Monday, September 15, 2014

Unnaswered Questions Within The Modern Debate On Inerrancy

The Alarmist Arbitrary Spotlight

Unanswered Questions Within Evangelicalism Over "How" The Current Debate Over Biblical Inerrancy Has Been Conducted


       The county fair was in full swing so the kids, my wife Rebecca, and I went out for a night of fun and music. When we arrived, we made our way through the maze of vehicles guided by volunteer staff directing traffic as we braved the hilliness of the grass parking area. After, we paid the entrance fee then headed toward the rides so the kids could have a thrill. Before long, we had to break the news to the little ones the time for riding was over, and the concert would soon start. As we headed toward the stage seating, we noticed that before the music was going to start a lady was giving her testimony about how God has touched her life. It sounded inspiring, but then I heard the statement that I have encountered all too often that makes me cringe. “There is no doubt that God exists!” And “It is all about faith!”[1] I knew I had the weight of the evidence on my side since her reasoning was built on sand.[2] 
       She probably did not realize it, but these objective statements about theistic belief were beyond her testimony. Pondering further, I started to think again, as I have processed in the past in similar situations, her position was self-defeating.[3] That is to say, in order for one to understand her position, she would have to use logical reasoning, what she implicitly condemned, like quoting Scripture to back up what she claimed.[4] I would venture to guess that she would not, for example, chuck critical thinking out the window and strictly rely on faith to translate the English Bibles, but that takes this process takes deep thought, study, and reflection.[5] When scholars look into the different variants between the manuscripts, this process is not absent from all doubt.[6] They are aware new discoveries of papyri might shift their position slightly. [7]
       I knew I had the weight of the evidence on my side since her reasoning was built on shaky ground. I won, and I could not understand why she could not see the obvious conclusion that it is not all about faith, but not all about reasoning either. She was not honoring God with her mind with a more balanced position!
       Then, with deep regret, I realized that I was going against what I have come to believe. That even if I have the evidence on my side that the other person might not agree with my position right off. Maybe they are not at the point of even considering the reasoning behind my conclusion. If they are not, they will be unwilling to even genuinely entertain that I am possibly right.[8] The only common ground we probably have is that we both concluded that the answer is obvious, and the other side is crazy for not facing the truth. John Wesley describes this type of situation in his day (presuming they are right):

Those of each side have generally, when they entered into the field, been secured of victory supposing the strength of their arguments was so great, that it was impossible for reasonable men to resist them.[9]

       Contemporarily, Chuck Swindoll generally has conveyed the same thing writing:

People with different perspectives are a lot like two ships passing on a foggy night, moving in different directions, not able to see the other. Except for a few flashing lights, the roar of massive engines, and the blast of a loud horn, it’s as if they were in the deep all alone. A collision is always a threat.[10]
       Reflecting on this, I was convicted that I had sinned.[11] Not in what I was saying for the evidence was most likely on my side. Except, how I was approaching it was sinful, non-edifying, and unloving with a sister in Christ that probably unknowingly committed logical fallacies. Despite the evidence, I knew I should approach this differently. Differently in a way by genuinely praying to God to guide her to reasoning that is logically consistent.[12] Different, by acknowledging my fallible conclusions - different, by continuing on the path to building respectful and gentle bridges of effective convicted dialogue between those who are not liked minded. Moreover, different, by communicating successfully that reasoning has a, though not the most, but no less, important place in the church when spreading the gospel and Christian discipleship.[13] I presented my sin before the Lord, am still soaking in his forgiveness, and sharing my great shortcoming here to show how I was formulating my conclusions is continually being molded to His standard. I can address the issue another way - balancing defending the gospel while portraying the very message of that gospel through my deeds in a consistent way (Ti 2:6-7, Eph 4:15).[14]

Introduction: The Inerrancy Debate
       Southern Baptist Professor Steve Lemke wrote in 2002, “The term inerrancy has been the subject of intense discussion and debate over the past few decades.”[15] Like the energizer bunny, this debate has been on going to this day as theologians J. Merrick and Stephen Garret report, “All indications are that evangelicalism is once more poised to ‘battle over the Bible’ and focus afresh on the doctrine.” However, this time it is different because it is not a defense against liberal Protestant ideas on inerrancy, but evangelicals “are battling themselves.”[16]
       Much attention has been brought forth on what this debate is about. Issues like what is the role of the Bible, how we properly interpret what it affirms, and what is the meaning of an “error?” However, only little has been said as to how (our actions) this ongoing point counterpoint is being conducted within evangelical scholarship.[17]  
       Except, is there a need to cover the “how?” If there are continuous questions as to how the what is being carried out, then those need to be answered. Especially, by leaders and scholars who teach because they have a high expectation to follow (James 3:1).[18] Moreover, within these debates, there is only occasional talk as to how these debates should be carried out. Similarly, seldom is there anything written about how to have apologetic conversations as Lee Strobel tells, "There are plenty of resources that help Christians understand what they believe and why they believe it - and certainly those are vitally important. But it's equally crucial to know how to engage in a meaningful dialogue with a skeptic or a person from another religious viewpoint" (my emphasis).[19] Fundamentally agreeing with Strobel, Darrell Bock argues that within the Evangelical Theological Society, “…even in disputes-not just what is said but how it is said” is vitally important.[20] To narrow down the subject, I will follow Joseph Gorra’s (book co-authored with William Lane Craig) thoughtful hope when he says, “It is not enough to cast a substantive vision for civility. We must also try to articulate in specific ways how we address disagreements” (emphasis mine).[21] One of these “ways” I will set forth, with what has been revealed thus far, is to avoid arbitrariness.[22] This is paramount in this present-day controversy.
       On a side note, I have strived to succinct this blog post down as much as possible (or a Google doc,, etc), but it is lengthy. I am not alone in such posts as Al Mohler writes, “Most of my blog articles are large, and this is generally due to the magnitude of the issues I discuss.”[23] In a debate like this, striving to collect as much data as possible and footnoting is necessary, making this exhortation lengthy.[24]
       So, the goal is you can know that there are unanswered questions of, what seems to be, arbitrary actions within the recent evangelical debate over biblical inerrancy. To accomplish this, I have laid out the following into three main sections. In the first section, I will clear some possible fogginess for those new to this debate by covering likely questions one may ask. For instance, how does this affect you? Why am I (Jonathan Hanna) involved? What do I mean by arbitrary? Those familiar with the topic at hand may also benefit from this section.
       In the lengthy second section, I will outline what has happened in this current controversy. Specifically how it has been carried out so far – namely, in what appears to be an arbitrary manner. During this process, many unanswered questions about arbitrary actions will be posed that, ideally, should be answered. 
       In the many ways a continuation from the second section, in the third section, I will simply show that the spotlight is still mainly centered on one individual. Plus, I have included three appendices to cover some side topics that did not really fit into the body of the text.
       I will note, when I first wrote this, I did not include the first section about clearing away possible fogginess. However, as you will see, there is, for one reason or another, many misunderstanding in this debate. To hopefully avoid this, I preemptively answered likely questions some may pose.
       In the end, my hope is to get certain questions comprehensively and respectfully answered about how the existing debate over inerrancy, so far, has been conducted – that is, in an arbitrary way. Once this is done, it will very likely clear the cloudiness around this debate and bring it back to what it is about. That is, Scripture.[25]

Section 1
Clearing Away the Fogginess

On foggy nights every twopenny link boy is a jewel. He is of no use in the day; we drive the urchin away; but when it is very thick and foggy, we are glad to see the blaze of his torch
Charles Spurgeon [26]

       In this section, I want to bring some clarity to what I will be talking about - most notably for those who have little to no idea what the current debate on inerrancy is about. I will strive to share a fair background story about the matter, but from a bit of a distinctive vantage point.[27] Additionally, I will answer some possible well grounded questions that many of you will ask. In doing so, it will hopefully bridge any potential chasms of apathy and confusion;[28] I hope you will consider the following answers to these weighty questions.

How Does This Current Debate on Inerrancy Affect Me With These Particular Scholars?
       The scholars who will be mentioned below are respected scholars in their distinct fields that influence our local church leaders at the seminary/university level through lectures, conferences, text books, and direct mentorship within Western culture. What these scholars teach, our church leaders pass on through small-group curriculum and studies recommended for our personal devotional time. What these scholars endorse, our leaders will be heavily influenced to follow suit. How these scholars react to contemporary culture, their students, that become key leaders in our spiritual lives, look upon their teachers as a guide on how to react at the local/regional level to the latest challenges to the Christian worldview. 
        For example, one scholar, who is heavily involved in the current exchanges on inerrancy, is New Testament scholar Craig Blomberg. He is the co-author in a distinct and credible textbook called Introduction to Biblical Interpretation.[29] Three Southern Baptist Seminaries (Midwestern, Southwestern, and Golden Gate) use or have in the past this 500 plus page text book as one of their resources to guide pastors, apologists, and missionaries in the crucial art and science of interpretation.[30] Furthermore, no matter the denomination, how a pastor is trained on proper hermeneutical method ends up flowing into how they handle Scripture not only in weekly sermons, but also our loved one's funeral services and our children’s weddings! Plus, this crosses all denominational lines.
       As far as inerrancy is concerned, I am not alone in my observation and acknowledgement of this trickle-down effect. Charles Caldwell Ryrie agrees that at least what the scholar’s beliefs are about inerrancy has consequences no matter what form of inerrancy they adhere too. Ryrie asserts that those who do not hold to the classical view of inerrancy (a.k.a. errantists) are:

…communicating what they believe to some circle of followers and are affecting people in those circles. Errantist professors affect their students who affect their churches who affect their denominations. Errantist writers plant seeds of doubt in the minds of their readers, assuring them they can have their cake (the authority of the Bible) and eat it too (the errors in the Bible). All of that not only battles for the minds of the present generation, but spills over on the next generation of teachers, preachers, and laymen…[31]

Again, as I mentioned and Ryrie makes known, what scholars teach our leaders matters. However, as I have stressed and Ryrie leaves out, how they teach and respond to doctrinal concerns, like inerrancy, matters too. Southern Baptists, influential James Draper and Professor Kenneth Keathley at least agree that what this debate is about is very important, but to think that other issues do not exist is concerning. [32] They write:

The authority of Scripture may have been the most serious and immediate problem, but it is not an unaccompanied one. In addition, success brings its own set of dangers, so a number of pitfalls are emerging to join the hazards already present.[33]

       One of these “hazards” is how evangelical leaders and scholars convey eternal truths, particularly on issues surrounding biblical inerrancy.[34] In other words, what is taught is hopefully retained, but equally important is how it is taught is caught (i.e. tone, method of peer-review) directly in the classroom or indirectly through textbooks by our pastors, apologists, and other ministry leaders we serve beside. Both make it down to us in one way or another. It affects us all!

Who Are You Talking About?
Many of the scholars referred herein are probably not that unfamiliar to you after all. Why? Mainly, because most of them have been interviewed by journalist and former atheist Lee Strobel in his apologetic publications The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, and The Case for the Real Jesus.[35] One scholar, in particular, NT Historian Michael Licona (remember this name) was interviewed in The Case for the Real Jesus which Strobel devoted two chapters (almost 20% of the book) in an expert interview with Licona about the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.[36] Moreover, mentioned above, Craig Blomberg, like Licona, Strobel allocated two chapters for his professional testimony in The Case for Christ over the authenticity and reliability of the four gospels.[37] No other Christian expert out of the other 12 interviewed received that much space. In addition to Licona and Blomberg, I will refer to other top Christian intellects Strobel interviewed such as Norman Geisler, J.P. Moreland, Paul Copan, William Lane Craig, Craig Evans, Gregory Boyd, D.A. Carson, Gary Habermas, Edwin Yamauchi, and Daniel Wallace. Chiefly, philosopher Norman Geisler is at the forefront of the existing controversy.
       Beyond his printed books, Strobel has also interviewed other scholars, who are current players in the modern dispute over inerrancy. These interviews took place in other venues and with different scholars. Such as historical theologian and president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY Al Mohler was interviewed by Strobel in the show Faith Under Fire in a debate with liberal theologian John Shelby Spong.[38] Moreover, British NT Historian N.T. Wright was one of the featured scholars in Strobel’s 2007 film edition of The Case for Christ.[39] Christianity Today recently reported that, in some ways Wright is, “the most important apologist for the Christian faith since C. S. Lewis.” [40] With that said, retain the names Michael Licona, Norman Geisler, and Al Mohler because they are at the head of this reawakened debate.
       At this point, you might say, “Alright! I see that these philosophers, theologians, and biblical scholars are not so uncommon after all, but why list so many?” First, so you will know that the major figures are not general practitioners. These are the surgeons, cardiologists, etc. types of specialists who debate and struggle with the eternal truths of Christianity, but more specifically, Scripture itself. Two, you know that they are probably the key players since Lee Strobel was looking for credible, competent, respected scholars in his journalistic investigation into Christian truths. Third, when I list them later you will be at least somewhat familiar with their name. The unfamiliar being more familiar is better than not being familiar at all.

Why Am I Involved?
A number of people may wonder why I am writing about this and why did it take me three years to respond? I will keep my answers succinct, but I thought I ought to offer some information for purposes of reasonable transparency.
       Why I am writing about the current debate on biblical inerrancy? I am not insisting to be one of the main people involved, but I do have a different perspective to offer while bringing emphasis to the how. Moreover, I have had personal interactions with some of the individuals involved.[41] Further, much of this has been integrated into my graduate work on schisms, Baptist history, and how the inerrancy debate has gone since 1900. So I have used this not just within this forum, but for direct academic purposes.[42] 
       Second, why am I writing directly about this now? Primarily, other things in life happen. Examples are from attempting to fix a broken-down air conditioner to supporting my wife/kids with a certain situation that requires my direct presence. Another reason is, on most occasions, it takes me longer than my peers in research and writing. It is just the way it is. Finally, I wanted to take my time, try to do this right, not be timid (i.e. 2 Tim 1:7), and set the best example I can.[43]

Is It Wrong To Disagree?
When I made a two year commitment to teach kindergarten through 6th grade apologetics, there were many obstacles I discovered in the planning stage. One in particular, was getting them engaged in the info. To alleviate this, when class began, I posed allot of questions in a detailed, but simple way such as, “When you are talking or playing with your brother, sister, or friend, it is easier to agree or disagree? Like, is it harder to say no or yes?” Without much hesitation, nearly all 12 of them agreed that agreeing was trouble-free and saying no was more difficult. This is so true in today’s world. Regretfully, some of this is due to the influence of our postmodern culture which is counter to what the NT tells us.[44]
       It is not wrong to disagree for we are to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15 NLT). We should heed David Martyn Lloyd-Jones warning that some are interpreting Paul’s words the incorrect way. He conveys, “Indeed, to hold doctrinal views strongly and to criticize other views is virtually regarded as sinful and is frequently described as being ‘sub-Christian.’ This is how the phrase ‘speaking the truth in love’ is being commonly interpreted.”[45] Boyce W. Blackwelder argues for a type of atmosphere in the church that has “individual liberty, variety, and freedom of thought.”[46] I totally affirm this and pray there is more of this throughout Christianity! If we have in place what Blackwelder lays out, this sets up the potentiality for agreement, but disagreement as well. Eph 4:15 implies, comfortable or not, both are a biblical social norm within the confines of love.[47]
       However, how we disagree has to be considered.[48] Specifically, there has to be communication and the willingness to do everything possible to build bridges between different parties. Leaders in this debate should highly consider taking note the words of Chad Owen Brand and David Hankins:

In those instances or on those points where there is a conflict, thoughtful, prayerful, respectful dialogue should allow the parties to reaffirm their mutual partnership. There should be a willingness to discuss any matters of concern. To act as if there is no obligation to talk about matters of concern could be prima facie evidence that the partnership really doesn’t exist.[49]

This seems to be in accordance with 1 Tim 5:1, 20-21. [50]

What Do You Mean By “Arbitrary?”
       Above, I alluded that there has been some major “arbitrary” actions in the current exchanges on inerrancy. What do I mean by that? After reading some of John Wesley’s works on how important it is to define one’s terms, I am convinced I should do so here.[51]
       Arbitrary is an adjective that has common, but varied meanings. Etymological origins are from the 15th century where it meant, according to the Online Etymological Dictionary, "deciding by one's own discretion" though the “original meaning gradually descended to ‘capricious’ and ‘despotic’ (1640s).[52] According to the Merriam-Webster, it can mean, “depending on individual discretion…and not fixed by law” or “not restrained or limited in the exercise of power: ruling by absolute authority.” [53]
       Another possible definition for arbitrary, based on our context here, is, “based on random choice or personal whim”[54] describes it in a similar way, but more exhaustively stating, “subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion” and “unreasonable; unsupported.”[55] Finally, Collins English Dictionary says, “founded on or subject to personal whims, prejudices, etc; capricious.”[56]
       Though, these meanings are too harsh, and I would contend, unbiblical for this situation (1 Tim 5:1).[57] They do not best describe the kind of spotlight on Licona. Webster offers a better fit describing arbitrary as meaning, “based on or determined by individual preference or convenience rather than by necessity…”[58] Synonyms that follow this definitional line are, “inconsistent, subjective, and unreasonable.”[59] Well suited antonyms are “legitimate”[60]and “consistent.”[61] 
       In summary, what I mean by “arbitrary” in this context is this. It describes the spotlight, intentional or unintentional, that continues to shine at one point with no forthcoming reasons as to why it is. Until good reasons are offered, there is no necessity to the focal illumination for it is unreasonable, illegitimate, and lacks consistency.[62] Arbitrariness is a practice that others, including one CSBI signer, recognize is at least a highly questionable, if not unbiblical practice that should be avoided.[63]

Aren’t You Casting An Arbitrary Spotlight Onto Mohler and Geisler?
Am I mainly reviewing Norman Geisler and Al Mohler’s response to Michael Licona? Yes. Do I have good non-arbitrary reasons for doing so? Yes. I will cover more below about who Licona, Geisler, and Mohler are, but here it is sufficed to say that Licona proposed an interpretation of a passage in Scripture that Mohler and Geisler says is not in line with biblical inerrancy. On the other hand, other scholars, who are evangelicals, have taken a similar view as Licona on the same passage. Despite knowing this, Geisler and Mohler continue to shine the main spotlight on Licona without really saying why. 
       Meanwhile, how is my spotlight not arbitrary? First, I will grant that others have reviewed Licona. For instance, Southern Evangelical Seminary Professor Richard Howe has briefly and respectfully reviewed Licona.[64] Still, quantity and quality of Howe’s and others critique is pale compared to Mohler, but especially Geisler. Many of his articles are directly and mainly about Licona. No one else has done this.
       Second, Dr. Mohler’s position as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is very influential. The seminary itself has been branded as “the flagship of the Southern Baptist Convention.”[65] When Mohler comments, southern Baptists open their ears to his verbal statements and printed works. Likewise, Geisler has molded many in some way the last five decades. In the Foreword in the book To Everyone An Answer, Josh McDowell states that Geisler has guided many of our finest Christian thinkers. "The essays contained herein come from some of the greatest Christian minds of our time, many of whom have been trained and influenced by Dr. Norman L. Geisler. It is only appropriate, then, that the book is compiled in Dr. Geisler's honor."[66] J.P. Moreland also says that Geisler has been at the forefront in Christian apologetics for many years when others were not.[67] Moreland rightfully points out, “The contributors of this volume owe him a great debt.”[68] Some of the contributors to that book were the Lee Strobel scholars Ben Witherington, Gary Habermas, Paul Copan and William Lane Craig. Furthermore, Richard Howe and Thomas Howe, both supporters of Geisler, also authored chapters within the book dedicated to Geisler. Geisler and Mohler are a guiding light in many circles. Because of this, their reviews of Licona have received more attention compared to others. This warrants the spotlight.
       Third, Geisler, then Mohler, were the main two key figures that commented on Licona’s views in the summer of 2011. In many respects, they were the initiators of revitalizing this debate. They continue to comment on Licona’s stances in some way to this day. Either in a story in a publication or in a website article, Licona has been the main character, but again, more on this below.
       To sum up, the spotlight I am shining on Geisler, and Mohler is non-arbitrary because the quantity and quality of their responses to Licona’s views are greater compared to other scholars. Additionally, their influence within their respective academic communities is large bringing much weight to what and how they have proposed their conclusions. Lastly, there are etiological reasons, for they were some of the original scholars to comment upon the manner. If I knew of others who are of equal or better quantity/ quality, have similar influence, and were some of the first out of the gate, I would seriously consider adding them.[69] Until then, because of these three explanations, the spotlight I will shine is legitimate, consistent, and reasonable.

The Fog, Hopefully, Subsides
       To conclude, the answers I have offered I pray were possible questions you would have asked. Hopefully, they are convincing enough to bridge any gaps due to apathy and cleared any fogginess because of confusion. If I did not ask a question, you would like to have answered you are most welcome to send me a respectful email. Remember, theologian Richard Howe has pointed out there can be “numerous misunderstandings” in this particular debate and asking questions in love can help to prevent that.[70] However, I will note that although I am very open to non-arbitrary arguments (reasons) in contrary to what I have presented, I will delete argumentative ones (i.e. How dare you!). Please, don’t waste your time.
       With that said, no matter where you are on the expertise spectrum, a scholar, laymen, or somewhere in between, hopefully you cannot deny that what goes on within the scholarly realm eventually trickles down to the local level in at least some, if not a major way - namely our church leaders. Most importantly, these scholarly debates have to do with eternal answers to life’s deepest questions. Yet, more specifically, how do we view and interpret the group of writings we call “Scripture” that brings answers to life’s profound eternal questions it touches upon? This is what is being discussed within the evangelical scholarly field. However, as I move on I will continue to emphasize how the debate has progressed in order to get unanswered questions addressed. Sadly, it is not impressive.

