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Jim Elliff says, Avoid Bart Ehrman, He Could Cause You To Lose Your Faith!

bart ehrman

Jim Elliff, the director of Christian Communicators Worldwide, thinks Christians should avoid Bart Ehrman because he could cause them to doubt or lose their faith.  For those of you who are not familiar with Evangelical-turned-agnostic New Testament theologian Bart Ehrman, his credentials are as follows:

Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He began his teaching career at Rutgers University, and joined the faculty in the Department of Religious Studies at UNC in 1988, where he has served as both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Department.

Professor Ehrman completed his M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees at Princeton Seminary, where his 1985 doctoral dissertation was awarded magna cum laude. An expert on the New Testament and the history of Early Christianity, has written or edited [over] thirty books, numerous scholarly articles, and dozens of book reviews. In addition to works of scholarship, Professor Ehrman has written several textbooks for undergraduate students and trade books for general audiences. Five of his books have been on the New York Times Bestseller list: Misquoting Jesus; God’s Problem; Jesus Interrupted; Forged; and How Jesus Became God. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages.

His books include:

  • God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer
  • How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher From Galilee
  • Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
  • Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them)
  • Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife
  • How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee
  • Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, & Invented Their Stories of the Savior
  • How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee
  • Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are
  • The Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew

Ehrman is a royal pain in the ass for Evangelical pastors and theologians. His books are well written and quite devastating to many of the tenets of Evangelicalism — especially Biblical inerrancy and infallibility. His books are accessible, making it easy for the average Joe-the-plumber reader to understand the history and nature of the Bible. In other words, Ehrman has successfully bridged the ivory tower/pew divide. I heartily recommend his books.

Years ago, Ehrman participated in a debate with Craig Evans at a Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Midwestern is a Southern Baptist institution.  By all accounts, Ehrman decidedly won the debate.

Video Link

Speaking of this debate, Jim Elliff, a man I knew from my days as a Reformed Baptist, thinks debating Bart Ehrman is a bad idea. Here’s why:

First, because Ehrman is a false teacher and we are forbidden to give such men a forum to express their views.

The Bible doesn’t treat false teachers kindly. It is one thing to talk with a skeptic who is asking questions to know the truth, or who is confronting you in public, but it is quite another thing to invite and pay a false teacher to come to your turf in order to present his views in an open forum.

Inviting a false teacher to present his errant views in order to persuade students and the public is like allowing a gunman to shoot randomly out into an audience of military personnel because it is assumed the troops have body armor. For one thing, body armor cannot shield against all shots, and for another, there are many people attending who have no armor at all. At last week’s debate, for instance, there were many people from the public who were not even believers. Some young people also attended, and some seminary students who are not yet prepared for the effects of doubt-producing verbiage…

Second, because the minority position almost always gains some followers regardless who wins the debate.

When you have a sizable crowd it almost goes without saying that someone will be convinced of the false views of the false teacher. You may sense an overwhelming approval of the debate by many who love the give and take, but fail to take note of the quiet student or outsider to the seminary now stricken with doubt about the Scriptures. Ehrman’s presentation might be all that is needed to move him over the line…

Third, because debates are not always won on the basis of truth alone.

We don’t need to comment much here, because you understand how this works. Ehrman clearly won the debate by the account of several attending. He simply won it by his cleverness and expertise at debating. His opponent, the believer, was well able to defeat him with the truth, but missed his opportunities in several places, giving credence to the idea that he was a better writer and lecturer than debater. In fact, this is the second time Ehrman won a debate at the same seminary, but against a different Christian opponent. What does that do for our witness? Though I have no question in my mind that our position on the reliability of Scripture is the right one and can withstand Ehrman’s arguments soundly, our side was out-debated.

Fourth, because many of the listeners will not have the opportunity to sort out confusing aspects of the debate with professors or knowledgeable persons…

Fifth, because doubt is insidious.

One seminary student who has now graduated told me that he occasionally had huge doubts about Scripture and God. They were not there often, perhaps only for a few difficult days or weeks once every year or two, but they were so strong that he found himself almost smothered by them when they came. This was a leading student, chosen as one of the best preachers of the seminary. Doubt is insidious. Like a drop of ink added to gallons of water, it can ruin everything. It is the fly in the perfume. We are naïve to think that, being free from doubts ourselves, others do not deal with them regularly.

