That’s not typically a big deal. I don’t even have a public calendar (but then again, I don’t need to have one). However, what’s so remarkable is the cause for Licona to do this. I hope you’ve had your coffee for the day and you’re in a good mood because the reason it was removed may have you a bit… frustrated. On Licona’s website he posted this explanation along with his private email he sent directly to Geisler.
It has been a long time coming but I wanted to publicly support Dr. Mike Licona amidst recent accusations of him denying inerrancy over Matthew 27.51-54 (the resurrection of the saints at the time of the crucifixion) in his most recent book The Resurrection of Jesus: A Historiographical Approach. Licona takes the position that this passage is apocalyptic imagery and is not literal. To be clear from the beginning, Licona has not denied inerrancy. He has been quite clear about that (even though he lost his job as the Apologetics Coordinator with the North American Mission Board over this… unfortunate). Dr. Al Mohler is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has openly condemned Licona for his position…
Norman Geisler has recently released a new addition to his “Licona Letters” condemning Mike Licona. Geisler is very emphatic that there be a differentiation between inerrancy and interpretation. Under this Geislerian understanding of inerrancy, interpretation and inerrancy simply have a formal distinction but are essentially conflated.
[Such] a disjunction of interpretation from inerrancy as Licona makes is contrary to the nature of truth itself…. So, a formal distinction between interpretation and inerrancy does not mean there is an actual separation of the two.
Additionally, Geisler argues contra Licona that the grammatico-historical hermeneutic is neutral. Geisler argues:
[The grammatico-historical] method does not approach the Bible with a historically neutral stance. After all, it is not called the “literal” method for nothing. It assumes there is a sensus literalis (literal sense) to Scripture. In short, it assumes that a text should be taken literally unless there are good grounds in the text and/or in the context to take it otherwise. As a matter of fact, we cannot even know a non-literal (e.g., allegorical or poetic) sense unless we know what is literally true. So, when Jesus said, “I am the vine” this should not be taken literally because we know what a literal vine is, and we know that Jesus is not one. Further, the literal [grammatico-historical] method does not reject the use of figures of speech or even symbolic language. It only insists that the symbols have a literal referent. For example, John speaks of literal angels as “stars” (Rev. 1:20) and a literal Satan as a “red dragon” (Rev. 12:3). However, the literal [grammatico-historical] method does not allow one to take a literal historical persons (like Adam) or events (like a resurrection) as not literal history.
I have been reviewing, critiquing, and commenting on the controversy between Norman Geisler and Mike Licona for a few months now and I haven’t commented on it for a while hoping that all of this would soon pass. With much dismay I was terribly wrong and it appears to have gotten much worse. There are several happenings I would like to reveal and discuss some new critiques of the situation. For my previous posts please see:
The following is a guest blog post by Mike Burnette. Mike “MoonDog” Burnette is a newly retired U.S. Air Force veteran who has worked 30 years for American Forces Radio & Television and commercial radio stations. Mike has a Bachelor’s in Telecommunications from Liberty University and an M.A. in Public Administration from Bowie State University. He is now a media consultant and creator of “MoonDog’s Media House.” He has proven success increasing the attractiveness and effectiveness of communication, awareness, understanding, participation, and production of key themes and messages for television, radio, and social media. You can view his website at https://www.moondogradio.com/
We now live in an over-communicated global society where, as the great philosopher Harry Nilsson said, “Everybody is talking, but I don’t hear a word they’re saying.” Language has become so abstracted in popular culture that quite often our words have no logical relationship with objective meaning or purpose. In our conversations we give nearly no thought to this deeper meaning or purpose. Our communication today is so riddled with self-stylized, relativistic blathering that we have no idea what we’re hearing. Francis Schaffer warned us of this in his book, The God Who Is There; however, most of us continue to speak as though the listener should understand our meaning—and we should understand theirs–that’s the danger!
Communication expressed by a person, relative to their own self-created truths is an unfounded bridge to relativism–in their attempt to say something of objective meaning–they’ve said absolutely nothing.
