Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Reasoned" Preservation of Scripture


During the 18th century in France a movement began known as the Englightenment. From France, it spread to Germany and then to all over the world. The Englightenment attempted to apply human reason to all areas of life to bring about a new social order. Religion in France had for centuries been dominated by Roman Catholicism, which severely abused the French people. A number of French thinkers reacted against Catholicism, substituting their own views for the religious dogma. The two most influential were Voltaire and Rousseau. As their Enlightenment philosophies spread to Germany, higher criticism developed in German universities, departing from a literal acceptance of the Bible. According to the higher critics, the Bible was just a piece of literature that should be judged with the reasoning powers of men.

Three German philosophers stood out from the rest---Immanuel Kant, G. W. F. Hegel, and Friedrich Schleiermacher. Kant contended that the senses and the mind are the sole avenues of knowledge and that the Bible especially should be subjected to them. Hegel introduced dialectic thinking, which taught that one fact or idea (a thesis) works against another contradictory fact (antithesis) to create a "new fact" (synthesis). Hegel said truth was relative and dependent upon man's reasoning. Schleiermacher was guilty of bringing their teachings into the realm of theology, and he has been called the "Father of Theological Liberalism."

Since universities became the primary means of "higher education," liberal philosophies, rationalism, empricism, skepticism, liberal theology, and higher criticism began spreading all over the world as graduates brought this German modernism to and fro. Their thinking no doubt influenced academic institutions everywhere, changing and redefining how men looked at the world. Some men and colleges took the Englightenment teachings hook, line, and sinker, gobbled them up. Others mutated in a more Hegelian fashion---mixing a little reasoning with Scriptural truth to form new doctrines, ones never believed or taught in the history of the church.


Very few "scholars" today believe we have a perfect Bible. Why? Is it because the Bible doesn't teach inspiration or inerrancy? No. Is it because the Bible doesn't teach preservation? No. Is it because the Bible doesn't teach that God's Words, all of them, would be available? No. So then why do these "scholars" not believe in a perfect Bible? The first three paragraphs above answer the question. They have been influenced by rationalism and higher criticism. They don't get their view from the Bible, but from a synthesis coming from human reasoning.

The guys without a perfect Bible don't want the label "rationalist." They despise that. I don't want to call them "rationalists," but I just don't know what else to title what they say they believe. They hate being called "rationalists" so much that they have searched to find a philosophical word to label those who do believe they have a perfect Bible---they call us "fideists." This sounds good, being a "fideist," but it isn't supposed to be good or they wouldn't be calling us "fideists." This is a brand new tactic. As much as I've read, I had never heard of fideism until recently, and as a title for those unstaggering in faith in one, perfect Bible. The word originally has been used by Catholics to label Protestants. If you read Wikipedia on "fideism," you'll probably like it all the way through, so you know that Wikipedia can't have everything, because the imperfect Bible guys definitely don't mean it to be good. When they say "your a fideist," they mean something like: "You're a goof-ball."

Let me try to help you understand why the joke really is on you if you're glad to be a fideist. In their narrow, bad view of fideism, a fideist is someone who supposedly believes in something that is not connected to Scripture or evidence. He just believes, irregardless of whether it is taught in Scripture or is found in space and time. I've heard an explanation something like this:

The Bible teaches that God destroyed the earth with a flood and that the ark rested on Mount Ararat. God didn't, however, say that He would preserve the ark intact on Mount Ararat, so believing that the ark is on Mount Ararat still is sheer "fideism" because no Scripture or evidence supports that belief.
They would connect between the above illustration and what we believe like this:
The Bible teaches that God would preserve His Word, but He didn't say how He would do it. He didn't say, for instance, that He would preserve it in one manuscript in one place in an edition called the textus receptus. Therefore, without physical evidence we are basing our belief that we have a perfect Bible in our hands on fideism.
I think it is important to understand what someone is saying when he calls you a name. It is rather embarrassing to be called a fideist, know that it is bad, and not know why it is bad to be one. This narrow interpretation of the word "fideism" shows us how bad it is to be a fideist. Now when we say they are "rationalists," they can always come back with, "You're fideists." You can say "ouch" now.

Know this. Their strategy of calling us "fideists" is completely straw-man logic. Why? We have never said that the Bible would be preserved perfectly in one edition called the textus receptus. We say that God would preserve every Word, that every Word would be generally accessible, and that God the Spirit would lead His churches to receive the correct Words. We believe that the Words have been preserved by God through His institutions, Israel and the church, and that we would have a perfect Bible because of this. Does the Bible teach everything in this paragraph? Yes. Does history show that it happened? Yes.


What in their reasoning causes them to stumble in believing God's Word on preservation? (drumroll) They trip over existent, old, hand-copied manuscripts of Scripture. We've been told that none of these manuscripts is the same. Every one of them are different than the other in over a hundred places. According to the imperfect Bible people, because we have differences in all of these old manuscripts, we must continue restoring Scripture as best possible to its original condition using already discovered and newly found manuscripts. We will never be finished. The Bible will never be settled. We can be happy to know that we have at least 93% of Scripture based on statistical analysis.

What passage do they base this on? None. What verses guide them to take this view? Um. None again. So if they don't get their view from the Bible, where do they get it? What do you think?

Many of the people who reject a perfect Bible believe that God gave a perfect Bible. They say that God just didn't preserve it for us here on earth. They are inconsistent, however, in their application of human reasoning. They have no Scriptural basis for canonicity. No verse in the Bible says that we would have sixty-six books. No verse says that we would have twenty-seven in the New Testament. And yet, they aren't fideists for believing in the canonicity of sixty-six books. Why? Because they said so. And we're "cultists" and a "sect" and, and, and, "dummies."


When it gets right down to it, they don't have Scriptural reasons for what they believe. We do. They can only attack our Scriptural reasons, because they refuse to believe what God said. Why? They have been influenced by the Enlightenment and have allowed human reasoning to corrupt their faith. They are rationalists and skeptics concerning the doctrine of preservation. They teach a brand new doctrine of preservation not found in the Bible and not supported by church history. You and me, all of us, should reject their way of thinking about the doctrine of preservation.


Maaark said...

Aside from all the name calling feidists and such, the issue seems to rest in your first paragraph about the 3 scholars. So I'm still wondering what is the problem with their approach. I can tell you don't approve of it. But you never really showed to someone who might think like they do why it is faulty. So the question we've been asking for 3 centuries; what is the proper relationship between scripture and reason?

Don said...


Can I get your permission to translate this and put in on Palabras Puras?

Kent Brandenburg said...




Don said...

Its very important to show the progression of German rationalism and how it affected the interpretation of the text issue. Those studying the Spanish Bible and its roots often don't go back far enough in history to know what the historical position is on preservation. Many are making the false assumption that because many 'fundamentalist Baptist' leaders are in favor of a few critical changes to the text, it must be okay. After all, they say they are 'fundamentalists', they have fundamental Baptist papers, and fundamental Baptist churches, and fundamental Baptist preaching conferences. That's all good, but to allow a few critical changes to your Bible is not the fundamental Baptist position on the Scriptures. I was just reading a rebuttal to a Bible Baptist Tribune article in favor of modern versions from 1979 or so. The author (Barlett) insists that the old stand in the BBF was for the King James Bible. This can be said of many other groups that were considered fundamnetal Baptist defended the TR and the King James because that was the old time position.

Huw said...

The one thing that is without contradiction is the power of the scripture is preserved. Whether a verse or a word it has the power to save or destroy.
Maybe if we use the term the preservation of the power of scripture there would be less arguments and more amen.