Section 2

The Alarmist’s Arbitrary Spotlight: 2011-2012

An inconsistent leader confuses his followers. This creates a vacuum of leadership in which the aggressive go off on their own while the majority becomes immobilized, not knowing what to do for fear of making a mistake.[71]

Fred Smith Jr.

       Let’s consider a hypothetical: In many theater plays, there is one central character.[72] One central character, which requires emphasis within the plot so the story makes sense to an audience ranging from seasoned theater buffs to newbie’s dragged there by their spouse. One central character, that has to be highlighted, so the other character roles have the best opportunity to shine for journalistic theater critics to fairly review. One central character that, if absent, the whole point of opening the doors to the great hall would have never happened with little thought as to what might have been. Obviously, this central character is pivotal for the recent story to start and continue. For the central character, there is no leave. There is no rest. In the end, the character is left alone with the joy of hard work rewarded. However, if the centrality of the character’s role was forced upon them, then there is only the profound weariness of the arbitrary spotlight.
       The last three years within evangelical biblical scholarship have been very similar to the hypothetical above.[73] Only, in reality, one scholar, New Testament historian Michael Licona, has been academically kidnapped then tossed into what seems to be the unwarranted role of being the central character in the rekindled debate on inerrancy. However, other individuals indirectly signed up for equal time in the spotlight, but Licona was overly illuminated with many asking “why?”[74]
       I definitely was in that camp wondering what the big deal was. Before this day, I had not really seriously considered investigating the passage in question.[75] Primarily, because I was studying other issues in academics, including the process entailed in the Certified Apologetic Instructor (CAI) program through North American Mission Board (NAMB).[76] Nevertheless, when I was about to finish the program; on August 26, 2011 the CAI apologists across the country received an email from Licona that he had turned his resignation as NAMB’s apologetics coordinator.[77] This was mainly due to the recent criticism from a few key evangelical theologians and philosophers on his interpretation of a difficult passage in the gospel of Matthew. Taken aback, I read it again to make sure I read it correctly. Nonetheless, it was true.[78] 
       This was really unexpected. Reflecting back, I recalled that I had just seen and interacted with Mike Licona in a couple of different circumstances. First, he gave a lecture in Atlanta, GA. at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church during the Evangelical Philosophical Society annual apologetic conference in 2010. There, he presented an argument for the bodily resurrection of Jesus, which he developed mainly from his dissertation studies. His conclusions seemed spot on; presenting some linguistic arguments that even the liberal biblical scholarly group called the Jesus Seminar would have a terrible time getting around. Pondering more, I thought, how can presenting conclusions that Jesus physically rose on the third day now be bringing him heat leading him to resign? How can an apparent orthodox position do this?
       Searching for answers, I continued to reflect. The longer and second occurrence interacting with Licona, I recalled I recently spent three days in July 2011 at NAMB headquarters in Alpharetta, GA. There, I was in training with four other CAIs and Mike Licona, honing our speaking skills from a speaking coach through Dynamic Communicators Workshop.[79] Here, Licona was a student receiving critiques not on what he had to say, but on how he was presenting it. However, the “what” content in his presentations seemed orthodox.[80] Even when the seven of us sat down for lunch or supper, the conversations were very open about life in general. More importantly, theological positions covered during these social times seemed consistently evangelical. No doctrinal caution alarms went off on any essential Christian doctrines during these outings as they have for me in the past with other people.[81] With no previous signs, as of yet, to explain Licona’s sudden departure from NAMB, I continued to contemplate.
       Then, on the last day of class, I do remember a very awkward moment. The instructor was giving us his phone number, in case we needed to touch base in the future with him since Mike was our primary contact with this instructor. Mike heard this and said, “Hey, if I am not here anymore you can get a hold of him!”[82] There was a silence in the room and I remember thinking that was an odd comment. I mean was there any doubt that he would not stay at NAMB? Apparently, at least at the back of his mind, there was. For he had already received criticism privately from a few evangelical theologians (describe more below) that would lead to his resignation, but more exactly, the central figure in the latest debate over inerrancy.
       The philosopher and the theologian who brought about the brunt of the criticism came from two key figures. Philosopher Dr. Norman Geisler and historical theologian Dr. Albert Mohler Jr.,[83] seemingly, in an arbitrary way, put Licona in the spotlight because Licona’s hermeneutical approach to certain NT passages in their view is unorthodox. More directly, his conclusion violated inerrancy as defined by the Chicago Statements of Inerrancy (CSBI). Systematic theologian Wayne Grudem summarizes the history of this statement. He writes that a body of 300 scholars and pastors, “drafted the ‘Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy’ in 1978 that affirmed the inerrancy of Scripture and defined what most evangelicals understand by the term inerrancy”[84] (emphasis original). The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) adopted this statement as its guide to the definition of inerrancy (more on this and citation needed) 
       Geisler was one of the framers of this document, and Mohler signed it. The whole statement can be found here. To Geisler and Mohler, inerrancy is a fundamental doctrine that is necessary to the Christian faith (not in a salvific sense).[85] For Mohler, “the CSBI remains the quintessential statement of biblical inerrancy and that its clearly defined language remains essential to the health of evangelicalism and the integrity of the Christian church.”[86] In other words, Mohler’s and Geisler’s view on the CSBI statement is very high. To them and others, it represents the classical doctrine of inerrancy that has been passed on through the centuries, but more importantly, what Scripture explicitly and implicitly has to say about itself (i.e. 2 Tim 3:16).[87]
       With a lot on the line, Geisler and Mohler shined a one million candle power light on Licona. Why? Because once it was vastly detected in the summer of 2011 that in his book called The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, his published determination about the rising of the saints’ passage (Matt 27:52-53) was not the straight-forward literal historical view.[88] To the rising of the saints’ passage, Licona devoted about six pages in his 700 page book (which is mainly an analysis of historical evidence from a historian’s perspective on Jesus’ resurrection). The passage reads as follows that after Jesus’ death, Matthew records six events/phenomena, two of which were.

The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. (NASB)

Licona’s controversial conclusion is:

Given the presence of phenomenological language used in a symbolic manner in both Jewish and Roman literature related to a major event such as the death of an emperor or the end of a reigning king or even a kingdom, the presence of ambiguity in the relevant text of Ignatius, and that so very little can be known about Thallus’s comment on the darkness…it seems to me that an understanding of the language in Matthew 27:52–53 as ‘special effects’ with eschatological Jewish texts and thought in mind is most plausible.[89]

Licona then points out that there is more corroborative evidence to back up this take on Matthew’s post crucifixion account. He asks that if, “…the tombs opened and the saints being raised upon Jesus’ death was not strange enough, Matthew adds that they did not come out of their tombs until after Jesus’ resurrection. What were they doing between Friday afternoon and early Sunday morning?”[90] (emphasis original)  
       In response, Geisler’s privately wrote Licona in July of 2011. Here, Geisler gave Licona reasons for him to change his view to a literal interpretation of Matthew 27 to be in line with CSBI inerrancy. Licona responded saying he had other ministerial obligations in and out of the country before he could dissect Geisler’s reasoning. In the meantime, Geisler asked Licona if he could go public with his assessment. Licona had no objection.[91]
       Publicly, Geisler wrote on his website, he was “disappointed” in Licona’s conclusions accused (still does) Licona of “dehistorizing” the text.[92] Along with Geisler, Mohler shined a light on Licona’s views taking a stand against this interpretation Mt 27 arguing, “In his treatment of this passage, Licona has handed the enemies of the resurrection of Jesus Christ a powerful weapon.”[93] The lines were now drawn.
       The situation scaled and in November of 2011 Christianity Today weighed in printing an article saying in part:

A fiery debate has erupted over a leading Southern Baptist apologist's questioning of Matthew 27. The question: whether Matthew's reference to many saints rising from their graves after Jesus' resurrection might not be literal history.
The theological war of words, spurred by high-profile open letters and retorts on the Internet, has raised questions about the meaning of biblical inerrancy. It has also led to the departure of Michael Licona as apologetics coordinator for the North American Mission Board (NAMB).[94]

Around the same time, Baptist Press also published a story on the matter reporting:

An apologist's characterization of one biblical verse has called into question his entire 700-page book and his belief in the inerrancy of Scripture, with two respected theologians saying the matter demonstrates that it is not sufficient to affirm biblical inerrancy in principle without also affirming it in detail.[95]

       Consequently, mainly due to, what seems to be, a unwarranted central character spotlight, as I mentioned earlier and Christianity Today reported, at the end of 2011 Licona stepped down from his position as apologetics coordinator at the North American Mission Board. Furthermore, he left Southern Evangelical Seminary due to, at least partly, to Geisler’s and Mohler’s reviews. Even so, it did not end there.

What is the Straight Forward Literal Historical Position?
       In order to continue to comprehend why Geisler and Mohler have pushed Licona into the main spotlight, you have to be aware of their take on Matthew 27:52-53. Both hold to what I call the “straight-forward literal historical position” on the rising of the saints. This position takes the rising of the saints passage at face value with little pause.[96] To them, this is not a difficult passage. To a degree, the rising of the saints is as straight forward as the historicity of Jesus’ literal bodily resurrection reported in the four gospels, Acts, and in Paul’s writings (i.e. 1 Cor 15:3-4). There are no thorny questions to answer.
       For instance, Mohler, noting no difficulties with the passage, indicates, “There is every reason within the text to believe that Matthew intends to report historical facts. Matthew 27:51-54 is in the very heart of Matthew’s report of the resurrection of Christ as historical fact” (my emphasis). [97] He also says, “We can only hope that Michael Licona will resolve this inconsistency by affirming without reservation the status as historical fact of all that Matthew reports in chapter 27 and all that the New Testament presents as historical narrative” (emphasis added)[98] For Mohler, it is a historical account, plain and simple.
       Geisler tags along with Mohler’s method. Geisler writes, in the summer of 2011, that there is no evidence, “…in the text that a historical understanding of the resurrection of the saints should be excluded from this text.”[99] He also argues two months later that there are, “…no good grounds for taking Matthew 27:51-53 as not historical.”[100] Additionally, in an article offering more reasons for the historicity of the rising of the saints he argues the passage is, “simple, straight-forward account in the exact style one expects in a brief historical narrative.”[101] Finally, hitting the nail on the head, in the same article he exclaims:

Modern objections to a straight-forward acceptance of this passage as a true historical narrative are based on a faulty hermeneutic, violating sound principles of interpretation (my emphasis).[102]

       As you can see, for Geisler and Mohler, there is little doubt that this is a literal historical event that actually happened in history. Moreover, this conclusion is reached because the context is, as Geisler put it, “straight-forward.” Thus, I will call this view the “straight-forward literal historical view.
       To be fair, they do give reasons in defense of their stance. For example, the saints rising and appearing in Jerusalem is part of the overall passion narrative that is a historical account thus the context implies Matthew is recording an actual space-time historical event.[103] These and other reasons are valid points and academic exchanges about these proposals’ pro’s and con’s should continue between the different camps. However, legitimate reasons have not been so forthcoming about mainly critiquing Licona’s when there are other evangelicals that are not part of the straight-forward literal historical camp. [104] This needs to be examined more.

But Come On! How Is This Really An Arbitrary Spotlight?

       Respectfully and simply put, there are other evangelical scholars who have also taken a view opposite to the straight-forward literal historical approach.[105] I will offer some examples below.[106] However, we should keep in mind these unanswered questions and then state an illustration to aide in understanding.
       If there are other evangelicals that take a contrary view, then why have they not been in the central spotlight? And if they have not been in the spotlight, what good non-arbitrary reasons are there to explain why they have not? If there are no-good reasons offered, even after repeated inquires that have been made by me and others asking for those reasons, we are left to conclude that the main spotlight is illegitimate, unreasonable, and is not necessary. In other words, it’s arbitrary. 

Put Yourself in His Shoes

       To understand what is has probably been like for Licona, let me provide an illustration. Let’s say you and 25 others in a congregation of 125 holds to a certain interpretation of scripture. You have made this known during Sunday school discussions and also in, for this context, formal print in an outline for evening small groups study, that you co-lead, what that view is. Likewise, the other 25 leaders have done something similar, but before you.
       Nothing is said for sevral months by anyone about your view. Then, suddenly, you get an email from one of the key members in the congregation stating that your view is undermining the authority of the Bible, listing some reasons why, and stating you need to get back with them. Remembering you are not the only one that holds to this certain interpretation, you are kind of shocked that your name was alone in the “To” column in the email.[107] However, you reply saying you will need to get back with them since you are going out of town. The person then asks if they can go public with a critique of your view, and you say sure, thinking they will write an article in the official church newsletter that is peer-reviewed by the pastors and editorial team. 
       Then suddenly, one Sunday when you walk into the church auditorium, on a slide in the rotating PowerPoint announcements you see your name in bold right below “Undermining Scripture.” Shocked, later that day, you check your email. In your inbox, you notice the weekly summary of the church announcements that is complied and sent to every member or regular guest by a volunteer. Curious, you click on it. Scrolling about half-way down, you notice the words again “Undermining the Bible” with a link to an article. Reluctantly, but obligated, you read the article that mainly is centered around your view. There is little to no mention of the other 25 in this community that share your particular interpretive position. Moreover, vaguely mentioned is the other 50 that don’t agree with your interpretation, but do not believe you are undermining Scripture. You look through the article searching for reasons why you are the chief recipient of reasons against your position and not others who are essentially your equals. [108] Still, none are found. Until reasons are given, the spotlight on you is illegitimate. There is no warrant. Said another way, it is arbitrary![109]
       Below, I will show this is similar to how it has been and still is for Licona. Just like in the above hypothetical, other experts, in scholarly and popular works, have made public in they do not hold to the straight-forward literal historical position. Let’s see what other evangelicals, other than Licona, have had to say about the rising of the saints.

There Are Others

       Surprisingly, other evangelicals take Matthew is recording a literal historical event.[110] Nevertheless, they counter the straight-forward literal view due to the path they take to reach their conclusion. Precisely, the difference is they acknowledge that this is a tough passage. On the other hand, that these were real individuals who probably, after Jesus’ death, came out of their tombs and appeared to others in Jerusalem. I will call their view the “non-straight forward literal historical” position.
       NT scholar, out of Denver Seminary, Craig Blomberg says the resurrection of the saints “event is perhaps the most unusual in all of the Gospels.”[111] David L. Turner, NT professor at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, makes the point that, “There are many difficulties concerning the nature and sequence of events in this extremely unusual periscope.”[112] Also, the late J. Vernon McGee, who got his Th.M. and Th.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary, points out the emptiness in Matthew’s report saying, “This is an event that is mentioned only by Matthew. We wish more had been told.”[113] Commentator Grant R. Osborne, professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, in his commentary on Matthew (edited by Clinton E. Arnold) says that the, “incredible apocalyptic nature of this event and the fact it is only here make many believe it is a theological piece shaped as history rather than an actual event.”[114] Furthermore, the late John A.T. Robinson in 1911 points out that a minority of scholars/laymen do not know what to do with passage stating the, “…raising of the bodies of the dead after the resurrection of Jesus which appeared to many in the holy city puzzles many today who admit the actual bodily resurrection of Jesus.” [115] 
       John F. Walvoord proposes, “this event is nowhere explained in the Scriptures but seems to be a fulfillment of the feast of the first fruits of harvest mentioned in Leviticus 23:10–14”[116] (my emphasis).[117] This is far from taking it in a straight-forward manner. Walvoord was one of the general editors of the Bible Knowledge Commentary. The contributors to this series were from the evangelical school Dallas Theological Seminary.[118] Geisler wrote the commentary on Colossians in this commentary set, edited in part by Walvoord.[119]

The Lee Strobel Scholars

       The next herd of scholarly views I will cover are connected to scholars who were interviewed in the widely circulated and popular The Case series by Lee Strobel (these scholars will be labeled with *). These Christians are some of the best thinkers who have researched many different passages, such as the rising of the saints. As I indicated, they pass on their findings to our leaders at many seminaries who teach and affect us personally at the local level. Because they were interviewed by Strobel, have great influence, and really dig into the available evidence they will be mentioned here.
       Philosopher and NT Historian William Lane Craig (*), comments on the rising of the saints in response to another scholars view in the book Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up? (edited by Paul Copan*) on Mt. 27:53-54. He writes:

Dr. Miller…tries to cast doubts upon the historicity of the resurrection narratives by arguing that Matthew felt free to add to Mark’s Gospel the story of the resurrection of the saints, a story which Matthew did not take literally, but saw as a figurative expression of the apocalyptic significance of Jesus’ death. Dr. Miller interpretation of this passage strikes me as quite persuasive, and probably only a few conservative scholars would treat the story as historical. But how does that conclusion case doubt on the woman’s discovery of the empty tomb or the fact of the resurrection appearances?[120] (emphasis added)

Craig goes on to say that “We have good reason to see Matthew 27:51-53 as unusual in character.”[121] 
       In 2008, Craig also answered a question from a skeptic on his website,, about 9 different “qualms” the individual had with the historicity of the Bible. One qualm was with Matthew’s account of the saints rising. Craig responds:

Suppose Matthew didn't mean for this to be taken literally? Suppose it's just part of the apocalyptic imagery typical of Jewish apocalyptic writings, a way of portraying how age-shifting Jesus' death was? Then our problem is that we're taking literary imagery in an inappropriate, literalistic way, and the problem is not with Matthew but with us.

Doesn't that conclusion call into question the rest of Matthew's resurrection account? Not at all! For Matthew attaches this story, not to the account of Jesus' resurrection, but of his crucifixion, which is one of the firmest anchor points of the historical Jesus. [122]

Craig does also speculate that maybe Matthew intended for this to be taken as a literal event that happened in history. Craig points out that even though we do not have extra biblical evidence for this event, such as from Josephus, we should not simply cast this report into the pile of non-literal thinking.[123] Further, according to Craig, Josephus did not record Jesus’ resurrection, so why should he have the Old Testament saints?[124] Despite this, Craig is not in the straight-forward literal historical camp, at opposite ends with Geisler and Mohler.[125]
       Geisler says that William Lane Craig (*) would not come close to interpreting the rising of the saints as “legend.” [126] I agree. Yet, Craig does cast at least some, if not a great deal doubt on the straight-forward literal historical view, thus bringing into question why Geisler said this comment? Furthermore, why portray Craig one way in one setting and another way later?[127]
       Moving along, if you remember from above, Christianity Today reported that N.T. Wright has been labeled by some as the C.S. Lewis of our day.[128] Wright proposes that it is impossible to ascertain historicity in Matthews account. He writes:

It is impossible…to adjudicate on the question of historicity. Things that we are told by one source only, when in other respects the sources are parallel, may be suspect, especially when events like earthquakes were (as 24:7 makes clear) part of the stock in trade of apocalyptic expectation…Some stories are so odd that they may just have happened. This may be one of them, but in historical terms there is no way of finding out.[129]

       Wright, in a more popular level commentary called Matthew for Everyone, says he remains counterbalanced on the issue.

But it all begins, to our astonishment, with some of those who had died and been buried long since. It isn’t quite clear what Matthew wants us to think here. Did these ‘sleeping’ bodies wake up at Jesus’ death, but wait until Easter morning to go into the city? What did they do then? What happened to them? These and similar questions have encouraged some to think that Matthew intends us to see the story as picture-language, a vivid way of saying ‘from that moment on, death was a defeated force’. Or he may simply, in reporting stories told at the time and afterwards, be happy to leave this as a loose end in his own narrative, a way of saying, ‘From now on, you never know what God’s lifegiving power will achieve!’ It was, of course, a hint of what would come at the end of all things, the great final resurrection of which Paul and others speak.[130]

       Wright hard conclusion is that for certain Matthew intended when, “…we read this story we should look ahead to the full results of Jesus’ death.” [131] This commentary is very affordable and lay people are more likely to buy from a well respected, sought after, and biblical scholar who is possibly the “C.S. Lewis” of our day.[132] Wright is highly regarded. Why has he not been reviewed for his counterbalanced view that is out of balance with the straight-forward literal historical view?
       Subsequently, NT Scholar Craig Evans(*)[133] in the book The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright in Dialogue (edited by Robert Stewart, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary)[134] thinks that the Matthean account is legend. He footnotes:

I do not think the tradition in Matthew 27:51b–53…has any claim to authenticity. This legendary embellishment, which may actually be a late-first- or early-second-century scribal gloss, is an attempt to justify the Easter appearances of Jesus as resurrection, in the sense that Jesus and several other saints were the “first fruits” of the general resurrection. This is, of course, exactly how Paul explains the anomaly (see 1 Cor. 15:23).[135]

       Evans not only comments on this passage once, but twice in a different publications. In his book, Jesus and the Ossuaries, he labels the rising of the saints passage as an “exceedingly odd story” that is “unparalleled” except maybe John 5:28-29. He again concludes that this “amazing story” [136] is a “later interpolation” which may have been placed in the text in the second century.[137] 
       Finally, in a commentary for Cambridge, (edited by Ben Witherington*) Evans postulates, “The story of the opening of the tombs and the emergence of dead saints may represent an early scribal supplement”[138] listing a few reasons for this. 1) This might be a desperate attempt to offer an answer to Jesus’ promise in Matthew 16:18 when he said, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (NASB). 2) Not cited explicitly or implicitly by any church father until after the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. 3) Evans points out that the, “the longer form of one of the letters of Ignatius is almost certainly a later interpolation.”[139] 4) Its sequential awkwardness as how can Jesus be the first fruits if they are already raised? 5) The Akhmim Gospel fragment, which Evans dates in the second century, [140] might allude to Matthew’s when it says in gospel of Peter 41 “have preached to them that sleep” is a stretch so that information for the gospel of Peter did not come from Matthew. The Matthean interpolation, according to Evans, came from a, “tradition of Christ’s harrowing of hell (cf. Acts of Pilate 20–26), is probably no earlier than late second century.”[141]
       In my estimation, compared to Licona, Evans conclusions are far more removed from the straight-forward literal historical view. For one to put forward that this was an interpolation is far removed from evangelical tradition.[142] Yet, after publishing his views three times, why has the main spotlight never made it to Evans?  
       Ending this section, briefly, we have to ask this. Why not offer a moderate review of Lee Strobel, who interviewed Craig Evans and Michael Licona in The Case for the Real Jesus and William Lane Craig in The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith and The Case for a Creator? He introduced more grassroots Christians to such scholars and their scholarly works. Should he not be held accountable?

