FURTHER UPDATE: Evangelicals turn on “disappointing” evangelical Bible scholar

See comments below: 

It appears that Professor Mike Licona has upset a growing number of conservative evangelical Christians. His crime? Reading the Bible with scholarly integrity and honesty. Rev Ken Temple (yes he is a pastor) is a long-standing commentator on this blog and a fearless advocate of what I call Christian fundamentalism: the dogmatic belief that the Bible is perfect, containing absolutely no errors, discrepancies or contradictions. He denounces Licona as a “liberal” (a big boo word in the US) and “disappointing”.

But evangelical scholar Licona has taken the road less traveled. He has admitted that Paul was wrong about the timing of Jesus’ second coming. He admits he has no solution to offer to some of the big contradictory accounts in the New Testament. He has the courage to face the facts that non-evangelical scholars have acknowledged for decades.

These problems will come as no surprise to mainstream Christians (and others) who have studied the text closely. The Bible obviously contains contradictions and errors. The problem of fundamentalism is its flight from the reality of the Bible itself. 


UPDATE: El Cid, aka Radical Moderate, aka Robert Wells, a pugnacious Christian missionary, thinks Mike Licona is no longer even a Christian:


Such is the fundamentalist rejection of honest scholarship. Shocking.

Categories: Bible, Biblical scholarship, Christian extremism, Christianity

60 replies

  1. But Licona was great against Shabir Ally in this exchange:


  2. “more and more liberal” on some things does not mean “completely liberal”


  3. He is not completely liberal like Ehrman or John Dominic Crossan, nor even moderately liberal like James D. G. Dunn


  4. Paul are you a Fundamentalist Muslim?


  5. I need you to clarify your question before I answer.

    You suggest there are two classes of Muslim when it comes to the Islamic understanding of the Qur’an. There are:

    1) fundamentalist Muslims

    2) non-fundamentalist Muslims

    could you explain the difference? I really do not know what it is.



    • No I did not I simply asked you if you are a “fundamentalist Muslim as I have defined it “the dogmatic belief that the [QURAN] is perfect, containing absolutely no errors, discrepancies or contradictions.”?

      As far as what non fundamentalist Muslims believe I have no idea since I did not ask nor did I define what a non fundamentalist Muslim is.

      So are you a Fundamentalist Muslim as you asked me to define it?


    • I cannot answer your questions till you clearly define what you mean by fundamentalist/non-fundamentalist. You brought these terms up – not me. Clearly there are two types of Muslim belief about the Quran, according to you, otherwise the adjective would be totally redundant.

      I do not self-identify as subscribing to ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ – whatever that may be.


  6. Yes, Paul Williams is a Fundamentalist Muslim, according to that definition. He believes in the Fundamentals of Islam, even the need to restore the Caliphate.


    • Ken a fundamentalist is someone who does not have a normative, balanced and orthodox belief in his religion. It is not a praiseworthy thing to be a fundamentalist.

      So can you point out where my Islamic beliefs are in any way deviant?

      Liked by 4 people

  7. No, originally, the term only means believing in the fundamental truths of the Bible and Historical Christianity.

    Since you also believe in the fundamental doctrines of Islam, including that the Qur’an is the word of Allah that is without error, you are a fundamentalist Muslim.

    Islam itself is a false religion, founded by one man’s private claim to supernatural revelation; revelations that said that men can have up to 4 wives, but that he himself could have as many as he wanted. And he took Zayd’s wife from him, Zaynab Bint Jahash.

    Later, even Aisha commented, “how quickly Allah comes to give you your heart’s desire.”

    Narrated Aisha:
    I used to look down upon those ladies who had given themselves to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and I used to say, “Can a lady give herself (to a man)?” But when Allah revealed: “You (O Muhammad) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive any of them whom you will; and there is no blame on you if you invite one whose turn you have set aside (temporarily).’ (33.51) I said (to the Prophet), “I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires.”

