Saturday, December 22, 2007

Answers to Questions about the Doctrine of Preservation of Scripture

I'm asked questions about the text/preservation issue all the time. Most of the time those asking are attempting to trip me up, to find holes in the argument. I've found that they mostly don't answer questions themselves and are testy when they do. I don't think they like their own position. They don't like giving the answers. When I answer their questions, I know they sometimes don't like the answers. They want the answers to be something that is easy for them to sink. Unlike the MVO (multiple version only) guys, I start with Scripture for my position. A couple of verses that describe perfectly the differences between them and me is Romans 4:20-21:
He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Abraham couldn't see everything that God had promised, but he believed God anyway. I can't prove everything that I believe historically and with tangible evidence. I can give enough historical and tangible proof to satisfy someone who is willing to believe Scripture. I believe that what we are doing when we show the historical aspects is to do what Luke was doing with Theophilus, as he describes in Luke 1:4:

That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
I've been asked some questions over at Jackhammer and at this blog that I'm going to answer and be open to some discussion. I have also included comments from Thomas Ross on this. I'm not going to give very long answers. Sometimes men will say that KJVO guys won't answer questions. I do. I have. What I have found all across the board is that the MVO guys will not answer questions and they get by with that. It's very sad in my opinion.

In no particular order, here are some of the questions (the questions in italic and color; answers in normal font).

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 known MS and the received text, it is the received text which is the correct one?

We know that copies were not made of the earliest known manuscripts, which is why they are in the minority.

Thomas Ross adds: Actually, there has been, as far as I am aware, no actual objective dating method for aleph and b. It is simply internal evidence that is used to say that they are the oldest—so maybe they aren't even the oldest. Furthermore, codex w has the received text in large portions of the gospels, and it is, according to unbelieving textual critics, equal in age to aleph and b. Furthermore, the oldest papyri have received text readings in them (see Forever Settled by Jack Moorman, which is on the web).

Furthermore, the reason there aren't any perfect copies is because when one copies something by hand, it will never be exactly the same. The printed text under the KJV is perfect. Before that time, copies were available and the words were available, but they were not all in one location. Today, if the words under the KJV are not the right ones, we cannot have certainty, but God promises certainty (Matthew 4:4; Rev 22:18-19; Prov 30:5-6; etc.).

I continue: Believers have rejected the minority manuscripts. God has promised availability (Isaiah 59:21; Matthew 4:4; etc.), and the minority were not generally accessible. The churches agreed on the TR. The Holy Spirit is guiding believers (John 16:13). God has promised preservation. We look at what God did and we see it was the TR. We trust God. This is not an "academic" approach based upon "scientific" principles, but based upon biblical ones. That's how we walk by faith, that is, by obeying God's Word.

Thomas Ross adds: I don't have a problem calling this method scientific. I think it is scientific and academic, in the true sense of the words. It is not unbelieving science, etc.
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?

The TR was what was available when the printing press was invented. There is not a basis of saying that men used just a few manuscripts to consolidate the words into one printed edition. Richard Capel, the puritan, expresses the historic (and my) position, when he writes (Capel's Remains, London, 1658, pp. 19-43):
[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.
Thomas Ross adds: Erasmus had access to a good number of mss--including the readings of Vaticanus, it appears, but he rejected them. This does not deal with editors after that time. The received medieval manuscript bible became the printed TR bible. Actually, the KJV/TR (Scrivener's) is the "majority" in a certain way, because it is the TR that is in print. If God has promised us certainty, then we have no basis for receiving a reading that was in Erasmus' 2nd edition and then never reappeared again, versus a reading that is in every TR that is in print, practically, in Scrivener's TR. There is no other TR that churches have agreed is perfect than that which is under the KJV. Therefore that is it, John 17:8; Matthew 28:18-20; etc. I would hate to preach through revelation in light of the curse of Revelation 22:18-19 and have to wonder if I had the correct reading or not.

And if they do not agree perfectly, then how can God be said to have perfectly preserved the actual words of the autographs?

The words were available even as they were consolidated into a printed edition. You can't prove otherwise, so why not go the direction of faith and not doubt, perfection and not errors. Our position is that God promised to preserve the very Words and Letters of the original manuscripts. He didn't promise to preserve ink and paper. God knows what the Words are so He made sure that we had them. He performed a miracle to do so.

Thomas Ross adds: I don't see why the God who works all things after the counsel of His own will could not have sovereignly made it happen without the kind of direct intervention in history that was the same as the kind that makes blind men see, Christ rise from the dead, etc.

I continue: I can explain the miracle, but I can't fully understand it because it is a miracle. The alternative is not believing God and having errors in Scripture, which is acceptable to textual critics and many modern MVO people.

Thomas Ross adds: I would like to hear the MVO people explain the certainty verses.
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?" If what God gave was perfect, down to words and letters, then a different letter or word is no longer perfect.And since the churches (and I'm not sure how you are defining this term) settled on the TR for about 400 years, do we then say that the Vulgate preserved the word of God perfectly when the churches settled on it (and I am not referring here to the Catholic Church, which is not the true church)?

I don't believe that true churches settled on the Vulgate. As well, the Vulgate is not Greek and Hebrew. Scripture presents original language preservation.

Thomas Ross adds: The medieval Baptists used the received text--but because printing wasn't invented yet, when they copied it there were errors in copies. However, all the words were still available. In the ancient church period, as long as the autographs were around, all the words were obviously preserved and available (and the autographs were around a while, as far as we can tell, as I demonstrated in my essay on the subject on my website). Once the autographs were gone, the true words were available and preserved by the true churches. True churches did not agree on Jerome's Latin Vulgate--the Waldenses, for example, continued to use a version of the old Latin instead of the Catholic Vulgate. By the way, the Greek TR was called the "Greek Vulgate," and it was, through God's sovereignty, copied by the Greek Catholic Church, so believers in that area didn't even need to fight with the Catholics over the Bible, since the unconverted monks were copying the truth that they did not know.

