Monday, February 02, 2009

Ehrman-White Debate

I had read about this and was interested in listening if they recorded it, but James White and Bart Ehrman debated on January 21 this year on the resolution, "Did the New Testament Misquote Jesus?" This is a take-off of Ehrman's NY Times bestseller, Misquoting Jesus, which is essentially textual criticism for dummies. Ehrman's a former skeptic, now agnostic, and his new life's mission is to help everyone get there with him. Because he's not a believer, he gets to be the head of the religion department at UNC, Chapel Hill. James White hasn't done much to defend the Bible against the skeptic. He's mainly attempted to give more uncertainty to people without a doubt in Scripture. However, White would profess Jesus Christ and defend Christianity. Ehrman would attempt to tear it down. Ehrman is so popular, I'm sure, because he attacks Scripture and does so on a fifth grade level. He understands his audience. Ehrman studied under Metzger to get his position. White reads Metzger to get his position.

I've downloaded the audio for $6 over at White's Alpha-Omega ministry site and I listened to the introduction and Ehrman's opening statement. I'm interested in listening to all of it as I make the time. And I will write about it here. You'll read an interesting review of the debate at The American Vision by Joel McDurmon. He would be friendly to James White, but his review calls it a draw---neither of them won the debate. And that despite evidence that Ehrman did nothing to prepare for it, but White spent a large amount of time.

What will further spur anyone's interest is what White goes about saying after the debate. McDurmon has some kind, yet harsh words about a few things that White says and writes. White says that it is ironic that McDurmon labels him an evidentialist, when clearly he is a "presuppositionalist." Whenever I listen to White talk on this subject, and I haven't listened to the debate all the way through yet, he sounds like an evidentialist to me too. I say that if he is a presuppositionalist, he should debate like it. I believe I know why he doesn't on this subject at least. He isn't a presuppositionalist on this issue. He didn't prepare for a presuppositional presentation on his side of the debate, so he didn't present one.

What White does, according to McDurmon, and I've yet to hear it (but will), is argue the exact same way that Ehrman does. Ironic, huh? McDurmon comes across as very objective. White goes to his speculation about the text to say that there's enough evidence in the manuscripts to support Christian beliefs and enough confidence in Scripture. Ehrman goes to his speculation about the text to say that there's enough evidence in the manuscripts to support a denial of the inspiration of Scripture and, therefore, a rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

That's all I have to say for now, but I'm planning, Lord-willing, on breaking it down for you in the near future, so stay tuned. Read the McDurmon article and see how familiar his conclusion sounds. White says that the best thing that comes out of this debate is that Ehrman is exposed as the skeptic that he is. Well, did anyone really doubt the skepticism of Ehrman? That wasn't much of a goal reached if I put the effort White did for this debate. I'm thinking that the best material that I'll get out of this debate will be the content in opposition to White. I already knew that Ehrman was a fraud, having read two of his books. Now we'll see about White.

13 comments:

Terry McGovern said...

I look forward to reading your comments about the debate.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I've listened to the intro, both opening statements, then Ehrman's first rebuttal. That's about half way. Thanks Terry.

Damien said...

The reason Dr. White exposes Ehrman as a skeptic is to dispel the notion that Ehrman's studies are an objective analysis of textual transmission that can only lead the conclusion that the Bible 'misquotes' Jesus. That has been Ehrman's campaign in the media and it is evident in his books. Those who follow him believe he's done the work to prove such a thing. What White demonstrated during the debate (as well as before and after it) is that Ehrman is just hyper-skeptic, and following his own logic one could not even know what was said by Mohammed or Tacitus. I thought White did a decent job revealing that textual variants does not negate the authenticity of a document.

Anonymous said...

What kind of a blogger would review a debate he has not heard? Probably the same kind of blogger who would believe that the KJV is inspired and inerrant.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Wow Anonymous. I hadn't reviewed it yet. I review only the comments. And notice that when I do, I put my name on it every time. Unlike you, won't say boo to a goose, milquetoast, pink lemonade. Oh, and my position is that the Greek and Hebrew text is inerrant. And inspiration is technically reserved for the originals, but derivatively for copies and translations. That is an application of, um, Scripture (read 2 Timothy 3:16).

Scribe said...

Kent,

Alan Kurschner at aomin.org has noted a "few" problematic areas in your blog entry that you may wish to look into: http://aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3109

Kent Brandenburg said...

Scribe,

Thanks for the heads up, but I had already read Alan's rant. I comment to it under my next post in the comment section. He's not very careful with what I wrote or what I believe. I'm finding this characteristic of the AO crowd. Again, thanks.

Adam Murrell said...

Kent,

If you find that most of the "AO crowd" is misrepresenting your position then perhaps you might want to take the inimitable James White to task tomorrow on his radio program. Here is the time and phone number: Thursday 4:00 MST 1-877-753-3341 (Toll Free).

Kent Brandenburg said...

Adam,

Thanks for the concern. I'd be glad to talk to James White, even in public, but I wouldn't do that without rules of engagement. I listened to his time with McDurmon and it sounded like a breathless monologue coming from White. That wouldn't accomplish much. What he should have is a comment section on his blog. That way I could at least clear it up without having to wait through the long speeches by White.

Scribe said...

Kent,

I'm sure White would hear you out w/o out the garrulous commentary if you phoned in tomorrow... ;D

OR you can shoot him or Alan an e-mail...

Anonymous said...

Ehrman is a "fraud"? Just because he doesn't believe in the supernatural? Or because he attempts to communicate rational thought to a targeted demographic?

Anonymous said...

Your comments on Ehrman are flat out lies.

Ehrman was an evangelical Christian who after learning Greek, Hebrew and Latin studied the ancient biblical manuscripts and found that there is NO WAY the Bible is inerrant he went from evangelical christian to a liberal christian and stayed that way for about 20 years until he became agnostic. If you actually read his books and his interviews you would know he is NOT trying to convert people into agnostics or atheist. He is extremely respectful to religion and religious people.

If the evangelical Christians don't start backing up there claims with scientific facts their ignorant lies such as the infallibility of the Bible will eventually turn people away...like myself. Not just from being evangelical Christian but everything that is Christian.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Mr. Anonymous comes in to make an accusation. Mr. Coward. Read the introduction to Misquoting Jesus. Also read the Bible. You also don't know how the men in his business define inerrancy. So your accusation rings empty.

Inerrancy according to all evangelical textual critics applies to the originals. He claims not to move people away from Christianity, but it is obvious that he is. He doesn't have a doctorate in philosophy or theology and yet he writes books recently on suffering? He's going out of his way to turn people. He's not a threat to a real Christian. A real Christian doesn't apostatize, which means, if you did know the Bible, that Ehrman was never a Christian. He is inconsistent in his application of his textual evidence. The Bible has more evidence than any and yet Ehrman believes that many other ancient texts were preserved. He comes to different conclusions based upon his own presuppositions. So you can sit back down now, Mr. Anonymous.