Sunday, January 25, 2009

Faith and Higher Criticism

So many people that I come in contact with in my position are very suspicious when the subject of Higher Criticism comes up. I want to print a quote from a "higher critic" where his work has actually bolstered his faith. The area of "higher criticism" I am dealing with is textual criticism.

It is interesting to see where two "higher critics'" studies have taken their personal faith. Bart Ehrman's book Misquoting Jesus has gone a long way to make the public suspicious of the accuracy of the New Testament. In fact, his study of the "errors" in the ancient manuscripts has eroded his faith. However, the man he learned under had a much different experience when intensely studying the Scriptures. Listen to this exchange between Lee Strobel and Bruce Metzger (Ehrman's mentor).

Strobel asked Metzger, "All these decades of scholarship, of study, of writing textbooks...what has all this done to your personal faith?"
"It has increased the basis of my personal faith to see the firmness with which these materials have come down to us, with a multiplicity of copies, some of which are very, very ancient," Metzger responded.
"So, scholarship has not diluted your faith - ," Strobel started to say.
"On the contrary, it has built it. I've asked questions all my life, I've dug into the text, I've studied this thoroughly, and today I know with confidence that my trust in Jesus has been well placed...very well placed."
(Found in Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ, p. 71; see also Dethroning Jesus by Daniel Wallace and Darrell Bock).


The MAN Fan Club said...

So was it predestined for the one guy's faith to diminish? Make me think of Evidence That Demands a Verdict where the author set out to disprove the faith and ended up a strong believer.

billy v said...

Interesting question. What do you think? Strobel's book is very much the same idea as Josh McDowell's. He interviews experts in the fields and asks journalistic/legal questions.

Anonymous said...

Interesting and encouraging post. FYI, textual criticism is not a subset of higher criticism. Metzger, Wallace, and Bock would all agree.

billy v said...

Good point, anonymous. I thought about that, especially but it is a tool that is used to cause suspicion (Ehrman) that doesn't necessarily need to be so.