Do you ascribe to the following statement made by Francis Turretin: "Although we give to the Scriptures absolute integrity, we do not therefore think that the copyists and printers were inspired (theopneustos), but only that the providence of God watched over the copying of the sacred books, so that although many errors might have crept in, it has not so happened (or they have not so crept into the manuscripts) but that they can be easily corrected by a collation of others (or with the Scriptures themselves). Therefore the foundation of the purity and integrity of the sources is not to be placed in the freedom from fault.of men, but in the providence of God, which (however men employed in transcribing the sacred books might possibly mingle various errors) always diligently took care to correct them, or that they might be corrected easily either from a comparison with Scripture itself or from more approved manuscripts. It was not necessary therefore to render all the scribes infallible, but only so to direct them that the true reading may always be found out. This book far surpasses all others in purity."

Yes.

In what substantial way does the textual criticism behind the KJV differ from the tc behind the newer translations?

Those men didn't apply modern evolutionary principles of textual criticism. They also believed in a perfect Bible and in perfect, Divine preservation of Scripture. What they did is not the equivalent to 19th century textual criticism, when the words "textual criticism" actually came into existence. I understand the point that CT and eclectic people want conceded, but it can't be conceded historically or definitionally, and they should admit that themselves. They won't because they want "providential preservation" to mean "textual criticism." Those two are not the same. Look at Capel's quote above and I can give many others like that to show that this was not their attitude.

How do you defend Erasmus' choice to include the very questionable rendering in 1 John 5:7-8 in spite of the textual evidence in the Byzantine manuscripts which argues vehemently against this?

Much good defense is written for the preservation of 1 John 5:7.

Thomas Ross add: On my website I link an excellent defense of 1 john 5:7 on evidential principles. Also, the CT people are not very consistent when they pull their hair out over receiving 1 john 5:7--which was also in the medieval baptist bible, and was received unanimously by baptist confessions for hundreds of years--when there are many, many places in the ubs/ct where they follow only one manuscript and don't even footnote it!

I continue: Consider what Gill says about 1 John 5:7:

That is, that Jesus is the Son of God. The genuineness of this text has been called in question by some, because it is wanting in the Syriac version, as it also is in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions; and because the old Latin interpreter has it not; and it is not to be found in many Greek manuscripts; nor cited by many of the ancient fathers, even by such who wrote against the Arians, when it might have been of great service to them: to all which it may be replied, that as to the Syriac version, which is the most ancient, and of the greatest consequence, it is but a version, and a defective one. The history of the adulterous woman in the eighth of John, the second epistle of Peter, the second and third epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the book of the Revelations, were formerly wanting in it, till restored from Bishop Usher's copy by De Dieu and Dr. Pocock, and who also, from an eastern copy, has supplied this version with this text. As to the old Latin interpreter, it is certain it is to be seen in many Latin manuscripts of an early date, and stands in the Vulgate Latin edition of the London Polyglot Bible: and the Latin translation, which bears the name of Jerom, has it, and who, in an epistle of his to Eustochium, prefixed to his translation of these canonical epistles, complains of the omission of it by unfaithful interpreters. And as to its being wanting in some Greek manuscripts, as the Alexandrian, and others, it need only be said, that it is to be found in many others; it is in an old British copy, and in the Complutensian edition, the compilers of which made use of various copies; and out of sixteen ancient copies of Robert Stephens's, nine of them had it: and as to its not being cited by some of the ancient fathers, this can be no sufficient proof of the spuriousness of it, since it might be in the original copy, though not in the copies used by them, through the carelessness or unfaithfulness of transcribers; or it might be in their copies, and yet not cited by them, they having Scriptures enough without it, to defend the doctrine of the Trinity, and the divinity of Christ: and yet, after all, certain it is, that it is cited by many of them; by Fulgentius (z), in the beginning of the "sixth" century, against the Arians, without any scruple or hesitation; and Jerom, as before observed, has it in his translation made in the latter end of the "fourth" century; and it is cited by Athanasius (a) about the year 350; and before him by Cyprian (b), in the middle, of the "third" century, about the year 250; and is referred to by Tertullian (c) about, the year 200; and which was within a "hundred" years, or little more, of the writing of the epistle; which may be enough to satisfy anyone of the genuineness of this passage; and besides, there never was any dispute about it till Erasmus left it out in the, first edition of his translation of the New Testament; and yet he himself, upon the credit of the old British copy before mentioned, put it into another edition of his translation.
How can you say that the Gospel writers were 'quoting' Jesus when their Gospels don't agree word-for-word when 'quoting' Him in almost every instance. Furthermore, how do you handle the differences in vocabulary in Mt. 19:7-8 and Mk. 10:3-6 which I alluded to?

