Should Christian Scholars be Watchdogs? My Interview with The Pietist Schoolman on David Barton

Grace College history professor Jared Burkholder today published an interview with me on fact checking David Barton’s claims.

Go check it out. Being an historian, Burkholder’s questions were thoughtful and included some analysis of his own. For instance:

Jared: In my mind, Barton’s problem is a methodological one rather than simply getting things wrong. And often the issue is that his faulty approach leads to misguided interpretive conclusions. Simply put, Barton does not engage in the critical study of history. Historians are trained to be critical, which means they must be ruthless questioners and skeptics – especially of themselves. They seek to maintain a certain amount of distance between themselves and the events they narrate so the conclusions are as objective as possible. Historians are expected to make arguments, or course, but one’s judgment is supposed to be free from bias. This is not to say that this is a perfect process; perceptive readers can usually detect at least some bias in all sorts of historical writing. Sometimes we even categorize historians in one school of thought or another based on their bias. But sometimes it becomes apparent that a writer’s presuppositions or a particular political or religious agenda is overtaking the careful process of questioning that makes for solid and useful historical writing. This is certainly the case with Barton. Warren, would you agree?  If you could boil it down to a few sentences, what is the crux of the matter regarding Barton’s historical work? In other words, is there a root issue, which in your opinion, leads to “bad history?”

You can read my answer and the rest of our exchange at the Pietist Schoolman.

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