Tuesday, August 04, 2015

More James White on the Version Issue: Either He Doesn't Know What He's Talking About or He's Lying -- Pt. 2

Like the series I did two weeks ago, I'm going to keep writing here on this until I'm done with an analysis of the video last week by James White.  This is part two (part one).

At about the 1:09:30 mark, White says there are numbers of ecclesiastical text positions because the teaching is vague purposefully.  That is extreme overstatement.   White should know and I believe does know that the fundamentals of this position, which is biblical and historical, are found in the historic confessions of faith and in the writings of the contemporaries of those confessions.  These kinds of statements are strategic for his followers.  I believe he feigns this kind of incredulity.

It is true that of those who hold what is being called the ecclesiastical text position, not everyone will agree on every single word of the New Testament text translated by the KJV committee.  They all agree in the preservation of all the Words and that all the Words must have been kept pure in all ages like the confession says.  That narrows it down to very few differences.  They believe there is a settled text, one already established, given testimony by the Holy Spirit through the church, just like He did the canon.  They all agree every word is important, but disagreement over a few words is vastly different than post-enlightenment, rationalistic textual criticism.

There was a uniformity for numerous generations in the belief that God has preserved every word, all of them, and made them available for every generation of believer.  Among the very few differences over a very harmonious, homogeneous text, they agreed on the doctrine.  Even when there was a movement toward replacing this view, it started in academia, not in the churches, in the pew.  There still may be a majority of professing believers who think they have a perfect Bible and haven't even grasped what is happening.  They are just thinking that someone has modernized the translation without knowing the underlying text was replaced -- a bait and switch.

The few differences between words in TR editions couldn't be and wouldn't be spun into an ejection of the entire text for a new one and a wholly different approach.  That wasn't faith in what God said.  That was doubt or uncertainty.  If this is going to be argued, those people and that position need to be represented in good faith.  White doesn't do that.  He stirs up a dust cloud of confusion for people.

After 1:10, White says that "as far as we know" there was never a church counsel and that the Westminster divines didn't examine manuscripts.  There's a lot to unpack just in those few points.  If you listen to White other times, you know he doesn't agree that canonicity of the books of the Bible comes out of church counsels.  He sees this as a Roman Catholic view.  I agree.  He says the canon is a theological issue.  With that belief, why does he apply a different standard here to the Words?  He will refer to the Protestant canon.  He doesn't have a problem saying that.  They didn't need a counsel, because there was agreement.  I don't agree that these men didn't look at manuscripts.  When you read John Owen, you know he looked at them.  White is conflating examination of manuscripts with rationalistic criticism of the text.  Consider what Richard Capel wrote in 1658:

[W]e have the Copies in both languages [Hebrew and Greek], which Copies vary not from Primitive writings in any matter which may stumble any. This concernes onely the learned, and they know that by consent of all parties, the most learned on all sides among Christians do shake hands in this, that God by his providence hath preserved them uncorrupt. . . . As God committed the Hebrew text of the Old Testament to the Jewes, and did and doth move their hearts to keep it untainted to this day: So I dare lay it on the same God, that he in his providence is so with the Church of the Gentiles, that they have and do preserve the Greek Text uncorrupt, and clear: As for some scrapes by Transcribers, that comes to no more, than to censure a book to be corrupt, because of some scrapes in the printing, and 'tis certain, that what mistake is in one print, is corrected in another.

That well states their thinking, thinking that is not held or agreed upon by White.  He rejects the historic and biblical position because he staggers at the promise of God through unbelief (Romans 4:20).  White chooses theological presuppositions for canonicity, when the biblical basis for those same theological presuppositions applies equally to the text.  Textual variants are too great a hurdle, a barrier, and he stumbles over them.  He rejects the historic and biblical position and is willing to make hundreds of years of believers bibliological apostates to justify his position.

If you want to talk about vagueness, shortly before the 1:11 mark, White says that the Westminster divines would not have known what the text looked like at the beginning of the medieval period, like we do today.  I'm speaking of the idea of "what the text looked like."  How vague is that?  Are we talking about one hand copy, about the numbers of manuscripts that existed?  "What the text looked like"?  "The text"?  Like there was "the text" making it's way through history?

What White does is extrapolate back from the 19th century some kind of ongoing textual criticism through history, rather than an ongoing faith that God has preserved every Word, the attitude that believers would have always had in the Bible.  We know they had the latter and White ridicules that. It's as if in the 16th century after the advent of the printing press and a sudden explosion of publication of scripture that believers reached a bibliological dark age --  as if when they had more access to the Bible than ever, they were as dark on the doctrine of scripture as they had ever been.

White also talks at around 1:11 like he knows "what the text looked like" in the beginning of the fourth century and at the beginning of the sixth century.   He asserts that he knows and that those men didn't.  But he doesn't, at least through textual criticism. He doesn't know that.  He's only guessing.  White doesn't know what they had or didn't have then by some historical or documentary means.  We know by faith, but not by looking at what someone unburied.  Those are guesses, and that is vague.  I would say as vague as one could get, but one can get even more vague than White if he takes the same trajectory as White to its dubious end. White's approach is highly destructive.  It is faith smothering.  It is also dishonoring to God.  As much as White would want to keep salvation 100% divine with almost no human intervention, he's willing to throw the Bible into a test tube for man's experimentation.  Sovereignty becomes ironically a very taffy-like concept.

Shortly before 1:12, White goes apoplectic over a strawman that he erects, at most an entertaining bit of theater on his part.  He holds up a Trinitarian Bible society copy of the TR and asks when did they take that and agree on that, then he grabs a Nestles-Aland in his other hand asks when did they reject that?  What are White's assertions supposed to mean to someone?  He is ridiculing that entire several generations of believers as some kind of theological and intellectual neanderthals.  White is a tower, a monument, a giant, while they are rolling out the baby toys in the nursery.

White is making two points.  First, he doesn't have record that there was an ecumenical counsel of believers that got together to vote on what the words were.  That is supposed to debunk an ecclesiastical text position.  There is no record of that happening because that isn't what Christians believed.  They received what they had.  They believed they were in good shape. White is saying they weren't, but he's basing that on his presuppositions, that the text had been lost to them.

Second, they didn't textus rejectus, that is, they didn't again hold some counsel to reject the minority manuscripts.  The ecclesiastical position is that however that did occur, either that they didn't have it or they did know about it and they saw it as inferior, it did occur.  What looks to White as unavailable was rejected because of its lack of availability.  God's Words were kept pure through all ages, so if they didn't have it, there was a reason.  If you believe in the preservation of scripture, then what you don't have isn't preserved. That's kind of root to the idea of preservation.  If I look into the refrigerator for the jelly and there's no jelly, then jelly wasn't preserved for me.  I'm sorry I can't go into physical incantations as you read this so that my entertainment value can trump White's, because that is the best thing he's got going, that is, if you like that kind of thing.

White also argues from silence.  He says they, the Westminster folks, would have known about Calvin.  Known what?  They would have known that Calvin said he believed that one particular word was the right one above another, both available to him.  That was not an "aha" moment to them, as White portrays it should have been.  They couldn't figure that out?  The existence of a textual variant didn't shake them.  That wasn't a lack of preservation to them.  Not only would men make errors in hand copies, but they also know that there would be purposeful textual attack.  They still believe in perfect preservation of the Words, because they believed preservation was a divine task, like inspiration and salvation.  White believes God can save you from all your sins, He can preserve you through the heights and the depths, but He couldn't do the same for His own Words.  That is in fact where White is in this.

Around 1:13, White says that in 1689 they would not have known about the Trinitarian Bible society printed edition of Scrivener.  Total strawman.  That's not the position.  The translators translated from words.  They translated.  They were translators.  Those words were available.  They were kept pure in that age.  They believed that.  That's the position.  This is a game White is playing.  Understand that. White is playing a game.  When I read the books from that era, they often refer to the original language text.  Did they not believe they had an original language text?  When they wrote the LBC in 1689, they referred to the original language text.  Was there one?  Of course there was.  This is again just rhetoric from White.  It's not dealing with their doctrine, what they believed.  It's just dramatics, a show really.  If you agree with White, you are at least in tacit compliance to him, and you are a subscriber to his show, really like a reality TV show with a false front town.

More to Come.  I know I'm going snail pace, but this matters.

