I have just finished my formal review of Bart Ehrman’s latest book, How Jesus Became God–The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (HarperOne, 2014), and it should be available on the Reformation 21 website in the next week or so (I will provide a notice when it is posted).
In the meantime, I am beginning a series of blog posts responding to Ehrman’s new book. Some of these posts will draw on aspects of my forthcoming review, and some of these will be new observations about his book. This first post falls into the latter category and concerns the internal contradictions within Ehrman’s own worldview.
Even though Ehrman does not offer a comprehensive assessment of his own worldview, it is important to observe that throughout the book he presents himself as simply a historian. For 300-plus pages Ehrman claims he is just doing, well, what historians do. He is very clear that “religious faith and historical knowledge are two different ways of ‘knowing'” (132) and he puts himself in the latter camp. He is only interested in studying those events that “do not require faith in order to know about them” (132).
So committed is Ehrman to his role as a “historian” that he chides anyone who wants to insert value judgments into historical discussions. For example, Ehrman insists that we should not use terms like “heresy”or “orthodoxy” because that implies that somebody is really right and somebody is really wrong, and historians cannot make such judgments. These terms should be avoided because they are “value-laden” (319). Indeed, he says, “the historian has no access…to what is right in the eyes of God” (288).
Thus, Ehrman is clear. Historians should be value-free in their declarations. They should not declare what is right and wrong. Why? Because historians, as historians, do not have access to such values.
But, then there is the epilogue. And it is here that Ehrman’s professed worldview begins to unravel. Having just written a book where he chides others for inserting their own values into historical discussions, Ehrman begins to insert his own. Here he offers a litany of complaints about the immorality of early Christians and how they were guilty of anti-semitism–anti-semitism which is caused, argues Ehrman, by the Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus. A belief that he claims has “horrific” implications (277).
At this point, however, the reader is mystified. Wasn’t it Ehrman who insisted that historians were not supposed to weigh in the rightness or wrongness of historical views (such as the Christian view about the divinity of Jesus!)? Wasn’t it Ehrman who insisted that it is the historian’s task to avoid declarations that are “value-laden”? Yet, here he feels completely free to offer his own moralizing at the end of his book.
But, the problems for Ehrman are even deeper. The issue is not just that he is violating his own professed code for how historians ought to behave, the bigger issue is the question of where he gets his moral norms from in the first place. How does Ehrman know that anti-semitism is wrong? On what grounds does he call it “horrific”? Where does Ehrman get this moral code that he is using?
Elsewhere, Ehrman assures the reader that he does believe in moral norms. He says, “I do think there is good and evil; I do think we should all be on the side of good; and I do think we should fight mightly against all that is evil” (354). Aside from the fact that such statements are out of place in a book purportedly committed to only discussing historical issues, Ehrman apparently feels no need to explain to the reader where these moral standards come from. Who decides what is “good” and “evil”? Bart Ehrman?
Ehrman seems unaware that absolute moral statements like this might just require some sort of philosophical grounding; some sort of worldview that can provide a cogent accounting of moral norms; some sort of basis for why one thing is “right” and another thing is “wrong.” But, Ehrman provides no such explanation. In fact, the closest he comes is telling the reader what is not his foundation for morality: “I do not believe there is a God in heaven who is soon to send a cosmic judge of the earth to destroy the forces of evil” (355).
It is here that Ehrman does not seem to recognize the profound inconsistency in his own worldview. On what grounds does a professed agnostic make such sweeping moral claims about good and evil, and right and wrong, and what God is like or not like? How does Ehrman know God is not going to come judge the earth? When it comes time to make such moral and religious declarations Ehrman seems quite content to abandon his agnostic stance.
Ehrman does hint at some reasons other folks have given for morality (though he doesn’t say these are his own views), such as “we can find the greatest self-fulfillment in life and so we can all thrive together as a society for the long haul” (355). But, these are not grounds for moral absolutes–they might explain behavior but they do not make behavior right or wrong. Something is not right or wrong simply because it leads to personal fulfillment. Some people may find personal fulfillment in torturing little children, but that does not make it “right.”