When a man like Ehrman speaks, doubt-producing statements may be forever lodged in people’s minds, causing trouble when least expected. It only takes a tiny amount of doubt for some people to be destroyed. A weak person might believe his doubts rather than believe his beliefs…..

Where, oh where, do I begin?

There is no need for me to go through a lengthy refutation of Elliff’s post. His position is quite simple:

  • Bart Ehrman is a false teacher
  • Christians are not to listen to false teachers
  • False teachers like Ehrman cause Christians to doubt
  • Doubt causes people to lose their faith
  • Doubt must be avoided at all costs, so information that is contrary to the approved narrative must be avoided

Consider this. The doubting students that Elliff is so concerned about have gone to Evangelical (Southern Baptist) churches their entire lives and have at least four years of college education, most likely at Evangelical institutions. After a lifetime of training, four years of college, and after uncounted sermons and Sunday school lessons, the students still aren’t prepared to withstand hearing ONE debate featuring a non-Christian?

I have one word for this: pathetic.

Elliff lives in a world where the only truth is his truth– though he calls his truth “God’s” truth. Even though most everyone admits Ehrman handily won the debate, according to Elliff he won by deceptive means. Since there is only one version of the truth, Ehrman had to win by other means.

The money quote is this:

Ehrman clearly won the debate by the account of several attending. He simply won it by his cleverness and expertise at debating. His opponent, the believer, was well able to defeat him with the truth, but missed his opportunities in several places, giving credence to the idea that he was a better writer and lecturer than debater.

Elliff seems to have forgotten his Bible. If I remember right, the Holy Spirit indwells every follower of Jesus. When believers are called on to give a defense of their faith, the Holy Spirit gives the believers the words to say. Evidently, the Holy Spirit didn’t come through for Evans.

Elliff lives in an alternate universe where saying the Bible says _________ is the satisfactory answer to every question. It’s the equivalent of a child wanting to know why, and their mother telling them, because I said so. That’s the world Evangelicals like Jim Elliff live in. Any facts that don’t fit the approved orthodox narrative are rejected out of hand. Even when the facts are overwhelming, great lengths are taken to explain away the contrary evidence. Young-earth creationists such as Ken Ham and Kent Hovind (Dr. Dino) are perfect examples of this.

I left Christianity because I no longer believed the Christian narrative to be true. It was my desire to know the truth that ultimately resulted in my deconversion. If Christian seminary students, most of whom are studying for the ministry, cannot be confronted with contrary evidence for fear of losing their faith, I would suggest it is not a faith worth having.

Doubt should not be discouraged. Evangelicals should be encouraged to question, investigate, and test the beliefs which their pastors (and college professors) and churches say are true. A faith that will withstand the onslaught of the modern/postmodern world must be able to answer the questions the modern/postmodern world presents. Perhaps, that is the real issue. The Christian faith has run out of answers. All that is left is warmed-over dogma from years gone by, irrelevant and no longer satisfying for the needs of humanity.

It really is all about the Bible; on this point both skeptics and Evangelicals can agree.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    People are just starting to get too smart for Evangelicals, and with time (if we’re lucky), it will only push Christianity further down the hole.

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      Well Ken. I would have probably said that a little differently. “It will only push Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism further down the hole.”

      If you were raised in Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism, you were taught that they are “true” Christianity and that all other churches and individuals on Earth who claim to be Christians are really apostates who cannot possibly be real Christians.

      I never bought into that bullshit, and I still do not. However, one thing I have noticed over the years is that many people who leave Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism for atheism, agnosticism, or whatever else will—at the drop of a hat—rush in to DEFEND Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism as the one, only, and true Christian faith—and proclaim once again that everyone else in Christendom is an apostate and always has been one. I think what Bart Ehrman would say at this juncture is the same thing I would say: “Why are you guys rushing back in to defend to the death a faith position that you ultimately rejected because it fucked you over with untruth?” Do you not think that is a little weird, or is it just a reflex knee-jerk from childhood training.

