Why did Bart Ehrman flee Christianity?

Monday Musings for August 15, 2016

Good morning, Musers,

I'm not sure how many of you know the name, Bart Ehrman. He is a New Testament textual critic who has written many books including Misquoting Jesus — a work targeting the popular (rather than an academic) audience. He came to Christ as a teen, received his B.A. from (none less than) Wheaton College, Illinois, an M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton and has a tenured position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But Ehrman has left the faith... and publicly so... making him a well-known... but also a well-qualified... apostate Christian. You see, many people flee nominal Christianity — and who can blame them for fleeing a bunch of loosely held and poorly thought-through rules. But Ehrman's eyes were open... wide open! So what's a guy to do with old Bart? 

 Now, people have a right to come that their own conclusions and to live their own lives — and Ehrman has certainly done that. But people like me are left behind trying to explain the Ehrman phenomenon irrespective of where we stand on the Ehrman conclusions about the faith. Everything I have read shows me that Ehrman likes and supports the New Testament texts… but he gradually grew out of "like" with God somehow. So we have this odd case. Here is a person with considerable mental gifts, considerable accomplishments, a history comparable to ours... and he is not a crank! He has, however, disavowed the religion of Christianity. 

This is where you can take my call to hardiness seriously: the excellence of our New Testament texts is apparent and well known in even secular circles so much so that even the secular historians admire them — and Ehrman does still. But the validity of the New Testament texts is only a single part in the case for Christ... although this can be an important part for those who are investigating objectively from outside the faith. But for those of us who have indeed been born again — for those of us who enjoy the indwelling Holy Spirit, God's speaking to us in his word, the fellowship of believers, etc. — when the cumulative "Case for Christ" takes the occasional ding, we have no need to flee Christ… I mean, that is an extreme reaction… it's illogical, really... to flee the core of faith when being pursued by some debatable scholarship. So what's at play?

I don't really know what is in another man's heart. But a person does not flee a substantive and hardily built worldview without warrant. And since many who share Ehrman's concerns on certain levels have not found this sufficient to flee the faith, we don't have to worry about this… except to explain Ehrman! Is there a wound? I do not know. But I like William Lane Craig's thoughts on this — that Ehrman placed a critical reliance on a brittle concept of inerrancy which he also held too close to the core of his faith — and that he crumbled after it crumbled. This is why I encourage people never to be like granite, which is strong… but which can be shattered with a single blow. But rather, to be strong like an archer's bow: let's bend under the challenges, store that energy for useful service... and let those arrows fly!

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