Tag Archives: Bart Ehrman

Truth in a Culture of Doubt: Brief Book Review

Still looking for that perfect gift book, for a high school graduate, off on their way to college? Consider Truth in a Culture of Doubt: Engaging Skeptical Challenges to the Bible, by Andreas Köstenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw.

Young people growing up in the church today face immense challenges from a culture skeptical to the Gospel. Leading the charge towards encouraging doubt is popular author and University of North Carolina religion professor, Bart Ehrman.

If you have never heard of Bart Ehrman before, you need to get out from underneath your rock, and learn about him. Ehrman grew up going to church and attending Christian colleges, but eventually lost his faith in the process. He has since authored five New York Times Bestsellers, and dozens of other books, all aimed at undermining confidence in the reliability of the Bible and its message.

What makes Ehrman’s skepticism so caustic, is that he knows his facts really, really well. He knows his Bible better than most Christians do, and he remains one of the world’s top textual critical scholars of the New Testament. The problem is that the conclusions he draws from his research are not always warranted. There are indeed very good answers to the issues he raises, that affirm the trustworthiness of the Bible.

In Truth in a Culture of Doubt, Köstenberger, Bock, and Chatraw, all evangelical and believing scholars themselves, tackle each of Erhman’s challenges in a very engaging manner, issues that every thoughtful Christian will face, as they seek to share their faith with their informed neighbors:

  • Is God Immoral Because He Allows Suffering?
  • Is the Bible Full of Irresolvable Contradictions?
  • Are the Biblical Manuscripts Corrupt?
  • Were there Many Christianities?
  • Are Many New Testament Documents Forged?

A nice little extra is a quick question and answer guide at the back of the book, that summarizes the basic arguments. Truth in a Culture of Doubt is an updated, more in-depth version of an earlier book by these evangelical scholars, Truth Matters, that I reviewed a few years ago. Though Truth in a Culture of Doubt was itself published back in 2014, the information packed in it is still relevant today, as the issues dealt within are not going away any time soon. Ehrman is still himself writing books, but more and more, any new issues that he writes about move further away from his area of expertise.

In many ways, the topics that Ehrman has been writing about for over fifteen years are not new. They are no more than popular distillations of scholarly, critical views in the history of Christianity, that have been taught in secular departments of religion at private and public universities for nearly a century now. Sadly, it has taken a barrage of these skeptical writings, in popular form, to force the evangelical church to better inform her people, and give better answers.

Read a brief excerpt from Truth in a Culture of Doubt here, then go buy the book for that young person you know, who is facing challenges from a skeptical culture.


The Wrong Jesus for the Right Young Graduate

Greg Monette, a young scholar with Logos Bible Software and the Navigators, has written the perfect book to curious minds to sort out fact from fiction regarding who was and is Jesus.

Greg Monette, a young scholar with Logos Bible Software and the Navigators, has written the perfect book for curious minds to sort out fact from fiction regarding who was and is Jesus.

The Internet. YouTube. Your NewAge neighbor. The History Channel. Morgan Freeman’s The Story of God. Youth pastors. Skeptical friends. Parents. College professors…. Our world is simply bombarded with an untold number of conflicting voices, all telling us who Jesus really was. How do you figure out who the right Jesus is from the wrong Jesus?

If you know of a Christian young person graduating high school or college, you should know that they will be facing challenges to their Christian faith in college, the secular workplace, or just with their iPhone, scrolling through the Internet. Would not the best gift to such a person be something that will help to prepare them to better understand and defend their faith?

I recently picked up a copy of Greg Monette’s The Wrong Jesus: Fact, Belief, Legend, Truth . . . Making Sense of What You’ve Heard. Monette helps the reader to navigate many of the challenges to what the Bible teaches about Jesus, including questions about His existence, His divinity, and His message to a skeptical world.

In past years, I have recommended Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World, by Andreas Köstenberger, Darrell Bock, Josh Chatraw. This is another excellent book along the same line (Hey, if Veracity co-blogger, John Paine, had dinner with co-author Andreas Köstenberger, it has to be good, right?). In Truth Matters, the authors focus on the popular writings of former evangelical scholar turned skeptic, Bart Ehrman. However, Monette’s book is broader in focus, looking also at archaeological issues, the miracles of Jesus, and how Jesus treated women.

Monette brilliantly defends the faith, but he is also refreshingly candid. The Bible is historically reliable, but the truth of Christianity is not dependent on our ability to figure out every detailed Bible discrepancy and fitting it in with some simplistic view of inerrancy.1 What ultimately matters is that if Jesus really is resurrected from the dead, then this changes everything.