What about Bill O’Reilly?

       The “no spin” talk show host, Bill O’Reilly, has co-authored a book with Martin Dugard, called Killing Jesus.[143] O’Reilly, who has a major following, says that his “goal” in composing this work is to tell, “The incredible story behind the lethal struggle between good and evil has not been fully told” about Jesus.[144] However, he set out to compose something that did not include a theological bent, rather, focusing on the Jesus of history. Even so, he has reservations about the known accounts of Jesus saying “little is actually known about him” and that the gospels sometimes “appear contradictory and were written from a spiritual point of view” thus demoting their historical worth.[145] Though, O’Reilly and Dugard believe in the general reliability of the Jesus of history, or they would not have composed the book.[146]
       Since O’Reilly and Dugard were writing a popular level non-fiction book, they rightfully sought the latest scholarly research done on the historical Jesus. Interestingly, they sought after and recommend the quoted above, Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? which involved Lee Strobel scholars William Lane Craig and Paul Copan.[147] Additionally, Wright and Evan’s book The Final Days of Jesus was suggested to be a good source to their readers to consult for further information about the crucifixion.[148] More interesting is that they label Licona’s book, which has received a discommendation from Geisler and Mohler, as “worth reading.”[149] As of 08/26/2014, Killing Jesus is number 17 on the New York Times best selling list.[150] Many have been exposed to O’Reilly endorsing Craig, Copan, Wright, Evans, and especially Licona hermeneutical and historical method. In light of this, should O’Reilly not be reviewed?

The Bible Answer Man?

       Hank Hanegraff, also known as the Bible Answer Man, does not know how to take this passage. On a radio broadcast on Jan 16, 2013 he received the question, “What happened to those who were raised in Matthew 27:52-53?”[151] His answer was as follows:

If this is not apocalyptic language, and there are many biblical theologians that think it is apocalyptic and corresponds very well with what is being communicated in other genre’s and venue’s in respect to the death of significant human beings. If it is not apocalyptic language, they would be resurrected in the sense of resuscitation which is to say that they would die because there is a final resurrection and that resurrection takes place with Jesus appears a second time.

He continues to say that many evangelical biblical scholars hold that this is not an actual historical event. Further, he expressed that when coming up with the best interpretation, we should avoid the “wooden literal” way.[152] Lastly, he comments that the rising of the saints passage has many “problems” to which makes it a very complicated passage to exegete.[153] On what he is going to do from here, he states that he is going to have to look further into this conundrum and possibly write about his conclusions at a later time.[154] The Bible Answer Man is broadcasted over 150 plus stations with mostly, a lay audience.[155] Geisler has respectfully critiqued Hanegraff on eschatological issues in the past.[156] Why not on this when it has been pointed out to him that Hanegraff holds a view other than the straight forward one?

What About Frank Turek?

       In 2004, Geisler co-authored a book with apologist Frank Turek called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.” For me, this was the first publication I was exposed (beyond Strobel material) that really made a classical case for the Christian worldview. Moreover, I am deeply grateful for learning the beginning stages of formal and informal logic due to Geisler and Turek’s beginning chapters.[157] 
       With that said, Turek has not been critiqued by Geisler despite Turek writing the following countering the straight-forward literal historical view: [158]

Another possibility is that the resurrection of the saints was not literal, but symbolic. Dr. Michael Licona will be advancing this theory in a forthcoming article called “The Saints Go Marching in” (of which I have a copy). Citing many examples, Licona points out that when writing about the death of an emperor, ancient Jewish and Roman authors frequently used phenomenological language in a symbolic manner. Writing to his Jewish audience, Matthew may have done the same.[159]

Then Turek covers what are the possible consequences to inerrancy if one takes this passage as not being an actual event that happened in history.

What about the skeptical view that Matthew meant it to be literal, but it never really happened? That would certainly defeat biblical inerrancy, but it would not defeat the evidence for the resurrection of Christ. There are too many early, eyewitness sources that testify of it, and too much converging circumstantial evidence (prophecy, embarrassing details, martyrs, establishment of the church, etc.) that confirm it. (For details see I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.)[160]

       For Turek, a conclusion that has validity is the straight-forward literal historical view. Even so, he does seem to suggest, if not outright, approve that the non-straight interpretation, including apocalyptic, view as orthodox. Moreover, in line with classical inerrancy, though he does not say according to the CSBI. He does grant that if someone wanted to throw the rising of the saints’ passage into the legend pile, this would affect the doctrine of inerrancy.[161] Despite this, Turek argues the veracity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus would not be diminished directing his readers to the book he co-authored with Geisler.[162] To this day, Geisler has not critiqued his fellow co-author.

What About CSBI Signers?

       CSBI signer Eckhard Schnabel[163] reflects, “this is a notoriously difficult passage: Matthew appears to be narrating a historical event, but clearly does not address the (equally historical!) issues that result from such an interpretation.”[164] Also, CSBI signer Robert Gromacki argues that Matthew’s account includes, “Some strange phenomena” during Jesus’ crucifixion.[165]
       Other CSBI signers have come out to say that this is a hermeneutical issue and not one dealing with inerrancy. Two signers of the 1978 statement, J.P. Moreland[166] and Edwin M. Yamauchi,[167] came out in support of this statement that Licona released in Sept of 2011:

We the undersigned are aware of the above stated position by Dr. Michael Licona, including his present position pertaining to the report of the raised saints in Matthew 27: He proposes that the report may refer to a literal/historical event, a real event partially described in apocalyptic terms, or an apocalyptic symbol. Though most of us do not hold Licona’s proposal, we are in firm agreement that it is compatible with biblical inerrancy, despite objections to the contrary. We are encouraged to see the confluence of biblical scholars, historians, and philosophers in this question.[168]

       It took over two years for Geisler to give an official direct response about Moreland and Yamauchi’s position on the issue that this is a hermeneutical problem and not an inerrancy one. Although, according to Geisler, inerrancy is a crucial issue by proposing, “…inerrancy is the fundamental of the fundamentals. And if the fundamental of the fundamentals is not fundamental, then fundamentally nothing is.”[169] Why wait two years to respond to CSBI signers Moreland and Yamauchi stance over one of the fundamentals of the Christian faith?
       Furthermore, CSBI signer, the late James Montgomery Boice,[170] does take this account as an actual event in history. Though, before coming to this conclusion, he does ask some interesting questions and points out some unknowns about this passage. Boice suggests:

We do not know whether these saints had died long ago or only recently. We do not know how long they remained alive. Was this a permanent resurrection? If it was, what happened to them? Were they transported to heaven, like Elijah? Or did they die again? We do not even know whom they went into Jerusalem to see or why they went or what they said to those they saw.[171]

But, he does find the narrative to be a literal historical event:

What we do know is that the report must be historical. Otherwise, why would Matthew have recorded such an amazing thing at all? And why so soberly and with no explanation of its meaning? What we can suppose is that the resurrection of these believers was a foretaste and pledge of the final resurrection of all who believe on Jesus.[172]

       Out of all four miracles or phenomena reported by Matthew, Boice’s examination concludes that all four are historical, but he only explicitly and directly labels the rising of the saint’s passage as “historical.”[173] His last point, at least a minor one, on Matt 27:53 are what are to come at the general resurrection. “The resurrection of many of the saints who had died was a pledge of the final resurrection and an encouragement for those who wait for it.” [174]
       Additionally, commentator Leon Morris concludes in his commentary on Matthew (edited by CSBI signer, D. A. Carson*)[175] that it is more likely that Matthew’s point of writing about the saints is not something, which happened literally. He concludes:

Nobody else mentions this, and we are left to conclude that Matthew is making the point that the resurrection of Jesus brought about the resurrection of his people. Just as the rending of the temple curtain makes it clear that the way to God is open for all, so the raising of the saints shows that death has been conquered. Those so raised went into Jerusalem and appeared to many. Since there are no other records of these appearances, it appears to be impossible to say anything about them. But Matthew is surely giving expression to his conviction that Jesus is Lord over both the living and the dead. [176](emphasis original)

        The New Bible Commentary (also edited in part by CSBI signer D.A. Carson*) says that there is not enough information to come to a reasonable historical conclusion about what Matthew actually meant when he reported the event in question.[177] It says:

There is no other record of this remarkable occurrence, and Matthew does not give enough detail for us to know exactly what he thought happened. For instance, why the delay between the raising of the bodies and their appearance in Jerusalem; and what happened to them afterwards? The symbolism is fairly clear, but we do not have the resources to determine the status of the story as sober history[178]

       Like Carson, CSBI signer Walter Kaiser Jr. is connected to questionable determinations.[179] Kaiser co-authored a book with influential British New Testament theologian F.F. Bruce[180] presents some piercing questions about what Matthew is reporting, despite finally concluding that it was a literal historical event, stating:

First, what does it mean that many holy people were raised to life? Is this a resurrection or simply the appearance of ghosts of some type? Second, why did they wait until after the resurrection to enter “the holy city” (Jerusalem)? Finally, what does this event mean? [181]

Then Bruce states, “It sounds like a fantastic detail, a legend which has slipped into the text” [182] (my emphasis).
       Are Carson and Kaiser responsible for the conclusions in publications they did not, directly author? [183] In Geisler’s view, yes - for Geisler in a book, he co-authored with William Roach on inerrancy; he connects an editor or co-authors to their work regardless of who directly composed a certain section. Geisler himself has pointed out that the editor’s job (or co-author) is significantly tied to a work. He criticizes NT historian Darrel Bock on distancing himself from some conclusions about the Jesus of history in the book Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus which he co-edited with Robert L Webb. Geisler connects Bock to conclusions in the book that Bock has claimed he did not author. Geisler writes:

After being criticized for views expressed in the Bock-Webb book, Professor Bock tried to avoid the negative impact by noting that he is only a coeditor and not the author of all the chapters. While this is true, nevertheless Bock is also coauthor of the crucial chapter that is used as the primary basis for our above evaluation, and he must take responsibility for those conclusions….why was he so closely associated with such critical views as to be coeditor of the volume and then disassociate from his coeditor and authors when criticized for their radical views? It is like a person being part of a gang that robs a bank, but only after being caught does he insist that he waited in the car and did not actually go into the bank.[184]

For Geisler and Roach, editors and co-authors bear a certain amount of responsibility for what is published. If this is the case, why wouldn’t CSBI signers Carson (published twice) and Kaiser be in the spotlight instead of Licona? They are connected to interpretations that are beyond the straight-forward literal historical view just like Bock, who they accuse of undermining Scripture. 
        We cannot forget about Boice, Gromacki, Schnabel, Moreland, and Yamauchi. Should they not be in the spotlight instead of Licona?[185] If they signed the CSBI document, does that not hold them to a higher level of accountability vs. Licona, who did not sign it, mainly due to he was not even in his official NT education yet? And if they are not to be held to a higher standard, what good non-arbitrary reasons are there for this?[186]

What about Page Paterson?

       President of a SBC official school, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Paige Patterson has supported Geisler’s critiques of Licona.[187] Also being a CSBI signer, Patterson has been an advocate of the CSBI statement.[188] Though Baptists have always had a self-sustained belief in biblical inerrancy, Patterson says in an interview on (edited by Geisler) that the, “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy did have a profound effect in strengthening many Southern Baptists.”[189] However, there is a problem that has not been brought to the light.
       By signing the CSBI statement Patterson essentially agreed there is one method biblical exegesis. The specific article says:

Article XVIII
We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.[190]

       With that said, Patterson has been quoted advocating differently. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary professor, Steve W. Lemke writes, “Christian scholars will want to utilize any interpretive device that enriches our understanding of Scripture. Paige Patterson, while warning against undiscerning use of historical criticism, has stated that ‘the reverential use of historical-critical method should not be rejected’ (Patterson, 57).”[191] 
       What is worse, is one of Paige Patterson’s own faculty members at Southwestern files away in public record the major shortcomings of the grammatico-historical interpretive method. Southwestern faculty member Daniel R. Sanchez, co-contributor along with Lemke, states many assets of the CSBI approved method of exegesis. However, for Sanchez, there are apparent shortcomings. He proposes:

While the grammatico-historical method has contributed toward overcoming some of the disadvantages of other approaches, its application often has some inherent weaknesses. First, it can have a tendency to ignore the influence of the modern cultural context upon the interpreter. Second, it can focus on the linguistic history but be reluctant to give due recognition to the cultural or historical conditioning of the perspective of the author of the text. Third, if it assumes that the hermeneutical task can be limited to defining the original meaning of the text, it will be lacking in its present application.[192]

Sanchez advocates for a both and position and not an either-or approach to hermeneutics:

The grammatico-historical and the historical-critical approaches often fail to do justice to the modern context. The answer in the development of a contextual hermeneutic, however, is not found in discarding these approaches but in utilizing their contributions while supplementing them with key concepts from the social sciences. This ensures that the sociocultural factors which influence the interpreter’s understanding of the biblical text are taken into account.[193]     

       NT Craig Blomberg holds a similar method of interpretation as Sanchez. [194] Blomberg takes the both-and approach which defy the CSBI statement.[195] Geisler has noted this stating that Blomberg’s approach to Scripture is “basically a waste of time and effort.”[196] More importantly, this method is not needed. According to Geisler supporter and president of Veritas Evangelical Seminary, Joseph Holden,[197] Blomberg’s methods are ineffective arguing:

And if the grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture is good enough to offer the interpreter an accurate method by which to understand the text’s words and sentences in order to discover genre classification, it should also serve the interpreter well in his discovery of the meaning of the biblical text—without imposing secondary genre literary form onto the text’s primary material meaning, which is comprised solely of words and sentences[198]

Although this is about determining genre, it is also suggesting that any other method outside the grammatical-historical approach is invalid and basically unorthodox. [199] In his review of Licona and by signing the CSBI, Al Mohler agrees that Article 18 explicitly outlines a single approach to determining meaning of what Scripture affirms.[200] 
       Here’s the problem. Respectfully, why has Sanchez, a SBC faculty member, not been reviewed for adding to the grammatico-historical position? He affirms the usefulness of the historical-critical method, which Blomberg has been slammed for. Why Blomberg and not Sanchez? Worse yet, why has Paige Patterson, a signer/advocate of the Chicago Statement, been assessed for suggesting that the historical-critical method has its usefulness as long as we use caution? Why has Patterson not held Sanchez, who Patterson is managerially over, accountable for his anti-CSBI views?
       Then we come back to Mohler. Mohler held Licona accountable. Why not Sanchez? Along with Sanchez, we can tact on others that are potentially liable to the erosion of inerrancy including SBC professor Steve Lemke, former Southwestern’s Dean of Theology Bruce Corley, and Grant Lovejoy who is Director of Orality Strategies for the International Mission Board. All are connected to, in Mohler’s view, unorthodox approaches to biblical interpretation. Mohler has said that for one to be “true to Scripture” one has to hold to the CSBI’s “stated affirmations and join in its stated denials.”[201] Lemke, Corley, Lovejoy, Sanchez, and especially Patterson are at odds with this standard.[202] I have no reason to doubt that these men are dedicated Christians and have a high view of Scripture. To teach and lead at the seminary is a great undertaking which they apparently have been gifted to do. However, the question is not what they believe; it is how Mohler has reacted. Namely, why has Licona been charged with improper form, but not them as well?[203]
       There is more. Why has Robert Stewart not been reviewed who is an SBC professor? He edited a work where Craig Evans basically says the rising of the saints was inserted by a scribe in the 2nd century. This appears to be a more blatant position against the straight-forward literal historical position. Should this not be reviewed, specifically by Mohler, since Stewart does teach at a Southern Baptist Seminary?[204] 
       How is this in line with 1st Timothy 5:1 and Titus 2:2, 6, to (mainly) illuminate one, and not the others?[205] We may never know, but I hope these types of questions are answered with good non-arbitrary reasons. Though, I want to point out there are upsides to answering these unanswered questions. In my view, it will edify the debate over inerrancy and bring credibility to those who defend the classical view. Mohler has conveyed in the past, “The effective leader cannot afford to lose credibility—in fact, he needs to stockpile it and build it in reserve.”[206] Mohler had some in reserve, but sadly and respectfully, it is highly unlikely he will have much left with many brothers and sisters, if these unanswered questions are not addressed.

Why The Spotlight When Licona Has Changed His Position?

       Geisler and Mohler urged Licona to change his position to the straight-forward literal historical position in the summer and early fall of 2011. Licona did revaluate his position. He looked at the evidence again such as within the context of Matthew 27, what the church fathers had to say on the manner, other Greco-Roman writings, and so on. Licona then presented a paper on his renewed quest at the Evangelical Philosophical Society annual meeting in Nov 2011. After presenting his latest evaluation of the evidence he makes known, “So, for now, I remain undecided pertaining to how Matthew intended for his readers to understand the raised saints.”[207] He also stated this elsewhere, for instance in an interview with in 2012, he again says he remains at the position of, “…uncertainty pertaining to how Matthew intended the saints raised at Jesus’ death to be interpreted.”[208] Others have corroborated that this is Licona’s current stance.[209] This was not suitable for Geisler or Mohler for Licona, which I will soon show, is still the central character.
       I will also note that Licona had published his position on the rising of the saints in 2006 in a book called Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate on the Resurrection. He says that we cannot, “easily dismiss it as legend, since there are reasons to believe these things occurred” like indications from Church fathers Ignatius, Quadtratus, and the Acts of Pilate.[210] “But even if Matthew invented details,” Licona continues, “as you suggest, that does not justify the conclusion that the story of Jesus’ death had been invented too. Matthew may be using apocalyptic language.”[211] This book was endorsed by Danny Akin of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.[212]

Section 3

The Arbitrary Spotlight Continues

       As I have shown above, like Licona, many evangelicals hold a different position other than the straight-forward literal historical view. Since they do, I will highlight again. Should they not be evaluated as exhaustively as Dr. Licona has for the last three years? If the answer is “No” more specific questions arise. When quite a few peers in a certain academic discipline hold to a view contrary to traditional thinking, is it not the most effective peer-review method to mainly address the cluster of experts who hold the more progressive view? And if one specific scholar, within the cluster, needs to be at the center of the critique, should there not be good reasons offered to explain why? Such as the individual is a key leader in the non-traditionalist camp? Or, this person’s fresh perspective that counters the traditional view is one of the first to make it out of the gates? Nevertheless, if there are no feasible non-arbitrary reasons revealed, which warrant shining the spotlight on a particular individual in the non-traditionalist camp, then what? Regretfully, one almost has to conclude that it is for arbitrary reasons that have little merit.[213]
       Sadly, superior or even moderately good reasons have not been offered in public or private directly from Geisler or Mohler.[214] Privately, to Mohler, starting in Dec of 2013 to this date, I sent four emails.[215] Additionally, one certified letter to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary addressed to Dr. Mohler. In those correspondences, I respectfully expressed my confusion and inquired on why Licona was the central character despite other evangelicals that hold similar views? I included a list of nearly a hundred evangelical and non-evangelical NT and theological scholars who are not persuaded by the straight-forward literal historical view. The scholar’s views range from on one end, the rising of the saints passage was a difficult, but a literally historical event to, on the other side, those that said it was not even close to being an event that actually happened in history (i.e. legend).[216] To this date, I have not received a direct reply from Dr. Mohler.[217]
       In regards to Dr. Geisler, we exchanged a few respectful emails where I asked for what he thought about some other evangelical scholar’s (as described above) views on Matthew 27 like Michael Green, Leon Morris, Craig Evans, and William Lane Craig.[218] He fairly critiqued them and offered reasons of his disagreeing with their view. However, Geisler has yet to this date covered any of them as extensively as he has Licona which I urged him to do.[219] Now, I will acknowledge that Geisler made public that if we knew about other evangelical scholars who were eroding inerrancy, he would review them.[220] He has. Though, Licona is still the central character and not a player. 
       Again, and I emphasize, despite being informed by others and me that evangelicals besides Licona hold to a view other than the straight-forward literal historical position, Licona still has received the most substantive reviews from Geisler and Mohler keeping Licona in the central character role.

First, some examples of Geisler’s light.

· April of this year, 2014, Geisler wrote an article in Billy Graham’s Decision magazine. In the article Licona is referred to, though not by name, as breaking orthodoxy on inerrancy stating, “Compromise is not something that is only done by liberals. We have evangelical scholars who are compromising their views. For example, they say: ‘Yes, I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, but I don’t take as true the saints resurrecting after Jesus was resurrected in Matthew 27:51-53. That’s legend because we have to interpret the Bible by Greco-Roman genre categories.’”[221]

· On the newly created website, with Geisler as its general editor, it has been suggested that since Licona apparently has been flirting with liberal NT ideas. Ideas that might lead him to become an agnostic like notable NT textual critic Bart Ehrman did.[222] To my knowledge, it has not been suggested of other evangelicals that have been critiqued on the web site (i.e. Blomberg, Craig) that they will commit apostasy; only Licona.

· In an article written by Geisler, he gathered statements from living CSBI framers J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, and himself. They firmly state in the title, “ICBI Framers Unanimously Opposed to Licona’s Dehistorizing of the Bible.”[223] Geisler’s view of the three living framers of the CSBI statement is that they are the go to guys as to what the CSBI means. So this statement has allot of weight despite if you agree with them or not.[224] Granted, Blomberg and others were mentioned in the article. Even so, Packer and Sproul statements were directly about Licona’s views and the bold font title had him in it. That is a bright spotlight on Licona’s conclusions!

