Thursday, November 1, 2007

Inerrancy Matters

On page 45 Licona recounts a tale where he responded to a critic of Christianity regarding inerrancy. He says that proving errancy "would not matter at all in proving that Jesus did not rise from the dead."

Yet during one of Licona's formal debates he made the following claim, which I try here to reproduce from memory. He said that if Jesus rose from the dead, then this would be confirmation of his radical claims. In other words, if Jesus rose from the dead, then his claims are right.

I agree with him there. If Jesus rose from the dead, this would have to mean that his claims were true.

But what Christians often don't seem to realize (though William Lane Craig has sort of acknowledged the problem) is that this is a double edged sword. Bill and I have been pointing this out for a long time. A logical corollary to this claim is that if Jesus said anything wrong, then he isn't raised.

Did Jesus teach inerrancy? A lot of Christians think he did, including J.P. Moreland. William Lane Craig seems to think so in the article I link to from him. He quotes approvingly Friedrich Schleiermacher who says “We do not believe in Christ because we believe in the Bible; we believe in the Bible because we believe in Christ.” This explains why Craig expends so much effort defending inerrancy. If Jesus did teach inerrancy, and he's wrong, then he's not raised. This seems to be Licona's view. So for Licona, inerrancy matters. He can't pretend that it doesn't.

Craig is willing to jettison his belief that Jesus taught inerrancy if it comes to that. But this doesn't help him when it comes to other errors from Jesus, such as his claim that he would come again before the disciples died. If these are errors, then we are dealing with things that are completely destructive to the brand of Christianity Licona and Craig hold to. If Jesus can simultaneously be raised from the dead and also be completely wrong in his claims, then conservative Evangelical Christianity is completely doomed.

Licona and Habermas would have us pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. They don't want to have to defend this claim. Why? Because it is supremely difficult, and makes them look foolish. This is where they are on their weakest footing, and they know it. They want you to believe it doesn't matter. It does.

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