      I would like to see atheists and agnostics be consistent and quit using the term “Christian” or “Christianity” in the same exclusivist, reflex, fundie-rut sense that you did like well-trained puppy dogs when you were kids. If you really want to be credible, then I think you have to deny the whole damned fundie package, including the part that says: “We and we alone among all 7.5 billion people on Earth are the only TRUE Christians.” Then and only then will you be truly free from the grip of the fundie claw—because that obstinate and bullheaded exclusivity is the hallmark of being a fundie. And when you used the word “Christianity” above Ken, I could feel the “I still believe in the exclusivity” bleeding out of the word by the way you used it. I am not trying to be mean or difficult here, but when I see former fundies taking that position, I always walk away saying: “Sad to say it, but the fundie claw still has him gripped tightly by the neck.”

      Bart Ehrman did a wonderful job of devastating so called “Biblical inerrantism.” Because it is so easily devastated and because of the many other loony toons things fundies are doing on the world stage, I agree that the days of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism are numbered. Fortunately, it always has been a very small minority within Christianity as a whole, and no one will miss its absence when it finally croaks. I just feel sorry for all of the people that were caught up in it and tortured so much by it for the past 100 years—and I hope you can all find some peace and healing wherever you touch down afterwards.

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        Bruce Gerencser

        I’m not sure the data is on your side when it comes to Christian fundamentalism. If you are thinking about the extreme end of Evangelicalism, sure, but Evangelicalism, the dominant religious expression in America is inherently fundamentalist. Add up the independents Baptists, Southern Baptists, National Baptists free will Baptists, fundamentalist American Baptists, charismatics, Pentecostals, Nazarenes, a host of smaller and unaffiliated Evangelical churches, along with the Evangelical wings of every mainline Protestant sect and conservative Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh Day Adventists….some estimate the number is over 90 million. Every mega church is Evangelical. The majority of Americans believe in creationism and the Bible being the Word of God. (check the Pew Studies if you don’t believe me) it’s actually liberal Christianity that is the minority, a shrinking minority,btw.

        Ehrman does far more than attack inerrantism. He attacks the foundational beliefs of Christendom. He is every bit as devastating to liberals as he is fundamentalists. Unless the liberal is a universalist, he has quite a lot theologically in common with the fundamentalist.

        Are you saying fundamentalists aren’t Christians? If so, aren’t you doing the same thing you accuse them of? I see Christianity as one big tent with lots of varied beliefs, but there are core beliefs that every person under the tent believes is true. The various factions wage war against each other, unable to see that they hold many of the same beliefs. i.e. Virgin birth,deity of Christ, atoning death of Christ, Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and the need of salvation and forgiveness of sin. It is these issues, and others that atheists consider lacking.

        As I’ve stated before, I am at a loss as to understanding your claim that anyone on this blog is promoting fundamentalist Christianity. I don’t sect, not in my writing nor in the comments on this blog. Maybe I must misunderstanding you, if so enlighten me.

        Let me be clear,,I have a problem with any form of religious faith that is exclusionary. If someone believes there’s a hell and people go there when they die, then it matters not whether the person is a liberal Presbyterian or an Independent Baptist. Both hold to the same abhorrent doctrine.

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          Hi Bruce. I hope you are having a low-pain day. I should have qualified by saying that they are a minority within worldwide Christianity, which is about 1.5 billion people last time I looked. If your 90 million is correct, we are still talking about a minority. Most worldwide Christians are Roman Catholics and some variety of Eastern Orthodox.

          Actually, I did not feel “attacked as a Christian” in anything Bart Erhman had to say in his debate. It appeared to me that he was taking the old fundie stance that “if even one tiny little thing in the Bible ever turns out to be errant, inconsistent, or whatever, then the whole book is brought into question and so is the Christian faith that is founded upon it. I am okay with the book having 1000s of errors in it. That does not shake my belief in Jesus in the least because despite all of the the “thick goo” and “dense fog”—which are damned substantial—I still see a kind and loving person (Jesus) with divine qualities in there. I love the guy and choose to follow him. Uncertainty and ambiguity in religion are not much of a problem for me. The problem I have with Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism is that the people who believe in them are often mean-spirited, and they go out of their way to try to hurt and destroy other people—while trying to take over the government at all levels so they can force people to be just as mean and unreasonable as they are.

          No. I am not saying fundamentalists are not Christians. I am not quite sure what they are, and as far as I am concerned, God can figure them out and sort them out. It hurts my head too much to even try. All I know is that I disagree with them on more than just a few things.