Ipsissima verba is clearly taught in Scripture. It is affirmed every time the NT states Christ "said" something. God means what He says, and if the declaration that the Lord said certain Words does not mean that He actually said them, language no longer has meaning. When the Bible declares, "these words spake Jesus" (John 8:20,30; cf. 8:31,37,43,47), who dares conclude He did not say those Words, but some "vox" paraphrase of them? The retort that the Words of the gospels are the Holy Spirit’s Words, so they are authoritative although Christ did not speak them, neglects the fact that He is the Spirit of truth, so He would not inspire a "Jesus said . . .," which Jesus did not say. Indeed, ipsissima verba is essential to spiritual growth, for the saints cannot live by His Words if they don’t have them (Mt. 4:4). God’s people must hear the Words of the Son (John 12:47), receive His Words (John 12:48; 17:8), keep His Words (John 14:23), have His Words abiding in them (John 15:7) and remember His Words as from the Father (John 14:10). Furthermore, were Christ’s Words not in the gospels, the declaration of Matthew 24:35 (and Mk. 13:31 & Lk 21:33) would be false. The penalty for being ashamed of Christ’s Words (Mk 8:38) would be irrelevant to today if only His "voice" was preserved. How horrible to say that the wonderful prayer of John 17, which begins, "These words spake Jesus . . ." (v. 1) is really only the words of John the apostle, who paraphrased to give the "genuine voice" of the Great High Priest! Of course, were this the case, the fact that the Savior, in that prayer, said, "I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them . . ." (John 17:8) would be irrelevant, since it would only be John’s paraphrase of something else Christ actually spoke, which is now irrecoverably gone. Peter asked, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). A vox position means that those invaluable Words of eternal life are gone, replaced by whatever the human writers of Scripture apparently thought better met the needs of their community than the actual Words of the Christ of God. Peter’s recorded recollections of Christ’s Words are verbatim (Mt. 26:34,75; Acts 1:5; 11:16). John 21:15-17 provides an indisputable example of Christ repeating teaching several times with different Words. If He can do it here, why can He not have actually spoken the same teaching on either the same or different occasions? Christ promised that the Spirit would bring to the minds of the writers of Scripture "whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).

While it is important to seek reconciliation of the gospel accounts for exegetical and apologetical purposes, to argue for a vox position because it makes reconciliation of the synoptics simpler is to come at the issue from an improper perspective. The saint must first see what Scripture teaches, and evaluate everything else from the presupposition of the absolute truthfulness of everything found in the Bible; to take the "evidence" first and try to accommodate Scripture to it is to live by sight, not by faith (Hab. 2:4), and to suppose that "facts" can exist and be evaluated independently from the truth of the God of Scripture—essentially an unstated presupposition of atheism. Furthermore, traditional non-redactive methods of harmonization are able to solve problems in Scripture without compromise on Biblical statements on inspiration. Scripture records clear instances where Christ repeated Himself in different words within individual gospels on what can hardly be viewed as amalgamations of different sources (cf. Mk. 10:23,24; Jn. 21:15-17); why cannot verbal differences among the synoptics be instances of the same sort of repetition, so that the gospels at times record different sets what are with equal truth the Words of Christ?

A good article that will answer this question is at: www.tms.edu/tmsj/tmsj12d.pdf

How can you hold to the theory that Jesus was merely translating from the Hebrew behind the MT tradition when there are times when His quotations differ significantly enough from the Hebrew Text so as to make it such that a literal translation of the Hebrew would not have made His point? Specifically, I would ask you to deal with the passage I reference above - Matthew 13:14-15.

You could translate the Hebrew text of Isaiah 6:9 in the imperative or in the future. The Old Testament text renders them in the imperative and the New Testament quotation, an accurate one renders them in the future. Since the words may be understood the way they were used in Matthew 13:14, this vindicates this citation of them. Many Jewish commentators actually render the OT text in the future just like the NT text does in Mt. 13. This is an English translation of a Greek text rendering of a Hebrew text. We shouldn't be surprised when they are not exactly the same.

Thomas Ross adds: Why not just say that the NT is "targumming" or paraphrasing, rather than intending to give a direct, word for word translation? We do this all the time: "the bible says that if you don't get saved you will be eternally lost," etc. "The Bible says to obey the pastor, Hebrews 13:17." Why can't the gospels do this as well?

I continue: By the way, when I satisfy the demands of a question, does that mean a person is now willing to believe instead of continuing questioning? At what point should I require faith in God's promises of preservation and availability, Scriptural presuppositions, before we continue?

How do you defend a very literal reading of Mt. 5:18 that not one jot or tittle will pass from God's Word in light of the fact that prior to Erasmus (the vast majority of the church age) there was no agreement as to any 'preserved text' to the degree of 'jots and tittles' having been preserved?

I don't have evidence there wasn't agreement. Have you ever seen evidence besides reading Metzger and Ehrman? My Capel quote above states the positions that God's people have taken.

Thomas Ross adds: Actually, you don't have Baptist churches questioning what the words were before the Reformation era. There was agreement on the words. The words in the mss that the churches had became the printed TR. Notice that the NT never, ever says something like "manuscripts of the OT have been corrupted here" or something like that. The received OT was perfect, in that all the words were available and God's people could know where they were to live by them. And, based on Scripture, the received NT was also always perfectly available.

In what way had God preserved 'jots and tittles' in the NT manuscripts prior to Erasmus and the Textus Receptus?

My assumption, based upon my presuppositions, is that the Words were available. I haven't said that they were all available in one place at one time. I can't prove they were or they weren't. We don't possess the exact physical copies that were available to them at that time, and we never will. What we might find today doesn't represent what they had. I believe all the Words were generally accessible. I believe God's Word is perfect. I believe God promised preservation of every one of them.

Thomas Ross adds: We aren't responsible to know how a Waldensian church in the 1100's knew where the Words of God were. We are responsible to know where they are today. Scripture says we can know, so we can know. We don't even know how the Waldenses managed to not all get killed, but they did somehow--we can see that they were still around in the 1600s.

Did He preserve a little in this text and a little in that text prior to Erasmus putting them together in one? If so, in what sense is this a preserved text at all?

I would answer this the same way as I did the previous question.

Some are not satisfied with these answers, I'm sure. I am. They are answers based on Scriptural presuppositions. I won't stagger in unbelief at the promises of God.

