But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
—Gospel of Matthew 10:33
From a conversation on Bart Ehrman’s blog:
Dear Dr. Licona. I’m sorry I have irritated you with my many questions and statements. I promise that I will only ask you ONE question on this post if you will give me a straight answer (yes or no) to this ONE question:
—Is it true that since you were ten years old (the age of your conversion to Christianity), you have believed that the spirit (ghost) of an executed first century man (Jesus of Nazareth) lives inside your body and communicates with you in some fashion, “testifying” to you that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is an historical fact?—
Michael Licona, evangelical Christian scholar and apologist:
Gary: I will answer your “ONE question on this post.” I think I’ve been clear in past posts. But so there is no doubt to be had, here is my “straight answer (yes or no) to this ONE question”: No.
Wow. I’m shocked. I grew up evangelical. I didn’t know that today’s evangelicals deny the presence and testimony of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. Thank you, Dr. Licona. I’ve learned something today.
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. —The Gospel of John 16:13-14
Update, 12/10/2019 8:12 PM PST: I sent the above exchange to a few evangelical websites to see how evangelicals would respond to Licona’s response to my question. One of them contacted Licona. Licona was not happy. Here is his comment on Ehrman’s blog:
Mike Licona: Here is something “shocking.” A friend who is employed by a rather large ministry just emailed me saying Gary had contacted him with the remarks that follow and requested that he post them on their web site, since I had been a guest on his radio program:
“Wow! Evangelical scholar Michael Licona just denied the presence and testimony of the Holy Spirit in his heart in a discussion on Bart Ehrman’s blog today:
“Dear Dr. Licona: Is it true that since you were ten years old (the age of your conversion to Christianity), you have believed that the spirit (ghost) of an executed first century man (Jesus of Nazareth) lives inside your body and communicates with you in some fashion, “testifying” to you that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is an historical fact?
“Michael Licona: No.
“Yet on his Facebook page, Licona says that the testimony of the Holy Spirit is “essential” for someone to believe in Jesus as his resurrected Savior! Why the discrepancy???
“‘But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.’
—Gospel of Matthew 10:33”
I’m going to guess that my friend is not the only one Gary has now emailed. This is stooping to a new low for Gary. His consistent mischaracterization of my view in Bart’s blog led me last week to tell him I would no longer interact with him.
Today Gary apologized saying, “I’m sorry I have irritated you with my many questions and statements.” He then asked me to answer one final question with a yes or no. I did. To be clear, it wasn’t his “many questions and statements” that irritated me. It was his pattern of mischaracterizing my answers. And this is not a new thing for Gary. After Bart and I debated on the historical reliability of the Gospels in February 2018, Gary posted an article on his blog making the claim that I had said the majority of New Testament scholars accept the traditional authorship of the Gospels. That surprised me! I certainty don’t believe that. Was it a slip of the tongue during the debate? I went back and found what I said. It was crystal clear I had not said that. Gary had emailed me notifying me of his article. So, I commented on his blog that he had misunderstood what I had said and provided a link to the video of the debate and where I had said it. I never heard back from him. Neither was my comment posted. Months later, his article was still unchanged.
Gary does not strike me as one who is genuinely interested in truth. Rather, he wishes to sensationalize by mischaracterizing. Why he does it, I do not know. But I wanted you all to be aware of him and his tactics. I’m thankful that he is the lone exception to this sort of thing on this blog. Almost all of you have been a joy with whom to interact!
Gary: Here is my response:
Word games. This is why many skeptics see Christian apologists as so disingenuous.
Dr. Licona: Do you or do you not believe that a (holy) spirit “dwells” within you, “testifying with your spirit” regarding the veracity of the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth?
I’m sorry I did not make it simpler for you, but there it is. Yes or no, please.
Dr. Licona said, “After Bart and I debated on the historical reliability of the Gospels in February 2018, Gary posted an article on his blog making the claim that I had said the majority of New Testament scholars accept the traditional authorship of the Gospels.”
Please give me the date of the post on my blog and I will be happy to make a correction if I misstated your position. I do not moderate comments on my blog so if I had received a comment by the infamous scholar Michael Licona, I would remember that. I do not. If I have incorrectly stated your position, I will post a public apology on my blog and here on Dr. Ehrman’s blog.
You said under your first post here on Dr. Ehrman’s blog that you believe that the majority of scholars believe in the traditional authorship of the first Gospel, the Gospel of Mark; that it was written by John Mark correct? But now you are saying that you have never said that “the majority of New Testament scholars accept the traditional authorship of the Gospels.” Would you clarify, please?
Readers: If you haven’t figured it out, I am trying to force Licona into a corner where he finally admits that he believes that a spirit lives in his body, giving him secret wisdom and insight into the historicity of the alleged resurrection of Jesus. To protect his reputation as a “scholar”, he does NOT want to admit this wacky belief in front of skeptics. Why? Answer: He knows it makes him look looney.
End of post.