Monday, August 03, 2015

More James White on the Version Issue: Either He Doesn't Know What He's Talking About or He's Lying

Is it possible that Christians were wrong on the doctrine of preservation of scripture for hundreds of years?  Were they bibliological apostates?  That's a big, serious charge, but it is the one that James White has been making again and again in recent videos to erase the record of biblical and historical beliefs on the preservation of scripture.

In every century, men will be wrong in doctrine.  It is an entirely other matter to say that the confessions agreed upon by essentially every believer were wrong.  The statements made about the preservation of scripture were repeated again and again, and no one offered an alternative.  It is much more likely you are wrong. To overturn the established doctrine, you better do a great job of exegesis to show that they were not true.  James White does not do that.  Like he deals with most of his contemporary detractors, he calls them names -- "reformed scholastics."

White gets a pass from almost all evangelicals on this, except for those to the far left of him, because they long ago capitulated along with a percentage of fundamentalism.  Most evangelicals relegate this issue to a non-essential with the biggest problem the division they say it causes.  White will mention this too on a regular basis.  However, it is a very serious problem because the Bible is a supernatural book.  It's God's Word.  When you subjugate it to the human laboratory for testing and twisting and probing, it takes on a different nature.  If it isn't preserved perfectly, then it lacks in authority, something less than full authority.  These men know this. They know it.  White knows it.

White's position is that a percentage of the words of scripture have been lost and are in need of restoring.  It isn't a settled book to him.  More work needs to be done and post-enlightenment textual criticism, a rationalistic exercise, is the means.  In this new video and others, he implies that Calvin is an example of someone from the applicable era that was doing this.  He's the historical go-to guy to establish that some of those men were doing the same thing.  This is called a spin.  He is spinning Calvin.

Everyone knows that errors were made in hand copies.  That's all Calvin was writing.  The position of the day was that an error made in one was corrected in another.  Yes, they compared manuscripts, but it is a lie to say that's the same as textual criticism and also ignore what they believed and taught.  To equate what they believed with textual criticism is a lie that in published form started with Benjamin Warfield, that we've talked so much about here.  The authors of the confessions did not believe that providential preservation was textual criticism.  They believed they possessed the Words in the apographa (the hand copies) in an identical form as the autographa (the originals). That was their belief, what we might call a presupposition.  That is also their point in the confessions, that the original language text was kept pure in all ages.  White denies all of that.  It was not kept pure in all ages to him.  There hasn't been an age to White that it has been pure since shortly after its inspiration.  That age is off in the future, that is, unless we redefine pure, which is something less than Tide detergent.

What is the presupposition of White?  You don't hear it. He doesn't refer to scripture one time to reveal what believers should expect for preservation.  He doesn't do this.  His kind do not do this. The only one I hear do this is Ehrman and Ehrman reports it, and then says God didn't do it, explaining why he's an apostate.  White just won't say.  It's painful.  Part of it is that he and people like him don't believe their own position and they are fudging or spinning.  White will say he believes in the preservation of God's Word.   It is Clinton-esque, because he means "Word" singular, not plural.  You know this.  He doesn't believe we know what the Words, plural, are.  He doesn't think that anyone can know what those are and is biggest exercise in his quest here is to show that we don't know what they are either.  He uses a lot of ridicule to do this.  The antics don't mean anything, but they work like the scoffers of 2 Peter 3 succeed with people about Christ's second coming.

White's entire manner of operation is to attempt to cause doubt to those who believe in perfect preservation by questioning particular texts of scripture.  He requires them to indicate to him an exact hand copy of the Greek text that has the particular wording of the textus receptus.  If you can't do that up to his standard, then your entire belief must fall.  You must recant.  Recanting is denying the biblical and historical position for the critical text position, the modern version position.  There is no longer a settled text and the words are now in doubt.  He will only stop bothering you if you come to his position or call your position a preference alone.  It can only be a preference.  It cannot be a matter of doctrinal division.  You must be fine with his position or yours, but yours especially cannot be superior.

If White can get you to admit that you are unsure about even one word of scripture, that we don't know what the exact wording is, you are now the same as him.  He will be satisfied with that.  If you say that you do know, then you are vague. Vague means that you cannot produce a hand copy or at least show it in microfilm.  Even if you could, White could argue against it.  None of this is based on scriptural presuppositions, so it is all faithless.  The idea of faithlessness is what grates on White.  He hates that.  I understand it, but it's true.  And that faithlessness is what has produced the new understanding of inerrancy that continues on a sliding scale.

White's modern opponents he smears with the idea that they are cloistered away with reformed theologies, reading one after another, while he's out there fighting the good fight with the only method that will work in the real world.  None of what he says here is true, either because he doesn't know what he's talking about or he's lying.  I'm not saying there aren't a few people who just sit and read books without participation in any spiritual warfare, but you can't broadbrush all the opposition like that.  It's not true.

In the new video by White, he reads Thomas Ross's giving of his credentials in answer to a baseless attack on a Logos forum that said that his kind could "care less what the original Greek and Hebrew said." Thomas does care and he gave a brief synopsis as an answer to the inaccurate charge.  The absurd provocateur could not recognize that none of the books Thomas included were double inspirationists or English preservationists.  All of those books believe that preservation is in the original language.

White excludes the context for Thomas's inclusion of his bonafides and proceeds to mock Thomas for including them.  That's how he starts.  If Thomas was a "backwater" hayseed English-onlyist, White would have mocked that.  You can't really have it either way with him.  This is how he operates though.  Evangelicals love it.  White blatantly lies about Thomas by saying that he started off a response like that.  This was not how Thomas started.  This was how he answered the man who said he didn't care about original languages.  How else do you answer someone who says you don't care about original languages?  Why did White need to mock Thomas for that?

White complains that he is always attacked when he provides a resume.  People don't point out arrogance of White because he touts his credentials, which he does as much as anyone I've ever seen from a human being, but because of how he acts.  This is another example of it.

At 1:06:20, White says that he has "dealt with every strain of King James Onlyism."  He uses "strain" as opposed to "type," even as "strain" makes it sound like a disease he's dealing with.  I would agree that White has dealt with every type of KJVO.  Thomas could have phrased this a little better.

I would say that White has not debated anyone who could debate him.  He might say that he takes them as they come, all of them, and maybe he's right, but there are men that could do a much better job debating him than those he has chosen.  I've never seen him take on one of them.  D.A. Waite and Jack Moorman and Theodore Letis were very bad at debating, actually even at speaking.  Those who want to hear or watch a debate, at least want someone taking their position who can do the job.  I understand that someone like White will debate a Gipp or a Riplinger, because they do represent a sizeable group of revivalist fundamentalists, who take an indefensible and novel position. I can also see how White is bothered by the assertion, because he has debated many, many now.

White is also true when he asserts that the Ruckmanites cause most of the trouble and get the most attention.   I think White is right to say that Ruckmanites have caused many church splits.  I know this to be true, but taking on a different Bible than the King James has caused more church splits than the Ruckman position.  Many men have brought in a new Bible to a church and split it wide open.   Young people stay.  Old people leave.  Does White oppose those splits too?  Thomas wants to see a debate with White that will represent the biblical and historical position and argue it like he would want it to be argued.  I hope it happens sometime.

Just after 1:08, White gets to his main problem with Thomas's comment.  Thomas wrote:
I wish Mr. White would agree with the 1689 London Baptist Confession of faith he subscribes to as an elder at a Reformed Baptist church and recognize that "The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages," and recognize that when his own confession of faith quotes 1 John 5:7, Mark 16, etc. it means the Textus Receptus is the Word of God, not a critical text that did not exist nor was in use by God's people and thus was not kept "pure in all ages."
I think that is a good comment from Thomas. That sets off a very important consideration for White, that I mentioned above.

White asserts after 1:09:20 that Thomas's comment is "vague purposefully."  I laugh.  It's not true. I believe what Thomas is writing, and there isn't an attempt to be vague.  That is a red herring.  White must do a little more exploration before he could make that conclusion.

By being "vague," White means that someone must state his position on what each exact Word of the originals are.  If you just say that you believe in perfect preservation, that is vague.  You can't say that you believe that believers were led by the Spirit to the proper wording, like the Holy Spirit indicated the 66 inspired Books.  No, you've got to tell him what those words are, and then there is haggling over how trustworthy was that particular hand copy and the degree of authenticity of the textual evidence, blah, blah, blah, blah.  Is it sure, likely, probable, possible, or doubtful?  We don't know, so we are to get specific about applying terms like that?  Obviously, the Bible itself becomes vague and unsettled with White's ideas.

