Contemporary 21st Century Evangelical NT Criticism:
Those Who Do Not Learn From the Lessons of History
© F. David Farnell, PhD
Senior Professor of New Testament
The Master’s Seminary
At the Turn of the Twentieth Century . . .
In 1909, God moved two Christian laymen, wealthy California oil magnates who were brothers named Lyman and Milton Stewart, to set aside a large sum of money for issuing twelve volumes that would set forth the fundamentals of the Christian faith and which were to be sent free of charge to ministers of the gospel, missionaries, Sunday School superintendents, and others engaged in aggressive Christian work through the English-speaking world. A committee of twelve men who were known to be sound in the faith was chosen to have the oversight of the publication of these volumes. Entitled, The Fundamentals, they were a twelve-volume set published between 1910 and 1915 that set presented the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Three million individual volumes were distributed. R. A. Torrey related his own personal knowledge and experience with these volumes in the following terms,
Rev. Dr. A. C. Dixon was the first Executive Secretary of the Committee, and upon his departure for England Rev. Dr. Louis Meyer was appointed to take his place. Upon the death of Dr. Meyer the work of the Executive Secretary developed upon me. We were able to bring out these twelve volumes according to the original plan. Some of the volumes were sent to 300,000 ministers and missionaries and other workers in different parts of the world. On the completion of the twelve volumes as originally planned the work was continued through The King’s Business, published at 536 South Hope St., Los Angeles, California. Although a large number of volumes were issues than there were names on our mailing list, at last the stock became exhausted, but appeals for them kept coming in from different parts of the world.1
Its purpose was to combat the inroads of liberalism that had been experienced by the church during the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (1885-1910) with the denominational conflict that resulted (1910-1930). In essence, it was the early twentieth century’s witness to future Christian generations of their Scriptural beliefs as well as a record detailing a crisis in biblical belief and authority for their time, constituting a warning to future generation to avoid what they had experienced among the denominations of their day. During this time modernists, or what is now known as “critical scholarship,” had refused to give voice to anything approaching the trustworthiness of Scripture. Conservatives were isolated and shunned within mainline denominations. They decided to fight back. The 1925 Scopes Trial regarding evolution also marked a watershed issue for fundamentalists during this period.2 The New Testament Gospels were being dismissed as historically defective, resulting in what Schweizer called the “quest” for the historical Jesus. Fundamentalists refused to participate in the First Search for the “historical Jesus,” because they realized its a priori destructive presuppositional foundations and its intent to destroy the influence of the Gospels and Christianity on society.3
Higher Criticism Devastates American Churches and Schools
In 1917, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles sponsored a four-volume edition of The Fundamentals that included all but a few of the original 90 articles. Again, Torrey, who served as the Dean of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles from 1912 to 1924, as well as the first pastor of the Church of the Open Door in downtown Los Angeles, gave the following information in the “Preface” to the 1917 edition:
As the fund [supplied by the Lyman brothers] was no longer available for this purpose, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, to whom the plates were turned over when the Committee closed its work, have decided to bring out the various articles that appeared in The Fundamentals in four volumes at the cheapest price possible All the articles that appeared in The Fundamentals, with the exception of a very few that did not seem to be in exact keeping with the original purpose of The Fundamentals, will be published in this series.4
In this four-volume series, the following subjects were highlighted as problems that had plagued the church during that time. First and foremost was the very negative impact that higher criticism was having on Old and New Testament interpretation and inspiration in biblical training centers and churches of the day. The very first article in the four-volume series, The History of the Higher Criticism, by Dyson Hague, set the tone for all the volumes and provided the overall context or framework for the rest of the articles. The fundamentalists who produced these volumes were not anti-critical in terms of scriptural issues, for they declared that the term can mean “nothing more than the study of the literary structure of the various books of the Bible. Now this in itself is most laudable. It is indispensable.”5 They were, however, very wary of the kind of criticism that scholarly endeavors might employ in analysis of the text with an anti-supernatural bias. While it embraced “a higher criticism which is reverent in tone and scholarly in work”6 that dealt with “author, date, circumstances, and purpose of writing,”7 it rejected higher criticism based on the facts that (1) its experts were without a true “spiritual insight,” (2) were those who “go far in the realm of the conjectural,” and (3) the dominant men of the movement were men with a strong bias against the supernatural,” adding that “[s]ome of the men who have been the most distinguished in the higher critical movement have been men who have no faith in the God of the Bible, and no faith in either the necessity or the possibility of a personal supernatural revelation.”8 This form of higher criticism was penetrating the mainline American denominations and causing great problems in Christian seminaries and schools that were once faithful.
European critical scholarship received special negative targeting in Hague’s opening article, calling the popular German theories of the day as “German Fancies” and “some of the most powerful exponents of the modern Higher Critical theories have been the Germans, and it is notorious to what length the German fancy can go in the direction of the subjective and of the conjectural. For hypothesis weaving and speculation, the German theological professor is unsurpassed.”9 Hague also commented that “German thinkers are men who lack in a singular degree the faculty of common sense and knowledge of human nature.”10 Hague noted that “the dominant minds [of higher criticism] which have led and swayed the movement, who made the theories that the others circulated, were strongly unbelieving.”11
The article also centered the origin of this form of negative higher criticism impacting his day to scholarship of (1) The French-Dutch, (2) the Germans and (3) the British-Americans.12 He traced the beginnings of modern criticism on these groups for a marked influence away from the inspiration of Scripture, with Spinoza, the rationalist Dutch philosopher, as the father of modern biblical criticism. Hague insightfully noticed, “Spinoza was really the fountain-head of the movement and his line was taken in England by the British philosopher Hobbes. He went deeper than Spinoza, as an outspoken antagonist of the necessity and possibility of personal revelation.”13
After spreading from Spinoza and Hobbes, he identified the strong German influence of his day that had spread to American schools and churches. Hague sounded the alarm over the latest or “third stage” of the higher critical movement in America as the “British-American Critics” that were now active in theological schools.14 He noted a particular alarming trend among these British and American scholars, a piety that was combined with radical European skepticism. He identified Robertson Smith, a Scotchman, as “a man of deep piety and spirituality,” who “combined with a sincere regard for the Word of God a critical radicalism that was strangely inconsistent, as did the scholar “George Adam Smith, the most influential of the present leaders, a man of great insight and scriptural acumen who in his works . . . adopted some of the most radical and least demonstrable of the German theories.”15
Hague saw three areas as core beliefs of the “Continental Critics” influencing America that “can be confidently asserted of nearly all”: (1) denial of “the validity of miracle, and the validity of any miraculous narrative. What Christians consider to be miraculous they considered legendary or mythical;” (2) “they . . . denied the reality of prophecy and the validity of any prophetical statement;” and (3) they . . . denied the reality of revelation, in the sense in which it has ever been held by the universal Christian church . . . Their hypotheses were constructed on the assumption of the falsity of Scripture.”16 Hague summed up the whole of the higher criticism assault on the church “in one word” as “rationalistic” and “men who had discarded belief in God and Jesus Christ Whom He had sent. The Bible, in their view, was a mere human product.”17 The crescendo of Hague’s lament centered in the fact that their views “have so dominated modern Christianity and permeated modern ministerial thought.”18
Hague analyzed “English-writing Higher Critics” as “a more difficult subject” because “The British-American Higher Critics represent a school of compromise,” commenting that
On the one hand they practically accept the premises of the Continental school with regard to the antiquity, authorship, authenticity, and origins of the Old Testament books. On the other hand, they refuse to go with the German rationalists in altogether denying their inspiration. They still claim to accept the Scriptures as containing a Revelation from God. But may they not hold their own peculiar views with regard to the origin and date and literary structure of the Bible without endangering their own faith or the faith of Christians? This is the very heart of the question.19
Hague also catalogued the impact of higher criticism on the discrediting of the Old Testament, e.g., the JPED hypothesis was rampant with its idea of unknown “redactors,” noting that “[i]n the redactory process no limit apparently is assigned by the critic to the work of the redactors who compiled the Pentetuech “[w]ith an utterly irresponsibility of freedom” expressed by “leading theological writers of and professors of the day.”20 Moreover, the entire Old Testament had been called into question, relating that “[t]he time-honoring traditions of the Catholic Church are set at naught, and its thesis of the relation of inspiration and genuineness and authenticity derided,” e.g., Deutero-Isaiah, Daniel as “purely pseudeonymous” of the second century B. C.
In reference to the New Testament, historical criticism’s assault was just beginning:
With regard to the New Testament: The English writing schools have hitherto confined themselves mainly to the Old Testament, but if Professor Sanday, who passes as a most conservative and moderate representative of the critical school, can be taken as a sample, the historical books are ‘yet in the first instance strictly historical, put together by ordinary historical methods, or , in so far as the methods on which they are composed, are not ordinary, due to the peculiar circumstances of the case, and not to influences, which need be specially described as supernatural.’21
Interestingly, Hague refers to the famous scholar William Sanday who would also rise to New Testament fame, especially in regard to synoptic hypotheses. This full quote is from the Bampton lectures of 1893 on Inspiration at Oxford University where the full quote of Sanday is as follows:
We observe too that the Historical Books of the New Testament, like those of the Old Testament, whatever the sanctity attaching to them from their contents, are yet in the first instance strictly histories, put together by ordinary historical methods, or in so far as the methods on which they are composed are not ordinary, due to rather their peculiar circumstances of the case, and not to influences, which need specially described as supernatural.”22
Here, Sanday immediately reduces the inspired nature of the canonical Gospels and Acts as not being composed by any “supernatural” influences, confirming Hague’s view of British scholarship as compromising on vital issues. Sanday’s limited or inconsistent view of “inspiration” distinguished between the “Traditional” approach of inspiration as viewed by the faithful, i.e., deductive, preferring what he called the “inductive approach” to inspiration.23 It also demonstrated that the last vestiges of the orthodox view of inspiration were rapidly disappearing from the British scene at the end of the nineteenth century. Sanday argued,
To sum up then, we may compare the Traditional and Inductive theories of Inspiration thus. The inspiration implied by both is real and no fiction, a direct objective action of the Divine upon the human. Nay, in one sense, if the inductive conception of Inspiration is not more real than the other, it is at least more thoroughly realized, because it is not something which is simply taken for granted but comes freshly and spontaneously, in such a way that the mind can get a full and vigorous impression of it, from the study of the documents themselves. The danger of the traditional view is lest inspiration should be thought of as something dead and mechanical; when it is arrived at inductively it must needs be conceived as something vital and organic. It is a living product which falls naturally into its place in the development of the purpose of the Living God. It is not therefore in the least degree inferior in quality to traditional inspiration. So far as they differ it would be rather in quantity, inasmuch as on the inductive view inspiration is not inherent in the Bible as such, but is present in different books and parts of books in different degrees. More particularly on this view—and here is the point of greatest divergence—it belongs to the Historical Books rather as conveying a religious lesson than as histories, rather as interpreting than as narrating plain matter of fact. The crucial issue is that in this last respect they do not seem to be exempted from possibilities of error.24
From this Hague correctly concluded that Continental and British scholarship in his day were outside the realm of orthodoxy regarding inspiration, “the difficulty presents itself to the average man of today is this: How can these critics still claim to believe in the Bible as the Christian Church has ever believed it?”25 At best, scholarship in his day was claiming some form of partial inspiration with a redefinition of orthodox understanding of the concept that was held from the nascent church, arguing “[t]heir theory of inspiration must be, then, a very different one from that held by the average Christian” and “its most serious feature is this: It is a theory of inspiration that completely overturns the old-fashioned ideas of the Bible and its unquestioned standard of authority and truth. For whatever this so-called Divine element is, it appears quite consistent with defective argument, incorrect interpretation, if not what the average man would call forgery or falsification. It is, in fact, revolutionary.”26
Hague viewed these ideas of higher criticism in his day as threatening “the Christian system of doctrine and the whole fabric of systematic theology.”27 He alluded to name-calling among advocates of historical criticism toward Bible-believing people as being “ignorant alarmists” and “obscurantists,”28 yet noted that these critical scholars were “irreverent in spirit” and must “certainly be received with caution.”29
Even more interesting, however, was his following comment about the views of the “younger men” in his generation of scholars toward higher criticism:
There is a widespread idea especially among younger men that the critics must be followed, because their scholarship settles the questions . . . There is also a widespread idea among the younger men that because scholars are experts in Hebrew that, therefore, their deductions as experts in language must be received. This, too, is a mistake . . . If we have any prejudice, we would rather be prejudiced against rationalism. If we have any bias, it must be against a teaching which unsteadies the heart and unsettles faith. We prefer to stand with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in receiving the Scriptures as the Word of God, without objection and without a doubt. A little learning and a little listening to rationalistic theorizers and sympathizers may incline us to uncertainty; but deeper study and deeper research will incline us, as it inclined other scholars, to the profoundest conviction of the authority and authenticity of the Holy Scriptures.”30
Hague noted that the younger scholars insisted that the critical scholars be followed as the “experts.” Repeatedly, Hague addressed name-calling by the young scholars toward more conservative, Bible-believing scholarship was being conducted. He lamented that “[t]he old-fashioned conservative views are no longer maintained by men with pretension to scholarship. The only people who oppose the higher critics views are the ignorant, the prejudiced, and the illiterate.”31 Yet he crystalized the real cause of concern regarding the higher criticism of his day,
What the conservative schools oppose is not Biblical criticism, but Biblical criticism by rationalists. They do not oppose the conclusions . . . because they [i.e. higher critics] are experts and scholars; they oppose them because the Biblical criticism of rationalists and unbelievers can be neither expert or scientific. A criticism that is characterized by the most arbitrary conclusion from the most spurious assumptions has no right to the word scientific. And further. Their [the faithful of Hague’s day] adhesion to the traditional views is not only conscientious but intelligent. They believe that the old-fashioned views are as scholarly as they are Scriptural. It is the fashion in some quarters to cite the imposing list of scholars on the side of the German school, and to sneeringly assert that there is not a scholar to stand up for the old views of the Bible.32
Hague concluded his article by affirming that “we desire to stand with Christ and His Church . . . A little learning, and a little listening to rationalistic theorizers and sympathizers may incline us to uncertainty; but deeper study and deeper research will incline us . . . to the profoundest conviction of the authority and authenticity of the Holy Scriptures, and to cry ‘Thy word is very pure; therefore Thy servant loveth it.’”33
Hague’s first article set the tone and direction for the entire rest of the four volumes of The Fundamentals of 1917. The first volume of the four issued in 1917 included the following subjects that upheld the factual, historical basis of the material in each Testament and revealed where higher critical attacks were occurring at the turn of the twentieth century. The names in parenthesis reveal the “roll-call of the faithful” who defended Scripture in the articles that are listed and provide the reader with a sweeping overview of the variegated assault from higher criticism within the Church at the turn of the twentieth century. Sadly, many orthodox English theologians participated in the articles, but as the twentieth century would progress, higher criticism’s influence on the British Empire would render its national church and evangelistic influence almost completely null and void.34
I. The History of Higher Criticism (Dyson Hague)
II. The Authorship of the Pentateuch (i.e., Denial of Mosaic Authorship) (George F. Wright)
III. The Fallacies of the Higher Criticism (Franklin Johnson)
IV. The Bible and Modern Criticism (F. Bettex)
V. The Holy Scriptures and Modern Negations (James Orr)
VI. Christ and Criticism (Robert Anderson)
VII. Old Testament Criticism and New Testament Christianity (W. H. Griffith Thomas)
VIII. The Tabernacle in the Wilderness: Did It Exist? (David Heagle)
IX. The Internal Evidence of the Fourth Gospel (G. Osborne Troop)
X. The Testimony of Christ to the Old Testament (William Caven)
XI. The Early Narratives of Genesis (James Orr)
XII. One Isaiah (George L. Robinson)
XIII. The Book of Daniel (Joseph D. Wilson)
XIV. The Doctrinal Value of the First Chapter of Genesis (Dyson Hague)
XV. Three Peculiarities of the Pentateuch which are Incompatible with the Graf-Wellhausen Theories of Its Composition (Andrew Craig Robinson)
XVI. The Testimony of the Monuments to the Truth of the Scriptures (George Frederick Wright)
XVII. The Recent Testimony of Archaeology to the Scriptures (M. G. Kyle)
XVIII. Science and the Christian Faith (James Orr)
XIX. My Personal Experience with the Higher Criticism (J. J. Reeve)
The second volume of the four defended the following and revealed where other attacks on Scripture were occurring, especially against orthodox views of inspiration and theology:
I. The Inspiration of the Bible—Definition, Extent and Proof (James M. Gray)
II. Inspiration (L. W. Marshall)
III. The Moral Glory of Jesus Christ, A Proof of Inspiration (William G. Moorehead)
IV. The Testimony of Scripture to themselves (George S. Bishop)
V. Testimony of the Organic Unity of the Bible to Its Inspiration (Arthur T. Pierson)
VI. Fulfilled Prophecy a Potent Argument for the Bible (Arno C. Gaebelein)
VII. Life in the Word (Philip Mauro)
VIII. Is There a God? (Thomas Whitelaw)
IX. God in Christ the Only Revelation of the Fatherhood of God (Robert E. Speer)
X. The Deity of Christ (Benjamin W. Warfield)
XI. The Virgin Birth of Christ (James Orr)
XII. The God-Man (John Stock)
XIII. The Person and Work of Jesus Christ (Bishop Nuelsen)
XIV. The Certainty and Importance of the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Dead (R. A. Torrey)
XV. The Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit (R. A. Torrey)
XVI. The Holy Spirit and the Son of God (W. J. Erdman)
XVII. Observations on the Conversion and Apostleship of St. Paul (Lord Lyttelton)
XVIII. Christianity No Fable (Thomas Whitelaw)
The third volume of the four continued the defense of orthodox views of theology and evangelism against higher criticism’s attacks as well as Roman Catholicism’s infiltration:
I. The Biblical Conception of Sin (Thomas Whitelaw)
II. Paul’s Testimony to the Doctrine of Sin (Charles B. Williams)
III. Sin and Judgment to Come (Robert Anderson)
IV. What Christ Teaches Concerning the Future Resurrection (William C. Proctor)
V. The Atonement (Franklin Johnson)
VI. At-One-Ment, By Propitiation (Dyson Hague)
VII. The Grace of God (C. I. Scofield)
VIII. Salvation by Grace (Thomas Spurgeon)
IX. The Nature of Regeneration (Thomas Boston)
X. Regeneration, Conversion, Reformation (George W. Lasher)
XI. Justification by Faith (H. C. G. Moule)
XII. The Doctrines that Must Be Emphasized in Successful Evangelism (I. W. Munhall)
XIII. Preach the Word (Howard Crosby)
XIV. Pastoral and Personal Evangelism, or Winning Men to Christ One by One (John Timothy Stone)
XV. The Sunday School’s True Evangelism (Charles Gallaudet Trumbull)
XVI. The Place of Prayer in Evangelism (R. A. Torrey)
XVII. Foreign Missions, or World-Wide Evangelism (Robert E. Speer)
XVIII. A Message from Missions (Charles A. Bowen)
XIX. What Missionary Motives Should Should Prevail? (Henry W. Frost)
XX. Consecration (Henry W. Frost)
XXI. Is Romanism Christianity? (T. W. Medhurst)
XXII. Rome, the Antagonist of the Nation (J. M. Foster)
XXIII. The True Church (Bishop Ryle)
XXIV. The Testimony of Foreign Missions to the Superintending Providence of God (Arthur T. Pierson)
XXV. The Purpose of the Incarnation (G. Cambell Morgan)
XXVI. Tributes to Christ and the Bible by Brainy Men not Known as Active Christians
The final volume issued warnings to beware of philosophies, modern thought and “isms” that had infiltrated the thinking of the church:
I. Modern Philosophy (Philip Mauro)
II. The Knowledge of God (David James Burrell)
III. The Wisdom of This World (A. W. Pitzer)
IV. The Science of Conversion (H. M. Sydenstricker)
V. The Decadence of Darwinism (Henry H. Beach)
VI. The Passing of Evolution (George Frederick Wright)
VII. Evolution in the Pulpit (an Occupant in the Pew)
VIII. The Church and Socialism (Charles R. Erdman)
IX. Millennial Dawn: A Counterfeit of Christianity (William H. Moorehead)
X. Mormonism: Its Origin, Characteristics and Doctrines (R. G. McNiece)
XI. Eddyism, Commonly Called “Christian Science” (Maurice E. Wilson)
XII. Modern Spirtualism Briefly Tested by Scripture (Algernon J. Pollock)
XIII. Satan and His Kingdom (Jessie Penn-Lewis)
FURTHER TESTIMONY TO THE TRUTH
XIV. Why Save The Lord’s Day (Daniel Hoffman Martin)
XV. Apologetic Value of Paul’s Epistles (E. J. Stobo)
XVI. The Divine Efficacy of Prayer (Arthur T. Pierson)
XVII. The Proof of the Living God, as Found in the Prayer Life of George Muller, of Bristol (Arthur T. Pierson)
XVIII. Our Lord’s Teaching about Money (Arthur T. Pierson)
XIX. The Scriptures (A. C. Dixon)
XX. What the Bible Contains for the Believer (George F. Pentecost)
XXI. The Hope of the Church (John McNicol)
XXII. The Coming of Christ (Charles R. Erdman)
XXIII. The Testimony of Christian Experience (E. Y. Mullins)
XXIV. A Personal Testimony (Howard A. Kelly)
XXV. A Personal Testimony (H. W. Webb-Peploe)
XXVI The Personal Testimony of Charles T. Studd (Charles T. Studd)
XXVII. A Personal Testimony (Philip Mauro)
In sum, The Fundamentals constitute a startling witness left as a testimony by the faithful to the early twentieth century churches experience of the attack on orthodox Protestant beliefs, conducted aggressively by higher criticism, liberal theology, Catholicism (also called Romanism in the work), socialism, Modernism, atheism, Christian Science, Mormonism, Millennial Dawn, Spiritualism, and evolutionism that had infiltrated its ranks and subsequently caused great damage within the church with regard to its vitality and theology. Above all, they left it as a warning to future generations in hopes of preventing a similar occurrence among God’s people in the future.
