Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Speaking of Talk Radio--Hewitt Takes on Meacham

Last evening on the way home from my office, I tuned into the Hugh Hewitt Show. Hewitt, who is a nationally syndicated conservative talk-show host and an Evangelical Christian to boot, was interviewing Albert Mohler (president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) and Mark D. Roberts (a Presbyterian pastor and adjunct professor at Fuller Seminary) about the recent Newsweek article on the birth narratives. Here is a sample of the theme from Hewitt's blog:

I am not sure into which category Newsweek's hugely silly cover story on Christmas should fall, but that it is a hugely silly, flawed and misleading story cannot be doubted. It is sort of the religion story equivalent of Rathergate, compete with biased experts and a purposefully blinkered reporter.

Start with the piece itself, authored by Jon Meacham. Understand from the start that Meacham isn't a theologian, or a historian. He has a BA from the University of the South, has written a book, belongs to the right clubs in NYC, and that's it. No scholarly credentials, no background in religious studies, just a scribbler. In an area of great controversy and vast learning, such a journalist is at great risk of misunderstanding the lay of the land, or of understanding it, but refusing to report it because to do so would make a cover story less interesting.

Both Mohler and Roberts did a suberb job explaining the evidence from the NT, and showing the utter incompetency of Meacham. In his article, Meacham cited the usual Jesus Seminar crowd (typical of both Newsweek and Time whenever they attempt to deal with the historicity of Jesus), and did not once cite scholars representing the other side, such as N.T. Wright (Wright is a well-regarded critical scholar even among liberals), Ben Witherington, D.A. Carson, and the like. Mohler and Roberts easily dismantled Meacham's thesis. For an excellent treatment of this issue, see the the articles by Mark Roberts and Albert Mohler. Mohler will be debating Meacham on his radio program at the end of the week (Friday, I think, but I couldn't confirm this). For radio listings in your area, go to Mohler's website. Also, see the comments of Jason Engwer on the NTRMin Discussion Forum.