The A, B, Cs . . . Ds Es of Defending the Gospels – Dr. Mike Licona


Mike Licona addresses the 5 major objections to the historical reliability of the Gospels: Authorship, Bias, Contradictions, Dating, and Eyewitness Testimony. http://RisenJesus.com

Dr. Licona’s bio
Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1961, Mike became a Christian at the age of 10 and grew up in a Christian home. He attended Liberty University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance (Saxophone). During his undergraduate studies, he had a strong desire to know God, devoting himself to studying the Bible daily. He decided to learn Koine Greek in order to read the New Testament in its original language and later completed a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies.
Toward the end of his graduate work in 1985, Mike began to question the veracity of his faith and wondered if there was any evidence to support it. He decided not to go into Christian ministry at that time. Finding answers to his questions consumed him and he almost jettisoned his faith. He investigated the evidence for Christianity and a number of other major world religions. He also considered the arguments for atheism. His investigation solidified his belief that God exists and that he has actually revealed himself to mankind in Jesus Christ and that the Christian view provides the most plausible and unified theory of reality.
In July of 1997, Mike formed TruthQuest Ministries in order to give an official name to his growing ministry and to allow future donors to make tax-deductible gifts. In October 2001, the ministry was renamed “RisenJesus” in order to avoid confusion with other ministries named “TruthQuest” and more closely reflect its vision of equipping 100,000 Christians to share their faith using the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.
Mike is the author, co-author or editor of six (6) books: The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (IVP Academic, 2010), Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy and Science, with co-editor William Dembski (Baker 2010), Paul Meets Muhammad (Baker, 2006) which is a debate on the resurrection of Jesus between the apostle Paul and the prophet Muhammad, the award winning The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus with co-author Gary Habermas (Kregel, 2004) which is a comprehensive self-study course,Cross Examined, a legal novel defending the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, and Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock which lays out in a concise manner what to say to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses when they knock on your door.
He also contributed a chapter in Buried Hope or Risen Savior: The Search for the Jesus Tomb, Charles L. Quarles, ed. (2008), an entry in The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner, eds. and a chapter in The Big Argument: Twenty-Four Scholars Explore How Science, Archaelogy, and Philosophy Have Proven the Existence of God, John Ashton, Michael Westacott, eds. (Master Books, 2006). He is a featured scholar in Lee Strobel’s new book The Case for the Real Jesus (Zondervan, 2007) and his DVD The Case for Christ (2007). Mike was also one of the authors selected for the Erasing Hate 2007 tour (www.erasinghate.com).
Mike has a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies (University of Pretoria). He completed all requirements “with distinction” and the highest marks. He is a frequent speaker on university campuses, churches, Christian groups, retreats, frequently debates, and has appeared as a guest on dozens of radio and television programs. He is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Institute for Biblical Research, and the Society of Biblical Literature. Mike is currently the president of Risen Jesus ministries and serves as an external research collaborator, Faculty of Theology, North-West University (Potchefstroom).

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31 Comments

  1. Tom Mutugi says:

    Excellent but I have a question:From his explanation Does it mean the Gospel writers wrote from memory as opposed to divine inspiration?

  2. My OpenMind says:

    If the gospels were reliable then they should be accepted as true but all and in no need of defence.

    They are not.

    Apologists are defending the need to hold an irrational belief not presenting something which is demonstrably true.

    Therein lies the difference.

  3. one thus come says:

    what is the source that Clement said of Paul he accurately taught the word of truth?

  4. MyJizz UrEye says:

    Next in the series, defending the historical accuracy of spider man comics.

  5. Jeffrey Cruz says:

    Anyone have this 2007 study regarding Christian persecution on campus?

  6. Fernando Alarcon says:

    If such a big event as Jesus Christ, why is he not listed in any other history books of that time.

  7. Fernando Alarcon says:

    No proof given to the validity of the gospels. Human error ca occur when writing history. However,Christians claim that the bible is inspired by God. If God is perfect there should be no constrictions, or differences in stories.

  8. Dd s says:

    can you say C O N M A N  ??     B U L L S H I T   A R T I S T  ???????????

