Monday, December 10, 2007

Is KJVO a Great Danger to Historic Fundamentalism? part two

The multiple version only crowd (MVO) claims scholarship. They talk about themselves like they're the intellectual branch of fundamentalism. They also claim to exegete. And then when you engage them in discussion on almost any issue, they back up the dump truck full of name-calling and propaganda techniques. The entire title to a new book, written by James Price, does this very thing. He couldn't help himself from calling the book: King James Onlyism: A New Sect. In light of his comments that KJVO is intellectually bankrupt, laughable, and dishonest, it would be no wonder that this is the book that Mike Harding presently really recommends. I haven't read Price's book and maybe I will. It is rather expensive ($35). Calling KJVO a "sect" doesn't seem like a way to change anyone's mind. It seems like a book that might find some interest among the rabid anti-KJV crowd, as if they could become any more cemented in their position.

Is it true, what Mike Harding says, that KJVO, the use of the King James Version only as an English translation (I do use Green's interlinear, JFYI, and of course the received Greek and Hebrew texts), is:
1. A Great Danger?
2. The Greatest Embarassment to Historic Fundamentalism?
3. Intellectually Bankrupt?
4. Dishonest?
5. Laughable?
6. Serious in Its Consequences?
I'm going to add one more.
7. A New Sect?

I dealt with two of these in part one. Of course, I say "no," and that actually it is just the opposite of what Harding says. Let's continue.
3. Intellectually Bankrupt
What really is intellectual? Fundamentalists have long been known by new evangelicals as anti-intellectual. Some of them don't like it. They want to be considered at least as scholarly as their evangelical counterparts and they think that the KJVOers make fundamentalism look stupid. Again, it all depends on what is intellectual. Is the "wisdom of this world" intellectual? Are the "traditions of men" intellectual? Or is it "wisdom that is from above?" Wisdom from above would be the Bible. We don't think it is smart to deny Scripture (which they do). We think God is smarter than anyone and we think it's dumb to contradict what He said, even if it doesn't fit into our own reasoning or supposed evidence. Unfortunately, "intelligent" on this issue means: what do Bruce Metzger and Bart Ehrman say? Bart Ehrman is an unbelieving agnostic and Bruce Metzger was his mentor and someone willing to collaborate with Ehrman. And yet a huge chunk of God's Word in Our Hands (GWIOH, to which Harding contributed) is actually direct quote from or recycled Bruce Metzger. Bruce Metzger is also the major source of Daniel B. Wallace's attack on preservation.
One of the commonly heard statements of the MVO "intellectuals" is found on pp. 171, 172 of One Bible Only, the Bauder and Beacham book on this issue. They write:
Many scholars, however, have devoted their entire lives to comparing the manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. None of them has ever been able to demonstrate that any two Greek manuscripts are identical. We may conclude that, like snowflakes and fingerprints, every manuscript differs from any other manuscript in some respects.
I hear a nearly identical refrain in almost every article I read supporting MVO. How many that make this quotation do you think have looked at every manuscript? How many? Really. How many of the men who commonly use this statement to support their position, a major statement, have seen every manuscript of the New Testament. Where are all those manuscripts? How does one look at every single one of them?

The statement above is not footnoted. That means that they know what they are saying personally (the same undocumented statement is said here, here, here, here, and here). They are not quoting someone that they "know" has looked. I don't know if anyone has actually validated this claim by looking himself. And yet it is regularly stated as a significant reason to back their view. If they don't know themselves personally, aren't they relying on what someone is saying, what a man is saying. In other words, they are placing their faith in a man. Is that intelligent? I wonder if Mike Harding or James D. Price has looked at every manuscript. I don't think so. Media experts claim that, when a statement is repeated enough times, no matter how inaccurate, the public will eventually believe it. Does that make it intelligent? Talk about a leap in the dark. They've taken the leap.

Even if this mantra of the MVO were true, which I have not yet seen documented by someone who has actually seen every manuscript, it doesn't change what we KJVO believe about the preservation of Scripture. The above oft-repeated statement doesn't even deal with our position (making it either a strawman or a red herring). We believe that God has preserved every letter and every Word of God in the language in which they were written and made them generally accessible to believers of every generation. We haven't said that Scripture advocates the preservation of one perfect physical copy for all times. Scripture doesn't teach that. And yet, they're the intelligent ones. Maybe you don't get it. Neither do I.
4. Dishonest

This one I don't get. I haven't been dishonest about anything. I've made some typos and grammatical errors at times, but I haven't been dishonest. I'll wait for someone to show us how we were dishonest with Thou Shalt Keep Them (presently on sale at a very good price--$14 [one], $12 [two], $10 [3 or more]).
I do know that the other side has been dishonest. I know they have. They even claim their own dishonesty, unapologetically. But who cares? They're indifferent to it. The major thesis of their whole book (GWIOH), that God preserved every Word in the multiplicity of the original language copies, they deny in their footnotes.

