Saturday, April 26, 2008

Debate on the Preservation of Scripture

I thought you might want to know about the debate occurring at the debate blog of one of the Pyromaniacs, Frank Turk. He challenged me to a debate on the issue of the preservation of God's Word. I'm arguing for the perfect preservation of the NT in the textus receptus. He's arguing against that. We're about half way through. The format is ten questions each with no more than 1000 words for each answer. I'll leave it up to you to decide what you see occurring in the debate. Debates like this can be informative and interesting reading. I believe you'll see that the Scriptural and historic position of perfect preservation of Scripture holds up nicely under the scrutiny of others who doubt what God said He would do. The right position does more than hold up, but, again, that will be for you to decide.

Go here to read.


jack said...

Interesting. I am amazed at how deftly he avoids dealing with the key point - what the Bible itself affirms about preservation.

Jeff Voegtlin said...

In Turk's A#8 it seems to me he wants us to see the character of God and not a promise to preserve a particular text. So I am to conclude that God is one who keeps His promises, but I'm not to expect Him to let me know just what they are?

Oh well,

Kent Brandenburg said...

Good point.

M said...

While not endorsing Turk's Calvinism, I agree that preservation according to Psalms 12, Matt 5 and other refs does not point to preservation of the TR, or even God's Word. Both parties so far failed to provide sets of exegesis for the Bible refs enumerated by Brandenburg ostensibly supporting his "perfect" preservation claim. The exegesis can settle this debate with just one post. For the Psalms 12 ref, something else is being preserved. I leave that for you to find out.

Dave Mallinak said...

Wow, thanks "m" for leaving that up to us. Psalms 12 shows us that something else is being preserved, huh!

So, against the lying tongues of ungodly men is set the words of the LORD... words as pure as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. And the Psalmist says, "Thou shalt keep them, O LORD..."

What shall he keep? The righteous. Not the words, stoopid. He'll not be keeping those. Just the righteous. The words will disapear over time, and it will fall to this generation of super-scholars to figure out what they really are, based on forensics. CSI Synaticus. Get out your fingerprint kit, everybody. We'll be looking for the Apostle Paul's DNA here.

Come on, m, you can do better than that (I think --- but the m could stand for m&m, or munchkin, so I really can't know --- I'll have to get a forensic specialist on the case).

The words are pure, and the words are kept.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I purposefully include Psalm 12 because I believe there is devastating evidence that "them" is "words," that I don't believe you even know about. If you did, "M," you wouldn't take the "poor and needy" position. I would agree that books have taught both positions, but none of them, and I mean none, have this particular grammatical point of view that serves as a Rosetta Stone of interpretation for that verse.

I think it is interesting, the vice grip like pressure that is put on evangelicals to manifest their identities in locations like this. They can't even get caught discussing something in the open because of the peer pressure.

It happens in fundamentalism and evangelicalism.

M said...

kent, if you understood the grammatical gender that Hebrew language has (and the English language doesn't have this built-in at all), you wouldn't be making this claim ;)

And dave, what you say is true (after "What shall we keep?") because all the evidence of textual corruption is in front of you. If it were not the case, there wouldn't even be a debate.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Look at the biblical phenomenon wherein the biblical writers employed masculine pronouns in reference to feminine antecedent nouns when those feminine nouns were synonyms for the Words of God.

Look at Joshua 1:7; Psalm 78:5; Psalm 119:111, 129, 152, 167; Leviticus 22:31; 26:3; Numbers 15:39; 1 Kings 6:12; Ezekiel 5:6; 18:19; and 37:24.

Read it, find out for yourself, and rejoice.

I pointed this out to Doug Kutilek years back and he didn't care. His position was more important than what God said.

M said...

As an aside from the Hebrew grammatical gender: translations by man's hand compromises the inerrancy of the original autographs (which are inspired and inerrant). That's because there's no such thing as word-for-word translations and word meanings, including shades, changes over time. However, the message remains inerrant. Bet you've heard this before.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Inerrant message? What passage teaches that inerrancy applies only to the message?

I'll await your findings on gender discord. I'm guessing you haven't looked them up in the Hebrew yet.

M said...

A mini debate, huh? I don't really want to engage into one, but one ref that comes to mind is Philippians 1:15-18. Regardless of the motive, the message of salvation is still the same. Regardless of the corruption of the text, the message is still the same. It's when you do critical studying over the long term is the proper study Bible pertinent.

No, I haven't had time to look them up yet.

Kent Brandenburg said...

That's your reference for inerrancy is only in the message? OK, M.

I can't understand your last sentence of the 1st paragraph.

You can't say it is preservation of people until you look up the Hebrew for the verses I listed. When you're done looking at those, you'll see that you've got both gender and proximity in the corner of "words" the antecedent of "them." Rejoice!

M said...

