Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

The following is an excerpt from my new book, Can We Trust the Gospels? Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Without exception, my grad school teachers echoed Professor MacRae’s conclusions about the historical limitations of the New Testament Gospels. In fact, several faculty members made him look rather conservative. I did learn a great deal from these scholars, however. Their knowledge of the world of early Christianity was encyclopedic, and their ability to interpret ancient texts critically was superlative. Yet I began to see how often their interpretations were saturated by unquestioned philosophical presuppositions. If, for example, a passage from the Gospels included a prophecy of Jesus concerning his death, it was assumed without argument that this had been added later by the church because prophecy didn’t fit within the naturalistic worldview of my profs. (Photo to the right: Harvard Divinity School)
The more I spent time with some of the leading New Testament scholars in the world, the more I came to respect their brilliance and, at the same time, to recognize the limitations of their scholarly perspectives. I saw how often conclusions based on unsophisticated assumptions were accepted without question by the reigning scholarly community, and taught uncritically as if they were, well, the Gospel truth.
I also discovered how rarely my professors entertained perspectives by scholars who didn’t share their naturalistic worldview. Evangelical scholars were usually ignored simply because they were conservative. This fact was driven home once when I was on winter break in Southern California. I needed to read a few books for one of my courses, so I went to the Fuller Seminary library because it was close to my home. What I found at Fuller stunned me. Fuller students were required to read many of the same books I was assigned, and also books written from an evangelical perspective. Whereas I was getting one party line, Fuller students were challenged to think more broadly and, dare I admit it, more critically. This put an arrogant Harvard student in his place, let me tell you. It also helped me see how much my own education was lopsided. Only once in my entire graduate school experience was I assigned a book by an evangelical scholar.

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