White would argue, no, we're more sure because we believe the science.  The science is sound.  We can't say with certainty what the exact words are, but we are left with a high degree of certainty, higher than the writings of Plato -- one handed applause for that.  Roar from believers, happy that Plato loses to the Bible.  This is not the historic or biblical way to deal with the Bible.

How we should deal with the words ironically is how White deals with the canon.  White goes totally presuppositional with the canon.  He rejects the Roman Catholic approach to the canon.  He says the canon is a theological matter.  Why? Why can't the canon be historical and scientific?  The loss of a whole book is too devastating to White, so he chooses to go presuppositional, even though the textual critic world treats these, the canon and the words, the same.  This is what is vague.  Why the different approaches?

White uses a documentary type of method.  This the method of modern science.  If you can't produce the document now, it didn't happen.  You can't say it happened.  Warfield brought this method back from Germany and thought he was saving evangelicalism by implementing it on the text of scripture.

The method of believers has always been to trust God's leading through His Spirit.  That resulted in a settled text and established one from which one could not take away nor could one add.  Only a settled, established text, which is the nature of God's Word, could be added to or taken away.  They assumed that God would do what He said He would do.  They believed that.  It was done.  Then believers just went about living what they trusted was perfect, until the enlightenment and the advent of modern rationalism.

More to Come

Friday, July 31, 2015

Applications from Hannah W. Smith's Life: part 21 of 21 in Hannah W. Smith: Keswick Founder, Higher Life Preacher, Quaker Quietist and Universalist Heretic

Mrs. Hannah Whitall Smith was a false teacher who was deluded by Satan and her own unrenewed heart.  Robert P. Smith was an unconverted false teacher also.  Their writings are filled to the brim with dangerous theological errors and heresies.  Alongside of the Higher Life of Keswick theology, one finds within the compositions and proclamations of Mr. and Mrs. Smith a false gospel, the Inner Light, New Thought, the Mind and Faith Cure, feminism, Quakerism, syncretism, quietism, fatalism, eudemonism, allegorical hermeneutics, passivity in sanctification, continuationism, antinomianism, universalism, works salvation, erotic sensations as Spirit baptism, and extra-biblical revelations.  Hannah rejected sola Scriptura, total depravity, substitutionary atonement, justification by imputed righteousness, saving faith, the new birth, supernatural conversion, and self-examination.  Mrs. Smith plainly testified that she rejected the evangelical gospel, detested Christian orthodoxy, and delighted in both being a heretic and in making others into heretics.  She thought that man’s chief end was not to glorify God, but to feel happy, doing whatever one wants without any pangs from the conscience.  Her exaltation as the leading teacher of the Higher Life took place in connection with spiritists and the working of demons.  She testified that she gained her chief spritual insight into the “Christian” life from a sexual predator who taught, practiced, and led others into unspeakable debauchery.  She was an enemy of Christ, His Word, and of true holiness of life.
As an unregenerate false teacher, Hannah Whitall Smith is someone to mark, reject, and avoid (Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10).  Her heresies and writings, and those of her husband Robert, should be abhorred and detested by the godly.  She is by no means someone to embrace as a font of truth on Christian living, and adoption of her ideas by others evidences a tremendous lack of spiritual discernment and the certain presence of doctrinal error.
            As believers can learn much from the life and teachings of the wicked recorded in Scripture, whether Ahab, Judas, or Diotrephes, so the negative example of the life and writings of Hannah W. Smith can teach the Lord’s people a number of important lessons.
            Mrs. Smith’s false teachings—all of them—must be discerned, rejected, guarded against, exposed, and warned about.  Believers should not read her writings.  Christian leaders should plainly preach and teach against her heresies and warn of her by name.  Churches should separate from those who have been influenced to adopt her heresies and are unwilling to repent.  Her confusion on the gospel has led precious souls into the fires of hell.  Her confusion on sanctification has hindered countless Christians in their spiritual walk.  There is no reason to try to pick out a little spiritual good from the veritable mass of errors in her works, but a clear Biblical basis for rejecting her, root and branch.
            Many lessons can be learned from the deluded career and miserable end of Robert Pearsall Smith.  His life exemplifies the extreme spiritual danger of rejecting sola Scriptura in practice, even if one accepts it in theory.  His abandonment of literal, grammatical-historical interpretation for experience-driven hermeneutics is also seen to be extremely dangerous.  Had Mr. Smith studied Scripture more carefully and recognized it alone as the authority by which he needed to judge all experience, he could have been freed from the delusions of the devil and of his own sinful heart and come to a true saving conversion to Jesus Christ, instead of being an unconverted preacher who was both “deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13).  Furthermore, he illustrates the danger when religious experience is derived from a false fanaticism rather than genuine Christian and Trinitarian spirituality.  When he finally saw through his fanaticism, instead of turning to the true Christ in true faith arising from Scripture alone, he rejected Christianity altogether.  What dangers and proclivities to all evil are wrapped within the depraved human heart!  No one will escape from that “desperately wicked” seat of corruption or escape delusion from that fountain of lies that is “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9), without cleaving to the Scriptures and receiving the protection of the Holy Spirit as a consequence of the union with Christ brought about through true conversion.  Reader, do you view your heart as God does?  Do you meditate on its horrible and desperate depravity and, as a result, flee to the Christ revealed in the Scriptures as your only refuge?  Learn your need so to do from the deluded life and everlasting damnation of the Higher Life preacher-turned-Buddhist, Robert Pearsall Smith.
            Learn also from the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Pearsall Smith life that unconverted false teachers can put on a great show of godliness and exert a tremendous influence on the spiritually unwary among the true people of God.  The ideas Hannah and Robert Smith propagated influence many millions today—millions who, in large part, have no idea that their confusion on and false doctrine of sanctification are derived from an unregenerate Quaker couple.  Be sure that your beliefs and practices are truly “the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) and the product of Scripture alone.  It does not matter whether or not men who are exalted by Christendom have taught them, for such are not your authority for faith and practice.  Robert P. Smith was extremely popular in the Christendom of his day—all Europe was at his feet.  There are many extremely popular false teachers in Christendom today.  The Antichrist will be even more popular in the post-Rapture Christendom of the future than any of his anti-christian predecessors.  Place no confidence in men because of their popularity, but, within the protection of a strong independent Baptist church, let all you believe and do arise only from the Spirit-illuminated teaching of the literally interpreted Word of God.
Furthermore, since Hannah W. Smith founded the Keswick theology with her husband, and Keswick has never dreamed of repudiating and repenting of their false teachings and pernicious influence, Keswick theology should be rejected.  Keswick is saturated with the ideas of Hannah W. Smith.  This is not a good, but a great and fearful evil.
            The tremendous influence Mrs. Smith has exerted on Christendom, so that very large numbers of true churches and Christians have been unintentionally infected with her errors, illustrates the dangers of failing to issue plain warnings, avoid ecumenicalism, and exercise a watchful and strict separatist position.  Mrs. Smith has influenced millions.  She created a new, and very influential, doctrine of sanctification—the Keswick theology.  Through both her direct influence and her stamp upon the Keswick movement, she has precipitated the rise of the Pentecostal, charismatic, and Word of Faith heresies.  How greatly the leaven of error has spread because so many preachers have refused to give plain warnings!  How essential it is for pastors to be well informed about and very careful concerning what writings they recommend to the flocks over which the Holy Ghost has made them overseers!  Reader, do not follow the bad example of those who blew an uncertain sound on their gospel trumpets—determine that you will, by God’s grace, for His glory, and out of love for Him, contend against all error, and for all the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).  Do not fear man—you will be called “uncharitable,” “too negative,” “narrowminded,” and all sorts of other names (Luke 6:22, 26).  Instead, consider that the Apostle Paul commanded the marking and avoidance of false teachers in the context of his love for large numbers of God’s dear people.[1]  Think on the love for the Father, for His people, and for the truth that filled the soul of the Lord Jesus, and led Him to boldly and pointedly denounce error (Matthew 23).  Be Christlike—go, and do likewise.
            Consider also what dangers there are that yet lie buried within your fallen heart.  How Mrs. Smith was led astray by trusting in her own heart, in the Inner Light delusion, and in her continuationist Quakerism!  While she was totally blind because of her unregenerate state, you, oh Christian, still have the serpent of indwelling sin lying within your own bosom.  How essential it is that you reject all extra-Biblical revelation, and carefully study the Bible, cleave to its every precept, and prize it as your sole authority!  The Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in your spiritual armor, and the only means through which you can stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-17).  How important it is for you to carefully and accurately exegete Scripture, put in practice all it says with holy fear and trembling, and walk humbly with your God, trusting in Jesus only!
            Consider how essential it is for you to be a functioning member of a strong, separated, independent Baptist church.  Only in the Lord’s church is His special presence manifested, and the special protection Christ gives to His holy temple and beloved bride is lost to those who are not members of Biblical Baptist churches.  Mrs. Smith, being without the protection afforded by a true church, and without a true pastor for spiritual protection (Hebrews 13:7, 17), was influenced by hordes of false teachers and fanatics in her spiritual journey on the broad road to destruction.  Spiritual guides may be very popular in the eyes of the broad and undiscerning world of Christiandom, and may possess a great appearance of piety, and yet be vipers and wolves—but Christ’s true congregations have the spiritual equipment to discern and reject such.  Had Mrs. Smith been aware of and adopted the historic Baptist doctrine of Spirit baptism, she would never have believed in the filthy perversion that led to her husband’s public disgrace and contributed to his continuing adultery and the unhappiness of her marriage.  Had she accepted the clear Biblical teachings of sola Scriptura and the cessation of the sign gifts, she would not have accepted the “miraculous” validation that led her into false teaching and led her sister Mary Thomas to an early grave through the false wonders of the Faith Cure.  Had she rejected feminism for the loving and God-ordained patriarchy of family and church practiced in Biblical assemblies, she would have recognized that she could, as a lady, be more easily deceived (1 Timothy 2:14), and that she needed godly, Bible-believing men at home and church to protect her from error.  Had she treasured Baptist ministers who preached a pure gospel, instead of finding them repulsive because they would not allow her to feel happy in her delusion, so that she preferred as a consequence the company of heretics and fanatics, she could have been saved herself, and her family with her, from both the earthly vanity of their false religion and the inconceivably horrible eternal consequences of the unpropitiated wrath of God.
            Learn from Mrs. Smith’s failures the necessity for a genuine vital piety, one which arises out of a true conversion and issues in a close walk with God.  Mrs. Smith’s false piety did not convince her family—her husband and all her surviving children rejected Christianity.  People read her books and looked up to her, but those who knew Mrs. Smith best rejected godliness for rebellion against Jehovah, and received eternal retribution for their sins.  Have you been led by Mrs. Smith’s confusing views of faith, conversion, and salvation to settle for anything less than the supernatural new birth without which no one will enter the kingdom of God?  Do you only have assurance of salvation if you compare yourself to the standard set by Hannah W. Smith, but not if you compare yourself to the standard set forth by the Apostle John in his first inspired epistle?  Do not follow into hell the demons who misled Hannah W. Smith.  Be satisfied with nothing less than the Biblical gospel and true conversion. 
Do you want a godly seed—do you want your family, for whatever generations may be left until the return of Christ, to know and serve your Redeemer in spirit and in truth?  The sham spirituality of Hannah W. Smith will never suffice.  But if you reject such pseudo-Christianity and sincerely and uprightly walk with God your Father, through Christ your Redeemer, as empowered by the Holy Spirit, you can claim the promise of Proverbs 22:6:  “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Do not turn aside to the idol of Hannah W. Smith’s “bare God.”  An unconverted person who does so will be eternally damned, and to whatever extent a regenerate person turns from the God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to Mrs. Smith’s deity he will find his spiritual life much darkened and his holy Father much displeased.  Genuine Christian spirituality arises out of the love of the Father, the purchase of the Son, and the applicatory work of the Holy Spirit.  How sweet and precious to the saint is his dear adopted Father!  How glorious is the redemptive work of Christ!  How heart-melting it is to behold Him in the glory of His essential Deity, to marvel at the preciousness of His sinless humanity, and to be moved by the infinite condescension and love shown in the cross!  How ineffably wonderful it is to know experientially the communion of the Holy Ghost!  Do not, oh saint of God, turn aside from your own Redeemer, your own personal God who has come to you in Jesus Christ, who has supernaturally revealed Himself to you through His Word by His Spirit.  What are the dregs of Mrs. Smith’s idolatry to the overflowing cup of infinite blessing found in Jehovah, the living God?
            Furthermore, you should examine yourself to see if you find Mrs. Smith’s errors unbearable, horrible, and exceedingly grievous, or if you find her abominations titillating and exciting, as many ungodly people find gossip.  Is it necessary to expose Hannah W. Smith’s lies and unmask her pernicious character?  Yes—certainly.  Should such an expose be examined as a mere intellectual exercise, a curiosity comparable to some strange gene-spliced monster that might be on display at a circus or a fair for people to gawk at?  By no means.
            Indeed, how sweet—how precious, glorious, and soul-refreshing it is to turn with disgust from Hannah W. Smith to behold the Lord Jesus!  Here is One who is spotless in purity.  Here is one who mixes, not secret corruptions with false teachings, but perfect holiness with infallibly sure guidance.  Here is a perfect Prophet, a spotless Priest, a matchless King, an all-sufficient Redeemer, one who is fairer than the children of men, whose lips are full of grace.  How blessed it is to see Him in His holy Word, and find in Him a true Shepherd who properly and perfectly cares for, protects, and gives His life for His beloved sheep.  Let the works of Hannah W. Smith, and all her fellow false-shepherds, be put in the trash where they belong, and listen instead to the voice of this true and unerring Pastor.  Hearken to His voice as you read every line of His Word in your personal Bible study—hearken to His voice as He is preached by a true man of God in the church of the living God—meditate upon His law day and night.  So shall you have a truly blessed life during your earthly pilgrimage, and a rich reward in the coming life of sight for all eternity.