Ironically, it is the very worldview that Ehrman mocks and criticizes–biblical Christianity–that can actually provide foundations for morality. Christians believe that moral norms are grounded in the very character of God himself, the creator of the universe; and Christians claim to know about this God through his word contained in the Bible. Ehrman, of course, rejects this claim, but that misses the point entirely. If someone is going to make moral claims, it makes much more sense if it comes from someone who thinks they have access to God’s own thoughts on the matter, instead of coming from someone who is offering only agnosticism.
Now one might suppose that Ehrman could avoid this entire quandary by saying he doesn’t really believe in moral absolutes at all, but his merely offering his own personal moral preferences. Ok, fine. But, then Ehrman has no basis for his prior statement that “I do think there is good and evil.” Instead he should have said, “There is no such thing as good and evil, just private opinion.” And, if Ehrman is only offering his private opinion, then he no longer has a meaningful basis to object to anti-semitism. He cannot say it is really wrong–all he can say is that he personally doesn’t prefer it.
In the end, Ehrman’s worldview is a philosophical mess. He chides others for inserting value-laden statements and then offers his own. He claims to believe in the real existence of good and evil, but never explains where such moral norms come from. He makes sweeping claims about how there is no God who will judge the world while all the while claiming to be agnostic. He says Christians are wrong for being anti-semitic, but never offers a reason for why anti-semitism is wrong in the first place.
A genuine agnostic would have acknowledged he doesn’t really have anything to offer regarding discussions of God and morality, and good and evil. Indeed, a genuine agnostic would have acknowledged that Christianity might even be right. After all, according to an agnostic, who knows?
Adrian Varela says
Thanks for posting!!! Really poignant and to the ground. Too bad there has to be spent so much time talking about someone who just wanbts a name to himself. Does it not sound like the principle in Genesis 11 building something to have a name other than God? When such a man who comes out of the christian faith to later attack it, like so many lately, is it not a sign that apostathy is becoming more and more frequent? This reminds me what the apostle John sayas: “They came out of us but were not one of us”. This generation perhaps is the one the Lord speaks in Matthew. His parousia will be soon. How are we preparing ourselves? Do we love He who died and was crucified for our sins? Let us take head of the warning in Rev. 2 and love our beloved Lord Jesus with the first and preeminent love. Grace and peace be with you. Greetings from Argentina. 2Tim.4.22
C. Mills says
We might love HIM, but we certainly don’t love HE.
Robert Capps says
Thanks for this post Dr. Kruger. I am currently enrolled in his New Testament class at UNC Chapel Hill (the final exam is tomorrow!) and have been so frustrated by these exact inconsistencies all semester. In fact on the last day of class he told us about his personal views and claimed their was no such thing as “objective truth.” I couldn’t believe he said that given that he makes so many truth claims. So I raised my hand and asked if he believes all truth is subjective to which he said “yes.” I then asked if it’s objectively true that all truth is subjective, received a glare and he simply moved on to the next question. Talk about inconsistency. You can’t win with a man who is willing to hold self contradictory views but not defend them.
Andrew K. says
Wow. How can such an obviously brilliant man be such a terrible thinker?
Mark G says
It’s easy. Can you say Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Bertrand Russell, Feuerbach, etc. etc. Thinking themselves to be wise they became fools. Those who deny God will do and believe anything in order to maintain that denial. That has been the human condition since the fall when Adam implicated God in his own sin.
Robert Capps says
You’re absolutely right Mark. It’s sad to see, but it reminds me that were it not for the grace of God I’d be among them
Adrian Varela says
Craig Truglia says
what’s so brilliant? The man doesn’t even know what an amanuensis is yet he’s a new testament “scholar.” Pathetic.
Pertaining to the amanuensis comment:
“I was just watching this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n31g-wCSfc) at 9:50 and liberal (and atheist) scholar Bart Erhman makes the ludicrous claim that “this idea that you can have secretaries write books for you has no basis in the evidence that survives from antiquity at all.” He uses this argument to say that Peter could have not have written 1 Peter because it is in Greek.”
This is good news for you though Robert! You can ace your final exam easy! After all, all truth is subjective and to you, all your answers are true and correct!