Here are some questions for anyone else:
How can you add or take away from something that isn’t settled? In other words, what difference does Revelation 22:18, 19 make?
How is the Bible considered perfect if there are errors in it? If the errors aren’t related to the words, then what difference does verbal inspiration make? What is the Scriptural basis for errors in the Bible?
Where does the Bible say there would be sixty-six books? If it doesn’t say, then how do we know there are not more or less?
What is the pre-19th century historic basis for the doctrine of the errancy of Scripture, that is, the history of assuming that we don't know what the Words are or that there are errors in Scripture?
What is the historic position on the preservation of Scripture?
What is your developed Scriptural position on the doctrine of preservation that you have believed and believed before you began examining textual criticism?
What was Paul telling Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 that was profitable for doctrine, correction, etc.? If every Word and all of them was necessary for thoroughly furnishing us to every good work, then how could we do that without all of them?
When Jesus told us that man shall live by every Word in Matthew 4:4, should we assume that He meant that we would not have every Word?
When something passes away like heaven and earth will pass away, does that mean that it will disappear? If God's Words are not going to pass away or jots and tittles are not going to pass away, does that mean that we are still going to possess them?
Was the Critical Text available for believers from c. 1525-1825?
Does Scripture teach anywhere that man was responsible for restoring a lost text?
Can you show me physical, tangible evidence that the Ben Chayyim Hebrew Masoretic and the Scrivener TR are not the same words as the original manuscripts?
What is the tangible, physical evidence that we have for continued preservation of our salvation by God even though we sin many times after we have been justified? If there is no physical, tangible evidence, then why should we believe that God preserves our salvation despite our errors?
Where does Scripture say that a miracle is a greater and more thorough act of God than providence? Is something that God does providentially less God than it is when God does something miraculously?
In light of the following quote by E. D. Morris, expert on the Westminster divines, who contributed to Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church, do you believe that the one-Bible-belief started in the 1970s or the mid-twentieth century?
As a Professor in a Theological Seminary, it has been my duty to make a special study of the Westminster Confession of Faith, as have I done for twenty years; and I venture to affirm that no one who is qualified to give an opinion on the subject, would dare to risk his reputation on the statement that the Westminster divines ever thought the original manuscripts of the Bible were distinct from the copies in their possession.
I'll be looking forward to those answers!! And then I will have more questions! Seeing that our position, according to MVO men, is intellectually bankrupt, laughable, and an embarrassment, these should be easy to answer for them!! Please do!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The War against Certainty

Benjamin Franklin is given credit for saying: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Influential nineteenth-century, liberal, British thinker John Stuart Mill wrote: "There is no such thing as absolute certainty, but there is assurance sufficient for the purposes of human life." I don't believe either of those guys lined up with God in this matter of certainty. I'm certain that God not only wants us to be certain, but He provided all the evidence we needed to be certain.

In his two volume, fifty-two chapter history of the life of Christ and the first thirty years of the church, containing more words than all of Paul's epistles, the physician Luke said in his prologue to both those books (Luke 1:4) that his purpose was certainty:
That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Notice that Luke didn't say, "That thou mightest know the high probability of those things." He wanted the Roman government official, Theophilus, and therefore us, to be sure about Christianity. Luke used the word "certain" to describe his purpose in writing. Before he does so, he establishes the reliability of what he wrote. It could be corroborated by the best of sources, including many, various eyewitnesses and the apostles ("ministers of the word," Lk. 1:1, 2).

Wikipedia says about "certainty":
Certainty is the state of being without doubt. It is total security from error. Certainty is the continuity and validity of all foundational inquiry. Something is certain only if no skepticism can occur. Philosophy (at least historically) seeks this state. Epistemology is the study of knowledge, certainty, and truth. Contemporary views of knowledge, both in philosophy and in general, do not demand certainty. It is widely held that certainty is a failed historical enterprise. A common alternative is "justified true belief."
According to modern philosophy, certainty has gone extinct. Now all we can expect, according to contemporary thinking, is a satisfactory level of probability. However, this is to say in my thinking that the Bible cannot be trusted.

Why is it that we cannot be certain any longer on matters of faith and practice, and, therefore, philosophy? Where is it that uncertainty comes from? The uncertainty and doubt all relates to the highest authority, God Himself, and His Word. To understand the answer to these questions, I believe we should recognize that there are essentially three general positions regarding the certainty of the Word of God. Only the first of these are Scriptural and historical. Going from most certain to least certain, they are:
1. Every Word of God Was Inspired and Has Been Preserved and Is Available
2. Every Word of God Was Inspired, but We're Not Sure that Every Word Has Been Preserved or Is Available
3. We Don't Have God's Word Today, and We May Never Have Had It

Views number 1 and 3 have been rampant for most of time. The second position became popular in the nineteenth century.

I'm a number one guy. Adherents of both one and two basically believe this: everyone will stand before God. For a moment, perhaps we can propel ourselves to that time right now by faith and consider ourselves as we face the Almighty. Do you believe that God will be angry with proponents of number one? How will He judge those holding to the second position? And then the third? Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6). Three is faithless. What is two?

What does uncertainty look like? I know. It looks like weakness. It is weak. People who aren't fully sure about something can't approach obedience to God with the same kind of courage and passion as those who are certain. Uncertainty leads to capitulation. If we can't be sure, then why should we practice as strongly ourselves or why should we expect others to do the same?

Satan deals in doubt. He cultivates doubt by attacking the certainty of God's Word. "Hath God said?" he asks. Satan likes this answer from men: "He may have." Or, "I think so." God wants, "I know" or "I'm certain." Parts of professing Christianity that are hanging by a thread in the number two category don't believe that we can be certain about the interpretations of God's Word. If God couldn't preserve every Word for us to have and live by, how could we really know what He meant by what He said? But has God given enough evidence for us to be certain?

The second group above finds it too tough to be sure about the perfection of what we presently call "the Word of God." They don't think anyone could sufficiently prove a position that says that we know what all those Words are. They think we have all the doctrines, but we're just guessing in an educated way about what some of the Words are. The great barrier that they can't surmount is that God would consolidate all of the Words from various and differing hand made copies into one perfect, printed edition. That would take a miracle, one that is difficult to explain. All miracles are not easy to comprehend, but this one they find incomprehensible. It is hard to believe because God didn't announce which edition was the perfect one. He didn't put out His heavenly neon arrow pointing at the volume with all the right Words. And all of academia and scholarship says that there is no way that anything like that happened. If a miracle of preservation was going to happen, they think it is would just look different than what it all looks---cleaner and more obvious---maybe something angelic or astronomical.