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]              Compare Romans 16:17-18 with 16:1-16.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Guide to Soulwinning and Personal Evangelism

I have written a "how-to" guide to personal soulwinning with detailed notes on how one can go verse-by-verse through the points of the gospel with a lost person. It is a work that has been in progress for a number of years, but which finally was completed in conjunction with a series we were doing at our church on how to evangelize/preach the gospel to people one-on-one.

Unlike some (unfortunately) popular tools that are available, this soulwinning guide:

1.) Is carefully based on a Biblical evangelistic methodology rather than salesmanship techniques;

2.) Relies on the power of the Holy Spirit for success, rather than manipulation of the lost to produce merely human decisions;

3.) Seeks to bring the lost under deep conviction of sin and then directs them to look directly to Christ in repentance and faith, rather than promising them salvation if they ask Jesus into their heart or repeat a prayer.

4.) Explains Biblical repentance, rather than neglecting that essential aspect of the gospel;

5.) Is geared to seeing the Great Commission fulfilled--the lost saved, baptized, added to the church, and making disciples themselves, rather than simply making a profession and then vanishing, never to be seen again;

6.) Prepares the way for follow-up with an evangelistic Bible study, rather than viewing a one-time presentation as the be-all and end-all of what the lost can hear;

7.) Is built on a Biblical, historic and separatist Baptist doctrine and practice.

The guide is available as a PDF by clicking here.

It is designed to work in conjunction with the video presentation, audio files, and other written helps available by clicking here.

The evangelistic Bible studies available by clicking here are related also, as are the pamphlets for specific false religions available here. The soulwinning guide, the Bible studies, and the pamphlets are available as Word documents for download and personalization by specific churches here, so you can personalize them with your church address and so on.

If you wish to employ any of these resources in training the people of God in evangelism in your church, or wish to use the pamphlets or the evangelistic Bible studies in reaching your community with the gospel, I would be delighted that they were in use.  Feel free also to link to whatever you feel could be beneficial if you wish.  The terms of use for material on my website are available here.  While I do not mind if you engage in minor tweaks of the material, please do not change the doctrinal or practical position advocated therein.  If, for example, you are not in agreement with the seven points listed above, I would respectfully ask you find other material than mine.  Thank you.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Recent James White Videos and the Bible Version Issue, pt. 5

Part One (this one has the videos linked).  Part Two.  Part Three.  Part Four.

