Bart Ehrman’s Smoke Screen
by Billy Dyer
For those of you who don’t know, Bart Ehrman is a New Testament Scholar and an Agnostic. An agnostic is basically an uncommitted fence-rider. That is, they claim that they don’t know whether there is a god(s) or not. Bart Ehrman grew up in a Christian environment, went to seminary and even got his PHD from Princenton by studying under Bruce Metzger. For those of you who don’t know Bruce suffice it to say that he is one of the leading New Testament manuscript scholars in America and probably in the world.
Bart likes to boast of his intellectual honesty. I have read multiple books by him and he seems to always put forth this story of an honest man searching for truth and letting it lead him anywhere even if he didn’t like the destination. Now I don’t know the man’s heart but I guess we have to take him at his word on this much. He tells a story of being, what he claims, a fundamentalist. That is, a
Bible believing Christian. But as he furthered his studies he came to realize all the contradictions in the Bible, how it has been changed and so forth. He learned all the “secret” things that preachers know but don’t like to tell their congregations.
Then I came across a very candid paragraph in the latest book I am reading. I almost wonder if it was a Freudian Slip of sorts. He was distinguishing, wrongly in my opinion, between a “devotional” approach to the Bible (where you read it to learn how to live) and the “historical critical” method. Now there is much we can get into over this latter approach. It is useful in that we want to analyze the text with the knowledge we have of the world and its difference sciences BUT we don’t go into it assuming it is strictly a human document. The point is that you don’t have to choose between the two methods. You can analyze the Bible historically which actually helps your devotional approach. As Bart was putting up this false dichotomy he was speaking about going through grad school and learning this method and how it shook his faith but not those of his friends. Then he drops this hammer…
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