I have been sending emails to conservative Protestant Christian scholars and apologists asking them to stop spreading the false statement that the reason that most New Testament scholars doubt the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels is due to a liberal bias against the supernatural. I have had at least one positive response so far. I usually send an initial email with the above brief statement asking them to stop repeating this false claim. They (or their assistant) then write back and say, “Thank you, but Dr. X has just as much right to his opinion regarding the strength of the evidence as do you. Have a nice day.” I then send a second email:
Thank you very much for responding to my comment. I completely understand that Dr. X is a very busy man.
To be clear, I am not asking Dr. X to deny that HE believes that the evidence is strong for the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. We are all entitled to our opinions, especially someone with Dr. X’s education and experience. I am only asking that he be honest and upfront with his readers regarding the position of New Testament scholars on this issue.
Many conservative Protestant Christian scholars and apologists will admit on their websites, in their books, and in their public lectures that most NT scholars reject the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels, but they then typically add this caveat: “The reason that most NT scholars reject the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels is because they are biased. Most NT scholars are liberal Christians, agnostics, or atheists. These liberal scholars are biased against the supernatural. If they did not have this bias, they would agree that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts. Therefore, conservative Christians can ignore the majority scholarly opinion on the authorship of the Gospels due to this bias.”
This is a false, dishonest, and misleading statement. With this statement, conservative apologists have “poisoned the well”. Truth-seeking lay Christians will ignore investigating the opposing view on this critical issue because they have been convinced by their favorite Christian scholar or apologist that a biased opinion is not worth investigating.
If it were only liberal, agnostic, and atheist New Testament scholars who reject the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels, the accusation of a liberal bias might be well founded. But the problem for this claim is that even a large percentage of NT scholars who very much believe in the supernatural, miracles, AND the bodily resurrection of Jesus reject the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels! Who are these scholars? Answer: Roman Catholic scholars. Most Roman Catholic scholars reject the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. Even the bishops of the Catholic Church reject the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. I have written a post including statements from the Catholic bishops and Catholic scholars regarding the Roman Catholic position on the authorship of the Gospels here:
Why would the Catholic Church reject the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels if the evidence for this claim was even mediocre?? If this were the case, they would have every incentive to promote the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. Catholics use mediocre evidence to promote other supernatural claims, so why not this one?
I know that many evangelical Protestants question whether or not Roman Catholics are true Christians, but even if they are not, these sincere, devout people believe in the supernatural; they believe in miracles; they believe in the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus! So what possible bias could they have against the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels??
All I ask is that Dr. X be honest with his readers, students, and audiences and tell them the truth: “The eyewitness authorship of the Gospels is CONTESTED, and not due to a liberal bias. It is contested due to a genuine difference of opinion on the evidence. What’s more, even most Roman Catholic scholars, who believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, reject the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. Since the evidence is so contested, I encourage my readers to read the evidence from both sides on this issue. One such source from the other side of this issue comes from the highly respected Roman Catholic scholar Raymond Brown. He gives an excellent, very detailed analysis of the authorship of the Gospels in his two volume work, “The Death of the Messiah”.
The truth matters. Both Christian apologists and skeptic counter-apologists should be honest and forthright about the evidence and the positions of scholars. With everyone having access to a wealth of information on the internet, I believe that the side which is most honest and forthright regarding the evidence for the historical claims of Christianity will eventually prevail.
End of post.