Professor Bart Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books and has made appearances in various news outlets on TV and in magazines. He is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His claim to fame is that he “Skillfully demonstrates that the New Testament is riddled with contradictory views about who Jesus was and the significance of his life. Ehrman reveals that many of the books were written in the names of the apostles by Christians living decades later, and that central Christian doctrines were the inventions of still later theologians”, according to the synopsis on the back cover of “Jesus, Interrupted”.
He candidly admits his own loss of faith and that he is now agnostic, but he assures the reader that he is not out to destroy anybody’s faith. He says “Some readers will find it surprising that I do not see the material in the preceding chapters as an attack on Christianity or an agnostic’s attempt to show that faith, even Christian faith, is meaningless and absurd. That is not what I think, and it is not what I have been trying to accomplish. I have been trying, instead, to make serious scholarship on the Bible and earliest Christianity accessible and available…” (Ehrman p 271). Unfortunately for Professor Ehrman, Jesus doesn’t acknowledge neutrality. He said “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters” (Matt 12:30 RSV-CE).
Equipping the enemies of the Gospel
Although he insists he’s not hostile to Christianity or the Gospel, and doesn’t see his writings as an attack on Christianity, that is, in fact, what they are; and his books provide much ammunition to those who are hostile to the Gospel. Indeed, it was while I was looking at an Islamic web site to see what their criticisms are of Christianity that I first came across Professor Ehrman’s name. He has saved the enemies of the Gospel a lot of work as he has given them a source book filled with material that they use with great effect to destroy the faith of Christians and their trust in the bible.
Muslim apologists are using the information provided in his books effectively in discrediting Christianity with their own books and web sites, not only to those in their own geographic and cultural regions, but to the West as well. Professor Ehrman may well wash his hands of this responsibility by claiming he is not attacking Christianity but simply making historical information accessible, but the effect is the same, and many people are being deceived by these Muslims using the information Professor Ehrman provides. Islamic apologists don’t understand our Christian Bible even though they think they do, so to have so much information given them by a Western (and, in their eyes, Christian) scholar and academic, is an absolute gift, and they’ve seized Ehrman’s books (about 20 so far) with both hands.
Apostates in training
Not only that, he is training and equipping prospective students for the ministry who will then take up pastorates of possibly unsuspecting Christians, undermine the faith of their congregations, and will “prove” to them that the bible is only a book written by humans, and that the fundamental doctrines of the gospel are a myth; and other of Professor Ehrman’s students will study and train to take up positions in various theological and academic institutions who will, in turn, train yet more students to reject orthodox Christianity, reducing it to nothing more than following a man long since dead, whose dust lies somewhere in the Middle East – a man known as Jesus, who was such a good man that his example is worthy of worship and emulation (Ehrman p 275-277). Some of his students will even go on to write their own books in which they deny the truth of the Bible, thus perpetuating Ehrman’s heretical theology and bad scholarship.
Bart Ehrman: false prophet and antichrist
Professor Ehrman has spoken presumptuously (Deut 18:22) in his claims that the bible is merely the product of men, and consequently has so thoroughly savaged the scriptures that if Christians believe his claims about the bible and Christianity, they will no longer have a bible; they will no longer have biblical Christianity; and they will no longer have the God who is revealed in the bible, or a Saviour who has died for them; and Ehrman himself has the blood of multitudes on his hands! (Ezek 33:1-9).
Furthermore, the Bible’s verdict of him is that he is not only a false teacher but an antichrist: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already” (1 Jn 4:1-3).
Professor Ehrman has also amply demonstrated the folly of studying at an educational institution which is renowned for its liberal Higher Critical theology – he went there, as he claimed, prepared to defend his fundamentalist faith against the liberals. But although he says he went down “kicking and screaming and having prayed lots”, he still went down. He might just as well have expected to take a stroll through hell and not get burnt. And now, despite his protestations that he is only trying to make serious scholarship on the Bible and earliest Christianity available, he’s taking many others down with him as he robs them of their faith and their salvation, however unintentional he insists that may be.
Same discrepancies, different conclusions
There are many evangelical scholars, theologians, and pastors etc., who have read and do read the bible but who haven’t come to the same conclusion as Professor Ehrman, even though they’ve seen the same discrepancies in the Bible as him, and looked at the same criticisms as him. But unlike him, they maintain faith in the accuracy and reliability of the bible despite all they’ve read against it; and have subsequently produced reasons why they reject the historical-critical method, and continue to walk by faith in Jesus and the Bible. Theirs are the books that Professor Ehrman should have accepted and believed rather than the likes of Walter Bauer and other critics who, with already debunked theories, shred the Bible.
Have modern evangelical scholars ignored these discrepancies in order to keep us ignorant, as Professor Ehrman implies, and who now just give us a merely devotional understanding of scripture? Aren’t they better than that? Aren’t we better than that? Has Professor Ehrman arrived on the church scene as the White Knight to the rescue, opening our blind evangelical eyes to the fact that the bible is a hoax, nothing better than a document written by men, and exposing Christianity as a myth? Rather, hasn’t the Church already exposed these liberal doctrines as hoaxes themselves, and moved on? If contemporary evangelical theologians and scholars are aware of the discrepancies in the bible that Professor Ehrman is “exposing” and yet remain evangelical, having the same information before them as Professor Ehrman has, arriving at different conclusions to him, then obviously, the issue has more to it than he would have us believe, and we ought not accept everything he says at face value. He is wrong in his criticisms and can be shown to be wrong.
“He who misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit; but the blameless will have an excellent inheritance” (Prov 28:10).
“Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them)” by Bart D. Ehrman, 2010, HarperCollins Publishers
Revised Standard Version Bible, Ignatius Edition, Copyright 2006, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.