licona’s views are contrary to the ICBI framers, but I was never part of a “ploy” or effort to get him ousted from the ETS organization, nor any other group. Neither, have I done it “throughout my career” (which is now almost 60 years long because there was never another occasion in all those years where a group of framers were involved in getting someone removed from an organization in which I participated. These are serious, sinister, and slanderous charges that impugns the character of another brother in Christ and call for an apology from the one who made them.”

Once again, see the petition from above and I can tell people based on my personal experience that I have seen this happen. I was one of the first people to hear about Geisler going after Licona after all.

“9. Geisler resigned from ETS because they exonerated Clark Pinnock of the charges against him. This is partly true. After all, Pinnock claimed to believe in inerrancy, yet he has said in print that there were false predictions in the Bible (see Pinnock, The Most Moved Mover, 50), and he denied the Bible is the written Word of God (Scripture Principle, 128). I was also disappointed with the process by which Pinnock was retained because it was not completely fair and open. However, the main and underlying reason I left ETS was because I believed it has lost its integrity by allowing a scholars to join who did not have to believe the doctrinal statement on inerrancy as the founders meant it (see my article, “Why I resigned from the Evangelical Theological Socity,” at”

I just want to point out that the page of Blomberg’s book where he talks about this also contains how Geisler spoke of the Formerly Evangelical Theological Society, something Geisler has not addressed in this article.

“10. Geisler has become increasingly more conservative over the years as indicted by the successive schools at which he has taught (B, 143-14). This is false. In each case my move to an established school was because I was offered what appeared to be a better opportunity for service. In the case of the two Seminaries I helped start, they were after I retired and was asked by others to help them start two seminaries (where I still teach) which stress apologetics which has been a passion of mine from the beginning. It had nothing to do with the degree of conservativeness of the Seminaries. They all have sound doctrinal statements. None of them was significantly more conservative than the others.”

I urge people to just read what Blomberg himself said, though it is amusing to hear that Geisler wants to avoid the charge that he has become more conservative.

“11. Only a “tiny minority” throughout history held that inerrancy is the only legitimate form of Christianity (B, 221). This is a purely “Straw Man” argument since almost no one holds this view. ICBI, the view we are representing, states clearly that “We deny that such a confession is necessary for salvation” (CSBI Article 19). It adds, “We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to the Church’s faith throughout its history” (CSBI, Article 16). ICBI also held that there are “grave consequence” (CBSI Article 19) for denying inerrancy. But it never affirmed that is the only legitimate form of Christianity. So, this criticism is an empty charge, applying to almost no one.”

One such person affected by this view as Blomberg points out is Bart Ehrman. I have in fact met many “ex-Christians” who would also qualify under this. While we are pleased to see Geisler say inerrancy is not necessary for salvation, it has been put on too high a pedestal by him. When one goes after a masterful work on the resurrection because it does not agree supposedly with a view of inerrancy, then we have a problem.

Moving on, another point worth mentioning

“Of course, Blomberg laments that an overwhelming majority (nearly 74%) of the ETS voted to ask Gundry to resign from ETS because of his denial of the historicity of certain passages in Matthew. Blomberg remains proud that his is one of the small minority who voted to retain Gundry in ETS. Indeed, as even Blomberg admits (B, 168), the framers of the statement (of which I was one) “had Gundry in mind” when the CSBH statements were made which we certainly did. We wrote: “WE deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual” (CSBH Commentary on Article 13). No amount of re-interpretation can override the clarity of this statement or the testimony of living framers as to its meaning. And when the framers die, the written words of the framers (as here) will remain to vouch for the meaning of their words.”

This is not what Blomberg says on page 168. He says

“Geisler and Roach may well be correct that the framers of a later document known as the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics ahd situations like Gundry’s in mind when they penned ‘We deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual.’ ”

Yet Blomberg continues to say

“But if so, the wording of this document failed to meet the challenge, because it cannot be applied until there is agreement on which narratives “present themselves as factual.” Approximately half of Jesus’s parables are presented without any contextual matter (like the use of the word “parable”) to indicate that they are not presenting themselves as factual. Internal evidence and formal similiarity to texts inside and outside the canon that are specifically labeled as parables allow us to intuit their nature. Similarly, it was internal evidence and formal similarity of Matthew to Jewish midrash, buttressed by the external evidence of divergent parallel accounts in Mark and Luke, that led Gundry to his position. However mistaken he may have been, if one admits there is a single parable in the Gospels not explicitly called a parable, then one cannot use the Chicago Statement on Hermeneutics ant more than the Chicago Statement on inerrancy, to exclude Gundry’s position.”

