Darrell Bock: Truth Matters

A recent survey indicates that about 70% of young people stop going to church between the ages of 18 and 22. Many eventually  do come back. However, 4 out of every 10 kids who grow up in evangelical churches will leave the church when they get out of high school… and NEVER return. NEVER.

Think about that for a moment.

I was very young in my Christian faith when I took one of my first religion classes at a secular college. It was entitled “Jesus of Nazareth”. I thought it would be nothing more than a Bible study and an easy grade.

Boy was I wrong.

After several hours in class, I was scratching my head, wondering whether or not Christianity was really true …or not! It was a mind blowing experience that rattled my faith. Thankfully, I had some good Christian friends and a few good resources from InterVarsity Press to tackle my intellectual doubts.

Today, if a young person goes off to college and takes a religion class, chances are very, very high that they will read a textbook written by Bart Ehrman, professor of religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ehrman grew up in the heartland of evangelical academia, Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College. Ehrman eventually abandoned his Christian faith and is now perhaps the leading, agnostic New Testament textual scholar in the country. Given all of the TV documentaries and New York Times bestsellers, Ehrman is practically an icon of American popular culture, too. Ehrman’s latest book, How Jesus Became God: Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, promises to challenge deeply held beliefs by Christians (note the up-and-coming book-length response by Australian scholar Michael Bird and others, with the provocative title, How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature—A Response to Bart Ehrman). If you think young people in our evangelical churches will not be impacted by prominent skeptics like Bart Ehrman, then I am sorry, you are terribly deluded. I will pray for you.

New Testament scholar Darrell Bock, along with fellow scholar Andreas Köstenberger and pastor Josh Chatraw have written a very accessible book that helps to orient young people, parents, and youth ministers to address the type of issues that Ehrman and others are raising that are typically never discussed in most evangelical churches today. Here is the promo video for the book written by Bock and his team, Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World:

From what I have read so far, this book does not go for the combative, culture war mentality so predominant in many apologetic books of the past. Instead, Bock and his colleagues are trying to foster a type of engaging dialogue that encourages conversation.

I think this is the way to go forward in apologetics and the way to approach the type of questions that Bart Ehrman raises. I know of at least one high school student graduating and heading off to college this year. I plan on getting them a copy of this book.

How are you going to address the issues that Bart Ehrman raises?

Additional Resources:

When I was taking that “Jesus of Nazareth” class in college, I had to work through in my mind what it meant to read scripture in a devotional way, like how a follower of Jesus typically does, and what is often called the historical critical method, which is basically a way of looking at the biblical text from the viewpoint of an historian, whether that person be a Christian or a critic of Christianity. Bart Ehrman in Jesus Interrupted argues that reading the Bible devotionally and reading it as an historian does are completely irreconcilable approaches. Here, Darrell Bock corrects such a misguided distinction:

About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

2 responses to “Darrell Bock: Truth Matters

  • jriddett

    1-2 years ago I stumbled upon Bart’s blog. Such a scary realization of how someone could distort the Word of God. I would engage in questions and discussions on his blog. However , many he would have a hard time answering and would just tell me to buy his book. He also controlled the blog so many of my responses would not make it on his blog. He truly had some “followers” on his blog , but they would not know he was blocking my comments. He also wrote me a separate email that was pretty lengthy attempting to explain why my comments weren’t allowed. From what I remember he said my comments were “evangelical” in nature. His site was also open for reading most of the comments or his entries. However as our email correspond continued he changed it to only seeing the whole post if you had a paid membership. As I would not give money to him, I did not continue. Maybe I should have , but the discussions I would get into may have been blocked that way too. The ones he more easily blocked were direct questions to him. I remember he was most disturbed by the question.” If Jesus was just a historical figure , a mere man , why do you care so much to devote entire books to him ?” Why not pick someone else from history ? He also did not like speaking of the times when he called himself a Christian , as in the text of Ephesians. Poor guy , really so misguided and I would have to say lost. But also fighting such a deadly jaded cause.

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    • John Paine

      Janet, it sounds like you gave Ehrman some things to think about–way to go! The sad part about Bart Ehrman is that he has an agenda. When you strip away his expertise in textual criticism, what you’re left with is a guy who can’t figure it out, but works to discredit the claims and content of the Bible. Yes, we can acknowledge the textual variants AND still have the original, consistent meaning–per Daniel Wallace, the Chicago Statement, and–oddly enough–Bart Ehrman. Unfortunately there are many people who sift Ehrman’s biased presentation of the Bible and end up with their ladder leaning against the wrong house. Ehrman is much more of a lost skeptic than he is an agnostic. Keep contending for the faith that was so faithfully handed down to us (Jude 3)!

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