One of the things we’ve been talking about on the Bible Answer Man broadcast of late is Bart Ehrman and his attempt to cause people to doubt the veracity of Scripture. He is the chair of the Religious Studies department at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, but suffers from simplistic, close-minded, black/white stereotypical fundamentalism. He is now, unfortunately, receiving a wide audience in the media, and shaking the faith of Christians—as he claims too and he’s proud of it. He does this though with very simplistic reasoning that might sound good on the surface, but after a little probing, demonstrates that the supposed conundrums that he raises are not problems at all.
For example, an alleged contradiction that he brings up involves God’s progressive revelation of all that is imbued in His name. Ehrman says, “In the book of Exodus, God tell Moses, ‘I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD [=Yahweh] I did not make myself known to them’ (Ex. 6:3) How does this square with what is found earlier in Genesis, where God does make himself known to Abraham as the LORD (Gen. 15:7)?” So Ehrman is asking, did Abraham know God as Yahweh or not?
Now what Ehrman considers a problem, I would submit is a profound and glorious truth, because implicit in the name of “Yahweh” is the profundity that we as mere mortals perceive God progressively in the performance of His promises. Abraham caught a glimmer of that reality when the infinite I AM brought him from Ur of the Chaldeans. For Abraham, God was indeed the Almighty provider and sustainer (the meaning of El Shaddai in Gen. 17:1), though the promises God made to Abraham remained largely unfulfilled. Moses experienced the glorious revelation of Yahweh, the eternal “I AM that I AM” in a progressively greater and I would say more intimate way which culminates in the literal awesome exodus out of the land of Egypt. Yahweh’s deliverance of His people manifested ever more clearly His enabling power and enduring presence.
As those of Ehrman’s students who have grappled with Jewish law know full well, the words of the Torah are at once deceptively simple, yet deeply profound. Because of that, a wooden literalist is rendered impotent to grasp its profundities. Contra Ehmran a subtle and sublime sophistication is at work in the Torah and certainly with respect to the divine name.
Let me make one more point—I want to say this as forthrightly as I can—there’s an unsettling lesson to be learned in the questions that Bart Ehrman raises ad nauseum ad infinitum. If we harden our hearts against divine revelation, the very words of Yahweh will become to us an indecipherable parable that can’t be understood. Jesus put it this way, “They may be ever seeing but never perceiving and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise, they might turn and be forgiven!” (Mark 4:12, NIV).
God’s revelation, bottom line, is either an occasion to receive and be healed, or to reject and be hardened. No one remains unaffected. But make no mistake about it, Bart Ehrman has not uncovered some alleged inconsistencies in the Bible that other people haven’t been able to find before. These are the same old problems regurgitated now by Professor Ehrman in the popular media and people who are not easily conversant with how to read the Bible for all it’s worth, who are not equipped to answer the objections he throws at their feet.
For further information on alleged Bible inconsistencies, please check out The Complete Bible Answer Book and The Bible Under Siege both available at our website of www.equip.org or by calling 1-888-275-4265.