Blomberg is then saying even if Geisler is right in what he had in mind, then it still does not work. He is not at all saying that he knows what Geisler had in mind and he is saying that the wording that was used is not sufficient and if Geisler says all we have is the text, then Blomberg is following proper procedures. Why can Geisler point to his intent over and over while saying authorial intent cannot interpret a text?

Let’s move on.

“It is incredible that anyone, let alone a biblical scholar, would defend the orthodoxy (i.e., compatibility with inerrancy) of Mike Licona’s Greco-Roman genre views.”

No. It is not incredible. Those of us who do read the relevant scholarship are not at all shocked. (Should Geisler know that this will be my work on my Master’s in NT? I will be looking to see if the resurrection of the saints is historical or not. I seriously doubt I can turn in a paper that says “Inerrancy, therefore historical” and get my Master’s. If so, please let me know so I can start teaching now and working on my PH.D.)

Geisler then goes on to quote the 1,001 critiques he has of Licona. You know, the ones where he has ignored that myself, J.P. Holding, Max Andrews, and others have already answered him but alas, everyone else is supposed to answer Geisler and he is to answer to no one.

Geisler’s charges could be taken seriously if he would take the critiques of his position seriously.

In conclusion, Geisler has once again said something that will convince the few followers he has left, but the scholarly world as a whole will ignore it. This is probably why his latest book is published by Xulon, a self-publishing firm, since it is quite likely no academic publishing company would take it. Will there be buyers? Oh yes. I suspect most of these will be at the schools that Geisler and his followers teach at where it will be required reading. Will it prepare the readers to interact with real NT scholarship? No. If anything, it will set them back further and get them closer and closer to apostasy when their views cannot stand up and they have to run from scholarship.

As for Blomberg, I am pleased to keep reading his excellent works and even more pleased to call him a friend now. In fact, those who are interested in his latest book are invited to listen to my podcast, the Deeper Waters Podcast on April 26th this year. I will be having him on as my guest again to discuss it.

Also, for all interested, Geisler’s critique can be found here because as I have said, I care about letting people see critiques that I know about.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Packer Heat

What does J.I. Packer say about Mike Licona? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

In point 22 of his long response to Mike Licona, Norman Geisler says the following:

Speaking of “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy [which] defines it most exhaustively,” Licona claims, “But even those who helped compose it aren’t in complete agreement about its meaning. I continue to be a biblical inerrantist and subscribe to both the Lausanne Covenant and the Chicago Statement.” However, this claim by Licona is flatly false. There are only three living framers of the ICBI statements (J. I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, and myself), and we all agree that Licona’s views are not compatible with the ICBI statements (see # 3). What Licona does to the ICBI statements is typical of what many of his peers do with the New Testament, namely, they read their meaning into it (eisegesis) rather than reading the framer’s view out of it (exegesis). Indeed, Licona is so bold as to affirm that those of us who are living ICBI framers do not properly understand the statements we framed! No wonder they misinterpret the New Testament. If Washington, Madison, and Jefferson were here today, by this same logic they would no doubt say to them that they did not properly understand The Declaration of Independence!

We are quite pleased that Geisler has enlisted the support of J.I. Packer, who gives a fine recommendation by the way of Henri Blocher’s “In The Beginning”, a fine work that is very sympathetic to theistic evolution. For the Framework hypothesis of creation, it really wouldn’t matter if evolution is true or not. Genesis is meant to tell the who and why. It is not meant to tell the when and how.

If Packer understands the ICBI statement so well, then what are we to make of the post that was put on Mike Licona’s Facebook page?

Dr. Licona, I noticed that Dr. Geisler has written a reply to your recent interview by TheBestSchools. Geisler’s response is at

I noticed in his point 22 that he disagrees with your statement that the framers of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) don’t always agree on how to interpret ICBI. Dr. Geisler says there were only 3 framers of ICBI, R. C. Sproul, J. I. Packer, and himself. He then says “we all agree that Licona’s views are not compatible with the ICBI statements.” I just wanted you to know that I emailed J. I. Packer last fall and asked him what he thought of your view of Matthew’s raised saints. I received this reply from him on 24 February forwarded from David Horn, the Academic Secretary at Regent College:

Hello Johan,

Thank you for your email. I have just today received the following handwritten reply from Dr. Packer.

