I have just caught wind of this controversy in the evangelical church and have spent a little time getting up to speed on the issue surrounding this feud. I find 3 main problems, one on Geisler’s side and 2 on Licona’s, that need to be addressed.
Before I get to that I should mention that the passage in Question is Matthew 27:51-55. I may be adding a couple verses but context needs to be included to see the whole picture.
#1. On Licona’s side, people who look to secular sources to declare what God is saying or what writing style He is using are very off-track. First, they cannot prove their point and second, God doesn’t need to resort to tricks to get the reader’s attention.
#2. Believer’s who use the secular scholar’s way, their rules, their ideas only end up causing problems for themselves and adding confusion to the church. Believer’s are not called to follow the secular world but to follow the Holy Spirit to the truth and by doing so, the church is not torn apart with false beliefs, church leaders avoid false teachings and implying that God lied or mis-led, and confusion is kept out of the church body.
Sadly Dr. Licona has opted misunderstand this passage and opt to declare it metaphorical or that Matthew borrowed a trick from an ancient Roman author to get the reader’s attention.
What Dr. Licona does not grasp is that Matthew is simply reporting the events that transpired at Jesus’ crucifixion. There is no attempt to exaggerate or over-emphasize the event. Matthew told everyone what took place on that day. The events and reactions were actual and real, letting the reader know that God is telling everyone who His Son is.
#3. I find it a problem when men hold up their own creations as the standard for all others to follow. Dr. Geisler in his papers and letters continuously refers to his and 2 other scholars’ inerrancy charter as the one all must follow to be on track with God.
I do not find such teaching to do so in scripture nor do I find where men are lead to create such pieces of work. We can deal with Dr.Licona’s error by biblical passages alone as true and false teachings are clearly defined in scripture and that is the measure one’s work is compared to; not to a man made document held up as infallible and the standard and so high that it over-shadows or replaces scripture.
False standards should not be a part of the church. The biblical authors have given us many guidelines touse when trying to discern what is true and what is false. One key guideline is God does not lie and Dr.Licona’s idea about that passage has implied that God lied. We know that his theory is not true and Dr. Licona needs to examine himself and his source for those theories to see if he is listening to evil over God.
Here are a couple links to the feud:
The lesson from this debacle is that using the scholarly approach may not be the method God wants used. One follows the Holy Spirit not academia.