Monday, February 23, 2009

Whose Beliefs Aren't Taught In Scripture and Have No History Before the Nineteenth Century?

What would you think if what you believed had no biblical basis and no history before the nineteenth century? What would you call yourself? Could you even have such a belief? Who do you think of when I ask such a question? Is it the Mormons? Is it the Jehovah's Witnesses? Is it the Campbellites? Is it Seventh Day Adventists?

You might say that what you believed was a kind of restoration movement, that other people were duped up until that point, but you were able to bring them the true doctrine. You wouldn't be the first. Of course, to do so, you would have to argue for a kind of total apostasy of doctrine or of that particular belief, the one that isn't in the Bible and has no history before the nineteenth century. You would have to have some explanation.

Do you think it would bug you that you can't find your doctrine taught by orthodox believers since the invention of the printing press, 1440-1800, except for perhaps a few radical unbelievers? I know that for myself, I would have to take a belief very seriously if I didn't have a historic basis for the belief. I recognize that we get our doctrines from Scripture. But if my scriptural doctrine had no history behind it, then I would really want to be sure that it was in Scripture. If there was no history and neither was it in the Bible, I would reject it. What about you?

For a belief to originate that was not in the Bible and had no history, someone would need to become convinced of a total apostasy. So let's ask ourselves. Do you think there was a total apostasy of a particular doctrine especially in the 16th to 18th centuries? Was that a unique time of apostasy or was there something during that time period that took place that resulted in more people reading the Bible and more conversions of sinners than there had been before that period for centuries?

If believers during the 16th to 18th century had a doctrine that they believed, do you think that they could all be fooled? Would the Holy Spirit allow that? Is that something that we see in Scripture, that every believer would be fooled on a particular doctrine for three centuries, so that there was no history of the actual true doctrine? I don't think so. I would have a very hard time believing that.

I know that a lot of new beliefs originated in the nineteenth century. This period is called post-enlightenment. "The Enlightenment" speaks of a period in the eighteenth century Western civilization during which time, for many, reason became the primary source and legitimacy for authority. What do you think of post-enlightenment Christology? What do you think of any doctrine that originated after and out of post enlightenment? Did you know that a lot of cults originated just in that time of unbelief and attack on scriptural authority? I know that I would be very, very careful with anything that arose during that period of time.

The belief I happen to be talking about is post-enlightenment bibliology. The critical text belief, the eclectic text belief was not found among professing believers before the 19th century. Across the board, you read that men believed that God has preserved His word perfectly in the available original language texts. They believed that they had in those texts, the apographa of Scripture, every Word of the original manuscripts. During the nineteenth century, we find that belief subjected to the science of textual criticism. It wasn't some new exegesis of Scripture, some level of Christian growth that led to this new belief, but the criticism of doctrine and the text of Scripture that came along with age of enlightenment.

Now we have a new doctrine of preservation of Scripture, that doesn't come from the Bible and it doesn't come from history. It comes from the minds of textual critics during the post-enlightenment period. They weren't concerned about the promises of God. They weren't concerned what Christians believed before. They didn't want to let any of those things get in the way of their developing science and their new discoveries. They believed that their reasoning was superior to what God promised in His Word and that Christians had believed.

Of course, evangelicals and fundamentalists didn't believe that, did they? They wouldn't, would they?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Brainwashed Bibliology

For years evangelicals and fundamentalists (of the non revivalist variety) have given the cold shoulder to supporters of the King James Version (KJS = King James Supporters). I designate King James Only men that way because of the pejorative nature of the KJVO identification. Most evangelicals and fundamentalists are not likely to listen to anything that a KJS will say in any theological or scriptural matter. If you remain KJS, you are discredited on salvation, sanctification, and almost any scriptural view you hold. I know that from experience. So I would think that I might hear a lot of testimony from other KJS, who have had a similar experience as I have. Feel free to let me know. You're not complaining; you're just reporting.

What is the "cold shoulder?" Don't look it up in the Bible. You won't find the practice there. They give no due process. It isn't biblical separation. It isn't loving. It doesn't have any particular goal in mind. It's almost sheerly political. They give KJS the "mean girl" routine either by ignoring them, talking only about them and not to them, or offering short, clipped answers as if from the start they're already fed up with your mere presence. You're left to figure out what it means. For any of them who are reading this, you might be thinking, "Hey, he got what was happening! That is what we do!" I really do not think that they know how to separate.

I can't know exactly why they operate in this fashion. They might say that they long ago swept aside the easy arguments of King James Onlyism, so now they just want to get a distance from this kooky group. To them, all KJVO are English preservationists or inspirationists who probably believe you can only be converted with a King James Bible. It also can be peer pressure. If they are caught talking to a KJS, they could lose some luster in their own group. They must treat all KJS as unreasonable and stupid, one sure way to receive kudos from your evangelical and fundamentalist crowd, or at least not to suffer the censor of the people with whom they so wish to be in favor. You can be an amazing favorite with these guys if you leave the KJS position and regularly mention that you once believed "like them (KJS)."