"When quoting from the prophecy of Isaiah, our blessed Lord not only used a translation, but he gave the sense freely; thus rebuking the mere word-chopping of the Rabbis. They could count the letters of a sacred book, and yet utterly miss its meaning." [Matthew — The Gospel of the Kingdom, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, pg. 121]

The Lord used a "free sense" to quote scriptures, i.e., he didn't quote the OT ref word-for-word (or in the same order). The Apostles did the same thing in the Epistles.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I still haven't heard about your looking up those verses in the Hebrew yet. I anticipate your doing that.

Regarding Jesus and his dealing with the OT text. Yes, he did what is known as targummed. It wasn't a translation, but using the text to make a point in commentary. In certain places, you'll see Him use three different OT texts in a few statements.

That, however, is not a basis for saying that God preserved the message. Scripture shows preservation of Words. You can't show me a passage that says "preserved message" or the like.

M said...

A Hebrew scholar said that on the basis of the parallelism between vs. 5 and 7
there is an interchange of the third person plural and third person
singular object in both cases:

v. 5 v.7
THE POOR (3rd pers pl) ... will keep THEM (3rd pl)
I will place HIM (3rd sg) ... will guard HIM (3rd sg - some translations
have "us" here but the suffix is sing.

...which means the antecedent of vs. 7 is vs. 5, not verse 6.

Joshua 1:7; Psalm 78:5; (pertians to law, not textual preservation)
Psalm 119:111, 129, (why are they wonderful? If you know why, then you know it is relationship-based, not textual preservation.) 152, (because He is faithful to his spoken word, not the textual ink-on-paper version) 167; (not a proof text for textual preservation)
Leviticus 22:31; 26:3; (both verses: obedience, not textual preservation)
Numbers 15:39; ("ibid.")
1 Kings 6:12; ("ibid.")
Ezekiel 5:6; ("ibid.", and not a proof text for textual corruption, either, if that's your contention) 18:19; and 37:24 (both verses: obedience, not textual preservation)

You don't have a leg to stand on with these refs.

Show me any Bible, and I'll show you a preserved message to mankind. But I didn't make any reference to a "preserved message," you did. I mentioned inerrant message.

"In certain places, you'll see Him use three different OT texts in a few statements."

Kent Brandenburg said...


Wow, you looked up all those verses and you just simply ignored the gender discord between the feminine noun for the Word of God and then the masculine pronimonal suffix for the referrent. In your rush to take preservation out of Scripture, you missed the entire point. I never said those verses were preservation verses. We were talking about the gender situation. You said the gender of the nouns required dismissal of "words." I gave you all of those examples to show you were wrong. Could you go back and look again?

For Psalm 12:7, unfortunately you relied on a textual variant for "him." The 1525 Blomberg, the received text of the Old Testament, has "them," hence the King James translation, "them." God's people read "them" as far back as we know, M. The second pronominal suffix could not be "us," because it is a singular, and it refers to the individual Words---all of them and each of them---the KJV translators treated it that way.

The LXX has a plural masculine pronoun for the first pronoun and a plural masculine pronoun for the second pronoun incidentally.

Did the Hebrew scholar that you cherry-picked bring up the first rule for antecedents, that is, proximity? "Poor" is in a different zip code from "them." On top of that, is God going to keep the "needy?" Did He just leave them out? "Needy" is singular, so doesn't agree with the plural pronoun.

Sadly, M, the UBS, CT, or NA27 (whatever you want to call it), doesn't have an inerrant message either. Some of the errors actually result in a wrong message as well. We were talking about preservation and in that context you said "inerrant message," so let's not play games here. But I do understand that you can't find a Scriptural basis for your belief in an inerrant message. I applaud your honesty on that point.

M said...

There is no point of Hebrew grammar violated - it's really about the symmemtry of the elements between the verses. Biblical writers were literary craftsmen, especially in poetic literature, and so the symmentry could be the vehicle by qwhich to convey the elements the author wanted "matched".

Bill Hardecker said...

Dr. Brandenburg, that was an excellent "closing statement." It was concise and glorifying to God. May God bless you, your family and ministries. Keep up the good work.

J. Smith said...

I admire how you kept an even tone in the face of Turk's straw man tactics (laced with belittling words and tone), and even his taking one of your posts off the board.

I was surprised when I learned that Turk had agreed to debate you on this subject. I immediately figured Turk didn't know anything - or much - about you because his type (the James White school) are very careful to avoid so-called KJV-onlyists who have a whole grasp of the material and can present it clearly and have experience presenting it clearly. White avoids Steve Rafalsky, Mathew Winzer, and Thomas Weddle on the PuritanBoard for the same reason (White is a member of that board, but claims he's too busy to interact, even though he was posting comments there prior to learning of the presence of the three gentlemen mentioned and of their ability in debating the subject).

It's interesting how shallow the Critical Text proponents become when pressed. Shallow and mocking, usually.