Posts Tagged ‘Bart Ehrman’

OD Today: 21 January 2009 (early edition)

January 21, 2009

This morning’s update is almost but not quite entirely Obama-free.

  1. Mike Witter explains N. T. Wright‘s New Perspective on Paul: “Wright acknowledges at the end of the interview that Reformed theologians will think that he is “smuggling in works-righteousness” to salvation, but he replies that he is actually just being faithful to Paul’s teaching that Christians “really do ‘please God.’” … Catholic view.  Wright still holds to grace alone, but not faith alone, at least as articulated by Calvin and Luther.”
  2. Henry Neufield offers a post-mortem on the Bush Administration. “But having chosen to go to war, President Bush acted as though there was no need for continued support of the war. There are indications that many in his administration thought the war would be much easier. I have a hard time crediting that level of stupidity.”
  3. Church Relevance offers a list of sixty “top Church blogs.” That’s Church Universal, apparently, rather than local church. Stuff Christians Like celebrates coming in third. Several emergents, no ODMs.
  4. James White offers comment on the Williams/Ehrman debate (from Unbelievable?), as part of an episode of The Dividing Line. I have not yet heard this episode: I’m still about forty hours behind on various audio goodies that accumulated while I was away last week.
  5. Miriam Franklin calls Catholics and various groups represented by the World Council of Churches unbelievers.
  6. Miriam Franklin calls John Crowder demonic. See also Chris Rosebrough, which called Crowder’s behavior satanic.
  7. Dwayna Litz reminds us that Jesus did not come to bring world peace. “I just emailed my friend the following verses for the “New Testament Christian”, which prove that war is in fact part of God’s sovereign plan.”
  8. Kit offers three Zeitgeist (movie)-related posts, including an interview with Jordan Maxwell (1, 2, 3).
  9. Howard Fisher has been reading Michael Horton, and takes on the concept of “time alone with Jesus.” “For years I have interacted with Roman Catholics apologists, who mock the doctrine of Sola Scriptura due to their view of Protestantism, by making the charge that Protestants run to sit with Jesus under a tree all alone. This makes sense to me more now than in the past. When Protestants act as Gnostics in their search for truth (while decrying moral relativism), they feed our critics with much ammo.”
  10. Ergun Caner vs. James White, as recommended by Lane Chaplin (YouTube). Ninety-three minutes; I’m still looking for a free (as in costing $0.00) audio version.
  11. Brian D. offers a batch of links. There’s very little overlap what you’ll see here.
  12. Lane Chaplin/Reformata offers a link for a high-quality video of Paul Washer’s “10 indictments” sermon. This is a biggie, and somewhat to very popular among ODMs. I really should put together a bunch of notes and links for this, since it encapsulates a lot of the claims and rhetoric popular among ODMs.
  13. Boyd Miller offers a check list for deciding if you’re part of the Word of Faith movement. “4. Do you believe God has anointed certain people to collect money in his name?”
  14. Job at Jesus Christology quotes and highlights an editorial from NewsMax saying the now-former President betrayed conservatives. “It should be remembered that, sometime after the invasion, the raison d’etre of the war changed from removing Saddam from power and stopping his weapons of mass destruction program to a dreamy plan of creating a democracy in Iraq.
  15. Darryl Foster offers a video with Samuel Brown’s contrary (that is, positive) opinion regarding gay Christians. “We had a civil exchange but with stark disagreements, so I respect him for his civility in expressing his points. Brown says that he was raised in the COGIC but obviously disagrees with COGIC’s moral stance. What do you think about Samuel Brown’s theology on homosexuality? Is he right, wrong or just another really mixed up gay christian?” (YouTube)
  16. Scott Isebrand/Religious Right Watch/Chris Rodda offer an account of a soldier feeling pressured to applaud at the end of a particular prayer by someone named Rick Warren at a public event yesterday. “…soldiers pressured to conform to commanders’ religious beliefs.” Civil religion, anyone?
  17. Kris at SGM Survivors asks among other things why Sovereign Grace Ministries would want to plant a church in Colorado Springs, of all places. “I know you guys have redefined the word “gossip” to mean any and all sharing of information that you don’t want people to be discussing.  But is it really “gossip” to want to know if one’s senior pastor will soon be swapped out for another guy?  Is it somehow wrong to be concerned about who will be leading one’s “local” church?  Wouldn’t it demonstrate, actually, a strange lack of concern if people did NOT desire to know about these things?”
  18. The Westchester Institute announces a commentary addressing the question “Has the Pro-Life Movement Failed?”