Things Have Changed

I have noticed that recently that the rhetoric against KJS has become more about separation. Many times the threat of separation comes from fundamentalists in commentary about conservative evangelicals. Here's how it works. Many fundamentalists think that certain conservative evangelicals are moving their direction, so the fundamentalists are talking about the kind of relationships they might be able to have with these evangelicals. A lot of the fundamentalists are already attending their conferences, fellowships, and other meetings.

Let me digress for a moment. When especially young fundamentalists blog, they generally show more love toward these evangelicals than they do fundamentalists. It has also become fashionable to quote these evangelicals, indicating that you are reading them. Most of them do write books, something that not many fundamentalists have accomplished. I see these new evangelicals as the new heroes to replace the old big names who have passed off the scene. Fundamentalism doesn't have any heroes of similar caliber or respect that they once did, so the attention is shifting to these conservative evangelicals as the replacement. This seems to be the death knell for this brand of fundamentalism.

I continue. The fundamentalists still say that separation is the issue that mainly gets in the way with fellowshiping with these evangelicals. They're also uncomfortable with some of the methods that many of these evangelicals use in their churches. The evangelicals answer the separation criticism by saying that the fundamentalists aren't consistent. If they will separate from the men to the left of them, themselves, then they should also be willing to separate from those in fundamentalism erring at the right of them. In other words, if fundamentalists are going to blast the evangelicals for being indifferent about Billy Graham, then they should also stop being indifferent with some of their wacky right-winged cousins.

I digress once again. Some of the young fundamentalists are fed up with the inconsistency on separation, so they are moving over to the evangelical brand of separation, which kind of looks like no separation. The big thing really is not having someone come speak for you or for you to speak to them. This is the big dream for this new evangelical, fundamental continuum. Presently it only exists in their drooling imaginations. Others are sorting through how to be consistent. Consistency all comes to a smithering halt when you see Sexton and Paisley on the platform with Jones and Ollila.

Enter the KJS. A great target to stop being indifferent would be the KJS. The evangelicals already just roll their eyes, shake their heads, and scoff at these silly wabbits. Condescending chuckles all around. Hefty back-slapping for maximum snarkiness. The fundamentalists have to sort of like be with them, since they're, ya know, all fundamentalists. Yuck. Ugh. The poster boys for stupid fundamentalism in their opinion are the KJS. So what to do? Prove your separation credentials by separating from the easiest target, the ones everyone loves to hate, the KJS. (The next easy target is Frank Garlock. He thinks rock music hinders plant growth. Ban him.) Some momentum is gaining on building a separation consensus with fundamentalists that goes beyond the cold shoulder that already exists.

The Radical Bibliology

I had already been hearing the calls for separation from these men with the radical bibliology, the KJS. Their bibliology is bad. It's an attack on um, um, inspiration. Inspiration is even a major doctrine. It's somehow stayed in that category despite love for Bruce Metzger. So they've got the perfect test case for consistent separation. They earn their separation chops by dividing from the KJS.

How is KJS against inspiration? Well, they, of course, all of them, believe that the King James is inspired. There we go, double inspiration. They use only the King James because it is the only Bible around that is inspired. All KJS believe this. Even if they don't, they do. Even if they don't, I'll treat them all exactly the same. No one will call me on it if I do. You don't have to. They are KJS. KJS doesn't have to be treated as well as someone like a Bart Ehrman, a person that actually contributes to sound, scriptural bibliology. Did you hear he's been on the NY Times bestseller list? There's scholarship for you.

Sound Bibliology?

And what exactly is the sound bibliology of the non-KJS men? Besides not being KJS, which is the best part of their bibliology, they believe that God inspired the original manuscripts. So do most KJS. And then God preserved His Word. They believe that. It's not taught anywhere in an explicit manner in scripture, but it is inferred in a few verses, and if those verses don't actually teach it, it is sort of a logical conclusion that you could make since you are sitting there with an English translation in your hand. And for them, that's the sound view. That's the view that is orthodox. That's the one that stays in fellowship.

I find the bibliology of these multiple version guys to be very confusing. Very jello-like. Amoebic. It's like listening to a major league baseball player explain steroid use. The story keeps changing. In the end, it doesn't matter if you've got Scripture promising preservation anyway is the thing. You can depend on comparisons of copies and mounds of textual evidence, stuff that is of much greater reliability than the preservation of, for instance, Tacitus. And no doctrines have been lost. That is part of the doctrine too. They're all in their somewhere. And we've got to be careful teaching this doctrine of preservation anyway. You see what happened to Bart Ehrman when he believed in preservation, don't you? So we've got to be careful being too presuppositional---it might not end well with that kind of approach. We need more bibliological ambiguity on the doctrinal side and then let the evidence lead us to the truth.

