As you could see after part two, I got silence about two blatant errors made by Wallace. People are reading. I know that from my site meter. They came around after the first article, especially to correct my tone, when I merely introduced the subject, but now they're nowhere to be seen. I've said that there's nothing here personal with Wallace. In a lot of ways I like him. I've liked his grammar. He has written some good articles. I confront his errors and it becomes amateur psychiatrist hour. Bibliology is foundational to all our theology. We need the Bible for all our doctrines. I'm going after uncertainty regarding the Words of Scripture with a diligence that is at least matched by conservative evangelicals reproof of emergents regarding uncertainty of the meaning of Scripture. I think both are important, but the Words themselves are more fundamental than the meaning.
Wallace and Vox
I've written some things about Wallace's view of inerrancy. Myself and others have issues with his position. As you read the breadth of his bibliological materials, you see troubles in every aspect of his position. For instance, Wallace takes the ipsissima vox position relating to the Words of Jesus in the Gospels. In his “An Apologia for a Broad View of Ipsissima Vox,” paper presented to the 51st Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Danvers, Mass., November 1999, he wrote:
[T]he concepts go back to Jesus, but the words do not—at least, not exactly as recorded.His colleague, Darrell Bock, wrote a chapter in Jesus Under Fire [ed. Michael J. Wilkins and J. P. Moreland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995):73-99], defending the vox position, entitled, “The Words of Jesus in the Gospels: Live, Jive, or Memorex." Bock’s chapter tries to defend the historical reliability of the Gospel writing of Jesus’ Words from the destructive criticism of the Jesus Seminar. He writes, “The Gospels give us the true gist of his teaching and the central thrust of his message,” but “we do not have ‘his very words’ in the strictest sense of the term.” In his own vox article, Daniel Wallace states that Bock there represents “the best of evangelical scholarship when it comes to describing ipsissima vox."
I think you can see what the vox view does to both the doctrine of inspiration and of inerrancy. When Scripture says, "Jesus said," as it does at least 65 times, to them it doesn't actually mean Jesus said those Words. Wallace and Bock approach Jesus' Words in the Gospels from a naturalistic viewpoint. The apostles forgot the Words like historians often do and so presented the Words the best they could, considering their shortcomings. Wallace's inductive approach to inerrancy results in a rationalistic dealing with Jesus Words, which results in ignoring a theological presupposition in John 14:26 and 16:13-14:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.Frederic Godet wrote in his commentary on John in 1886:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
This internal activity of the Spirit will unceasingly recall to their memory some former word of Jesus, so that in proportion as He shall illuminate them, they will cry out: Now, I understand this word of the Master! And this vivid clearness will cause other words long forgotten to come forth from forgetfulness.Donald Green in an essay on this subject, published in The Master's Seminary Journal (Spring 2001), wrote:
Jesus’ promise of the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit placed the Gospel writers in a different realm in which different standards of memory would be operative. They would be supernaturally enabled to recall Jesus’ words in a manner that freed them from the human limitations of secular historians.Wallace continues with his vox position a secular or humanistic approach to Scripture. He himself regularly says that we can't come to the text of Scripture with theological presuppositions. In an article that James Borland wrote in Spring 1999 for The Masters Seminary Journal, “The Preservation of the New Testament Text: A Common Sense Approach," he recognized this same flaw in Wallace's thinking and in criticism of it, he wrote:
In general, textual critics do their work apart from theological considerations. They examine manuscripts, note variant readings, then test and apply some basic canons of evidence, both internal and external, both intrinsic and transcriptional. But should a Bible believer see things differently than unbelieving critics do? This has been the assertion of Edward F. Hills, a learned textual critic who studied under Machen, Van Til, and R. B. Kuiper. Extremely perceptive, I thought, were these words of John Skilton, who taught New Testament Greek at Westminster Theological Seminary for longer than most younger scholars have been living (58 years), until his death in 1998. “For men who accept the Bible as the Word of God, inerrant in the original manuscripts, it should be out of the question to engage in the textual criticism of the Scriptures in a ‘neutral’ fashion—as if the Bible were not what it claims to be.” He goes on to say, “This is a point which Cornelius Van Til has been stressing in his apologetics and which Edward F. Hills has been appropriately making in his writings on textual criticism. All along the line it is necessary to insist, as Hills does, that ‘Christian believing Bible study should and does differ from neutral, unbelieving Bible study’.” Skilton concludes that Hills “is quite correct when he reminds us that” ignoring God’s “divine inspiration and providential preservation of the New Testament . . . is bound to lead to erroneous conclusions."At the end of his journal essay, Wallace wrote: "A theological a priori has no place in textual criticism." He approaches Scripture, like all the unbelieving textual critics, like it is any other book. You see this in many places in Wallace's writing. In another article, entitled "Mark 1:2 and New Testament Criticism" (2004), he wrote: "At all points, textual critics are historians who have to base their views on data, not mere theological convictions."