I generally hesitate to be a trend-spotter and prognosticator, but I’m expecting more articles regarding George W. Bush saying, more or less “we’ve been had” now that he’s out of office and no longer the beneficiary of any Pauline commands to be subject to those in authority.

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OD Today: 7 January 2009 (very late edition)

January 7, 2009

Warning: if this weblog were a movie, it would be rated R due to repeated uses of the words “death” and “abortion” and occasional uses of the words “hell” and “kill.” We’ll try to keep the language tame, and warn on content when appropriate.

Most of tonight’s items are continuing stories; the exceptions are the “pathological antagonists” article and the news item about Ed Dobson.

  1. Chris Rosebrough calls out Jane Dratz again, this time for her Christian Post article on how to share your faith using a song by Leona Lewis.
  2. Chris Lyons shares an article from Frontline Fellowship that appears to be taken entirely from Guy Greenfield’s book The Wounded Minister (2002), regarding pathological antagonists. It’s a shame these pathological antagonists don’t seek out abusive pastors, and vice versa.
  3. But the reasons why Origen may have preferred one reading over another can be quite complex, to be sure. In any case, all we can glean from the references Ehrman himself provides is that Origen knew of the variant in the third century.”
  4. Ingrid Schlueter links to an article by Matt Trewhella regarding Ed Dobson (not James Dobson, but the former Moral Majority lieutenant) who said recently that he voted for Barack Obama. “I have seen this with other Christian leaders who have become leftist in their political views. They call upon Christians to have nothing to do with politics, and then they involve themselves with politics – leftist politics.” Both say Dobson is apostate: “When a Christian leader boasts about voting for Barack Obama he has apostatized. Christianity opposes the killing of the preborn and the legitimizing of sodomy. Always has.”
  5. Miriam Franklin comments on the return of Todd Bentley and Rick Joyner’s work in restoring Bentley. Bentley is apparently not returning to his wife.
  6. Dwayna Litz picks up on the popularity of the doctrine of soul sleep among some in the Hebrew Roots movement, calls out Lew White. Full article here.
  7. John Chishem continues with part three of his review of Jesus Wants to Save Christians, by Rob Bell and Don Golden. “From the reading of this book, and the reading of the narrative theology along with other books and videos and recordings, it is clear that Bell is teaching the Christian Universalist Heresy and wrapping it in the poetic language of the New Exodus. “
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OD Today: 7 January 2009 (early edition)

January 7, 2009

There may or may not be a late edition today; work is crazy busy and I may not have time for a second pass today.

There’s a lot of meat here, and I mean a lot. Only the John Crowder story is really new, but there’s barely a dud in the bunch today.