  9. Rev. J. Roger Allen says:

    This guy is great! He is open and honest yet speaking historical truth. I appreciate that. I am a Priest of the Anglican Church in North America but I thank you Mr. Licona for doing your best to be an historian.

  10. Rev. J. Roger Allen says:

    Excellent! I'm not a Baptist but you Sir, have done your homework. Thank you.

  11. Марко says:

    Amazing job Dr. Mike Licona! God bless you!

  12. e.eagle2007 eric says:

    Keep religion out of politics and law. Simple as that. Reiligion should stay a private matter. Forming clubs about differences is a really stupid idea. And leave the youngsters alone…until they have the ability to decide themselves. Brainwashing with hell and unbelivers as a prerequisite of faith is so unhelpfull it's not true…a terrible imposition of overiding will by others.

  13. David Bradley says:

    We were at the same game only I was on the 3 rd base side …Brooks was even more awesome from there… 🙂

  14. Pointless Bunkum says:

    Arguing that "everyone is biased" does not help your case when you are defending a supposed historical account.

  15. smb12321 says:

    If Matthew & Luke were eyewitnesses they were deaf and blind.  Matthew says Jesus returned from Egypt after Herod died (4BC) yet Luke says he was born in the census of 6 AD!  Galilee did not even have a census – only Judea since it had just become a province.   

    Luke has Gamaliel remark on the Theudas revolt that was not to occur for 12 years. His death of Judas contradicts the one in Matthew. He twice says the high priest in Jesus' lifetime was someone deposed in 15 AD.  He says Paul was threatened by "Jews" in Damascus but Paul says it was King Aretas. In his Letters Paul rants about the disciples and trashes their gospel.  In Luke they're BFF,   Luke failed history (lol) and gets mixed up some times. 

    Oddly, the Passion of John may be the only eyewitness account in the NT due to his knowledge of times, distances, customs, the arrest (no Sanhedrin trial and Jesus is bound immediately having been found guilty of sedition) and the archaeological find of the Pool of Bethany with the five porticos, hidden since the revolt in 70 AD.

  16. skjelver one says:

    If 53% of professors have unfavorable attitudes toward evangelicals, this does not mean that evangelicals are being persecuted.  It probably means that university professors are leery of evangelicals because evangelicals have been historically hostile toward science   I mean, if you're going to support unscientific and blatantly biased "science" like "the young earth theory" you might become suspicious in the eyes of academia.   Also, for those of you who listen to Mr. Licona's spiel and come away from it with a belief that Christians are more persecuted than Jews, go read Martin Luther's book "The Jews and Their Lies", which ushered in the antisemitism that led to the holocaust.

  17. Dave Biddle says:

    +Hooya2 YOU  7:45 The oldest manuscripts don't have the titles–do you think the texts were copied but the titles weren't?

    RESPONSE Licona is merely making that point that neither Ehrman nor any other scholarly skeptic can say that the originals didn't have the modern titles or author's name because no one has the originals as far as we know.  Licona is clarifying that particular point to be speculation.  However, Licona didn't argue that the originals necessarily did have the modern titles ascribing authorship and he goes on to discuss evidence that would support the traditional authorship even without the modern titles.

    YOU 10:00 Unlike Plutarch, some of the Gospel authors were supposedly eyewitnesses. There's every reason for them to name themselves–it's bizarre that they didn't, unless they weren't who the early church claimed. And that's my next point; the church fathers named the authors. There's little bias in attributing historical texts, but we can't say the same about the Gospels.

    RESPONSE I think you missed the point Licona was making.  He said that out of 100 or so biographies that Plutarch wrote, we have about 48 of them today but none of them have Plutarch's name written on them.  So how do we know that Plutarch wrote them?  Because there is other attestation confirming that it was Plutarch who wrote them.  I think it would actually be bizarre for you to deny the Plutarchic-authorship attestation simply by claiming that if Plutarch actually had written them, he would have put his name on them which is the same argument you make against the gospel authorship.  Licona is approaching the argument from a scholarly approach which deals with rational defensible arguments.  Licona cites one non-Christian scholar (James D. G. Dunn, I beleive it was) who says that the traditional authorship claim of the canonical gospels deserves respect.

