Recently, Barry King, pastor of Grace Baptist Church (http://tiny.cc/te1v3), Wood Green, London came into contact with some friends in Germany who are at the heart of a struggle for Biblical reformation in their land. The testimony of Anita Kupfermann is sending shock waves through the churches of Germany. Her complete testimony was published in German in Bibel und Gemeinde in the October 2011 issue (pp. 9-14). This English translation is published here in hopes of encouraging prayer for Anita and others like her who are standing for Biblical orthodoxy in Germany.
Would you join him in prayer for God to continue to move among German Baptists?
— the Editors of SBC Today
My Life Changed! How God Gave Me Faith:
Thank you for taking the time to read my story!
My name is Anita Kupfermann and I would like to tell you about my time studying theology. It is my hope that this little account of my experiences will serve as a warning and an encouragement to you. I would like to warn you of how the so-called “Higher Critical” (Historical Criticism) method left my relationship with God, and therefore my entire life, severely damaged. Yet I equally hope to encourage you! I can testify with great joy and thankfulness that the Lord Jesus Christ, during my time at university, healed my unbelief and called me to follow Him.
I hope and pray that God will be glorified through these pages and that you, the reader, will be encouraged to fully trust the Word of God.
My Time At Theological College & the Higher Critical Method (HCM)
Through my parents I was confronted with the Christian faith at an early age. I regularly went to Sunday School and was baptized at the age of 14.
A full ten years later, whilst working at a nursery, I was gripped by the desire to do something else with my time, something equally meaningful. I wanted to submit myself to the Word of God and reflect on my walk with God. Although I had been baptized, I realized that I did not know the Bible. I couldn’t say I had a living relationship with God. I longed to know God better, to better understand what being a Christian meant. So, I decided to attend a theological college for ten months. My hope was that these ten months would supply what was missing in my faith.
Right from the beginning of my time at theological college I was confronted with Biblical criticism in the form of the “Higher Critical” method, (HCM). The HCM is the current philosophy of understanding and explaining Bible passages at German universities, as well as at many free-church theological colleges. According to this philosophy the Bible is not understood to be the inspired Word of God but a contradictory, mistake-prone, human work. Just like any other piece of literature it must be critically questioned and examined. This method of approaching the biblical texts normally leads to rejecting the historicity of the Bible – in other words, the historical accuracy and reliability of the Bible is questioned. Simply put, the Bible’s stories are just myths that never happened.
A debate has been swirling in Apologetics circles (particularly the Evangelical Philosophical Society) between two well-known and effective Christian apologists, Norman Geisler and Michael Licona. We at SBC Today have been aware of the debate for some time, but withheld comments on it in hope that a resolution amenable to all parties would take place. After the EPS meeting in San Francisco earlier this month, it has become apparent that no such reconciliation is likely. Therefore, we want to describe our understanding of what has happened (in Part 1), particularly for those of you who were not previously aware of this controversy. In a future post (Part 2), we would like to attempt to provide some perspective on the debate.
The subject of this controversy is Mike Licona, a Christian apologist who (until recently) served as Apologetics Coordinator for the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as a research professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina. He has spoken and debated on behalf of positions held by evangelical Christians in numerous venues – regional Baptist meetings, evangelism conferences, scholarly meetings, and college campuses. He is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, which requires an affirmation of the inerrancy of Scripture as a prerequisite for membership. So, to summarize, Licona is a conservative evangelical and inerrantist who has served the SBC effectively in addressing Apologetics issues in conferences, churches, and college campuses.
The focus of the controversy is several pages in Licona’s new book, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downer’s Grove: IVP, 2010). The overwhelming majority of this book is very positive, presenting a careful and well-researched scholarly defense of the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. However, it is just a few pages (pp. 185-186, 548-553) out of this 718 page book around which the controversy has swirled. On these pages Licona addresses “that strange little text” (p. 548) in Matt. 27:52-53, which describes six events after the crucifixion – darkness, an earthquake, the tearing of the temple veil, rocks splitting, the opening of tombs, and some saints coming to life from the tombs. Licona mentions this scriptural account while addressing John Dominic Crossan’s hypothesis that these events were associated with the “harrowing of hell” (1 Pet. 3:19-20, 4:6). Licona suggests that apocalyptic events such as these were claimed in Greco-Roman literature at the death of kings (Romulus, Julius Caeser, Cladius, etc.) and similar significant events. Indeed, Licona notes, the Roman historian Lucian openly admitted that he embellished his stores “for the sake of ‘dullards’” (p. 549).
Matthew 7:5-13 tells us of a time the Pharisees confronted Jesus about his disciples’ non-washed hands before they would partake of a meal. Jesus responded to them about their own traditions where they were dishonoring the word of God through what they thought to be wisdom. In other words, they did not rely on the sufficiency of the Scripture. The Pharisees said they believed the Scripture but developed numerous rules to keep the Scriptures and these rules ended up being used to violate the Scripture they said they believed. These, over 600, rules used to keep the Ten Commandments could be said to be the wisdom of man in determining how to follow the Scripture. This example of affirming one’s belief of Scriptural authority raises a question; “If the Scriptures are sufficient to guide my life, why does my wisdom keep me from engaging in an action the Scripture affirms?