That whole last paragraph (with a little underlying humor from me) is very close to what I read the other side say, the non-KJS men. That is the foundation on which they stand in order to separate from the KJS. They have the orthodox bibliology. I would add that all the words are in the multiplicity of the manuscripts, but they don't really believe that. They believe that at least a few words still haven't been found, but you can all know that they're still searching, still collating, and still waiting.

Who Is Brainwashed?

So have these non-KJS, multiple version, critical text men read works of bibliology that have dealt with the subject of preservation? Have they read an in depth historical bibliology with thorough analysis of what bibliology Christians have held? Do we read any of this kind of research and study in the works they have published? I haven't seen it. Their books are full of restatements of Metzger and Aland, non-theological works.

Bart Ehrman, in Misquoting Jesus, had nine propositions that he developed in the course of the book. In his debate with Ehrman, James White could not challenge the assessment that he himself agreed with eight and a half of the propositions in Misquoting Jesus. The only thing they disagreed about was the interpretation of the evidence. And this is the kind of thing that is the source for non-KJS bibliology.

They love to reference the letter from the King James translators to the reader as a preface to the King James Translation. In that letter, the translators say that they expect that someone might be able to improve upon their translation in the future, giving men the permission to do so. They don't relate anything on the doctrine of preservation. They don't relate one point of bibliology in their introduction to their translation. They use that preface as an authority for correcting the King James Translation. And then the non-KJS say that they can't find anyone who believed in the preservation of an English translation. They can't find anyone before 1610 who believed in the preservation of the King James Translation. Sit back KJS. When they are done with such criticism of KJS, you have been slain. You are speechless. Only arrogance would now open his lips to attempt to answer such devastating bibliology.

These non-KJS men are ready to separate over bibliology, over inspiration of Scripture, from KJS men. They do so and they are either ignorant or ambivalent to the history of the doctrine of preservation. They have drunk the koolaid of textual criticism. They are content with believing that KJS started with a Seventh Day Adventist, David Otis Fuller, or maybe Donald Waite. They think that perhaps it began with Dean Burgon, who, they rush to add, wouldn't even be KJVO if he were alive today.

Let's go back a little bit further to the wealth of bibliology written in the 17th century, representing historic and pre-enlightenment sole scriptura. There you'll get historic bibliology. There you'll read what men of God have thought about this for centuries. There you'll get a pre-brainwashing bibliology that depends on the teaching of the Bible itself for the doctrine of its own preservation.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why to Delete a Facebook Account

Facebook introduced me to world of internet social networking. I was in an orchestral board meeting and I mentioned "the rolodex." I got real laughter. "You use a rolodex?" I was bewildered. I had not heard that rolodex was out. "People use facebook now." Well, I didn't know that facebook had replaced the rolodex, but the one telling me was a high level manager in a large Bay Area company. I figured he must be right. "Rolodex" was truly funny to several people in that meeting.

I had joined facebook without really thinking about what I was doing. Sometimes I make picks for the games of the NCAA basketball tournament. I decided to make them on the CBS sportsline website. I liked the way that my choices looked in their proper place on the bracket on the computer screen. To use their bracket I had to join this "facebook" thing I had vaguely heard of. This was several years ago. After I signed up, I started getting requests in my email box, asking me to be a friend. I always said, "no," and deleted them. I hadn't even looked at my facebook site. About six months ago, I decided to become more active at facebook because it was something my son was going to be involved with and I wanted him to have accountability.

I learned a little about facebook. There were many aspects about it that I never liked. I was always uncomfortable there. Everyone in our family has now deleted his facebook account. I'm going to tell my problems with facebook. This will give someone reasons why to delete a facebook account. I'm not expecting that any one of these reasons will be enough to persuade someone to drop it like I did, but all of them combined should at least get you thinking. Once I deleted my account, I have not only not missed it, but it has been wonderful to lose it.

1. Facebook hinders scriptural values.

Facebook wasn't around when David Wells wrote No Place for Truth, but if it was, I think he would have written about it in that book.

Having turned inward in a search for meaning, we turn outward in a search for direction, scanning others for the social signals they emit regarding what is in and what is out, what is desirable and what is not. . . . This person is oriented not to inner values but to other people. It is in the peer group that acceptance is found and outcasts are named. . . . Where once people took pride in accomplishments and in their character, [they] think only of how they stand with others. . . . Once people worked to achieve tangible ends, to accomplish things. Now, such accomplishments are of far less significance than one's "image." Once people worked; now they manipulate. Once people sweated; now they seduce. Once people wished to be respected, to have their accomplishments recognized; now they wish to be envied, regardless of whether they are envied for anything they have actually accomplished.