    Furthermore, Licona also discusses the problem with judging ancient writing approaches and practices by the standards of modern writing approaches and practices. 

    Licona addresses your bias objection in this video essentially saying that everyone is biased but bias does not necessarily equate to falsehood.  He gives an example and anecdote illustrating this.  Let's say that your worldview is vehemently against the Biblical Christian worldview.  Licona says that this doesn't mean that every argument that you make against Christianity should be dismissed and I agree.  He says that we do not discard statements because of bias, we discard statements or arguments because they're weak or false.  Would you agree?

  18. Predestined Calvinist says:

    The historical account may not be heavily impacted if there are minor differences, but certainly our theory of Biblical inspiration would be impacted.

  19. paintur68 says:

    Stop talking about football. It is excruciatingly boring to a non fan.

  20. William Brooks says:

    I can't imagine any professor telling his Christian students that his goal is to make them give up their faith. This sounds spurious to me, and is something I never experienced in any of my classes at Yale — one of those hated "liberal" institutions. This sounds like more of the anti-intellectualism that characterizes the evangelical right. And evangelicals are right to fear the education of their children, because education allows people to question the dogmas instilled in them by their religions. 

  21. Alan. Z says:

    Excellent speech there Mike! You have just addressed some of the hardest and most important questions that believers in Christ often face.

    Shalom and God Bless

  22. ClemJCES says:

    Sekpticism IS doubt, and there's no doubt about that!  Scientific facts are never "in" (that is complete) because that requires omniscience.  The skepticism which most people display has the "look and feel" of untutored ignorance, people spouting off just to be contrary.  The highest form of empirical verification is that of multiple eyewitnesses to some event, no matter how unique it might be.  Miracles fall into that category.  Non-eyewitnesses, by definition, are only capable of rumor and hearsay, and, outside of a laboratory skepticism is a fish out of water.  This is a common failing among experts of our day because their skepticism doesn't stop at the lab door. A different set of protocols is required to weigh historical evidence and most people (including scientists) seem completely oblivious to that fact. David Hume (the skeptic's mentor) was an armchair theoretician; he never looked for any miracles as he had already presupposed that miracles could not occur.  Modern philosophers have refuted Hume's skeptical argument against miraculous events.

  23. Joseph Ponce says:

    no sound.

  24. Sophia Marinova says:

    Nice sense of humor! And overall, I enjoyed it- I learned something of value.  

  25. Just-Clem says:

    There's no such thing as "healthy" skepticism in lay people.  It only can exist in persons highly trained in their field of expertise who are cognizant of their own professional biases and who can overcome them.  Skepticism is doubt, and all doubt not based on accurate knowledge of the facts is ignorance incapable of learning or unwilling to learn anything new.  Hence, skepticism is a liability — not an asset — when it comes to applying scientific method objectively to obtain meaningful data and/or interpreting data to arrive at correct conclusions concerning that data.

  26. 21dolphin123 says:

    Plutarch is a facile argument as are most of these points Papias was an early bishop
    clearly not independent. The  fact is there arent any independent accounts of Jesus among the 2 dozen educated  commentators alive at this time. the evidence is the Gospels themselves   we just have to have  faith.

  27. SolaGratia says:

    For those of you who claim the extra-Biblical accounts of Christ's life are merely reflections of previous Christians, please read the works of Dr. Gary Habermas.

  28. Jordan Day says:

    No such statement is in the Wikipedia article about "Bart D. Ehrman".

  29. joel dsouza says:

    if you Wikipedia and read about him, it is written there. he actually says this.biased?

  30. TorianTammas says:

    I am sorry but this is not right. We have non-eyewitnesses who write christian hearsay or are later put in or altered by christians as we have only medieval copies of these antique texts and the keepers were christians. No court would even consider this hearsay which could have been altered as evidence..

  31. voiceofreason4677 says:

    I mean that the overwhelming evidence argument being displayed by REDRAGON12345 is nothing more than a smoke screen relying on the ignorance of believers and hoping they won't look at the evidence and the scholastic debate on these sources for themselves. Because when they do they either have to the choice to continue the propaganda or come clean that such an argument is by itself fallacious.