  1. Thomas Heringer is reading Francis Schaeffer’s book How Should We Then Live? and blames the current state of the United States on its cultural inheritance from Greece and Rome. “We refuse today to put the ten commandments into our schools and courts, because of the mistaken view that this would violate separation of church and state. Instead we rely on the word of man, which changes daily if not moment by moment. We have even gone so far as to put Christ on the back burner in our churches and have opted instead for man made programs, such as The Purpose Driven life.”
  2. John Baker links to this slideshow from Aish.com on the Arab-Israeli conflict. “The goal of the Arabs is the destruction of the Jews.”
  3. Henry Neufeld offers a post and links on evangelical Christianity and evangelism from an atheist perspective. “The trouble is, it’s often the behavior of the messenger much more than the honesty of the beliefs that often offends other people.”
  4. Watcher’s Lamp links to a column in the Salt Lake Tribune (originally from Bloomberg) by Paul Kennedy on global financial prospects for 2009. “The biggest question concerns the United States. My instinct tells me it will lose ground in 2009. I simply don’t see how the Treasury can print $1 trillion to cover deficit spending, offer those bills at very low interest rates, and expect foreigners (not Americans, because we don’t have the savings) to buy them, persuading the world to keep afloat its greatest debtor since Phillip II of Spain. … Yet if Asians decline to buy tens of billions of Treasuries each month in 2009, U.S. interest rates will have to go up again. “
  5. John Chishem continues his review of Jesus Wants To Save Christians, by Rob Bell and Don Golden. “Bell does not like government, specifically, Bell does not like government that does not function within his view of the purpose of government, which is a very liberal one, from my reading. … Clearly, Bell has a low view of the need of the military and the use of force to protect the gifts and the country, and those who are poor and oppressed, which God has entrusted to the rulers.”
  6. Dwayna Litz shares email in response to her earlier post regarding Gary Gilley’s review of Tim Keller’s book; the unnamed author is concerned about ecumenicism and syncreticism: “We used to pray for the nations through the book Operation World by Patrick Johnstone, but it was always disturbing to find him including Catholics, Orthodox, and other non-saved “Christians” within the statistical percentage of Christians in each country. We also observed the shift in missions from “conversion out of” to “adding Jesus within” other religions as missionaries would redefine pagan religious practice and teaching to “Christianize” them. “
  7. Thomas Ice discussses the history of the doctrine of the pre-Tribulation rapture of the Church prior to John Nelson Darby.
  8. Ingrid Schlueter calls out Glenview New Church of Glenview, Illinois for their Summary of Beliefs. “I have news for them. This isn’t Christianity at all but an apostate counterfeit.” This is a somewhat measured response from Schlueter given that Glenview New Church is universalist and Swedenborgian.
  9. Yet another emergent/emerging Christian expresses doubts about global warming.
  10. Dwayna Litz links to and excerpts Sidney Dyer regarding N. T. Wright, author of the New Perspective on Paul, Wright’s ecumenicism, and his new perspective on the Gospel. “A major problem with Wright is that, if he does hold to Christ’s vicarious atonement, he believes Christ died for and will save all men.”
  11. Jason Lisle calls atheism irrational. “In other words, if atheism were true, it would be impossible to prove anything!” I haven’t worked through the details, but I think I smell an excluded middle.
  12. Ken Silva recaps his positions on contemplative prayer, etc. and explains why he focuses only on points of disagreement with other writers. “Those familiar with AM know I’ve referred to that style of writing as the plus/minus approach. It’s by far the most common method, which no doubt you’ve seen many times. One begins by listing the 3-5 good things about a given subject, this is then followed by the 8-10 bad things, in order to reach the foregone conclusion that they can’t recommend said subject. And as I’ve said before it’s not wrong; however, I just chose to leave out the often patronizing step one is all.”
  13. Anton and/or Janet Hein-Hudson on John Crowder. “The essence of John Crowder’s ‘ministry’ appears to be this: experience over doctrine.” I didn’t note it at the time because it was a clip without comments, but Chris Rosebrough linked to this same video clip yesterday. It was also a major chunk of yesterday’s Fighting for the Faith podcast.
  14. Phil Perkins offers the second installment in his series regarding Online Discernment Ministries. “Nevertheless, there are some in the ODM world who aren’t even saved. The proof is in their lives. Part I dealt with two sins currently rampant. One is a general looseness in ethics. … The second sin is rooted in team spirit of a sorts.”
  15. James White pounds the table regarding Tim Staples and his “33,000 Protestant denominations” claim, and reviews an appearance by Bart Ehrman (audio).
  16. Chris Rosebrough calls out Pam Shepherd of First Congregational Church of Christ in Ashland, Oregon for refusing to marry heterosexual couples unless and until homosexual couples are able to marry too.
  17. Job at Jesus Christology asks whether Israel has a right to exist as a nation. “it is my proposal that Old Testament Israel’s right to exist as a unique sovereign political entity tied to the land that was formerly Canaan ended by virtue of their breaking the Sinai covenant….”
  18. Boyd Miller on tithing and bankruptcy; USA Today article here. There are some interesting numbers regarding tithing here, but the main story, about people who go into bankruptcy while still tithing, sounds anecdotal.
  19. Roderick Edwards, former preterist, gives an overview of preterism and distinguishes between preterism and hyper-preterism. “The present day versions of hyperpreterism all originated in the 1970s with a man named Max King. King was a “church of Christ” minister who wrote several hyperpreterist books in the 1970-1980s. Hyperpreterism before that was mainly manifested among Universalists.”
  20. Cindy Kunsman gives some background on the Shepherding movement. “All of the Shepherding/Discipleship groups observed this focus on submission and the “umbrella of protection” concept to varying degrees and continue to do so, despite the fact that shepherding was theoretically denounced and renounced by most Evangelical leaders and some of the leaders of shepherding themselves.”
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Ehrman vs. Williams on Unbelievable?