I believe there is objective meaning and purpose founded in God’s natural and special revelation. It is in God’s Word that we discover objective truths–that there is one God, the world was created, and that it’s wrong to lie, steal, kill, etc. It is from that foundation we can communicate that “this is good” or “this is bad” and “I know what you mean.” All other serious attempts for a universal communication may be, at times, illuminating, but ultimately is a bridge to nowhere.
I have to give credit to someone else for the post. I never went back through Norm Geisler’s petition to check if his reference to the ICBI statement was accurate. I guess most of us simply took him to be honest and quoted it accurately. To much disappointment it appears that we have been mistaken and Geisler conveniently left out important statements from the ICBI statement. Below is the comparison between the ICBI statement and Geisler’s use of it. For complete transparency, please view the ICBI document here. (What appears in black is taken from the ICBI statement, what appears in red is Geisler’s use of the statement, and what appears in blue is a note of comment).
The following is a guest blog post by Mike Burnette. Mike “MoonDog” Burnette is a newly retired U.S. Air Force veteran who has worked 30 years for American Forces Radio & Television and commercial radio stations. Mike has a Bachelor’s in Telecommunications from Liberty University and an M.A. in Public Administration from Bowie State University. He is now a media consultant and creator of “MoonDog’s Media House.” He has proven success increasing the attractiveness and effectiveness of communication, awareness, understanding, participation, and production of key themes and messages for television, radio, and social media. You can view his website at moondogsmediahouse.com.
You could describe me as a binge thinker. Often perfectly satisfied hanging out on the periphery of ignorance. I occasionally strolled into the hallowed halls of academia–mostly when challenged by opposing worldviews–and then only selectively dipping my toe into the apologetics pool. I could bandy about words like existential, presupposition, relativism—and quote what little I understand from Francis Schaeffer—“Ah, what an intellectual high!”
Each binge is informative, satisfying, and provides quick, easy answers in debate to support my Christian worldview—in many cases just to replenish my ever weakening apologetic force-field. I have given my life to Christ and believe there is rational justification for the truth claims of the Christian faith; however, I was not loving God–with all of my mind—it was more like by the seat of my pants.
Truthfully I have never jumped entirely into the apologetic pool and certainly had no idea of how deep the waters ran. That is until I encountered the likes of Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, Alister McGrath, and John Lennox. Up until then I was quite content challenging my skeptic and atheist friends with my devastating charm and sophisticated good looks—or was it my full-throttled arrogance and freshman understanding of the brilliant text Introduction to Philosophy “A Christian Perspective” by Norman Geisler and Paul Feinberg?!
I was quite encouraged when someone forwarded an email to me containing this blog post by Pastor Tim Rogers. I’ve recently been defending Mike Licona along with several other scholars, i.e. Paul Copan, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, et al. from unwarranted accusations from Norman Geisler. (You can see my posts listed at the end of this response). The reason why I was encouraged was because it seemed that the Geisler camp wasn’t really listening or paying attention to our responses and arguments (contra Geisler’s refusal to read footnotes). To much disappointment, my enthusiasm was quickly squandered when I read the response offered by Pastor Rogers. You can view his response on his website pastortimrogers.com.
Last week Mike Licona presented his paper, “When The Saints Go Marching In (Matthew 27.52-52): Historicity, Apocalyptic Symbol, and Inerrancy,” to fellow scholars of the Evangelical Theological Society, which included William Lane Craig, Craig Blomberg, Paul Copan, Dan Wallace, and Darrell Bock in the audience.
I appreciate Licona responding to Geisler in the academic arena. I hope many scholars take this issue and carry the research to verify or falsify this interpretation of Matthew’s raised saints to the best historiography can offer. (Also, you’ll note that Licona takes the modest position of agnosticism at the moment.) I certainly hope that Matthew 27 doesn’t become the litmus test for society membership or that it sneaks its way into some statement of faith (anymore than it already is).
My only hope is that Geisler either responds in the academic arena haven been given the chance to read Licona’s footnotes or that he drop this whole sideshow and move on.