Dear Johan Erasmus,

I apologise for lateness in responding to your email.

What Dr. Licona offers is an interpretive hypothesis as to Matthew’s meaning. What biblical inerrancy means is that Scripture, rightly interpreted, is true and trustworthy. I don’t think Licona’s guess about Matthew’s meaning is plausible, but it is not an inerrancy question.

Sincerely in Christ,

J.I. Packer

With this email, Packer is saying that Licona’s stance is one entirely of hermeneutics. He doesn’t agree with Licona’s reasoning, and that is fine, but it is not an issue of Inerrancy. If this is the case, then it would seem that Packer obviously does not understand Inerrancy according to Geisler.

At this point, one of two things could be done.

Either Geisler could finally drop this whole thing and realize he’s fighting a battle that is not harming Mike at all but is rather harming himself every step of the way. He could seek to make restitution for the damage that has been done and move on and familiarize himself more with NT studies.

Or, Packer could be thrown under the bus somehow.

As for Sproul, from what I have seen, he has not spoken on this at all and being a Preterist, is not quite likely to be as literal as Geisler and could have even more sympathies. If this is the case, then two out of three framers have no problem whatsoever with Licona’s view. Again, it does not mean they agree, but they do not see it as an Inerrancy issue.

We all hope for the former, but as of this point, the ball is not in our court and we will wait to see what happens.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is Habermas a Heretic?

Can we trust Gary Habermas any more? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

While checking up on affairs today, I noticed that Norm Geisler has responded to an interview that Mike Licona did.

Yes. That’s right. Responding to an interview.

My ministry partner, J.P. Holding, has already critiqued several aspects of this long article that Geisler has written. Links will be available to both at the end. For now, I wish to take the time to comment on some of the matters that Holding did not.

First off, nowhere in this is a response to the writings that have been put forward against Geisler’s handling of this and nowhere in this is there any recognition that Geisler has decided to deal with the responses that have been put forward. One wonders if Geisler has any problem with Richard Dawkins speaking on topics where the challenges he raises have already been addressed.

Also in here is the idea that Mike’s son-in-law, being me, and J.P. Holding produced a video. Geisler has an odd idea of producing. All that was done was that I did some voice in the film for the ghost of Inerrancy Future. If that is producing, then there are several producers including some members of TheologyWeb who did the voices of Geisler and Licona and my own wife who did the voice of Inerrancy Past.

In case anyone does not know, I don’t have a clue how to do that. As it stands right now, the layout of this blog is not really anything stupendous and the reason for that is that I do not possess the computer knowledge to know how to do that. My reading is in theology, philosophy, history, etc. It is not in computer knowledge. I would not know the first thing about putting together a video and putting it on YouTube. Let alone would I know anything about animation.

Furthermore, Geisler also speaks about the ongoing debate. I used to check regularly on the internet for new mentions of this, but the reality is that no one really writes about this anymore. In the blogosphere, there are far more important issues being discussed. Frankly, Mike has moved on to get a job at Houston Baptist University and has started his ministry going full throttle.

Geisler can complain about being referred to as a tar baby all he wants, but perhaps could it be that there is a grain of truth to the criticism? Could it be Licona is being quite wise in not getting himself tangled into this debate when he could be doing far more important things such as, oh, I don’t know, presenting and defending the Christian gospel in a secular world. Keep in mind, the central proclamation of the gospel after all is “He is risen!” It is not “It is Inerrant!” While Mike and I both hold to Inerrancy, it is not the gospel.

The most unique aspect of all of this now is that Habermas is now definitely included in the Rogues’ Gallery. Anyone can see this in point 9 of the article written.

“Licona also mentions the strong influence Gary Habermas was on him and that they became close friends. Indeed, he refers here and elsewhere to the advice given to him by a close friend not to engage in dialog with me on this matter. However, Habermas’s view on inerrancy straddles both sides of the fence. It is for this that he was let go from the Faculty of Veritas Evangelical Seminary, namely, “It was “…because of your own view of inerrancy that was contrary to the Veritas Seminary doctrinal statement on inerrancy. That is, your view accepts: the belief that inerrancy is consistent with the view that rejects Gospel narratives as completely historical (angels at the tomb, falling down of those seizing Jesus, and resurrection of saints)….” (VES Letter from the president, 11/21/11).”