With these presuppositions in the mind of Wallace, you can see how that he would rush to judgment on the doctrine of preservation. Unlike believers through history, he doesn't start with statements from Scripture to come to his bibliological positions. He looks to "evidence," what might better be called, "science falsely so called" (1 Timothy 6:20). Just because he knows koine Greek really well doesn't mean that we think he is credible on this doctrine. You'll find dozens of people in universities all over America that know Greek as well or better than he, who are brazen liberals in their view of the Bible. The blatant errors in his "exegesis" evince a lack of carefulness that attempts to force his naturalistic view of Scripture onto the biblical text.
Blatant Error Number Three
Even though Matthew 24:35 wasn't referenced by Donald Brake in his Dallas Theological thesis, Wallace chooses to end his dealing with references on preservation by mentioning it in a footnote:
Occasionally Matt. 24:35 (“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”) is used in support of preservation. But once again, even though this text has the advantage of now referring to Jesus’ words (as opposed to the OT), the context is clearly eschatological; thus the words of Jesus have certainty of fulfillment. That the text does not here mean that his words will all be preserved in written form is absolutely certain because (1) this is not only foreign to the context, but implies that the written gospels were conceived at this stage in Heilsgeschichte—decades before a need for them was apparently felt; (2) we certainly do not have all of Jesus’ words recorded—either in scripture or elsewhere (cf. John 20:30 and 21:25).The eschatological context doesn’t affect the teaching on preservation—it enhances it. The Lord Jesus Christ assures His disciples that His promises not only shall certainly be fulfilled but also shall remain available for the comfort of His people during that troubled period which shall precede His second coming. He offers two other reasons why the verse doesn’t teach preservation. First, however, Jesus’ promise does not make a point that the gospels had already been written down. It assumes that they would be, even as they shortly were. He is omniscient and could make that promise. Even as Daniel Wallace wrote in his Greek grammar, this in Matthew 24:35 is the strongest guarantee in Greek language. His words were preserved because they were written down. Heaven and earth are physical entities that will pass away, that is, disappear. They can be less counted upon in their preservation than Jesus’ Words. Heaven and earth will disappear in the end times, so Jesus’ Words are time sensitive. They’ll be around surely when heaven and earth will not. Why not just take the plain meaning of the text?
I think he is dead wrong about Matthew 24:35 and the plain reading shows this. However, it is his second argument where the third blatant error is. He used John 20:30 and 21:25 to make a point. Why deny the teaching that Jesus just made with something of one's own invention regarding unrecorded Words of Jesus? He can't really know of any Words of Jesus outside of the ones in Scripture, and John 20:30 and 21:25 don’t help his point, because they say absolutely nothing about His Words. He uses two passages to confirm a point that isn't even in those two texts. Both of those speak of things that Jesus did that are not recorded, not what He said. They say nothing about Words.
Wallace Destroys His Straw Man
Daniel Wallace put words in the mouth of historic believers when he wrote:
Any claim that God preserved the New Testament text in tact, giving His church actual, not theoretical, possession of it, must mean one of three things—either 1) God preserved it in all the extant manuscripts so that none of them contain any textual corruptions, or 2) He preserved it in a group of manuscripts, none of which contain any corruptions, or 3) God preserved it in a solitary manuscript which alone contains no corruptions.You should notice first the amazing lack of objectivity on the part of Wallace when he starts off with a "theoretical possession" of Scripture. Most of all, he orders the church the only three possibilities for a position. I've read much historical theology on this subject and I have never read any of these three as the historic position of God's people. However, from his hubris he mandates these three as the only possibilities and in the next paragraph, he argues them away in a few sentences. I've never read in history that God had promised that (1) every copy would be perfect, (2) that there would be zero errors in an entire group of copies, or that (3) one copy would be passed down perfectly from generation to generation. With his odd view that has no theological presuppositions along with very little curiosity regarding the historic belief, he assumes that the only possibilities are those that popped into his head. Then he proceeds to shoot them down.
Wallace represents well the straw man argument in the denial of the preservation of God's Words. God's people believe that God preserved every Word. God said "Words" and they believed "Words." Scripture doesn't mention preserving copies, manuscripts, or families of manuscripts. The Bible tells us that God would preserve every Word for every generation of God's people.
Stay tuned for Part 4