But isn't inspiration itself is something highly disagreed upon. Was it dictation? Did men swoon and begin unconsciously penning like string puppets? Did they write some good stuff that God later approved? Did they take down eyewitness testimony and collate documents that they amalgamated into one book? Did they cobble together a decent account from multiple sources of oral communication? What settles inspiration for us is the explanation we get in Scripture. We weren't there when it happened. We didn't see it. We weren't the ones God used in inspiration. We go ahead and take what God said at face value. When we see apparent contradictions, we harmonize them out of respect for Divine authorship. We defend the faith.

I believe that a miracle of preservation, what we might also call providential preservation, occurred in the silent fashion that God so often works. That's also how He inspired. He used common men of little renown. He expects men to see His hand in history. God regularly calls on this kind of trust throughout Scripture. A lot of what He does is beyond some of our capacity to comprehend. It isn't something that is easy to explain, but God wants us to believe it anyway. He has given us enough evidence in His promises, in a tall stack of manuscripts, and in the validation of a remnant of believers that we should assume that we have the exact Words. This is a belief that men have had in the past, despite slips of the pen and scribal emendations.

The Greek word translated in the English as "certainty" is a compound word that essentially means, "not tripping." When God sent Abram to the Promised Land, Abram couldn't see it, but he went. Romans 4 says that he staggered not in unbelief. Abram wasn't tripped up by things he couldn't see.

God wants us to continue to take steady steps of faith in His promises of preservation and to speak with certainty about His one Bible, His perfect Book. We dishonor God when we don't. We don't please Him. And in so doing, we encourage and then tolerate various levels of disobedience to God. We're tripped up, but we also become a block that causes others to stumble.


This is the first in a series.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Is KJVO a Great Danger to Historic Fundamentalism? part three

Mike Harding is a well-known pastor in the midwest, who is on many various fundamental boards, including the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship. He is also one of the authors of God's Word in our Hands, a contribution from the fundamentalist electic text crowd to their view of the text issue. Mike Harding has written recently that using the KJV only (which I've explained in the other two posts) is:
1. A Great Danger
2. The Greatest Embarassment to Historic Fundamentalism
3. Intellectually Bankrupt
4. Dishonest
5. Laughable
6. Serious in Its Consequences
7. A New Sect

I've been analyzing his claim, essentially showing how that it is just the opposite. It will be up to you to decide. Obviously, God is our final judge and He is the One we should all be concerned about. I hope we all keep that in mind, that is, that we want to take the biblical position, the one that honors the Almighty.

So far I've covered #1-4, and now we continue.

5. Laughable

I can honestly say that I've never been able to laugh at false doctrine. Even if KJVO were false doctrine, how is it something to laugh at? I've thought about how funny I think the critical text and eclectic guys are with their positions, and I can't scrape up one chuckle out of their positions. I get only sorrow or anger. I can't even feel ambivalent about their position, let alone laugh at it. Don't get me wrong; I'm not against laughing. It has crossed my mind to ridicule them. It's just that some things aren't funny---false doctrine is one of those.

But Mike Harding finds KJVO to be laughable. I have to say that I find this often to be the case with fundamentalists of Harding's stripe. It is completely mean-spirited, not in fitting with a scriptural Christian testimony. I'm not saying he's not saved; I'm saying that laughing about these kinds of things doesn't fit with what the Bible describes as Christian character. It's one thing to laugh, but another thing to report it as if he is proud of laughing.

To these guys, "laughable" stands as some sort of argument. You should all know that it doesn't work as an argument to anyone except to one influenced by such carnal weaponry as being laughed at. We see this type of strategy with the unbelievers in 2 Peter 3. They laugh (scoff) at the doctrine of the second coming. It's laughable to them. Why? Because they can't see Christ. He hasn't shown up, even though He promised He would come. They laugh to intimidate. I can't be happy about this kind of laughter.

I guess that "laughable" would be to say that the perfect preservation of Scripture position is stupid. In Scripture, doubting God is stupid. In the end it is God Who will laugh at those who don't trust Him. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision" (Psalm 2:4).

6. Serious In Its Consequences

This one is very much like "a great danger," mentioned earlier. What are the consequences of believing that there is only one Bible? Harding says they are serious. In my opinion, they are only seriously good, so in that way, I agree with him. The consequences of KJVO are seriously good. However, I do think that believing that we have options when it comes to the Bible has very serious, bad consequences. People often stop trusting Scripture. When I go door-to-door in evangelism, many times I hear inviduals tell me that there are "so many Bibles out there." That's reason enough for them not to believe the Bible. How can they know "which Bible is true?" This has been created by the many versions of the Bible that all have different words. And they do. And this is Harding's position, the one that causes this kind of doubt.

And then there is the matter of inerrancy. The MVO (Multiple Version Only) people go all over the place with this, and everything has become extremely convoluted. They tell people that there are up to 7% differences between texts, and yet the Bible is inerrant. And then when you look at the Critical Text, you see actual errors and contradictions in the text. And they say that it doesn't matter, because all the doctrines of the Bible are still in there. They say that not all the errors were purposeful, only some of them. And they say that we don't know what the original words were, but we do know that those words were perfect. And how can we trust that? How can we trust that the Words were perfect in the originals? They say that God could keep men from putting errors in the original, but that He hasn't been able to do that or hasn't chosen to (even though He promised He would) with the copies that we still have.