Robert Capps says
Hahaha very true! Fortunately I believe I did pretty well without having to use that trick;)
I wouldn’t mind hearing more of your personal experience of what it’s like in Ehrman’s class.
Robert Capps says
It was by far the most useful class I have ever taken in school. I am an economics major but could not pass up the opportunity to take the class of possibly the world’s leading New Testament critic. You start by going through the Gospels and being introduced to the modern scholars method of analyzing them (i.e. redaction criticism, form criticism etc.). Along the way he does his best to point out every saying, situation and story that he believes is a “problem.” His favorite examples were the day Jesus was crucified in John, the textual variant in Mark 1:41, Jesus’ eschatology and the resurrection accounts. You then move into how Paul hijacked the teachings of Jesus and created a complex theological system out of them, how very few of the New Testament books were actually written by the people that they are claimed to be and the wide ranging diversity of early Christianity. (Dr. Kruger has written a book responding to that last topic which was extremely helpful).
The title of the course is somewhat misleading. It indicated that you would be studying the history of the New Testament texts but that was only about one fourth of the class. The rest of the time was devoted to “critical issues” and the things in the New Testament that Bart feels are wrong or contradictory. He was quick to remind us that he was not trying to destroy anyone’s faith but every lecture was a barrage of “problems” and subtle hints that anyone who believed this stuff was foolish. Bart himself was a mixture of humor and arrogance. There were times when he was genuinely funny and lighthearted and many others were it was hard to focus on what he was actually saying because his condescending attitude was very distracting. But I suppose that’s to be expected from a guy in his position.
The reason that the class was so helpful is because it forced me to read, research and dig into the issues that were being brought up. I read many other books about the canon, the manuscript tradition and the teachings of Paul as well as countless hours of online video and audio lectures on the material. As a result, I feel extremely well equipped to defend my faith. I now have a solid foundation for understanding scholarly critiques of the Bible and how to think through what they are saying. The most important thing that I learned is that historical and theological neutrality does not exist, even in those (like Bart) who claim it does. Presuppositions and world views are critical in these discussions. I do not believe that anyone should fear critical Biblical scholarship. The entire experience has resulted in my having a greater knowledge of and confidence in, the Scriptures. And for that, I am extremely grateful.
Adrian Varela says
Hi Robert. Just read your comment and how you became grateful for your experience that led you to digg and deepen into the Scriptures. I do not know if it was mentioned in the lectures or classes that opposers to the genuine faith made apostles like Paul and John write letters (judaizers, docetists). So those that criticize our faith give us an opportunity to proclaim the gospel in a much richer, broader and deeper sense than just the basics. We say to God’s grace but also to His revelation an wisdom. Rom.8.29. Grace be to you. Greetings from Argentina. Adrian
Martin Jacobs says
@Robert Capps “The most important thing that I learned is that historical and theological neutrality does not exist … ”
Good point. Every historian has a reason to write his or her history. Exit the fabled neutrality. The best we can do is to acknowledge our agendas, though it seems beyond the capabilities of Bart Ehrman to do so.
Hi. This is an interesting essay. I have to preface this by saying I haven’t read the Ehrman book, so I probably have no business commenting on this. But one thing occurs to me about the criticism of it. I am a Christian and I personally take a backseat to nobody in disagreeing with Professor Ehrman’s views. But — again, not having read the thing — it seems like it would be perfectly consistent to write a book applying a “value-neutral” historical method, but then to append a value assessment in a sort of non-scientific post-script at the end. The point would be that the actual historical work stops with the last chapter and then the epilogue would be a sort of personal statement assessing what he has documented historically. If that’s what Ehrman was trying to do then I’m not sure I see it as any sort of inconsistency. (I do agree with the next part of your critique, which is that Ehrman’s non-theistic worldview does not provide him with the content to support the existence of objective value or ethical judgments, but that’s of course well-worn philosophical ground and many atheists and agnostics have argued — erroneously in my opinion — that they are able to make such claims coherent.)