January 6, 2009

I picked up the trail on this story via either James White or Justin Taylor. I don’t remember. These are my raw notes from an episode of Unbelievable? on Premier Christian Radio in the United Kingdom.

Bart Ehrman is the author of a book called Misquoting Jesus. He was born Episcopalian, then was born again; he attended Moody Bible Institute, then Wheaton, and finally Princeton Theological Seminary, where he was a student of Bruce Metzger. He first believed that the Bible was inerrant, with no problems or inconsistencies, completely correct in all matters scientific and historical. To him the original words matter, and as he lost his faith in this model of the Scriptures he lost his faith, period.

Peter Williams takes the position that the Scriptures are “inerrant with some problems, but still true in the normal sense.”

Ehrman’s opening argument:

  1. There are no original copies of the (New Testament) text available; the copies available were made much later than the originals. For example, the earliest complete collection of Paul’s writings dates to about 350AD, nearly three centuries after Paul’s death.
  2. The copies differ; this means that scribes changed the texts
  3. We have no clue how much; the changes are extensive: there are thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of changes across the body of available text
  4. Most are not material, but some are; some are doctrinal

Ehrman is advocating a model of scribal error that propagates and compounds errors, and furthermore the important errors were introduced intentionally.

Peter Williams starts here; he agrees on the facts regarding dates, but takes a “half-full rather than half-empty” view:

  1. The quality of Scriptural textual traditions is much better than for e.g. classical texts
  2. Agrees there are hundreds of thousands of errors across the total textual tradition
  3. Agrees most are of secondary importance
  4. Says the many texts imply a strong tradition, even with many errors, and claims that Ehrman suggests just the opposite: the more texts there are the weaker the textual tradition is.

The host asked offhand why God didn’t keep errors from creeping in, then deferrs the question for a later show.

Which changes matter:

Ehrman: Mark 1:41: the angry Jesus. Claims the minority tradition, where Jesus is angry (at the man who wants to be healed) is authoritative, vs. the majority tradition, where Jesus is compassionate. This fits Mark’s Jesus better.

Williams: Agrees it matters but not much in this case; questions that there’s any evidence of intent: the minority tradition is geographically concentrated.

Ehrman: gives a weak direct response, then appeals to Matthew/Luke: they both give this story, presumably from Mark, but neither portray Jesus’s emotional state.

Williams: Ehrman consistently prefers an “intelligent design” theory of textual problems, rather than a “random chance” theory. Suggests the spread of changes from Mark to Matthew/Luke suggests accidents, not intent.

Host introduces the story from John of the woman taken in adultery.

Ehrman: this story doesn’t belong in John; how did it get into the text? Williams agrees on the facts, differs on interpretation.

Host: next week Ehrman will be back debating Richard Swinburn and pushing his book God’s Problem, on the problem of evil.

Williams: We can reconstruct the original text from the available textual tradition. Translations improve over time due to 1) more texts and 2) better scholarship. Tradition regarding existing translations is a drag on progress; Bible translators are unwilling to jump whole-hog into modern translations because doing so would hurt sales.

Williams also distinguishes between textual traditions according to their moral value vs. their historical value, and suggests that the older witnesses (secondary sources) are more important than later extrabiblical witnesses.

