Is It Ethical For Evangelical Apologists to Present Minority Scholarly Positions as Facts in their Books?

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My ongoing review of “Lord or Legend“ by evangelical apologists Gregory Boyd and Paul Eddy, part 9:

The first reference we have to the author of the Gospel of Mark comes from Papias, an early second century Christian and acquaintance of the apostle John, who says that John passed on to him the following tradition…

Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord’s sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements.

This passage is taken from Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History 3:39

–p. 94

Gary: Papias was “an acquaintance” of the apostle John??? Says who? Not the majority of NT scholars!

This is the kind of dishonest nonsense, practiced by many evangelical and conservative Protestant apologists, that really irritates the hell out of me. Be honest! Tell your Christian readers the truth. Tell them first what the majority of scholars believe on a position, then present the position of the minority (or fringe) of scholars, and then, why you believe the minority is correct. That is the honest way to do apologetics.

Why do so many conservative Christian apologists engage in this type of deceptive apologetics? My guess: They know the historical evidence for their case is weak so they play fast and loose with the truth to make their case appear stronger. And how do they justify this behavior: their overwhelming subjective perception of the presence of Jesus “in their heart” which gives them permission to justify the (dishonest) means with the end (eternal salvation).

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End of post.

6 thoughts on “Is It Ethical For Evangelical Apologists to Present Minority Scholarly Positions as Facts in their Books?

  1. Actually, scholars of all types do this kind of thing when writing (as it were) “popular books” (as opposed to purely-academic works).

    Ehrman does it all the time in his own blog: he’ll write his own “opinion” or “assertion” as if it were fact. But, he most assuredly understands that what he’s writing is debatable.

    Now, I don’t know anything about this particular book you’re quoting, nor anything about it’s authors or their credentials, but – IF (all caps) they are “credentialed scholars” (like, “published and reviewed PhDs”), then it’s generally considered “acceptable”, in a “popular” book, to make statements of “fact as you (the author) see it” without providing all the research and references.

    HOWEVER – I say “generally acceptable” – but, that does NOT mean that what is written is “generally accepted”. Some notable scholars (like Ehrman, for example) have been very strongly taken to task for straining the bounds of “acceptability”.

    Really, if you look at the top 5 “NT-history-related, popular” books (from the last, say, decade) by skeptics, and the top 5 by “believers”, I’d be willing to bet that the skeptics do exactly the same thing as the Christians do, when it comes to this kind of stuff. (But, that’s just totally a guess. I wouldn’t really attempt to argue the point. The only point I’m trying to make is that this kind of stuff isn’t all that uncommon).

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