Michael Kruger says
Thanks for this, CThomas. I appreciate your comments. I, too, wondered if the epilogue was intended to be Ehrman’s private musings, no longer in the mode of a historian. But, if you read the epilogue you quickly realize that is not what is happening. First of all, Ehrman never says he is doing this (which would be helpful given his critiques of folks who make value-laden claims). But, second, he continues in this chapter his extensive historical analysis of how the Christological debates played out in the earliest centuries of the Church. Third, Ehrman begins his moral critique of Christianity prior to the epilogue (277). Thus, in the end, there is no reason to think that Ehrman has intentionally stepped outside his role as a historian in this portion of the book.
This is very good Dr. Kruger. I was planning on reading his older book on the problem of evil in the Bible searching for his worldview and discusison of values and ethics more indepth to see if it provide any defeater to his current work but you sure did it already!
I’m indebted to much of your work. I wish you would have spent longer on the fact that just like in many historical Jesus studies, archaeological studies, any study on evolution or origins – the worldview you mention excludes God/supernatural from the beginning. If a historian says they must keep faith claims separate from historical inquiry, then historical inquiry essentially must exclude the supernatural since faith claims concern supernatural things. If an archaeologist says you must separate the two, then you must exclude the supernatural. If a cosmologist says you separate the two, you must exclude the supernatural.
It’s very clever. The person sounds like they are making a concession, saying that in keeping supernatural and natural separate (whatever that may mean to a person) you can truly get behind something, and so they appear to be leaving it open that the supernatural may influence the natural – but as you mentioned, the supernatural is already excluded. Really, saying that you will separate supernatural claims from historical claims means the supernatural is not a part of history without saying it.
I think if people were aware of Ehrman’s presupposition that the supernatural doesn’t exist from the beginning, from page 1, his books would only appeal to Muslims, Internet Atheists, and critics of Christianity. Most people cannot swallow and should not swallow the idea of no supernature. So, I think Ehrman needs critiqued here and not so much on the moral grounding things – though I agree he is wrong and baseless.
It’s just like theistic evolution to me. Some Christians and theists may be alright with theistic evolution or evolutionary creationism, but try that on an atheist and see if you get more respect. Why? Because their definition of evolution excludes anything purposeful. So people like Francis Collins are still a joke to atheists. Why, they agree on basically everything, except inherent in their definition of evolution is pure atheism.
I think where the Ehrman’s should get nailed regarding their presuppositions is that they essentially says, “I’m going to tell you the story of Jesus as if the possibility of supernatural events are impossible, but I won’t tell you that in the preface.”
The lie of agnosticism and atheism is non-bias and since that is impossible their work must be philosophical before it is historical.
Adrian Varela says
Good insight. Thanks for posting.
jeff nettles says
i kinda sorta wonder if we ignored this ehrman guy that he might just go away. oh how I wish it were the case! this guy has zero credibility. how sad it is that this guy makes a living off of casting doubt on Christianity and half of that dough he makes probably comes from Christians “critiquing” him. I am not saying don’t do it but…
Jeff, just to add to your thoughts in this, Bart Ehrman has a ready audience of people who want to hear what he’s saying. The world will view him as an authority on the matter, and accept his claims as truth. 1 Timothy 4:3 warns of something similar: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”
Ehrman is a teacher who suits the passions of the world: to suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Thus, even though someone who refuses to believe the Gospel might spot this hypocrisy of Ehrman’s, rebuking moralizing while doing the same himself, they will likely suppress that truth along with the Truth of the Gospel. Because it suits their passions to do so.
So if we ignored him, Bart Ehrman might “go away” in the sense that we don’t hear so much from him, but he hasn’t really gone anywhere. He wants an adoring audience to validate his unbelief with their attendance to what he teaches as much as they want him to validate their unbelief by him teaching what he does.
Very good points. Of course, “agnosticism” and “atheism” are just a smoke-screen for their suppression of the Truth in unrighteousness, and it shows in Bart Ehrman’s hypocrisy. Basically he wants people to believe him, not the Gospel.
