ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP
“Keeping our College Students Connected to the Church”
What to Believe? - The soul-searching personal journeys of Bart Ehrman & James Berends
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."
A Facebook page has become a lively national discussion board for related topics in anticipation of the event. More recent Facebook wall posts include requests for remote screenings and live video streams across the continent. A live video stream will be available on the internet at www.priestandprofessor.com.
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).
About NC-Triangle OCF.
The NC Triangle Orthodox Christian Fellowship is the first official full-time, on-campus Eastern Orthodox College ministry in North America under the North American Orthodox Christian Fellowship. While bringing together college students from Eastern Orthodox backgrounds as diverse as Greek, Palestinian, Eritrean, Serbian, Lebanese, and Russian, for fellowship and spiritual community, the NC Triangle OCF seeks to facilitate Eastern Orthodoxy's unique contribution to the challenging religious questions and dialogues of our day. For more information, visit http://www.ocf.net/nctriangle.
The University of North Carolina's Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies is a federally funded National Resource Center in collaboration with Duke University, and is a department of UNC Global. CSEEES offers students opportunities to familiarize themselves with the histories, cultures, institutions, and languages of the dynamic Russian and East European region through both undergraduate coursework and a master of arts program. For more information, visit www.unc.edu/depts/slavic/.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) is the official collegiate campus ministry program under SCOBA. Our mission is to support fellowships on college campuses, whose members experience and witness to the Orthodox Christian Church through community life, prayer, service to others and study of the Faith. Our headquarters is located in Indianapolis, IN and supports over 300 local university chapters across North America. In addition, we provide a variety of thoughtful and innovative programming, including regional training, annual conferences, and domestic and international service learning programs.