Michael Sproul in his book, God's Word Preserved, lies about me. He never gave me the heads-up on the information he placed in the book. When I have attempted to contact him several times, he doesn't care that he lied about me in the book. He had already printed numerous copies, and admitting he lied would take away credibility. I wish that some of his buddies would take him to task for the lies, but they haven't. Let me enumerate the lies:
1. He lies in saying that I sent emails unsolicited to members of his church (p. 149). I sent emails to everyone on the public email list at my alma mater. I didn't single out anyone in any local church. None of those graduates had to have their email public. By having it public, they were soliciting mail from other graduates. That was the purpose of the list. I sent my emails to graduates of the same college, not to Sproul church members. If they happened to be in his church, that was no consequence.
2. He lies in saying that I wrote that on this issue what anyone else ever taught is unimportant (p. 149). I've never said anything like that. I've said that what is most important is what does God's Word say about it, and I said that in the introduction to Thou Shalt Keep Them.
3. He lies in saying that I try to attach myself to B. Myron Cedarholm in an ad for the book (p. 149). I didn't have to try to attach myself to him. I was attached to him. My position is his position. I first learned it from him when I was in high school.
I can go over several other lies that I've heard from the other side, but this is enough for now. Presently, Douglas Kutilek quotes me on an article from one of this websites that isn't a book that I have written. I had nothing to do with that book and he quotes me as having written in it. I've written him twice telling him to remove it, but he leaves it up. Is that dishonest? I don't mind, by the way, if the other side would be willing to clear these up. I'd be glad to let you all know, if that were the case.

[I'll finish this in one more article, hopefully. While you are waiting, here's an article that will indicate the danger of the MVO position.]

12 comments:

Enoch said...

Ken,
On the questions of there being no identical manuscripts, you can either say "no one has seen them all, so no one can make the claim " and in doing, argue from the negative, or go out and show ONE example where the ancient manuscripts do match perfectly.
And I recognize that you are not bound to the results (God perfectly preserves, and any differences are from man), but I'd think the onus is on you to demonstrate what should be simple--One set of perfectly matching manuscripts.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I think we should stick to the King James Bible.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Enoch,
Thanks for helping me understand the argument. If you kept reading, which I should assume you did, you saw that I believed that eclectic/critical text credo was not applicable to a Scriptural view of preservation. No one is arguing for preservation in one physical copy. I've never argued that.

I don't happen to have any need to find matching manuscripts. Since it is the point that those guys and perhaps you are making, don't you think you should be able to show that there are none matching? Why do I need to do your work for your point? If people don't actually know. They shouldn't say it. It's a moot point. They should say something like this: We haven't seen two identical manuscripts. Follow up question: How many have you actually seen? "Oh, about 7." Hmmm, nice work. Isn't it disingenous to keep bringing this up like they have actually looked? Please answer that question.

The point itself is a strawman that I don't have a need to answer. It was a point concocted to use against people who believe that God did what He said He would do, perfectly preserve His Words in the language in which they were written.

Thanks for coming over Enoch. Your name reminds me to walk with God today.

Enoch said...

Kent,
I did read your whole post--and the one before. As I understand, you believe God has providentially preserved his word in the received text from which the KJV is translated--that the KJV itself is not inspired, but that its original language antecedents have preserved the complete writings of the original authors without error.
If I am correct in the first part, I do not see how you are exempt from the issue of the state of ancient manuscripts.
No, there is not one single manuscript which is THE preserved, perfect text. We agree. But, if no manuscript is EXACTLY the same, how is it that, despite the differences between the earliest know MS and the received text, it is the received text which is the correct one? That argument (which is what you are reduced to having to make) amounts to your pronouncing one form "right" with no real reason to think so other than it is the one you have.
Or do you have concrete reasoning for why the received text is the right one?
An even more interesting set of questions, though, would be about your view of the early Church Fathers. Do you accept them (or certain of them) as being true Christians? When they quote scripture in their writings, do their quotes of the same passage match in every way? Or more importantly, do they match with the received text in every way? Or were they, too, without the perfectly preserved word of God?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Enoch,

I base what I believe on Scriptural presuppositions; in other words, I go to Scripture to find my position and then interpret history based upon that. What I see with eclectic/CT men is that they go to history and then go to Scripture to figure out how to explain away passages on preservation and availability.

My position on preservation isn't any more a miracle than mine on inspiration. God said He did both and I can't produce physical evidence for either. Without seeing, I believe.

A major point to understand is that God said He would preserve His Words, not paper and ink. God inspired the original, physical writings, but He preserved the letters and Words. How do I know which ones are the right ones? God the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. The churches canonized the Words and agreed on those Words for hundreds of years. These were people that believed in perfect preservation as seen in the London Baptist Confession and the Westminster Confession.

I can't be certain of what the ante-nicean fathers wrote word-for-word, and God didn't promise to preserve them. Many of them were obviously unconverted baptismal regenerationists. I know that in their writings there is evidence of TR readings that are not part of the CT, like the last twelve verses of Mark and 1 John 5:7. Just because we read differences in their writings doesn't mean that God didn't preserve every Word.

My evidence that the TR is the right words is that the CT wasn't available for at least 400 years. Believers didn't make copies of that text. It was essentially the textus rejectus. I don't believe God has put us in charge of restoring a lost text, but of receiving a preserved one.