· Geisler’s has a new book The Jesus Quest: The Danger From Within (co-edited with F. David Farnell). If one does a search in the Kindle edition (using Windows 8) for the last name of “Licona” it comes up 130 times (body or citation). Admittedly, NT scholars James D.G. Dunn appears 158 times and N.T. Wright 170, but they do not have direct connections to the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). Licona does.[225] Others that do belong to the ETS like Craig Blomberg is mentioned 107 times, Darrel Bock 105, Daniel Wallace 48, Gary Habermas 11, Fuller Seminary at least 10, and William Lane Craig 5. Robert Gundry was up there with Licona with 129, but it is clear that Licona is still a, if not the, central figure in the present debate beating the others by a nose.[226]

· Summer of 2011 to now Geisler has written around 20 direct articles since his first open letter to Licona and many more indirectly.[227] The next highest is the Bible Answer Man Hank Hanagraff who has three over his eschatological views.[228] Clark Pintock and Gregory Boyd have one a piece over their adherence to open theism.[229] Granted, some of these articles are in response to others (i.e. Christianity Today articles), but even if we take those out it does not amend. Plus, Licona even has his own section on Geisler’s website named “Licona Articles.”[230] No other individual has a personal section on Geisler’s site.[231] This speaks volumes to the centrality of spotlight on Licona. [232]

· As I made clear, Licona in an academic paper at the Evangelical Philosophical Society meeting in Nov 2011, Licona said, “So, for now, I remain undecided pertaining to how Matthew intended for his readers to understand the raised saints.”[233] In 2012, Robert Stewart and Heath Thomas verified that this is his current position in the Southeastern Theological Review.[234] This is the same position as N.T. Wright and Hank Hanagraff. However, Licona’s current position is not taken into account. As of Sept 4, 2014, Licona’s current position is indicated sometimes, but not most of the time.[235] Licona’s earlier published position is in the spotlight, not his current one, which misrepresents to readers Licona’s views.

       In fairness, I will point out that Geisler (co-authored with William Roach) in the 2012 published work Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation Licona is not the main one in the spotlight. Other evangelicals are reviewed such as Kevin Vanhoozer, Grant Osbourne, and Darrell Bock. No one particular scholar is really in the spotlight, each receiving unique, but equal critiques of their views (i.e. hermeneutical/historical method) measured against CSBI inerrancy. Licona is only mentioned on one page in the body and in two footnotes.[236] To a good degree, I endorse how Geisler and Roach approached analyzing their peers in Defending Inerrancy - in other words, with convicted civility.[237]
       Though, the lack of a spotlight on Licona in this publication does not tilt the scale out of the arbitrary range. 1) Many of my examples above are accessible on the internet. They can be conveniently accessed more so than a print or electronic book for purchase.[238] Thus, more individuals have seen it. 2) This is connected to reason one. Others throughout the internet, including non-believers, have alluded, in one way or another, the continuing spotlight on Licona.[239] They apparently have not as widely seen Geisler’s reviews of other evangelicals, like Bock and Vanhoozer, in Defending Inerrancy. If they did, they must have lapses in memory or have alternative motives to generate bad press against Geisler. However, this is unlikely. I think they are like umpires, just calling it like they see it. 3) Unlike with Licona, Christianity Today and Baptist Press have not printed on the “Vanhoozer Controversy” or “Darrell Bock: Good Historian, But Cast Doubt on Classical Inerrancy.” Geisler and Roach’s critique of other evangelicals in Defending Inerrancy with these two highly circulated publications has not caught wind, thus leaving it in the shadows.[240] Because of these reasons and more, despite the lack of review in Defending Inerrancy, Licona determinations remain way overtaxed elsewhere leaving his view in the central character position. 

Mohler Continues

       Like Geisler, though less in quantity, Mohler has also continued to mainly review Licona on the rising of the saints. In Feb of 2013, Baptist Press does an article Licona’s views on possible contradictions in the gospels where Mohler critiques Licona.[241] Moreover, March 2014, an interview about inerrancy Mohler makes a specific passing comment about Licona’s views, and only him, on the rising of the passage and how this violates inerrancy, as defined in the CSBI, on matters of historical investigation. He points out in the interview:

The other thing is on questions of historicity. For instance, there were several who accused the Chicago Statement of prejudging issues as historical. Well, the statement’s framers, some of whom I know quite well and personally, would come right back and say….it’s clearly making a historical claim. And yet there is this attempt of some within evangelicalism to try to say, ‘This isn’t making a historical claim,’ when it quite clearly is. So, you have proposals now which will go to one single chapter — for instance, the Licona move in Matthew — saying that one portion of the chapter is clearly making historical claims, but another is merely a literary device…That is exactly what the framers of the Chicago Statement sought to preclude the Chicago Statement.[242]

Mohler is well within his right to reference any example of, what he claims, as a challenge to traditional view of the nature of the Bible. Despite this, would it not be more ideal to address a scholarly group instead of a particular person unless there are good non-arbitrary reasons to?
       Respectfully, even if I am wrong about parts of these and they can be explained with good non-arbitrary reasons why Licona is the main character, then that should be accompanied with good reasons as to why they were not forthcoming with these reasons in the first place. Additionally, even if I missed these explanations, which is possible since I am human, on one to two of the above, then that does not discount the others that still remain. If explanations are offered, as I have said, why were they not revealed in the first place?
       Accumulatively, one can see that Licona is still the central figure in the ongoing inerrancy debate. Again, one ultimately has to ask why? Regretfully, we have only heard crickets wondering if we will ever know why this blinding spotlight keeps shining.

Quanity Vs. Quality

       I want to grant that Geisler and Mohler, as far as I can tell, have no ill will toward Licona by making him the central character. They are expressing their convictions and responding to, in their view, unorthodox biblical interpretations that taint CSBI inerrancy. They express their good will toward Licona. For example, Geisler writes about Licona:
Actually, his otherwise generally good treatment of the resurrection of Christ would be enhanced, not diminished, by holding to the historicity of the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27 which, indeed, is listed as one of the literal fruits of Christ's own resurrection. My prayer is for Mike to make this change, improve his tome on the resurrection, and make his view consistent with his claim to believe in inerrancy. I like Mike as a person and love him as a brother in Christ, and it would be a shame to see him fall permanently from the ranks of consistent biblical inerrantists.

Here, Geisler notes that the rest of Licona’s case for the resurrection of Jesus is, overall, “good.” Likewise, he states, “I like Mike as a person and love him as a brother in Christ” hoping he would change his view because he did not want him to fall outside the “ranks of consistent biblical inerrantists.” These are words that seem to be in line with 1 Tim 5:1 and Titus 2:2.[243]
       However, do the quality of these words outweigh the quantity or number of times Licona, as we saw above, been arbitrarily directly or indirectly reviewed? Do these words explain why Licona has been the central character when, as we saw above, other evangelicals counter the straight-forward literal historical interpretation? I would say at face value it does not. Arbitrariness is a highly questionable practice that really clouds what is in contention; in this case, biblical inerrancy.

The Quality of the Explanations That Have Been Offered

       Once more, superior or even moderately good reasons have not been given for the existing spotlight. Though, explanations have been given by Geisler. I will quote the relevant part then review it more in detail. In December 2011, Geisler explained that the reason why Licona’s:

view is being criticized is that, contrary to ICBI and the Southern Baptist Convention’s stand on inerrancy, one of their own scholars who headed up the SBC group on apologetics (in their NAMB division) wrote a major book on the Gospel (The Resurrection of Jesus) that denied the historicity of sections of the Gospel narratives. If this was left standing, it could open the door for a reversal of many of the gains for inerrancy that had been won in hard-fought battles for the last thirty years. [243b]

Much can be said about this:

       First, Geisler says Licona “wrote a major book on the Gospel (The Resurrection of Jesus) that denied the historicity of sections of the Gospel narratives.” First, we have to ask what can be deemed as a “major work?” Yes, Licona’s book is good, actually, very good.[244] However, it is not the king on the hill, or the major monograph. Why? First, we have to acknowledge that Licona’s book was heavily endorsed by evangelical scholars like Daniel Wallace, William Lane Craig, Richard Hays, and Gary Habermas. Nonetheless, so was Lee Strobe caliber scholar N.T. Wright’s book The Resurrection of the Son Of God (endorsed by Richard Hays).[245] Also, Craig Evans Jesus and The Ossuaries (Edwin Yamauchi).[246] Lastly, William Lane Craig’s and John Dominic Crossan’s Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up (endorsed by Craig Evans, Joel Green, C. Steven Evans, N.T. Wright, and senior SBC Professor Robert Stein) is the account of the widely successful debate about the resurrection in the late 1990’s.[247] These are, in their own right, are major. Second, as far as straying from defending the historicity of the Gospels, how far Licona went compared to other evangelicals on straying away from the straight-forward literal historical view is pale. Craig Evans comes right out and says its legend.[248] SBC Robert Stewart edited Evan’s conclusions.[249] Geisler holds that the editor, at least partially, cannot totally distant themselves from the conclusions that they edit. What should we make of this?
       Second, being a framer of the CSBI statement, Geisler has the knowhow and right to defend it. Nevertheless, NAMB accountability, directly and indirectly, is ideally handled by the trustees and all edifying feedback should be forwarded to them. This has been done before. For instance, in the 1960’s, Professor Ralph Elliot at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, produced a commentary on Genesis that was controversial at the time. Some of his fellow peers wrote balanced assessments commenting on the good and bad.[250] Others, most outside of the seminary, outright opposed Elliot’s views calling for his resignation/termination.[251] However, as modern Church Historian A.J. Smith writes, “A special committee was formed by the Trustees of Midwestern to study the problem further.”[252] Once all the information percolates, it is prayerfully weighed, and a recommendation is proposed to the trustees for a decision. 
       Overall, this procedure has not changed. In the book, One Sacred Effort: The Cooperative Program of Southern Baptists, Chad Owen Brand and David Hankins outline briefly, but detailed, the authority structure within the SBC including NAMB. They outline:

It is important to reiterate that the final authority over the SBC is the messengers sent by the churches. Once they seat themselves as the Convention, they speak with authority on all matters they address. In particular they elect trustees to each entity board. This is critical because virtually all the work of the Southern Baptist Convention between annual meetings is conducted by the various entities and the Convention’s Executive Committee. These trustees are accountable to the Convention for the management of the entity they are elected to serve. They are responsible to set policies, adopt budgets, secure and maintain a president and supporting staff, and ensure the entity operates according to its SBC-approved charter and performs its SBC assigned ministries. Each SBC entity is directly accountable to its SBC-elected board. Each board is directly accountable to the SBC. This system of governance is consistent with Baptists’ understanding of the autonomy of the local church and the appropriateness of intercongregational ministries[253].

With that said, for Licona, this process never came about. He resigned, concentrated on his ministry Risen Jesus, and sometime later, was hired on at Houston Baptist University.[254] If he had not, the structure that Brand and Hankins describe is in place to handle complicated and difficult matters - particularly, faculty who are accused of publicly proposing heterodox doctrine. [255]
        In sum, once Geisler concluded that Licona’s findings were counter to the CSBI, did he have the right to not leave these conclusions “left standing” in the public square”? Yes. What about non-arbitrary respectful peer-review of Licona’s book through official or unofficial channels? Yes. Finally, was it ideal for Geisler to suggest that Licona’s views should not be “left standing” because he violated the SBC view on inerrancy? No. As I made clear, SBC trustees have jurisdiction under this reasoning for Licona (if he stayed) and any future employee of any entity within the Convention. Furthermore, who knows what the trustees would have decided? Maybe Licona’s views would have been found to be in line with SBC doctrine, but not the 1978 Chicago statement. Even though the CSBI influenced it, The Baptist Faith and Message Article 1 on Scripture is the final standard for SBC dealings (other than Scripture itself).[256] For now, unless there are good reasons to change this structure, we should trust the trustees’ in future doctrinal entanglements.

Can You Easily Separate The View From the Person?

       Many times on both sides of this debate individuals have accused others, some without evidence, of making this “personal.”[257] Those charged, in response, say that the scholar’s published work and the like are under scrutiny, not the individual.[258] However, this is not a simple issue.
         First, has Geisler led a, what some deem, a “personal crusade” against Licona based solely on individualistic grounds? If he has, his conclusions at least loose great credibility or worse, they are ad hominem thus fallacious. Ad hominem, in general, means someone putting forth a conclusion that is attacking the person behind the stated position being reviewed instead of the position itself. [259] However, I think it is important to look at what an ad hominem does not look like. Westminster theologian, Scott Oliphint comments, “An ad hominem argument that is not fallacious is one in which a person’s position is challenged based on what that person claims” [260](emphasis original). Based on this, Geisler’s critiques seem to be mainly about what Licona claims.[261] Moreover, Geisler has argued that his intent is to preserve classical inerrancy with no personal vendetta against anyone. I take him at his word. Based on the definitions I looked up, he is not on an ad hominem crusade. Even so, as I made clear, the frequency and quality of Geisler’s propositions against Licona’s propositions are disproportionate to his reviews of other evangelicals. In part, this is why many are crying foul. Even in basketball an unintentional foul is still a foul that the potential fouler should greatly consider the legitimacy of the call.
        Second, separating the person from their view is not simple. Truth claims, authored by peers, are published with names attached to those claims. It is right, logically, a researched proposal or monograph should be assessed as being sound and more plausible than it’s negations on the merits of the work itself. To exclusively judge published conclusions based on their origins, specifically the author who is behind those conclusions, is committing the genetic fallacy.[262]
       Even so, I think primarily an assessment should be about the scholars published positions and conclusions. This can be done through formal or informal channels no matter if it is affirming, qualifying, differing, or a combo these of the propositions being assessed. With that said, the origin of an idea, in this case a scholar, should receive secondary, though important status in the review or citation process, especially if there are lingering questions (i.e. arbitrariness).[263]
       There is necessity for this. H. C. Brown Jr. states that when we are appealing to scholarly sources, we are practicing a method of argumentation called “argument by testimony.” In this process, Brown writes, “care must be taken concerning the person quoted and the nature of his testimony. The person must be a reliable individual who should possess data needed.” [264] True, Brown is alluding to the reliability of the scholar being cited in research. But, implicitly he points out that the individual behind the research is not totally separated from their propositions. As Groothuis in a balanced way, points out, “one’s biography invariably shapes one’s thinking—although a book is better judged by the merits of its arguments than by the credentials of its author.”[265] In other words, assessing the content should receive the brunt of the analysis, but the individual behind the analysis cannot be logically cloaked. Lingering questions behind the content should receive careful, very careful; consideration of a reasonable explanation for any inquiries (i.e. arbitrariness). Is it not the sender’s job to aid the receiver on the path to understanding what the sender is striving to convey?[266]

My Hope

       What I have written so far may be enough for some to except that there are least a few major unanswered questions.[267] Unanswered questions about why the centrality of the debate mainly, thus far, has been around one evangelical scholar’s views. Unanswered questions that deserve an answer, that if left in limbo, one has to ask in light passages like 1 Tim 5:1, Titus 2:2, 6, has how this debate been handled been ideal? [268]  Hopefully good non-arbitrary answers will come out publicly to start bringing the debate out of fogginess due to how it has been conducted. I urge Geisler and Mohler to do so. Hence, the focus can come back to what the debate is all about, the inerrancy of Scripture.[269]


counterbalanced: one has not come to a reasonable, autonomous, and definitive conclusion based on the available data.

CSBI: Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy.

ecumenism: there are different forms. For purposes here, it means having unity with little to no debate about differences.

ETS: Evangelical Theological Society

EPS: Evangelical Philosophical Society

feasible: likely; probable.[270]

genre: the kind of text it is. For example: 1st Corinthians in an epistle.

Greco-Roman: Literature, customs, etc related to the Greeks/Romans.

ICBI: International Council of Biblical Inerrancy

orthodox: Trans-denominationally recognized teaching that is permissible to hold to maintain and be in sequence with the essential doctrines of the Christian worldview.[271]

progressive: prone to modify or change

quality: Concise Oxford Dictionary says, “the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind.”[272]

quantity: number of times

reasonable: fair, sensible, within reason

scholar: Biblical scholars Vanhoozer, Bartholomew, Treier and Wright define being scholarly, “… can describe a group or individual who has developed a specific set of methods, or it can refer to qualities or attitudes of the group or individual.”[273] I would add one has to have official training (at least a graduate level degree with thesis) from an accredited school/pertinent experience within a certain discipline that is recognized by his or her peer’s as cogent and compelling. Moreover, I would add character with grace. If one does not have good character with reasonable ownership of ones’s weaknesses and strengths, how are they credible? For one to be scholarly, one has to be credible through character with grace (no body is perfect!). [274]

traditional: the usual stance that is less likely or slower to change (i.e. years ago many said “KJV” is the only acceptable translation. However, that slowly changed to, it is one of the acceptable translations like the NIV and NASB)

Appendix 1:

 Mike Licona Is the Next Bart Ehrman?

I was shocked when this was suggested. On June 20 of this year, the following assertion was made by contributing writer Shaun Nelson on Geisler’s new website Nelson asserts that Licona, in his view, is knee deep in liberal NT thought. The consequence of this is he will take the same path that former Christian and NT textual expert Bart Ehrman did some years ago. I am copying and pasting it exactly as it appears within the article. Nelson argues:

Is Mike Licona the Next Bart Ehrman?

It appears that Licona might well be on his way to becoming the next Bart Ehrman, with an impressive list of evangelical scholarship following closely behind.[275]

Granted, Nelson does back up his points with reasons where he views Licona is taking a more liberal stances in his dealings with the NT. Moreover, Nelson feasibly maps out Ehrman’s encounters with information from his professors about possible errors in the gospel of Mark.[276] But, Nelson mistakenly puts forth that liberal NT thought led to Bart Ehrman’s turning away from the Christian worldview.

Striving to be respectful (concentrating on the how), I succinctly responded on the websites facebook page stating, “Respectfully, Bart Ehrman turned from the faith ultimately due to the problem of evil and not due to his encounter with liberal NT thought. See page 1 in his book "God's Problem" published in 2008.” [277]

Nelson replied the next day:

Hi Jonathan! A friend of mine who grew up in a very prominent Christian home had a sister who killed herself from depression. He said to me, "I don't know why God would allow that. But I do know some things about God. Because He revealed Himself to me through the Bible. And what I do know about Him enables me to trust Him in those areas where He is silent.” Sadly, I don't think Bart Ehrman has this luxury. In chapter 1 of Ehrman's book he said that the biblical writers contradicted themselves over the question of evil. Not only did Ehrman have a problem with this, but he outright said he could not *accept* their answers anyway—he found the biblical answers unsatisfactory. So his struggle with evil would seem to be related *in some way* to his departure from inerrancy and the divine authority of Scripture. I suspect that, unlike my friend, Ehrman cannot trust in those areas he doesn't know (the question of evil) because he rejects the divine authority of what God has already revealed (the Bible).

Nelson’s profound and deep story of his friend’s sister is genuine. I do not discredit nor want to send the impression that I am. If I did, I apologize. However, even though personal accounts such as these are profound, in academic debates they are corroborative at best. My Dad and Mom had a baby die of SID’s before I was born, their Christian faith was greatly shaken, but they did not turn away. However, in my view, leading off with an experiential story in a reply to my reply about Ehrman was an unintentional red-herring that neither I nor he should commit. So, again, even though the story is genuine, I did not respond to that part and stayed on subject. Specifically, was Licona going to be the next Ehrman? My rejoinder:

Greetings and I appreciate your reply. In Ehrman’s book, “God’s Problem” he writes on page 1 that the problem of evil, “ultimately, it was the reason I lost my faith.” [1]Then further on page 3 he touches upon his journey eluding to his biblical studies, but clarifying what the problem of evil did . He pens “…my strong commitment to the Bible began to wane the more I studied it. I began to realize that rather than being an inerrant revelation from God, inspired in it’s words…the Bible was a very human book with all the marks of having come from human hands....But the problems of the Bible are not what led me to leave the faith. These problems simply showed my evangelical beliefs about the Bible could not hold up…to critical scrutiny. I continued to be a Christian… for many years after I left the evangelical fold.” [2] It sounds that his encounter with possible errors in the Bible was not the end of the game for Ehrman, but more a delay of game that later resumed. I am taking Ehrman at his word at this point on why he left the faith, because I have no good reason not to[3]
As mentioned in the article attached to this comment, the question was asked would someone, in this instance Mike Licona, become a agnostic or adhere to some other worldview other than believing in Jesus Christ (in a orthodox sense) because a believer adopted moderate to liberal NT thought in some areas of Scripture that is not in line with the CSBI statement? I would contend that this varies from situation to situation, but definitely not certainty or a great great likelihood that a individual (scholar or not) will abandon a saving relationship with Jesus due to a approach on the doctrine of inerrancy that is not totally in line with the CSBI statement. CSBI signer Wayne Grudem speaks well on this point writing, “Not all who deny inerrancy will also adopt the undesirable conclusions…. Some people (probably inconsistently) will deny inerrancy but not take these next logical steps.” The next logical steps he is referring to is denying other doctrines beyond CSBI inerrancy. [4] Thus, respectfully, it is possible, but not a likely outcome that since Licona takes some non-traditional stances (he is not the main or first one on Matthew 27) that he will ultimately deny the Christian worldview. On the contrary, I would argue that he seems to be more confident after the completion of his dissertation (which turned into his 2010 book The Resurrection of Jesus) that Jesus did rise bodily on the third day and the Easter story is true![5] Thank you again and I am open to feedback.