Ehrman: picks up Hebrews 2:9: did Jesus die by the grace of God? Or did He die apart from God? One word separates these two traditions, and the words are spelled very similarly. Argues the latter/more difficult reading is more likely correct, and the change was a response to a 2nd Century argument with Gnostics, who claimed Jesus “had the Christ” rather than “was the Christ.” This sort of change is the most worrying, because it suggests that the text may have been changed to fit theology, rather than the other way around.

Williams: the preponderance of the evidence suggests chance/random changes.

Host: what does this imply for what/how people believe?

Ehrman: rejects that he has taken a “falsus in uno” position. Brings up the point of 1 John 5 regarding the Trinity. Says theologians don’t generally change their minds regardless of what the Scriptural text actually says, or in response to changes in the understanding of the history of the text.

Williams: Ehrman’s book overstates the problem/how much is really at stake. The overall significance/impact of the Bible is not touched by Ehrman’s argument.

Ehrman: these issues per se didn’t ruin his faith. Reasserts that there are hundreds of important changes.

Williams: early variant readings represent small disagreements. Scholarly agreement is not the central issue; it isn’t the foundation of the authority of Scripture. Appeals to the Old Testament story of Josiah: the Scriptures were completely unavailable, but that didn’t mean they weren’t authoritative.

Analysis: Ehrman is probably correct in that he was constrained by the format of the show: he presented two, maybe four cases, out of what he claims are hundred of important textual problems. Williams had better soundbites: his “glass half-full” and “intelligent design” bites were better than anything Ehrman had in response. Williams had the advantage that he was free to attack Ehrman’s book, while he had no corresponding book to defend.

Conclusion: each man presents and argues a model of scribal error inferring a model of textual variance. It’s difficult to argue conclusively back from the text, which is available, to the scribal process, which can’t be observed. Neither side really has a knockout punch: Ehrman would need say the minutes of a text-changing committee, Williams a cache of authentic texts from 120AD or so closely resembling what’s available today.

Unfortunately, the question they’re purporting to answer, regarding the importance of variations in textual traditions, don’t touch the question of whether the Bible is the Word of God. They both agree in essence that that’s still a matter of faith, and Williams has it, in some form, while Ehrman doesn’t.

OD Today: 29 December 2008

December 29, 2008

I’m still trying to do some backing and filling on the KJV Only movement, so a couple of today’s links are fairly old. I’m still looking for Pro-KJV-Only weblogs and/or YouTube streams; most everything seems to be from KJV-Only detractors.