After the 18 minute mark, White says that the text handed down by the providence of God and received by His churches "is not just a narrow spectrum of the Byzantine manuscript tradition," referring to the textus receptus of the New Testament.  Part of the doctrine of preservation, as taught in scripture, is general accessibility.  Something unavailable isn't received, and that is another part of a scriptural doctrine of preservation, the reception by the churches.  God preserved His Words for His people to possess, use, apply, and live.  An inaccessible manuscript is not preserved.  Something buried for all of history until the 19th or 20th centuries is a text that God's people have not been using.  There can be numbers of reasons why that didn't happen, but those manuscripts cannot be now a source for altering what God's people have accepted as scripture.

The person with whom White was debating on the social media, and he's answering in this video, asks him a couple of questions.

Upon what basis do you have any confidence that 3 John is canonical, seeing that it was not mentioned until the middle of the third century and was debated up until the fifth. Number two, upon what basis do you accept that the Pentateuch as we now have it, looks anything like the work of Moses?

White says that those questions look like an abandonment of the actual subject.  I would say, how about just answering them?  You expect people to debate your specific examples of textual variation.

Then White says that, second, "it introduces connections and confusions that really worry me, because if I didn't know who this came from, it sounds like it comes from Catholic answers."

This is a non-answer.  It's a strategy.  Again, he's worried.  Stop that. And then stop equating someone with Roman Catholicism.

Rome believes in sola ecclesia, but does that mean that believers have no association with canonicity? The Bible itself doesn't teach a canonicity of books.  It teaches a canonicity of words.  Books are an outgrowth of a canonicity of words.

The Spirit of truth would guide believers into "all truth" (John 16:13). The Westminster Confession says in the first section on scripture:

[O]ur full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

The church of Thessalonica received Paul's words as the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Was the church at Thessalonica a counsel?  Paul's epistles were circulating among the churches even during apostolic times (Colossians 4:16).  This is a means, a methodology, for knowing what scripture is. Peter recognized Paul's writings as inspired by God and equated them with the rest of the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15-16). Paul quoted the Gospel of Luke and called it scripture (1 Timothy 5:18).  The Words received widespread acceptance.  This is a fundamental principle for reception of God's Words and it is scientific like science was accepted pre-enlightenment, an aspect of total truth, not the bifurcated truth, two book theory, of White.

The work of the Holy Spirit through His people in the acceptance of the Words He inspired is the means by which His people know what His Words are.  This is a method.  This is a means, a supernatural one in fitting with a supernatural book.  If you can't trust this, which is taught in scripture, sola scriptura, then you can't trust the Bible.  I believe this is also the theme behind the questions White was asked, that he mocked.

The sacral nature academia has taken on itself, standing above scripture, is a much better example of Roman Catholic type authority.  God's people are taken out of the equation, and scholars and publishers, using a very subjective, non-biblical means, replace them, holding sway over God's Word.  That's what White sees as a tool of God's providence.  No way.

The means or method we are required to accept is the biblical means or method, and textual criticism doesn't look anything like what the Bible says is the method or the means.  This is not semper reformanda, always reforming.  This is deviation from the path God set for His people.  This is by far a trajectory to Rome than what White says.

Instead of answering the 3 John question, which seems to be a test question to flush out White's thinking on the scriptural method for ascertaining scripture, White asks a question and in his typical suspicious, mocking manner.  He sets off on a few minutes of red herring -- Carthage, Hippo -- answer the question!  If he answers the question based on orthodox canonical thinking, he's trapped. He also attempts to shame the guy (who has now linked to his answer in the comment section of this series).

White then goes off in admiration of the manuscript attestation toward the preservation of the Bible. Everyone is happy about that, but that's not enough for a supernatural book.  It's as if White applauds the existence of variants.  We have even more copies available.  The Bible was never up for question, and textual criticism has made it more so, giving new fodder for Muslim apologists.  If we question our own Bible, why shouldn't they?  And White is one of the biggest questioners out there.  It isn't settled with him.

White says at almost 23 that the strength of Christianity's position is all of the manuscript evidence, which is sacrificed by the ecclesiastical text position.  Those who believe in supernatural preservation have manuscript evidence too.  If they want to rely on modern science, they've got that too.  For someone who doesn't accept divine authority, which it seems White doesn't, there is manuscript evidence, which means something, but it still leaves White and people like him with errors in their Bible.  Muslim apologists wonder rightfully how that a supernatural book written by a God Who created everything could allow it to fall into a degree of error.  That's not what believers should be preaching or believing.  The church has capitulated on that, and now we have a world filled with doubt.

White says it is a completely different world talking about the Old Testament text.  That is an error.  Both Old and New are scripture and they were authenticated and recognized in the same way.  God gave the Pentateuch to the congregation of God in the Old Testament, Israel, and Israel received and kept.  That's not all there was to it, but the basics are identical.  Why does White accept the Pentateuch?  He can't answer the question.  The man asking the question for sure isn't saying that it is by counting manuscripts or else he wouldn't receive the TR.

The last two minutes are a flurry of bombasticity to put down the man he's questioning, so there's nothing there.  What one can see with White is that he doesn't start with a biblical view of this issue.  I would hope he could change. I wish he would.  He should.  I don't expect it.  He'll double down, because he's got too much at stake.  He is doing great damage in the nature that I have related in this series, spreading doubt and uncertainty about God's Word.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Recent James White Videos and the Bible Version Issue, pt. 4

Part One.  Part Two.  Part Three.

I left off this series, evaluating two new James White videos, at the ten minute mark of the second video.  Why should I do this?  It's a good opportunity because you can sit and watch James White, and then get my analysis, which is a good learning circumstance.  It's coming right out of his mouth from his face, right there in front of you, and then you read my comments.

If James White speaks the truth, I gladly agree with him, but he doesn't here.  To me, he seems delusional on this issue.  He can't even grasp the biblical position and he goes wholesale for the new and unscriptural one.  He's not just against the right view, but he's angry and insulting.  It's odd, but let's pick up where we ended the last post, where he assaults what has been called the Ecclesiastical Text view.

For about a minute, after 10 minutes, White lists off what he considers important knowledge to get this issue right.  As I hear each one, I don't see anything there that deals with the issue.  He mentions the Westminster Confession and the London Baptist Confession and says sarcastically, "God bless every single one of them," adding "but none of them were infallible."  Let me mark this down.  None of them were infallible.  OK.  What's the point?  The implication is that they were wrong here.  Sure, these men could be wrong, but it was a lot of people who wrote these, a lot who agreed with them, followed what they wrote, and they defended their confessions with scripture. If you are going to disrespect their conclusions, you should overturn it with more than just disdaining tones.

Then White asserts that John Calvin wasn't ecclesiastical text, because he judged certain readings to be better than others.  That just shows that White doesn't understand what he's talking about.  It is true that the editions of the TR vary slightly.  That's not enough to reject a scriptural position.  What did these men write about that?  What was a position of perfect preservation, a settled text, that knew that errors came into the hand copies?  I've answered that again and again here with the exact quotes of the men.  Something like the Ecclesiastical Text position is what people believed at that time.  It is the only historical and biblical defensible position.  I know that people want answers on specific texts, but there really are not that many and for a person of faith it should not be enough to push the eject button on biblical doctrine. I know it does with White and others, but to a destructive end.

No one is saying that the single state church leader, Calvin, represents historical theology.  I recognize how important he is to these reformed people.  However, saying that at that juncture in history he preferred one TR reading over another does not do anything to this position.  White says "not a one" believed the Ecclesiastical Text position, when in fact everyone did.  Perhaps a few didn't, but so small a number did not (I don't know of any) that it is accurate to say that everyone believed it.  It is the position that was written down that they believed.  White either doesn't know what people thought and believed at that time about preservation of scripture, or he just ignores it so as not to undermine his own position.  White says "they didn't seem to have that idea."  No, that's what they thought.

White then calls this "the infallibility of reformed scholasticism."  The kindest thing I could call this is a "red herring."  Their position wasn't a scholastic position.  And they didn't prove their position, like White, by talking like their mere support made it divine edict.  No.  This was historic, biblical belief.  This is what they saw scripture teach.  This is where the unity of the spirit comes in.  Could they all have been deceived at once?  Was this a total bibliological apostasy?  This is White's position.  He doesn't call it that, but it is what he is saying.  If you are going to upend established doctrine, you've got to go to the Bible, not naturalistic forensics, new archaeological finds.

Toward the end of the 11 minute mark, White says he believes in sola scriptura, but, but, "some of our forefathers didn't have all the information."  What doctrine is this?  Because I think it deserves a name.  It's the didn't-have-all-the-information doctrine.  Scripture is sufficient and they had scripture, but they didn't have all the information.  In addition to scripture, you need information.  Does that contradict sola scriptura?  I'd say so.