In 1958, at its fiftieth year celebration, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles published a new edition of The Fundamentals, called The Fundamentals for Today, supervised by Charles Lee Feinberg and a committee of professors from Talbot Theological Seminary.35 This reissue consisted of 64 selected and updated articles from the original 90 whereby Biola/Talbot affirmed their commitment at that time to the founding fathers views of the full inspiration and authority of both the Old and New Testaments.
The Resulting Call to God’s People to Gather in Defense of the Faith
An immediate impact of The Fundamentals was the alerting of God’s people regarding the worsening spiritual condition that the church was experiencing. God’s people issued a call to assemble throughout America, rallying in defense of God’s inerrant Word. Warren Wiersbe related, “[a]t that time in history, Fundamentalism was become a force to reckon with, thanks to effective preachers, popular Bible conferences and the publications that taught ‘the fundamentals’ and also exposed the growing apostasy of that day . . . It was a time of growth and challenge.”36 On May 25–June 1, 1919, six thousand Christians met in Philadelphia at “The World Conference on Christian Fundamentals.” W. H. Griffith Thomas chaired the Resolutions Committee, while popular well-known fundamentalist preachers spoke for those days, such as W. B. Riley, R. A. Torrey, Lewis Sperry Chafer, James M. Gray and William L. Pettingill. Delegates came from 42 states in America, most of the Canadian provinces as well as seven foreign countries to rally against the infiltration of destructive higher criticism and liberalism of the day in the church. The Conference issued God Hath Spoken (Philadelphia: Bible Conference Committee, 1919) that consisted of 25 addresses that were delivered at the conference and stenographically recorded for posterity.37 The work described two outstanding phenomena as leading to the assembly in Phildelphia in 1919 that are very telling:
On the one hand, the Great Apostasy was spreading like a plague throughout Christendom. A famine was everywhere—”not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah.” Thousands of false teachers, many of them occupying high ecclesiastical positions, were bringing in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord ‘ that bought them, and bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many were following their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth was evil spoken of. The Bible was wounded in the house of its friends. The great cardinal doctrines of Scripture were set at naught. The Virgin Birth of our Lord, His Sacrificial Death and Bodily Resurrection, these and similar truths were rejected as archaic and effete. The Consensus of Scholarship, the Assured Results of Modem Research, New Light from Original Sources, the Findings of Science, all these high-sounding phrases, and others like them, became popular slogans calculated to ensnare the simple, and to deceive if possible the very elect. People generally accepted the so-called Findings of Science at their face value, never suspecting that they were only the inventions of “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” To “the man whose eyes are open,” of course, all this was “no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
On the other hand, parallel with the deepening apostasy, and probably actually stimulated by it, there was a widespread revival-not a revival in the sense of great ingatherings resulting from evangelistic effort, but a revival of interest in, and hunger for, the Word of God. This hunger, I say, was probably stimulated by the apostasy; for what will increase hunger like a famine? The sheep of Christ began to look up to their Shepherd for food, even for “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Men and women began insistently to ask, ”Hath God really spoken? And, if so, what hath He said? What saith the Scriptures?”38
This quote reveals that God’s people realized the crisis, not only did the faithful wrote apologetic defenses against what was occurring, such as The Fundamentals, to expose the grave danger but they also gathered the faithful together in defense of the orthodox faith (Phil. 1:3; Jude 3). W. B. Riley, a well-known Baptist leader of the time, declared in his sermon, “The Great Divide, or Christ and the Present Crisis,” that
The future will look back to the World Conference on Christian Fundamentals . . . as an event of more historical moment than the nailing up, at Wittenberg, of Martin Luther’s ninety-vive theses. The hour has struck for the rise of a new Protestantism . . . But now the very denominations, blessed by the Reformation, are rapidly coming under the leadership of a new infidelity, known as “Modernism,” the whole attitude of which is inimical both to the church and the Christ of God.39
The assembly issues a doctrinal declaration as follows:
THE DOCTRINAL STATEMENT OF THE WORLD CONFERENCE ON CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALS. MAY 25–31, 1919, IS AS FOLLOWS:
“Your committee on resolutions herewith submits the following report:
We regard it timely and altogether essential that this World Conference on Christian Fundamentals in Philadelphia should give expression to the faith for which it stands and we unite in declaring the following as our Doctrinal Statement:
I. We believe in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as verbally inspired of God, and inerrant in the original writings, and that they are the supreme and final authority in faith and life.
II. We believe in one God, eternally existing in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
III. We believe that Jesus Christ was begotten by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary, and is true God and true man.
IV. We believe that man was created in the image of God, that he sinned and thereby incurred not only physical death, but also that spiritual death which is separation from God, and that all human beings are born with a sinful nature, and, in the case of those who reach moral responsibility, become sinners in thought, word, and deed.
V. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures as a representative and substitutionary sacri?ce; and that all who believe in Him are justi?ed on the ground of his shed blood.
VI. We believe in the resurrection of the crucified body of our Lord, in His ascension into heaven, and in His present life there for us, as High Priest and Advocate.
VII. We believe in “that blessed hope,” the personal, premillennial and imminent return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
VIII. We believe that all who receive by faith the Lord Jesus Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit, and thereby become the children of God.
IX. We believe in the bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust, the everlasting blessedness of the saved, and the everlasting, conscious punishment of the lost.”40
As a result of such warnings, the faithful broke away from mainline denominations and established their own Bible colleges and seminaries to preserve a faithful remnant. In subsequent years, scores of Bible schools and seminaries were launched by fundamentalists across America during this period of denominational decay. Moody Bible Institute was founded in 1886 by evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Lyman Stewart funded the production of The Fundamentals which heralded the founding of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. By 1912, Torrey, coming from Moody Bible Institute, became Dean of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. The warning of J. Gresham Machen that “as go the theological seminaries, so goes the church” struck deep at the heart of Bible-believing scholars everywhere: “many seminaries today are nurseries of unbelief; and because they are nurseries of unbelief the churches that they serve have become unbelieving churches too. As go the theological seminaries, so goes the church.”41 In 1929, Machen was influential in founding Westminster Theological Seminary as a result of Princeton’s direction.42 Dallas Theological Seminary was founded in 192443 and Fuller Theological Seminary was founded in 1947 by Biola graduate, Charles E. Fuller along with Harold Ockenga. These are just a select few of the many schools founded by faithful men in this period. Many today in evangelicalism can trace their educational and denominational roots to this period of time wherein the church was in a period of severe decline among mainstream groups.
At the Turn of the Twenty-first Century . . . LESSONS SOON FORGOTTEN
After this strategic withdrawal by fundamentalists of the first generation who fought the battle to preserve Scripture from the onslaught of historical criticism as well as its subsequent searching for the historical Jesus, subsequent generations from fundamentalist groups became discontent with their isolation from liberal-dominated mainstream biblical scholarship.
Sadly, by the mid-1960s, history was repeating itself. Prominent voices were scolding fundamentalists for continued isolation and dialogue and interaction once again became the rallying cry.44 Carl F. H. Henry’s criticisms struck deep, “The preoccupation of fundamentalists with the errors of modernism, and neglect of schematic presentations of the evangelical alternative, probably gave neo-orthodoxy its great opportunity in the Anglo-Saxon world…If Evangelicals do not overcome their preoccupation with negative criticism of contemporary theological deviations at the expense of the construction of preferable alternatives to these, they will not be much of a doctrinal force in the decade ahead.”45
Echoing similar statements, George Eldon Ladd (1911-1982) of Fuller Theological Seminary became a zealous champion of modern critical methods, arguing that the two-source hypothesis should be accepted “as a literary fact” and that form criticism “has thrown considerable light on the nature of the Gospels and the traditions they employ” adding, “Evangelical scholars should be willing to accept this light.”46 Indeed, for Ladd, critical methods have derived great benefit for evangelicals, “it has shed great light on the historical side of the Bible; and these historical discoveries are valid for all Bible students even though the presuppositions of the historical-critical method have been often hostile to an evangelical view of the Bible. Contemporary evangelicals often overlook this important fact when they condemn the critical method as such; for even while they condemn historical criticism, they are constantly reaping the benefits of its discoveries and employing critical tools.”47 Ladd asserts, “One must not forget that . . . everyday tools of good Bible study are the product of the historical-critical method.”48 George Ladd catalogued the trend of a “substantial group of scholars” whose background was in the camp of “fundamentalism” who had now been trained “in Europe as well as in our best universities” and were “deeply concerned with serious scholarship.”49 He also chided fundamentalists for their “major preoccupation” with defending “inerrancy of the Bible in its most extreme form,” but contributing “little of creative thinking to the current debate.”50 Although Ladd acknowledged that historical-critical ideology was deeply indebted for its operation in the Enlightenment and the German scholarship that created it openly admitted its intention of “dissolving orthodoxy’s identification of the Gospel with Scripture,”51 Ladd sent many of his students for subsequent study in Britain and Europe in order to enlarge the influence of conservatives, the latter of which influence was greatly responsible for the fundamentalist split at the turn of the twentieth century.52
Today, Ladd serves as the recognized paradigm for current attitudes and approaches among evangelical historical-critical scholarship in encouraging evangelical education in British and Continental institutions as well as the adoption and participation in historical criticism to some form or degree, actions which previously were greatly responsible for the fundamentalist-modernist split.53 Lessons from what caused the last theological meltdown had long been forgotten or carelessly disregarded.54
Yet, significantly, Ladd had drawn a line for his scholarly participation that he would not cross. Ladd (d. 1982) lived during the second “search for the ‘historical Jesus’” and had correctly perceived, “The historical-critical method places severe limitations upon its methodology before it engages in a quest for the historical Jesus. It has decided in advance the kind of Jesus it must find—or at least the kind of Jesus it may not find, the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels” and “If the Gospel portrait is trustworthy, then ‘the historical Jesus’ never existed in history, only in the critical reconstructions of the scientific historians. A methodology which prides itself in its objectivity turns out to be in the grip of dogmatic philosophical ideas about the nature of history.”55 Ladd countered, “[i]n sum, the historical-critical method is not an adequate method to interpret the theology of the New Testament because its presuppositions limit its findings to the exclusion of the central biblical message.” Instead, Ladd recognized the contribution of a “historical-theological” method of theology based in the Heilsgeschichte (“salvation history”) approach that takes the New Testament as serious history and said, “[m]y own understanding of New Tesatment Theology is distinctly heilsgeschichtlich.”56
In 1976, a book came on the scene that sent massive shockwaves throughout the evangelical movement: The Battle for the Bible by Harold Lindsell.57 Lindsell catalogued what he perceived was and alarming departure from the doctrine of inerrancy among evangelicals. Around this same time, Francis Schaeffer had argued, “Holding to a strong view of Scripture or not holding to it is the watershed of the evangelical world.”58 Lindsell catalogued departures from inerrancy by the Lutheran Missouri Synod, the Southern Baptists, and other groups. He listed what he perceived as deviations that resulted when inerrancy is denied as well as how the infection of denial spreads to other matters within evangelicalism. Because Lindsell was one of the founding members at Fuller Seminary, he especially focused on what he felt were troubling events at Fuller Seminary regarding the “watershed” issue of inerrancy.59 Most strategically, Lindsell attributed the “use of historical-critical method” as a foundational cause of the destruction of inerrancy among denominations. He noted, “there are also those who call themselves evangelicals who have embraced this [historical-critical] methodology. The presuppositions of this methodology . . . go far beyond mere denial of biblical infallibility. They tear at the heart of Scripture, and include a denial of the supernatural.”60 In The Bible in the Balance, Lindsell dedicated a whole chapter to historical criticism, labeling it “The Bible’s Deadly Enemy”:
Anyone who thinks the historical-critical method is neutral is misinformed . . . It appears to me that modern evangelical scholars (and I may have been guilty of this myself) have played fast and loose with the term because they wanted acceptance by academia. They seem too often to desire to be members of the club which is nothing more than practicing an inclusiveness that undercuts the normativity of the evangelical position. This may be done, and often is, under the illusion that by this method the opponents of biblical inerrancy can be won over to the evangelical viewpoint. But practical experience suggests that rarely does this happen and the cost of such an approach is too expensive, for it gives credence and leads respectability to a method which is the deadly enemy of theological orthodoxy.61
As an interpretive ideology, Lindsell noted that both form and redaction criticism are destroying the historical trustworthiness of the Gospels. He noted: “When the conclusion is reached that the Gospels do not reflect true history the consequences are mind-boggling. We simply do not know who the real Jesus was. This undermines Scripture and destroys the Christian faith as a historical vehicle. It opens the door wide to a thousand vagaries and brings us right back to trying to find the canon within a canon.”62
Reaction to Lindsell’s first book was exceedingly swift.63 Some praised it while others vilified it. In response to the book, many concerned evangelicals began to form what would become known as the “International Council on Biblical Inerrancy” in 1977 that would produce the Chicago Statements on Biblical Inerrancy (1978) and Hermeneutics (1982) as a response.64 Lindsell himself catalogued the reaction in a second companion volume, The Bible in the Balance. Donald Dayton recounted the fear that it produced among evangelicals in the following terms, “Evangelicals are jittery, fearing Lindsell’s book might herald a new era of faculty purges and organizational splits—a reply of earlier conflicts, this time rending the evangelical world asunder.”65 Dayton later wrote that “’Evangelical’ and ‘fundamentalist’ controversies over scriptural authority and biblical inerrancy seem endless” citing Lindsell’s works as continuing to disturb the evangelical world.66
In 1979, then Fuller professor Jack B. Rogers and Donald K. McKim responded directly to Lindsell’s assertion that plenary, verbal inspiration was the orthodox position of the church in their The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible by attempting to argue that Lindsell’s position on inerrancy was inaccurate.67 They argued, “The central Christian tradition included the concept of accommodation”68 and that modern views of inerrancy did not reflect the church’s historic position, but resulted from “extreme positions” taken both from fundamentalism and modernism” “regarding the Bible.”69 Lindsell’s and many others’ views of inerrancy, Rogers and McKim alleged, were from “the old Princeton position of Hodge and Warfield” who had drunk deep from “Scottish common sense realism” rather than reflecting the historic position of the church.70 They noted, “Our hypothesis is that the peculiar twists of American history have served to distort our view of both the central Christian tradition [concerning inerrancy] and especially of its Reformed Branch.”71 They went on to note:
The function, or purpose, of the Bible was to bring people into a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The Bible was not used as an encyclopedia of information on all subjects. The principle theological teachers of the church argued that the Bible not be used to judge matters of science, for example, astronomy. Scripture’s use was clearly for salvation, not science. The forms of the Bible’s language and its cultural context were open to scholarly investigation. The central tradition included the concept of accommodation . . . God had condescended and adapted himself in Scripture to our ways of thinking and speaking . . . To erect a standard, modern technical precision in language as the hallmark of biblical authority was totally foreign to the foundation shared by the early church.”72
The Bible was to be viewed as reliable in matters of faith and practice but not in all matters. In 2009, as an apparent result of his approach to Scripture, Rogers released Jesus, The Bible and Homosexuality, that calls for evangelical tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality, gay, lesbian, and transgender issues not only for church membership but for ordination in ministry.73
As a direct response to Rogers and McKim, John Woodbridge published his Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal as an effective critique of their proposal.74 Lindsell’s negative historical take on problems has received counter-balancing by Marsden’s Reforming Fundamentalism produced in 1987. By 1978, conservative evangelicals who knew the importance of inerrancy as a doctrinal watershed felt the need to produce The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and produced another on Hermeneutics in 1982 to reaffirm their historical positions in these areas as a response to Rogers’ and McKim’s work.75
As a direct consequence of these events, Robert Gundry asked to resign from membership of ETS in 1982 due to his involvement in alleged de-historicizing of Matthew as reflected in his commentary Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art.76 His removal, as will be seen, still raises strong feelings among evangelical scholarship. Gundry contended that Matthew’s story of the slaughtering of the babies in Bethlehem should not be seen as historical but as a type of allegorical, midrashic device or illustration.77 Genre was now being used by evangelicals as an excuse or hermeneutic to de-historicize the plain, normal sense of the Gospels. Using redaction critical hermeneutics centering in genre issues about Matthew 2:7-8, he argued that the theological editor of Matthew redacted/edited the offering of two turtledoves or two young pigeons in the temple (Luke 2:24) and transformed it into Herod’s slaughter of the babies in Bethlehem.78 As another example, Gundry also asserted that Matthew transformed the Jewish shepherds that appear in Luke 2 into Gentile Magi79and had also changed the traditional manger into a house.For Gundry, then, the nonexistent house was where the nonexistent Magi found Jesus on the occasion of their non-visit to Bethlehem. Gundry’s use of genre issues based in historical-critical ideology (redaction criticism) as a means to negate the historicity of events that were always considered genuine historical events by the orthodox community from the beginnings of the church alarmed the vast majority (74%) of evangelicals in the Evangelical Theological Society.