  • YouTube user TellittoJesus takes on KJV Only, particularly Bill Bradley’s book Purified Seven Times. He considers the KJV Only Movement “the spirit of the Antichrist.”
  • Jerry at CRN.Info quotes from this article by William Murchison asking if looking to older stages in a particular Christian tradition is helpful if that tradition doesn’t faithfully represent Jesus and His teachings. Some coarse language due to a quote from a book by Robert Penn Warren.
  • Blogger KittyKit quotes this article by Thomas Horn: “As a Christian researcher and author of two books on the New Age, I find the increasing regularity of UFO sightings prophetically intriguing,” and in another post quotes this older editorial on Anne Rice and vampires.
  • John Baker quotes without comment this article from CNS News about 2009 being a crucial year in the debate about homosexuality and human rights. “Homosexuality is not a human right, [Gary] Bauer said.”
  • John Baker links with scripture verses but no additional comments to this response by someone referred to only by the initials “S.S.” to this announcement of an Assemblies of God missions drive called Invasion of America with the Gospel. The original announcement by Zollie Smith Jr, Executive Director of Missions for the Assemblies of God, includes the sentence “No one deserves to spend eternity in the lake of fire.” I’m not going to try to parse all the buzzwords and name-calling here to figure out if this is a sign of creeping Universalism or just a poor choice of words.
  • Dwayna Litz links to Nicholas Jackson’s column at News With Views with a suggested prayer for Rick Warren to pray at Barack Obama‘s inauguration.
  • Dwayna Litz offers links for people who are witnessing to cultists: Witnesses for Jesus, Inc. and Walter Martin’s Religious InfoNet.
  • Brian Thornton congratulates Focus on the Family for pulling its CitizenLink article promoting Glenn Beck’s book The Christmas Sweater, links to this Drew Zahn article at World Net Daily. Zahn’s piece does a poor job of explaining the differences between Mormon and evangelical Christian theology, summarizes Beck’s book, quotes Joel Campbell of the Mormon Times, and notes that World Net Daily is selling Beck’s book. I’m going to pass on the chance to say World Net Daily is “promoting Mormonism,” but that looks like profiteering to me.
  • Dwayna Litz recommends Jeff Sharlet‘s book The Family, and says she’s ordering a copy tonight. Jeff Sharlet has written several long-form pieces on the Religious Right, all of which merit reading. He’s one of the few mainstream journalists I’ve found who seems to speak the language, but he’s not personally a conservative Christian and his objections to what he’s seeing and reporting can be a bit difficult to tease out from time to time. His primary Web outlet is The Revealer.
  • ODM detractor Jerry at CRN.Info engages in the first part of a discussion with Jesus Wants To Save Christians, by Rob Bell and Don Golden.
  • Brian Thornton comments on Rick Warren’s “gay partnership” comment, calls it heresy.
  • James White shares a video from Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church, where he responds to Bart Ehrman and John Dominic Crossans, and their claims that Mark and Luke present substantially different accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion. The video is forty-three minutes long, and I have to admit I haven’t watched it all. The direct link to the YouTube video is here.
  • Lighthouse Trails comments on a Christianity Today interview with Franklin Graham regarding Rick Warren’s opportunity to pray at the Barack Obama inauguration. “We present this article as an example of how Christian leaders (such as Graham) are not warning the body of Christ about Rick Warren’s teachings and beliefs that include a three-legged global peace plan and the new reformation/new spirituality.”
  • John Sexton picks up the Seabreeze Church financial situation. He attended this church and was part of the building search committee, and he fills in details missing from the Times story; he blames the pastor, Bevan Unrau: “The senior pastor (forlorn man) spent four months at the end of 2007 talking about his authority. We heard about it at a men’s retreat, then in sermons, then in leadership meetings. He made it clear to everyone that he was the sole decision maker for the church. Then he preceded to fire the church secretary, the youth pastor and the worship pastor. I quit shortly thereafter. Other quit too. About 150 people left the church over the next three months. And, surprise, the church began to struggle financially.” For the record, I don’t think there is enough of this sort of name-naming when a church is in trouble: Sexton relates fact claims that can be verified or falsified, and that puts his account head and shoulders above most of the troubled-church narratives I’ve read and heard.
  • Sharon Lindbloom suggests that the LDS Church is mixing Joseph Smith into their Christmas observance, in a role that is similar to the way Santa Claus is mixed into Christmas observance in the broader culture.
  • John Baker quotes an article from the Pak Tribune that claims Prince Charles of England says the “clash of civilizations could be averted by following the teaching of Islam and Quran.” For the record, the article is not a direct quote. In the comments there’s this link with comment by Tony Blair: “‘In the first place, you understand what it means to believe. What you often find is that you immediately have something in common with another person of faith, even if he belongs to a different religion. As well as that, one is interested in other religions. One’s motivation is greater. I regularly read the Koran, practically every day,’ Blair told the interviewer. He said the Prophet Mohammed had been ‘an enormously civilizing force.'”
  • Michael Davis links and comments regarding a One News Now story regarding an ACLU lawsuit over explicitly Christian prayers at the Forsythe County, North Carolina board meetings. Davis appeals to the example of the framers of the Constitution: “Apparently, those who wrote the Constitution in the first place did not think that prayer was a violation of their efforts and many but not all of the prayers did reference Jesus.”
  • fourpointer at Defending Contending offers the twenty-second article in a series of fifty responses to Mormon questions, regarding whether Mormons are monotheistic, polytheistic, or as fourpointer states, henotheistic.
  • John Baker copies an article from Berit Kjos, relating Robert Muller’s World Peace Plan 2010. The original appears to be here.
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