James A Gibson says
About denying the historian the right to make moral claims: there’s another strange thing about this. Even if the historian does not make (i.e., assert) moral claims, the historian’s job requires making value judgments. What sort of evidence is should be included, ignored? Whose arguments are worth weighing against one’s own thesis? The general denial of value judgments on the part of the historian is not very plausible when one considers the job the historian undertakes. And then there’s the ethical criteria on the accumulation of evidence, non-tampering of original documents, all the sort of things that required as part of *good* (oh, a value term) scholarship. So for a historian is to ignore value judgments… odd.
I was wondering how such a brilliant man could so easily conflate moral epistemology and moral ontology.
I am a new follower of Christ.
I often wondered why Bart (Simpson) Ehrman would not dare to question the historicity Quran ? Why he would call himself as Biblical Historian and make a affluent living out of it? At the same time work against what the Bible stand for? Of course writing such books make you a prominence as well as wealth via royalty…
Perhaps, the day he start to talk about the Quran would be his last endeavour in his life.
Why change the stands, be admired (and be a double dipper) than becoming a mere mortal via fatwa.
Robert Capps says
He has said in a public interview that he will not write about the historicity of the Quran because he “values his life.”
To be clear, I am not advocating violence of any sort in evangelism. I do hold violence is necessary at times for self-defense, for capital punishment, and for a just war.
But wouldn’t it be great if Ehrman said “I’m not going to write a book criticizing the Bible. Do you know how educated the Christian populace is? Those people know their stuff. That book will hardly sell any copies and those it does will by and large be used to make me a laughingstock.”
Tony Lloyd says
I’m always puzzled by statements such as this:
Ehrman seems unaware that absolute moral statements like this might just require some sort of philosophical grounding; some sort of worldview that can provide a cogent accounting of moral norms; some sort of basis for why one thing is “right” and another thing is “wrong.”
Why? Are there not plenty of things we don’t have philosophical groundings for that we think exist. What’s so special about the question of whether there is right and wrong?
And what is this “philosophical grounding” needed for? Is it that right and wrong don’t exist unless someone has a philosophical grounding for them? Is it that right and wrong may exist independent of anyone knowing the philosophical ground but that, if they do exist there is“sufficient” reason for their existence which, if we are aware of it, would serve to give us a philosophical grounding? Or maybe that good and bad may exist independent of a philosophical grounding but you should not say so unless you can elucidate that philosophical grounding?
Michael Kruger says
Thanks, Tony. But, truthfully, I am puzzled that your puzzled. There are vast amounts of philosophical writings designed to explore the foundations for morality. The reality is that not just any worldview can provide a cogent reason for believing in the existence of good and evil. Take atheism, for example. In an atheist world, what reason is there to think that there is something called “good” in the world? Or “evil”? In an atheistic world, where there are just rocks and trees, there is nothing good or evil about any action. In an atheist world it makes no sense to speak of what someone *should* or *ought* to do; actions just *are*. So, for an atheist to moralize about good an evil is just acting inconsistent with his own worldview. If his own worldview were true, there would be no good and evil.
So, the upshot is this: if someone is going to appeal to moral norms they need to have a way to account for how they exist (ontology) and how we know what they are (epistemology). And if a person cannot do this, then their claims about moral norms are vacuous; they are just their own private opinion. Ehrman, of course, accounts for neither the ontology of morality, nor an epistemology of morality. Biblical Christianity offers both. If Ehrman was consistent with is own worldview, he would say nothing about morality.
Montel (@waffleater) says
“In an atheist world, what reason is there to think that there is something called “good” in the world? Or “evil”? ”
it depends on what athiest world you are taking about
“In an atheist world it makes no sense to speak of what someone *should* or *ought* to do; actions just *are*.
no we have realized that we have no choice but to have shoulds and oughts- in other words they nesseacrily exist
“So, for an atheist to moralize about good an evil is just acting inconsistent with his own worldview. If his own worldview were true, there would be no good and evil. ”
no for a christian to moralize about good an evil is just acting inconsistent with his own worldview. If his own worldview were true, there would be no good and evil, just god’s point of view and other people’s point of view
Michael Kruger says
>“In an atheist world, what reason is there to think that there is something called “good” in the world? Or “evil”? ”
>it depends on what athiest world you are taking about
Can you give an example of an atheist world that can account for moral norms?