This characteristic of modernity does not orient itself toward God, but toward people. It influences away from judging based on scriptural values and toward judging based upon a societal norm.

2. Facebook alters the biblical understanding of friendship.

To be a friend at facebook, just click. Normally I'm careful with whom I choose as friends. I might be able to be a friend to someone, but someone can't be a friend to me without fulfilling certain characteristics. James tells us (4:4) that friendship with the world is enmity with God. I can't have enmity with God, so I can restrain myself in my choice of friends. I'm to have no company with certain people and mark and avoid others. People in your "friends" list at facebook might be people that would never join my church. We don't believe or practice the same. I don't want to call them my friends. In so doing, I believe I'm just dumbing down what the Bible says about a friend. Here's something else that Dr. Carl Trueman said about it:

The way of connecting with people on Facebook is, apparently, to `friend' somebody. That the noun has become a verb is scarcely cause for concern; but the cheapening of the word surely is. Simply to be linked to someone on the internet is not true friendship; yet the use of the word creates the image that such is the case, or at least blurs the difference between casual internet acquaintance and somebody for whom one might have real affinity, affection, and concern. . . . Further, as the language of friendship is hijacked and cheapened by these internet social networks, this cheapening itself is part and parcel of a redefining of intimacy based upon the erosion of the boundaries between the public and private.

3. Facebook sets wicked things before your eyes.

I can't control the content of what I look at on my facebook page. I not only look at things I don't want to see, but I invite others to look at them when they look at my facebook page. Pictures, advertisements, and statements show up that I don't want to see or have others see either.

4. Facebook causes people to stumble.

I might be able to handle some of what my "friends" believe and practice, but not everyone can. I'd rather not introduce people to other people that I'd rather they didn't meet.

5. Facebook hinders real discernment.

If you were to judge each of your friends based upon a scriptural standard, you would probably lose a large number of them. But you don't. Why? You want to be sociable. It encourages you to make decisions based upon how you feel instead of what the Bible says.

6. Facebook wastes time.

I know you could argue with me on this one by pointing out other ways I waste time. You may think that I'm doing that by writing this blog. Fine. I think it's different but I'm not going to take the time to defend my blog writing right now. Here's how facebook uniquely wastes time. You open yourself up to social activity that you wouldn't choose as a good use of your minutes. You have a friend who isn't much of a friend. That friend writes on your wall. Now what do you have to do? You have to write something back to him. Don't you want to keep your choices about communication under control? You have created new things to take away time from something productive. If you have facebook, you've got to maintain it. Is it worth maintaining?

7. Facebook encourages busybodying.

I've had people ask to be my friend whom I know don't care about me. I know they don't really want to be my friend. What is it that people want? They want to find out what you're doing. I'm not ashamed of what I'm doing, but I believe that this kind of voyeurism fits the biblical criteria of the busybody. It influences others toward being one. "Why did so and so become his friend and not mine?" "I wonder why he has so many friends or who those people are."

8. Facebook hinders real relationships.

Do you think that a real relationship is sitting in front of a computer screen at 11:00 at night? When you could be talking to a real person either in person or by phone, you are constructing your facebook persona.

9. Facebook doesn't like bold, biblical Christianity.

Watch your "friends" list shrink when you confront people about something sinful on their wall, in a photo, or in a comment. Facebook isn't designed for confrontational Christianity, the kind we see Jesus do in the Bible. Typical facebook brings up something essentially secular, earthly, or temporal. You then interact on the same level, training yourself to do more of it. It is a bastion of compromise.

10. Facebook redefines biblical community.

In a real community people do things for each other. Facebook isn't about doing anything to help anyone. I'm not saying that nothing can be done, but it doesn't encourage that. It encourages a fake community. You can join a cause, but what does the cause really do? When you're asked to join a cause, for instance, against internet pornography. That is good. That's a wonderful thing to be against. I'm even for being in a group that is against it. It might even make me think more about being against it. But how are you helping get rid of pornography? What you could do is talk to someone that has an immodest picture up and ask him to take it down. And I really am part of a group that is already against it---my church.

11. Facebook offers way too much acceptance.

Much of what is on facebook should be rejected. However, facebook is all about affirming. You affirm people that really need confrontation. Since very often you can't really know the person you're talking to, you could easily be reaffirming someone with a lukewarm, worldly brand of Christianity that isn't honoring to Christ.

12. Facebook is too public.

Yes, too public. What do I mean? It offers people an opportunity to snoop around and get information. I recognize that you have means on facebook to control that, but it still is a place for trolling perverts. I don't want to be on the same playing field with them or encourage others to be there with me....and him.

13. Facebook preys on fleshly tendencies of man's nature.

Facebook makes you think too much about yourself. Your status shouldn't matter. Someone shouldn't have to return a comment just because you've made one. Facebook fits the narcissism of our day in which men have become lovers of their own selves. What difference does it make how many friends you have as long as you have the friend of sinners Himself, the Lord Jesus.