Another result of Lindsell’s works in addition to the formation of ICBI was James Barr’s response as penned in his two strategic works Fundamentalism and Beyond Fundamentalism. In 1977, Barr composed his Fundamentalism as a direct reaction against the “fundamentalism” of Lindsell, noting in his foreword: “It is not surprising that, in a time of unusual ferment and fresh openness among evangelicals, there should appear a book like Harold Lindsell’s The Battle for the Bible . . . insisting on a hard position of total inerrancy of the Bible.”80 Instead, Barr praised Jack Rogers’ work, Confessions of a Conservative Evangelical,81 as “a work indicating an openness to new trends among evangelicals” and characterized it as “an interesting expression of a search for an evangelical tradition different from the dominant fundamentalist one.”82
In Fundamentalism, Barr urged evangelicals to separate from and reject fundamentalism’s characteristics in three specific areas:
(a) A very strong emphasis on the inerrancy of the Bible, the absence from it of any sort of error.
(b) A strong hostility to modern theology and methods, results and implications of modern critical study of the Bible.
(c) An assurance that those who do not share their religious viewpoint are not really ‘true Christians’ at all.83
In his 1984 work, Beyond Fundamentalism, Barr again continued to urge evangelicals to continue separation from fundamentalism in these areas: “This [work] seeks to offer help to those who have grown up in the world of fundamentalism or have become committed to it but who have in the end come to feel that it is a prison from which they must escape.”84
Lindsell’s work, as well as ICBI, continued to send shockwaves through evangelical society. In 1982, Alan Johnson in his presidential address to ETS asked through analogy whether higher criticism was “Egyptian gold or pagan precipice” and reached the conclusion that “the refinement of critical methodologies under the magisterium of an inerrant scriptural authority can move us gently into a deeper appreciation of sacred Scripture.”85
Craig Blomberg, in 1984, soon after the ICBI statements, raised questions regarding biblical interpretation in the Gospels, arguing for genre distinctions. In reference to the story of the coin in the fish’s mouth in Matthew 17:24-27, Blomberg defended Robert Gundry’s midrashic approach to the Gospels in the following terms:
Is it possible, even inherently probable, that the NT writers at least in part never intended to have their miracle stories taken as historical or factual and that their original audiences probably recognized this? If this sounds like the identical reasoning that enabled Robert Gundry to adopt his midrashic interpretation of Matthew while still affirming inerrancy, that is because it is the same. The problem will not disappear simply because one author [Gundry] is dealt with ad hominem . . . how should evangelicals react? Dismissing the sociological view on the grounds that the NT miracles present themselves as historical gets us nowhere. So do almost all the other miracle stories of antiquity. Are we to believe them all?86
Barr’s criticisms also stung deep among evangelicals. At an annual Evangelical Theological Society meeting in Santa Clara, California, in 1997, Moisés Silva, who himself had studied under Barr (“my admiration for Barr knows no bounds”), chided conservative scholarship for their lack of openness to methods of modern critical in his presidential address entitled, “Can Two Walk Together Unless They Be Agreed? Evangelical Theology and Biblical Scholarship.”87 Silva took his mentor, Barr, to task for misrepresenting evangelicals by failing to notice that many evangelicals were open to historical-critical hermeneutics, citing not only recent evangelicals who espoused critical methods but also earlier evangelicals like Machen who took “seriously the liberal teachings of his day.”88 Silva asserted that “there is the more direct approach of many of us who are actually engaged in critical Biblical scholarship.”89 Thus, by 1997, many evangelicals were openly disregarding Lindsell’s warning about historical criticism.
The next year, in 1998, Norman Geisler, took quite the opposite approach and warned evangelicals regarding the negative presuppositions of historical-critical ideologies in his “Beware of Philosophy,” citing lessons from history as demonstrating their negative consequences.90 In his address, Geisler featured a 1998 work entitled, The Jesus Crisis, that detailed growing evangelical involvement in historical-critical ideologies like questing for the “historical Jesus.” Just like Lindsell’s books, The Jesus Crisis stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy among evangelicals. To say the least, Geisler’s address as well as his praise for The Jesus Crisis revealed a significant cleavage within evangelicalism that had developed since ICBI. While some praised The Jesus Crisis as needing to be written,91 other evangelicals disdained the work as strident, fundamentalist rhetoric that was closed-minded to a judicial use of historical criticism.92 Darrell Bock reacted to The Jesus Crisis with the following: “As a whole, The Jesus Crisis displays a lack of discernment about the history of Gospels study. The book should have given a more careful discussion of difficult details in the Gospels and the views tied to them, especially when inerrantists critiqued by the book are portrayed as if they were denying the accuracy of the Gospels, when in fact they are defending it.”93 Bock contended, “Careful consideration also does not support the claim that even attempting to use critical methods judiciously leads automatically and inevitably to denial of the historicity of the Gospels. Unfortunately this work overstates its case at this basic level and so places blame for the bibliological crisis at some wrong evangelical doorsteps.”94
In a highly irregular move for the Evangelical Theological Society that disallowed book reviews in the form of journal articles, Grant Osborne was given an opportunity in the next issue of JETS to counter Geisler’s presidential address, wherein Geisler’s address as well as The Jesus Crisis were criticized, saying, “the tone is too harsh and grating, the positions too extreme.”95 In 2004, Geisler, a world-renown Christian apologist and long-time member of ETS, decried the society’s acceptance of open theists among its ranks and withdrew his membership, perceiving a drift in the wrong direction for the Evangelical Theological Society of which he was a founding member. Grant Osborne, however, in his use of redaction-critical hermeneutics, advocated that the Great Commission was not originally spoken by Jesus in the way that Matthew had recorded it, but that “It seems most likely that at some point the tradition or Matthew expanded an original monadic formula.”96 He later reversed his position in the following terms:
A misunderstanding of my position with respect to this, in fact, has led to widespread dissatisfaction regarding my approach to the triadic baptismal formula of Matt 28:19. There I posited that Matthew had possibly expanded an original monadic formula in order “to interpret the true meaning of Jesus’ message for his own day . . . However, Matthew has faithfully reproduced the intent and meaning of what Jesus said.”23 In my next article mentioned above I clarified this further by stating, “The interpretation must be based on the original words and meaning imparted by Jesus.”24 Here I would like to clarify it further by applying the implications of my second article to the first. I did not mean that Matthew had freely composed the triadic formula and read it back onto the lips of Jesus. Rather, Jesus had certainly (as in virtually every speech in the NT) spoken for a much longer time and had given a great deal more teaching than reported in the short statement of Matt 28:18-20. In it I believe that he probably elucidated the trinitarian background behind the whole speech. This was compressed by Matthew in the form recorded. Acts and Paul then may have followed the formula itself from the commission speech, namely the monadic form.97
In 2001, Craig Blomberg, in his article “Where Should Twenty-First Century Biblical Scholarship,” decried The Jesus Crisis: “It is hard to imagine a book such as Thomas and Farnell’s The Jesus Crisis ever appearing in Britain, much less being commended by evangelical scholars as it has been by a surprising number in this country. Avoiding Thomas’s and Farnell’s misguided separatism and regular misrepresentation of others’ works, a higher percentage of us need to remain committed to engaging the larger, scholarly world in contextually sensitive ways that applaud as much as possible perspectives that we do not adopt while nevertheless preserving evangelical distinctives.”98 Blomberg went on to praise his own brand of scholarship: “It still distresses me . . . how many religious studies departments in the U.S. (or their libraries) are unaware of the breadth and depth of evangelical biblical scholarship. This situation need not remain this way, as witnessed by the fact that this is an area in which our British counterparts have made considerably more progress in, at times, even less-promising contexts.”99
Such a response by Blomberg serves as an illustration of the startling erosion of inerrancy among New Testament scholars, especially those who have been schooled on the European continent. Many of these European-trained scholars ignore the lessons of history learned by evangelicals at the turn of the twentieth century and as highlighted in the Chicago Statements of 1978 and 1982. Significantly, Blomberg and those agreeing with him exemplify the significant, substantive shift in hermeneutics that these evangelicals are now engaging in. The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy in 1978 expressly commended the grammatico-historical approach in Article XVIII:
We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture. We deny the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, de-historicizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.
Why did they commend the grammatico-historical approach? Because the men who expressed these two watershed statements had experienced the history of interpretive degeneration among mainstream churches and seminaries (“As go the theological seminaries, so goes the church”)100 in terms of dismissing the Gospels as historical records due to historical-critical ideologies. Blomberg, instead, now advocates “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical View”101 of hermeneutics for evangelicals that constitutes an alarming, and especially unstable, blend of historical-critical ideologies with the grammatico-historical hermeneutic. Blomberg argues for a “both-and-and-and-and” position of combining grammatico-historical method with that of historical-critical ideologies.102
Blomberg chose to ignore The Jesus Crisis (1998) that has already catalogued the evangelical disaster that such a blend of grammatico-historical and historical-critical elements precipitates in interpretive approaches.103 Stemming from this blending of these two elements are the following sampling of hermeneutical de-historicizing among evangelicals: The author of Matthew, not Jesus, created the Sermon on the Mount; the commissioning of the Twelve in Matthew 10 is a compilation of instructions collected and gathered but not spoken on a single occasion; Matthew 13 and Mark 4 are collections or anthologies not spoken by Jesus on a single occasion; Jesus did not preach the Olivet Discourse in its entirety as presented in the Gospels; the scribes and Pharisees were good people whom Matthew portrayed in a bad light; the magi of Matthew 2 are fictional characters; Jesus did not speak all of the parables in Matthew 5:3-12.104
This section also tellingly reveals Blomberg’s “both/and” approach of combining grammatico-historical with historical-critical, a telling admission of the strong impact of British academic training on evangelical hermeneutics, as well as his willingness to create a bridge between Christian orthodoxy and Mormonism. While Blomberg is irenic and embracing with Mormons, he has great hostility toward those who uphold the “fundamentals” of Scripture.
In his article on “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical” hermeneutic, he asserts that historical criticism can be “shorn” of its “antisupernatural presuppositions that the framers of that method originally employed” and eagerly embraces “source, form, tradition and redaction criticism” as “all essential tools for understanding the contents of the original document, its formation and origin, its literary genre and subgenres, the authenticity of the historical material it includes, and its theological or ideological emphases and distinctives.”105 He labels the “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical” approach “the necessary foundation on which all other approaches must build.”106 However, history is replete with negative examples of those who attempted this unstable blend, from the neologians in Griesbach’s day to that of Michael Licona’s book currently under discussion (see below).107 Baird, in his History of New Testament Research, commented: “The neologians did not deny the validity of divine revelation but assigned priority to reason and natural theology. While faith in God, morality, and immortality were affirmed, older dogmas such as the Trinity, predestination, and the inspiration of Scripture were seriously compromised . . . The neologians . . . appropriated the results of the historical-critical work of Semler and Michaelis.”108
Interestingly, Craig Blomberg blames books like Harold Lindsell’s Battle for the Bible (1976) and such books as The Jesus Crisis for people leaving the faith because of their strong stance on inerrancy as a presupposition. In an online interview conducted by Justin Taylor in 2008, Blomberg responded this way to books that hold to a firm view of inerrancy. The interviewer asked, “Are there certain mistaken hermeneutical presuppositions made by conservative evangelicals that play into the hands of liberal critics?” Blomberg replied,
Absolutely. And one of them follows directly from the last part of my answer to your last question. The approach, famously supported back in 1976 by Harold Lindsell in his Battle for the Bible (Zondervan), that it is an all-or-nothing approach to Scripture that we must hold, is both profoundly mistaken and deeply dangerous. No historian worth his or her salt functions that way. I personally believe that if inerrancy means “without error according to what most people in a given culture would have called an error” then the biblical books are inerrant in view of the standards of the cultures in which they were written. But, despite inerrancy being the touchstone of the largely American organization called the Evangelical Theological Society, there are countless evangelicals in the States and especially in other parts of the world who hold that the Scriptures are inspired and authoritative, even if not inerrant, and they are not sliding down any slippery slope of any kind. I can’t help but wonder if inerrantist evangelicals making inerrancy the watershed for so much has not, unintentionally, contributed to pilgrimages like Ehrman’s. Once someone finds one apparent mistake or contradiction that they cannot resolve, then they believe the Lindsells of the world and figure they have to chuck it all. What a tragedy!109
To Blomberg, apparently anyone who advocates inerrancy as traditionally advocated by Lindsell is responsible for people leaving the faith.
It is also the hermeneutic of historical criticism through which Blomberg developed his globalization hermeneutical approach. In a very telling article of Blomberg’s historical-grammatical hermeneutical approach, he advocates “The Globalization of Biblical Interpretation: A Test Case— John 3-4.”110 This “hermeneutic” clearly has an a priori agenda that is imposed on the text when Blomberg summarizes the approach as “asking new questions of the text, particularly in light of the experiences of marginalization of a large percent of the world’s population.”111 From Blomberg’s perspective “[s]tudents of scripture . . . have realized that the traditional historical-critical interpretation has been disproportionately Eurocentric and androcentric . . . and various new methodologies have been developed to correct this imbalance.”112 That such a conclusion has any substantial basis in fact, beyond opinion, is not substantiated by the article. Apparently, for Blomberg, the goal of exegesis and interpretation is not to understand the text as was originally intended but to search the biblical text for an already prescribed agenda of “globalization.” This is telling, for under this scheme the meaning and significance of the biblical text would be its usefulness in promoting an agenda that is already predetermined, i.e., subjecting Scripture to the shifting sands of interpretation that Blomberg identifies as follows: “issues of liberation theology, feminism, religious pluralism, the disparity between the world’s rich and poor, and contextualization of biblical material.”113
In response to Blomberg’s assertions regarding such newly developing issues, one cannot help but be reminded of Paul’s own warning to the Ephesian church about the purpose of teaching and preaching by God’s shepherd’s over the church:
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ. (Eph 4:11-15)
Here Paul clearly warns the Church against subjecting the Word of God to “waves” and “winds” of every doctrine and by application, whatever trends may predominate society through the centuries until Jesus’ return. A question left unanswered by Blomberg is what happens to the imposition of such interpretation of the text when the next fade or “ism” replaces these emphases. Nor have these emphases necessarily been subjected to Scripture to form any biblical bases whatsoever that they should be imposed on the text of Scripture a priori as interpretive principles. Second Corinthians 10:5 warns believers to take every thought captive.
Yet, where he teaches at Denver Seminary, the seminary has such an interpretive approach that it has embraced reflecting “a more central place in its [Denver Seminary’s] curriculum . . . focusing on historical Christianity’s mandate to worldwide mission” and “goes on to elaborate ‘an empathetic understanding of the different genders, races, cultures, and religions to be able to contextualize the gospel more effectively,’ ‘increased application and promotion of biblical principles to such global issues as economic development, social justice, political systems, human rights, and international conflict,’ and related concerns.”114 Blomberg argues “it is perhaps best to think of the globalization of biblical interpretation as the processes either of asking questions of the biblical passage which are not traditionally asked within a particular interpretive community or of allowing new answers, more supportive of the world’s oppressed, to emerge from old questions out of a more careful exegesis of the text itself.”115 He asserts that “these new questions and answers are often suggested as we read the Bible through the eyes of the individuals quite different from ourselves.”116 How one can subjectively view the Bible through the eyes of other individuals is not explained but it does highlight the existentialist basis of the new hermeneutic (Ebeling, Fuchs) where truth rests, not in the text, but in the interpreter’s subjective experience. Here also Blomberg makes a telling omission that his goal in globalization hermeneutics is not necessarily to elucidate original intent of the authors of Scripture but to devise interpretive decisions that are “more supportive of the world’s oppressed.”117
What is even more concerning is his application of these principles to the biblical text. One example must suffice in John 4 with the woman at the well. Here Blomberg’s concern for reading feminist issues causes him to see the woman as a “victim rather than a whore” where he dismisses the idea that the woman was sexually promiscuous, which he terms “an unfounded assumption.” Instead, Blomberg asserts that “[t]he fault could well have resided more with the men than with the woman; we simply have no way of knowing. That she was currently living with a man to whom she was not legally married might just as easily have stemmed from her fifth husband having abandoned here without a legal divorce and from her need to be joined to a man for legal and social protection.”118 Such an interpretation requires Blomberg to ignore the woman’s summoning of the men of the village with the following words: “So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, ‘Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?’” This latter confession is best understood as an admission that Jesus correctly knew the spiritual condition of her immoral lifestyle (cf. 4:18 where Jesus knows how many husbands she had, otherwise it is an empty statement apart from its moral implications.
