In Defense Of Michael Licona’s Orthodoxy

by Jacob Allee

It came to my attention today that Norman Geisler has written two open letters to Dr. Michael Licona in regard to Licona’s views of Matthew 27:52-53 which states:

52The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Licona’s position on these verses is that they were not intended by Matthew (the gospel writer) to be taken literally as a historical event but rather that Matthews intent was to use a literary device to emphasize the gravity of what has just occurred, namely the death of the Son of God. Licona states in his book The Resurrection of Jesus “…it seems to me that an understanding of the language in Matthew 27:52-53 as ‘special effects’ with eschatological Jewish texts and thought in mind is most plausible” (P. 552).

In Geisler’s open letters to Licona, which you can see HERE and HERE, Geisler argues that Licona is breaking from an orthodox understanding of biblical inerrancy. Inerrancy is the Christian doctrine that the Bible is without error in the original manuscripts and is absolutely true in whatever it intends to communicate. According to Geisler, Licona is guilty of failing to adhere to biblical inerrancy because he is denying the historicity of the account found in Matthew 27:52-52 and he notes that Robert Gundry was asked to leave the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) on the same grounds of rejecting parts of the gospel of Matthew as historical stating “In 1983 by an overwhelming vote the ETS members Robert Gundry was asked to resign from the ETS for holding a similar view in which he dehistoricized sections of Matthew’s Gospel.  Since Mike Licona is a member of ETS, it follows that his view is inconsistent with the ETS stand on inerrancy.”

So if we follow the logical flow of Geisler we see that he is saying that Licona and Gundry are doing the same thing and guilty of the same error which means that Geisler thinks Licona needs to either openly recant/repent from his understanding of Matthew 27:52-53 and affirm this historicity of the events or he needs to leave the ETS which Licona is a current member of…

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