Dr. Mike Licona
In Dr. Geisler’s first letter he clearly expresses his disagreement with Dr. Licona’s position. Dr. Licona presents the position that Matthew 27:52-53 is not a historical event but a “legend” or a “poetic” story told by Matthew. You can read Dr. Geisler’s full letter here. According to Dr. Geisler, Dr. Licona asks the right question but arrives at a very troubling answer.
“If some or all of the phenomena reported at Jesus’ death are poetic devices, we may rightly ask whether Jesus’ resurrection is not more of the same” (553, emphasis added)
“First, you say that “There is no indication that the early Christian interpreted Jesus’ resurrection in a metaphorical or poetic sense to the exclusion of it being a literal event that had occurred to his corpse” (553). But neither is there any indication in the text that a historical understanding of the resurrection of the saints should be excluded from this text.Your second reason is even less convincing. You argue that Jesus’ resurrection must have been literal (and the resurrection of these saints was not) since “no known Christian opponent criticized the early Christians or their opponents for misunderstanding poetry as history” (553) But this is a well-known fallacy of an argument from silence .”
“Finally, the same mistake seems to be occurring in your interpretation of this text as is made by many current liberal scholars in dehistoricizing other biblical texts, namely, using extra biblical sources as determinative for understanding a biblical text.”
Thus, Dr. Geisler’s disagreement is not limited to methodology, he disagrees with Dr. Licona’s outcome. Read more
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, whose president Dr. Chuck Kelley, found herself some years back in opposition with the Executive Committee’s organizational interpretation. The reason for such opposition was the interpretation of polity in the SBC. Each entity is autonomous and as such make their own decisions. Add to that legal matters and the involvement of lawyers interpretations of various state laws and you have a recipe for separation plain and simple. However, we did not separate. This matter was resolved the Southern Baptist way. At the annual meting the Executive Committee presented its argument and NOBTS, through Dr. Kelley, presented its argument. Dr. Kelley asked the convention to allow him to present an alternative plan and at the following convention a plan was presented by NOBTS. After these debates New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustees voted on sole membership as the convention directed.
When the NOBTS trustees were gathering information concerning their position Dr. Kelley was asked to give them historical information. The historical background for NOBTS’s position was placed in a paper that clearly defines the polity that we as Southern Baptist operate within. The Baptist Way: A Personal Perspective is the paper presented to the trustees for their consideration. It is a fifteen page document that contains an excellent review of Southern Baptist history concerning the doctrine of autonomy. One thing Dr. Kelley says that rings loud concerns the Priesthood of Believers. Dr. Kelley laments the brevity of the paper concerning the omission of this important doctrine.
Enjoy the paper, it certainly is something worthy of all Southern Baptists attention.