>“In an atheist world it makes no sense to speak of what someone *should* or *ought* to do; actions just *are*.
>no we have realized that we have no choice but to have shoulds and oughts- in other words they nesseacrily exist.
But, you haven’t shown that we have “no choice” regarding moral absolutes. There are numerous atheist philosophers have acknowledged plainly that if their atheism is true then there is no foundation whatsoever for “shoulds” or “oughts.” You claim morals necessarily exist, but you can’t just claim this. You must show this.
>“So, for an atheist to moralize about good an evil is just acting inconsistent with his own worldview. If his own worldview were true, there would be no >good and evil. ”
>no for a christian to moralize about good an evil is just acting inconsistent with his own worldview. If his own worldview were true, there would be no good >and evil, just god’s point of view and other people’s point of view
Not sure you are actually following the argument here. The Christian claim is that God himself is the grounds for moral norms. Thus, it is not a “point of view.” It is the very thing that grounds morality in the first place. There is nothing inconsistent with Christian claims to morality because they are grounded in God’s character, who is the very creator of the universe in which we live.
Montel (@waffleater) says
well it seems i attracted attention from Dr.Kruger himself!:)
” There is nothing inconsistent with Christian claims to morality because they are grounded in God’s character, who is the very creator of the universe in which we live.”
thats the main problem this is ultimately subjective and arbitary, if they are grounded in god’s character its just might makes right- if god wasnt this omnipotent being that could torture us forever for breaking his rules then there would be absoultely no reason to listen to anything he says
“There are numerous atheist philosophers have acknowledged plainly that if their atheism is true then there is no foundation whatsoever for “shoulds” or “oughts.” ”
this is either quote-mining from christian apologetics textbooks (accidental or purposeful i know not), or its because those philsophers were too dumb to realize the very nessecity of morality is their very foundation!
“You claim morals necessarily exist, but you can’t just claim this. You must show this. ”
simple because of just how utterly absurd everything would be if it didnt exist they must be assumed in the first place to even try and deny them, thus it necessarily exists in all and any universes
Michael Kruger says
Montel, your final statement says it all: “how utterly absurd everything would be [moral norms] it didnt exist.” Ironically, you are absolutely right. The universe would be absurd without them. Even atheists realize this. Which is why they insist upon them despite the fact that their own worldview, if true, would make them meaningless. Thus, back to my original point, atheists are utterly inconsistent with their own worldview. If atheism were true, then there would be no moral norms, yet they insist upon them nonetheless. Atheists are actually “borrowing” from the Christian worldview in order to have a foundation for moral norms, all the while insisting that there is no God.
Martin Jacobs says
@Michael Kruger, I’m with you on this. Atheism does not provide a reasonable warrant for morality. If you’re going to argue (reason) what is morally wrong or right, you have to start with a reasonable warrant. In my experience, what most atheists do is resort to a god-pseudonym – as you say, borrowing from the theistic world-view.
I did a lengthy reflection on what this means and does not mean here … http://martinofbrisbane.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/atheism-denies-reasonable-basis-for.html … but the short version of it rests upon what is “reasonable”, and hence arguable.
Tony Lloyd says
Thanks for the reply.
I am puzzled that your puzzled”
I must confess to being none-the-wiser myself. Perhaps we are talking at cross purposes and I need to be clearer.
I’ll give it another go.
Let’s take something else, say “2 + 2 = 4”, and suppose someone said:
“ if someone is going to appeal to [2 + 2 = 4] they need to have a way to account for how [this] exist[s] (ontology) and how we know [it] (epistemology). And if a person cannot do this, then their claims about [2 + 2 = 4] are vacuous; they are just their own private opinion.”
Wouldn’t you find that puzzling? Is the child, who has just learnt that 2 + 2 = 4, just expressing
their own private opinion when they answer a test question? Is it just my private opinion when I object to being charged for five apples rather than four?