What is patently obvious is that Blomberg’s concern for sociological and political correctness greatly clouds his exegesis of John 3-4. Fortunately, Blomberg realizes that the passage remains “fundamentally Christocentric; Jesus is the principle personage in both passages” and that “the person and work of Christ subordinates all liberationist, feminist, and postmodernist readings, important as they may be.”119 Nevertheless, his assertion that “Biblical scholarship which does not yet acknowledge such ‘metacriticism’ lags behind the social sciences in this respect” is quite disturbing, for it opens up the proverbial “Pandora’s box” for a host of foreign elements to be imposed on the biblical text, resulting in Scripture being reduced to a tool for the promotion of globalist and/or fleeting agendas that are not anchored to a grammatico-historical understanding of the Scriptures’ content or meaning.
Evangelicals Join in the Third Quest
After decrying Geisler’s presidential address as well as the warnings set forth in The Jesus Crisis, as the next chapter will review in a much more lengthy discussion, in 1999 evangelicals who embraced historical-critical ideologies began a significant endeavor at joining in a Third Quest for the “historical Jesus.” Most evangelicals up to that time did not participate in the first or second quests, but this evangelical corroboration in searching was a decade-long process of engaging in the effort. In 2010, Darrell Bock and William Webb produced Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus that recorded the research of scholars associated with the Institute of Biblical Research (IBR). Operating from the position of post-modernistic historiography, this work asserted that only twelve events in the Gospels had the best chance of probably happening in history. In examining this work, one wonders whether Harold Lindsell’s warning regarding historical-critical ideologies was not very prescient: “the use of the historical-critical method . . . leads, as night follows day, to the need for finding the canon within the canon.” Lindsell labeled such a result as a “requirement” of historical criticism.120 Interestingly, in 2010, Scot McKnight withdrew from the Third Search, citing similar reasoning: “a fundamental observation about all genuine historical Jesus studies: Historical Jesus scholars construct what is in effect a fifth gospel. The reconstructed Jesus is not identical to the canonical Jesus or the orthodox Jesus. He is the reconstructed Jesus, which means he is a ‘new’ Jesus.” 121
In a recent IBR article, “Faith and the Historical Jesus,” Bock “defends the value of having mediated presentations of Jesus” as exhibited in the third search for the historical Jesus.122 Bock comments, “For many evangelicals, especially lay evangelicals, the skepticism surrounding much of historical-Jesus work is to be shunned as a rejection of the Bible as the Word of God.”123 Apparently Bock believes that while some Bible students are limited in understanding and ability and, as a result of their educational deficiencies, might not appreciate Jesus research, some New Testament scholars who are as highly trained as he is can engage in the discussion, so long as “one must appreciate the nature of what historical-Jesus work seeks to achieve as well as the limitations such a historically oriented study operates under when it seeks to cross thousands of years to do its work.”124 The problem, for Bock, lies not in the historical-critical approach but in the skill, or lack of skill, of a researcher and realizing that such studies have limitations “in understanding and ability” in making a case for the New Testament traditions tied to Jesus.125
What is, however, even more fascinating is Robert Miller’s reply to Bock’s article supporting evangelical participation in searching for the “historical Jesus”: “When It’s Futile to Argue about the Historical Jesus.”126 Miller is an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature and a critic of evangelical participation in historiographical questions that the latter attempt to marginalize or limit in searching for the “historical Jesus.” He argues that evangelicals who participate in these studies aren’t consistent or critical enough in the historiographical principles needed for answers that academic scholarship is seeking: “I maintain that the arguments about the historical Jesus can be productive only among those who already agree on a number of contested questions about historiographical method and the nature of the Gospels. Therefore, debates about the historical Jesus that occur between the ‘evangelical’ camp (which sees the canonical Gospels as fully reliable historically) and the ‘traditional’ camp (which sees the Gospel as blends of fact and fiction) are futile.”127 Furthermore, he argues that the idea that the Gospels are to be compared to ancient bios genre is wrong, for he asserts that ancient bios genre was more historically accurate than the Gospels, i.e., the comparison is wrong! Miller asserts that no camp is persuaded by the other in their assertions: “Scholarship from one camp is unavoidably unpersuasive to the other camp . . . That’s why debates about basic issues in our field never change people’s minds in any fundamental way.”128 For evangelicals, the critical scholars go too far in their denigration of the Gospels; for the critical scholars the evangelicals do not go far enough in allowing de-historicizing of the Gospel material. The end result of such an impasse would appear to be that the Gospels are subject to a scholarly tug-of-war and that, in the process, are denigrated as historically trustworthy, i.e. the Gospels are undermined as reliable historical documents rather than affirmed as is insisted by Bock, Webb, and Keener.
Miller’s argument, interestingly, is similar to Perrin’s argument against Eldon Ladd that Ladd refused to allow his acceptance of historical criticism to move him too far. Norman Perrin regarded Ladd’s passion for approval among liberals as a motivation that led to Ladd’s misconstruing some of the more liberal scholars’ positions in order to make them support his own views.129 Perrin bluntly argued,
We have already noted Ladd’s anxiety to find support for his views on the authenticity of a saying or pericope, and this is but one aspect of what seems to be a ruling passion with him: the search for critical support for his views altogether. To this end he is quite capable of misunderstanding the scholars concerned . . .
Ladd’s passion for finding support for his views among critical scholars has as its counterpart an equal passion for dismissing contemptuously aspects of their work which do not support him. These dismissals are of a most peremptory nature.130
Perrin labeled Ladd’s support for the credibility of the Gospels as accurate historical sources for the life of Jesus as “an uncritical view” and that Ladd was guilty of eisegesis of liberals’ views to demonstrate any congruity of their assertions with his brand of conservative evangelical. Marsden continues:
[Ladd] saw Perrin’s review as crucial in denying him prestige in the larger academic arena. . . . The problem was the old one of the neo-evangelical efforts to reestablish world-class evangelical scholarship. Fundamentalists and conservatives did not trust them . . . and the mainline academic community refused to take them seriously.
Perhaps Perrin had correctly perceived a trait of the new evangelical movement when he described Ladd as torn between his presuppositional critique of modern scholarship and his eagerness to find modern critical scholars on his side . . . No one quite succeeded philosophically in mapping the way this was to be done, though. The result was confusion, as became apparent with subsequent efforts to relate evangelical theology to the social sciences at the new schools. For . . . Ladd, who had the highest hopes for managing to be in both camps with the full respect of each, the difficulties in maintaining the balance contributed to deep personal anxiety.131
As a direct result of Bock’s and Webb’s Key Events and its support for post-modernistic historiography, Geisler and Roach dedicated a whole chapter of their work to analyzing its efforts in their recently released Defending Inerrancy (2011).132 Geisler’s and Roach’s book arose out of concern for a perceived drift away from the concerns for inerrancy of the ICBI movements in 1978 and 1982. They noted their concern especially in relationship to the Evangelical Theological Society: “many young evangelicals trained in contemporary higher criticism have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the traditional view of unlimited inerrancy that was embraced by Warfield, the ETS founders, and the ICBI.”133 They noted that two camps now existed within ETS: those who adhered to the Chicago Statements and their view of unlimited inerrancy and those who did not. They wanted, therefore, evangelicals to remember recent problems surrounding inerrancy in the history of evangelicals that led to the founding of ETS as well as the events that created the Chicago Statements on Inerrancy (1978) and Hermeneutics (1982).
Geisler and Roach counter Bock’s claim that historical criticism allows “serious historical engagement” decidedly in the negative: It is not serious historical engagement but “bristles” with presuppositions that Bock and Webb choose to ignore; in post-modernistic historiography the term “history” “bristles with presuppositions.”134 While commending Bock and Webb for their response to the Jesus Seminar, as well as their sincere efforts in seeking to know the actual Jesus of history, Geisler and Roach listed several significant concerns that directly impact the doctrine of inerrancy, among which are: (1) late dating of New Testament books; (2) the use of evangelical redaction criticism that denigrates the role of eyewitnesses involved in the composition of the canonical Gospels; (3) the assumption of methodological naturalism, especially in terms of their assumptions of post-modernistic historiography; (4) failing to account for the fact that the idea of a “quest” for the “historical Jesus” constitutes a de facto denial of inerrancy and impugns the Gospels as historical records; and (5) disregarding the Spinozian impact of dealing with alleged sources behind the text rather than the inspired text itself; and (6) neglecting the role of the Holy Spirit in the production of the Gospels (John 14:26; 16:13).135 Their conclusion was that such participation by Bock, Webb, and other participants in Key Events undermine the doctrine of inerrancy as well as the trustworthiness of Scripture. Geisler and Roach argue, “Bock-Webb wrongly believe that they have cleansed the critical-historical method of its naturalistic biases and purified it for appropriate use by evangelicals to find the historical Jesus . . . this is as naïve as the belief that methodological naturalism as a science, to which they compare their approach (KE, 45) will escape the web of naturalistic conclusions . . . Many young scholars seem slow to learn that methodology determines theology. And a naturalistic methodology will lead to a naturalistic theology.”136 As a result, their adoption of “an unorthodox methodology . . . undermines the inerrancy of Scripture.”137
An Evangelical Crisis of Attitude toward Inspiration and Inerrancy
A very recent work reflecting current thinking among evangelicals who received training and/or influence from British and European continental schools, Do Historical Matters Matter to the Faith?, (2012)138 highlights changing views regarding inerrancy and historicity issues centering in the Bible. The work relates its purpose as follows:
We offer this book to help address some of the questions raised about the historicity, accuracy, and inerrancy of the Bible by colleagues within our faith community, as well as those outside it. There will be a special emphasis placed on matters of history and the historicity of biblical narratives, both Old and New Testaments, as this seems presently to be a burning issue for theology and faith. Hence, we begin with a group of essays that deal with theological matters before moving on to topics in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and archaeology.”139
In reacting against those critical of evangelical scholarship’s refusal to embrace historical critical ideologies, such as James Barr and, more recently Kenton Sparks in his God’s Word in Human Words,140 the work boasts about the academic degrees of the contributors: “(The contributors of this book who did their doctoral work in British universities—Aberdeen, Oxford, and Cambridge—would hardly agree with this assessment!) The readers need only to review the list of contributors to see where they completed their PhDs, and it will be abundantly clear that the vast majority worked in secular and critical contexts and had to deal directly with critical issues. In fact, even in the context of Near Eastern studies, the critical approaches of Altstestamentlers were a part of the curriculum” [parenthetical marks in original].141 Because the focus of the present chapter is on New Testament issues, not every chapter in this work will be discussed, but only those that focus on inerrancy and New Testament issues that demonstrate this crisis of attitude among evangelicals.
In Chapter One, “Religious Epistomology, Theological Interpretation of Scripture, and Critical Biblical Scholarship,” Thomas McCall sets forth a philosophy of biblical scholarship for the group. McCall advocates a type of “methodological naturalism”: “MN holds only that the method of CBS [critical biblical scholarship] ‘can be followed and may be valuable for historians’ but do not give the only or final word on all matters (historical or otherwise).”142 What McCall fails to consider in his discussion is that often a “methodology” is really an ideology with an underlying agenda in its presuppositional foundations (Col. 2:8; 2 Cor. 10:5). This chapter suggests a Hegelian/Fichtian dialectic: Fundamentalism (i.e. Reformed Epistomology) is too dismissive or critical of critical biblical scholarship (thesis) and critical biblical scholarship in its historic form is too “binding and obligatory” (antithesis), so the synthesis is expressed by evangelicals who use critical methods to engage in dialogue because “critical biblical scholarship can be ‘appropriated’ in a way that is both intellectually and spiritually healthy.”143 Acceptance of critical biblical scholarship in various, limited ways is the only way to have influence in the larger marketplace of ideas in biblical criticism.
McCall’s idea of influencing, however, is attenuated by 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:14, where Paul sets forth the myth of influence, i.e. the fact that the default response of anyone who does not have the Spirit of God (i.e. unbelievers) is to conclude that the things of God are “foolishness” or “an offense” (1 Cor 1:23) and that God deliberately has planned that wisdom of unsaved men is inherently unable to arrive at a true understanding of the truth of God’s Word (1 Cor 2:8-14). This places “critical biblical scholarship” in a tenuous light, for it operates decidedly on foundational unbelief. Only those with the Spirit of God can understand the thoughts of God, for no one will boast before God concerning his own wisdom (1 Cor 1:30).
In Chapter Three, “The Divine Investment in Truth, Toward a Theological Account of Biblical Inerrancy,” Mark Thompson asserts a belief in inerrancy but argues strongly that suspicion regarding inerrancy “stems from the way that some have used assent to this doctrine [inerrancy] as a shibboleth. Individuals and institutions have been black-listed for raising doubts about the way the doctrine has been construed in the past. Only those who are able to affirm biblical inerrancy without qualification are to be trusted.” 144 Thompson singles out Harold Lindsell as “one of the most conspicuous examples” of those who cause this distrust. For Thompson, the greatest suspicion against inerrancy is as follows, “[m]ost serious of all . . . is the way still others, reared on the strictest form of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, have abandoned the faith under the intense questioning of biblical criticism. Forced to choose between a perfect, unblemished text and seemingly incontrovertible evidence of error in Scripture, such people begin to lose confidence in the gospel proclaimed throughout Scripture. In light of such cases, the doctrine of biblical inerrancy might even be deemed dangerous.”145 These evangelicals have apparently forgotten that it was Harold Lindsell who was a great impetus in the ICBI discussion of both 1978 and 1982. History is now being forgotten. He blames people who hold to a strong view of inerrancy for causing people to depart from the faith. Apparently, for Thompson, inerrancy is a cause of defection especially if one holds to it strongly.
Thompson argues instead that, “the doctrine should not be judged by the abuse of it or by inadequate explanations.”146 He argues for a solution in the following terms: “Strong convictions about the inerrancy of Scripture need not mean that this aspect of Scripture is elevated above all others in importance. Biblical inerrancy need not entail literalism and a failure to take seriously the various literary forms in which God’s words come to us, nor need it repudiate genuine human authorship in a Docetic fashion.”147 Such a statement clearly indicates that Thompson places Scripture on the same level as any other book and is therefore subject to the same assault that historical-critical ideologies, far from neutral, have perpetrated upon it. Thompson concludes that a solution toward resolving any distortions in the doctrine of inerrancy is as follows: “the doctrine of inerrancy almost inevitably becomes distorted when it becomes the most important thing we want to say about Scripture.”148 He affirms Timothy Ward’s solution, “Timothy Ward’s assessment that inerrancy is ‘a true statement to make about the Bible but is not in the top rank of significant things to assert about the Bible’ is timely.” Thus, Thompson’s solution appears to downplay the significance of inerrancy for biblical issues as a way of overcoming difficulties regarding the doctrine as well as recognizing that not all statements in the Bible are to be taken as literal in terms of genre.
In Chapter Fourteen, “God’s Word in Human Words—Form-Critical Reflections,” Robert W. Yarbrough argues for seeing a value to historical critical approaches such as form critical studies by evangelicals even if in a limited way: “Form criticism did call attention to the important point that the Gospels comprise units of expression that may be sorted into discernible categories. Admittedly, form critics approached Gospel sources with premises and convictions that created blind spots in their observations. Limitations to the method as typically practiced amounted to built-in obsolescence that would eventually doom it to irrelevancy in the estimation of most Gospels interpreters today.”149 However, Yarbrough argues that “to study works from the form-critical era is to be reminded that literary sub-units—even sacred sources—can be grouped and analyzed according to the type of discourse they enshrine and the clues to the cultural surroundings they may yield.”150 He acknowledges that Eta Linnemann “renounced her lifelong professional and personal commitment to what she called historical-critical theology . . . she tested the claims of historical-critical views that she had been taught as a student and then as a professor had inflicted on hapless university undergraduates in an attempt to disabuse them of their Christian faith in Jesus and the Bible, the better to equip them for service in enlightened post-Christian German society.”151
Yet, Yarbrough, delving into his perceived psychoanalysis of Linnemann’s perceptions of biblical scholarship, labels her as someone among evangelicals who overreacted to the historical-critical approaches. He noted that “In academic mode, whether lecturing or writing, Linnemann tended toward overstatement and polemics. It is as if a couple of decades of vehement rejection of the Gospels’ trustworthiness created a corresponding zeal for their defense once she rejected the ‘critical’ paradigm she embraced in Bultmann’s heyday and under the spell of her identity as one of his students. Her scholarly pro-Bible writings are not a model of balanced scholarship, cautious investigation, and measured, gracious interaction with those she viewed as soft on the question of the Bible’s inaccuracy.”152
However, Yarbrough’s psychoanalysis of Linnemann is directly challenged by Linnemann’s own story as a former post-Bultmann who witnessed first-hand the dangerous nature of historical criticism, for she based it on a thorough understanding and analysis of the approach as an ideological one. Eta Linnemann, herself a student of Rudolf Bultmann, the renown formgeschichtliche critic, and also of Ernst Fuchs, the outstanding proponent of the New Hermeneutic, notes regarding Historical Criticism,
[I]nstead of being based on God’s Word . . . it [historical criticism] had its foundations in philosophies which made bold to define truth so that God’s Word was excluded as the source of truth. These philosophies simply presupposed that man could have no valid knowledge of the God of the Bible, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Father of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.”153
She stresses that the Enlightenment laid not only the atheistic staring point of the sciences but that of biblical criticism as a whole.154 One comment is especially insightful that in the practice of the historical-critical methods, “What is concealed from the student is the fact that science itself, including and especially theological science, is by no means unbiased and presuppositionless. The presuppositions which determine the way work is carried on in each of its disciplines are at work behind the scenes and are not openly set forth.”155 Linnemann notes, “a more intensive investigation [of historical criticism] would show that underlying the historical-critical approach is a series of prejudgments which are not themselves the result of scientific investigation. They are rather dogmatic premises, statements of faith, whose foundation is the absolutizing of human reason as a controlling apparatus.”156 Her rejection stemmed not from psychological motives but years of academic research into its dangers.