[1] Bart Erhman, God’s Problem (New York, HarperCollins; 2008) 1
[2] Ibid,3 [3] I am willing to consider some reasons.
[4] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004)101, footnote 13
[5] Based on video’s I have seen and conversations I have had with him in person and via email. I can provide more formal citation if need be.[278]

There has been no reply to this day.[279]

I end this section with a quote from CSBI signer Rush Bush and Southern Baptist Professor Tom Nettles about another individual in a theologically white water rapid situation in the 1960’s. Ironically, this man taught here in my home state of Missouri, also experienced a spotlight very similar to the Licona has experienced.[280] Do Geisler and Mohler want to be a part of possibly repeating history? Bush and Nettles reveal:

While one may congratulate those Baptists who saw the tendency (a progressive view) in its early stages and took action, at the same time, we must greatly lament that a talented person who seemed to hold such great promise for the defense and confirmation of the gospel eventually saw little in historic orthodoxy to attract him and, thus, little that can be claimed as distinctive in Christianity. [281]

May the arbitrariness end.

Appendix 2

Isn’t Doctrinal Division Normal?

Yes, it is normal. As CSBI signer Charles Ryrie points out that even in the first century church, “…back then there were divisions.” [282] He also suggests that the legitimacy of divisions is a case by case basis proposing, “It is not necessarily wrong to have divisions among believers. It can be but not always. And we need to remember that doctrinal differences also unite, and often that is a good thing. Our responsibility is to study, learn, teach, and preach Bible doctrine thoroughly.”[283]

Ryrie points out examples of division in the early days of the church like Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:38-39) and Paul and Peter (Gal 2:11-14) justifying that there are times when good comes out of division. I agree. However, Ryrie leaves out verses that do promote reasonable unity. John reports Jesus saying in his prayer about future believers, in the Garden of Gethsemane, to the Father this:

that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.[284] (John 17:21-23)

Commenting on when Jesus said, “so that the world may know that You sent Me,” commentator Gerald Borchert forcefully asks, “does this petition of Jesus not judge our church disputes as detrimental to the task of mission?”[285] He is not suggesting ecumenism, but others have in the past. This is not ideal.[286]

Another theological position can be obtained with less spare parts left on the floor. CSBI signer, Edwin Blum, describes a more balanced view of what Jesus’ words in the gospel of John mean for us today:

Admittedly the divided church is in many ways a scandal. The cure, however, is not institutional union. Jesus was not praying for the unity of a single, worldwide, ecumenical church in which doctrinal heresy would be maintained along with orthodoxy. Instead, He was praying for a unity of love, a unity of obedience to God and His Word, and a united commitment to His will. There are great differences between uniformity, union, and unity.[287]

Unlike Ryrie, Blum seems to take into account all the verses. Promote right teaching because truth matters, but avoid schismatic behavior to strive to keep unity. Overall, CSBI signer Kenneth Gangal sees eye to eye with Blum’s assessment of Jesus’ hope for believers is, “…the emphasis of the prayer centers in spiritual unity, not organizational unity.” [288] The great 19th century preacher Dwight Lyman Moody practiced this. He would work alongside other Christians, including Catholics, in many ways. [289] By doing so, this brought him criticism. He looked forward to the day when division would stop. However, he was very outspoken against Catholic doctrines such as purgatory.[290] On other occasions, he divided from others who consistently held to Unitarian beliefs. Overall, Timothy George writes, “Moody’s overriding concern was that the gospel of Jesus Christ be proclaimed to all people everywhere. For this reason, he opposed what he called ‘this miserable sectarian spirit’ among orthodox believers.”[291] He appears to have done, as a leader should, everything possible to keep reasonable unity. So is division normal? Yes.[292]

Even so, Gangal makes another point that Jesus commanded fellow believers on how to treat one another earlier in the gospel writing,

Jesus said, ‘John 13:34 (NASB95) ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.’ Jesus repeats this again in John 15 verses 12 and 17. This command he is giving early church is a verb, agapaō (ἀγαπάω) meaning, ‘to have a warm regard for and interest in another, cherish, have affection for, love.’ “[293]

There is one important question to ask before a division over doctrinal matters.[294] How do we act and respond to such a situation in a biblical way?[295] (1 Tim 5:1, 20-21, Ti 2:1-2, 6

Appendix 3:

Rational vs. Relational

In my limited, but not insignificant, 10 year experience in both worlds of relational development (counseling) and rational thought (apologetics), many apologists, old and young, struggle on the relational end. In particular, how we interact with others, believer and non-believer alike while communicating eternal truths. Others have also indicated this finding. James Beilby states, “Too many Christian apologists transfer the seriousness of the task of defending Christian belief to their approach to defending Christian belief. In so doing, they tend to take themselves to seriously.”[296] Also, Dan Story conveys that when Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and the like corner Christians many, “become frustrated, angry, and full of hostility” when trying to put together an apologetic answer. [297] Most potentially, Ravi Zacharius says:

In apologetics the question is often asked, ‘If there is only one way, how it that there are few in all creation who qualify?’ That question is actually more potent that the questioner realizes. It should further be raised, ‘Out of the few who actually qualify, why are even fewer living it out?’[298]

Joyfully, this is starting to be addressed by some. Francis Beckwith and J.P. Moreland have proposed that too often there is a lack of integration of one’s personal journey, adhering to the Christian worldview, with their academic experience (university, community college, etc).[299] Beckwith and Moreland separate integration into two categories: conceptual and personal. They write that conceptual integration means, “one’s theological beliefs, especially those derived from careful study of the Bible, are blended and unified with important, reasonable ideas from one’s profession or college major into a coherent, intellectually satisfying Christian worldview.” This would include many aspects attached to apologetics. Moreover, personal integration is termed as a person who, “…seeks to live a unified life; a life which he or she is the same in public as in private; a life in which the various aspects of his or her personality are consistent with each other and conductive to a life of human flourishing as a disciple of Jesus.” Conceptual and personal are “deeply intertwined,” argue Beckwith and Moreland, adding “the more authentic we are, the more integrity we have, the more we should be able to do conceptual integration with fidelity to Jesus and Scripture and with intellectual honesty.”[299] Apologists, though generally exceptional at conceptual, tend to down play personal integration within their research, publications, and speaking. In the past, Geisler has implicitly alluded to this issue. For instance, most Christian apologists hold to a form of absolute truth (conceptual), but according to Geisler, “No doubt the manner with which many absolutists have held to and conveyed their beliefs has been less than humble.”[300] Geisler goes onto to say:

Truth is absolute, but our grasp of it is not. Just because there is absolute truth does not mean that our understanding of it is absolute. This fact in itself should cause the absolutists to temper convictions with humility. For while truth is absolute, our understanding of absolute truth is not absolute. As finite creatures, we grow in our understanding of truth[301]

By and large, concurring, “People are weary,” write Beckwith and Moreland, “of those who claim to believe certain things when they do not see those beliefs having an impact on the lives of the heralds.” To Geisler, Moreland, and Beckwith there is a problem. Problems with how some apologists have proposed truth claims that have been, as Geisler said, “less than humble.” Conceptually, they, hopefully, have deeply pondered the pros and cons of the eternal truths, they have been called to consider and defend. Nevertheless, they have failed to integrate what looks like they have achieved conceptually with their personal side as a disciple of Christ. The failure to integrate is obvious for “It doesn’t matter much what we say we believe or what we want others to think we believe,” contend Beckwith and Moreland. “When the rubber meets the road, we act out our actual beliefs most of the time. That is why behavior is such a good indicator of our beliefs.”[302] Regretfully, the failure of integration has reaped bad fruit hindering apologetic momentum. However, seemly at the opposite end, we are to “…contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). We are not to be timid (2 Tim 1:7). Is there a resolution for this tension? More specifically, what is the modern-day solution to balance humbleness, but present compelling, cogent, and clear apologies for the Christian worldview in a way that is taken seriously within the academy? (Acts 26:28) [303] Douglas Groothuis is the man behind the plan! He writes:

After the dust of a good argument settles, we may err by either understating or overstating the force of our conclusions. If we understate, we are not being humble but timid. If we overstate, we may be too proud to admit the limits and weakness of the argument. The ideal is neither timidity nor grandiosity. Honest and rational truth seeking should set the agenda….Certainty is no vice, as long as it is grounded in clear and cogent arguments, is held with grace, and is willing to entertain counterarguments sincerely[304]

Generally, as it comes to leaders, Mohler agrees with this approach. He contends:

The leader serves the organization for the long term by constantly articulating the alternatives. Given the situation, we could move in directions A, B, or C. The process of analysis and convictional thinking is what gives the leader the right answer, and the organization needs to understand how and why. The wise leader lays out the alternatives and then walks the organization through the process of understanding which decision or direction is best. The inferior alternatives—the roads not taken—are acknowledged.[305]

Biblically speaking, this seems to be in line with how to respectfully interact with people, non-believers (1 Pet 3:15) and believers (Tit 2, 1 Tim 5) alike, but also testing what their propositions are about (1 Thes 5:21).[306] There is a good reason to do what Groothuis and Mohler lay out. If we apply their formula, or some similar version, we will hopefully avoid what Beckwith and Moreland call “weariness” among non-believers – in this instance, steering clear of arbitrariness.[307] Moreover, it will evade giving those who oppose our conclusions, outside of Christianity, any substantive character ammunition against us.[308] Peter touched upon this when he was inspired to write:

Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong! (1 Peter 3:16-17 NLT)[309]

“Conscious” literally means our inward moral compass guiding us to what is right and what is wrong. [310] For our purposes here, the question again arises what is the correct way on how to handle intramural disagreements? And, if we follow the ideal, will it not render us blameless against those who oppose us outside the church (1 Pet 3:16, Ti 2:5, 8, 10)?[311]

In conclusion, I will briefly expand on what the pastorals say on the ideal (at least heading that way) in the current debate on inerrancy. We should strive to continue to shore up our apologetic proposals to be sound and orthodox (Ti 2:1). Even so, older men involved in intellectual exchanges should “be temperate, dignified, sensible” (Ti 2:2) or as the NLT puts it, “…exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely.”[312] Arbitrariness, if true, is outside of this scope. Likewise, the younger men should be urged to “live wisely” (Ti 2:6) and under no circumstances, “speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father” (1 Tim 5:1 NLT).[313] This is lacking in the debate on inerrancy, especially in the form of parody.[314] Conceptual and personal integration, for all apologists, should be examined and, if necessary, tweaked.[315] (Friends we trust, full of truth and grace, can be of immense help to point out characters flaws we may be blind too or undermanaging) Nevertheless, as I mentioned in the beginning of my exhortation, leaders and teachers have a high standard to live up to that must be taken seriously (James 3:1). Still, when a teacher or scholar is satisfied they are living up to James’s standard, what would be lost if they review that satisfaction another time? [316] A leader should highly consider reflecting on what Zacharias powerfully states:

This call to a life reflecting the person of Christ is the ultimate call of everyone who wishes to do apologetics because of the snare of argument and its overriding appeal that suppresses the devotional side of truth. This applies especially to leadership within the church. If the shepherd is not living the way he should, how can the ones shepherded follow the right path? The skeptic is not slow to notice this disparity and, because of that, questions the whole gospel in its supernatural claim. What, then, is the Christians claim?[317]

[1] This is a form of fideism or “faith only.” For arguments for and against see Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2011), 60-61.

[2] Ibid

[3] I am not advocating strong evidentialism. In other words, you do not have to have all the evidence in the world to believe. One can come to Christ without evidence, but that does not mean evidence is unnecessary. William Lane Craig writes, “The role of rational argumentation in knowing Christianity to be true is the role of a servant. A person knows Christianity is true because the Holy Spirit tells him it is true, and while argument and evidence can be used to support this conclusion, they cannot legitimately overrule it.” William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Rev. ed. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1994), 37–38.

[4]Christian philosophers Geisler and Brooks make know, “Even interpretation requires logic. We have to assume that the author tried to communicate a logical thought, and the only way we have to find that thought is to put all the clues together and set them in logical order…. giving a reason for your faith would be useless if it were not a logical reason that you expected others to accept on rational grounds. The only way to avoid logic is to quit thinking, because logic is the basis for all thought.” Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 13.

[5] A common mistake within Christianity is that most, if not all of Scripture is understandable in a straight-forward manner. However, as you will see below, it is not. With that said, the parts for understanding salvation (John 3:16, Rom 10:8-10, 1 Cor. 15:3-4) are not clear as mud, but plain as day! Biblical scholar Walter Kaiser describes this confusion between the perspicuity (clarity) on essential salvific teachings and other areas of the text which potentially take deeper reflection. He writes, “The principle of the perspicuity of Scripture states that the message of the Bible is clear enough so that even the most unlearned person can understand the basic message of salvation that the Bible presents. The classic statement of the perspicuous (‘plain to the understanding’) or ‘clear’ nature of the Bible does not mean to say that all the parts of the Bible are equally clear and free of all difficulty. Perspicuity was never intended to be a shortcut or a magical skeleton key to unlock all the teachings of the Bible. “ Walter C. Kaiser Jr., “Putting It All Together: The Theological Use of the Bible,” in Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning, ed. Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and Moisés Silva (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 246–247.

[6] Textual critics Metzger, Dentan, and Harrelson exclaim that, “In addition to solving various kinds of textual, lexical, and literary problems, the translator must often face what can be called a psychological problem” which is dealing with moderate to major push back within the Church on changes in translations. Bruce M. Metzger, Robert C. Dentan, and Walter Harrelson, The Making of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 48–49.

[7] Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptural references are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)

[8] See chapter 7 “Do Apologetics Well” in James K Beilby, Thinking About Christian Apologetics: What It Is Why We Do It. (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2011).

[9] John Wesley, Sermons, on Several Occasions (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1999).

[10] Chuck Swindoll, “Toward Better Board Relationships,” in Leading Your Church through Conflict and Reconciliation: 30 Strategies to Transform Your Ministry, ed. Marshall Shelley, vol. 1, Library of Leadership Development (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1997), 126.

[11] Ti 2:6. In this verse is says for “young men” are to be “sensible.” In this moment, I was not practicing this or other virtues Paul was urging Titus to model. George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: a Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1992), 310–311; I will appeal to the pastorals often because they provide great insight on how to deal with difficulty within the church, unorthodox teaching, how to communicate with different age groups, and the expectations of the “old” and the “young.” Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 53.

[12] See Appendix 3 on how we can form arguments for Christian truths in a relational and rational way.

[13] Good habit to getting into is not only practicing clear, compelling, compassionate, cogent (four of the five C’s from philosopher Kenneth Samples) argumentation with non-believers, but believers as well. (He add’s “concise” to his list. However, conciseness can lead to over simplification. The clear and compelling standard should rein in possible wordiness. See Kenneth Samples: ; See also Beilby, Thinking About Christian Apologetics, 28-29.

[14] Commenting on Eph 4:15 Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown propose,”‘Truth’ is never to be sacrificed to so-called ‘charity’; yet it is to be maintained in charity.” Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), Eph 4:15; A comment about Titus 2:7. Young men, of chronological age, (20’s and 30’s) in the debate on inerrancy should not fall into the trap that these words are just for Titus. They are probably for all of us who are young men.

[15] Bruce Corley, Steve Lemke, and Grant Lovejoy, Biblical Hermeneutics: a Comprehensive Introduction to Interpreting Scripture, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2002), 184. Info on where he teaches here: (accessed 07/10/2014) Talking from the 20th century perspective, Gleason Archer points out, “In the first half of the present century, the lines were clearly drawn between orthodox Evangelicals and the opponents of scriptural inerrancy.” Gleason L. Archer, New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Zondervan’s Understand the Bible Reference Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), 18–19; Draper and Keathley record in 2000 a, “struggle with moderates over the future direction of the Southern Baptist Convention” had been going on for two decades. James T. Draper Jr and Kenneth Keathley, Biblical Authority: The Critical Issue for the Body of Christ (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 137.

[16] In a way, these debates are necessary and part of church history that has, depending, reaped good fruit that takes time to see. Wayne Grudem writes, “In fact, throughout the history of the church, doctrinal disagreements have been many, and progress in resolving doctrinal differences has often been slow.” Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 108; One bright spot is people, at least that we know of, are no longer burned for issues with the Bible as Metzger, Dentan, Harrelson tell, “Although in previous centuries Bible translators were sometimes burned, today happily only a copy of the translation meets such a fate!.” Metzger, Dentan, and Harrelson, The Making of the New Revised Standard Version, 51.

[17] I have gone into medium to deep level into how the last three years have gone for several reasons. First, my intention is to avoid what writer Paul Buller describes that when individuals offer a deep analysis into what someone has written (like a few paragraphs) they will respond, for no good reason, a enormous critique. Buller explains, someone might use,”…the ‘shock and awe’ tactic where they pile on more and more 'problems' for you to deal with until you are drowning. In serves no helpful purpose in the pursuit of Truth but instead gives the false impression that they have 'thoroughly' refuted your views. It is painful, but if you take the time to sift through the pile you will often find that they spend more time on irrelevant subjects and less time on the core of your argument.” My review is not like this because; first, more than a couple of paragraphs, even a few pages, have been written about the Licona controversy thus there is a giant truck load of data to cover lengthening my review. Second, since our leaders/teachers have a tremendous responsibility to model virtues, such as consistency, this should be covered in detail. Thirdly, academic debates should not be overly simplified thus succinctness is not always possible. You have to back up what you say. Namely, in this context, with footnote/endnotes which will increase the length of a counterpoint or a rejoinder. Fourthly, I have posed some of these questions to Geisler and Mohler privately over an 8 month period - more specifically, why has and is the spotlight on Licona and not others who take a similar view? No direct answers were received. Some of this information should not be a surprise or overwhelming. Paul Buller, Arguing With Friends: Keep Your Friends and Your Convictions (2012 Kindle) Location 1215.

[18] Al Mohler states that James 3:1 is a warning to leaders who are teachers that they bear a, “high responsibility.” Albert Mohler, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2012), 70; Michael Licona agrees with Mohler’s understanding of James 3:1 writing, “For the Lord will hold those of us who teach His Word to a higher standard.” Southeastern Theological Review 3/1 (Summer 2012) 71-98. Licona’s comments are on page 98.

[19] Greg Koukl, Tactics. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), Forward.

[20] Bock goes onto say, “Some will ask, how can we work together when we do not agree? How can we move ahead if we are not of one mind on what the truth is? How can we challenge and engage the world when our view of the message and the God it point to differs? These are fair and important questions.” Darrell Bock, Purpose-Directed Theology: Getting Our Priorities Right In Evangelical Controversies (Downers Grove, Il: Intervarsity, 2002), Kindle Edition: Chapter 3, under sub heading “Looking at One Example of a Public-Square Group: ETS in Light of the Missional Mandate and Its History and Role in Evangelicalism.” Second and Fourth Paragraph; See also James K Beilby, Thinking About Christian Apologetics: What It Is Why We Do It. (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2011), 177.

[21] William Lane Craig and Joseph E. Gorra, A Reasonable Response: Answers to Tough Questions On God, Christianity, and the Bible (Chicago: Moody, 2013), Appendix 3, Kindle Edition.

[22] I plan on expanding on this in the future in other publications in various venues answering questions about why disagreements happen which lead to schisms. Within Christian counseling literature, there are guides on how to approach conflict, doctrinal disagreements, and handling body language within in person interactions to name a few. However, they can be fallacious at points and diluted with “real life” scenarios. My preliminary conclusion is those within Christianity that lean toward digging deeper into history, theology, etc, crave for more works that are personally applicable, but plastered with relevant footnotes. On another note, there is a void, at least in the sociological literature, on what causes schisms which I hope to make a dent. More info, see the following: Liebman, Robert C., John R. Sutton, and Robert Wuthnow. "Exploring the Social Sources of Denominationalism: Schisms in American Protestant Denominations, 1890-1980." American Sociological Review 53, no. 3 (1988): 343-; Steed, Mary Lou. 1986. “Church Schism and Secession: A Necessary Sequence?.” Review Of Religious Research 27, no. 4: 345; Sani, Fabio and Steve Reicher. "Contested Identities and Schisms in Groups: Opposing the Ordination of Women as Priests in the Church of England." The British Journal of Social Psychology 39 (2000): 95-112Lewis, James R., and Sarah M. Lewis. "Introduction." In Sacred Schisms: How Religions Divide, by James R. Lewis and Sarah M. Lewis, 2. New York: Cambridge Press, 2009.

[23] Albert Mohler, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2012), 179.

[24]Having the right data matters as, CSBI signer, Jay E. Adams declares, “Since you do not have divine revelation about another’s heart or absolute knowledge about what has transpired in his life, you will not always possess the same assurance Nathan had (2 Sam. 12:1,7ff) But the more accurate your data and the more you put this data into proper perspective, the more assurance you will have and the more effective your counseling will be.” Even though these comments are for counselors, they are for apologists who are striving to convince another apologist/theologian of an error through persuasive counsel. Jay E Adams, How to Help People Change (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1986) 119. Jay E. Adams is a signer of the CSBI statement: (accessed 09/2014); As far as footnoting, I tried to avoid what Bradely and Muller argue that lengthy “argumentive footnoting” is a sign of “mismanagement.” However, some thoughts just do not belong in the body of the text. I strived to strike a balance. James E. Bradley and Richard A. Muller, Church History: An Introduction to Research, Reference Works, and Methods (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 140.

[25]Russ Bush and Tom Nettles convey that, on the teaching of inerrancy, Christians, “…need to reach some kind of a consensus on what they believe doctrinally if they are to face the future with an effective, bold mission thrust.” L. Russ Bush and Tom J. Nettles, Baptists and the Bible, Revised and expanded. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 1.

[26] C. H. Spurgeon, Flashes of Thought (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1874), 267.

