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Bart Ehrman vs. Michael Licona on the Resurrection

December 30, 2009

If you haven’t watched this debate, I highly recommend it.  This debate should be faith-affirming for all who believe in the resurrection and thought-provoking for those who don’t.  This is the second or third debate I’ve seen with Bart Ehrman vs. Christian apologists (I’m starting to have déjà vu).  Anyway, I’ve found it interesting in the debates I’ve seen that Ehrman does not try to prove that the resurrection did not occur. Rather, his position is that the resurrection is a theological claim and he believes that history cannot establish a theological claim. This particular debate (August 2009) is on the issue of whether or not historians can prove that Jesus rose from the dead.  I think these debates are an awesome opportunity for people to consider the weight of the evidence for the resurrection.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2010 7:27 pm

    I attended the debate as it was hosted by my Seminary, SES. It was wonderful evening. Licona is very sharp, and while I disagree vehemently with Erhman’s position, I found him to be a very likeable fellow.


  2. January 7, 2010 3:00 am

    Oh really?! You were there?!! How cool!!! So you were part of the “lion’s den” that Ehrman joked about at the beginning of his first talk. Can we see you in the audience? 🙂

  3. January 7, 2010 3:05 am

    No, I was off to the right. Not sure if I would want anyone to see my ugly mug anyway!!


  4. January 7, 2010 4:53 am

    Well, I love watching debates like this. I learn a lot. Hey, can anyone tell me if LDS apologists ever engage in live, recorded debates like this with agnostics/atheists or people of other faiths? I am not aware of any, but I could be wrong. Do LDS see any value in these kinds of debates?

  5. January 7, 2010 5:09 am

    Daniel Peterson and another Mormon apologist once took on James White on the radio, I believe.

  6. The Red Dart permalink
    January 7, 2010 5:23 am


    I believe you are thinking of Daniel Petersen and William (Bill) Hamblin. There then was a follow up email exchange regarding a part of the discussion, which was then placed on the internet. It can be found here:



  7. January 7, 2010 2:00 pm


    I can’t get that link to work. I tried googling it and that didn’t work either (although it did bring up Todd Wood’s blog).


  8. The Red Dart permalink
    January 7, 2010 2:32 pm

    Hmm, interesting. Is anyone else having that same issue?

    Try searching

    William Hamblin James White Psalm 82

    It should be the first return. Although once you enter the site, you will have to click on the link “Letters 1 – 10” on the left hand side of the screen to start from the beginning.



  9. January 7, 2010 7:06 pm

    The link worked for me OK.

    I can’t remember where I heard that radio broadcast, but I remember hearing it…

  10. January 7, 2010 7:21 pm

    If you like these kind of debates Jessica, you really need to check out the Unbelievable podcast from Premier Christian Radio in the UK. It’s a very intelligent Christian program that has all sorts of prominent guests in for religious debate with prominent Christian voices. They’ve had Muslim, Jewish, atheist, and other guests including a few big names like Dawkins even. I believe Robert Millet and Greg Johnson once made an appearance.

    I think you’d like it. Here’s the link where you can get a podcast:

  11. January 7, 2010 7:23 pm

    I think I got it. Here’s the Millet-Johnson appearance:

  12. January 7, 2010 7:25 pm

    Don’t click on that last link. You have to cut-and-paste the full address to your browser.

  13. January 7, 2010 8:34 pm

    Final link:

    This is the Daniel C. Peterson/Hamblin debate with James White that I think is being referenced above.

  14. January 8, 2010 3:06 am

    Thats weird. The link is working for me now.

    Must be user error. 🙂

  15. January 11, 2010 7:11 am

    Cool debate! I watched the whole thing. Thanks for posting it, Jessica.

  16. January 13, 2010 12:56 am

    I’m so glad you liked it, Katie! 🙂

    Seth, thanks for the link to the UK podcasts. Those look great! You sure know your way around the internet! 🙂

  17. January 13, 2010 12:58 am

    So, these 2 are the only LDS debates you know of? LDS debating with Evangelical Christians? Are there none where LDS debate with those who are antagonistic toward faith?

  18. February 4, 2010 6:36 am

    What I find interesting is that modern Evangelicals agree that the Resurrection is a Biblical doctrine.

    The problem is when it comes to Jesus Christ being a Divine Exalted Being that has a resurrected body of Flesh and Bone. This doctrine (Very Biblical) fly’s in the face of the Trinitarian doctrine that there is three personages of the same essence who make up the ONE GOD. Christ being God himself.

    The problem is that because Christ did rise on the third day with a body of flesh and bone and ascended into heaven with this resurrected glorified body, his essence and substance is now different than that of the Father. Which means, Christ has to be separate and distinct from the father – unless the Christian is willing to say that Christ is the Father and that God himself came as the Redeemer and took on a tabernacle of Flesh and blood. To this charge, the Christian will denounce this as saying it is heresy and unbiblical.

