Why Do Conservative Christian Scholars and Apologists Repeatedly Lie About Biblical Scholarship?

Image result for image of liar liar pants on fire

We all make mistakes.  We have all exaggerated the truth in our eagerness to defend our position in a heated debate.  But if you repeat the same statement over and over again knowing that it is not true, that is a lie.

I accuse conservative Christian apologists William Lane Craig, Mike Licona, and Josh/Sean McDowell of lying…or at a minimum, of being so ignorant of the current state of New Testament scholarship that they have no business debating skeptics or writing books on this subject.

And what is their lie (or ignorance)?  Answer:  Repeatedly stating in public forums or in their books that “the majority of scholars” agree with conservative/fundamentalist Protestant positions on the Bible!

Anyone who has listened to any of William Lane Craig’s debates knows that Craig repeatedly claims throughout his debate performances that his (fundamentalist evangelical) positions are supported by the “overwhelming majority of scholars”.  Bart Ehrman has called him out on this during his debates with Craig and asked for evidence of this claim; but Craig never responds; never provides the evidence.

I believe that for Craig, at least, these are blatant lies!

And even though I respect the work of NT scholar Mike Licona, a born again evangelical Christian, for his attempts to be even-handed with the evidence related to the Resurrection in his most recent book (Why are There Differences in the Gospels?), he too must stop repeating the false claim that “the majority of critical New Testament scholars believe that eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels”.  You can hear him make this statement (and watch Bart Ehrman vigorously call him out for it) in the Youtube video posted at the bottom of my previous post. (here)

And listen to this quote from evangelical Christian apologists, Josh and Sean McDowell in their book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, p. 168, the book I am currently reading and reviewing, in which they republish another blatantly false claim by Mike Licona, using it as evidence for their overall argument that Christians can trust the historical reliability of the Gospels:

First Clement is a letter written to the church at Corinth in the late first or early second century from the church at Rome.  It is widely believed Clement knew the apostles, including Peter and Paul, and may even be the man mentioned in Philippians 4:3 (Michael Licona, RJ, 249-250)

What???  “It is widely believed…???”  The majority of scholars do NOT believe that there is sufficient evidence to make the statement that “Clement knew the apostles, including Peter and Paul”.  Any New Testament scholar making such a false (or stupid) statement should have his membership in the Academy revoked!

So why do conservative Christian apologists make these blatantly false claims (lies)?  I see two reasons (both are deceitful, but one much more than the other).  The first involves the definition of terms.  Whenever you debate someone, make sure that you agree upon the terminology you both use.  In this case, the term in question is:  New Testament scholar.  To many fundamentalist/conservative Protestant Christians the only New Testament scholars that exist are those scholars who are fundamentalist/conservative Protestant Christians! If you are a liberal Protestant, Roman Catholic, or agnostic/atheist scholar of the New Testament, you are not a real New Testament scholar and therefore your opinion does not count; your opinion is not factored into “the majority scholarly opinion”!  So if the only scholarly opinions you count are those that belong to your own far right branch of Protestant Christianity, then of course the “majority of scholars” are going to agree with you!

Are there really Christian apologists who hold this view and make these “majority scholarly opinion” claims and don’t realize that it is dishonest?  I’ll give Mike Licona and the McDowell’s the benefit of the doubt.

The second and more deceitful reason is that the apologist in question knows that his (or her) undisclosed restriction of scholarly opinion to only those scholars who are of his own religious and philosophical persuasion is deceitful, but, intentionally conceals this “caveat” to his claim that “the majority of scholars agree with my position” in order to WIN a debate!

WLC:  Are you listening???

 

4 thoughts on “Why Do Conservative Christian Scholars and Apologists Repeatedly Lie About Biblical Scholarship?

  1. All these scholars – whether “fundamentalist evangelicals” or skeptics, like Ehrman – do that same very thing.

    Ehrman continually, incessantly states things as “fact” that are nothing more than his *assertions*. Maybe it’s regarding different topics than “the number of scholars who agree on this or that point”, but nonetheless, he does *exactly* the same thing you’re accusing those other guys like Licona, Craig, et al.

    *ALL* those guys – especially those that need to get published – do the same crap. Very, very, VERY few of them – whether believers or skeptics – really ever present a balanced and intellectually honest view.

    What do you think debates are about, anyway? All the stuff that these guys say is “up for debate”. And, that’s what they do. They debate. Because they *all* give each other plenty of material to debate about.

    I’m surprised you don’t know that already…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You don’t know what you are talking about in reference to Ehrman. You need to join Ehrman’s blog. Then you will see just how balanced and honest he is. He frequently shoots down assertions and accusations of extremist atheists.

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  2. Mostly I think they know the scholarship, but don’t actually accept it as legitimate, so they easily dismiss it. And since the know that most people, especially Christians, won’t check them out on their claims… somehow feel justified in leading others to dismiss the scholarship too, or simply don’t tell them about it.
    Yeah, it’s dishonest as hell, but they’ve justified it for the sake of the Gospel and protection of the Faith. “Christians don’t need to know about what they don’t need to know about.”

    Liked by 1 person

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