    حَدَّثَنَا زَكَرِيَّاءُ بْنُ يَحْيَى، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو أُسَامَةَ، قَالَ هِشَامٌ حَدَّثَنَا عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ قَالَتْ كُنْتُ أَغَارُ عَلَى اللاَّتِي وَهَبْنَ أَنْفُسَهُنَّ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَأَقُولُ أَتَهَبُ الْمَرْأَةُ نَفْسَهَا فَلَمَّا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى ‏{‏تُرْجِئُ مَنْ تَشَاءُ مِنْهُنَّ وَتُؤْوِي إِلَيْكَ مَنْ تَشَاءُ وَمَنِ ابْتَغَيْتَ مِمَّنْ عَزَلْتَ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكَ‏}‏ قُلْتُ مَا أُرَى رَبَّكَ إِلاَّ يُسَارِعُ فِي هَوَاكَ‏.‏

    USC-MSA web (English) reference : Sahih Al Bukhari, Vol. 6, Book 60, Hadith 311
    Arabic reference : Book 65, Hadith 4788


    • No Ken you are quite wrong. Fundamentalism is not normally defined simply as someone who believes in the fundamental doctrines of a religion.

      The dictionary defines it thus:

      ‘An organized, militant Evangelical movement originating in the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s in opposition to Protestant Liberalism and secularism, insisting on the inerrancy of Scripture.’

      1. (Ecclesiastical Terms) Christianity (esp among certain Protestant sects) the belief that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore true
      2. (Islam) Islam a movement favouring strict observance of the teachings of the Koran and Islamic law
      3. strict adherence to the fundamental principles of any set of beliefs

      I do not subscribe to 1, 2 or 3. So, no, I am not a fundamentalist, but you are Ken.


  8. Scroll down in that dictionary, this is a better definition:

    1. a conservative movement in 20th-century American Protestantism in reaction to modernism, asserting especially the inerrancy of the Scriptures as a historical record and as a guide to faith and morals, and emphasizing, as matters of true faith, belief in the virgin birth, the sacrifice and death of Christ upon the cross, physical resurrection, and the Second Coming.

    Those are the basic fundamentals:
    1. Inerrancy
    2. the Virgin Birth
    3. The efficacy of Christ’s death on the cross
    4. The physical resurrection of Christ from the dead
    5. The Second Coming of Christ

    You don’t believe in following the Qur’an and Islamic law?

    How do you define what “strict” is?

    When we had this argument before, it was on one of your old blogs. You deleted those, unfortunately, so I cannot get it back. This is your third blog, after deleting the first two.

    In that exchange, you agreed with me that you were a fundamentalist Muslim, believing in the fundamental doctrines of Islam.

    You also used to have articles arguing for the re-establishment of the Caliphate in Muslim lands, and about the party Hizb e Tahrir (it is in England). Did you change your mind on that doctrine?


  9. Whoever wrote the definition in that online dictionary that you quoted, put the word “militant” in there, and that is wrong; as there was nothing “militant” in nature about the response of fundamentalism to liberalism and “modernism”.

    But Islam is militant by nature, conquering the Persian and Byzantine Empires by force and aggressive war, and continued in that vein for centuries.

    Doesn’t the way in which Muhammad took Zayd’s wife, Zaynab Bint Jahash, bother you?

    Doesn’t it bother you that Islam got rid of adoption, one of the greatest acts of love and mercy by people to do ?


  10. “There is a considerable moral problem with such a self-serving revelation. It is quite clear that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was attracted to Zainab before Zaid divorced her and it might well have been the true reason for the divorce itself. And Qur’anic verses do make clear that there was something going on before Zaid divorced Zainab. The entire melodrama: Zaid’s divorce of Zainab, Muhammad’s marriage with Zainab and subsequent revelations of several Qur’anic Ayats from Allah to purify this scandalous happening is something to ponder very seriously. There is more in this strange story. That this action is immoral and this revelation/justification of it self-serving and not fitting for a true word of God is an important aspect, but not a contradiction within the Quran – even though contradicting the true character of God, who is moral purity. Prohibiting adoption is no way a moral action. Prohibitions of alcohol drinking, smoking, gambling, sorceries, killing, etc., could be a moral action. But why was there prohibition of adoption?”

    Mr. Syed Kamran Mirza


    • lol you are so desperate Ken. Talk about changing the subject. Adoption in Islam?! Whatever next. Any excuse to have a bash eh?

      Liked by 2 people

    • it is connected since you believe in all of Islam, and what Muhammad did was immoral.

      Doesn’t that story bother you? (about Zayd and Zainab Bint Jahash and Muhammad desiring her, then marrying her after Zayd divorced her, then Muhammad abolished adoption) – doesn’t that bother you?


    • lol nice try. Now back to the thread Ken:

      Evangelicals turn on “disappointing” evangelical Bible scholar.

      Liked by 2 people

    • At this point can we even say that Licona is a Christian? I don’t think I would have communion with him.