And has this made a difference? Of course it has. People often believe the Bible is without error and then these MVO men get their teeth into these professing believers. Man after man has turned from the faith because they once thought the Bible was perfect. Do they really want to give up the world and the pleasures of sin for something that doesn't sound like it is so sure? And these MVO guys say that it is sure enough. But is it perfect?

Cults and false religions have a field day with "mistakes" in the Bible, constantly quoting MVO men to make their point. They feel justified in taking a stand against Scripture because of the teaching from the MVO that there are errors in the Bible.

Do you see where the really serious consequences are? They are not with the people that believe there is only one Bible.

7. A New Sect

There are really two parts to this charge from Harding and James Price. Are those of the belief that there is only one Bible a sect? And is this belief new? We should understand what a "sect" is first. Wikipedia says:
In the sociology of religion a sect is generally a small religious or political group that has broken off from a larger group, for example from a large, well-established religious group, like a denomination, usually due to a dispute about doctrinal matters. In its historical usage in Christendom the term has a pejorative connotation and refers to a movement committed to heretical beliefs and that often deviated from orthodox practices.
Notice that Wikipedia recognizes that the word "sect" is a pejorative term. That's what Price and then Harding are doing. What is a pejorative, by the way? Wikipedia says:
A word is a term of derision, or a phrase is pejorative, if it implies contempt or disapproval. The adjective pejorative is synonymous with derogatory, derisive, and dyslogistic. When used as an adjective, pejorative has two meanings: (1) tending to make or become worse, and (2) tending to disparage or belittle. When used as a noun, pejorative means "a belittling or disparaging word or expression."
So Price and Harding are being purposefully derisive with their term "sect," in an attempt to belittle KJVO men. It accomplishes very little to deride someone, but that's what the MVO people choose to do. It's how they are. They are name-callers. Name calling is the MVO modus operandi. How intelligent do you believe that this kind of mud-slinging is? Just asking. Because it does remind me of the ancient Chinest proverb:
He who throws mud loses ground.
Of course, if it is new, then maybe KJVO is a sect. But is it? Or is it possible that the new belief is the MVO belief? The truth is that the MVO position is the new position, rising up in the same era as the Jehovah Witnesses, the Campbellites, and the Mormons. Calling a position of 'only one Bible' something new is sheer revisionism. However, it is important to the MVO people to create their fake history. They must make the Scriptural belief in preservation look brand new.

How do they make the position of one Bible look new? When you read God's Word in our Hands and Sproul's God's Word Preserved, they spend a big chunk of their books attempting to invent their history. Go ahead and read them yourselves. They go back into the 17th century with a few quotes, including the preface of the KJV by the translators, to show that men were not against improving a translation. That is a non-point, a totally moot issue. It doesn't make any difference at all regarding one Bible. Then they go into the 18th and 19th century doing the same thing, that is, giving quotes that show that men didn't mind changing the words of the translation to give the sense of their meaning. Again, these quotes don't show at all that these men didn't believe in one Bible. Around the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century, you start reading quotes of men who thought it was fine to tweak the words in the actual text of Scripture. Of course, this was after the rise of Biblical criticism and then the work of Westcott and Hort, the Revised Edition of 1881, and then especially Benjamin Warfield's brand new interpretation of the Westminster Confession of Faith. Warfield loosely constructed the WCF, reading textual criticism into "providentially preserved," and giving the MVO guys the history that they didn't have. Now the MVO's choose to believe that they have an ancient history. It is definitely the ostrich with the head in the sand. This is a common twist of "scholarship," that is, to invent a history when there is none. And they talk of "dishonest." This is dishonesty to the fullest degree. If they have any honesty and intelligence, they would do away with this tactic, which is all it is, a strategy.

And now the MVO books spend page after page stating the new history. On top of that, they invent a history for one Bible people with the whole Wilkinson (the 7th Day Adventist) and David Otis Fuller history. Believe me; God's people have believed in one Bible and that God preserved all His Words perfectly. That's what history shows. I have no doubt that Wilkinson and Fuller believed the same, but they did not start the belief in one Bible. I've written enough on this before, so I'm going to provide links to other things I have written to show the true history of the only one Bible belief (here, here, here, and here; also look at some of Bro. Tom Ross's writing here).

Mike Harding and others are hanging on to a belief with great tenacity that is bereft of Scriptural presuppositions. You should judge for yourself and not be intimidated by their ridicule and bullying tactics. God's Word is perfect. Every Word is preserved and accessible to God's people.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman

You guys all know what I'm talking about, you know, the French song that inspired Wolfgang Mozart to compose his own twelve variations, and to which dozens of texts have become its music. Yes, my dear reader, I'm so excited that my youngest daughter, Gabrielle (Gabi), was able to play this beautiful, astronomical piece in her very first violin recital. I thought you might want to "share" it with me in the most appropriate sense of the word. My other two daughters also played pieces, the middle one a six page composition with a Russian word on the top. My oldest played beautifully, at least as I could understand as coming from her Russian speaking instructor. But we bring you Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman, with kudos to Mozart, you know, one phenom to another.
video

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.]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Is KJVO a Great Danger to Historic Fundamentalism?