In Chapter Fifteen, “A Constructive Traditional Response to New Testament Criticism,” Craig Blomberg sets forth “constructive” solutions to problems in the New Testament text that he believes would be in line with inerrancy and solve difficulties that evangelicals face. In Blomberg’s article, he decries the Evangelical Theological Society’s dismissal of Robert H. Gundry in 1982 and reaffirms his support for Gundry to be allowed to make a midrashic approach to de-historicizing (i.e. allegorizing) the story of Herod’s killing of babies in Bethlehem in Matthew 2 as consistent with a belief in inerrancy:
For Gundry, inerrancy would only be called into question if Matthew were making truth claims that were false. But if Matthew were employing a different style, form of genre that was not making truth claims about what happened historically when he added to his sources, then he could not be charged with falsifying the truth. Preachers throughout church history have similarly added speculative detail, local color, possible historical reconstruction, and theological commentary to their retelling of biblical stories. As long as their audiences know the text of Scripture well enough to distinguish between the Bible and the preacher’s additions, they typically recognize what the preacher is doing and do not impugn his or her trustworthiness.
A substantial number of voting members of the Evangelical Theological Society present at the annual business meeting of its annual conference in 1983 disagreed that Gundry’s views were consistent with inerrancy, at that time the sole tenet in the Society’s doctrinal statement, and requested his resignation from the society. I voted with the minority. Following the papers and writings of my own professors from seminary, especially D. A. Carson and Douglas Moo, I believed Gundry had shown how his view could be consistent with inerrancy, even though I did not find his actually approach to Matthew convincing. in other words, the issue was a hermeneutical one, not a theological one. The trustees of Westmont College, where Gundry taught, agreed, and he continued his illustrious teaching and writing career there until his retirement.157
In accordance with Gundry, one of Blomberg’s solution for difficult problems in New Testament in relationship to inerrancy is to allow for a genre of non-historicity to be considered: “Though not a panacea for every conceivable debate, much more sensitive reflection over the implications of the various literary and rhetorical genres in the Bible would seem an important first step that is not often taken enough . . . in some contexts it may take some careful hermeneutical discernment to determine just what a text is or is not affirming. Style, figures of speech, species of rhetorical and literary form and genre all go a long way toward disclosing those affirmations.”158 For Blomberg, difficulties can be resolved at times by realizing the non-historical nature of some portions of the New Testament.
In a 1984 article, Blomberg uses this as an explanation of the story of the coin in the fish’s mouth in Matthew 17:21-24: “Is it possible, even inherently probable, that the NT writers at least in part never intended to have their miracle stories taken as historical or factual and that their original audiences probably recognized this? If this sounds like the identical reasoning that enabled Robert Gundry to adopt his midrashic interpretation of Matthew while still affirming inerrancy, that is because it is the same. The problem will not disappear simply because one author [Gundry] is dealt with ad hominem…how should evangelicals react? Dismissing the sociological view on the grounds that the NT miracles present themselves as historical gets us nowhere. So do almost all the other miracle stories of antiquity. Are we to believe them all?”159 Blomberg noted, “It is often not noticed that the so-called miracle of the fish with the coin in its mouth (Matt 17:27) is not even a narrative; it is merely a command from Jesus to go to the lake and catch such a fish. We don’t even know if Peter obeyed the command. Here is a good reminder to pay careful attention to the literary form.”160 Unfortunately, this solution would seem to be at odds with the ICBI statement on Hermeneutics when it states in Article XIII: “We deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual.”
Blomberg offers another solution toward solving problems surrounding pseudonymity in relation to some New Testament books whereby the “critical consensus approach could . . . be consistent with inerrancy, ‘benign pseudonymity.’”161 Blomberg also uses the term “ghost-writer” to describe this activity.162 Another more common name for this would be pseudepigraphy (as some scholars claim for Ephesians, Colossians, and the Pastoral Epistles) but Blomberg desires to change normally used terminology:
A methodology consistent with evangelical convictions might argue that there was an accepted literary convention that allowed a follower, say, of Paul, in the generation after his martyrdom, to write a letter in Paul’s name to one of the churches that had come under his sphere of influence. The church would have recognized that it could not have come from an apostle they knew had died two or three decades earlier, and they would have realized that the true author was writing thoughts indebted to the earlier teaching of Paul. In a world without footnotes or bibliographies, this was one way of giving credit where credit was due. Modesty prevented the real author from using his own name, so he wrote in ways he could easily have envisioned Paul writing were the apostle still alive today. Whether or not this is what actually happened, such a hypothesis is thoroughly consistent with a high view of Scripture and an inerrant Bible. We simply have to recognize what is and is not being claimed by the use of name ‘Paul’ in that given letter.163
For Blomberg, the key to pseudonymity would also lie in motive behind the writing. Blomberg argues that “One’s acceptance or rejection of the overall theory of authorship should then depend on the answers to these kinds of questions, not on some a priori determination that pseudonymity is in every instance compatible or incompatible with evangelicalism.”164 He argues, “[i]t is not the conclusion one comes to on the issue [of pseudonymity] that determines whether one can still fairly claim to be evangelical, or even inerrantist, how one arrives at that conclusion.”165 Yet, how could one ever know the motive of such ghostwriters? Would not such a false writer go against all moral standards of Christianity? Under Blomberg’s logic, Bart Ehrman’s Forged (2011) only differs in one respect: Blomberg attributes good motives to forgers, while Ehrman is honest enough to admit that these “benign” writings are really what they would be in such circumstances: FORGED WRITING IN THE NAME OF GOD—WHY THE BIBLE’S AUTHORS ARE NOT WHO WE THINK THEY ARE.166 Is either one of these scholars able to read the proverbial “tea leaves” and divine the motives behind such perpetrations? Not likely!
Blomberg also carries this logic to the idea of “historical reliability more broadly.” He relates, “Might some passages in the Gospels and Acts traditionally thought of as historical actually be mythical or legendary? I see no way to exclude the answer a priori. The question would be whether any given proposal to that effect demonstrated the existence of an accepted literary form likely known to the Evangelists’ audiences, establishes as a legitimate device for communicating theological truth through historical fiction. In each case it is not the proposal itself that should be off limits for the evangelical. The important question is whether any given proposal has actually made its case.”167
Blomberg evidences the strong leanings of evangelical critical scholarship toward historical-critical ideologies when he applies his historical-critical/grammatical hermeneutic to the Gospel texts. He notes regarding his The Historical Reliability of the Gospels that “Christians may not be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Gospels are historically accurate, but they must attempt to show that there is a strong likelihood of their historicity. Thus the approach of this book is always to argue in terms of probability rather than certainty, since this is the nature of historical hypotheses, including those that are accepted without question.”168 Again, Blomberg argues, “[A] good case can be made for accepting the details as well as the main contours of the Gospels as reliable. But…even if a few minor contradictions genuinely existed, this would not necessarily jeopardize the reliability of the rest or call into question the entire basis for belief.”169
The fact, however, is that “probability” logically rests in the “eye of the beholder” and what is probable to one may be improbable to another. For instance, what Blomberg finds “probable” may not be to critics of the Gospels who do not accept his logic. This also places Scripture on an acutely subjective level where the logical impact of this approach is to reduce the Gospels to a shifting sand of “one-upmanship” in scholarly debate as to who accepts whose arguments for what reasons or not. Blomberg argues that “an evenhanded treatment of the data [from analysis of the Gospel material] does not lead to a distrust of the accuracy of the Gospels.”170 But this is actually exceedingly naïve, for who is to dictate to whom what is “evenhanded?” Many liberals would think that Blomberg has imposed his own evangelical presuppositions and is very far from being “evenhanded.” He convinces only himself with this assertion. Blomberg admits “critical scholarship is often too skeptical.”171 The phrase “too skeptical” is relative to the critic. Who is to judge whether something is too critical when evangelicals adopt the same ideologies? Yet, since he has chosen to play with the rules of the critical scholars’ game concerning the Gospels (however much he modifies their approach—they remain its inventors), they may reply on an equally valid level that Blomberg is too accepting. This is especially demonstrated when Blomberg accepts “criteria of authenticity” that are used to determine whether or not portions of the Gospels are historically reliable. He argues, “Using either the older or the new criteria, even the person who is suspicious of the Gospel tradition may come to accept a large percentage of it as historically accurate.”172 One would immediately ask Blomberg to cite an example, any example, of someone who was previously skeptical but has now come to a less skeptical position, but he does not. Criteria of authenticity are merely a priori tools that prove what one has already concluded.173 If one is skeptical regarding tradition, one can select criteria that enforce the already conceived position. If one is less skeptical, then one can apply criteria that will enforce the already accepted less-skeptical conclusion. Each side will not accept the data of the other. What does suffer, however, is the Gospel record as it is torn apart by philosophical speculation through these criteria. For Blomberg, one may speak only of the “general reliability” of the Gospels since he has deliberately confined himself to these philosophically-motivated criteria.
Very telling with Blomberg is that he sees two “extreme positions” on historical reliability: the first being those who affirm the Gospels reliability “simply because they believe their doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture requires them to” and the second being “the other end of the confessional spectrum” consisting of “many radical critics” who “would answer the question [regarding reliability] negatively, thinking that proper historical method requires them to disbelieve any narrative so thoroughly permeated by supernatural events, theological interpretation and minor variation among parallels as are in the four Gospels.”174 Blomberg instead asserts his position as in-between: “the Gospels must be subjected to the same type of historical scrutiny given to any other writings of antiquity but that they can stand up to such scrutiny admirably.”175 The naiveté of this latter position is breath-taking, since historical criticism has been shown to be replete with hostile philosophical underpinnings that apparently Blomberg is either unaware of or choosing to ignore.176 These presuppositions always control the outcome. Moreover, would those who use such radical ideologies in approaching Scripture be convinced of Blomberg’s moderation of them? Most likely, they would interpret his usage as biased. What does suffer, however, is the Gospels’ historical credibility in the process.
Blomberg argues that “[i]f it is unfair to begin historical inquiry by superimposing a theological interpretation over it, it is equally unfair to ignore the theological implications that rise from it.”177 A much more pertinent question, however, for Blomberg to answer is, “Is it fair for the Gospel record to be in turn subjected to historical critical ideologies whose purpose was to negate and marginalize the Gospel record?” Blomberg is so willing and ready to remove the former but very welcoming in allowing the latter in his own subjective approach to the Gospels.
Finally, Blomberg, seemingly anticipating objections to many of his ideas, issues a stern warning to those who would oppose the proposals that he has discussed:
[L]et those on the ‘far right’ neither anathematize those who do explore and defend new options nor immediately seek to ban them from organizations or institutions to which they belong. If new proposals…cannot withstand scholarly rigor, then let their refutations proceed at that level, with convincing scholarship, rather than with the kind of censorship that makes one wonder whether those who object have no persuasive reply and so have to resort simply to demonizing and/or silencing the voices with which they disagree. If evangelical scholarship proceeded in this more measured fashion, neither inherently favoring nor inherently resisting ‘critical’ conclusions, whether or not they form a consensus, then it might fairly be said to be both traditional and constructive.178
Blomberg had earlier received strong criticism due to his involvement in co-authoring a book with Stephen E. Robinson, a New Testament professor at Brigham Young University, entitled How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation.179 As a result, he states, “Many of us who were trained at seminaries that were vigorously engaged in labeling (rightly or wrongly) other historically evangelical seminaries as no longer evangelical and who then came to the UK for doctoral study found the breadth of British definitions of evangelicalism and the comparative lack of a polemical environment like a breath of fresh air.”180 Yet, this desire for lack of criticism and just an irenic spirit in Christian academics hardly finds legitimacy in terms of the biblical model displayed in the Old and New Testaments. Much of the Old Testament castigated God’s people for their compromising on belief or behavior (e.g. Numbers 11-14; Psalm 95). Under today’s sentiments, the Old Testament might be labeled anti-Semitic due to its criticism of Jewish people. In the New Testament, whole books were composed to criticize false teaching and wrong behavior on the part of God’s people, such as Galatians, 1-2 Corinthians, the Pastoral Epistles, the Johannine Epistles, and chapters two and three of Revelation. Jesus himself fearlessly castigated powerful groups of important people (Matt 21-23). One is reminded of the satirical pieces that have been done on the fact that if Paul wrote Galatians today, he would have been vilified in many popular Christian magazines.181
In Chapter Sixteen, “Precision and Accuracy,” Bock asserts that the genre of the gospels is a form of ancient Greco-Roman biography known as bios: “[w]hen we think about the Gospels, there sometimes is a debate about the genre of this material. There was a time when this material was considered unique in its literary orientation. However, recently a consensus has emerged that the Gospels are a form of ancient bios.”182 He echoes the thinking of Charles Talbert and British theologian Richard Burridge who popularized this view.183 This assertion that the Gospels are a form of ancient bios is fraught with dangers regarding historical matters surrounding the Gospels since it can readily lead to de-emphasizing the Gospels as historical documents.
This growing opinion among evangelical scholars that the Gospels are bios recently created a storm of controversy when Michael Licona, in his work The Resurrection of Jesus A New Historiographical Approach,184 used bios as a means of de-historicizing parts of the Gospel (i.e. Matthew 27:51-53 with the resurrection of the saints after Jesus crucifixion is non-literal genre or apocalyptic rather than an actual historical event). Licona argued “Bioi offered the ancient biographer great flexibility for rearranging material and inventing speeches . . . and they often included legend. Because bios was a flexible genre, it is often difficult to determine where history ends and legend begins.”185
Licona’s work exhibits many commendable items, such as a strong stance on the historical basis for Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead. One might be encouraged that in light of historical criticism’s assault on the miraculous since Spinoza and the Enlightenment, Licona has maintained the historical, orthodox position of the church. However, like Robert Gundry before him in 1983, Licona (2010) uses genre issues in historical criticism to negate portions of Scripture that have always been considered historical by orthodox Christianity from the earliest times. He has stirred up much controversy that parallels that of the Gundry/ETS circumstance that resulted in the ICBI documents of 1978 and 1982. Being influenced by historical criticism, Licona has accepted a consensus that has emerged among critically-trained historical-critical scholars that the Gospels are a form of ancient “bios.”186
Bock argues, “[i]n ancient biography actions and sayings are the focus of the portrayal. The timing of the events is of less concern that the fact that they happened. Sometimes figures from distinct periods can be juxtaposed in ways that compare how they acted. The model of the figure that explains his greatness and presents him as one worthy of imitation stands at the core of the presentation. The central figure in a bios often is inspiring. The presentation of Jesus in the Gospels fits this general goal . . . This genre background is our starting point.”187
Operating from this consensus of the gospel as bios, Bock argues that the Olivet Discourse may have an “updated” saying. Comparing the disciples’ question in Mark 13:4 (“”Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” with Luke 21:7 (“Teacher, when therefore will these things be? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?”) and Matthew 24:3 (“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”), Bock notes that “something is going on between the versions in Mark and Luke in comparison to Matthew.” Bock continues, “Matthew has taken the question as it was in Mark and Luke and has presented what the disciples essentially were asking, even if they did not appreciate all the implications in the question at the time . . . Whether the disciples say the end is in view or Matthew is drawing that out as inherent in the question asked, the point is that Matthew is drawing that out as inherent in the question asked, the point is that Matthew has made the focus of the question clearer than the more ambiguous way it is asked in Mark and Luke.” Bock asserts that “Matthew may actually be giving us the more precise force and point of the question, now paraphrased in light of a fuller understanding of what Jesus’s career was to look like.” Apparently, Bock allows for the possibility that the disciples may not have asked the question as is set forth in Matthew 24:3 but that Matthew updated the question by adding this comment to the lips of the disciples regarding the “end of the age: “Matthew has simply updated the force of the question, introducing the idea of the end [of the age] as the topic Jesus implied by his remark about the temple.”188 One is left wondering with Bock’s postulation whether the disciples actually asked the question as Matthew presented (“end of the age”) or did Matthew add words to their lips that they did not say? Bock’s approach here is essentially a subtle form of de-historicizing the Gospels at this point. Equally plausible, however, is that the disciples did ask the question in the way in which Matthew phrased it and that a harmonization of the passage could be postulated that would not require such creative invention on the part of Matthew.
Echoing the same kind of thinking in this book, Darrell Bock states in a self-review of his own work in Do Historical Matters Matter?: “I do not often note books to which I have contributed on this blog, but this work is an exception. Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?: A Critical Appraisal of Modern and Postmodern Approaches to Scripture (Edited by James Hoffmeier and Dennis Magary)explores issues tied to the authority and inspiration of Scripture. This series of essays covers an array of issues from the Old and New Testaments.”189 Yet, this book clearly maintains that inerrancy is not a critical issue in Biblical studies.
In Bock’s own review of his Key Events work as co-editor with Robert Webb, Bock distances himself not only from inerrancy but also from the subject of inspiration as alien to Third Search evangelical critical scholars like himself:
As a co-editor of this volume, I should explain what this book is and is not. It is a book on historical Jesus discussion. It is not a book that uses theological arguments or categories (as legitimate as those can be) to make its case. This means we chose as a group to play by the rules of that discussion, engage it on those terms, and show even by those limiting standards that certain key events in the life of Jesus have historical credibility. So in this discussion one does not appeal to inspiration and one is asked to corroborate the claims in the sources before one can use the material. This is what we did, with a careful look at the historical context of 12 central events. To be accurate, the article by Webb accepts the resurrection as a real event, but argues for a limitation on what history (at least as normally practiced today) can say about such events. The problem here is with what history can show, not with the resurrection as an event. Many working in historical Jesus study take this approach to the resurrection. I prefer to argue that the best explanation for the resurrection is that it was a historical event since other explanations cannot adequately explain the presence of such a belief among the disciples. Webb explains these two options of how to take this in terms of the historical discussion and noted that participants in our group fell into each of these camps. Some people will appreciate the effort to play by these limiting rules and yet make important positive affirmations about Jesus. Others will complain by asking the book to do something it was not seeking to do.190
What is most remarkable is that nowhere in such evangelical collaborative works as Key Events or Who Is Jesus?191 does Bock (or any other evangelical involved) mention how such principles stand presuppositionally opposed to affirming the Scriptures, especially its inerrancy, nor does Bock issue any warnings in these works that the searchers are conducting their search apart from any consideration of inerrancy. Apparently, critical-evangelical scholars may have personal, subjective beliefs about inerrancy or inspiration, but in Third Search activities that they conduct such ideas are shunned as not a part of this scholarly endeavor. Nowhere in any of Bock’s searching books does he mention that this all is an effort to use the arguments of the historical-critics against them. He merely assumes these ideas and it results in a weakening of the Gospels. No apologetic is ever offered in countering such things; no history or presuppositions are mentioned. He treats historical-critical principles such as source, form, redaction, tradition criticism and post-modernistic historiography as fully valid. Indeed, at the expense of both inspiration and inerrancy, he has succeeded in making the term “historical Jesus” normal when it is truly aberrant from an orthodox understanding. It is founded on a German critical scholarship of historie (actual history) versus geschichte (faith interpretation of those events); a concept that at its foundation rejects the Jesus of the Bible. He nowhere even hints that these principles are flawed or inconsistent when he writes these works and apparently buys into them substantially. One cannot tell qualitatively where any of these critical evangelical scholars substantively disagrees with any of these “searching” principles. They wrote no caveat about post-modernistic historiography; no counter-chapter or alternative to it was presented. It was treated as normative for these books and not even so much as a footnote was written that would indicate that not all the authors agree with post-modernistic historiography. Bock and those allied with him appear to assume historical-critical validity of the principles as if they completely accept these concepts. He treats searching as normative, standard and as if all evangelical scholars do this kind of thing.