          My beliefs of late are taking more of a progressive Anglican swing these days. For example, I only recently learned that the Theory of Substitutionary Atonement did not even exist in the Christian faith until John Calvin invented it in the 1500s. Saint Anselm toyed with the idea a bit in about 1,000 A.D., but it never really caught on in the church. In fact, up until the time of Calvin, no major Christian theologian anywhere in the world had ever seriously bought into the notion that an innocent person needs to be sacrificed like a pristine lamb to save a sinner from his sins. It was regarded as fundamentally unjust in the Christian community—which is why all of the major Christian theologians before Calvin rejected it outright. I was also unaware that the Eastern Orthodox Church, which has its own founding documents and beliefs dating back to the 3rd century A.D. has never believed in a “bodily second coming of Jesus.” In other words, as I delve back into the historical details of the early Christian church in various parts of the world, I am finding that many of the things touted as being Orthodox in the conventional “pinto beans and taters” church today are not Orthodox at all—and never were if you test them against early church history and the Christian belief systems that evolved out of that history in many parts of the Christian world. For example, the Eastern Orthodox Churches have never believed in the “doctrine of original sin.” That is solely a belief that grew up in the context of the Latin church and the churches that later evolved out of the Latin church base.

          No Bruce. You misunderstand. I have never said that you or anyone else on this blog is “promoting fundamentalism.” What I have tried to say, perhaps very poorly and with not the right words, is that when I read things written by many former fundies—almost all really—I quite often see subtle things between the lines that suggest to me that the person who seeks to be totally free from fundamentalism is not quite as thoroughly free from it as they think they are or would like to think they are. It is kind of like a really good and huge fart that billows slowly out of the underwear and stinks to high Heaven, and after a 10 minute period you would swear it is all gone, but an instrument sensitive enough to detect it (that being me) can still pick up a few trace molecules of that fart still left on the old Fruit of the Looms. Alternatively, I guess it might be like being raised by a dad you hated. You pulled away from him, disowned him, swore you would never have anything to do with him again (and stuck to it), but still you were in that house with him for 18 years and along the way you were influenced by dads presence there every day—in ways you are not consciously aware of yourself—but a really, really, really good psychotherapist can still smell the odor of dad in your psyche and your being—even though you have convinced yourself that it has been totally purged. That is all I was saying. I do not think you promote Christian fundamentalism—quite the contrary.

          Have a good day. I gotta pick up my kid at school. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Polly!!!

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            A little while ago, I posted a comment where I wondered about what you’re saying here. I tried and really wanted to become a Progressive Christian for a while, but once I left fundamentalism, I very quickly went straight to unbelief. I think it is related to what you’re arguing. That because I am quite used to black-and-white thinking, all-or-nothing thinking, fundamentalism fitted well with that, but, now, unbelief does too, whereas a form of Progressive Christianity would be more somewhere in the middle with more questions and loose ends, so to speak. When it comes to most subjects, politics, ideology, what not, I often try to be nuanced and search for this middle way somehow, but when it came to religious beliefs it really turned out to be all or nothing for me. I still like Jesus, most of the time, but somehow can’t believe in it/Him anymore.

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            Hi Melody. I understand. I have always thought that Christian fundamentalist “Rot Doctern” actually demands atheism and agnosticism as the only choice for those who leave the fold. It all goes back to the often heard statement: “If you ever discover that the Bible has even the tiniest error of any kind in it, then the entire Bible and the one “true” Christian faith built upon it must also be rejected.” Christian fundamentalism has always been very “directive” about the behavior of its followers, and the thing that has always amazed me is how many “leaving and going bye-bye” Christian fundamentalists take the only “switch on-switch off” option given to them. Indeed, I have often referred to it as going out in a supernova by choosing to submit to the last official demand of faith in the Christian fundamentalist system. And that leaves me with a question: “Why would any person who is pissed off at their Christian fundamentalist church and headed out the door want to fall on their knees and submit to this last major demand of the fundie faith?” Can you Melody or someone else here answer that question for me?