[27] Though I know some will disagree, I am most open to receiving respectful emails to clear up any misunderstandings; For further background info one can follow links supplied in the footnotes of this article or simply Google some of the key names and topics alluded to herein; Troy Miller comments on the division between matters of academia and the local church that I am trying to bridge in this Prelude. He states, “Often in matters of Scripture and theology, the gap between the academy on one side and the church on the other is wide—often, regretfully, too wide. The academy is deemed to be only about the business of thought, argument, and mental reflection—the proverbial ivory tower. In contrast, the church is held to be the locale of praxis or the doing of the Christian faith, as seen in worship, evangelism, faith formation, and prayer.” Where I disagree with Miller is he argues that this can be overblown. I acknowledge this potentiality, but in my limited/ relevant experience local church communities in rural areas typically well removed from the academy. Troy A. Miller, “Preface,” in Jesus, the Final Days, ed. Troy A. Miller (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2008), vii.

[28] However, if you are new to these types of exchanges, you probably will want to keep open or another credible dictionary handy. Candidly, I cannot define everything.

[29] William W. Klein, Craig Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004).

[30] For Midwestern, see: (accessed O7/2014); Back in May, I called Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. At that time, they confirmed this textbook was part of the required reading in the graduate seminary level biblical interpretation class; Friend of my wife and I’s went to Southwestern and they confirmed this text was assigned to them in the required masters level hermeneutics class. Also, I can personally attest that this is required reading at the graduate level at Liberty University.

[31] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, What You Should Know About Inerrancy (Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998), 109.

[32] James Draper has been named “Mr. Southern Baptist” by Baptist Press and made great strides when he headed LifeWay: (accessed 08/2014); Kenneth Keathley is Director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture and Professor of Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary: (accessed 08/2014)

[33] James T. Draper Jr and Kenneth Keathley, Biblical Authority: The Critical Issue for the Body of Christ (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 136.

[34] As quoted above, Lee Strobel, Darrell Bock, and Joseph Gorra agree with me that “how” debate is carried out is just as important as “what” the exchanges are actually about.

[35] Even celebrity Matthew McConaughey has had exposure to Strobel’s material!

[36] Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 101-155.

[37] Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 19-54.

[38] (accessed 07/2014)

[39] The Case for Christ, La Mirada Films, 2007.

[40] (accessed 07/2014)

[41] Described below.

[42] Overall, same concepts, but not direct copy and paste.

[43] As you probably noticed, but I will state again, I do have connections with Michael Licona. He has even endorsed me on my website Some might say that I am bias then against Geisler and Mohler because of my connection to Licona. To this probable objection, a few preemptive responses are justified. Mainly, because in this debate individuals question the other person’s intentions and connections long before I became involved. First, Licona does not know I am composing this critique. He is not involved in that sense. Two, I have expressed my concerns, publicly and privately, of highly questionable conduct on both sides because there was merit (some laid out herein) to do so. Three, I have and will keep striving to keep biases in check. Fourth, to totally or mostly dismiss the conclusions in this composition because of my affiliation is fallacious. It is to commit the genetic fallacy, which as Beckwith and Parrish describe, “…occurs when a person attacks the origin or source of another person’s idea rather than the evidence used to justify its rationality.” Francis Beckwith and Stephen Parrish, See the Gods Fall: Four Rivals to Christianity (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1997), 50; Though, we should watch how we put forward ideas with believers (1 Tim 5, Titus 2) and non-believers (1 Peter 3:15), we should not have cowardice behavior. Litfin notes that Timothy’s kind of “timidity …has no place in God’s service.” A. Duane Litfin, “2 Timothy,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 750: Groothuis points out, “Humility is the cardinal virtue of the apologist (and of every Christian). Humility does not require abjuring religious certainty in favor of intellectual timidity.” Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, 37.

[44]Commenting on Matthew 18:15-17, NT scholar John Nolland concludes, “Setting right other adults fits awkwardly into contemporary Western culture with its postmodern tendencies, but it plays an important part in the NT and fits comfortably into the larger Jewish frame.” John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew: a Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2005), 746; See also Clausen’s “Conclusion” on postmodern’s effect personal truth and those outside of ourselves being to know things true about ourselves: Marc Clausen, Position Papers: Scripture Responses to PEERS AA14 (Lexington, KY: Nehemiah Institute, Inc., 2005), 19.

[45] David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Christian Unity: An Exposition of Ephesians 4:1–16 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972), 243.

[46] Boyce W. Blackwelder, The New Testament Standard of Christian Unity (Anderson College and Theological Seminary; Anderson, IN, 1938; 2008), 23.

[47]Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown write, “’Truth’ is never to be sacrificed to so-called ‘charity’; yet it is to be maintained in charity.” Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), Eph 4:15.

[48] Some may say that in light Matthew 7:1-5, how he is certain he has the right to judge Geisler and Mohler? I am not certain, but I am beyond a reasonable doubt. Commentator Craig Keener writes that, “Jesus does not oppose offering correction, but only offering correction in the wrong spirit.” Craig S. Keener, Matthew, vol. 1, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997).

[49] These words are about, where it is needed, improving relations between state conventions and the SBC at the national level. Despite this, they apply here as well. Chad Owen Brand and David E. Hankins, One Sacred Effort: The Cooperative Program of Southern Baptists (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 191

[50] 1 Tim 5:1, seems to be addressing more private dialog. However, even if it comes that one has to be called out in public sinning 1 Tim 5:20-21, in this context probably what is found to be teaching false doctrine, one is still to approach a believer by encouraging or urging within love. Even if one concludes the one being corrected was never a believer, “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15) applies. Philip Towner, 1–2 Timothy & Titus, vol. 14, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 1 Ti 5:20; See also Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 1 Ti 5:1–2.

[51] Wesley expresses about a debacle in his day. He says these schisms could have been prevented if the impasse of being on two different worlds on what is actually being debated could be overcome. “One great reason why this controversy has been so unprofitable, why so few of either side have been convinced, is this: They seldom agreed as to the meaning of the word concerning which they disputed: and if they did not fix the meaning of this, if they did not define the term before they began disputing about it, they might continue the dispute to their lives’ end, without getting one step forward; without coming a jot nearer to each other than when they first set out.” John Wesley, Sermons, on Several Occasions (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1999).

[52] Arbitrary. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. (accessed: July 16, 2014).

[53] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

[54] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[55] Arbitrary. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: July 16, 2014).

[56] Arbitrary. Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. (accessed: July 16, 2014).

[57] John MacArthur commenting on Titus 2:2 compares it to 1 Timothy 5:1 stating, “It is not, of course, that older people are beyond correction. But when an older person commits an offense, he is to be reproved with respect and care.” John F. MacArthur Jr., Titus, MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 72. Some may doubt that 1 or 2 Timothy have any real connection to Pauline teaching. However, we must consider 1 Cor 4:17 as C.K. Barrett exclaims, “The two epistles to Timothy bear witness to the continuing tradition, which linked his name with Paul’s. C. K. Barrett, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (London: Continuum, 1968), 116.

[58] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

[59] arbitrary. Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition. Philip Lief Group 2009. (accessed: July 16, 2014). I took out some of the synonyms and antonyms, because they were disrespectful (1 Tim 5:1, Titus 2:6). However, a few may find my choice of words offensive, over the top, or even being too soft. These are valid criticisms and I am open to hearing respectful reasons as to why they are.

[60] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1996).

[61] arbitrary. Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition. Philip Lief Group 2009. (accessed: July 16, 2014).

[62] One might say there are reasons that are true at face value and do not need explaining. Alas! With all due respect, many other intelligent individual’s must have missed it like Lee Strobel scholar Paul Copan who I cite above. Moreover, I have talked with others in person here in the St. Louis area and others via social media/email that are familiar with the situation. They are also, as I, in wonder.

[63]Leith Anderson states that when a leaders actions are, “…perceived as arbitrary and personal can lead to division, acrimony, and poor performance.” Leith Anderson, “When You Need to Motivate—or Correct,” in Who’s in Charge?: Standing up to Leadership Pressures, Mastering Ministry’s Pressure Points (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 1993), 61; CSBI signer Jack Hayford points out that even though his church’s earlier stance was that no one should get married if they were divorced before they became a Christian, he, (looking at Scripture, prayer, etc) changed his mind. He preached a sermon then married a couple at the end about his change of heart. The couple came from that exact background. However, he points out, “our policy, though, is not simplistic or arbitrary: there are specific stipulations governing how each situation is handled.” In other words, he they gave detailed reasons for why he did what he did. Jack Hayford, “A Tough Time: Crisis Moments,” in Changing Lives through Preaching and Worship: 30 Strategies for Powerful Communication, ed. Marshall Shelley, 1st ed., Library of Christian Leadership (Nashville, TN: Moorings, 1995), 105; Jay Kesler argues that “highly placed people” like managers, make good confidants because they have see people’s highs and lows. He goes onto say, “which also means they’re usually not so arbitrary in their judgments or locked into neat little formulas that may sound good but don’t really solve problems.” Jay Kesler, Being Holy, Being Human: Dealing with the Expectations of Ministry, vol. 13, The Leadership Library (Carol Stream, IL; Waco, TX: Christianity Today, Inc.; Word Books, 1988), 170; Though being about family, in worth mentioning here. Huffman urges, “The family must protect the coping function. The family must model. However, the family must move beyond being the protective cocoon and the arbitrary inculcation that tells another person what to do in all situations. We need to encourage people in their own developmental maturity.” John A. Huffman Jr., The Family You Want: How to Build an Authentic, Loving Home (Fearn, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2001), 16. (all emphasis is my own)

[64] (accessed 08/05/2014)


[66] Francis Beckwith, William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland eds. To Everyone An Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2004), Forward.

[67] Ibid, Moreland, “Conclusions,” p.374 Kindle Edition

[68] Ibid.

[69] One may ask why I have not reviewed Licona’s responses to Geisler or Mohler. First, even though Licona is a NT scholar and is influential, he is not as influential as Geisler and Mohler. This is partly established for Geisler through the quotes of McDowell and Moreland; for Mohler, his position within the SBC. Therefore, if Licona has arbitrary actions, the ramifications of his actions are less than Geisler and Mohler since they have a greater following. What they do, many will emulate. Second, the number of times Licona has reviewed, Geisler specifically, is not even close to what Geisler has done. Third, though Licona’s actions, like wording in some of his responses, should be worded differently, Geisler and Mohler’s arbitrary light should be addressed first for what good has it done? See one of Licona’s latest responses here and decide for yourself his: (accessed 09/2014)

[70] (accessed 08/2014)

[71] Fred Smith Sr., Leading With Integrity, vol. 5, The Pastor’s Soul (Pub Place: Bethany House Books, 1998), 157.

[72]The term “alarmist” I borrowed from R.V. Pierard and W.A. Elwell where they describe the uneasy waters within evangelicalism between liberal, moderate, and conservative scholarship. They state, “At the present moment, the vast majority of evangelicals are more traditionally inclined and are alarmed at what they perceive to be a defection from the faith. In some instances they are justified; in others they act as alarmists.” R.V. Pierard and W.A. Elwell “Evangelicalism." In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, edited by Walter A. Elwell, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 409.

[73] I am offering a chronological layout of what has happened in recent history on the debate of inerrancy. I am not alone in this practice. Church historian A.J. Smith, theologians Russ Bush and Tom Nettles have as well. A. J. Smith, The Making of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message. (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stocking Publishing, 2008). Russ Bush and Tom J. Nettles, Baptists and the Bible, Revised and expanded. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 333–337.

[74] Evangelical Philosopher and Theologian Paul Copan, who takes the passage a literally historical, writes, “I wonder why other prominent evangelicals holding Licona’s earlier-held apocalyptic view haven’t been so targeted? “(accessed 2014); Michael Bird argues that Licona received a “avalanche of criticism” from Geisler and Mohler. He then plainly states that he takes a similar position as Licona did in his book.; Though not indicating directly that Geisler and Mohler singled out Licona, Daniel Wallace in Nov 2011 expresses that the controversy over Licona’s interpretation of Matthew 27 should not be a controversy at all. See video here: (accessed 07/2014); At the end of Licona’s Evangelical Philosophical Society paper given in Nov. of 2011 in San Francisco, during the question and answer time Greg Koukl states his concerns that this will be another “litmus test,” like Gen 1 has been (young earth vs. old earth) in the past, on who will be considered an inerrantist or not. His comments start at 41:07. (accessed 07/2014); During Lee Strobel’s interview of Koukl and another scholar you can hear Greg’s voice and judge for yourself if he is the one asking the question/comment or not. (accessed 07/2014)

[75] More on this below

[76] This is outside of personal devotion, but they intersect greatly in my life as I apply what I learn in academics to life and vice a versa guided by Scripture and the Holy Spirit. This program was affiliated, but no directly in a monetary sense, with NAMB. We paid out of pocket on any training, hotel stays, and books to study, etc to receive the Certified Apologetic Instructor certification. We had to use a class room at NAMB head quarters in Alpharetta, GA for 3 days for speaker training at the in July of 2011 and the certificate was paid for by NAMB which we were grateful.

[77] All the CAI apologists were disappointed about this and the program ended later that year. However, my primary thought process at this moment was thinking that I have read others comment on the rising of the saints’ passage. Specifically, they reached a similar conclusion as Licona. Then I thought, “Why were they not being mentioned?” In other words, the end of the CAI program was deeply disappointing, but the arbitrary nature of the debate over shadowed that.

[78] Licona offers a chronological account of this in this interview: (accessed 08/2014)

[79] Now called the “SCORRE” conference. More information here: (accessed 08/2014)

[80] If circumstances call for it, I will make strong statements based on evidence that is open to be critiqued. Even so, I am not the ultimate test to orthodoxy nor will I ever claim to be. However, besides me in that room with Licona, there was one that had graduated from an accredited seminary, another that was a pastor, a well studied apologist who had a M.D., and the other had conservative theological training. Most of all, 6 of them were Southern Baptists!

[81] For purposes here, I am including inerrancy as an essential doctrine in a non-salvific sense. Overall, I think it is an essential doctrine in the sense that one has to hold to a form of inerrancy to be a consistent Christian. Of course, a new Christian, especially one involved in academics, who have a fresh relationship with Christ (Rom 10:8-10), but does not hold to inerrancy of any kind might take awhile to adhere to the doctrine. Someone like this would need good arguments for classical inerrancy that defend the idea, instead of statements that propose it. In the current exchanges, there is more of the later than the former, which is not ideal for the Christian academic who is new to the family. There is allot that can be said about what make a good argument, weight of the evidence, and so on. It will have to be suffice to heed the question and answer offered by William Lane Craig saying, “How do we decide which arguments are worth believing? We see whether they follow the pattern of valid inference forms, are informally valid, and have true premises that are more plausible than their contradictories.” William Lane Craig, “A Classical Apologist’s Closing Remarks,” in Five Views on Apologetics, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and Steven B. Cowan, Zondervan Counterpoints Collection (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 315.

[82] Referring to no longer being employed with the North American Mission Board.

[83] Out of respect, first through personal correspondence 8 months ago and now here making contact with Geisler via email which I will cover later. Moreover, I sent 4 emails and one mailed letter to Dr. Mohler, with one response from his web staff saying they would pass off the information to him. However, I have not heard anything further.

[84] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 1244.

[85] (accessed 6/14/2014); Salvific means, “having the intent or power to save or redeem.”Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003). It should be mentioned the level of importance that Geisler and Mohler give to inerrancy is not how many conservatives view it. Others, who have connections to the CSBI statement, disagree with Mohler and Geisler. They assert that if an evangelical denies the classical doctrine of inerrancy this would have consequences, but not disastrous ones. For example, CSBI signer Russ Bush and Southern Baptist Professor Tom Nettles argue, “Some theologians think that arguing for biblical inerrancy from the idea that its rejection eventually endangers the entire system of orthodox Christianity has minimal validity….It is not safe, however, to ignore the point entirely.” L. Russ Bush and Tom J. Nettles, Baptists and the Bible, Revised and expanded. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 337; Another CSBI signer, Charles Caldwell Ryrie, essentially agrees pointing out if evangelicals deny inerrancy what the ramifications are. “Where will all this lead? Some apparently can hold a reasonably high view of Scripture and its authority while denying its total inerrancy. Others have moved far away from a conservative view of the Bible, denying the historicity of some of its passages, diluting the miraculous, accepting some of the conclusions of the historical-critical method of interpretation, and replacing divine authority with human, existential, subjective authority. Many are somewhere in between.” Charles Caldwell Ryrie, What You Should Know About Inerrancy (Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998), 107; For further practical advice on how to test a essential from nonessential issue at more the local church level (can apply anywhere) see Curtis C. Thomas, Practical Wisdom for Pastors: Words of Encouragement and Counsel for a Lifetime of Ministry (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 188; For a more academic approach see also Sproul, R. C. Essential Truths of the Christian Faith. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1992 and William Lane Craig’s teachings found here: (accessed 09/2014)

[86] R. Albert Mohler Jr. “The Classic Doctrine Of Biblical Inerrancy) in Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy ed. J. Merrick and Stephen M. Garrett (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 36; Quintessential means in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, “representing the most perfect or typical example” while the Webster declares, “purest and most concentrated form” or “the most typical example or representative.” Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

[87]Personally, I do not have an issue with the CSBI statement. However, would I say it is the statement of all statements on inerrancy? No, I would not (I hold to the SBC description on Scripture). For our purposes here, a more succinct statement might be helpful like the following written by theologian Millard Erickson, “The Bible, when correctly interpreted in light of the level to which culture and the means of communication had developed at the time it was written, and in view of the purposes for which it was given, is fully truthful in all that it affirms.” Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology., 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998), 259; Also see J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-on Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 412; Paul Feinberg, “The Meaning of Inerrancy” in Inerrancy ed. Norman Geisler (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1980), 267-304.

[88] For details about Licona’s approach to history see his book cited below. However, though he comes at this strictly from a historian’s perspective and not a biblical scholar, Licona’s basic approach is how Augustus Hopkins Strong describes it. “When we come to examine in detail what purport to be historical narratives, we must be neither credulous nor skeptical, but simply candid and open-minded.” Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1907), 229; J.P. Moreland and Michael Wilkins description of the discipline of how to do history is similar to Licona. They state, “Standard historiography (the science of historical investigation) is applied to other ancient religious documents with profit (e.g. ancient mystery religions), and the same rules of validation of historical data should be applied to the biblical records. When mutually accepted standards of historiography are applied to ancient record, the Jesus of history fare well historically.” J.P. Moreland and Michael Wilkins, Jesus Under Fire (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), Introduction. Kindle Edition.

[89] Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2010), 552.

[90] Ibid

[91] Licona spells this out in his podcast interview with Chris Date on “Theoapologetics” posted on Dec, 7 2011. (accessed 08/2014)

[92] ; Geisler has pointed a few other passages that Licona has expressed doubt about, but the main critique has been on Matthew 27:52-53.

[93] In fairness, it should be mentioned that, it seems to me, that Mohler was fairer in his review of Licona’s book agreeing that Licona had made a good case for Jesus’ bodily resurrection. Moreover, Mohler points out that Licona points out weaknesses in John Dominic Crossan’s historical conclusions. Geisler affirms parts of Licona’s work, but much briefer. Of course, one would have to compare Geisler’s and Mohler’s reviews and conclude for themselves.



[96] Not to say they do not consider, the historical context, etc. However, Geisler has taken the route that since Matthew recorded it, he was a living witness, and it appears historical it must be historical: 27 (06/2014). He does list 10 reasons for his conclusion, though anywhere that I have been able to find has he acknowledged at least the difficult nature of the passage. (accessed 06/2014);

[97] (accessed 07/2014)

[98] Ibid

[99] (accessed 07/2014)

[100] (accessed 07/2014)

[101] (accessed 07/2014)

[102] Ibid

[103] Now this is not to say that individuals that adhere to the straight-forward literal historical position on Matt 27:52-53 approach other passages this way. For example, Geisler’s reasonable interpretation of Colossians 2:8 which seemly, in a straight-forward manner, Paul would indicate that philosophy is bad with no questions asked. However, Geisler points out that Paul is. “… not against all philosophy but against false philosophy.” I will grant that the literal historical natures of Paul’s words are not in question thus differing from the rising of the saints interpretative discussions. However, since Christians do take Paul’s words in a straight-forward sense, but they seem to be misinformed because there is more to the text that what is at face value about what Paul intended. Maybe this can be the case with Matthew as other evangelicals seem to acknowledge. Norman L. Geisler, “Colossians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 677. Geisler (along with Ronald Brooks) appears to acknowledge that parts of Scripture can be taken in a non-straight forward sense admitting, “This does not mean that the way we understand the Bible is perfectly true; it means that the Bible is true when understood rightly. Nor does it mean that everything in the Scriptures must be understood literally. There are figures of speech on almost every page, but there is a big difference between telling truth in a metaphor and telling tales with a myth.” Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1990), 151–152; Elsewhere Geisler also states that,”Some passages in the Bible are difficult because their meaning is obscure. This is usually because a key word in the text is used only once (or rarely), so it is difficult to know what the author is saying unless it can be inferred from the context.“Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 77.

[104] However, is the rising of the saint’s passage that straight-forward? Though adhering to the grammatical-historical hermeneutical method, the hermeneutical method that is endorsed by the CSBI statement, one of the CSBI framers R.C. Sproul has suggested, “Some matters treated by the Bible are so complex and profound that they keep the finest scholars perennially engaged in an effort to sort them out.” R. C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1992). Revelation chapter, 8. Interpreting The Bible.

[105] I will be bringing up other evangelicals who hold or have connections (i.e. editor, co-author) to a view that is not the straight-forward literal historical view. If I do so, will I not be causing a spotlight to be shined on them like Licona as experienced and all the potential consequences that follow? No. First, that would not be me choosing to shine another arbitrary spotlight. That is the choice of the one who is wielding it. Second, my intention is not to move the spotlight onto them. This is supposed to move evangelical scholarly critiques in a way of not singling out one central character’s views, without stating good reasons for doing so. If there are other evangelical scholars, in appropriate relative disciplines, who hold similar views on a certain doctrine, then the overall cluster of experts should be critiqued. Of course, unless there are good non-arbitrary reasons to do so, like the individual has great influence within the evangelical community to spread a view other than the straight-forward literal historical one.