You hear the typical postmodern quips from White.  "That very much concerns me."  "That troubles me."  Who cares?  What concerns you has no authority, more so than what Calvin wrote has no authority.  Your being troubled doesn't give me the evidence necessary to show that my beliefs are wrong.  I need better than that.  All the facial twistings and squirming in the seat and the eye rolls -- none of those persuade me.  They actually do the opposite to me.

At 12:20 and following, he says that the Ecclesiastical Text position sounds good in an online chat, but it "can't answer questions about specific readings."  This is how the debate goes.  You show the biblical doctrine, the historical doctrine, but that is overturned in White's mind by textual criticism, which isn't scripture.  The other side doesn't have to show you a doctrine.  They don't have one.  They don't start with doctrine, and this coming from someone who says don't be persuaded by scholasticism.  This is also coming from someone, when the textual criticism goes off the rails, returns to doctrine, as seen in his debate with Ehrman.  White likes to say, "I'm sorry, but," when he's not sorry.  I'm sorry, but you don't get to pull the doctrine card, when you're the ones who say that presuppositions don't come into the equation.

White's specific reading, which he had already mentioned twice in his video, is Revelation 16:5.  A text like that is the crack through which he can drive his Mack Truck of textual criticism.  White knows what Revelation 16:5 said in all the Greek manuscripts.  He knows that.  Does he?  Has White seen every manuscript available to every translator before printed editions came, and the printed English translations came?  You can't prove a universal negative, which is why human discovery lacks as a basis for faith.

White then brings in Luke 2:22 as another specific reading and one that he asked Douglas Wilson about, which also indicated to me that he does think this is Douglas Wilson's position.  This is the typical argumentation of the critical text person.  It is a textual variant gotcha game.  There aren't very many of these, very few.  It's like the exceptions for pro-abortionists -- they want to know about incest and rape.  These exceptions become the basis of the belief instead of sola scriptura.  That's how Christians should operate.  Elevating science above the theology was the rationalism and liberalism of the 19th century, and now we can't say what marriage is.  The Bible is the truth.  What it says about itself is the final authority.

After 14 minutes, White says if you don't have textual criticism, you can't answer questions, which is what damages apologetics.  White has lived in his own mind of textual criticism, only answering questions with his view of the world.  Living in my own mind, I'm saying that you can answer the questions, except they have real authority unlike his.  He spouts off three verses where he says the TR reading is indefensible.  When he says indefensible, he intends for you to see it his way.  It is defensible, but he means that you can't defend it with the rules of textual criticism, which were invented by men and essentially unbelievers.

At the 15 minute mark, he says someone has counted 1800 differences between the TR and the majority text.  The majority text, you may not know, is a recent invention also part of textual criticism.  When you say "the majority text," you're already wrong, because there is no "the majority text."  Not every manuscript has been collated, so we still can't say what's the majority.  I call this "the math view," and it isn't a biblical position.  White himself says "the majority text," which is either ignorant or misleading.

He spends 16-17 philosophizing about this, and lands on 1 John 5:7, which he says indicates that we don't have the original text of the New Testament.  Anyone who defends 1 John 5:7 he says, despite it's inclusion in the confessions, is an unhelpful zealot for this age in which we live.  I have no comment.

At 17:30, around there, White says he saw a very "troubling" combination of canon issues and text issues.  That sparked my interest, because that was one of my chapters in Thou Shalt Keep Them.  It also makes me wonder if this guy he's arguing with has read that chapter.  White says that confusing canon and text leads back to the arguments of Rome and the more conservative forms of Islam.  So there, swatted that away with ease.

White attacks the idea of a received text, coming to the church by the providence of God.  He asks if the very recent finds of the papyri are not the providence of God.  That, of course, isn't the point.  He either doesn't get the point or he's acting like he doesn't get it.  I could say it's the providence of God that I stuck my hand with a screwdriver two days ago, but there is no doctrine to derive from it.  Believers didn't have the papyri for hundreds of years, so if you believe in providential preservation, you don't believe that should "correct" what God did preserve.  That isn't a belief in preservation.  It's a denial.  It doesn't surprise me that people find new manuscripts.  There are regular archaelogical finds that people, who operate like White, think should be used to correct standing doctrine.  They shouldn't.  They should be interpreted in light of what we already know.  Christianity and the church are not in flux, not a flexible, meandering thing, changing based upon what new discovery might come about (18:40).

The next post will be the last.

Recent James White Videos and the Bible Version Issue, pt. 3

Part One.  Part Two.

I do get how that certain bibliological error needs exposing and some of it is King James only.  A big swath of King James supporters don't believe in the preservation of scripture.  They've invented double inspiration or a kind of edition of double inspiration that I call English preservation, that God preserved His word in the English, not in the original languages.  Then you have the liberals, the Bart Ehrman types, attacks on inspiration, and the now regular appearances of new, innovative perversions that diminish scripture, numerous of these.  False religions assault the Bible.  Continuationists often claim extra-scriptural revelation.  Everything I've written so far in this first paragraph could keep someone very busy without getting to the doctrine of perfect preservation and general accessibility of scripture to every generation of believers.

James White, however, dedicates himself to battle certainty in scripture.  He and others like him take the odd position that you are a danger if you believe there is a settled text.  Unless you are committed to some dilution of the biblical text, you are in trouble with them.   Anything that rises above preference for the text behind the King James Version must be eradicated by White and others.  If it really is fine with them, then it shouldn't matter, but it does.  It does.  It's very, very serious to them as seen in the time they dedicate to it.  White and others say so.  There are so many alternative Bible interpretations and positions that White tolerates. He doesn't do repeated exposes and write books about those things like premillennialism or amillennialism.  Those don't get on his radar.

Someone who believes there are already errors in scripture shouldn't have a problem with someone having certainty in a Bible of which he himself approves.  On the other hand, I think that James White is dangerous, because he rejects the biblical teaching of preservation of scripture and spreads it to others, causing doubt.  I can't believe in biblical and historical preservation and tolerate White's position.  I can't believe in more than one Bible, which itself isn't even a Christian worldview.  He is in error, based on the teaching of the Bible itself.

As I've said, I'm sure there are those with a lower view of the Bible than White who are buoyed by his conservative evangelicalism.  I think I should rejoice when he's true.  Hopefully I will, but he isn't right here, so we continue with his two recent videos.  In the last paragraph I quoted in part two, White said this:

[W]e live in a day where the world is so opposed to our faith, that the days of my grandparent's generation where you didn't have to worry where you got the Bible and you didn't have to worry about textual criticism and you didn't have to worry about sexual ethics and marriage and everything else.  That day's gone.

White speaks of a day when you didn't have to worry about where you got the Bible and you didn't have to worry about textual criticism.  Those were the days before James White and men like him, who say they're doing such a great service to the church.  People assumed they had the Word of God in the King James Version.  Now they have doubts, and James White contributes to that.

At 15:15, when White is answering a question by Eric Hovind about people who say that the Bible was written only by men, he says this:

Of course, if you come to the issue of the Bible, um, I don't want to ground the authority of the Bible in any example or story that I give to somebody else, because if I, if I put my hand on something and say I swear by this, I'm saying this has a higher authority.  The same way, we can point to evidences of the truthfulness and consistency of the Bible, but we have to be very careful that we don't communicate to people that history, or manuscripts, or anything else, is a superior authority to the Bible.  Well, then the authority of scripture comes from the fact that it is theopneustos, it is God breathed, it is God speaking.  When you put your hand in front of your mouth and you speak, you cannot but help but feel breath.  That's the intimacy of what the Word of God actually is.  Jesus believed that. . . . As a pastor, as an elder in a church, when I encounter someone who can in a flippant and easy way question the authority of scripture, I am immediately concerned about this person's welfare, I really am.

I agree with everything that White said here.  He should not ground the authority of the Bible on a story about Erasmus or in the next manuscript that someone digs up or finds in a cave.  If God says He would preserve every Word and that every one would be available, that discounts anything that is different than what believers used for hundreds of years and many generations.  There should be no flippant or easy way for that to be dismissed, and yet is all the time, including by White, who places a higher degree of authority on the existence of textual variants in manuscripts than the testimony of God's people.

