Dr. Bart Ehrman and the Agnostic Argument against Christianity

Part 3: Ehrman's Wrong Conclusions

By Robin Schumacher

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Continued from Page Two

The Bad News According to Bart

So what is the gospel according to Bart Ehrman? Simply put, Jesus is just another dead religious teacher, the Bible is a lie, evil has no governor, and God most likely doesn't exist. While tough for Christians to swallow, if this is the bona-fide truth about these things, we should accept them and look elsewhere for our worldview.

But the evidence doesn't lead me to those conclusions. There's quite strong evidence to the contrary that speaks to Jesus truly being raised from the dead, the Bible being accurate in what it states, and a transcendent Creator having brought everything we know into existence.

As to the problem of evil that serves as Ehrman's chief defeater of God, this is also an area with which I am (unfortunately) well acquainted, having watched my first wife die very young leaving me alone with our baby daughter. While the emotional problem of evil is one thing, the logical problem of evil (reconciling an all-good/powerful God with the presence of evil) is something that many scholars admit isn't a good argument any longer.

For example, Peter Van Inwagen says, "It used to be widely held that evil was incompatible with the existence of God: that no possible world contained both God and evil. So far as I am able tell, this thesis is no longer defended."[7] William Alston, another noted philosopher, agrees: "It is now acknowledged on (almost) all sides that the logical argument [of evil] is bankrupt."[8]

Philosophic defenses aside, the Bible itself also stands as a witness to both God and evil being present in the world. If every account in Scripture ended like Elijah who was whisked to Heaven in a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2), then I would relegate the Bible to the genre of fairy tales as it would not represent what we experience in our lives.

But the Bible is not like this. Scripture does not conceal the heartache, pain, suffering and the seeming victory evil has at times strange things for writers to include who want to gather as many adherents as possible unless they were reporting the truth.

With God, sometimes it takes only three days for an unspeakable act of evil like the crucifixion of a good and innocent man to be understood, whereas other events will apparently wait until eternity for an explanation.

I hope Bart Ehrman looks more deeply into this key barrier that keeps him from God, and I would ask that all Christians pray for God to enlighten his heart and mind so that he ceases to be the stumbling block that he currently is, and instead uses his considerable intellectual prowess for the glory of the One who created him.

1 For examples, see:
2 Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: An Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (Oxford University Press: 2011), pp. 261-2. My emphasis.
3 Given the brevity normally required by blog posts, I won't tackle the somewhat lengthy subject of Ehrman's claims of whether the New Testament contains forgeries. Instead, please see Ben Witherington's response to Ehrman on this topic here:
4 Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), pg. 89
5 Ibid, 90.
6 Dr. Maurice A. Robinson, Senior Professor of Greek and New Testament at Southeastern did an exhaustive manuscript study and concluded that there was 92.2% stability in the text during the time Bart Ehrman asserts the highest number of variants was introduced. Of the 7.8% in dispute, only 1% of the text has variants considered meaningful.
7 Peter Van Inwagen, "The Problem of Evil, the Problem of Air, and the Problem of Silence, Philosophical Perspectives, vol. 5: Philosophy of Religion, ed. James E. Tomberlin (Atascadero, CA: Ridgeview Publishing, 1991),pg. 135.
8 William Alston, "The Inductive Argument from Evil and the Human Cognitive Condition," in Philosophical Perspectives, vol. 5: Philosophy of Religion, ed. James E. Tomberlin (Atascadero, CA.: Ridgeview Publishing, 1991),pg. 29.

Dr. Bart Ehrman: The Series

Part 1: What Ehrman gets Right
Part 2: Ehrman's Old Arguments
Part 3: Ehrman's Wrong Conclusions

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Published 6-10-13