So now, it’s Habermas. What’s it going to be then? Is Geisler going to take the leading scholars on the resurrection who have done invaluable work for the kingdom and let them be shunned by the Christian community because of this? Is there going to be an open letter to Liberty saying they need to get rid of Habermas for his views on Inerrancy?

Is this really worth it? One gets the impression that this is more about Geisler than it is about Inerrancy.

What needs to be done? First, this whole thing needs to be dropped as several have said on Geisler’s own Facebook page. There needs to be reconciliation. Note that Mike has been the one offering a face-to-face meeting and has even said that if an apology came forward, all would be forgiven. Mike has simply asked for witnesses to be present. There is nothing unreasonable about this request.

Second, evangelicals needs to speak out on this and not just on the blogosphere. Evangelicals in scholarship and apologetics should speak. We can all sit back some and say “He’s going after Licona now and a little bit he’s going after Habermas. He won’t go after me.” How would that be known? Furthermore, even if he wouldn’t, he’s going after someone else in the body in a way that shouldn’t be done and over something that is not worth it.

A silly debate like this is being an embarrassment on the body of Christ. How long will it go on? Will we, the evangelical church who have stood so strong for orthodox beliefs also take a stand for orthodox behavior and how we will handle debates in our midst in a way that avoids bullying?

Let us hope so, for if we cower before those within the church, we will most certainly cower to those without.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Geisler’s article can be found here.

J.P. Holding’s response can be found here.

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

Geisler Resurrects The Zombie Argument

Will the Geisler controversy ever stay dead? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

It’d been a few weeks since we’d seen anything from Geisler on Mike Licona. For the rest of us, we’d moved on with our lives. Maybe Geisler’s got the hint already. Unfortunately, with the appearance of a new webmaster for Geisler also came new arguments from Geisler on a topic that the rest of the world no longer cares about.

Hence, I call it the Zombie argument. It should have stayed that way but Geisler seems to want to keep resurrecting it. Oh well. Let us look and see what the first proponent has to say.

Second, unfortunately, while Licona’s work defends Jesus’ bodily resurrection ably, the assumption of genre hermeneutic known as apocalyptic or eschatological Jewish texts whereby Licona dismisses the historicity of Matthew 27:51-53 (and its recording of the resurrection of saints) results effectively in the complete evisceration and total negation of His strong defense of Jesus’ resurrection.

Oh come on now! This is the same tired argument we saw from Mohler as well and the one Geisler fears. Let’s point out some differences.

First off, not all miracles are equal and not all resurrections are equally noteworthy. Which miracle do you think you could probably make a better case for? The parting of the Red Sea or Jesus turning water into wine? With the Red Sea, we could do archaeology and compare the records of Egypt and look at the events that happened at the time.

With the second one however, are we actually going to try to go to Cana and try to find some leftover wine and be able to see if it was water that was instantaneously turned into wine? We would be much more hard-pressed. This is a miracle that I believe happened but is not essential to our faith. I would defend the possibility of the miracle in this case, but if I had to give a historical case for this one in particular, I would be hard-pressed. I would simply point to the general reliability of John.

In 2 Kings, there is an account of a dead man thrown aside who touches the bones of Elisha and comes to life again. What historical evidence will be mounted to show that this resurrection happened? Again, I cannot think of any. We do not know what this man’s name was even.

Compare this to Jesus’s resurrection. We do have evidence outside of the gospels in the epistles and we have the rise of the Christian church, the role of an honor/shame motif in the event, the reality that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, and the claims of the apostles to see the risen Christ. Licona presents several articles of defense of this one resurrection.

Does someone who is a NT scholar really think the appropriate response would be “Yeah, but that doesn’t matter since you don’t accept this other claim in Matthew 27.”

No. I don’t even think a Bart Ehrman would use that line. The method is to deal with the evidence for the resurrection. Farnell assumes that the resurrection of Jesus would be defended like the resurrection of the saints and that the miracle of the saints if it happened would be as historically demonstrable as that of the resurrection of Christ. This is a huge assumption and a false one!

This conclusion is subjective, arbitrary, hermeneutically quite unnecessary. Nothing demands such a conclusion in the context or supports such a conclusion.