      Liked by 1 person

    • El Cid – that is not right; you have gone too far. He is a fellow Christian brother. Though some of his methods and views are not good.


    • Why are his methods and views unacceptable? He raises valid points that have long been known to scholars.


    • because the “we who are alive” is meant to mean we Christians who will still be alive when Christ returns. it does not mean the apostle thought Jesus would return in his lifetime and that he was somehow wrong or made a false prophesy. His views on Matthew 27:51-53 are weak and undermine inerrancy and he even wrote against the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy at his website. Dr. White showed the weaknesses of his view of Mark 5 and “being confused”. Also, the way he debates sometimes he says things, “I am not saying God raised Jesus from the dead, I am just saying that He was raised from the dead, historically speaking”. He seems unwilling to let the Scriptures speak for themselves as truly powerful and God’s word and proclaim in debate: “Yes, God the Father raised Jesus from the dead”. He says things like “the preponderance of the evidence points to Jesus was raised”, but without being bold to say, “God raised Him from the dead”. He seems to not want to bring miracles or God’s power into his debating tactics. As if somehow they are not allowed.


    • “because the “we who are alive” is meant to mean we Christians who will still be alive when Christ returns.”
      This is very unlikely, and you say this because of your inerrantist presuppositions.
      We say “we”? If you are right about Paul’s meaning he would say rather “those” (Christians) i.e. third person not first person.
      So you fail to make a convincing argument.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ken i have to ask how far can someone go off the reservation for it to be to far?

      For me the things that i have heard licona say leads me to believe he really doesnt belive and if he does believe his reasons for believing are not built on a sollid foundation.

      the fact is apostates were aoostates long before they declared themselves to be apostate.

      Liked by 1 person

    • He still affirms Jesus as God in the flesh, the cross, the resurrection, Jesus as Savior and Lord, etc. I don’t see him denying essential Christian faith yet; although he has set himself up for lots of criticism with his own particular take on what inerrancy is (rejecting the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy).

      He answered Shabir Ally well in that short exchange that I posted the video.


  11. BTW Paul just got this tweet from Mike Licona

    “@RadicalModerat1 The current Muslims quoting me are select quoting to make points with which I do not agree. It’s pseudo scholarship.”


    • lol Radical moderate, Bobby Boy.

      FACT: Licona has admitted that Paul was wrong about the timing of Jesus’ second coming. He admits he has no solution to offer to some of the big contradictory accounts in the New Testament.

      Does he now disagree with his earlier pronouncements?


  12. Hell yeah I’m fundamentalist when it comes to the Quran. Unlike the bible, a very good case can be made for Quranic inerrancy. For starters, unlike the bible the Quran doesn’t make false prophecies.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The Quranic prophecies all occurred within Muhammad’s own lifetime, not that impressive really. The only possible prophecy that still stands is the one to protect the Quran, yet we cannot know that with 100% certainty since variants were burnt. If we could determine that those burnt copies weren’t really substantial “variants” then by all means I would agree that is a fulfilled prophecy. Otherwise that’s all the Quran has. You talk about embarrassing prophecies in the Bible but fail to mention embarrassing prophecies in Islam such as the one about the people of Gog and Magog being blocked off by an actual real life wall and they are currently still alive today somewhere on the planet still trying to find a way out. Tell me where the people of Gog and Magog are and where this wall is?

      You forgot to mention that the New Testament says that the gospel must be preached to all nations which is still a progressing prophecy as the gospel can be found on every continent with humans living there, not only that the Bible is the most translated text on Earth and is still currently being translated into more languages. Eventually everyone will be able to read the gospels in their own native language, just as was prophesied by Jesus. Someone try and explain to me how Jesus was only sent for Jews when even the Quran says that he will be a sign for all mankind?

      Don’t also forget about the prophecy in the New Testament which predicts the behaviour of people living in the last times with remarkable accuracy (1 Timothy 4).

      The Quran can barely be considered prophetic when it doesn’t actually have substantial prophecies except the one I mentioned above.


    • Is this on topic? No it is not. Why not start your own blog?


    • I have no problem staying on topic, I was responding to Kmak and Faiz.

      Maybe I will start my own blog some day when I get the time.


  13. LOL, this is so funny! The Christians have all been trying to change the subject to Islam. I guess it’s too embarrassing to see their own scholars admitting the Bible is not perfect, so they try to change topics as a result.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Licona is a fellow Christian and brother in Christ. Disagreeing with him on a few points – it is not right to then say the guy is not even a Christian, or to reject having communion with him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “El Cid” raises an important question though. In the video you presented Licona speaks about Jesus being “divine”. What exactly does he mean? It might well be his “divine Jesus” differs from your “divine Jesus”.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. In the video we see a student ask a question to Licona about problems in the Bible then the latter answer it, after which he gets a round of applause from his students. Somehow including the whole clip is selective quoting.