    The trinitarian doctrine breaks apart on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, unless the modern Evangelical has a better answer.

  19. February 4, 2010 8:32 am

    Jessica, I don’t really think we LDS have an equivalent of James White – somebody who makes it their life’s work to tear down other belief systems.

    True, we have characters who are every bit as aggressive as James White in a debate. But those people operate solely from a defensive stance. While the LDS Church has a doctrine of a Great Apostasy in world Christianity, modern LDS do not actually spend a lot of time or effort on that particular aspect of our message. The common sentiment I’ve encountered in LDS circles is a desire to promote the positives of our own message and pretty-much ignore the negatives of other religions. It’s not a theme I find modern LDS all that interested in.

    Most modern LDS find James White’s behavior and ministry to be abrasive, rude, and possibly even a bit Satanic (depending on how dramatic the individual wants to get). They feel themselves above that kind of behavior.

    As for LDS apologists I know, most of them don’t consider giving White additional credibility to be a good use of their time.

    That’s probably why you don’t see parallels from the LDS side for James White. Most of our thinkers and apologists refuse to wade in with ideologues like that.

  20. February 4, 2010 2:57 pm

    I don’t really think we LDS have an equivalent of James White – somebody who makes it their life’s work to tear down other belief systems.

    Depends on ones definition of tear down. The entire foundation of the Mormon faith is the doctrine of the apostasy. While your comment attempts to downplay the apostasy, without it as a foundation, Mormonism would have no purpose. The 50,000 + LDS missionaries are sent out with the express goal to convert the world. They want to convert everyone, even those who are Christian. Why? Because the LDS Church believe that non-LDS are in utter error on several points… some of their leaders have even asserted that the doctrine of salvation by grace alone is straight from hell.

    Just because the modern day LDS missionaries don’t “play up” the fact that they believe we are wrong, does not make the message any less real. The message is simply implicit rather than explicit. As a result, I would say they are rather like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They come out to deliver a message, but are really not straighforward with it.

    As for me, I would rather have someone who is straighforward in their message.


  21. February 4, 2010 3:12 pm

    This doctrine (Very Biblical) fly’s in the face of the Trinitarian doctrine that there is three personages of the same essence who make up the ONE GOD.


    You are conflating essence with a physical body. Christ having a physical body is not sufficient to say that His essence is separate from The Father.

    Think about this for a second… is your essence your body? If so, how can you believe that you have a spirit? You can’t!! If you believe your essence is tied to your body then you by default must be a reductive materialist and deny the existence of a spirit.

    As a result, your logic is faulty.

    God Bless!!


  22. February 4, 2010 3:14 pm

    I already addressed that point Darrell. And I’m aware that some would consider James White to simply be more direct, blunt, or honest about something they feel the LDS are merely skirting around. But I’m simply stating the reason. The LDS are not – as a culture – an inherently confrontational bunch. This may change as the demographic shifts from Utah.

  23. February 4, 2010 3:16 pm

    And what the heck is “essence” anyway?

  24. February 4, 2010 3:21 pm

    A rather simplistic definition is “That which makes something what it is.”

    Wikipedia does an okay job of explaining it.


  25. February 4, 2010 5:15 pm

    I should also note that aggressive and pushy people are very prone to judge anyone who isn’t as aggressive and pushy as they are as “sneaky” or “dishonest.” They just can’t imagine the world operating on terms they didn’t set themselves.

  26. February 4, 2010 7:23 pm


    I should also note that those who use back-door approaches while denying what they are really doing sometimes tend to judge those who are honest and up-front in their tactics as pushy and aggresive.

    Kind of like the salesman who calls you and denies that he is really trying to sell you something, or the Mormon missionaries who knock on your door and claim that they are aren’t trying to change what you believe; instead, they are just trying to give you “more truth”.


  27. February 4, 2010 7:39 pm


    I wasn’t really thinking of James White. I was thinking of debates such as this one with Licona vs. Ehrman. Since Ehrman used to be an Evangelical Christian and is now an agnostic, it would be like the equivalent of the LDS church inviting Darrell in for a debate with someone from FAIR or FARMS. And allowing LDS members to sit in and decide for themselves what they think.

    Might increase understanding and give them an opportunity to learn more where former LDS members are coming from and their reasons for leaving.

  28. February 4, 2010 8:31 pm

    Well Darrell, I guess we’ll find out which one is which someday.

  29. February 4, 2010 8:51 pm


    True enough.

    Now we see as through a glass darkly, but then we shall see even as we are also seen.


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