Farnell says the above about Licona’s conclusion that the text is apocalyptic. What he leaves out are the many arguments that Licona gives. Licona argues for a number of pages in the book with evidences and in his talk at EPS, he gave even more evidence for his position.

Farnell’s position is like someone sticking their head in the sand and saying “No! I don’t accept it!” Instead of dealing with the arguments Licona has given, he just asserts that there’s no need to have that conclusion. It doesn’t matter that Licona has given reasons. Those reasons must obviously be false! Why? Because they disagree with what I believe!

If the events in Matthew 27:51-53 are held that way, nothing—absolutely nothing— stops critics from applying a similar kind of logic to Jesus’ resurrection. Licona’s logic here is self-defeating and undermines his entire work on defending the resurrection.

Nothing stops critics from doing so except for Mike’s argument. No one I know of would take the creed in 1 Cor. 15 as simply apocalypse. No one I know of takes the crucifixion as simply apocalypse. For these people, it’s an all-or-nothing game. Either everything is literally historical or nothing is. For NT scholarship, it’s not that simple.

First, Licona appears to take other events in immediate context both BEFORE AND AFTER this passage as historical (Jesus crying out, veil of temple split, earthquake, the centurion crying out). Merely because he finds these events “strange” is rather subjective. His idea of “What were they [the resurrected saints] doing between Friday afternoon and early Sunday morning?” shows that an acute subjectivity reigns in Licona’s hermeneutical scheme.

Licona does not take that view simply because it is strange, but based on a historical argument that Farnell has not touched. It is easy to cry out about subjectivity when one does not want to deal with the arguments.

Second, no literary signals exist to the readers that Matthew has switched from historical narration of the events surrounding the crucifixion. The passage flows both before and after as a telling of the events with no abrupt disjuncture. How would Matthew’s readers have recognized that the events, before and after, were historical in time-space but not the immediate passage?

How would Matthew’s readers have been able to distinguish the genre change from historical narrative to what Licona term’s “symbolic” based in eschatological Jewish texts.

Matthew’s readers would have been the most educated as few people then were literate. The popular audience would have known based on oral clues rather than written ones. We do not live in that culture and it is a mistake to think our thinking would be just like theirs. What clues were there? There would be a number and some we don’t know of I’m sure.

For instance, I just got done reading Ken Bailey’s “Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes” and my eyes were opened to things in 1 Corinthians I hadn’t noticed in years of reading. Paul writes often in a ring composition with point A, point B, point C and then an emphasis in point D, followed by a restating of C, then of B, then of A. We Western readers miss this. A Jewish reader would have caught on immediately.

There is nothing in the text that has Paul saying “Oh Corinthians. I want you to know how I’m writing. Please understand this.” Paul wrote using clues internal to the culture that that culture would have recognized. The same could be going on here in Matthew 27 and Licona certainly thinks it is based on the study of genre.

It is highly dubious that Matthew 27:51-53 or Revelation should be associated with Jewish Apocalyptic literature. While Revelation may share some highly superficial characterstics, such as symbolism, it DOES NOT share the dualism, pessimism, determinism, pseudonymity or rewritten history transformed into prophecy that characterized such Jewish literature (see Leon Morris, Apocalyptic, 1972).

This man has a doctorate after saying Revelation should not be associated with Apocalyptic literature? The very first word of the book is the Greek word for apocalypse. If Revelation is not an apocalypse, pray tell what exactly should we define it as?

Does Revelation share all the characteristics? No. But what does. However, there are a number of similarities. I believe there is a dualism in the sense of good vs. evil with the good winning. I also think some of Revelation is historical and has been rewritten, such as the account in Revelation 12 which I believe to be a description of the birth of Christ. (Let’s wait now and see if Geisler sends the Heresy Hounds after me.)

I would lovingly ask Mike Licona to reconsider his position. All of us have had times when we have reconsidered positions and changed as we grow in the faith and wisdom as Christians and in the love of the Lord Jesus.

Instead, what we need is for Geisler to consider he could be wrong in the face of opposition. This reminds me some of when the Arizona Congresswoman was shot and P.Z. Myers was sure that the shooter was a Republican who listened to talk radio. Myers would jump on anything that supported his claim and ignore all that went against it.

If Geisler is so sure he’s right, then he should have agreed to the round table discussion. He should have also agreed to meet Licona with witnesses, but he has not done so.

Meanwhile, let’s look at just one piece from the other short letter.

