Public Debate With Bart Ehrman in Seminaries: A Bad Decision |

TBC Staff

Public Debate With Bart Ehrman in Seminaries: A Bad Decision [Excerpts]

Last week a debate was held in a conservative seminary between Dr. Bart Ehrman* and another apologist. I won’t mention the name of the school or the apologist, though I am free to, since I hope this little piece will be useful for a variety of situations yet to come.

Why is it wrongheaded to set up such a debate with Ehrman in seminary, or, for that matter, any unbelieving skeptic?

First, because Ehrman is a false teacher and we are forbidden to give such men a forum to express their views.

The Bible doesn’t treat false teachers kindly. It is one thing to talk with a skeptic who is asking questions to know the truth, or who is confronting you in public, but it is quite another thing to invite and pay a false teacher to come to your turf in order to present his views in an open forum.

At [this] debate, for instance, there were many people from the public who were not even believers. Some young people also attended, and some seminary students who are not yet prepared for the effects of doubt-producing verbiage.

Here are a couple of reminders about how we are to treat false teachers:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting. (2 John:1:10 ESV)

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (Romans:16:17-18)

[D]ebates are not always won on the basis of truth alone. We don’t need to comment much here, because you understand how this works. Ehrman clearly won the debate by the account of several attending. He simply won it by his cleverness and expertise at debating. His opponent, the believer, was well able to defeat him with the truth, but missed his opportunities in several places, giving credence to the idea that he was a better writer and lecturer than debater. In fact, this is the second time Ehrman won a debate at the same seminary, but against a different Christian opponent.

The seminary students may have the benefit of hearing what their professors have to say about the debate. Long and detailed answers may satisfy any lingering confusion. But the guest who will return to her apartment to sort through the issues privately, or even the seminary student who does not have more classes that day, may be affected by the Ehrman challenges for years.

When a man like Ehrman speaks, doubt-producing statements may be forever lodged in people’s minds, causing trouble when least expected. It only takes a tiny amount of doubt for some people to be destroyed. A weak person might believe his doubts rather than believe his beliefs. Paul spoke of some teachers who were able to “upset the faith of some” (2 Timothy:2:18) because of their unscriptural view.

One friend said that upon visiting one of the Baptist Seminaries in another State he was told, “We’re not here to tell you what to believe.” But truth by definition is dogmatic. And professors are to profess it. Students are not to blindly believe it, but to study the Scriptures for themselves to see if what is stated is true. It is one thing for two believers to debate over certain aspects of the Scripture as men who both wish to believe and do what the Word says—like a charismatic with a non-charismatic, a premillenialist with a postmillenialist, or a Calvinist with an Arminian. But to invite false teachers to have the same access is naïve. There will always be some loss, and often not much, if any, gain.

(Elliff “Public Debate With Bart Ehrman in Seminaries: A Bad Decision,” WorldViewWeekend Online, 10/26/16).