            In my deep “innerds,” I was never a Christian fundamentalist, but if I had been, I would have never gone out of it by submitting to its last demand of faith for me to become an agnostic or atheist—not if they had screwed me over for years. It would be a whole lot more fun for me to violate that last demand and piss in the grape juice of my former pastor and his congregation members. I cannot think of a better way to do that than find the one other church they most hate, join it, and then let them all know once a week for the rest of my life how wonderful it is and how sorry I am that they are all still caught in the grip of their abusive, legalistic, life-destroying hell hole—put another way—rub the puppy’s nose in his own shit so he can take no pride in your departure. Of course, that is just how I would have handled it if it had been me. Everyone else has to choose their own way that seems most meaningful to them—and i guess that is really the point ultimately. If a person leaves Christian fundamentalism, I do not think it is wise to ricochet anywhere. Probably, the best thing to do is just walk out the door, take a breather, get over all the emotion and anger of leaving, and them make a calm, conscious, and well-considered
            decision about where to go from there.

            Of course, in my preceding two paragraphs, I am not speaking about people who ended up in agnosticism or atheism as a result of a long and carefully considered thought process and a totally personal choice such as the one our friend Bruce went through. I am speaking only of those “leaving to go” fundies who bounce to agnosticism or atheism like a bullet that ricochets there because Christian fundamentalist “Rot Doctern” told them that this ricochet was the only acceptable place left for them to bounce to.

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            Bruce Gerencser

            Here’s the thing, Charles, I know hundreds of former Evangelicals who left the faith and none, I repeat none, of them went straight from Evangelicalism to atheism. This is especially true for those who were pastors, missionaries, youth leaders, worship leaders, or professors.

            The path from belief to unbelief is a long, arduous journey with many stops along the way. I think you wrongly assume that these people didn’t consider the merits of progressive/liberal Christianity. They did, but found it theologically, intellectually, and/or emotionally lacking. Believe me, they had no desire to join a class of people who are universally hated and roundly labeled as satanic and immoral.

            I get it…for you, liberal Christianity is intellectually and emotionally satisfying. But, for many of us we found it lacking. I have shared my reasons for finding liberal Christianity lacking many times. I’ve also asked direct questions that liberal Christians don’t seem to want to answer.

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            Hey Charles, I do see it a little differently, though I get your point. I did not see atheism as the only viable option, nor have I ever heard about becoming an atheist being a sort of fundie command once you leave the fold. As I began questioning the foundations of my faith, I liked liberal christianity better than fundamentalism as it is less rigid, less homophobic, etc. etc. but once I started to question what my faith was truly built on, what my belief in God consisted of, it all just fell apart. I wanted to be a liberal Christian but realized that I wasn’t a Christian anymore because I didn’t and couldn’t believe in it anymore. I couldn’t anymore, even if I wanted to. And so my careful peeking out of the box of fundamentalism, with the idea and longing of perhaps becoming a liberal Christian just didn’t work. I read the arguments and, yes, it did switch off my faith, so to speak…

            I went in search for a nicer, more nuanced God. but I found atheism instead, which was wholly unplanned and definitely freaked me out a little in the beginning, precisely because it wasn’t what I sought or necessarily wanted. I simply got convinced, that is all.

            Nor was it about giving my old church an f-you. I have been a christian without a church for a long time so it wasn’t about that. I just wanted to find out what my belief was based on and so I started digging.

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        “Bart Ehrman did a wonderful job of devastating so called “Biblical inerrantism.” Because it is so easily devastated and because of the many other loony toons things fundies are doing on the world stage, I agree that the days of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism are numbered. Fortunately, it always has been a very small minority within Christianity as a whole, and no one will miss its absence when it finally croaks.”

        Bruce is right. Ehrman’s scholarship isn’t just a threat to fundamentalism, it is a threat to ALL forms of Christianity who claim that the peasant preacher Jesus was somehow an eternal god with supernatural powers. Ehrman’s scholarship debunks fundamentalism’s biblical inerrancy claims, but it also debunks an even great evil…SUPERNATURALISM: the belief in the existence of invisible ghouls, ghosts, devils, and gods and their supernatural powers and influence over human beings.

        Let’s appreciate and follow the humanistic teachings of Jesus, and abandon the silly supernatural superstitions about him invented by ancient peoples.

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          August Rode

          We could also abandon the silly supposition that Jesus (assuming that he actually existed about which I am not convinced) actually said what he is reputed to have said. I suggest that we appreciate our mutual humanity and practice the sort of humanism that respects all persons. Jesus has very little to offer beyond that.

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    August Rode

    Because, of course, no one’s faith should ever be subjected to difficult questions.