Be encouraged that we all see through the childish attacks you have faced. In
our culture, personal attacks are often offered when the opposition cannot
answer the clarity of your position. Sadly it is apparent that sometimes Christians
do this as well. You do not stand alone. We have been there, and we stand
alongside of you in the truth! The Administration, Faculty, Staff and students of
the Arlington Baptist College pray for you and stand with you in this battle.

All the childish attacks. Oh come on!

If people cry out over this, I wonder what they would do in the face of real persecution in certain countries overseas.

To begin with, let us remember it was Geisler who threw the first punch here, and that punch has cost the Licona family income and loss of credibility. Note also Geisler has had a petition going around behind the scenes against Licona and Geisler has been getting Licona uninvited from conferences and doing the same to Copan and Habermas for supporting Licona.

Last I checked, none of us have done such to Geisler. Geisler has tried to control the evangelical world and make sure everyone sees things his way.

I agree that attacks can come when the clarity of a position cannot be answered, but in this case it has been. I’ve done it. Max Andrews has done it. J.P. Holding has done it. We have not seen replies to what we have said. Holding’s challenge to Geisler for open debate was even taken down from Geisler’s Facebook page and the person who posted it was banned from posting there.

Geisler has refused to listen then and has instead kept going on his Crusade. If he wants to play that game it is played as well. The response of Holding was to make a cartoon and now Geisler plays the victim card. It is like the bully who punches someone only to have another student who doesn’t like it come over and knock him down and then the bully cries out that he is a victim.

What is done is done because Geisler is going against unity in the body and damaging Evangelicalism as a whole. There was a day and age when many of us held Geisler’s name in great respect. Now we look at that name with shame. We see it as disgraceful and for us, it wasn’t because of anything that Mike Licona said about Geisler. It was seeing Geisler himself and how he handled disagreement and the hostility in his approach to Licona.

The cause of Geisler’s loss of respect in the evangelical world is Geisler alone.

We hope that Geisler will stop and see the damage he’s done to the body and give it a rest. There are far more important battles to be fought.

We also want to note the irony that Ergun Caner is listed as support. Geisler. Do you really want to use Caner’s name again? There are people that have been waiting for you to answer questions for years on this topic and now in a topic where your position is not accepted, you bring in an endorsement from someone who’s endorsement will not be accepted. Do you really want James White going after you again?

Now earlier, I would have and in fact did agree with you on Caner. I hadn’t looked at it, but I knew Caner and I had a high respect for you and none for White. It seemed like a grudge match. Now since I’ve seen the way you investigate these claims, I must say I would simply wish to look at this whole thing myself if I got the time, but even if you were entirely right on Caner, it still does not serve you to bring him in here.

Seriously, this whole thing is dead. The evangelical world does not care any more about it. Oh I’ll still comment whenever you say something like this, but I’m also aware you’re doing a fine job of destroying your own reputation. When someone takes a minor and makes a major issue out of it, there is something else going on.

It’s done. I pray soon you’ll meet Licona with witnesses as he has asked for and be able to make amends and put this all past us. Enough damage has been done. There is no need to keep beating a resurrected horse.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

High Context and the Perspicuity of Scripture

What hath the Big Bang Theory to do with hermeneutics? Let’s find out as we dive into Deeper Waters.

Just recently on Facebook, I was in a dialogue with a skeptic who was saying that God should have made His novel clearer. This is the kind of thinking that I find I regularly seem to have to argue against. Why is it that God should have made it clearer, and clearer to who?

What 21st century American thinkers can think is clear might not be what a 12th century Japanese person thinks is clear. It might not be what a 17th century Chinese person thinks is clear. It might not be what a 3rd century Egyptian thinks is clear. Why should it be that our society is the one that gets precedence?

Note that this also implies that Scripture will be dispensed at the lowest level possible. Why think Scripture should be that way? I would think that God, if He is the most awesome being of all, would in fact NOT be simplistic in His writing. The reality is that he would write far better than any author could in having multiple levels of depth to what he writes.

Consider this in light of the Geisler controversy. The idea is that the text does not seem to create any clear indication of being apocalyptic in Matthew 27:52-53 and even if it was, it must still be literal somehow. (Never mind that hardly anyone stops to think about what that means.)