If we allow the implication of the statement and assume that some have a philosophical basis for 2 + 2 = 4 then 2 + 2 = 4 would be objective. So for the emeritus Reader in the Foundations of Arithmetic, 2 + 2 = 4 would be an objective fact about the world. For anyone whose ontological foundations or epistemological foundations for arithmetic are suspect it is a subjective statement. But “for” seems to signal subjectivity!
Of course morality is different and my puzzle is, in part, that I do not see how the differences in morality render that statement comprehensible. The statement doesn’t work for arithmetic, law, eggs, the colour blue, scientific theories and so on. It doesn’t seem to me that it works for morality. Surely if right and wrong exist objectively then they exist independently of whatever anyone thinks about them, so whatever your, my or Bart Ehrman’s philosophical bases (or lack of them) they exist?
Rev. Bryant J. Williams III says
It seems that Ehrman is promoting the division of “theology” and “history,” again. Unfortunately, he uses faith (trust or belief) in the documents to determine which to use (circular reasoning). I find this type of division really annoying, to say the least.
Theology and History cannot be divided. They are both part of one’s own worldview. In fact, faith and knowledge go hand in hand. Both are intuitive, intellectual and experiential. The difference is that knowledge is time-oriented. It is limited to the past and present. Faith, though, is not time-oriented. It is not limited to the past, present or future. In fact, Faith will take what knowledge has been “revealed,” or “made known,” of the past and the present, and then, project it to the future. In this case, what God has made known or revealed about Himself in the past, present and future as revealed in the Bible. Hebrews 1:1-2 is very clear at this point.
I look forward to your review.
Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
Tony, I don’t think your math and child analogy holds. Of course it doesn’t make sense to ask a child to justify his belief that 2+2=4. HE’S A CHILD. But philosophers and philosophers of science are legitimately asked to justify truth claims all the time. It’s an adult sport. Besides, no one is saying that folks of any age can not use logical laws of morality or math until they can give an account for them. They will and do without such an account, by intuition, as the Christian worldview expects, having been made as we all are in the image of God. Quite the contrary, as Romans 1 and 2 indicate, human beings (image-bearers) will know and use transcendent abstract entities like logical laws and moral laws without being able to justify them from within their own worldview and without crediting the Triune God of Scripture (even going so far as to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”).
Tony Lloyd says
The child analogy did not make any claim that anyone is asking a child to justify her beliefs. The analogy was one of two examples of people making an appeal to 2 + 2 = 4 without a way to “account” for it. I chose a child as an example as I thought it would be fairly uncontentious that the child is unable to provide a philosophical grounding .
“ Besides, no one is saying that folks of any age can not use logical laws of morality or math until they can give an account for them.
You and I agree on that point. Michael, though, is insisting that:
“ if someone is going to appeal to moral norms they need to have a way to account for how they exist (ontology) and how we know what they are (epistemology)”
In a recent debate, Ehrman claimed that we (including himself) cannot recognize objective values because we are subjective (source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BU4f1nWpjR4&feature=share&t=4h54m31s). He contradicts himself by emphatically affirming the objectivity of moral values. This can be seen in his writings and in this very debate.
Another example of how he contradicts himself: On one hand, he doesn’t know if there exists a greater power beyond the universe i.e. an afterlife (source: http://youtu.be/Isg6Kx-3xdI?t=1h14m32s & http://youtu.be/BeFdhyuVyzI?t=3m52s) while on the other hand, he makes a claim to knowledge that this life is all that exists. He writes:
“In my opinion, this life is all there is.” (God’s Problem – Page 276).
“Of course, I myself think this live is all there is. I don’t think there is a reward for good behavior or generosity. I don’t believe in a supreme being who created the world and will redeem it and who has given us the chance to spend eternity in heaven. I think when we die, that is the end of the story.” (Source: http://ehrmanblog.org/christmas-longings).
Another example: he admits that he doesn’t know what will happen after death, indicating that he doesn’t know if he will exist in an afterlife. He says:
“Even though there are people (lots of people!) who claim to know what happens to us when we die, the truth is that none of us knows, and none of us ever will “know” until it’s too late for our knowledge to do us any good.” (God’s Problem – Page 194).
Yet, he makes a claim to knowledge that there is no afterlife (as shown above).