    Calling Ehrman a false teacher is using the term in an entirely different sense than it was used in the Bible. If I recall correctly, when Paul used it, he was referring to Christian pastors who taught a flavor of Christianity that was something other than what he taught. He didn’t use it to describe apostates, agnostics or atheists. I respectfully suggest that Christianity is chock full of “false teachers” even today. Especially today.

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    Where’s that thumbs up icon? Again you make excellent points Bruce!
    The problem is … The “Backfire Effect”. As you said – Any facts that don’t fit the approved narrative are rejected out of hand.
    This director, you write about, seems to be guilty of a few logical fallacies as his defense mechanism – which reminds me of a saying I once read in a skeptic book…”If the underlying premise is untrue, everything that is built upon that premise is also untrue.”

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    Ehrman keeps inviting people to do some personal, first-hand research. He is clearly exhorting others to use the brain they have and do some minor comparisons of gospels for instance. In this way you, through a bit of personal work at home, one is likely to face the challenges Bart faced, that there are myriad stories that though grossly similar, are not the same story. His opponent in the video seems to appeal most often to what most Biblical scholars say and the general direction of themes as if that somehow reclaims or asserts that Ehrman is just wrong, or at least wrong-headed. This is the place I always find myself ending up in these matters: The believer FEEEEEELS they are correct and that seemingly ridiculous statements can be true because GOD! Stand up as long as you like and debate and dance but all the while, the feelers carry on with what feels right. They will not expose their sacred text to rigorous criticism because they already know that it is the way to go. Once you sip the Kool-aid, the game is done.
    Atheists are no brighter than full-on believers but they at least attempt to refuse excess in their feelings. They know that a good hymn-sing might be a roaring old good time for feelings but they insist on balance, on respecting curiosity, on examining the lyrics!, the hard-won right to scientific method in human affairs and history; the personal autonomy that resists group-think. Churching is about being a good sheep.

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    I haven’t heard of ONE single Christian who has deconverted from Christianity due to Bart Ehrman.


    Hi Bruce! Keep up the good work, my friend!


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    “I haven’t heard of ONE single Christian who has deconverted from Christianity due to Bart Ehrman.”

    Noted. He must be a real dummy, huh? Can’t even deconvert! What a twit, huh Gary? (But you do concede to have heard of married Christians deconverting after reading Bart Errorman?) 😉

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    Becky Wiren

    Well, I read enough of Bart Ehrman’s books to realize that I couldn’t hold onto the title of “Christian,” although I imagine I could claim to be a liberal Christian. My actual day-to-day beliefs haven’t really changed much, although I am freer since I can reject ALL the idiocy in the Bible. And since I’m a Universalist, it doesn’t even matter much to me if I descend into agnosticism. (I’m not an agnostic at this time.) Nor do I have to worry about “saving” anyone’s soul. I can just be free to be kind and try to love my fellow man.

    On a positive note, an SDA pastor friend of mine who is QUITE conservative said he had to stand with the president in regards to the Syrian refugees! Now THAT is a miracle…of human compassion. And I’ve heard of other conservative Christians waking up to the selfishness in American Christianity, and also saying we should take in refugees. Whoa!

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    Daniel Snyder

    Ehrman, like Price, is one of those people who learned too much and it tore apart his faith. Almost every theologian I’ve read and subsequently learned of on a personal level beyond just their doctrinal writing, has expressed a struggle with doubt. The difference is that, unlike Ehrman, these folks went through trials where they chose to cast their lots with the God of their faith and got to experience his promises first hand. Ehrman, as many do, want God to do more than just condescend (in the old meaning of the word), they want God to cram himself into a three-dimensional, humanly controllable box before he can be given the time of day. If knowledge is power, then this would essentially be a willingness to trust God only if we can understand him, which in turn puts him in some fashion under our control. At that point, you might as well throw out your faith altogether, and this is precisely what people like Ehrman do. And, many of them, though perhaps not to the extent of Ehrman, dedicate their lives to convincing themselves that God is false. It’s an emotional insurance policy. And the more people they can convince to buy into their doubt, the better the policy. The stronger Ehrman works at disproving the faith of his youth, the more he exposes his fear. Even if Christianity is complete bunk, this dynamic still holds true for Ehrman. The man is so afraid his choice might be wrong, he has dedicated his life disproving that which he’s rejected. I hold much more stock in those doubting theologians, not because they come to the conclusions that generally fit my own religious beliefs, but because they were and are women and men of integrity who refuse to stake their lives on fear. Anyone reading this, if you believe God is not real and would never be swayed to believe other wise, I encourage you to move on and be free. Are you listening, Bart Ehrman? Whatever he think he’s proven (or, perhaps, disproven, that is) through the Bible and its history, he is as unable to disprove the God of his youth as any of us are able to prove him true. What a waste of a life!