[106]Who can we consider as evangelical? This is not an easy task, but essentially I will consider Joel Beeke’s definition. His definitional conclusion is, “Evangelicalism is gospel-driven Christianity, recognizable by the biblical fundamentals of the gospel of Christ, the Reformation fullness of the doctrines of Christ, and the practical fruit of the Spirit of Christ….The biblical fundamentals of the gospel of Christ, namely, the divine authority of Scripture; the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ as the incarnate Son of God; the atonement for sin by Christ’s death; the gift of eternal life by Christ’s resurrection; the historical reality of God’s works of creation, providence and redemption; the sovereignty of God over history to fulfil his plan; and the necessity of faith in the mediatorial work of Jesus Christ for personal salvation.” Joel R. Beeke, What Is Evangelicalism? (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2012), 46; See also Harriet A. Harris, “Evangelical Theology,” ed. Trevor A. Hart, The Dictionary of Historical Theology (Carlisle, Cumbria, U.K.: Paternoster Press, 2000), 198; Sinclair B. Ferguson and J.I. Packer, New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 239. This portion was written by I. S. Rennie.

[107] Some may say that Licona brought the spotlight onto himself. How? In one of his first press releases in response to Geisler’s and Mohler’s reviews, Licona put together a list of scholars (i.e. J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas) that said that Licona’s views were in line with inerrancy. By doing so, supporters of Geisler/Mohler would cast the blame of the spotlight onto Licona since he was involving other Lee Strobel caliber evangelicals, in effect popularizing the debate. However, Licona was possibly preemptively defending himself. This was due to, true or untrue, Geisler’s and Mohler’s reputations within evangelicalism when dealing with doctrinal disagreement. In essence, Licona was likely striving to preserve his reputation by calling credible knowledgeable witnesses to counter the accusations (already or were coming his way) that he was defying inerrancy. Geisler’s reputation, specifically, on reacting to scholarly peers, accused of doctrinal dissention, is not positive. For example, in the Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism it states at the end of the biography that Geisler’s, “…relations with colleagues have often turned sour because he accuses fellow evangelicals of heresy for departing from his understanding of orthodoxy on some point of doctrine.” Randal Balmer, Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 2002), 238; Mohler, though moderate compared to Geisler, has a reputation, true or untrue, that suggests that he is calling for theological accountability, which Licona was violating. Contemporary church historian Derek Wittman suggests, “Since becoming president of Southern, Mohler has called for a theological consensus consisting of a set of commonly accepted theological boundaries by which SBC agencies and institutions must abide, and he has further stated that persons connected with Southern must affirm the inerrancy of scripture and reject process and feminist theology.” Wittman, Derek E. 2004. "Freedom and irresponsibility: fundamentalism's effect on academic freedom in Southern Baptist life." Baptist History And Heritage 39, no. 1: 80-96. ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed August 26, 2014); Again, these reports may be untrue. If they are, I was unable to find a substantive counter to these claims. I am open to being respectfully pointed in that direction. (I give credit for the Balmer citation to Nick Peters and J.P Holding, in their 2014 Kindle book Defining Inerrancy: Affirming a Defensible Faith for a New Generation).

[108] They are leaders of a small group, write up their own curriculum, guided by the pastor, go to conferences on learning the latest small-group skills and good interpretive practices, have some formal education in theology, and involved in various other educational ministries within this congregation and others.

[109] All of the citations grounding this analogy have been or will be cited.

[110] Commentaries and books specifically about Matthew were few and far between until about thirty years ago. D. A. Carson, New Testament Commentary Survey, 6th ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 50.

[111] Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 421.

[112] David L. Turner, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 670.

[113] McGee, J. Vernon. Thru The Bible Commentary: Matthew Chapters 14-28. (Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1995) 189.

[114] Osborne, Grant R. "Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament." Edited by Clinton E. Arnold. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010. 1044.

[115] A. T. Robertson, Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1911), 276. Around the same time Robertson comments on this passage, in 1914 Andrew Sloman points out that, “St Matthew alone mentions the earthquake and the resurrection of the Saints” though he takes it to be a literal event that took place after Jesus’ death. A. Sloman, Brooke Foss Westcott, and Fenton John Anthony Hort, The Gospel According to St Matthew: Being the Greek Text, Rev. and repr. with additional notes., Classic Commentaries on the Greek New Testament (London: Macmillan, 1912), 138.

[116] John F. Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come (Galaxie Software, 2007), 236.

[117] The word “seems” can mean, according to the Webster Thesaurus, “to give the impression of being without necessarily being so in fact.”Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1996).

[118] John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985). Beginning pages

[119] Norman L. Geisler, “Colossians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 667.

[120] Craig, William Lane. "Concluding Reflections." In Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up?, edited by Paul Copan, 164-166. Grand Rapids : Baker, 2000.

[121] Ibid

[122] (accessed 09/2014)

[123] ibid

[124] Ibid

[125] Also, in his answer to the skeptic, Craig downgrades inerrancy, in contrast to Geisler and Mohler, as a secondary doctrines. Craig states, “Too many conservative Christians have the doctrine of biblical inerrancy at or near the center of their web of beliefs, so that if that belief is compromised the whole structure of the web collapses and they lose their Christian faith. This is quite wrong-headed. At the center of our web of beliefs should be certain essential doctrines like the existence of God and the deity of Christ and then a little further out the doctrine of, say, the atonement, and further out still doctrines like the sacraments and biblical inspiration and its possible corollary biblical inerrancy. If one of the central doctrines is abandoned, then the whole web, indeed, collapses. But if a belief near the circumference is discarded, while that will cause readjustments elsewhere in the web, it won't compromise the structure of the whole. If your qualms were to remain unallayed, then you would be justified at most in giving up a doctrine of biblical inerrancy, but you should not abandon Christ.” (accessed 09/2014)

[126] Witten in August 2011 (accessed 09/2014)

[127]Written in Jan 2013 It took Geisler over a year to show that William Lane Craig, a very prominent evangelical theologian and philosopher, printed in 2000 that this possibly could be apocalyptic and that there are only a handful of conservative scholars that would view it as a literal historical event. (accessed 09/2014)

[128] Cited above.

[129] N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2003), 636.

[130] Tom Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 16-28 (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004), 192–193.

[131] Ibid, 193.

[132] Wright/dp/0664227872/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1380058315&sr=8-2&keywords=nt+wright+commentary+on+matthew (accessed 09/2013)

[133] NT Professor at at Acadia Divinity College of Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. Received his doctorate in Biblical Studies from Claremont Graduate University in South California. Before that, he received his Masters of Divinity from Western Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon.; It is being noted where Evans went to school because Geisler has commented that contemporary scholars have a tendency to erode the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy who obtained their education in Europe. Geisler writes in his critique of NT Scholar Craig Blomberg response to the Matthew 27 debate, who obtained his doctorate from Europe, the following: “Such a response by Blomberg serves as an illustration of the startling erosion of inerrancy among NT scholars, especially those who have been schooled in the European continent. Blomberg serves as a salient example in many ways of such erosion. Many of these European-trained scholars ignore the lessons of history that evangelicals have undergone at the turn of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first that was highlighted in the Chicago Statements of 1978 and 1982.” (obtained 3/2013)

[134] This is a Southern Baptist Convention Seminary:

[135] The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright in Dialogue, ed. Robert B. Stewart (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2006), p.56 footnote 30.

[136] Cross and Livingstone define the Palestinian Syriac text as a, “…version of the NT in the Palestinian dialect of Syriac (properly called Christian Palestinian Aramaic). The date of the translation is disputed, but there are MSS surviving from the 6th–7th cent., albeit very fragmentary. The text is attested mainly in *lectionaries of the Byzantine type. The Greek underlying this version cannot be identified with any single type of text; in the Gospels some traces of *Diatessaron influence have been discerned. Parts of the OT also survive in this dialect.”. F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1217; Ehrman and Holmes say a, “Lectionary MSS are those in which the text of the NT is divided into separate periscopes, rearranged according to the fixed order in which they are read as lessons for the church on particular days during the year.” Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes, The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 62.

[137] Craig A. Evans. Jesus and the Ossuaries: What Burial Practices Reveal about the Beginning of Christianity (Kindle Locations 257-260 or pages 15-16). Kindle Edition. 2003

[138] Evans, Craig A. (2012-02-06). Matthew (New Cambridge Bible Commentary) (Kindle Locations 11802-11830). (Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition)Matthew 27:52-53

[139] Ibid

[140] Evans writes, “Akhmîm Gospel fragment…cannot date earlier than the middle of the second century.” He also doubts that it is even the gospel of Peter saying, “there are grave doubts that this document is the Gospel of Peter in the first place. The Akhmîm Gospel fragment may be part of an unknown writing from an even later period of time.” Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2006), 98.

[141] Evans, Craig A. (2012-02-06). Matthew (New Cambridge Bible Commentary) (Kindle Locations 11802-11830). (Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition)Matthew 27:52-53

[142] However, other conservative scholars have also struggled with data that might suggest interpolations in Scripture. CSBI signer Robert Gromacki, soberly comments on the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 suggesting, “The passage may be genuine, but until it can be conclusively proven, doctrinal support should be found elsewhere”(emphasis mine). Robert G. Gromacki, New Testament Survey (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1974), 98.

[143] I would like to thank my parents for buying me the predecessor to this book, Killing Lincoln. I probably would not have purchased Killing Jesus, if it was not for that gift.

[144]Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, Killing Jesus: A History (New York, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2013), 4. According to the third-party TV rating company Nielson, for 2 days in October of 2008, O’Reilly had over 4 million viewers for his show “The O’Reilly Factor.” ; July of 2014, it is around 2.8 million : (accessed 09/2014)

[145] O’Reilly and Dugard, Killing Jesus, 1.

[146] Ibid., 261-270.

[147] Ibid., 279. Again, see Craig, William Lane. "Concluding Reflections." Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up?, edited by Paul Copan, 164-166.

[148] O’Reilly and Dugard, Killing Jesus, 279.

[149] Ibid.

[150] (accessed 08/2014)

[151] Accessed 10/2013.

[152] Ibid


[154] Ibid

[155] (Information accessed 10/2013) I counted 158 stations, but put 150 plus in case there is some fluctuation in the number as stations are added or taken off.

[156] (accessed 08/2014)

[157] An example of how they aided me in logic was there explanation of the difference between deductive and inductive arguments: “The process of lining up premises in an argument and arriving at a valid conclusion is called deduction. That’s what we did in the arguments above. But the process of discovering whether the premises in an argument are true usually requires induction.” Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), 64.

[158] In Kindle, I searched for “Turek” and “Frank Turek” in Geisler’s new book out “The Jesus Quest” he co-edited with David Farnell. Citations were given in the end notes for books Turek has written, like ones with Geisler, but no spots where Turek was reviewed on not taking the straight-forward literal historical view.

[159] (accessed 07/2014)

[160] Ibid

[161] Ibid

[162] Ibid

[163] According to Geisler and Roach, Eckhard Schnabel signed the ICBI statement on January 1st, 1979. Geisler and Roach. Defending Inerrancy, 347.

[164] Southeastern Theological Review 3/1 (Summer 2012) 71–98. Schnabel comments are in Copan’s section on page 81.

[165] Robert G. Gromacki, New Testament Survey (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1974), 91–92; According to Geisler and Roach, Robert Gromacki signed the ICBI statement on January 1st, 1979. Norman L. Geisler and William C. Roach. Defending Inerrancy.(Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011) 346; Geisler seems to react negatively by calling the rising of the saints as “strange.” Licona called it a “straight little text” and Geisler expressed disapproval over this label. See (accessed 08/2014); Here, anyone who calls the rising of the saints “strange” is heading in the wrong direction. What about Gramacki? See: (accessed 08/2014)

[166] When trying to reconcile the differences of the appearances of Jesus after his crucifixion can be quite a undertaking. J.P Moreland comments that, “The reports of the appearances are difficult to harmonize and they are brief and sporadic. “ J. Moreland. Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity (Kindle Locations 2226-2227). Kindle Edition.

[167] According to Geisler and Roach, Moreland and Yamauchi signed the ICBI statement Geisler and Roach. Defending Inerrancy, 347-348.

[168] (accessed 08/2014)

[169] (accessed 9/2013)

[170] He signed it as James M. Boice. Accessed 09/10/2013

[171] James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001), 626.

[172] Ibid., 626.

[173] Ibid; At least some, if not most, who deeply consider Boice’s remarks will wonder why he emphasizes the historicity of the rising of the saints and not the other 3 phenomenon? Is it because others have doubted interpreting this part of Matthew’s account as a literal historical event, but rather something else, like a apocalyptic event?

[174] Ibid, 628

[175] According to Geisler and Roach, D.A. Carson signed the ICBI statement on January 1st, 1979. Geisler and Roach. Defending Inerrancy, 346.

[176] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, edited by D.A.Carson(Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992), 724-26.

[177] In a personal email to me, (10/23/2013) Carson conveyed that he does take this to be a literal event that happened in history.

[178] New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Mt 27:45–56.

[179] According to Geisler and Roach, Kaiser signed the ICBI statement. Geisler, Norman L., and William C. Roach. Defending Inerrancy.(Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011), 347; Kaiser, as reported by Geisler, has been outspoken against Licona’s historical interpretations: (accessed 07/16/2014)

[180] F.F. Bruce had a great influence on today’s generation of biblical scholars. Biographer W.W. Gasque writes, “Younger scholars flocked from around the world to study with him, many of whom are teaching in colleges, universities and theological schools today.” W. W. Gasque, “Bruce, Frederick Fyvie,” ed. Timothy Larsen et al., Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 88.

[181] Walter C. Kaiser Jr. et al., Hard Sayings of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996), 400.

[182] Ibid

[183] According to Geisler and Roach, D.A. Carson signed the ICBI statement. Geisler, Norman L., and William C. Roach. Defending Inerrancy.(Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011) 346.

[184] Geisler, Norman L.; Roach, Bill (2012-01-01). Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation (Kindle Locations 5264-5272). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Chapter 11 under the subheading “The Book Disclaimer”

[185] At least not directly by name as of 11/06/2013

[186] Other evangelicals not receiving as much time in the spot light is not the only problem. Geisler has written that Licona suggested that Matthew 27:52-53 was a “legend.” But Licona makes no such claim on the page Dr. Geisler cites about this verse and points to a possible embellishment in John 18:4-6 not saying for “certain” that it was[186]

Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2010). 306 footnote 114; An example of Geisler stating that Licona’s position of Matthew 27 on page 306 in Licona’s book is at the beginning of this review. (accessed 06/20/2014); Licona does indicate on page 185- 186 footnote, “We may also be reading poetic language or legend at certain points, such as Matthew’s report of the raising of some dead saints at Jesus’ death (Mt 27:51–54) and the angel(s) at the tomb (Mk 16:5–7; Mt 28:2–7; Lk 24:4–7; Jn 20:11–13). While fragmented data and possibly legendary or poetic elements require caution on the part of historians, the question to be asked is whether these challenges prohibit a positive historical judgment. Most of our historical knowledge is fragmentary, since both ancient and modern writers tend to report only those details they deem important. Yet historians are not necessarily left without the possibility of any legitimate conclusions.” Licona’s words seem to be words of caution and not certainty. Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2010), 185–186; It should be noted that “may” in the Webster, and what Licona intended, plausibly means, “used to indicate possibility or probability.” Does this at least suggest that Licona is not for certain about the rising of the saints passage being part of legend? And if Licona is not certain about this conclusion does this, at least slightly, lessen the urgency for a focal spotlight response? Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiat Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

[187] (accessed 08/26/2014)

[188] According to Geisler and Roach, Patterson signed the CSBI statement. Geisler and Roach. Defending Inerrancy. 347.

[189] (accessed 08/26/2014)

[190] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 1207–1208.

[191] Bruce Corley, Steve Lemke, and Grant Lovejoy, Biblical Hermeneutics: a Comprehensive Introduction to Interpreting Scripture, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2002), 191. Info on Lemke: (accessed 08/26/2014)

[192] Bruce Corley, Steve Lemke, and Grant Lovejoy, Biblical Hermeneutics: a Comprehensive Introduction to Interpreting Scripture, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2002), 377.

[193]Ibid, 378.

[194] Stanley E. Porter and Beth M. Stovell ed. Biblical Hermeneutics: Five Views (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2012) Kindle edition. See Craig Blombergs chapter on the "Historical-critical/grammatical method."

[195] I agree with Moises Silva when he asserts that we have to not just assume that other Christians are misusing Scripture when deviating from the grammatico-historical method. Moreover, that more needs to be done to build bridges between the academy and grassroots Christians when it comes to subjects over exegesis and hermeneutics. I would go further and include disciplines of philosophy, theology, and historiography. Moisés Silva, “The Case for Calvinistic Hermeneutics,” in Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning, ed. Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and Moisés Silva (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 317. For a concise and sober analysis of some of the dangers of the historical-critical method see D. Holweda “Faith, Reason, and the Resurrection” in Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God ed. Alvin Plantiga and Nicholas Wolterstorff (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983), 265-266.

[196] (accessed 08/26/2014)

[197] (accessed 08/27/2014)

[198] (accessed 08/26/2014)

[199] Ibid.

[200] (accessed 08/26/2014)

[201]Al Mohler, “The Classical Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy” in Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy ed. J. Merrick and Stephen M. Garrett (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 46

[202] If Lemke misquoted Patterson about his endorsement of cautionary use of historical-critical methods, then Patterson should make this public. Even so, there is still the question of Sanchez.

[203] I searched for their first and last within quotes (to narrow the field) names on Mohler’s blog with “0” results. For Sanchez, I widened the search for his first and last name, but also from his last. Zero results for the first and last, but two results came up for “Sanchez.” However, they were different individuals that Mohler was referring too. Furthermore, I performed the same search in the Kindle edition search field of Five Views on Inerrancy, which Mohler was a contributor. Essentially the same results – zero. Licona had 4 search hits where Australian biblical scholar Michael Bird in his counterpoint to Mohler, he refers to Mohler’s criticisms of Licona.

[204] Theologian Michael F. Bird argues that Mohler “lambasted” Licona because he, “…used a hermeneutical approach that Mohler rejected.” I disagree with Bird that Mohler tone can be describe as being a “lambast.” However, as I have stated, it was unwarranted and unnecessary from what has been made public. Bird goes onto to make a good point to consider. Mohler and others, “…merge their interpretation with the text so that to disagree with their interpretation is to deny the inerrancy of the text. This alone is enough to turn many Christians off the doctrine of inerrancy.” Michael F. Bird “Response to R. Albert Mohler Jr.” in Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy ed. J. Merrick and Stephen M. Garrett (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 69 footnote 53.

[205] What Paul was getting at in these words to Timothy and Titus at their respective church communities was to give them both guidance on how to handle different age groups, men and women. Personally, I am striving to adhere to these verses and do not think they are historically-conditioned to the 1st century. I am certain Mohler would not and pretty sure Geisler would follow suit. However, they may disagree with me that they have violated these verses. Howard Marshall makes the point these words from Paul to Timothy are, “…about the appropriate style of leadership to be adopted in dealing with both old and young, and is couched as instruction to Timothy, although it is of general application.” I. Howard Marshall and Philip H. Towner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, International Critical Commentary (London; New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 572; Commenting on Ti 2:2, Philip Towner writes, “Older men must live lives of observable respectability or dignity.” Philip Towner, 1–2 Timothy & Titus, vol. 14, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), Ti 2:2.

[206] Mohler, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters, 89; Geisler co-authored in the past that even though one’s assertions cannot be outright declared “false” just because of their character, he does grant one can lose credibility. Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 95.

[207] page 8, second paragraph. (accessed 08/2014)

[208] (accessed 08/2014)

[209] Heath Thomas and Robert Stewart write, “One of the important issues to arise in the discussion is the relationship between biblical interpretation and biblical inerrancy. Dr. Licona takes an
approach to Matt. 27:52-3 that views the raised saints at the time of Jesus’
death as possibly an apocalyptic symbol or something akin to it. At present, it
seems he is undecided about the precise interpretation.” Southeastern Theological Review 3/1 (Summer 2012) Thomas and Stewarts introduction on page 11.

[210] Michael R. Licona, Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate On The Resurrection (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), 98.

[211] Ibid

[212] Not to say if someone endorses a book, they are liable for everything in the book. However, since Geisler and Mohler have made this a major priority, endorsers are at least somewhat responsible. Michael R. Licona, Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate On The Resurrection (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), Akin’s comments are on page two with Evans and Copan’s.

[213] Of course, I will note that good reasons could arise later, but that brings to the table a teachable moment. Namely, that stating the reasons why, up front, is more edifying than not at all or in a passing comment.

[214] When disclosing information that is shared privately I strive to follow what CSBI signer Jack Hayford’s church does when he states that when, “…something demands public disclosure, we lead toward that in an open yet gracious way.” Jack Hayford, “Controlling the Flow of Information,” in Who’s in Charge?: Standing up to Leadership Pressures, Mastering Ministry’s Pressure Points (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 1993), 86.

[215] Exhausting reasonable communication privately first seemed to be in accordance with 1 Tim 5:1. This was a common practice in New Testament times and is applicable today. See Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 1 Ti 5:1–2.


[217] Respectfully, I most definitely am still open to receiving one. The first email was sent from to on 12/6/2013. I waited a week and sent the same email again to the same address from the same address on 12/13/2013 in case the other did not go through. However, I did not receive an auto reply of any kind or a failed mail delivery bounce back message. No response by email. This was the email address on Dr. Mohler’s blog at the bottom of his posting about Licona’s position. It is still posted as such. (accessed 06/20/2014). Since I did not receive a response via email, I mailed a respectful letter on 06/06/2014 addressed to Dr. Mohler to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. There address is 2825 Lexington Rd, Louisville, Kentucky 40280 including my email address at the bottom. No response. For safe measure, I sent another email 06/21/2014 which I received a reply 06/25/2014 from Mohler’s web staff saying they would pass it along. No reply as of yet. Again, I am open to a respectful reply.