A healthy perspective. A highly recommended book.

Notes:

1. I have written about this topic before, but I feel like this point needs to be repeatedly stressed.


Surviving College Intellectually as a Christian

Michael Kruger was a young Christian when he entered his first year at the University of North Carolina. He thought he was prepared for the challenges to his faith at college, but when sat in a New Testament introduction class taught by Bart Ehrman, it nearly blew out his faith, much like the feeling of getting a flat tire and listening to all of the air hiss out.

Colleges across the country are now in session. Will young Christians survive their time at a university with their faith intact? Dr. Kruger, now the president of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, shares some wisdom about surviving “Religion 101” in the following 6 minute video. I highly recommend Dr. Kruger’s blog.


Responding to Textual Criticism

VilifyWhen someone confronts us in a particularly offensive manner or strikes at a deeply held conviction or belief, most of us have a natural inclination to fight back. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to let anger and emotions get the better of us.

Like it or not, we live in a world where there is little tolerance for people who think differently. From a purely cultural perspective, we are far less apt to listen and empathize than we are to attack and vilify. To win is to vanquish our enemies. Or is it?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?”
Matthew 5:38-47, NKJV

In our Personal Discipleship class we have been studying contemporary challenges to the Christian faith. One of the more prominent challengers is Bart Ehrman, a popular skeptic who calls himself an agnostic, but who more accurately fits the mold of an angry, deconverted Christian. (Ehrman has a big beef with God over the problem of evil and suffering.) His books achieve best-seller status, and he is quoted by atheists and skeptics as an authority on the unreliability of the Bible. He is revered by friend and foe alike for his skill in textual criticism. His research is largely undisputed, but his premises and conclusions are highly biased. Nevertheless, he strikes a chord with those seeking to discredit the trustworthiness of the Bible.

While it’s very difficult for some to listen to abrasive skepticism, it is encouraging to see how rigorous scholarship can turn back the skeptic’s wrath. Well-articulated truth is a powerful antidote to skepticism, particularly when it follows the apologetic ethic of gentleness and respect. Here is a debate you can buy (sorry, there is no good quality video currently being served online) between Ehrman and Dan Wallace on the reliability of the text of the New Testament. It was at the time the largest debate ever held on the reliability of the New Testament text. (For some interesting background, see the video in this post.)

Wallace Ehrman Debate
Dan Wallace is amazing in this debate. He is honest, well-informed, learned, respectful, humorous, and makes a convincing case for the reliability of the New Testament text. His response to Bart Ehrman is a model of what Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount (quoted above). Wallace’s response is not angry—although he is deeply concerned about the effects of Bart Ehrman’s influence on our culture. Wallace has the proper response to textual skepticism. He doesn’t vilify Bart Ehrman—he doesn’t need to. It is amazing what we can do when we take the time to study the facts and respond in obedience, with an appreciation of the right ethics.

And finally, for those following our Personal Discipleship class or otherwise interested in Textual Criticism, here are the class notes.

Personal Discipleship Class-Week 7
Click on the images inside this file to link to the online resources. (You may need to adjust your browser settings to allow the links to work, or open it in iBooks, or save it to your desktop and open it with Acrobat Reader.)

HT: Daniel B. Wallace, Marion Paine


Andreas Köstenberger at the College of William and Mary

Andreas Köestenberger. Friday, March 20, 2015. College of William and Mary. Millington 150. Sponsored by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Andreas Köstenberger. Friday, March 20, 2015. College of William and Mary. Millington 150. 7pm. Sponsored by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Does truth really matter? Is the New Testament really reliable, and can I have confidence in what it teaches? The New Testament is under attack, and many people today find it difficult to accept the trustworthiness of the Scriptures. Furthermore, many Christians find themselves unable to defend their faith against this form of skepticism.

Andreas Köstenberger, Senior Research Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, will be speaking at the College of William and Mary InterVarsity Christian Fellowship large group meeting, Friday, March 20, 2015, at 7:00 pm. Köstenberger is co-author of a recent book highlighted earlier here on Veracity along with Darrell Bock, Truth Matters: Confident Truth in a Confusing World.  Köstenberger lectures on college campuses addressing issues related to the criticism of the New Testament and the nature of Christian marriage. For people living in the greater Williamsburg, Virginia area, Köstenberger’s talk promises to provoke a wide-ranging discussion of issues that many people, believer and skeptic, struggle with in today’s world. If you wrestle with these type of questions, please come and engage in the conversation.

College of William and Mary:  Millington 150

(Directions to Millington Hall available here)

See you Friday night!!


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