1. Ehrman is being provocative and fear-mongering without cause. Most scholars see nothing really new in Ehrman's arguments and so dislike his attempt to shock the lay believer with his ideas. This angle chides Ehrman for trying to be popular by making the average Christian doubt their faith. The assumption is that the average believer is incapable of sifting through the issues and discerning truth from agenda. Basically that we are too stupid to cope with the basics of Biblical scholarship. A couple of quotes from critics -
"One almost gets the impression that he is encouraging the Chicken Littles in the Christian community to panic at data that they are simply not prepared to wrestle with. Time and time again in the book, highly charged statements are put forth that the untrained person simply cannot sift through. And that approach resembles more an alarmist mentality than what a mature, master teacher is able to offer. "2. Ehrman feels like he has to prove something to himself and others by converting them to his liberal agenda. Since Ehrman was exposed to an imbalanced fundamentalist form of Christianity (at Moody and Wheaton), he is just working through his emotional wounds in book form. If he was more balanced he wouldn't make such extreme statements. He also knows what he believes and his agenda is to convert others to believe as he does. That apparently is not respectable or scholarly. Plus it is liberal which according to some cannot be equated with true Christianity.
"Lay Christians DO NOT know this information. And more to the point, if they did, how could they trust the church, OR the Bible again? For centuries, members have been told that the Bible is the divinely inspired, inerrant word of God. This has been translated to mean that God actually guided the hands of the books' authors. Within Christian churches this has been debated, but there is no question that a large number of Christians lean to the "guided" hand idea---which is why many churches do NOT preach on biblical history or theology regarding biblical canonization or textual criticism"
"In fact, I believe that his need to support his own rejection of his early fundamentalism and his ultimate rejection of Christianity as a whole (now an agnostic), has caused him to seek out the minority text–and to support the ’strange’ variant, all under the pretext of ‘good’ scholarship."3. Ehrman misunderstands inspiration and inerrancy. Ehrman thinks that inerrant means that God dictated the Bible to the writers. But "most Evangelical scholars believe that the words are ‘God-breathed’ and inspired, but recognize that the writings still reflect the style and language of the human authors. Many would also contend that the ‘verbal/plenary’ understanding of inspiration, goes somewhat beyond the historical orthodox Christian teaching on inerrancy." So they say Ehrman is attacking an understanding of scripture that doesn't really exist among scholars. To this I wonder if the academic ivory tower got in the way of observing reality. Ehrman is writing a popular level book, and is respond to what the lay Christian thinks. And many average believers think that God dictated scripture not matter what the scholars may say.
"I believe that he wrote a ‘popular’ book on this subject (that is- a book for popular use rather than a scholarly work) to combat the influence of the Bible in the lives of millions of Christians and in everyday decisions made by believers–including political choices. Why do I say That?: A major promotion of the book–major publisher, major book stores, major media exposure, radio and TV interviews, plus major print media reviews–all with an unstated underlying liberal hope of finally getting at those darn ‘red state’–’Bible Belt’ evangelical conservative Christians... Political issues are noted in the introduction and the conclusion of the book. (Page 14- “…abortion, women’s rights, gay rights, religious supremacy, Western-style democracy, and the like?”; page 217- “..homosexuality, women in the church, abortion, divorce, and even American foreign policy…”). Ehrman seems to imply that our ‘fundamentalist’ belief in the Bible texts, cause us to make unfortunate conservative decisions.
4. Ehrman strays from
"The fact is, he has taken an unnecessary and illogical leap into spiritual quicksand by trusting his own fallible reason over what we are expressly told in the infallible Word of God: Holy Scripture is ultimately divine, not human, in its origin. If you are a skeptic who has read Bart Ehrman's book, it is likely that you found it to be a comfortable and scholarly affirmation of your skepticism. Being satisfied in this way, you will likely look no further. Misquoting Jesus has become your blissful Nirvana, isolating you from the difficulties related to facing the facts which would challenge your position. If you have already made the decision to become "a happy agnostic," based on Bart Ehrman's book, I urge you to reconsider... Given the uncertainty and brevity of life, this is a matter you need to take seriously now, because one day soon—likely sooner than you think—your agnostic "happiness," like Bart Ehrman's, will come to a sudden and terrifying end.
How do you respond to these sorts of criticisms? What others have you heard? Do they aid in your understanding of the book or the ideas behind the book? As lay believers is it difficult to find balanced and helpful ways to engage with these issues?