Bart Ehrman: Prophet of Islam

Dr. Bart Ehrman

Christianity and Islam have a very different history when it comes to apologetics.  Christianity needed to engage in apologetics immediately whereas Islam didn’t need to.  Islam had an empire and held the sword over Christians.  Even if the Christians could refute Islam, it didn’t matter because they were ruled by the Islamic Caliphate.

The first big Islamic apologist is Ibn Hazm.  He was from Spain which doesn’t come as a surprise, seeing as how Spain was the frontier of the Islamic empire and when the battle lines are drawn, people must engage with the pen.  Ibn Hazm is also the Muslim who came up with the absurd idea that the Christian and Jewish Scriptures have been corrupted.  Something that’s never been proven.

In the 19th century Muslim apologists stumbled across liberal scholars of Scripture.  This was accepted uncritically by the Muslims and became the new face of Islamic apologetics.  Fast forward to the 21st century and the agnostic naturalist Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman has become the number one source for Muslim apologists.  They say that many supposed Christian scholars agree with Ehrman, yet they always recommend Ehrman’s books.

In this video, Paul Williams talks about supposed forgeries in the New Testament.  He says that many Christian scholars believe in this, yet he’s marketing the book Forged, written by the agnostic naturalist Bart Ehrman.  He didn’t suggest books by Christian scholars.  Not even liberal ones.

A few days ago, Paul Williams tweeted the following:

Click to enlarge

The most important line in this Ehrman quote is:

To put the matter in its simplest terms, Christianity is a religion rooted in a belief in the death of Jesus for sin and in his resurrection from the dead.  This, however, does not appear to be the religion that Jesus preached to the Jews of Galilee and Judea…

The death of Jesus for sin and his resurrection from the dead are attested to in the Gospel of Mark in Chapter 10.  We the following in verse 33 and 34:

“We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles,  who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

In verse 45 we read these beautiful words:

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

If the Gospel of Mark is true then Ehrman and Williams are wrong.  Ehrman and Williams date this Gospel to roughly 70 AD but the belief in Christ’s death for sins and resurrection was being preached about in the earliest strata of data.  I am referring to the pre-Pauline creed which St. Paul quotes in 1 Corinthians 15 which reads:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

Of course, Muslims won’t believe in the statements from the Gospel of Mark whether Ehrman says it or not, but the earliest writings that we have state the opposite of what Muslims believe.

But here is my question for Muslims.  If you’re not willing to believe a Prophet of Allah when Ehrman disagrees with Him, will you do this with Muhammad as well?

Ehrman believes in the death of Jesus on a Roman cross which Islam denies.  Why not go with Ehrman on this one?  You’re more than happy to go with Him when he overrules Jesus.  In fact, Ehrman has veto power over Jesus anytime the Muslim wants.

The Quran states the following in Surah 2:286:

The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers, [saying], “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” And they say, “We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.”

No distinction yet Muhammad is immune from being overruled by Ehrman while Jesus has no such immunity.  The rank of authority seems to be Muhammad, Ehrman, then Jesus and the rest of God’s messengers.  If Muhammad, Jesus, and the rest of the messengers are Prophets, why not Ehrman?  After all, he can overrule any of them except Muhammad.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “Bart Ehrman: Prophet of Islam

  1. Excellent point, Allan!

    Also, Mark should be dated much earlier – somewhere ranging from 45 AD to 60 AD.
    The only reason those liberal and skeptic scholars believe in the late dating of the gospels (70 AD to 80s and 90s) is because they cannot believe in predictive prophesy in Mark 13 and Matthew 14 (destruction of the temple in 70 AD); they are forced to put that after the event.

    Another “prophet” they use is the RC scholar, Raymond Brown. Why was he not disciplined for his views” ( since the logical conclusion of a lot of what he wrote destroys the Christian faith.) He wrote that the infancy narratives of Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 were not historical and that the gospel of John went through 5 stages of redaction. Muslims use his material all the time also, especially Paul Williams and Shabir Ally.

    • I agree with you that the date should be before 70 AD. That is why I carefully said: “Ehrman and Williams date this Gospel to roughly 70 AD”. I don’t date it that way but just stated it for the sake of argument.

      Why was Brown not disciplined? Two reasons. The first one is that whenever he deviated from orthodoxy, he cleverly never said they were Church teachings but his own opinions. The second reason is that the Church simply lacks a spine these days.

      I’m interested to see if anything’s going to happen to Fr. James Martin. Michael Voris is really going after him. He’s had three speeches cancelled. I hope he loses his collar for the sake of the faithful.

      • “he cleverly never said they were Church teachings but his own opinions”

        So how did he maintain the virgin birth of Christ, if he thought Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 were not historical?

        Does not make sense.

        You are right that they had no spine to discipline him and many others who are liberal.

        • I don’t know how he maintained it. I don’t think he personally believed in it, but as long as he didn’t say this was Church teaching or that the Church should change her teaching, he would not be disciplined. Pope Pius XII made the mistake of allowing higher criticism in 1943. In my opinion a huge mistake by an otherwise decent Pope. As long as they say that it’s their personal opinion and the Church isn’t wrong, these scholars can do what they want.

      • I am not familiar with Fr. James Martin, but have seen some of Michael Voris’ videos in years past.

        I googled him and don’t have time to spend on details. Some things say Martin has a view of homosexuality that is controversial, and that one gets to heaven by being kind to the poor, etc.

        What are the main issues with him? Does he teach that homosexuality is ok and same sex marriage is ok?

        If so, then why don’t they just “boom” take away his collar, etc. ? It should be easy to just fire and discipline unorthodox teachers/priests.

        That is the biggest thing that mystifies Protestants – over Post Vatican 2 theology and ecumenism and lack of acting like they are infallible (but claiming it and claim of being the only true church, etc.) with church authority to discipline priests, bishops, and even heretical Popes.

        • Here is my review of his book.

          I point out in the review that he is very careful not to say that the Church needs to accept homosexual “marriage”. However, he really blurs the distinction between truth and error. He’s taking two steps forward and one step back and people think he’s retreated. He’s a slippery one. He might lose his collar over this. It’s actually a pretty big scandal. He’s had several speeches cancelled by Catholic institutions. Only time will tell.

          Regarding your last paragraph, I understand where you’re coming from. The Church is only infallible when it defines a Doctrine and not in its day to day affairs. It is the true Church but it’s going through a dark time. It’s been through dark times before. If you go back to the year 1,000 AD the Church was in a huge mess. The Pope was just a man sitting in Rome who didn’t do anything, the Priests of Europe were very uneducated and lived immoral lives, Bishops didn’t have a lot of control over their priests, local monarchs were forcing the Church to appoint their friends as Bishops, etc. The only thing working well for the Church was the monasteries. Starting with the monastery of Cluny, good influence spread through the monasteries of Europe then several good Popes came forth. This is known as the Reformed Papacy or the Gregorian Reforms. There were several Reformed Popes such as Leo IX, Alexander II, and last of all Gregory VII. When Gregory VII died, in 1085 the Church was in very good shape when only a few decades before it was an ugly mess. However, it was still the true Church in 1000 AD, just as it was in 1,085 AD. The only difference was, things were going really well in 1,085 AD and very poor in 1,000 AD.

          Right now things are bad in the Church. They’re not the same problems as the year 1,000 AD but they’re other problems that need to be dealt with. Sooner or later, the Church will regain a firm footing. It’ll just take time. Regardless, it has always been and always will be the true Church of Christ.