14. Facebook breaks down decent language.

You can talk right on facebook, but it doesn't encourage it. What it encourages is drivel. We should want to elevate one another, to bring up the level of discourse. That doesn't occur when these abbreviations and slang are used. Young people even feel pressured to bow to talking like this. It attacks spelling, grammar, syntax, and cogent thought. It's lazy speech and many times gutter language.

15. Facebook spawns fraudulence and hypocrisy.

You don't have to be who you are on facebook. You can create a whole different persona of yourself that is a lie. It spawns this kind of activity. Here's what Trueman wrote on this:

On Facebook, I can be anybody I want to be: an eighteen year old Californian with a six-pack, good teeth, a sun tan and a pilot's license; or even a 25 year old blonde beauty queen from North Carolina with a degree in astrophysics. I can become the ultimate in self-created beings - a factor which, I am sure, also partially explains the massive, if little noted, popularity of role-playing video games in the modern world. In virtual world, be it Facebook or the undersea city portrayed in Bioshock, I can be anyone I choose to be. I am the Creator; or at least, I have the potential to think I am.

Even if you sort of know who you're talking to, the person can take advantage of the anonymity of it.

16. Facebook tempts toward infidelity.

I've seen married women talking to younger men on facebook, legitimizing this kind of relationship and giving a false boost to the boy's ego. Her picture might be the most inviting, even a little risque, putting thoughts in his mind that he shouldn't have. Men like to hear someone boast on them, and perhaps they're not getting enough of that at home. These places and others stimulate that kind of activity. Men and women mix in unhealthy ways that would be discouraged in a different setting. Her husband may not be talking to her like she is talked to. She doesn't have to work at it. She can just go to her facebook to get what she needs.

17. Facebook makes you a consumer in a day when we need more producers.

Facebook is a company. They sell ads. They make money off of you. You may not buy anything, but you are another statistic for them to use to sell ads. In other words, facebook is using you. You may think that you are using facebook, but I would say that the owners think otherwise, especially as they laugh all the way to the bank.

18. Facebook is an easy temptation when you need to be getting something done---really done.

You need to write. Go to facebook instead. Homework not done. Gotta do facebook. Need to memorize some Scripture. Facebook is there. Haven't exercised. Oh well, let's facebook. Trueman again writes:

Well, the virtual world is new but it is here to stay; and it will no doubt continue to shape human behavior and self-understanding. We cannot ignore it but neither should we simply allow it to dictate to us who we are and how we think. Thus, we must teach people by precept and example that real life is lived primarily in real time in real places by real bodies. Pale and pimply bloggers who spend most of their spare time onanistically opining about themselves and their issues and in befriending pals made up of pixels are not living life to the full; nor are those whose lives revolve around videogames; rather they are human amoebas, subsisting in a bizarre non-world which involves no risk to themselves, no giving of themselves to others, no true vulnerability, no commitment, no self-sacrifice, no real meaning or value. To borrow a phrase from Thoreau, the tragedy of such is that, when they come to die, they may well discover that they have never actually lived.

For myself, I rejoice that I grew up before the web and the videogame supplanted the real world of real friendships, real discussions, real lives. I did not spend my youth growing obese and developing Vitamin D deficiency in front of an illuminated screen, living my life through the medium of pixels.

19. Facebook causes more facebook.

Very few people could handle facebook in a scriptural manner. It offers so many temptations. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Nineteen might seem like a lot. I could have named more.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Paradigm for Preservation of Scripture

We open the cover of our Bible and the first page is a test of faith. Why? No one was there. We have no way of knowing Genesis 1:1 was true, except for the Word of God. Should we interpret what we see in the world based upon what Scripture says or should we interpret the Bible based on what we see in the world? Do we go ahead and accept the Genesis account of origins, even if it reads against our own reasoning?

Kevin Bauder, dean of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, recently wrote in his In the Nick of Time an interesting thought experiment that I believe illustrates this paradigm:

Imagine that God comes to you with the announcement that He has just created an entirely new world, and He wants to show it to you. You agree, and in an instant you are transported into that world. At first you marvel at its beauty, but then you begin to notice phenomena that strike you as odd.

First, you notice that many of the trees in this world are already fully grown. Then you notice that they are surrounded by saplings and young trees in various stages of growth. You even notice seeds hanging on branches and, in some cases, lying on the ground. Plant life exists at every stage of development.

Then you notice that the world is populated by animals and birds. Many of these appear to be mature creatures, but you also notice their young. You find yourself surrounded by calves and foals and chicks and cubs of every sort. With a bit of investigation, you discover that there are already birds’ nests, and that some of them have eggs in them. Animal life exists at every stage of development.