In another work, evangelical Daniel Wallace also plays down the importance of inspiration and inerrancy. In a statement from his chapter entitled “Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit? The Uneasy Conscience of a Non-Charismatic Evangelical,” Wallace admits a personal struggle:
(3) This emphasis on knowledge over relationship can produce in us bibliolatry. For me, as a New Testament professor, the text is my task–but I made it my God. The text became my idol. Let me state this bluntly: The Bible is not a member of the Trinity. One lady in my church facetiously told me, “I believe in the Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Bible.” Sadly, too many cessationists operate as though that were so. One of the great legacies Karl Barth left behind was his strong Christocentric focus. It is a shame that too many of us have reacted so strongly to Barth, for in our zeal to show his deficiencies in his doctrine of the Bible, we have become bibliolaters in the process. Barth and Calvin share a warmth, a piety, a devotion, an awe in the presence of God that is lacking in too many theological tomes generated from our circles.192
The present writer finds this kind of statement not in accordance with the assertions of Scripture itself. Scripture presents its foundational importance of inspiration and inerrancy with hundreds of verses that present this constant truth. God’s Words has exalted status, “I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word according to all Your name” (Ps. 138:2). God’s Word is a sanctifying force, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Jesus affirmed “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35) and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Wallace’s logic here is startlingly poor. If the documents cannot be trusted—if they are not inspired and inerrant—then one cannot have a “Christocentric” anything. Apparently, however, good critical scholars are obliged never to bring these verses up in scholarly discussions or risk being labeled unscholarly.
In seeking to counter the damage to the determination of the wording of Scripture by Bart Ehrman’s work Misquoting Jesus, Wallace is more than willing to surrender inerrancy as an issue:
Second, what I tell my students every year is that it is imperative that they pursue truth rather than protect their presuppositions. And they need to have a doctrinal taxonomy that distinguishes core beliefs from peripheral beliefs. When they place more peripheral doctrines such as inerrancy and verbal inspiration at the core, then when belief in these doctrines starts to erode, it creates a domino effect: One falls down, they all fall down. It strikes me that something like this may be what happened to Bart Ehrman. His testimony in Misquoting Jesus discussed inerrancy as the prime mover in his studies. But when a glib comment from one of his conservative professors at Princeton was scribbled on a term paper, to the effect that perhaps the Bible is not inerrant, Ehrman’s faith began to crumble. One domino crashed into another until eventually he became “a fairly happy agnostic.” I may be wrong about Ehrman’s own spiritual journey, but I have known too many students who have gone in that direction. The irony is that those who frontload their critical investigation of the text of the Bible with bibliological presuppositions often speak of a “slippery slope” on which all theological convictions are tied to inerrancy. Their view is that if inerrancy goes, everything else begins to erode. I would say rather that if inerrancy is elevated to the status of a prime doctrine, that’s when one gets on a slippery slope. But if a student views doctrines as concentric circles, with the cardinal doctrines occupying the center, then if the more peripheral doctrines are challenged, this does not have a significant impact on the core. In other words, the evangelical community will continue to produce liberal scholars until we learn to nuance our faith commitments a bit more, until we learn to see Christ as the center of our lives and scripture as that which points to him. If our starting point is embracing propositional truths about the nature of scripture rather than personally embracing Jesus Christ as our Lord and King, we’ll be on that slippery slope, and we’ll take a lot of folks down with us.193
Even more startling is Wallace’s assertions regarding evangelical theological views like inerrancy or inspiration that apparently reflect a similar view to Rogers and McKim (mentioned earlier in this article): “our theology is too often rooted in Greek philosophy, rationalism, the Enlightenment, and Scottish Common Sense realism” which he defines as “a philosophical departure from that of the sixteenth-century Reformers, though it was a handmaiden of Princetonian conservative theology in the nineteenth century.”194 For Wallace, evangelicals operate on a “docetic bibliology” regarding Scripture when they insist on the ipsissima verba or similar ideas.195 Thus, Wallace’s view encompasses such ideas as Luke altering the meaning of Jesus’ words in Luke 5:32 (cf. Mark 2:17; Matt 9:13) so that he asserts that “To sum up: There seems to be evidence in the synoptic gospels that, on occasion, words are deliberately added to the original sayings of Jesus” and “[i]n a few instances, these words seem to alter somewhat the picture that we would otherwise have gotten from the original utterance; in other instances, the meaning seems to be virtually the same, yet even here a certain amount of exegetical spadework is needed to see this. On the other hand, there seem to be examples within the synoptics where the words are similar, but the meaning is different.”196 These statements leave one to wonder if Jesus truly said what is recorded in the Gospels or that the substance has been changed redactionally. Wallace concludes, “it seems that our interpretation of inspiration is governing our interpretation of the text. Ironically, such bibliological presuppositions are established in modern terms that just might ignore or suppress the data they are meant to address and which are purportedly derived. And there is an even greater irony here: the fact of the Incarnation—an essential element in orthodox Christology-invites (italics in original) rigorous historical investigation. But what if our bibliological presuppositions reject (italics in original) that invitation?”197 What “rigorous historical investigation” entails is not clearly specified, except that it involves at least the utilization of the criteria of authenticity and dissimilarity.198
In a recent blog entry, Wallace related: “I am unashamedly a Protestant. I believe in sola scriptura, sola fidei, solus Christus, and the rest. I am convinced that Luther was on to something when he articulated his view of justification succinctly: simul iustus et peccator (“simultaneously justified and a sinner”).”199 However, he laments the lack of unification on Protestant theology, and says that three events in his life are having an impact on his thinking: (1) His attendance of Greek Orthodox worship services: “I have spent a lot of time with Greek Orthodox folks. It doesn’t matter what Orthodox church or monastery I visit, I get the same message, the same liturgy, the same sense of the ‘holy other’ in our fellowship with the Triune God. The liturgy is precisely what bothers so many Protestants since their churches often try very hard to mute the voices from the past. ‘It’s just me and my Bible’ is the motto of millions of evangelicals.” (2) His own personal experience of seeing a personal friend of his in Protestantism deny Jesus’ deity, where he laments the lack of an ecclesiastical hierarchy: “This cancer could have been cut out more swiftly and cleanly if the church was subordinate to a hierarchy that maintained true doctrine in its churches. And the damage would have been less severe and less traumatic for the church.” (3) His realization on ecclesiastical hierarchy involved in canon formation: “What is significant is that for the ancient church, canonicity was intrinsically linked to ecclesiology. It was the bishops rather than the congregations that gave their opinion of a book’s credentials. Not just any bishops, but bishops of the major sees of the ancient churches.” He relates, “we Protestants can be more sensitive about the deficiencies in our own ecclesiology rather than think that we’ve got a corner on truth. We need to humbly recognize that the two other branches of Christendom have done a better job in this area. Second, we can be more sensitive to the need for doctrinal and ethical accountability, fellowship beyond our local church, and ministry with others whose essentials but not necessarily particulars don’t line up with ours. Third, we can begin to listen again to the voice of the Spirit speaking through church fathers and embrace some of the liturgy that has been used for centuries.” Wallace’s hinting at a unified ecclesiastical hierarchy superseding the local church appears to reveal his persuading toward seriously contemplating membership in the Anglican Church.200 In a reply to a comment on the blog entry, Wallace writes:
Russ, I have thought about the Anglican Church quite a bit actually. I love the liturgy, the symbolism, the centrality of the Eucharist, the strong connection with the church in ages past, and the hierarchy. And yes, I have seriously considered joining their ranks–and still am considering it. There are some superb Anglican churches in the Dallas area. Quite surprising to me has been my choice of academic interns at Dallas Seminary in the last few years. Over half of them have been Anglican, and yet when I picked them for the internship I didn’t know what their denominational affiliation was. Exceptional students, devoted to the Lord and his Church, and committed to the highest level of Christian scholarship. And they have respect for tradition and the work of the Spirit in the people of God for the past two millennia.201
Sadly, what Wallace fails to discern is that such overwhelming ecclesiastical hierarchy is what caused the need of reformation. The Church had rotted from the top down with the rise of Romanism and even later with Anglicanism. Infection spreads much more rapidly in “top-down” hierarchies. Independent local churches such as those exhibited in Protestantism generally preserve a greater safeguard against spreading heresy.
Interestingly, William Craig, professor of apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, uses historical criticism to question the veracity of guards being at Jesus’ tomb. In a recent Ankerberg interview, Craig negates the guards in the following manner. In response to Ankerberg’s question, “Were there guards at the tomb?” Craig replied:
Well now this is a question that I think is probably best left out of the program, because the vast, vast majority of New Testament scholars would regard Matthew’s tomb story, or guard story as “unhistorical”. Um, I can hardly think of anybody who would defend the historicity of the guard at the tomb story and the main reasons for that are two: one is because it’s only found in Matthew, and it seems very odd that if there were a Roman guard or even a Jewish guard at the tomb that Mark wouldn’t know about it, and there wouldn’t be any mention of it. The other reason is that nobody seemed to understand Jesus’ resurrection predictions. The disciples who heard them most often had no inkling of what he meant, and yet somehow the Jewish authorities were supposed to have heard of these predictions, and understood them so well that they were able to set a guard around the tomb. And again, that doesn’t seem to make sense. So, most scholars regard the Guard at the Tomb story as a legend or a Matthean invention that isn’t really historical. Fortunately, this is of little significance for the empty tomb of Jesus, because the guard was mainly employed in Christian apologetics to disprove the conspiracy theory that the disciples stole the body—but no modern historian or New Testament scholar would defend a conspiracy theory because it’s evident when you read the pages of the New Testament that these people sincerely believed in what they said. So, the conspiracy theory is dead, even in the absence of a guard at the tomb. The true significance of the guard at the tomb story is that it shows that even the opponents of the earliest Christians did not deny the empty tomb, but rather involve themselves in a hopeless series of absurdities trying to explain it away, by saying that the disciples had stolen the body. And that’s the real significance of Matthew’s “Guard at the Tomb” story.202
In reply to this “logic” of Craig, note that if evangelicals accepted what the early church always and consistently witnessed—that Matthew was the first Gospel written—instead of accepting historical-critical presuppositions, then Mark actually left out Matthew’s guard story. Moreover, if Matthew made up guards around Jesus’ tomb, then what stops Craig’s reasoning from being extended to the fact that the writers made up the “sincere” response of belief, or for that matter, the whole idea of the resurrection? To start throwing out parts of the Gospels because they aren’t recounted in Mark or because “no modern historian or New Testament scholar” thinks they are is not only illogical but dangerous to Christianity.
In another place, Craig seems to give credence to the guards:
So although there are reasons to doubt the existence of the guard at the tomb, there are also weighty considerations in its favor. It seems best to leave it an open question. Ironically, the value of Matthew’s story for the evidence for the resurrection has nothing to do with the guard at all or with his intention of refuting the allegation that the disciples had stolen the body. The conspiracy theory has been universally rejected on moral and psychological grounds, so that the guard story as such is really quite superfluous. Guard or no guard, no critic today believes that the disciples could have robbed the tomb and faked the resurrection. Rather the real value of Matthew’s story is the incidental — and for that reason all the more reliable — information that Jewish polemic never denied that the tomb was empty, but instead tried to explain it away. Thus the early opponents of the Christians themselves bear witness to the fact of the empty tomb.203
The impression one might receive from this is that Craig believes the guards at the tomb story but, at the same time, is not sure of its validity since he leaves it an open question. If Matthew said guards were there, can it be left an “open question” for those who believe in the trustworthiness, let alone, inerrancy of Scripture?
At another point, he echoed a similar statement to Michael Licona regarding the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27:51-53. In a Youtube video of Craig debating in 2007 at the University of Sheffield, in the United Kingdom against James Crossley on the bodily resurrection of Jesus, Craig sets forth the idea that admitting to legendary elements in the Gospels (i.e. the resurrection of the saints) “does nothing to undermine the remaining testimony of the gospels to things like the crucifixion of Jesus, the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances” (citing Dale Allison as his authority for this statement). When asked directly by a questioner in the audience if he believed in the story of the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27:51-53, “I’m not sure what to think.” He also says “it could be part of the apocalyptic imagery of Matthew which isn’t meant to be taken in a literal way. That this would be part of the typical sort of apocalyptic symbolism to show the earth shattering nature of the resurrection and need not to be taken historically literally.” He goes on to conclude, “this is not attached to a resurrection narrative. This story about the Old Testament saints is attached to the crucifixion narrative. So that if you try to say that because Matthew has this unhistorical element in his crucifixion account, that therefore the whole account is worthless, you would be led to deny the crucifixion of Jesus which is one indisputable fact that everyone recognizes about the historical Jesus. So it really doesn’t have any implications for the historicity of the burial story, the empty tomb story or the appearance accounts. It’s connected to the crucifixion narrative.” Notice that his adoption of historical criticism drives him toward allowing for non-historicity in narrative accounts in the Gospels.204 The key question for Craig to answer must be that if they made up stories of the saints’ resurrection, what would stop them from making up stories about Jesus’ resurrection? One cannot have it both ways by saying that one story is historical but the other may be made-up fiction due to apocalyptic imagery.
This view is not uncommon among evangelicals. Craig Evans, an active participant in British-influenced searching for the ‘historical’ Jesus, when commenting on the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27:51b-53, argues:
I do not think the tradition in Matthew 27:51b-53, which describes at the time of Jesus’ death the resurrection of several saintly persons, has any claim to authenticity. This legendary embellishment, which may actually be a late-first century or early-second-century gloss, is an attempt to justify the Easter appearances of Jesus as resurrection, in the sense that Jesus and several other saints were the “first fruits” of the general resurrection. This is, of course, exactly how Paul explains the anomaly (1 Cor. 15:23).205
Similarly, Michael Green, while Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, in his Message of Matthew, is abruptly dismissive of the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27:51-53. Green comments,
Does Matthew mean us to take this literally? Does he mean that the tombs were broken open, and that the bodies were somehow clothed with flesh and brought to life, as in Ezekiel’s vision? It is possible, but unlikely that this is how Matthew intended us to read it. After all, he says that these bodies of the saints went into the holy city after Jesus’ resurrection. By that phrase he is guarding the primacy of the resurrection of Jesus, “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep,” yet he presents us with these resuscitated bodies at the cross itself, long before the resurrection. If Matthew meant us to think of these people from a bygone age walking into Jerusalem that Friday evening, how would that accord with his plain insistence throughout this chapter (especially 40-50) that no compelling proofs of Jesus’ deity were given at this time of his death any more than they were during his life?
No, Matthew seems to be giving us a profound meditation on what the crucifixion of Jesus means for the destiny of humankind. His death is an eschatological event; it is a foretaste of the end of the world.206
Again, citing his agreement with Donald Hagner,207 Green comments in a footnote on this passage,
I agree with Donald Hagner that in recording this story [of the saints’ resurrection] Matthew wanted, at the very point when Jesus died, to draw out its theological significance. A straightforward historical reading of these verses is hard to contemplate. Who were these people? Were they resurrected or resuscitated? Why did they go into the holy city? What happened to them subsequently? Indeed, what happens to the priority of Jesus’ resurrection? And if they appeared to many people (53), why is there no reference to this event elsewhere, either inside or outside the New Testament?208
Donald Hagner, after an extensive discussion of the passage, dismisses any substantial historicity to the saints’ resurrection, and remarks that,
I side, therefore, with recent commentators . . . in concluding that the rising of the saints from the tombs in this passage is a piece of theology set forth as history . . . It is obvious that by the inclusion of this material Matthew wanted to draw out the theological significance of the death (and resurrection of Jesus). That significance is found in the establishing of the basis of the future resurrection of the saints. We may thus regard the passage as a piece of realized and historicized apocalyptic depending on OT motifs found in such passages as Isa 26:19; Dan 12:2; and especially Ezek 37:12-14.209
Interestingly, Hagner wrongly attributes this dehistoricized view to Gundry. While Gundry did dehistoricize, a careful examination of his commentary on Matthew: A Commentary on His Handbook for a Mixed Church under Persecution reveals that while Gundry attributed Old Testament motifs to the passage, he believed that the saints resurrection actually happened.210
Finally, Leon Morris, in his Gospel According to Matthew, also appears to place significant doubt on the historicity of this section. Morris notes,
Nobody else mentions this, and we are left to conclude that Matthew is making the point that the resurrection of Jesus brought about the resurrection of his people. Just as the rending of the temple curtain makes it clear that the way to God is open for all, so the raising of the saints shows that death has been conquered. Those so raised went into Jerusalem and appeared to many. Since there are no other records of these appearances, it appears to be impossible to say anything about them. But Matthew is surely giving expression to his conviction that Jesus is Lord over both the living and the dead.