[218] Email sent from to on 07/07/2013 and he replied on 07/09/2013 about Leon Morris and Michael Green’s commentary views. I sent another email from the same address on 09/24/2013 to the same address for Dr. Geisler about Craig Evan’s views. He responded on 09/25/2013 with me responding the same day stating I appreciated his time. On Jan 31st, Dr. Geisler emailed me from a personal Gmail account of his which, out of respect, I will not post here since it appears he has not made it public on his website. His email was about a post on my blog, Specifically, a list of believer and non-believers views in popular and scholarly works on the rising of the saints who take a stance other than the straight forward literal historical interpretation.

[219] Licona has his own section on Geisler’s website which shows the extensiveness of how Licona has been reviewed. (accessed 06/20/2014)

[220] (accessed 08/2014)

[221] (accessed 06/2014) Since Licona is the central figure in Geisler’s reviews on the rising of the saints passage I am going to conclude that the driving force behind his comments is referring to Licona with other evangelicals, though there, are in the background (i.e. Blomberg.). Again, as cited above, Licona’s view has changed to the counterbalanced view, similar to N.T. Wright. On another note, I am not claiming to be omniscient and that I know for certain that Geisler had Licona in mind here. However, it is a reasonable conclusion based on who he has mainly reviewed Licona the last three years. See

[222] (accessed 06/2014)

[223] (accessed 06/2014)

[224] I have great respect and admiration for each. R.C. Sproul’s work on Calvinism and J.I. Packer’s part in editing the New Dictionary on Theology has greatly aided me in my studies and applying it to my life.

[225] The ETS statement of faith, about holding to inerrancy and the Trinity has also been cited many times on all sides.

[226] On the site they have critiqued Craig Blomberg often. However, it seems that Licona is still the central figure in most of those or other postings. For example, in Farnell’s Sept 4th 2014 post called “How Heterodoxy becomes Orthodoxy” Blomberg, Licona, Gundry, and Bock’s positions are outlined with Farnell replies. So far so go. Nevertheless, Licona’s position is the only one that has bold highlighting certain portions of his earlier stance on the rising of the saints. Now, Farnell is well within his right to do so. However, why? Even more disappointing is Licona’s current position is not even mentioned in the footnotes. Because of this, is this a straw-man? (accessed 09/2014)

[227] (accessed 08/2014)

[228] (08/2014)

[229] Ibid

[230] (08/2014)

[232] (accessed 07/2014)

[233] page 8, second paragraph. (accessed 08/14/2014)

[234] Robert Stewart and Heath Thomas: Southeastern Theological Review 3/1 (Summer 2012) 11. .

[235] (accessed 09/2014)

[236]Norman L. Geisler and William C. Roach. Defending Inerrancy .(Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011), 302, 370; There is a major inconsistency in this footnoting that I will address in Appendix 3

[237] I am borrowing this term from Greg Johnson and Bob Millet, in their approach to LDS and Evangelical dialogue. (accessed 08/2014)

[238] The US government sees the potential for accessibility with the internet with individuals with disabilities: (accessed 08/2014)

[239] Shabir Ally alluded to Licona was the main one receiving heat for his position on the rising of the saints on Feb 12, 2012 during what seems the QA section of a academic debate. (accessed 08/2014). Licona acknowledges that this situation has been ongoing for three years: (accessed 08/2014); Geisler’s “Licona Articles” have year and month next to them: (accessed 08/2014); See also Trevor Stone’s comments here: (accessed 08/2014)

[240] Geisler has, at times, referred others to this publication saying, “This book reveals that Licona’s views are only the tip of the iceberg.” Even so, it has still not caught on. (accessed 08/2014)

[241] (accessed 08/2014)

[242] (accessed 06/2014)

[243] Geisler offered to meet with Licona in person to discuss the matter in accordance with Matthew 18:15 when Jesus said, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

[243b] (accessed 09/2014)

[244] Though, I do not agree with all of his conclusions.

[245] Hay’s endorsement is on back cover. If one listens to recent debates on the resurrection of Jesus N.T. Wright’s conclusions are usually quoted in one way or another by respected scholars like William Lane Craig. See the back cover here: (accessed 09/2014)

[246] On back cover found here: (accessed 09/2014)

[247] See all their comments go here: (accessed 09/2014); In the past, Geisler has referred to Craig as an “expert.” Norman L. Geisler and Paul K. Hoffman, Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001), 11.

[248] The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright in Dialogue, ed. Robert B. Stewart (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2006), p.56 footnote 30.

[249] Ibid

[250] Smith, The Making of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message, 22-29.

[251] Ibid

[252] Ibid., 30-31

[253] Brand and Hankins, One Sacred Effort: The Cooperative Program of Southern Baptists, 108–109.

[254] (accessed 08/2014). This is not an official SBC school. More info on Risen Jesus ministries see (accessed 08/2014)

[255]According to Smith, in an editorial Erwin McDonald argued in 1962 that even though professors should be held accountable, not everyone has the job to ensure it is carried through. Smith recalls that McDonald put forward, “that the seminary trustees have the responsibility to determine whether or not a professor had deviated from an acceptable interpretation of the doctrinal standards of the Convention or the school in question.” Smith goes onto to say, “Once the trustees ruled on the manner their ruling should be accepted and the Convention should move forward.” McDonald also opposed stacking trustees who held a certain set of theological believes onto boards because this was against Southern Baptist dignity. Smith, The Making of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message, 59.

[256] Article 1 about Scripture states, “The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.” Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 1200. See also: (accessed 09/2014); In a interview on the Defending Inerrancy website, edited by Geisler, Paige Patterson admits that the CSBI had a “profound effect in strengthening many Southern Baptists” though “had no effect at all on Southern Baptists’ commitment to the inerrancy of God’s Word.” In other words, greatly influenced the SBC, but the SBC probably would have grounded it’s adherence to classical inerrancy anyway during the resurgence of conservatism. Patterson does not come out and say it, but Baptists being molded primarily by any statement, creed or not, other than Scripture sets itself against a Baptist distinctive; autonomy. Chad Owen Brand and David E. Hankins, One Sacred Effort: The Cooperative Program of Southern Baptists (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 181.

[257] Peters has offered some evidence, though expanding on this is beyond my scope here. (accessed 09/2014)

[258] (accessed 09/2014)

[259] Bruce Corley, Steve Lemke, and Grant Lovejoy, Biblical Hermeneutics: a Comprehensive Introduction to Interpreting Scripture, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2002), 433; H.C. Brown states, “ad hominem…argues by appealing to the personal feelings of the hearers.” Brown also states, “Good taste and courtesy should be used in argument by refutation.” H. C. Brown Jr, Baker’s Dictionary of Practical Theology , 87; Witherington says that those who called N.T. Wright a “fundamentalist” were committing a ad hominem. Ben Witherington III, The Gospel Code: Novel Claims About Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Da Vinci (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 138; Geisler and Brooks say, “Literally, the fallacy’s name means ‘argument against the man.’ It is not an attack on the proposition, but against the person” Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 93–94.

[260] K. Scott Oliphint, Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013), 73; Info about Oliphint: (accessed 09/2014)

[261] A in detail analysis of how Geisler has worded each article is really beyond the focus here, though I will not deny there appear to be moderate to major gray areas. As you have seen, I am scoping the quality (substance of the content) and quantity (frequency of that content) of Geisler’s authored, co-authored, or edited work that is spotlighted on Licona.

[262] Douglas Groothuis defines the genetic fallacy as, “The origin of a belief does not, in and of itself, disqualify the belief as being true.” Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, 382; Millard Erickson defines it as, “The origin of a portion of material is not the sole factor explaining its meaning.” Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology., 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998), 707; William Lane Craig state it is, “…an attempt to invalidate something by showing how it originated.”William Lane Craig contribution in a book edited by Norman L. Geisler and Paul K. Hoffman, Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001), 77. For a list of more informal fallacies see There are many ways to bring irrelevant matters into a discussion, and this list is not intended to be complete. These fallacies show that people will go to any length to win an argument, even if they can’t prove their point. When backed into a corner, debaters can be more dangerous than a Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 93-115; See also Patrick J. Hurley, A Concise Introduction to Logic (Belmont, CA: Thomas Wadsworth, 2008) 113-188.

[263] When conducting research, we look for individuals who have the most convincing answers. However, if we come across two arguments that are almost equally relevant and quality of research, but we just saw on the front page one scholar, whose conclusions are slightly better, is accused of a crime. Who are we going to cite? Is not the non-accused scholar’s proposals, though not is good, the one to appeal to? The better argument though is separate, logically speaking, from the person, is it really that easy to distance the person of uncertain character from the view? Would we not at least offer an explanation that the accused is innocent until proven guilty? (In the United States)

[264] H. C. Brown Jr., “Sermon Preparation in Contemporary Terms,” ed. Ralph G. Turnbull, Baker’s Dictionary of Practical Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1967), 87; Geisler and Brooks essentially agree writing, “all appeals to authority ultimately rest on the evidence that the authority has. The only reason to quote an authority is that he knows the evidence better than we do.” Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 99.

[265] These comments were about his testimony. The point here is Groothuis, a professional Christian philosopher, admits that his views are partly shaped by his personal journey. I would contend that, a priori, this applies to all of us no matter how objective we strive to be. Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, 20.

[266] Which in of itself can lead to a lesson in logic, but the primary goal should be to establish, if there is need, rapport in a 1-1 or small group setting. Formal debate is different. One would respectfully point out these types of fallacies directly.

[267]I claim that my, though substantiated, conclusions and questions only go so far. I am following what Draper and Keathley write, “These pages may not hold the final answer, but they are an attempt to help the Convention we love through days of struggle into victory for our Lord Jesus Christ.” Draper and Keathley, Biblical Authority: The Critical Issue for the Body of Christ, 143–144.

[268] An example of how to have such debates is in the Southeastern Baptist Theological review. I agree with Thomas and Stewart when they write, “In our judgment, the tone of the roundtable discussion as well as the interaction in the essays is open, charitable, discerning, and honoring to the
Lord Jesus Christ. May we always emulate such scholarship under his lordship!” Robert Stewart and Heath Thomas: Southeastern Theological Review (Summer 2012) 11.

[269]CSBI signer, W.A. Criswells, expresses in the forward in the book Baptists and the Bible that ignoring these types of issues does not help and freedom to express them is needed. Here he describes the scholarly contributors had great freedom. “No presupposed theories are imposed on these theologians. Each speaks for himself, and that is as it should be. The selection of theologians is not limited to those who expound only one viewpoint. But theological unity does not come from ignoring issues; it comes by facing them, discussing them, looking at their historical context, and seeking to know through them the mind of Christ.” Bush and Nettles, Baptists and the Bible, i.

[270] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, eds., Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[271] I borrowing the term “permissible” from J.P. Moreland. Roughly, he postulates, let’s say we have interpretation A and B. A and B are both orthodox, but A is more plausible under exegetical grounds alone. However, A is disastrous to hold based on “extrabiblical” data (i.e. natural revelation). B on the other hand, which is “permissible” to hold on exegetical grounds alone, reconciles the “extrabiblical” data with Scripture. Therefore, B is “hermeneutically permissible” to hold. J.P Moreland, “Response to John Mark Reynolds and Paul Nelson” in Three Views on Creation and Evolution ed. J.P. Moreland and John Mark Reynolds (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999) 85-86.

[272] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, eds., Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[273] Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, ed. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Craig G. Bartholomew, Daniel J. Treier and N. T. Wright (London; Grand Rapids, MI: SPCK; Baker Academic, 2005), 756;

[274]Geisler and Brooks also contend, “Authorities out of their field have no authority. It really doesn’t matter how many degrees a person has in nuclear physics, that doesn’t mean he knows how to cook.” Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 98.

[275] (accessed 07/2014).

[276] Ibid.

[277] Post was on June 20th and my reply was on the same day.

[278] Ibid

[279] Nelson also added at the end of his article “the rules must be enforced” (emphasis original) on Licona and his supporters who claim that they hold to authentic form of evangelical doctrine of inerrancy. In his view, seminary leaders need to act to stop the erosion of inerrancy because “neoevangelicals” are calling other forms of inerrancy, other than the CSBI, orthodox. However, if he is referring to “CSBI” rules, then many Southern Baptists will not be convinced by this. Compelling, cogent, clear, and compassionate argumentation will. One’s commitment to Scripture should not be because they are told, or strongly suggested, to believe it. Rather, that they are convinced by it through rigorous study of the Word of God. Bush and Nettles implicitly cover this. They point out the, “argument, therefore, is not that commitment to the ‘sole authority’ of Scripture will either automatically or exclusively lead to personal academic greatness. However, the natural and moral implication of such a persuasion is that the Christian should be ‘mighty in the Scriptures.’ His mind must be captive to the Word of God, and he must be willing to explore fully every opportunity bestowed by providence to enhance his knowledge of the language, culture, and people of the Bible. None is excluded from this stewardship of mind. Every individual must take personal responsibility in this quest for understanding the mind of God.” It part, it is the job of leading evangelical scholars to propose respectful arguments that are the most convincing using all communication tools that are permitted and attainable to younger emerging intellects. Within evangelical academics, this is ideal to prevent the erosion of inerrancy. Bush and Nettles, Baptists and the Bible, 418–419. See Nelsons article here: (accessed 09/2014) I acknowledge that Geisler might be a part of the SBC.

[280] Minus the internet.

[281] Bush and Nettles, Baptists and the Bible, 337; This is alluding to the situation in 1961-63, involving an OT Southern Baptist Professor out of Midwestern named Ralph Elliot. He published a commentary on Genesis that was more progressive in its theological leanings (i.e. Abraham might have believed in other gods, though Yahweh was the only Supreme Being). According to church historian A.J. Smith, Elliot’s publication was laymen’s, “first real look at the teaching content of Old Testament faculties in the seminaries of the Convention.” In other words, he was not the only one with non-traditional conclusions like Licona in contemporary times. Smith, The Making of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message, 24-25.

[282] Charles Ryrie, Ryrie’s Practical Guide to Communicating Bible Doctrine (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 6.

[283] Ibid

[284] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Jn 17:21–23.

[285] Gerald L. Borchert, John 12–21, vol. 25B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), 207.

[286]The Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms sums up the assets and liabilities of the ecumenism stating, “Positively, the ecumenical movement reaffirmed the need for all branches of Christianity to see their common roots and to seek unity where possible. Negatively, the ecumenical movement has often focused on political ideology; consequently, sectors of the Christian church have been hesitant to join in ecumenical dialog.

Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 43.

[287] Edwin A. Blum, “John,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 333.

[288] Kenneth O. Gangel, John, vol. 4, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 319., Sproul takes the position that God is surely disappointed in all the divisiveness, but that we have a spiritual unity that has already been fulfilled. R. C. Sproul, John, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary (Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2009), 325; I agree with Thomas Schreiner view that we have imperfect unity. Schreiner explains, “The present age before Christ comes, the church experiences the unity He prayed for in some measure, but not perfectly. We could say that we are already united but not yet perfectly. This brings me to my last observation: Jesus’ prayer will be answered fully, for when Jesus returns all sin will be removed from His bride—the church of Jesus Christ. Tabletalk Magazine, September 2009: What Is True Unity? (Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2009), 13.

[289] Timothy George, Mr. Moody and the Evangelical Tradition (London; New York: T&T Clark, 2004), 6.

[290] Ibid

[291] Ibid

[292]Overall, I agree with Geisler when he writes, “One of the fallacies of the anti-inerrancy movement is the belief that unity should be sought at all cost.”We should not be united in error. However, how we are supposed to handle the situation is the question. -five-views-on-biblical-inerrancy/ (accessed 08/2014)

[293] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 5.

[294] There is urgency in certain situations over doctrinal issues does need to happen, but one must thoughtful, do so in love, and realize that urgency is not always the best course. Philip Towner, 1–2 Timothy & Titus, vol. 14, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 1 Ti 5:21.

[295]When speaking, writing, or personally dialoging with a fellow believer about any doctrinal issue one should seriously consider Edwards Dobsons approach. Personally speaking, he says, “I also made sure that my approach was thoughtfully reasoned and that I was fair to each side’s position. My goal is not to split the difference between factions or to find politically safe ground. My goal is to take away the emotional flash point by affirming truth, not by castigating falsehood and wrongdoing. Truth delivered in the right spirit will eventually win the day. Edward Dobson, “Preaching the Controversial Sermon,” in Mastering Conflict & Controversy, Mastering Ministry (Portland, OR; Carol Stream, IL: Multnomah Press; Christianity Today, Inc., 1992), 58.

[296] Beilby, Thinking About Christian Apologetics: What It Is Why We Do It, 177.

[297] Dan Story, Engaging the Closed Minded: Presenting Your Faith to the Confirmed Unbeliever (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999), 47.

[298] Ravi Zacharias, Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 305.

[299] J.P. Moreland and Francis Beckwith “Series Preface” in John H. Coe and Todd W. Hall, Psychology in the Spirit: Contours of a Transformational Psychology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010). Kindle Edition.

[300] Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 745.

[301] Ibid; Writing to pastors, but applies here as well, Curtis Thomas wisely writes, ”The truth is that while we may have studied in some areas and have developed a fair amount of expertise in certain disciplines, there is so much more to know, and we have only begun to scratch the surface. We must be prepared to say, ‘You know, I really am not very informed in that area.’ Are we afraid that such a statement could ruin our reputation? After all, we guide people’s lives in so many areas, and it wouldn’t look right if we told them we are ordinary mortals and in some areas are truly uninformed. But actually, admitting our ignorance and showing a bit of humility could help break down some of the barriers that have been erected between us shepherds and the sheep!” Curtis Thomas, Practical Wisdom for Pastors: Words of Encouragement and Counsel for a Lifetime of Ministry (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 205.

[302]Elsewhere, Moreland has offered four specific ways he has learned to live an integrated Christian life. He reveals,” (1) the value of love and devotion to the Triune God, with special focus on Jesus Christ, along with an intentional plan to make progress in spiritual formation; (2) the value of the mind and a developed intellectual life in which truth and reason are central; (3) the importance of being a Christian activist, one who seeks to penetrate the world with a Christian worldview, with special emphasis on the Great Commission; and (4) the value of friendship and community in the body of Christ in which one learns to give honor to others and to be genuinely enthusiastic about their successes and concerned about their hardships. Norman L. Geisler and Paul K. Hoffman, Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001), 258.

[303] Agrippa had a positive response to Paul’s case we should strive for. About Acts 26:28, Craig Keener comments, “Although some commentators have read this as an ironic question … the whole apologetic structure of the narrative suggests that Agrippa instead takes Paul’s case seriously.” Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ac 26:28–29.

[304] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith 148-149.

[305] Mohler, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters, 64.

[306] Wanamaker concludes, “The need to test everything and then either accept or reject it on the basis of whether it was good or evil had general relevance to every aspect of Christian thought and behavior.” Charles A. Wanamaker, The Epistles to the Thessalonians: a Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1990), 204–205.

[307] Mohler has made strong comments in the past that the truths an organization hold to should be held onto at all cost. I agree. However, how we come to the conclusion that the truths that are believed are the right ones after being tested even if they have already been tested. For as Geisler said, our understanding is fallible, though reasonable certainty can be reached through a fair amount of debate and established SBC procedures on deciding what the truths should be. If my successor attempts to subvert the truths upon which this institution is established, I will do everything I can to stop that subversion in its tracks, even if it means haunting my successor from the grave, by memory. Mohler, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters, 211.

[308] Those outside the church will not be able to accuse us of cannibalism though some have already: See (accessed 09/2014); (accessed 09/2014)

[309] Schreiner contends that is Peter means that Christians, “live in God’s presence in all they do, and hence they must not resort to revenge, anger, or sin when they are called upon to defend their hope.” Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 176.

[310] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 967; Kelly concludes that “consciousness” here, “stands basically for a man’s inner awareness of the moral quality of his actions.” J. N. D. Kelly, The Epistles of Peter and of Jude, Black’s New Testament Commentary (London: Continuum, 1969), 144.

[311] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas K. Stuart, How to Read the Bible Book by Book: a Guided Tour (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 385.

[312] How old? MacArthur states, “In ancient Greek literature the word sometimes was used of men as young as 50.” MacArthur, Titus, MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 72.

[313] This was difficult back then as, I would argue, is often the case in modern times. Commenting on the 1st century church that Timothy and Titus were in, he says, “Just as it is difficult for an older person to respect the teaching and leadership of a younger man (1 Tim 4:12), so also it is difficult for a younger man to know how to instruct and correct the older people in the church.”William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2000), 269.

[314] For example, the “Geisler Christmas Charol.” (accessed 09/2014) I called this kind of parody into question back in August 2013: (accessed 09/2014). One really literally has to ask, would they do this to their father or an elder they highly respect? Even so, I am not against humor. I agree with Hershael York and Bert Decker when they argue that humor can make the “formal” more “informal.” When issues have a lot of emotional baggage, humor can be an asset to get past many barriers. On another note, my wife and I watch Jimmy Fallon’s monolog on a regular basis. She can attest to my appreciation for most comedy. Hershael W. York and Bert Decker, Preaching with Bold Assurance: a Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging Exposition (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 250.

[315]Zacharias writes, “The spiritual condition and character of the apologist are of immense importance.” Zacharias, Beyond Opinion, 305.

[316] Douglas Moo urges that, “Those of us who teach God’s word regularly need to follow James’s example and apply the warning of this verse to ourselves. When we undertake to guide others in the faith, we must be especially careful to exhibit the fruit of that faith by the way we live. Our greater knowledge brings with it a greater responsibility to live according to that knowledge. Of course, James is not trying to talk people who have the appropriate call and the gift out of becoming teachers. But he does want to impress upon us the seriousness of this calling and to warn us about entering into the ministry with insincere or cavalier motivations.” Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000), 150.

[317] Zacharias, Beyond Opinion, 305.

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