Monday, August 08, 2011

Can You Trust the Bible? Sometimes "No," Says Southern Baptist Professor.

Michael Licona is a seminary professor, author and the Apologetics Coordinator at the North American Mission Board for the Southern Baptist Convention. In recent years, Licona has become known as an energetic defender of Christ's resurrection in public debates. However, in a book published last year by Inter Varsity Press (an evangelical publishing house that has increasingly promoted adventures in liberal theology), Licona demonstrates that he has perhaps been influenced more by the skeptics than he has influenced them.

Indeed, it seems that Licona has accepted quite radical notions about Bible interpretation, including a denial of the plain meaning of narrative passages. Licona has decided that certain details in the narrative are not accurate at all. Rather they reflect mere poetry,  "legend," and "phenomenal language used in a symbolic manner." Licona selects details of the text which he denies (i.e. the resurrection of saints following Christ's resurrection as described in Matthew 27:51-53) in an arbitrary fashion. Sometimes he accepts the Scriptures as true. But at other times, he prefers the authority of secular texts.

One might argue that this doesn't need to be a big deal, that as long as Licona continues to defend the physical resurrection of Christ, why be bothered by his rejection of minor details in the gospel account. But it is a basic assumption of conservative Bible interpretation that there are no such things as "minor details" in the text. Once you deny a part, you inevitably deny the whole. Once you establish yourself as the judge of a text's authenticity or spiritual value, the game is up. As Dr. Norm Geisler, the renowned apologist says, "the size and relative significance of the event that is being dehistoricized is not relevant to the importance of the hermeneutical issue, namely, the principle being used to undermine the historicity of biblical events.  Once upfront genre decisions are made based on extra-biblical legends, then one has adopted a hermeneutic that can undermine orthodox Christianity."

I couldn't agree more. And I encourage you to read through Dr. Geisler's open letter to Dr. Licona to get a fuller understanding of this relevant matter.