Instead, Morris prefers to see it as possibly being linked to an idea of general resurrection of God’s saints at the end of the age: “It seems that here Matthew has the great death-and-resurrection in mind and links his raising of the saints to the whole happening. Thus he mentions it when he speaks of the death of Jesus but goes on to what he says happened at the time of the resurrection.”211 He concludes that one thing is certain in the passage, “Matthew is surely giving expression to his conviction that Jesus is Lord over both the living and the dead.”212
The Honesty of Bart Ehrman
Interestingly, Bart Ehrman directly blames historical criticism as a large reason for his departure from the faith. Ehrman is very honest and open to note that an important, strategic factor in his loss of confidence in his faith was explicitly that of historical-critical ideologies and their impact on seminary students’ thoughts:
The approach taken to the Bible in almost all Protestant (and now Catholic mainline seminaries) is what is called the ‘historical-critical” method . . .
The historical-critical approach has a different set of concepts and therefore poses a different set of questions . . .
A very large percentage of seminaries are completely blind-sided by the historical critical method. They come in with expectations of learning the pious truths of the Bible so that they can pass them along in their sermons, as their own pastors have done for them. Nothing prepares them for historical criticism. To their surprise they learn, instead of material for sermons, all the results of what historical critics have established on the basis of centuries of research. The Bible is filled with discrepancies, many of them irreconcilable contradictions . . .
But before long, as students see more and more of the evidence [of contradictions], many of them find that their faith in the inerrancy and absolute historical truthfulness of the Bible begins to waver. There simply is too much evidence, and to reconcile all of the hundreds of differences among the biblical sources requires so much speculation and fancy interpretive work that eventually it gets to be too much for them.213
He goes on to note that “I came to see the potential value of historical criticism at Princeton Seminary. I started adopting this new (for me) approach, very cautiously at first, as I didn’t want to concede too much to scholarship. But eventually I saw the powerful logic behind the historical-critical method and threw myself heart and soul into the study of the Bible from this perspective.” He then immediately goes on to note, “It is hard for me to pinpoint the exact moment that I stopped being a fundamentalist who believed in the absolute inerrancy and verbal inspiration of the Bible.”214 The cause of Bart Ehrman’s fall from faith came when he embraced historical criticism! Not one of his mentors at the Bible-believing schools he attended had prepared him for historical-criticism’s massive assault on Scripture by pointing out the presuppositional biases that anchor historical criticism’s assault on Scripture. Bart Ehrman is a tragic figure in that none of his “evangelical” mentors had properly prepared him for the onslaught of historical-critical ideologies.
Judging by Ehrman’s comments, perhaps he should not be seen so much as a defector, but as an example of the tragic failure of mentoring in evangelical biblical education. He began his training in a conservative theological school (Moody Bible Institute), but somewhere along his path at Wheaton College someone encouraged him to attend a more prestigious “critical” school (i.e., Princeton) to study. It was at Princeton Seminary, which had abandoned any sense of faithfulness to God’s Word long ago, that Ehrman was exposed to historical criticism.215 Moreover, the evangelical institutions that had previously trained him apparently did not prepare him for the onslaught of historical criticism that would impact his thinking. Erhman should serve as a salient and very recent example that Hagner is wrong both academically and especially spiritually to encourage students to dabble in historical criticism. When seminaries become degree mills focused on maximizing headcounts and prestigious academia at the expense of quality spiritual formation of the individual students through careful mentoring, disaster always ensues. Notice that while Marshall, Hagner, and other evangelicals call pseudepigraphy by a euphemism and accept it as in line with inspiration, Ehrman recognized this complete inconsistency and was honest enough to call such activity what it truly is: FORGED! 216
While Ehrman is honest, evangelicals who are involved in historical-critical research are not quite as open and frank. Yarborough feels that Linnemann went too far. Ehrman would find commonality in Linnemann’s assessment that historical-critical ideologies are an overwhelmingly strategical, negative influence. Harold Lindsell, in his The Battle for the Bible (1976) as well as his subsequent work, The Bible in the Balance (1978), was instrumental in sounding the warning among Bible-believing people of historical criticism’s destruction of inerrancy and infallibility. Lindsell warned “The presuppositions of this methodology . . . go far beyond a mere denial of biblical infallibility. They tear at the heart of Scripture, and include a denial of the supernatural.”217 In The Bible in the Balance, Lindsell devoted an entire chapter to the issue, entitled “The Historical Critical Method: The Bible’s Deadly Enemy” in which he argued,
Anyone who thinks that the historical-critical method is neutral is misinformed. Since its presuppositions are unacceptable to the evangelical mind this method cannot be used by evangelicals as it stands. The very use by the evangelical of the term, the historical-critical method, is a mistake when it comes to his own approach to Scripture . . . It appears to me that modern evangelical scholars (and I may have been guilty of this myself) have played fast and loose with the term perhaps because they wanted acceptance by academia. They seem too often to desire to be members of the club which is nothing more than practicing an inclusiveness that undercuts the normativity of the evangelical theological position. This may be done, and often is, under the illusion that by this method the opponents of biblical inerrancy can be won over to the evangelical viewpoint. But practical experience suggests that rarely does this happen and the cost of such an approach is too expensive, for it gives credence and lends respectability to a method which is the deadly enemy of theological orthodoxy. 218
Yet, these current critically-trained evangelicals apparently believe that they themselves are somehow immune to its subversive power that Linnemann, Lindsell, and others warned of. Is this the case, or is this hubris on the part of these critically-trained evangelicals? Church history stands as a monumental testimony against any such boldness on their part.
In Craig Blomberg’s more recent work, Can We Still Believe the Bible?,219 he moves away from orthodox understandings of inerrancy and champions the case of Robert Gundry who used a non-historical genre argument to dismiss much of the infancy narratives in Matthew and attacks people who defend orthodox views of inerrancy as being linked to “Nazis” and “Communists.”220 As Norman Geisler has shown in an insightful review article regarding Blomberg’s work, it does NOT support any orthodox concept of inerrancy like ICBI, “even though Blomberg says that he affirms and understands these documents . . . one thing is certain: his views are contrary to the clear statements of the ICBI.”221 Since Geisler was a founding member of ICBI, he would recognize whether Blomberg understands the ICBI documents as intended by its authors. Geisler constitutes a powerful witness against this evangelical drift away from inerrancy.
Blomberg also champions Sanday’s viewpoint of an inductive approach to Scripture. He relates that “[t]here are two quite different approaches [to inerrancy], moreover, that can lead to an affirmation that Scripture is without error.”222 These two approaches are “inductive approach” that “begins with the phenomena of the Bible itself, defines what would count as an error, analyzes Scripture carefully from beginning to end, and determines that nothing has been discovered that would qualify as errant.”223 The “deductive approach” that begins with the conviction that God is the author of Scripture, proceeds to the premise by definition that God cannot err, and therefore concludes that God’s Word must be without error.”224 He reacts negatively against the deductive approach of “evidentialists and “presuppositonalists” by noting that these two terms “ultimately views inerrancy as a corollary of inspiration, not something to be demonstrated from the texts of Scripture itself.” If the Bible is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16), and God cannot err, then the Bible must be errant. Hence, the inductive approach to Blomberg requires that the Bible prove that it is inerrant through critical investigation of the texts themselves rather than the others that just assume the texts are inerrant. Thus, he shifts the burden of proof from the Bible to that of the scholar. It is the critical investigator who must establish whether the text is truly inerrant. Importantly, Blomberg believes that the real debate on inerrancy is one of “hermeneutics.”225 Thus, under this logic, one could hold to inerrancy but believe that a particular event in Scripture is really symbolic and not to be taken as literally an event in the time-space continuum (such as, creation in six days).226 As a result, “Genesis 1 can be and has been interpreted by inerrantists as referring to a young earth, an old earth, progressive creation, theistic evolution, a literary framework for asserting God as the creator of all things irrespective of his methods, and a series of days when God took up residence in his cosmic temple for the sake of newly created humanity in his image. Once again, this is a matter for hermeneutical and exegetical debate, not one that is solved by the shibboleth of inerrancy.”227 Under the inductive approach, a Christian would never be able to assert the whole inerrancy of the Bible, for the Bible would need to be constantly re-examined in its parts according to the shifting sands of critical evangelical scholarship’s usage of historical critical ideologies.
One must note, however, that Blomberg reveals his startling differences with inerrancy as defined by ICBI in 1978: “We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture. We deny the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.“ Here Blomberg’s position is neither grammatical, historical, or literal, for Blomberg argues, “defenders of inerrancy do not reflect often enough on what it means to say that nonhistorical genres are wholly truthful.”228 He also reflects a deja vu mantra of Rogers and McKim who wrote in 1979, “But often without realizing it, we impose on ancient documents twenty-first century standards that are equally inappropriate.” Rogers and McKim, said “To erect a standard of modern, technical precision in language as the hallmark of biblical authority was totally foreign to the foundation shared by the early church.”229 Blomberg also supports elements of speech-act theory also maintains that “Vanhoozer’s work is indeed very attractive, but it is scarcely at odds with the Chicago Statement.”230 The reader is referred here to Geisler and Roach evaluation of Vanhoozer for a different perspective, “Kevin Vanhoozer on Inerrancy,” in Inerrancy Defended.231 One wonders at this statement of Blomberg, since Vanhoozer denies the grammatico-historical approach, and as Geisler and Roach conclude, “[Vanhoozer] also claims to affirm much of the ICBI statement as he understands it. But that is precisely the problem since the way he understands it is not the way the framers meant it, as is demonstrated from the official commentaries on the ICBI statements.”232
The practical result is genre can be used to deny anything in the bible that the interpreter finds offensive as a literal sense. The allegorical school did such a thing, the gnostics did it to Scripture as well, and now Blomberg applies his updated version of it with genre being applied to hermeneutics. Blomberg’s use of genre, to this present reviewer, smacks of an eerie similarity to Rogers and McKim’s deprecation of literal interpretation when they noted Westerner’s logic that viewed “statements in the Bible were treated like logical propositions that could be interpreted quite literally according to contemporary standards.”233 In Chapter 5, “Aren’t Several Narrative Genres of the Bible Unhistorial,” his use of hermeneutics continues to be the means by which he can redefine what normal definition of inerrancy would be, and he uses it to deny the plain, normal sense of Genesis 1–3,234 while advocating that we must understand the author’s intent in such passages, with the key question from Article 13 of ICBI, “standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose.” Applying a completely wrong understanding of this clause of ICBI as well as the original intent of the founders of ICBI, Blomberg advocates that idea that “the question is simply one about the most likely literary form of the passage.”235 From there, he proceeds to allow for non-literal interpretation of Genesis 1–3 that are, in his view, fully in line with inerrancy, e.g., Adam and Eve as symbols for every man and woman,236 evolutionary and progressive creation,237 a non-historical Jonah,238 the possiblility of three Isaiah’s,239 Daniel as Apocalyptic genre rather than prophetic,240 fully embracing of midrash interpretation of the Gospels as advocated by Robert Gundry as not impacting inerrancy,241 as well as pseudepigraphy as fully in line with inerrancy in NT epistles under the guide of a “literary device” or “acceptable form of pseudonymity.242 He argues that we don’t know the opinions of the first century church well-enough on pseudepigraphy to rule it out: “[B]arring some future discovery related to first-century opinions, we cannot pontificate on what kinds of claims for authorship would or would not have been considered acceptable in Christian communities, and especially in Jewish-Christian circles when the New Testament Epistles were written. As a result, we must evaluate every proposal based on its own historical and grammatical merits, not on whether it does or does not pass some pre-established criterion of what inerrancy can accept.”243
Interestingly, the 2013 President of the Evangelical Society, Robert W. Yarborough praises Blomberg’s work, Can We Still Believe? in the following terms. Although the quote is lengthy, it is necessary to show the degradation of inerrancy among the seminary teachers in America, for he addresses the future of the direction of evangelical academia toward the inerrancy of Scripture:
This book is refreshing and important not only because of its breadth of coverage of issues, viewpoints, and literature. It is evenhanded in that both enemies of inerrancy and wrong-headed friends are called on the carpet. Blomberg revisits incidents like Robert Gundry’s dismissal from this society and the kerfluffle over a decade ago surrounding the TNIV and inclusive language. He does not mince words in criticizing those he sees as overzealous for the inerrancy cause. Nor is he bashful in calling out former inerrantists who, Blomberg finds, often make their polemical arguments against what they used to believe with less than compelling warrant. I predict that everyone who reads the book will disagree strongly with the author about something.244
Please note that in Blomberg’s book, these “wrong-headed” friends are those who hold to an orthodox view of inerrancy as well as the ICBI statements of 1978 and 1982.
At the same time, the positive arguments for inerrancy are even more substantial. It is clear that Blomberg is not content with poking holes in non-inerrantist arguments. He writes, “I do not think one has to settle for anything short of full-fledged inerrantist Christianity so long as we ensure that we employ all parts of a detailed exposition of inerrancy, such as that found in the Chicago Statement.”
Or again: “These Scriptures are trustworthy. We can still believe the Bible. We should still believe the Bible and act accordingly, by following Jesus in disciple- ship.” I am skimming some of his concluding statements, but the real meat of the book is inductive demonstration of inerrancy’s plausibility based on primary evidence and scholarship surrounding that evidence. If only a book of this substance had been available when I was a college or grad school student!245
If this is the future of their concept of “inerrancy” in evangelical seminaries, then all hopes of a firm foundation for Scripture are shipwreck.
Historical Matters Don’t Seem to Matter to Historical-Critical Evangelicals
In answering the question posed by the book, Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?, an alarming trend has been noticed among these evangelicals who pursue such a modus operandi based in historical-critical ideologies as delineated above. A subtle and, at times, not so subtle de-historicizing of the Gospels is taking place. Such an evangelical trend dangerously impacts the ICBI statements crafted in 1978 (Inerrancy) and 1982 (Hermeneutics) for views of the inerrancy and interpretation of the Gospels as well as the entire Old and New Testaments. While the evangelicals involved are to be commended for their assertion that they affirm a belief in inerrancy, their practice seems to be at odds with such an assertion. This question of historical matters mattering would seem to need a negative answer in many instances. Because these evangelicals have a problematic view of the historical basis of the Gospels, many of them have joined together in the pursuit of what is termed “searching for the ‘historical Jesus” which is based on a philosophically-driven post-modernistic historiography.
It is now clear that the influence of European training upon American evangelicals has had a very deleterious impact on the trustworthiness of God’s Word for a new generation of scholars. Sadly, these evangelicals apparently believe that they themselves are immune to the subversive powers of historical criticism that no one previously ever surmounted. By contrast, the ICBI Statements on Inerrancy (1978) and Hermeneutics (1982) were designed to be a warning and safeguard to future generations of evangelical scholars. History has repeated itself. As at the turn of the twentieth century, a call must go forth today to rally the faithful to expose doctrinal error to preserve a faithful remnant for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 “Preface,” in The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth, R. A. Torrey, A. C. Dixon and others, eds. (Grand Rapids Baker Reprint, 1972), vol. 1. Reprinted without alteration or abridgment from the original, four-volume edition issues by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles in 1917.
2 See George Marsden, Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 36-37.
3 For more information, see F. David Farnell, “Searching for the ‘Historical’ Jesus: The Rise of the Three Searches,” in The Jesus Quest. Eds. Norman L. Geisler and F. David Farnell (Maitland, FL: Xulon, 2014), 361-420; Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Translated by W. Montgomery from the first German edition, Von Reimarus zu Wrede (1906). Introduction by James M. Robinson (New York: MacMillan, 1968).
4 “Preface,” in The Fundamentals, vol. 1.
5 Dyson Hague, “The History of the Higher Criticism,” in The Fundamentals, 1:9.
6 Ibid., 1:10.
7 Ibid., 1:9.
8 Ibid., 1:12-14.
9 Ibid., 1:12.
11 Ibid., 1:14-15.
12 Ibid., 1:14.
13 Ibid., 1:15.
14 Ibid., 1:17.
15 Ibid., 1:18.
16 Ibid., 1:19-20.
17 Ibid., 1:20.
18 Ibid., 1:21.
19 Ibid., 1:21-22.
20 Ibid., 1:24.
21 Ibid., 1:26.
22 William Sanday, Inspiration: Eight Lectures on the Early History and Origin of the Doctrine of Inspiration. Being the Bampton Lectures for 1893 (New York Longmans, Green and Co, 1893), 399.
23 See Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, vol. 1, chapter 12.
24 Sandy, Inspiration, 399-400.
25 Hague, “The History of Higher Criticism,” 1:27.
26 Ibid., 1:29-30.
27 Ibid., 1:32.
28 Ibid., 1:36-37.
29 Ibid., 1:37.
30 Ibid., 1:39.
31 Ibid., 1:39-40.
32 Ibid., 1:40.
33 Ibid., 1:42.
34 See Dennis M. Swanson, “The Downgrade Controversy and Evangelical Boundaries: Some Lessons from Spurgeon’s Battle for Evangelical Orthodoxy,” in The Jesus Quest. Eds. Norman L. Geisler and F. David Farnell (Matiland, FL: Xulon, 2014), 229-298.
35 The Fundamentals For Today, The Famous Sourcebook of Foundational Biblical Truths. R. A. Torrey, Ed. Updated by Charles L. Feinberg. Biographical introductions by Warren Wiersbe (Grand Rapids: Kregel,1958, 1990).
36 Warren Wiersbe, “Foreword,” in The Fundamentals for Today.
37 God Hath Spoken (Hebrews 1:1-2) Twenty-five Addresses Delivered at the World Conference on Christian Fundamentals. Stenographically reported under the direction of a Biblically trained expert (Philadelphia: Bible Conference Committee, 1919).
38 God Hath Spoken, “Introduction,” 7-9.
39 William B. Riley, “The Great Divide, or Christ and the Present Crisis,” in God Hath Spoken, 27.
40 The Bible Conference Committee, God Hath Spoken (Philadelphia: Bible Conference Committee, 1919), 11-12.
41 J. Gresham Machen, The Christian Faith in the Modern World (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1965 1936), 65.
42 For a revealing look at Machen’s struggle, see J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1946 1923); idem. The Virgin Birth of Christ. Second Edition (New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1932 1930); idem. What is Faith? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1946 1925).
43 For a recent recounting of the history of Dallas Theological Seminary, see John D. Hannah, An Uncommon Union: Dallas Theological Seminary and American Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009).
44 This section on the 21st Century is excerpted from F. David Farnell, “Searching for the Historical Jesus: Does History Matter to Neo-Evangelicals?,” in The Jesus Quest, 421-466.
45 Carl F. H. Henry, Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and Lord (London: Tyndale, 1970 (1966), 9.
46 George Eldon Ladd, NT and Criticism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 141, 168-169.
47 Ibid., 10.
48 Ladd offers two examples: Kittel and Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament and Arndt, Gingrich, Bauer and Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament; Ladd, NT and Criticism, 11.