As you wander, you discover a canyon with a river at the bottom. In the sides of the canyon you can plainly see the various layers of rock. You know that these geological strata are supposed to take many years to form. Geological formations exist at every stage of development.

As night falls, you cast your gaze toward the heavens. You behold a spangled expanse that is brighter and more piercing than any you’ve ever seen. But then you recall that this world is supposed to be less than a day old. Since stars are supposed to be light-years away, you wonder how you could be seeing them already. Yet you behold astral phenomena at every stage of development.

If you had no other source of information, you would assume that this world had been in existence for ages, not for mere hours. Interpreted within your normal frame of reference, the facts indicate an old world. At this point you must make a choice. You may choose to interpret the facts within your normal frame of reference and believe in an ancient world, or you may accept what the Creator said, and then search for some other interpretation of the facts.

This choice can never be made on the basis of the evidence itself. The evidence is what requires explanation. It does not explain itself. If you know that the Creator is capable of making Himself understood, and if you know that the Creator means to be understood and does not deceive, then you will believe in a young creation. If, on the other hand, you choose to interpret the evidence according to your normal assumptions, then you must conclude that perhaps the Creator is mistaken, or that He means to mislead, or perhaps that He is incapable of expressing Himself; at any rate, His words must be construed differently than He plainly intended.

Bauder ends his essay with this:

Christians must begin with an absolute commitment to the infinite-personal, faithful, apseudes God. This God can and does say exactly what He means. What He affirms is always true. Since the Bible is always His Word, it may always be trusted in anything that it asserts. The Bible is never to be interpreted by the facts of general revelation. On the contrary, the Bible itself communicates the grand context, the Truth (with a definite article and a capital T), the framework within which all facts must be interpreted.

Once we have presupposed the truth of Scripture, the facts remain interesting to us. We will certainly attempt to explain them. But our explanation never begins from some detached or neutral starting point. It certainly never begins with an assumption that facts are transparent or self-explanatory. We take God at His word.

Christians must never interpret facts from a position of autonomy. To do so is the essence of arrogance. Rather, humble submission to the Word of the Creator is the starting place for a right understanding of the world. When the Lord God speaks, His Word alters the entire frame of reference within which the facts are to be understood. A newly created world may look ancient but still be young. A divinely inspired text may look as if it had been produced like other literature, yet remain unique in its truthfulness. We can only know what a thing is if we are willing to begin by accepting what God says about it.

The approach Bauder describes for origins should be ours in any matter where we are not present to observe physical evidence. Much of what God expects for us depends on us believing what He said without any tangible proof. Jesus made this point in Luke 5 when he forgave the sins of a paralytic who was lowered before Him through the roof. He asked this question of the doubtful Pharisees and scribes (v. 23):

Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?

It was easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee. It was easier to say because anyone could say those words and no one would know if they had actually occurred or not. There would be no proof that his sins were forgiven, because you couldn't see anything. It was much more difficult to say, "Rise up and walk," because everyone would know whether those words were credible. Of course, Jesus then heals the man, so that they would know that his sins were forgiven him. However, we're supposed to believe Jesus did something that we couldn't see, just because He said so. Believers don't need the sign that followed. They can believe something Jesus said, whether they had any other proof of it or not.

The story in Luke 5 illustrates again the paradigm for accepting the preservation of Scripture. God didn't promise that He would provide all the evidence that we need to believe. He didn't promise that for inspiration either. We weren't there when God inspired Scripture. We weren't there when the men wrote the Words. Most likely none of us have seen the original manuscripts. We don't know of anyone alive who has seen them.

What we believe must fit what we read the Bible saying about its own preservation. If our view of the evidence and our own reasoning doesn't fit what Scripture says, then we go ahead and believe God's Word and reject our view of evidence and our own reasoning. Not believing doesn't please God.

I guess that brings me to the typical strawman. The Bible doesn't say that God would preserve the King James Version. I want everyone that uses that argument right now to understand that it insults everybody's intelligence. We all know that Scripture doesn't say that.

The Bible does say things, however, that would have us reject the critical text. It says things that would have us expect general accessibility of God's Words. It says things that would have us expect perfection. It says things that would have us believe that God was at work in preservation. It says things that would have us believe that God preserved every Word and all of them---not physical pages without variants, but the Words. It says things that would have us believe that the Holy Spirit would be at work to ensure that we know what those Words are. It says things that would ensure us that we would not have to restore the text of Scripture but to receive it. That is the paradigm that we should follow for our belief in the preservation of Scripture.

What do you think it is like for God to tell us exactly how He created the world and yet we don't believe Him? Why not? Because we don't have any physical evidence or eyewitnesses for the origin of all things. What do you think it is like for God to tell us that He would preserve every Word so that all people for every generation could obey every One of those Words, but we won't believe Him? Why not? Because we don't have enough physical evidence to believe that, so we "believe" in textual criticism instead.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Liar, Liar....James White and AOM

Until the latest fiasco of James White with Bart Ehrman, and then his actions right afterwards, I didn't know him. I had seen him in some video and heard some audio, but very little besides that. I don't see from where the loyalty to him comes. He's got a lot of followers, it seems. Or at least a few that make a lot of noise. Their connection with him doesn't speak well of them. He needs help. Real help. That's what they should be offering.