    Just for fun, here’s a wonderful five minute bit discussing Ehrman’s approach by someone who is perhaps the premier New Testament history scholar of the 21st century:

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      ... Zoe ~

      Hmm. Maybe you’re wasting your time Daniel Snyder. Maybe you are the one that needs to move on and be free. In my experience, those who advise some to move on and be free just want us to shut up.

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    Brian Vanderlip

    “Ehrman, like Price, is one of those people who learned too much and it tore apart his faith.” -Daniel Snyder
    Reminds me of the deacon in the Baptist bubble who once suggested to me that I should rid myself of all books but one.
    I find it regrettable that you fear knowledge Mr. Snyder and that you feel Ehrman learned too much for his fallen mind to handle and so he succumbed to a life of research and questioning. You, on the other hand have decided to go with a faith that rests on numbers of manuscripts reflecting differing versions of an old old story. Because there are lots of manuscripts, your NT scholar supposes that there is much more information and somehow that it all becomes more reliable because of numbers. No matter how many people or story writers tell me that this guy walked on water and raised the dead, I cannot force my human brain to accept it. Sorry, no go. Bring me a hundred manuscripts and it is still no.
    As Zoe has suggested, move on and be free as a suggestion after saying something as patently absurd as, “…Ehrman, like Price, is one of those people who learned too much and it tore apart his faith…”, just doesn’t wash. Jesus might well have lived and he surely died too.

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    A little bit of a tangent related to a comment I made 5 years ago above (Becky Wiren). I mentioned a conservative Christian pastor who supported helping the Syrian refugees in 2015. Well, in 2020 he was firmly anti-Trump and pro-Biden! He occasionally retweeted my liberal positions and news. I was delighted that this is so, although I did refrain from telling him I was glad we were on the same side and would never have thought it would be so. Still, people of good conscience rejected Trump.

    In regards to Ehrman, I still feel he does a good job. I enjoy his debates and he is quite decent to others. It’s obvious he just wants people to see the truth and base their religion on truth.

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    My church: Y’all don’t read them books and all, they’re secular and will lead you away from God and faith.

    Me: where’s the library?

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    I was told at both the Bible school I attended and the church that was affiliated with the BS to not read any material that contradicted what we were being taught. You would think that a huge red flag would have been waving in my brain, right? If the Bible is the ultimate truth, how can anyone successfully refute it? I actually did have this thought a couple times, but dismissed it as the devil tempting me to doubt. All that indoctrination… holy shit.
    I knew the Bible pretty well. But I would have not lasted 5 minutes in an actual debate with someone who knew what they were talking about. Fortunately, I have a good friend who is not a Christian and would ask me hard questions that I had no answer for. This was part of my deconversion and I’m grateful for it. Then I started asking myself hard questions!
    Those damn “hard questions”. LOL Not to mention a lack of evidence across the board. But who needs evidence, right? And don’t get me started on logic and reason…
    It’s good to be free.

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    If your faith is based on such a shaky foundation that it cannot stand contradiction, questioning, doubts, and Bart Ehrman, perhaps you ought to read, study, and think it all out again.

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    I’ve never understood why biblical inerrancy is so important as a fundamental concept of certain forms of Christianity. The bible is a series of books written by human beings, and re-written by human beings, and as such it is an inconsistent document that is often clearly self-contradicting or serving the ends of various factions of early Christianity (as Ehrman points out in his works.) To me, none of that invalidates some of the overarching takeaways that Christians want from the Bible: Christ’s overall philosophical messages, the history and beliefs of the Hebrew people, the development of the structure of the early Christian church as documented by Paul et al… Inerrancy isn’t necessary for much of this to be useful and meaningful to the Christian reader. So why is that a hill to die on? Beats the hell out of me.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    As someone who has studied literature and history, I know that the folly–and danger–of taking any book literally. I mean, “Jane Eyre” is a wonderful novel, but should I try to live by it–or see Charlotte Bronte as inerrant?

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Bruce Gerencser