49 George E. Ladd, “The Search for Perspective,” Interpretation XXV (1971), 47.
50 Ladd, “The Search for Perspective,” 47. In a hotly debated book, Harold Lindsell in the mid-1970s detailed the problems facing Fuller, the Southern Baptist Convention and other Christian institutions due to the encroachment of historical criticism from European influence. See Harold Lindsell, “The Strange Case of Fuller Theological Seminary,” in The Battle for the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), 106-121. Marsden’s book also covers this period in Reforming Fundamentalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987).
51 Ladd, “The Search for Perspective, 49 cf. Ladd’s citing of this admission by Ernst Käsemann may be found in the latter’s, Essays on New Testament Themes (London: SCM, 1964), 54-62.
52 An example of one of Ladd’s students is the late Robert Guelich who wrote The Sermon on the Mount, A Foundation for Understanding (Waco, TX: Word, 1982). Guelich promoted an exegesis “that . . . makes use of the literary critical tools including text, source, form, tradition, redaction, and structural criticism” and goes on to assert “for many to whom the Scriptures are vital the use of these critical tools has historically been more ‘destructive’ than ‘constructive.’ But one need not discard the tool because of its abuse.”
53 Mark Noll conducted a personal poll/survey among evangelicals and has, as a result, described Ladd as “the most widely influential figure on the current generation of evangelical Bible scholars.” Ladd was “most influential” among scholars in the Institute for Biblical Research and was placed just behind John Calvin as “most influential” among scholars in the Evangelical Theological Society. See Noll, 97, 101, 112-114 [note especially p. 112 for this quote], 116, 121, 159-163, 211-226. Moreover, Marsden described Noll’s book, Between Faith and Criticism, as making “a major contribution toward understanding twentieth-century evangelical scholarship.” See George M. Marsden, Reforming Fundamentalism , 250 fn. 9. Since Noll marked out Ladd as the outstanding figure influencing the recent paradigm shift in twentieth-century evangelical scholarship toward favoring historical-critical methods and since Marsden promotes Noll’s book as making “a major contribution toward understanding twentieth-century evangelical scholarship,” this paper uses Ladd as the outstanding paradigmic example, as well as typical representative, of this drift among evangelicals toward historical-critical ideologies that favor literary dependency hypotheses.
54 For further historical details, see F. David Farnell, “The Philosophical and Theological Bent of Historical Criticism, in The Jesus Crisis, 85-131.
55 George E. Ladd, “The Search for Perspective,” Interpretation XXV (1971) 51.
56 Ladd, “The Search for Perspective,” 47.
57 Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976).
58 Francis A. Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Crisis (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1984) 51.
59 Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, 23.
60 Ibid., 204.
61 Lindsell, The Bible in the Balance, 283.
62 Ibid., 297
63 For a more detailed history on this period, see chapters 1-3 detailing the developmental, historical details surrounding the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, Norman L. Geisler and William C. Roach, Defending Inerrancy (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011), 17-42.
64 “Taking a Stand on Scripture,” Christianity Today (December 30, 1977), 25.
65 Donald W. Dayton, “‘The Battle for the Bible’: Renewing the Inerrancy Debate,” Christian Century (November 10, 1976), 976.
66 Donald W. Dayton, “The Church in the World, The ‘Battle for the Bible’ Rages On,” Theology Today (January 1, 1980), 79.
67 Jack B. Rogers and Donald K. McKim, The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach (San Francisco: Harper & Ro2, 1979). Rogers and McKim relied heavily upon the work of Ernest R. Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism 1800-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1970).
68 Rogers and McKim, “Introduction,” xxii.
69 Ibid,” xxiii.
70 Ibid., 289-298.
71 Ibid., xxii.
72 Ibid., xxii.
73 Jack Rogers, Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality. Revised and Expanded Edition (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2009).
74 John D. Woodbridge, Biblical Authority, A Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982).
75 “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” JETS 21/4 (December 1978) 289-296 and “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics,” JETS 25/4 (December 1982) 397-401.
76 Robert H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982).
77 Ibid., 34-35.
79 Ibid., 31.
80 James Barr, “Foreword to the American Edition,” in Fundamentalism (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1977), vi.
81 Jack Rogers, Confessions of a Conservative Evangelical (Philadelphia: Westminster 1974).
82 Barr, “Foreword to the American Edition,” in Fundamentalism, iv.
83 Ibid., 1.
84 James Barr, “Preface,” in Beyond Fundamentalism (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984), vii.
85 Alan F. Johnson, “Historical-Critical Method: Egyptian Gold or Pagan Precipice,” JETS 26/1 (March 1983) 3-15. See also, Carl F. H. Henry, “The Uses and Abuses of Historical Criticism,” vol. IV: God Who Speaks and Shows, in God Revelation and Authority (Waco, TX: Word, 1979), 385-404.
86 Craig L. Blomberg, “New Testament miracles and Higher Criticism: Climbing Up the Slippery Slope,” JETS 27/4 (December 1984): 436.
87 Moisés Silva, “Can Two Walk Together Unless They Be Agreed? Evangelical Theology and Biblical Scholarship” JETS 41/1 (March 1998): 3-16 (quote from p. 4).
88 Ibid., 8.
89 Ibid., 10.
90 See also Norman L. Geisler, Ed. Biblcal Inerrancy An Analysis of its Philosophical Roots (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981). The book gives the philosophical background to ideas that lead inevitably to a denial of inerrancy and result in a supposition of errancy regarding Scripture.
91 See the back cover page of the work where some called it “a blockbuster” and “the best up-to-date analysis in print of the dangerous drift of evangelical scholarship into negative higher criticism”— Robert L. Thomas and F. David Farnell, The Jesus Crisis: The Inroads of Historical Criticism into Evangelical Scholarship (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1998).
92 Osborne’s article constitutes a criticism of not only Geisler but The Jesus Crisis, Grant Osborne, “Historical Criticism and the Evangelical,” JETS 42/2 (June 1999): 193-210.
93 Darrell L. Bock, “Review of The Jesus Crisis,” Bibliotheca Sacra 157 (April-June 2000): 232.
94 Bock, “Review of The Jesus Crisis,” 236.
95 Osborne, “Historical Criticism and the Evangelical,” 209.
96 Grant Osborne, “Redaction Criticism and the Great Commission: A Case Study Toward a Biblical Understanding of Inerrancy,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 19/2 (March 1, 1976): 80.
97 Grant R. Osborne, “The Evangelical and Redaction Criticism: Critique and Methodology,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 22/4 (December 1979): 311; cf. idem. “Great Commission,” 80, 85; idem. “The Evangelical and Traditionsgeschichte,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 21/2 (June, 1978): 128.
98 Craig Blomberg, “Where Should Twenty-First Century Scholarship Be Heading?,” in Bulletin for Biblical Research 11.2 (2001): 172. This article was also published in “The past, present and future of American Evangelical theological scholarship,” in Solid Ground (Leicester: Apollos, 2000) 314-315.
99 Craig Blomberg, “Where Should Twenty-First Century Scholarship Be Heading?, 172.
100 J. Gresham Machen, The Christian Faith in the Modern World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1936) 65.
101 Craig L. Blomberg, “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical View,” in Biblical Hermeneutics Five Views (Downers Grove: IVP, 2012): 27-47.
102 Blomberg, “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical View,” 28.
103 See Robert L. Thomas and F. David Farnell, The Jesus Crisis, noting especially the “Introduction The Jesus Crisis: What is it?,” 13-34.
104 Ibid., 15.
105 Blomberg, “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical View,” 46-47. Italics and bold added.
107 For Griesbach and his association with Neologians as well as its impact on his synoptic “solution,” see F. David Farnell, “How Views of Inspiration Have Impacted Synoptic Problem Discussion,” TMSJ 13/1 (Spring 2002): 33-64.
108 William The History of New Testament Research: From deism to Tübingen (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1992) 116.
109 See http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2008/03/26/interview-with-craig-blomberg/ Accessed on 5/25/2013.
110 Craig L. Blomberg, “The Globalization of Biblical Interpretation: A Test Case John 3-4,” Bulletin of Biblical Research 5 (1995): 1-15.
111 Ibid., 1.
113 Blomberg, “The Globalization of Biblical Interpretation,” 2; cf. Craig L. Blomberg, “The Implications of Globalization for Biblical Understanding,” in Globalization. Eds. Frazer Evans, Robert A. Evans, and David A. Roozen (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1993), 213-28; 241-45.
114 “Final Report on the Globalization Project at Denver Seminary” (Denver: Denver Seminary, 1993), 2.
115 Blomberg, “The Globalization of Biblical Interpretation,” 3.
118 Ibid., 12.
119 Ibid., 14.
120 Lindsell, The Bible in the Balance, 292-293.
121 Scott McKnight, “The Jesus We’ll Never Know, Why scholarly attempts to discover the ‘real’ Jesus have failed. And why that’s a good thing,” Christianity Today (April 2010): 25.
122 Darrell L. Bock, “Faith and the Historical Jesus: Does A Confessional Position and Respect for the Jesus Tradition Preclude Serious Historical Engagement?,” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 9 (2011): 3.
123 Ibid., 4.
126 Robert J. Miller, “When It’s Futile to Argue about the Historical Jesus: A Response to Bock, Keener, and Webb,” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 9 (2011): 85-95.”
127 Ibid., 85.
128 Ibid., 89-90.
129 Perrin commented, “One aspect of Ladd’s treatment of sayings and pericopes which the reviewer [Perrin] found annoying is his deliberately one-sided approach to the question of authenticity.” Norman Perrin, “Against the Current, A Review of Jesus and the Kingdom: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism,” by George Eldon Ladd, 229; cf. Marsden, Reforming Fundamentalism, 250.
130 Ibid., 230.
131 Marsden, Reforming Fundamentalism, 250.
132 Norman L. Geisler and William C. Roach, Inerrancy Defended Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011).
133 Ibid., 13.
134 Ibid., 209.
135 Ibid., 193-211.
136 Ibid., 201.
137 Ibid., 211.
138 For a more complete review of this work, see F. David Farnell, “Review of Do Historical Matters Matter to the Faith?” Eds. Hames K. Hoffmeier and Dennis R. Magary (Wheaton IL: Crossway, 2012) in The Master’s Seminary Journal 24/1 (Spring 2013): 149-157.
139 “Preface,” in Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?,” 23.
140 Kenton Sparks, God’s Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008).
141 “Preface,” in Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?, 22.
142 Thomas H. McCall, “Theological Interpretation and Critical Biblical Scholarship,” in Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?,” 52.
143 Ibid., 54.
144Mark D. Thompson, “The Divine Investment in Truth, Toward a Theological Account of Biblical Inerrancy,” in Do Historical Matters Matter to the Faith? (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012) 71 fn 2.
145 Ibid., 72.
148 Ibid., 97
149 Robert W. Yarbrough, “God’s Word in Human Words: Form-Critical Revelations,” in Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith, 328.
151 Ibid., 332.
153 Eta Linnemann, Historical Criticism of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 17-18.
154 Ibid., 29.
155 Ibid, 107.
156 Ibid., 111.
157 Craig L. Blomberg, “A Constructive Traditional Response to New Testament Criticism,” in Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?, 349.
158 Ibid., 351.
159 Craig L. Blomberg, “New Testament Miracles and Higher Criticism: Climbing Up The Slippery Slope,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 27/4 (December 1984): 436.
160Blomberg, “A Constructive Traditional Response to New Testament Criticism,” 354 fn. 32
161 Ibid., 353, 360.
163 Ibid., 352.
164 Ibid., 353.
165 Ibid., 352.
166 See Bart Ehrman, Forged (New York: One, 2011).
167 Blomberg, “A Constructive Traditional Response to New Testament Criticism,” 354.
168 Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2007) 36.
169 Ibid., 37.
170 Ibid., 297.
171 Ibid., 310.
172 Ibid., 312.
173For this see, F. David Farnell, “Form Criticism and Tradition Criticism,” in The Jesus Crisis, 185-232.
174 Blomberg, Historical Reliability, 322-323.
175 Ibid., 323.
176 See F. David Farnell, “The Philosophical and Theological Bent of Historical Criticism,” in The Jesus Crisis, 85-131.
177 Blomberg, Historical Reliability, 325.
178 Ibid., 364.
179 Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson, How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997).
180 Carl R. Trueman, Tony J. Gray, Craig L. Blomberg, Eds., Solid Ground: 25 Years of Evangelical Theology (Leicester: IVP and Apollos, 2000), 315.
181 For a wonderful satire of this very issue, see “If Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians was published in Christianity Today,” in http://sacredsandwich.com/archives/2781. Acccessed on 5/27/2013.
182 Darrell L. Bock, “Precision and Accuracy,” in Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?, 368.
183 See Charles H. Talbert, What is a Gospel? The Genre of the Canonical Gospels (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977); Richard A. Burridge, What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography. Second Edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2004).
184Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus, A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2010).
185 Ibid., 34.
186Bock also accepted this basic genre classification, see Darrell L. Bock, “Precision and Accuracy: Making Distinctions in the Cultural Context,” in Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? (Wheaton: Crossway,2012), 368.
188 Ibid., 372.
189http://blogs.bible.org/bock/darrell_l._bock/do_historical_matters_matter_to_faith_a_critical_appraisal_of_modern_and_postmodern_approaches_to_scripture. Accessed on 5/27/2013.
191 Darrell L. Bock and Robert W. Webb, Key Events (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009); Darrell L. Bock, Who is Jesus? Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith (New York et al: Howard, 2012).
192 Daniel Wallace, “Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit? The Uneasy Conscience of a Non-Charismatic Evangelical,” in Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit? An Investigation into the Ministry of the Spirit of God Today, edited by M. James Sawyer and Daniel B. Wallace (Dallas, TX: Biblical Studies, 2005), 8.
193 Daniel B. Wallace, “The Gospel according to Bart, A Review of Bart D. Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Bible Studies Foundation, 2006 Bible.org); http://bible.org/article/gospel-according-bart. Accessed on 5/27/2013. Note: this quote is from the full version of Wallace’s review of Ehrman.
194 Daniel B. Wallace, “An Apologia for a Broad View of Ipsissima Vox,” Presented at the 51st Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, November 18, 1999, 1 (also note p. 1 ft. 2).
195 Ibid., 10
196 Ibid., 12.
197 Ibid., 19.
198 Ibid., 15.
199http://danielbwallace.com/2012/03/18/the-problem-with-protestant-ecclesiology/ (Accessed on 5/10/2013).
200Wallace cites a work by Dungan that strongly influenced his belief in an ecclesiastical hierarchy. See David Laird Dungan, Constantine’s Bible: Politics and the Making of the New Testament (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007). Dungan’s work highlights Eusebius’ record (Ecclesiastical History) of the influence of ancient bishops in canon formation. Dungan, however, records the formation of canon prior to the onslaught of Romanism as well as Greek Orthodoxy.
201http://danielbwallace.com/2012/03/18/the-problem-with-protestant-ecclesiology/ (accessed on 5/10/2013).
202 Transcribed from Youtube video of Ankerberg interview of Craig on May 25, 2010. Accessed and transcribed on June 22, 2013 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8UMb7NlxkU).
203 William L. Craig, “The Guard at the Tomb” New Testament Studies 30 (1984): 273-81(quote from page 80).
205 Craig A. Evans, “In Appreciation of the Dominical and Thomistic Traditions: The Contribution of J. D. Crossan and N. T. Wright to Jesus Research,” in The Resurrection of Jesus, John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright in Dialogue, Ed. Robert B. Stewart (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2006), 195 fn 30.
206 Michael Green, The Message of Matthew. Ed. John R. W. Stott (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2000), 302-303.
207 Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14-28, vol. 33b in the Word Biblical Commentary (Waco, TX: Word, 1995),
208 Green, The Message of Matthew, 302-303 fn 18.
209 Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14-28, vol. 38b in the Word Biblical Commentary (Waco, TX: Word, 1995), 851-852.
210 Hagner identifies his view of non-historicity as being also Gundry’s view; see Hagner, 851. However, Gundry nowhere in commenting on this passage negates its historicity. See Robert H. Gundry, Matthew A Commentary on His Handbook for a Mixed Church Under Persecution. 2nd Edition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 576-577.
211 Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 725.
213 Bart D. Ehrman, “A Historical Assault on Faith,” in Jesus Interrupted (New York: Harper One, 2009), 4-6
214 Ibid., 15.
215See Ehrman, “Preface,” in Jesus Interrupted, x-xii.
216Bart D. Ehman, Forged and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics (Oxford: Oxford University, 2013) and Forged Writing in the Name of God—Why the Bible’s Authors are Not Who We Think They Are (New York: Harper One, 2011).
217 Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible (Grand Rapids: Eermans, 1976), 204.
218 Harold Lindsell, The Bible in the Balance (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), 283.
219 Craig L. Blomberg, Can We Still Believe The Bible? (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2014).
220 Two reviews of Blomberg should be noted, Norman L. Geisler, A Response to Craig L. Blomberg’s Can We Still Believe the Bible? April 11, 2014 accessed at http://defendinginerrancy.org/ on April 13, 2014; F. David Farnell, A Review of Craig L. Blomberg’s Can We Still Believe the Bible?, The Master’s Journal Spring 2014, XXX.
221 Geisler, “A Review of Craig Blomberg’s Can We Still Believe the Bible?,
222 Blomberg, Can We Still Believe?, 121.
223 Ibid., 121.
225 Ibid., 125.
226 Ibid., 126.
227 Ibid., 126.
228 Ibid., 128.
229 Rogers and McKim, The Authority and Intepretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach, xxii.
230 Blomberg, 136.
231 Norman L. Geisler and William C. Roach, Inerrancy Defended (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2012), 132-159.
232 Geisler and Roach, Inerrancy Defended, 158.
233 Rogers and McKim, The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible, xviii.
234 Blomberg, Can We Still Believe?, 150.
236 Ibid., 152.
237 Ibid., 151-153.
238 Ibid., 160.
239 Ibid., 162.
240 Ibid., 163-164.
241 Ibid., 165-168.
242 Ibid., 168-172.
243 Ibid., 172.
244 Robert W. Yarborough, “The Future of Cognitive Reverence for the Bible,” JETS 57/1 (March 2014): 5-18 (quote from page 9). Italics added.
245 Ibid. Italics added.