Source: Orthodox Christian Fellowship
Press release of the talk yesterday evening (February 17, 2011) and archived below.
CHAPEL HILL, NC – FEBRUARY 4, 2011 — The New York Times best-selling author Bart Ehrman and Eastern Orthodox priest James Berends will give a free public presentation at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 17, at the FedEx Global Education Center on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. Ehrman and Berends, both of whom graduated from Wheaton College as Evangelical Christians in 1978 and 1979 respectively, will share their subsequent three-decade spiritual journeys for the forum: “What to Believe? An Internal Struggle.”
Graduating Wheaton College in 1978, Ehrman received a master’s degree in divinity and his Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, pursuing a scholarly career in New Testament textual criticism. During that time, Berends did stints in ministry and industry between his two divinity degrees at Dallas Theological Seminary and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Excerpts from Ehrman’s 2006 New York Times bestseller, Misquoting Jesus, provide a preview into the story of his personal journey.
“I kept reverting to my basic question. How does it help us to say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God if in fact we don’t have the words that God inerrantly inspired?” said Ehrman in the introduction to his book. “These doubts both plagued me and drove me to dig deeper and deeper, to understand what the Bible really was.” Coming to the conclusion that the New Testament was not an inerrant document, because it was influenced and edited by the early “proto-orthodox” community, Ehrman eventually became agnostic. Berends also followed the historical record to the proto-orthodox community that participated in the formation of the New Testament; he, however, concluded that that community continues today in the Eastern Orthodox Church and that it promulgates an accurate rendering of the Christian message. Also like Ehrman, Berends’s journey loosened his grip on fundamentalist certainty.
“Bart is agnostic; I am apophatic,” said Berends. “In Eastern Orthodoxy, I found support for my uncertainty through apophatic theology, which emphasizes what we do not and cannot ever know about God, except through spiritual experience. Some say “when you’re uncertain, pound the podium harder.” My voice gets softer, and I will throw in an opposing opinion because I have to be intellectually honest.”
The event is sponsored by UNC’s Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies (CSEEES) and the UNC Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF).
Scroll to 36:36 for the start of the talk.