What do you believe is the Scriptural view of preservation of God's Words?

Enoch said...

Kent,
Hold on just a second. I'll leave off from an appeal to the Church Fathers. I think it would be more distracting than helpful. I had meant to see if there is evidence of a perfectly preserved form of scripture through out history. Because if your view is correct, then it should be able to be seen.
I doubt you are arguing that God providentially preserved his word, but that he skipped the generations prior to the collation of the TR. And I also doubt you are arguing that the Holy Spirit has led us in the last 400 years to recognize the perfect word, but the previous 1600 did not know it, or at least did not appreciate it.
And yet, the TR is not monolithic--it is a compilation of (fewer) MSS which, if the claim is correct, do not agree with one another in every aspect. Though they may be similar (from one MS family), they are not exact. How is it that the New Testament, assembled as it was by various scholars over many years, fell into a form (which we call the TR) not exactly identifiable prior to the 1500s, and yet is the perfectly preserved word of God?
You see, I am not arguing that the TR is a bad set of MSS. But the weight you give them--the perfectly preserved originals, the exact words of the autographs--goes beyond what they can possibly represent.
And you are hoisted on the petard of the argument you both doubt and decry as not pertinent: there are no two identical MSS. Because the TR is included in this sweeping statement. They, too, are ancient manuscripts. And if they do not agree perfectly, then how can God be said to have perfectly preserved the actual words of the autographs?
Does this make sense?
You can't appeal to interpretation of scripture here, because your interpretation must have a locus. And if the basic argument is about the perfection of that locus, and when examined, it is found not perfect, the interpretation is undone.

Anonymous said...

Dear Enoch,

If you would like evidence that the autographs were around (and thus a perfect and available Bible around) for centuries in the patristic era, please visit:
http://thross7.googlepages.com/home and read the essay on the Longevity of the Autographa. The claim of perfect preservation is that all the readings are available, and the saints can know what they are. If they are not today in Scrivener's TR, that under the KJV, we can't know for sure where they are. In the early centuries one could know if he went and examined the autographs. I will let Pastor Brandenburg comment further--I do not intend to do so, but I commend the essay to you.

Best wishes,

Thomas Ross

Kent Brandenburg said...

Enoch,

I'm going to be glad to answer your comment, but I'm busy for a little while today, so maybe later today. However, in the meantime, read Bro. Ross paper that he lovingly makes freely available, and also read his "The Canonicity of the Received Bible" at the same time. Brother Ross was a member at our church for a long time and is highly qualified as you will see in the quality of his work. This also gives a good answer to a lot of what you're writing.

I will be coming back to engage you. By the way, from the style, etc. of your writing, I see you as potentially a pastor or professor that is writing here anonymously. You're welcome to do that, but why not talk to me publically, Enoch? Is it that much of a risk for you? That would sort of define the peer pressure on this issue in fundamentalism.

Enoch said...

Tom (and Kent),
Thank you for the article. I have quickly looked it over, and I will give it more time later today. My initial response is to know how you understand the words "perfectly preserve" and what constitutes something being "not perfect." Is the addition or omission of a word sufficient, or the interpolation of a verse or phrase enough to make something "not perfect?"
I look forward to continued discussion.

Enoch said...

Kent,
I was reading your last comment quickly and missed the final paragraph.
I am actually a public school Latin teacher (though I am flattered by your assumptions). My name actually is Enoch. I thought I was engaging you publicly, especially as I live near Philly--we are not exactly going to get together. I did note, however, that you love a church on my side of the country (Leigh High--about 1.5 hrs away).
I openly confess I am no Patristics scholar, nor am I well versed in the transmission of the scriptures. I have seen you post over on Pyro and Centuri0n, and after the last little flurry there, I thought I should come see more fully who you are--let you speak for yourself in your environment where you are not responding but rather initiating the issues.
While here, I found your view of KJVO interesting (I had never encountered it) and thought I might probe more to find out why you believe what you do. I have found you (through your posting) to be a very committed Christian. And while I have not always agreed with your comments, I don't figure you arrive at them ex nihilo. So what better way than to ask/challenge/spur you on "in person?"
In the process, I have enjoyed looking into the transmission of the scriptures and the thoughts of previous generations.
I am by no means finished with our discussion, and if continuing to post here makes it difficult, I will gladly give you my e-mail address so we can continue unhindered.
By the way, I do have my own blog, though it is a (very new) podcast for my Latin 1 students (vox-magistri.blogspot.com)--not much personal info there, but a look into one of my loves.
I look forward to seeing more posts.
Enoch Stevenson

Kent Brandenburg said...

I'll still be talking to you, Enoch. Thanks. There is no danger for you talking to me, but for some reason, leaders in fundamentalism find there to be a problem in doing that. You can ignore that last paragraph that I wrote.

Kent Brandenburg said...

One more thing, our view of preservation is the historic view. Let me take you to a place that will give you some other things I've written online. We also have a book that I'll link to.

You can read our position among the posts here: http://www.jackhammr.org/category/king-james-only/

And you will see our book here:

http://www.pillarandground.org/theobook.html

Thanks, and I'll answer your questions above in the future.