I like men to come right out and say what they believe. I would rather have that than the public jello accompanied by the behind-closed-doors concrete gossip. That is something I like about Mike Harding. I'd rather know and he doesn't disappoint when he writes this yesterday:
I am a committed Fundamentalist. At the same time there are some great dangers in our movement. KJV Onlyism is the greatest embarassment to historic Fundamentalism that I know. It shows how intellectually bankrupt and dishonest some aspects of Fundamentalism really are. It is laughable if it were not so serious in its consequences. Also, we have our fair share of Easy Believism and Semi-Pelagianism. Third, certain quarters of Fundamentalism have a pattern of preaching that does grave injustice to the text on a regular basis.
For this essay, I want to park on what Harding says about those who use the King James Version only. I want to enumerate what he says so that it is clear to everyone reading. He writes that using the King James Version only is:
1. A Great Danger
2. The Greatest Embarassment to Historic Fundamentalism
3. Intellectually Bankrupt
4. Dishonest
5. Laughable
6. Serious in Its Consequences

Did you feel like Harding was holding back here? Or did it seem like what he was thinking somehow seeped out? I guess we can put away this urban legend that the KJVO guys are the impolite ones, one of the major arguments that I regularly read by eclectic, criticial text guys like Harding. It's true that many KJVO guys should say things in a nicer way (even me sometimes). I don't think "intellectually bankrupt," "dishonest," and "laughable" are nice, but I'll leave that up to you. Personally, I'd rather know what he is thinking, but since "nice" is important to them, and they use it as a major argument in almost everything that they write, then one would think that he would use a different tone. You see, style never was an issue. Manners always was a red herring to cover for the incredibly faulty exegesis of the multiple version people. They regularly will tell their own people that "errors in the Bible might shake you up a little, but don't let it." They don't want their people hearing a position that says that we don't have errors in the Bible. The vitriol comes out.

I would actually welcome a public debate with Harding on this very issue to check out how dishonest, stupid, and funny we are. If our position really was those three things, he should cream me. I would gladly go and do it on his home turf. He could have home court advantage, so to speak. I should run out of material in about 17 minutes and resort to ad hominem type personal attacks if my side doesn't have the stuff, but then again, maybe liars, dummies, and hilarious are actually ad hominem, aren't they? Well, of course!

Now you may think I'm angry with Mike Harding. I'm not. I've said I like him. I feel sorry for him. He's been blinded on this issue. Satan is working powerfully, I believe. Harding's been compromised in a number of ways through his associations (because of fundamentalism and his commitment to fitting into it), which results in numbers of blind spots. To give it a Scriptural designation, he's been spoiled "through philosophy and vain deceit" (Col. 2:8), so that he staggers "through unbelief" (Rom. 4:20).
I'm going to go one by one through the labels that Harding gives the KJVO position and I'm going to show how that those designations actually and ironically do clearly belong to him. I'll let you judge for yourself. I've searched my soul and I can't defend laughable and unintelligent. Sometimes I'm embarrassing, especially when I spill on my tie or miss a spot shaving. I'm probably those three. Dishonest though, no.
1. A Great Danger?
Is KJVO a great danger? I think that double inspiration is a great danger. That doctrine isn't in Scripture. Harding is saying, however, that the belief in one Bible, the text behind the KJV, that it has been perfectly preserved by God, is a great danger. On the other hand, he is saying that his position, that we don't know what the Words of God are or where they're at is actually the safe, edifying position to the saints. We have certainty. He has doubt. He is saying that doubt is the less dangerous position.
His position is incredibly dangerous. Bart Ehrman was on a track to the Lord's service, but he couldn't square errors with the doctrine of preservation, so he pushed the eject button on Christianity. Now Daniel Wallace professes that inerrancy of Scripture is not a cardinal doctrine and unnecessary to the Gospel. He pragmatically explains that the reason is because if we tie inerrancy to the Bible we currently possess too many people will go off the deep end and depart from the faith. Even Wallace would say that preservation is a logical conclusion to inspiration, so, according to him, if we claim inerrancy, we'll propel people away from the Bible. And here's a comment from a Vinny at Daniel Wallace's Pen and Parchment blog in a recent article Wallace wrote about the impact of textual variations:

Like Bart Ehrman, I came to a belief in evangelical Christianity in my late teens and I know that a significant part of the attraction was the idea of finding a source of certainty in an unsure world. One of the first books I read was “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” and I remember thinking that the arguments and evidence were not nearly as persuasive as I thought they were going to be. Over the course of a couple of years, I found many things to be less certain and knowable than I first thought. Unlike Ehrman, I abandoned the faith before I turned twenty.
Now that is dangerous! What I am finding is that the doctrine of inerrancy is being attacked vehemently by many today and their reasoning often comes from the acceptance of errors in the Bible because of an eclectic and critical text view.
Eclectic and critical text men are often the same men who assail the authoritarian type leadership of certain fundamental Baptist pastors. Do you understand that when one of these men stands before his congregation and tells the people what the Words of God are that he is taking canonicity into his own hands? He is canonizing those Words into the text, making himself the pillar and ground of the truth. Does that seem dangerous to you? Does that seem to supercede his God-ordained authority? And yet these critical text pastors do this regularly.
Do you think that the proponderence of new versions has led to greater or lesser trust in God's Word? That is fairly easy to answer, isn't it? Do you think their attack on the standard Bible for the English speaking people for 400 years could possibly engender more respect for Scripture? Of course not. The multiple version crowd is the dangerous crowd. Danger has become their business.
What isn't dangerous is believing that God fulfilled His promises of preservation and that He supernaturally did it either by providence or a miracle, whatever it took to do what He said He would do. So I absolutely beg to differ on this point that the KJVO position is a dangerous position. Certainty in Scripture would seem to be what we want. We have it. They don't.
2. The Greatest Embarrassment to Historic Fundamentalism
My question on this one is: "Embarrassing to whom?" It is embarrassing to, ta-da, new-evangelicals and liberals! We is embarrassed before these great "scholars." Most people in churches wouldn't know that they were supposed to be so embarrassed for believing in the perfect preservation of Scripture if they weren't told by the so-called scholars and these eclectic, critical-text pastors. I'm glad he told us this one, because if he hadn't, then we would be judging his (and their) motives. They feel lumped in with all the KJVO "hicks."
Another question: "What difference should this make?" It shouldn't make any difference how we look. What makes a difference is that we take the Scriptural position and honor God. By faith we please God. As long as I'm not shameful to God, I don't mind if the world and its scholarship doesn't like me or my positions. They should be embarrassed for their lack of faith. I'm not.
This point was very revealing about fundamentalism and the hold that respect and admiration from men has on it. This is where fundamentalist politics comes in. Men cow-tow to the norms of a fundamentalist sub-culture. Whoever doesn't fit in, doesn't get dealt with an open Bible or with patient discipline, but with a political cold shoulder. Much of the reputation of meanness has been earned by fundamentalism. Harding should be embarrassed about even bringing up embarrassment.
I'm going to continue this series, in the near future, perhaps the next couple of days. When I do, I will also discuss preservation in light of the issue of providence and miracles, that I started a few days ago.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Can We Separate a Miracle of Inspiration from a Miracle of Preservation?