One aspect missed in this is that the Bible is written in a high context society. The Bible assumes that you knew the prerequisite background knowledge to understand what is being said. Take the book of Revelation for instance. Two thirds of Revelation alludes to Old Testament Scriptures. It assumes that you have a working knowledge of the Old Testament. If you don’t have that, you will misunderstand the book. You cannot open Revelation and have just the text and understand it without knowing the background of the Old Testament.

Consider for an example the Big Bang Theory.

Oh I don’t mean the scientific theory. I mean the TV show. If you don’t know about this sitcom, it’s one that some friends suggested my wife and I watch, not only because they suspect one character (Sheldon) has Asperger’s, but they thought I in particular would since these are really four intellectual geeks together. The show is filled with such humor.

Regularly throughout the series, one will find bits of humor that depend on having a high knowledge of the subject matter discussed. I have no doubt that if I was more of a scientist, I would understand much of the humor even more. There is enough in the text that one can get a basic understanding of what is being said, but the more knowledge you possess of the subject, the more you will understand the inner-depths of the text.

If I want to enjoy a joke more in the series, I can look up a name or a word in the joke and do some studying and then look back at that joke when I watch a rerun and say “Ah! Now I understand that. It makes a lot more sense now!” What do I do with the Bible? The same thing. I go back and understand the context that the text is in, and that includes its historical and social context. Could it be that the Bible is not written from the perspective and reading style of modern Americans, but rather Ancient Jews?

When asked then how we can know what the text means, the answer is the same as that which Paul gave to Timothy. It’s 2 Timothy 2:15. Study to show yourself approved.

If we want to understand the deepest things of God, we will have to study. There are no shortcuts to this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Lordship Over Scholarship

What is the real relationship between Lordship and Scholarship? Let’s find out as we dive into Deeper Waters.

In the whole Geisler controversy, one statement that has been repeated, and I understand is repeated in the book Geisler just released with Bill Roach, “Defending Inerrancy” is the idea that there must be times that we put Lordship over scholarship. This saying sounds oh so good. It sounds really spiritual. Still, we must ask if this is really a good statement to use?

Let’s clear something up. If something is really true, scholarship can never change that. Scholarship can never disprove it. It might raise at times some arguments that are somewhat persuasive and may seem to have the evidence on their side, but there are a number of times that such arguments have been overturned in the history of thought. If we believe something is true then, we should have no fear of following the evidence where it leads.

In one way, Lordship is always over scholarship in that Christ is Lord of all in the sense that He is the supreme ruler of the universe, whether or not people recognize His Lordship. There are unbelieving scholars and Christ is Lord over them in that He is sovereign over them, but He is not Lord in the sense that He has a salvific relationship with them.

Having said that, the Lordship over scholarship does not work if we mean instead that spirituality goes over scholarship. A good argument should never be replaced with personal piety. Don’t get me wrong in this. I do think being holy is very important for people and we should all seek to be holy, but we should not say “X is a really holy person, so therefore X is right in his opinion on Y.”

Unfortunately, this is what it usually comes down to. Are you really going to disagree with brother X? Do you know how much that man prays? Do you know about all the time he spends at the homeless shelter caring for people down there? Do you know how much of his money he gives to the poor? Do you know how much time he spends every day in Bible reading? Look at the devotion he has to his wife. Are you saying that he’s wrong?

All of those questions could have excellent answers, and brother X could still be wrong. Only one is infallible and that is God Himself. We dare not give infallibility to anyone else.

So when Geisler says this in response to Licona, what are we to say? Well let’s look further at what is said.

“we do not wish to stifle scholarship but only to reject bad scholarship.”

For this first part, there can be no disagreement. In fact, to be clear, we should not stifle bad scholarship per se. If someone wants to research something, if we’re convinced it’s going to be shown to be completely ridiculous, then we should be able to say “By all means go ahead.” We should be eager to help them in their search because we know in the end, that their view will show itself to be false by their own study. If it doesn’t, then we might actually have to consider that we dismissed it too quickly.

Should we reject bad scholarship? Yes, but I do not think we reject bad scholarship because it reaches conclusions we don’t like. We should reject bad scholarship because it is bad scholarship. It is bad scholarship because it does not reason through the evidence properly and/or research it properly.

“Further, as Evangelicals we must beware of desiring a seat at the table of contemporary scholarship, which is riddled with presuppositions that are antagonistic to Evangelical Christianity.”

On the contrary, I think we should eagerly be desiring this! How are we supposed to make an impact on the world of scholarship if we don’t want to seat at the table. Imagine what it could mean for Christianity if Christians were seen as trusted authorities in each field.