Shortly after he lost his debate to Bart Ehrman, he went to full court defense mode. His photo could be next to "defensive" in the dictionary, because he defines it by what he says and how he says it. He sounds like the kid you grow up with in school that tries to get done with his test first, and when he does, he slaps down his pencil and then looks around and exhales out loud so that everyone will know he's done and so he can see who is looking at him. He got started on this in the debate itself during his closing comments by blaming Ehrman's position on postmodernism. These are not the words of someone who has been able to defeat a man's arguments. It might be true that Ehrman was motivated by postmodernism, but in a debate that is supposed to be about textual evidence, it comes up lame. "He, he, he, he's a, a, a postmodernist. So there!" And then he blames everyone except himself. It's not his fault. It was Ehrman. Little did everyone know, but Ehrman changed the proposition two weeks before the debate. Ehrman didn't understand me. The moon was in my eyes. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Now I see this is what White does. He goes into all out spin as soon as a debate ends, at least one like this that he lost. He declares victory---in the words of McDurmon, "he steamrolled" Ehrman. "And I, ahem, read and listened to everything that Ehrman wrote or uttered since he came from the womb. Just letting you know, not to brag on myself." Then he judges motives. And finally attacks the person. Besides that, he spends an incredible amount of time praising himself, attempting to reconstruct what he said in the debate, to make it sound bigger and better than what it was. And he solicits pity for himself as if he is persecuted---with all the melodramatic sighs and voice inflections. I've heard people call him inimitable. I've seen people similar to him, so I don't think it's the case. He is a caricature of an apologist, so he's only inimitable in that way.

I wrote a review of the debate. I thought it might be nice for my readers. White had enough on his hands just in debating Ehrman. But isn't it nice that he also had time to spend two blogs and one internet webcast (his Dividing Line program) going after me, judging my motives and attacking my character? He called me a "bigot" and a "liar." Not once does he deal with my criticisms of him in the debate. That was the best he could do, go after me. And he actually does understand that this strategy will be good enough with the people who listen to him. It works. What does that say about them? They like that about him, that he goes immediately for motives ("bigot") and character ("liar"). Just the fact that he has so much spin control in play to spend this kind of time on my blog review tells you a little about his state of mind. I do not know what his followers see in him to exhibit so much allegiance.

He comes across like a snake oil salesman, a wandering minstrel. He's got his truck and products, just a little more hi-tech. He possesses the necessary hubris to shamelessly self-promote, it seems, without any compunction. Except he deals with Scripture and against deniers of the faith. It's an activity that we can applaud, but by a person who behaves with a smugness strangely contradictory to the task.

I'm going to do a couple of things with this post. First, I'm going to clear up the "bigot" and "liar" thing. Second, I'm going to list a few James White-isms to show you what I'm talking about above. I don't think I need to illustrate to anyone who has limited abilities of observation, but I'm not going to take it for granted.


The term "bigot" or "bigotry" is a slander as applied to me. Even based on the dictionary definition it doesn't apply, but especially with the modern connotation of "bigotry." Do you think that White went into the Ehrman debate with any prejudice based upon reading his books and listening to his audio? Of course, he did. I might know what White's position is on the text, but I believe I had far less prejudice toward White than I did toward Ehrman. I've read two of Ehrman's books. I've never read White's. I wrote a short tease for my analysis of the debate, that Alan Kurschner went wild over. They would do well to look at the criticism and take it seriously. It's hard to defend against prejudice because it is a judgment of one's motives for giving a negative opinion. I can assure White that if I had any prejudice, it was toward Ehrman and I stated such in my announcement of the debate. Bigotry should not be a word that someone just throws around.


White calls me a liar twice, but he doesn't evidence one lie by me. I'm going to document and enumerate all the lies that Kurschner and White said about me. One, On his Dividing Line program he said that I evidenced my detestation of Calvinism. I wrote: "I think it is White's Calvinism---God wanted errors in the text because of the greater good there would be (something like that)." I said "White's Calvinism." I never said anywhere that I detested Calvinism. So that's a lie. After that, he says that I lied. That is lie number two by him. His example of lying was this paragraph:

As sad as it could get in the debate, White couldn't muster up a defense of the historic position on preservation as seen in the Westminster Confession and the London Baptist Confession. He couldn't explain a scriptural position on preservation, perhaps because he doesn't even know what one is. He hasn't given it enough thought. He has been so busy reading Bart Ehrman and Dan Wallace and Bruce Metzger and Kurt and Barbra Aland that he hasn't sorted through the passages in scripture on preservation and their historical understanding, reading Turretin and Owen and others.