Do we have a specific, Scriptural reason why to call inspiration a miracle and preservation only providence? What does it matter? Some people think this is an important division. Consider how Mike Harding, one of the authors of God's Word in Our Hands, has answered this:

[T]here is no promise in God’s Word for a miraculous, immediate, divine working in the copyists or translators. Such a promise would necessitate continuous miracles each time the Bible was copied or translated. Claiming such a promise would be adding a new doctrine to God’s Word. A biblically defined miracle is the direct application of God’s power into the universe. A work of providence, however, is indirect, as opposed to miraculous intervention. God has promised to preserve His Word through secondary causation (Ps 119:152), but not through a miraculous transmission of the text.
According to Harding, no errors in the originals because of inspiration is a miracle, but errors in our Bible because of preservation is providence. Why is it so important to differentiate these two? I've never heard providence and miracle picked at so much. This is a vital differentiation to him and others like him because they think it directly connects "providential preservation" (as seen in the Westminster Confession) and "textual criticism." Notice that Harding says, "biblically defined miracle." Where does the Bible define "miracle?" Of course, it doesn't anywhere, but Harding wants you to believe that. Harding's contention, really invented out of thin air, is that providence allows mistakes into Scripture, while a miracle would keep out any errors from God's Word.

If you read Henry Morris' book on miracles (I think it's called Miracles---I read it at my father-in-law's last Christmas vacation), he says that providence is a miracle. On the other hand, in Martin Lloyd-Jones' book, God the Father, God the Son, he says that miracles are a sub-category of providence. In the Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (T & T Clark, 1867, p. 331), Keil and Delitzch write the terminology, "the miracle of divine providence." Cotton Mather in 1631 called Urian Oakes a "Miracle of Divine Providence." Herbert Lockyer in his All the Miracles of the Bible writes concerning Elijah that "his daily prayer of faith was answered by a daily miracle of God's providence in the unfailing supply of meal and oil" (p. 111). In 1882 in his biography, Oliver Cromwell: His Man and His Mission, James Picton writes that in the mid-17th century Cromwell believed that "peace preserved amidst the perservering efforts of faction was a miracle of God's providence" (p. 484).

Many say that Divine providence is a miracle. It even reads like historic doctrine. When we read Scripture, we don't see what might be termed "providence," such as the events of the book of Esther, to be a lesser miracle than the so-called immediately caused hand of God. These events of providence, such as the raising up of Cyrus by God to deliver Judah from Babylon, are not relegated to a second class act of the Lord. I know of nowhere historically that providence is separated from miracle.

Apparently, in order to keep textual criticism within the confines of the historic theology of believing confessions (Westminster, London Baptist, etc.), modern textual critics and their supporters must reinvent the providence of God. By doing so, they can fabricate their own history. This isn't unique to Biblical criticism. We have the miracle of God's creation attacked by theistic evolutionists who say that evolution can explain how God providentially brought the world into existence. As a result, among others, Mike Harding writes:
A miracle is the direct application of God's power to this time, space, mass continuum. Providence is God working through secondary causation. Inspiration is a miracle resulting in an inerrant manuscript. Providence is not a miracle. This is why there are differences in the manuscript copies. Textual Criticism examines the mss differences in order to discern the original text when there are important differences in the textual data.
We don't believe that God failed in inspiration. We don't believe that God failed in preservation. Martin Lloyd-Jones, in his essay on providence, writes concerning God's preservation:

The Bible teaches that God preserves everything that He has made. It is a continuous work. Some have tried to say that this doctrine of preservation simply means that God does not destroy the work He once made, but that is not preservation. It means more than that; it means that He keeps everything in being. . . . [E]verything that has been created by God has a real and permanent existence of its own, apart from the being of God, but that must never be taken to mean that it is self-existent, which belongs to God alone. If things were self-existent they would not need God in order to keep going. That is the difference. God has created a thing, and He keeps it alive. He upholds all things, and they continue to exist as the result of a positive and continued exercise of His divine power.
Lloyd-Jones sees preservation as providence and it is the continued exercise of God's power, which is by nature supernatural.

God has supernaturally preserved His Word. He has providentially preserved His Word. God has done a miracle of providence. Since it is a miracle, I can't explain the details of how He did it any more than I can decipher how Jesus fed the five thousand. I just know He did, and I know God kept every Word because He promised He would. With that faith, we can understand how God perfectly collated His Words into one perfect book. We comprehend by faith that God brought together sixty-six books, despite the fact that the Lord never promised a certain number. That is a miracle. That is providence.

Mike Harding and others don't mind throwing providence under the bus in order to keep intact their particular view of textual criticism. Ironically, Harding and others find it quite easy to call anyone who believes in the perfect preservation of Scripture to be guilty of some kind of heresy or perversion of historic doctrine of Scripture. In reality, it is so much the opposite. They posit the new view that can't be traced before the late 19th century and the work of Benjamin Warfield. I actually like Harding when I read him, but he's all wrong here and I wish he and others could see it. He and others like him not only do great damage to a Scriptural view of preservation, but now to what the Bible teaches about God's supernatural workings to fulfill His promises through history.