William Lane Craig – South Africa Debates, part 2: vs. Drs. Spangenberg and Wolmarans: Jesus’ Resurrection

william lane craig, mike licona, michael licona, Spangenberg, Wolmarans, artwoord, south africa, debate.jpg

For this debate William Lane Craig teamed up with Michael Licona and they debated…

two liberal South African theologians, Drs. Spangenberg and Wolmarans, on Jesus’ resurrection. Their radical views on Christianity are an incoherent mishmash of modernist scientific naturalism and post-modernist denial of objective meaning.
Neither of them even believes that God exists.

For this debate William Lane Craig teamed up with Michael Licona and they debated…

two liberal South African theologians, Drs. Spangenberg and Wolmarans, on Jesus’ resurrection. Their radical views on Christianity are an incoherent mishmash of modernist scientific naturalism and post-modernist denial of objective meaning.
Neither of them even believes that God exists.
They are part of a movement called the New Reformation which is seeking to transform Christianity in South Africa. Unfortunately, the South African church is apparently just not equipped to deal with these challenges, and so everyone was praying that Mike and I could expose the emptiness of their claims.

Just arriving at a topic which these gentlemen would debate was enormously difficult, since they don’t accept that the New Testament has any objective meaning to argue about! We finally settled on “How Should We Understand the Narratives about Jesus’ Resurrection?” The night of the debate the auditorium, which sat over 500 hundred, was filled to capacity, so just outside the building a live television feed was set up to an amphitheater where several hundred more gathered. With our contrasting styles, Mike and I complemented each other nicely and so formed a powerful team. Spangenberg and Wolmarans were basically annihilated in a gracious way.[fn]William Lane Craig, “ Reasonable Faith Newsletter – May 2010,” Reasonable Faith, copyright 2007 Reasonable Faith. All rights reserved worldwide[/fn]

william lane craig, mike licona, michael licona, Spangenberg, Wolmarans, artwoord, south africa, debate.jpg

For this debate Craig and Licona:

defended two contentions: (1) The texts of the New Testament teach that Jesus’ resurrection was a physical, historical event; and (2) There’s no good reason to deny this traditional understanding of the texts…

to our shock Spangenberg got up and rambled on about irrelevancies and never got around to saying anything about the question under debate…

Wolmarans then got up and, of all things, defended the mythological view of Jesus! (In my nearly 30 years of debate experience with scholars like Crossan, Borg, Ludemann, Ehrman, et al., I have never encountered anyone who defends this line, and both of my opponents in South Africa espouse this silliness!)

In my rebuttal I explained why this view of Christian origins has been eclipsed among New Testament scholars…A very angry Spangenberg then came to the podium and began to rail against apartheid and Christianity’s connection to it. It was unbelievable. Mike then explained that all the points raised by Prof. Spangenberg, though important and interesting in and of themselves, were just one red herring after another in the context of the debate that night.

Then he closed with a very personal appeal to the Christians of South Africa not to be fooled by the false claims and superficial arguments (what arguments?) of those in the New Reformation movement. Wolmarans closed out the debate by telling a rambling and sentimental story about a baker and the parents of a little boy killed in a car accident. (I know–nobody else understood its relevance either.)[fn]William Lane Craig, “Debate with Spangenberg and Wolmarans Additional from the June ’10 ReasonableFaith.org Newsletter,” Reasonable Faith, copyright 2007 Reasonable Faith. All rights reserved worldwide[/fn]

I would imagine that the story of the little boy was an emotive appeal to the problem of evil (see Was “the Problem of Evil” Solved Before it was Ever Proposed?