White's 27 Minute Video, Entitled, My Concerns With the Ecclesiastical Text Position

I am familiar with the terminology, the Ecclesiastical Text.  The first I heard it was over 20 years ago from the late Theodore Letis.  It was his position on the preservation of scripture.  As I consider what he wrote now, he was just representing the historical, biblical position on the preservation of the Bible.  This does not count as an endorsement of Letis, just that I think what he was saying on this was true.  In the past at least, what I heard espoused by Douglas Wilson sounds like this Ecclesiastical Text view.  Some today have hijacked Letis terminology, who don't even believe his view.  Somebody must be careful not to argue a straw man on this position, if he's going to oppose it.

White says he opposes the Ecclesiastical Text position, has "serious problems" with it, and in the above linked video, he speaks about it.  He says it is a subject that is very important to him, and he did the video, he explains, in response to a conversation someone had with him in a social network. At the very beginning White says that this position is the end of meaningful apologetic defense.  Big words.  One would think it's got to be very bad with that kind of blasting.

White says in the second minute that the Ecclesiastical Text position is thoroughly inconsistent with reformed presuppositions, even though it's the reformed that take it.  He says it is also inconsistent with "sola scriptura and things like that."  In the third minute, White explains that he was motivated by statements that were very offensive and that he was shocked or at least disappointed by what a fellow reformed Baptist elder said to him.  The man said about White that the Muslims want White to debate in their mosques for a different reason than White thinks, that is, because they use again and again White's defense of the critical text.

At about 3:25, White does a very typical for him type of mockery of this man and his audacity. You've got to be kidding White if you think that Muslims know what the Ecclesiastical Text is.  That is a red herring.  Muslims think the Bible is corrupted, something James White agrees with.  It is true that they don't hear very often a position in defense of a settled, perfect text of the Bible.  It is probably also true that someone who took that position would not get into a mosque to debate, like White can.  That position, the historic and biblical position, contradicts the chief Muslim attack on Christianity.  They like a guy that plays right into their hands.

A little after the four minute mark, White says Ecclesiastical Text advocates must admit textual variants, just like he does, White ticking off the various editions of the textus receptus (TR).  He says Muslim scholars pounce on any admission of textual variants and both he and TR proponents must admit variants.  When I talk to Muslims, I don't admit variants.  I go to scripture and show them verse after verse that teaches the perfect preservation of God's Words, and that we trust what God said, that we have a perfect Bible, because God said so.  That is doing spiritual warfare, depending on theopneustos, the breath of God, to pull down strongholds, not getting into acceptable percentages. White can't do that, because he doesn't believe it.

Who are meaningful Moslem apologists?  I find that every Moslem I talk to, wants to talk, and is ready to talk.  They have various degrees of readiness, but more than any other pagan religion, Moslems will engage on their religion.  They want to persuade you.  Scripture is sufficient for whatever Moslem apologist you want to confront.

White says that's the problem with the ecclesiastical text position.  He says it exists in the backwaters of reform-dom.  This is very typical type of speech of White, who says he was shocked and disappointed with how someone treated him, said, as normal, right up front.  Of course, he's tooting his own horn, implying that he's way down stream with the top Moslem scholars, and these guys are in their little reformed fiefdoms, away from the big time, like him.  It's laughable.  He really does get me laughing out loud, all of his antics.

After spending a minute insulting his opponents, White lectures us that Moslems don't know their own textual history, even outside of the backwaters, where White paddles, except for some of them.  And he means by that, of course, that he does know, because, ahem, he's studied the history of their text, and can give them textual variants of the Koran.  This is White's idea of being on an even playing field -- the Bible and the Koran have variants.  They both have errors!  Neither know what the original text was!!  This is "meaningful" interaction, "meaningful" an important qualifier to White.

At 6 minutes, White asks, "What are we supposed to do?"  If he was serious, this is a very good question.  Men should know what to do.  He asks what the Ecclesiastical Text view will add to this.

Right before 7 minutes, White equates the Ecclesiastical Text view with the Moslem view of the Koran.  He says they take a theological position, and not a historical one, just like the Ecclesiastical Text.  This is another iteration of a typical critical text argument.  They use that same one with the Roman Catholic tradition of Jerome's Vulgate, except that it's not the same, because the Vulgate was a translation, and the Ecclesiastical Text view defends original language preservation.  The preservation of the Koran is not the same as the preservation of the Bible, because the Bible is in fact the Word of God.  It's true that someone might not take the Bible, the actual breath of God, as an authority, but it is powerful to pull down strongholds, unlike White's naturalistic arguments, meant to get debate points away from the backwater.

White says that there is no historical argument for an ecclesiastical text.  There is one.  And it's better than White's historical arguments, because it is true.  White says there is no means for an ecclesiastical text person for accomplishing anything in a conversation with a Moslem.  I haven't found that to be the case.  If you know the Bible, you can show what's different about the Bible from any other book.  The Koran can't compare.  You can talk about the means of preservation, the biblical means, and accessibility, something that White doesn't have in his naturalistic toolbox.  Those are powerful, because they are biblical, and the problem for a Moslem, like any other lost person, isn't intellectual, but volitional.

An Ecclesiastical Text person will explain textual attack and how that we know what the Words of God are, just like we know we have 66 books.  That is all historical, but mainly it is biblical.  We don't say the same thing as the Moslems.  That's just a lie by White, and one to which he adds a lot of attitude with it.

White says after 8 minutes that he's never seen the official ET, Ecclesiastical Text, rolling his eyes again and again, as he often does.  He said at the beginning of his video, that he had seen it.  He should become more educated then. He should perhaps go into the backwaters a little.  Or he could just read the Westminster divines, John Owen, Turretin, or Richard Muller's volume on the history of bibliology after the printing press.  He could perhaps get out of the 19th century and get into the 17th and 18th centuries, before the enlightenment.

Right before the 9 minute mark, he's got to do 20 seconds of "meaningless" ridicule, his face getting red, twitching and stroking his beard.  I get to the 9 minute mark, and can I believe it?  Yes.  He brings in the traditional Latin text of Rome. It's like talking to an evolutionist, the same three or four same stories again and again.  He sees a subjugation of the text to an ecclesiastical authority, mocking "ET" again briefly, an obvious reference to extra-terrestrial. (You tell me what White looks like when he talks like this -- be honest.  If he was in my church, I'd tell him to stop.)  White should read the Westminster Confession and the London Baptist Confession to get an explanation for what he mocks earlier as a "vibe" and here with the "church authority" argument.

Just an aside here.  The critical text people, including White, defy their own reasoning with their support of the Septuagint, a non original language text (and a corrupt one).  The big debate with Roman Catholicism was the superiority of the original language text above the Latin.  There is a biblical argument there.

Notice at the end of the 9th minute and into the 10th how that White argues for his position.  None of it is scriptural.  It's 100% humanism and naturalism.  You hear him say "the Byzantine platform" as if those forensics are vital to believers.  They're not.  He acts like they had no basis for their text in the 16th and 17th centuries.  He doesn't know what he's talking about, and it would be more sad, if he wasn't so laughable.

More to Come.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Recent James White Videos and the Bible Version Issue, pt. 2

As we continue analysis of James White's Bible version videos, Eric Hovind asks again about folks who try to correct the original language text with an English translation.  Maybe he didn't think White had answered that.  For his second round, White says the King James translators didn't know the Granville Sharp rule, so modern translators are better equipped with this new rule to do a better translation, a way to disparage the translation used and trusted by most Christians for 400 years.   According to White, people had missed the meaning of Titus 2:13 until the arrival of Granville Sharp. White then channels the translators, speculating that if they were alive, they would support a revision utilizing new grammatical discoveries.  Of course, the bigger issue is the underlying text, since God inspired and preserved His Words in the original language.

Even though White's reply didn't answer Hovind's question, everyone should agree that the KJV translators wanted as accurate a translation as possible.  Other factors exist though in deciding to change a translation.  There is a nonchalance about revising the Bible to "evangelical scholarship," like the Bible is its personal plaything.  People think and should think of their Bible as settled and established, as heavenly, as divinely provided, the domain of God, not a work in progress. Men change to fit the Bible.  They don't hold sway over the Bible.  The Bible isn't a changing item.  It is finished, done, available.

As I evaluate White's answers to Hovind, I want people to know that there is a silliness, a lack of seriousness, about the tone of the interview.  I would do better with something less reality show, that would elevate the subject matter, instead of attempting to make it more casual.  Regular exclamations of "wow" are over the top.  They too diminish the doctrines represented.

