Is Licona, NAMB's top apologist, a "Reluctant Inerrantist"?

News is circling around right now regarding Mike Licona, the Southern Baptist's Apologetics Coordinator for the North American Mission Board (note: Mohler seems to indicate that Licona is not longer with NAMB.  I have no confirmation of this.  As of this post, he is still listed on the staff page).  The controversy surrounds some things Licona has written in his massive, 700+ page book entitled The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.  Therein, Licona casts doubt on the historicity of the events described in Matthew 27:51-54.  Licona instead seems to prefer an "apocalyptic" or poetic reading of that passage.  This, of course, has created some discussion as to whether or not Licona really holds to the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy or, rather, if he holds on to it firmly enough.  Apologist James White has dubbed Licona a "reluctant inerrantist" citing not only the book but also his recent appearance on the Unbelievable radio broadcast opposite noted atheist Bart Ehrman.  On that program, Licona is clear in stating that he didn't consider Biblical inerrancy to be a "cardinal doctrine".

Well, if you find this conversation interesting and important, as I do, you can get caught up here:

Listen to James White's analysis of the entire controversy here.  And also here.
Read Albert Mohler's review of the situation here on his blog.
Read Norman Geisler's "Open Letter" to Licona here.

I've read some responses that are supposedly from Mike Licona to Mohler and Geisler, however, I have not found solid confirmation that they really come from him.  Licona's "Risen Jesus" website seems to be kind of dysfunctional right now.  There is an incomplete Facebook page in his name that has a few interesting pieces on it -- thanks to Sam Shamoun.  You can check it out here.

Okay, have fun!


  1. Anonymous5:39 PM

    This topic makes me anxious in several ways, from several angles. I feel that scholars like Licona and Robert Gundry (see Dr. Mohler's article) are incorrect, yet misunderstood by those who seek to correct them. There seems to be no charity in attempts to understand such statements when they are made by men who have proved themselves to be defenders of orthodoxy. That is troubling.

    Moreover, I find many of these defenses of inerrancy, a doctrine which I affirm, to be formulated in fairly non-Scripture-centric ways. That is not the way that Baptists, at least, should be having this discussion. Precisely, I would rather see the Chicago Statement of Inerrancy used as a helpful resource, a lens, in discussing how Licona's view is not faithful to the way Scripture testifies about itself. That, however, would require more investment in the specific issue, more reflection, and it might lend us less certainty in our conclusions about our judgments. It may be easy to prove Licona wrong by looking at Scripture, but I do not think we will come to the conclusion that he is heterodox without pulling in outside sources and reading even those selectively. See the Chicago Statement's discussion of genre and metaphor, for example. Licona - and even Gundry, too? - whether right or wrong (and I say wrong) probably felt he was well within those boundaries in saying what he said about "apocalyptic" in Matt 27.

    What are your thoughts, Cody?

  2. Well, if you are forcing my hand, Captn, I think I agree with you. That is, regarding what Licona is saying on Mt 27. Yes, to call something apocalyptic isn't the same thing as denying inerrancy.

    I am more troubled with the way Licona spoke about inerrancy on "Unbelievable". Licona seems to believe that one can deny inerrancy and still remain within the pale of orthodoxy. I'm not sure of that. Licona went so far as to say something like, "If Jesus rose from the dead, then Christianity is true even if we discover that everything else in the Bible is not." That's a paraphrase, but isn't far from a direct quote. With White, I am asking, "Exactly what kind of Christianity would you have left?"