  16. paul u give me top billing but delete my comments

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Regarding the screen shots in the blog entry, Christians pronouncing a sort of Christian equivalent of takfeer against Licona is sad, and strikes me as profoundly unhelpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Where to draw the line? What’s the standard for being “Christian”?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Christian simply means Christ follower, so anyone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ is a Christian, including Muslims. But Jesus himself was a Jew so if we follow this progressively then Christians are also Jews. Yet again, Jews, Christians and Muslims all claim to submit their wills to God, or at least try to. By definition then we would all be Muslims submitting our wills to God according to Surah 29:46.

      When we remove the dogmatic assertions of each faith, these words are essentially interchangeable and mean the same thing. But since people complicate life, it sadly doesn’t work that way.

      Apart from my definition above, the most fundamental definition in the New Testament of a Christian or a believer would be someone who believes in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ because according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, our faith would be a delusion if it is not true that Jesus resurrected. Everything else such as the Trinity etc are secondary, and might I say, inclusions from people’s own ideas rather than actual scriptural authority.


  18. Licona is an evidentialist, so it’s not a far progression to deny inerrancy. When one’s presuppositions (admitted or not) are based on secular rules of historical scholarship, then it is very difficult to remain in the academy and the church. In this case Licona is opting for the academy.


    • James White has taught you well but when will you actually deal with Dr Liconas points, its very easy to reject someone elses’ ideas in this way but it doesn’t mean you have actually refuted anything he has said (or the number of other NT scholars have said). The problem is not going away that easily.

      Paulus could you tell us what the ‘secular rules of historical scholarship’ are?

      Liked by 2 people

    • His points? Licona’s hermeneutics is coming from a historical lense (e.g Plutarch). While there is validity in this approach, it is by no means the only way to interpret the NT- it is the approach of modern historical revisionism. One could equally use oral theory or any other theory as their hermeneutical lense. Licona’s conclusions are no different to traditional liberal theories, just the road is slightly different. As far as I am concerned I have nothing to debate- I disagree with his base presupposition so naturally I disagree with his conclusion.

      The problem with the evidentialist is their reluctance to admit presuppositional bias. It is quite stubborn really.

      Paul Williams will often appeal to evidentialist argumentation while attacking other faiths, but is a committed presuppositionalist in relation to Islam (I.e inconsistent)


    • So your not going to answer any of the issues he (and others) bring up about the NT because you are not an evidentialist? This is a tad silly considering presups debate people with whom they disagree on foundational issues with regularly, see James White who has debated Muslims, Atheists, and even other Christians. You likewise have been debating Muslims on this blog and have never seemed to have this problem, yet now i am to believe this has always been the case? I doubt it.

      Then you finish up by attacking Paul for being inconsistent as if this some sort of argument, in truth this is a logical fallacy (tu quoque) a good way of ignoring his arguments.

      Finally i think it is rather troubling that one of the key arguments for Christianity is that the Bible can be trusted and scholars are often cited to support this view, many would (maybe not now) have included Licona as one of them, but when scholars present a differing view they are simply rejected as heretics or ‘liberals’ this is not consistent either it is simply confirmation bias.


    • Licona’s rejection of inerrancy has been debated in-house for years. Muslims are about 6or 7 years behind the eight ball.

      It’s not difficult. I personally don’t think Licona’s arguments are convincing because I don’t accept his base presupposition and hermeneutical approach. I don’t think it helpful to use extra biblical source as the primary basis for NT interpretation.

      Your asking me to accept his argument and then detail why I reject it? That is nonsense.

      And yes, Paul has many times appealed to both evidentialist approaches when attaching Christianity but never applies the same to Islam- just an accurate observation.


    • You don’t think understanding the context of the NT writers is necessary to understand what they meant? Because they are ‘extra biblical’? Why does them being ‘extra biblical’ cause a problem?

      Furthermore even a presup like White has pointed out the need to take a historical-critical approach to interpretation without which one would not be able to properly interpret the Bible. This has significant practical importance as this was said in context of an argument that the Bible was used to support American and European slavery.



  1. Have Christian Scholars Abandoned the Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy? Yes! | Calling Christians

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