Beginning at about 5:15, Hovind asks White why there are so many translations?  This seems to relate to the question Hovind just asked.  White gives a good answer here. He says there are too many and that there are so many mainly for financial reasons. Publishers don't want to pay to use another translation, so they do their own to save money.  White has a problem with the simplified translations too.  He says some very good things here.  He gives an excellent explanation of the various levels of Greek that should be seen in a good translation.  The books with the most complex Greek should reflect that in their translation instead of dumbing all the books down to the same level.  A translation of the New Testament should be at the level of the New Testament.  The funding used for new English translations should go to languages that have no Bible. This was good.

White finishes the second question at about the 9 minute mark, and then Hovind asks him about textual criticism, whether we've "beat this horse to death" so that 'the Bible is dismantled to the degree that we don't know what it's saying'?  White says,

There's two different kinds of textual criticism.  You have.  We need to differentiate them.  Uh, what I engage in is called lower textual criticism, where you actually have factual material to deal with.  So we're talking about manuscript based textual criticism.  We're actually talking about trying to reconstruct the original text, based upon having more manuscripts of the New Testament than any other work of antiquity, earlier manuscripts than any other work of antiquity, better manuscripts than any other work of antiquity.  OK.  So we have an embarrassment of riches.
And you've got people like Dan Wallace running around the world right now, running himself ragged, uh, with the center for the study of New Testament manuscripts, trying to digitize the entire world's collection of Greek manuscripts and there's a reason for that. Have you heard about what's happening in the Middle East? Libraries being destroyed, things like that, if, and those manuscripts are gone, if they were not digitized, if they're only on, on microfilm and that microfilm is next to impossible to read, uum, this has to happen.  And that, that, is the area of textual criticism that believers can engage in, because we are confident that in those currently 5771 catalogued manuscripts of the New Testament, uum, which that number is always changing all the time, that within all of those manuscripts, every original reading is still there.  It's like having a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  And what we have, thank God, is 10,100 pieces, not 9,900 pieces.  You see, we have, we have to go through and examine those variants and see what has been added later, but we can have absolute confidence that we have the original readings. That's, that's a wonderful thing.
Now there is a quote-unquote textual criticism or form criticism that doesn't depend upon having manuscripts to examine, where your trying to go, uh, into the construction of the original text, and, and uh, could it be that, that John wrote, uh, part of his gospel and then went back and edited and then there's someone that edited that and it's all hypothetical.  It's all based on, 'well, I sort of think that John initially would have thought this or initially believed that,' and it's, it's, it's pure, it's pure theory, it's not real and it's all based upon the idea that whatever the Bible originally was, it can't be what Christians thought it was.  And so that's a completely different thing.
And I went to a, my first master's degree was from a very even more today liberal seminary and I wondered why the Lord let me go through that.  Now I know why.  Now I know exactly why it was.  Now I can look at liberalism and say, 'been there done that and got the t-shirt, and the degree for that matter,' but that kind of criticism is not believing, it's not believing criticism, but is based upon the idea that we simply cannot, uh, believe what the Bible, uh, says about itself.  We have to start with the assumption that Paul contradicted Peter and Matthew is off on his own thing over here someplace. And what it produces is always, always self-contradictory.  It can never give you any foundation for truth whatsoever.
But unfortunately that's what you're going to find in the most dangerous place for a Christian.  It's called a Christian book store.  You've got to be, you've got to understand when you're walking down the aisles of a Christian book store, you might as well think that there are vipers and pythons coiled on each side of you.  Because, for example, when you look commentaries of the Old Testament today, with a few glowing, thank-you-God exceptions, we gave the Old Testament to liberals a long time ago.  And so, people say, what, what commentary series should I, should I buy.  And I go, I can't tell you, because in a commentary series, you might find one book that is just great, and the one sitting next to it might be just absolute poison to your faith, so we have to have discernment. 
I, I, I mean, we live in a day where the world is so opposed to our faith, that the days of my grandparent's generation where you didn't have to worry where you got the Bible and you didn't have to worry about textual criticism and you didn't have to worry about sexual ethics and marriage and everything else.  That day's gone.  If we want to be salt and light today, then, uh, we have got to know these things.  It's a tough calling, but if we want to be salt and light, we've got to do it (13:41).

White talks about "lower textual criticism" like it is an assumed, biblical activity.  If people could just stop and listen to what he's saying, he's telling us that we're still recovering the original text of scripture, that is, we don't have it.  The way we recover it, White says, is through this lower textual criticism.  White supposes errors in the present text of scripture.  How does he know that?

Do these men go to churches, their churches, and say, "The Bible has errors we're still correcting." That's what they believe.  They don't want people thinking that way, so instead they say, as White essentially does here, "We have an embarrassment of manuscript evidence and all the words of the originals are in there somewhere."  The good news according to White is that we have far more words than what are in the originals, so it really is a matter of whittling those down to the actual number, and this textual criticism is the God prescribed method for that.  'Meanwhile, folks, live what you've got while we spend time at the drawing board to get this thing right.'

Does White believe that all the words of the originals in their proper order are found in the available manuscript evidence for the Bible?  Why?  He never says.  Is there some kind of scriptural presupposition for saying that all the right words are even in there somewhere?  What I have read and know is that these men say these things and they don't really believe them.  They aren't saying that we know we have 100% of the words in the manuscripts.  Twice White says we have all of them.  All.  I don't think he means 100%.  What I've read and know is that most evangelicals don't believe we have an accurate manuscript available with the actual text of 1 Samuel 13:1 in it.  They hope we'll find one some time, but they believe there is an error there in search of the original reading.  So the most sure thing that they have to say, that all the words are all in available manuscripts, they say with fingers crossed or a bit of a wink.

I could say that all the right words in the Bible are available on planet earth.  Those words exist somewhere.  Is that the biblical doctrine of preservation?  I call it the buried text view.  They won't say this, but many take the tack that God has preserved His Words, and He has preserved them both in heaven and then somewhere on earth possible still buried somewhere, ready to be unearthed in some future century perhaps.  That does not represent what scripture says about preservation.  Neither is it the historic view of preservation.

You don't hear a biblical answer from White.  You hear his take on the condition of the biblical text, not that much different than Bart Ehrman's. I watched the White-Ehrman debate and the two do differ, but not on most aspects of textual criticism, not on the nuts and bolts of it.  Really, the only difference between the two is their interpretation of the so-called evidence.  In both cases, their evidence is man-centered human discovery.  Both sides say that you can't let biblical presuppositions effect your textual criticism, and Ehrman doesn't at all.  White would say that Ehrman is dishonest with his interpretation, that if he applied the same scholarship to other books of antiquity, he would conclude to a high enough percentage what was in the original manuscripts of the Bible.  Ehrman, on the other hand, would say that we have something far different than what we should expect from a divine book that promises its own preservation.

The difference between Ehrman and White, even though neither will say it, is their presuppositions. White doesn't take his presuppositions from scripture, but he also doesn't abandon his faith in scripture even though he doesn't believe we know what all the words are.  What I'm saying is that White relies on a kind of presupposition without saying he's relying on it.  Ehrman knows he's relying on it.  You can't rely on scriptural presuppositions and stay in the textual critic club, so you just rely on them to the degree necessary not to eject from the faith and say that you are letting the evidence lead you to the truth.

Do we trust in the Bible as a supernatural book, as divine, because we can get a high degree of certainty based on manuscript evidence?  What is our basis for believing that?  If that isn't it, we should at least hear from White and others like him what is the biblical basis for trusting what we do have, even though according to them, we know there are errors in it.  I understand if that doesn't teach very well.  It's a tough sell.  Nevertheless, despite evangelical admonitions not to trust in scriptural presuppositions for textual criticism, White relies on modified ones to preserve his faith in a Bible that he thinks has errors in it.  White calls that "providence" in the tradition of Benjamin Warfield, who read textual criticism into the Westminster Confession of faith.  It's very similar to evangelical scholarship calling the evolution of a day-age theory, "creation."  They redefine terms to fit human discovery.

Evangelical scholars should just be honest.  They've already caused tremendous damage, because young people are abandoning Christianity in great numbers in part because they can't muster faith from a Bible with only a percentage, albeit a high one, of reliability.  They can't stand in a world hostile to the truth on an unsure foundation.   Bart Ehrman will win most times, if we are left with a shade of certitude.

More to Come.