C.S. Lewis once talked about what it would mean if Christians were so up on their game in the world of ideas that whenever an unbeliever got a textbook for a class that was written by the best in the field, that that person was a Christian. This isn’t just in the area of religion! What if the best astronomer was a Christian? What if the best heart surgeon was? What if the best psychologist was? What if the best lawyer was?

If we run from interaction with the scholars, then who is going to be the influence on them? Are we going to wind up saying that Christianity has nothing to offer in the marketplace of ideas and that it cannot compete when contemporary scholarship shows up? Are we to say Christianity should be afraid of scholarship?

In saying all of this, I do not think Mike holds the position he does because he wants to be recognized at the table. Quite the contrary. I think he holds the position he does because that is where the evidence leads, and that is what we want in scholarship. We want scholars who will approach the data as fairly as they can and reach the conclusion of truth. We often say we want atheists and agnostics and others to put aside their presuppositions and study Christianity. Should we not do the same?

After all, if we tell them that if you just study it objectively without a naturalistic presupposition, then you will realize Christianity is true, then we should certainly have no qualms about those of us who are Christians being willing to do the same thing. If Christianity is true, then Christians should be able to say “If I approached this issue without my Christian presuppositions, would I reach the same conclusion?”

The reason we could be against such a thing could be that we don’t think the evidence is as strong as it could be. If so, then are we really believing in Christianity the way we should? Are we believing in it because of the evidence or in ignorance of the evidence?

“Indeed, when necessary, we must place Lordship over scholarship (2 Cor. 10:5).”

What does this really mean? How do we place Lordship over scholarship? Is this saying that regardless of what scholarship says, we must remember that unless it agrees with the Lord, it is wrong? Now of course, that is true. If God is the God of all truth and if scholarship disagrees with God, then scholarship is wrong.

The problem is we could be dependent on our presuppositions at that point and not really examining the case. It’s an event where we say that all evidence is admissible into the courtroom, but only on the grounds that the evidence agrees with the conclusion that we’ve already reached.

This is a more fideistic position where we wind up saying “You can keep all your data over there. I’ll have my faith in Jesus Christ over here.” We must not ever divorce the truth of the gospel of Christ from the truth of reality. The gospel is just as real as this keyboard I am using is. That being the case, we should again be willing to look at any “evidence” that comes against it.

When we deal with scholarship, upon what grounds do we do so? We don’t do so in saying something like “I know you have scholarship over there that presents arguments that seem to indicate the Bible is wrong on X, but the Bible is the Word of God and therefore your scholarship is wrong.” This is arguing from the conclusion alone. We must show why the conclusion reached is invalid and we do this by showing that the data is either wrong and/or it is being misunderstood or misinterpreted in some way.

“We do not oppose scholarship, but only scholarship whose presuppositions and methodological procedures are opposed to the Faith once for all committed to the saints.”

But why? I want atheist scholarship to be the best scholarship it can be. I want Muslim scholars to be the best scholars they can be. I want the same for Jewish and Agnostic scholars. I don’t care about their worldview. This is what I care about. What is the argument? What is the data for the argument?

If we say that good scholarship is only scholarship that agrees with Christianity, then we are stacking the deck in our favor. “We will only accept good scholarship and good scholarship is that which already agrees with us.” How can this be seen as an honest interpretation of the data?

When we give our atheist friend a book that reflects Christian scholarship, we again want them to be willing to case aside their presuppositions and just honestly examine the argument and see what is thought of it. Do we wish to be hypocrites when our atheist friends give us books that reflect atheist scholarship? He is to be open-minded with the evidence, but we are to study it from our own presuppositions.

What is to be afraid of? If Christianity is true, it will stand the test of time. It will hold up to any argument against it. It could be at times that we don’t have all the data we need, but we can then show the data is incomplete or poor reasoning. If we think we have enough positive data on our side, I think it’s quite alright to look at a case that seems negative and say “You do have a good argument here, but I have several good arguments here as well. For this negative case, let me just wait a little while and see what new data shows up.” I would not have a problem with an atheist doing the same.

So is Lordship over scholarship? In the sense I mentioned earlier of Christ being Lord of all, yes. In the sense that spirituality wins, no. Let us freely approach the table of academia because we are sure that the Christ who was strong enough to conquer the Roman Empire is also strong enough to handle scholarship.

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