Some of you might remember the accusations made by Norm Geisler and Al Mohler that Michael Licona denies inerrancy because of his openness to a symbolic reading of Matt 27:52-53. At ETS I had the pleasure of having breakfast with Michael and he also outed me at an ETS session as someone who advocates an interpretation of Matt 27:52-53 similar to his apocalyptic poetry suggestion. A central point I would raise against Michael critics is that they preach the inerrancy of the text, but practice the inerrancy of their interpretation, indeed, the text and their interpretation are basically conflated. That is a hermeneutical move we should resist since it moves us towards a kind of de facto evangelical magisterium where conservative luminaries get to determine the orthodoxy of persons sheerly by their influence and entirely apart from any consensus within the evangelical churches and entirely apart from the structures of church discipline.
Over at Parchment & Pen, C. Michael Patton has some reflections (some sarcastic I must warn you) about the debate. Included is this quote from another blog site that puts the debate in rather dramatic terms:“My Dearest Wormwood,
Whenever you find an expert defense of the enemy’s resurrection marshall the forces of the fundamentalists to marginalize it by ceaseless debates over ‘inerrancy’ in minor, inconsequential details.”
Ouch! That’s pretty harsh, but unfortunately an apt way of putting it. Licona is one of the best evangelical apologists on the North American scene right now and some folks want to keelhaul him over his footnotes. We need some sober and measured perspective on this!
I would like to see Michael and his critics reconcile, even if they disagree with his interpretation of this tricky passage (many good folks like Dan Wallace do), but recognize that they are both singing of the same sheet of gospel music, and that hermeneutical differences do not amount to differences over biblical authority.