Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Review of Bart Ehrman's "Jesus, Interrupted"

Michael Kruger of Reformed Theological Seminary has a fantastic new review of Jesus Interrupted, Bart Ehrman's latest popular attempt to discredit the Christian faith he rejected. One repeatedly gets the sense in Ehrman's writing that he has not so much rejected fundamentalism as simply shifted from a Christian form of fundamentalism to an agnostic form of it.

Kruger notes,

Ehrman's inability to accept the natural verbal flexibility in ancient literature suggests that he (ironically) still may be reading the gospels in the same way he did in his fundamentalist days, placing modern expectations of precision and rigidness on the gospel texts that they were not meant to bear.

In a review of Ehrman's previous book, Misquoting Jesus, Daniel Wallace noted,

It seems that Bart’s black and white mentality as a fundamentalist has hardly been affected as he slogged through the years and trials of life and learning, even when he came out on the other side of the theological spectrum. He still sees things without sufficient nuancing, he overstates his case, and he is entrenched in the security that his own views are right.

Wallace has noted that most theological liberals started out as fundamentalists, and simply shifted their views from a Christian fundamentalism to a liberal (or atheistic) fundamentalism. Ehrman is a good example of someone whose "black and white mentality", particularly in regard to the phenomenon of Scripture, led to an either-or dichotomy between "Bible-as-a-magic-book" and "Bible-as-a-fraud." He serves as a sobering reminder of the need to think Biblically about the Bible, deriving our doctrine of Scripture from Scripture rather than unexamined pre-assumptions about what the nature of the Bible must be. I'm afraid Ehrman has essentially built his career on the claim, "The Bible isn't the way I think it ought to be - therefore, it's a fraud."

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