What about that quote is a lie? He doesn't say. He just says I lied. I said "perhaps he doesn't know," etc. That isn't a lie. He didn't give any presentation at all on preservation. He doesn't mention it, even though he did bring up theology. Then he says that since he has written a book, the King James Version Controversy, that I should know that, especially since "I had printed lies about it." I've not read White's book. I've read several books on this issue, but not his. I've never printed one thing about his book. So that is lie number three.

I go to his blog on February 4, 2009 for lie number four. He says that KJV only people like me believe this: "We need a variantless text, no matter what the realities of history are." I believe there are variants. I don't believe that preservation means no variants. That also shows his ignorance of the historic position. He manifests it right there. The divines, Turretin and Owen, both believed there were variants as did all the other men who take the same position as I do.

Now let's go to Alan Kurschner's blog, titled "Kent Brandenburg's Myopic King James Onlyism," February 3, 2009. Before I get into his lies, I have a question? Why write a blog about me? How does that fit into this whole issue with Ehrman? No one really knows what my presuppositions are based upon his statement that I'm a "King James Version Only advocate." My presuppositions are what scripture teaches about its own preservation. I believe we have always had all of God's Words. Of course, these guys use the KJVO label as a pejorative---they know it as should everyone else. And then you know that based upon everything else he writes, so this false presupposition is lie number five.

He quotes me as saying "the skeptic [Ehrman]," then keeps talking as if I was talking about the debate. I wasn't referring to Ehrman or the debate there or I would have used a pronoun, not the generic singular noun. That is lie number six. When I write that "White reads Metzger to get his position," I am speaking of his presuppositions. They come from textual criticism, from evidentiary apologetics, not from scripture. Kurschner misses that. The reason I didn't cite any examples of White's scriptural presuppositions (which is what presuppositionalism is all about) was because I haven't heard any from him. I'd be glad to hear that he writes a presentation of the Bible teaching on preservation in his book. Does he? If he does, then it will be a first, because I've never read one by a critical text advocate.

Kurschner says that I believe in preservation in a "1611 Anglican translation." That is lie number seven. I believe it is in the Hebrew and Greek text. As a side note, many Puritans worked on the KJV as well. This is lie number eight: "what is ironic is that Kent Brandenburg would agree wholeheartedly with the agnostic, skeptic Bart Ehrman who both agree together that there cannot be any inspired, preserved text if there exists variants in a text." Lie number nine was his labeling me a fundamentalist. If he got out more, he would know that I'm not. He said several other nasty things, but they were all conclusions from these lies. The tenth lie is that I'm a bigot.

Those are the at least ten lies told about me by James White and AOM. I will be awaiting the repentance and retraction from White and Kurschner.

James White-Isms

In his latest video on his blog for February 5, 2009, he films himself explaining something about his debate with Ehrman (on conjectural emendations). So I'm not even cherry-picking. I'm looking at his last video. Let me break it down for you, so you have examples of White-isms. First, at about :24 he complains. That's the first thing he does in the video. "I had hoped for a more focused topic." Second, then sighs (at about :32), "Which is fine; it turned out very well." If it's fine, then why complain? Of course it wasn't fine to him. He has complained and whined about it, including in his monologue to McDurmon (it wasn't much of an interview). And it definitely didn't turn out very well. Third, at :42 he says, "One of the questions that I asked in cross-examination, that hasn't gotten any attention yet." Attention? White thinks he won that point, so he wants it to get attention, or at least he's sending out a notice to his followers that this is a point that they should be giving more attention. He's begging for kudos, White sycophants; give them to him. Now! Fourth, notice around :50 the tone in his voice when he talks about Ehrman not providing any contradictory argumentation to this point he made. This is classic White. Fifth, at about 1:00, consider the look, that dismissive glance that he makes, eyes pointing upward, in response to his own comment about something that Ehrman had said in the debate. He does this all the time. Then sixth, watch his expression of incredulity at 1:40 and, seventh, his mocking impersonation at 1:52. He does these seven things in a matter of less than two minutes.

Listen to the start of his Dividing Line where he calls me a liar and bigot---the tongue snapping, the long sighing, the condescension, the ridicule, mocking tones, the throat-clearing, and the laughter. "You've got to be kidding me," "like," "uhhhh, yes," "give me a break," "pleeaaase," and "I'm sorry, but...." He goes after Ehrman's marketing of his latest book, but what about the kind of schlock that White starts his own program with? He sighs and complains about all the money it cost to have Ehrman come over to debate him. Do people really enjoy this?

With a sinister voice, he says, "Alan Kurschner mentioned this Kent Brandenburg fellow." He laughs ridiculing. He says that the writing is rarely overly coherent (?), a "wild-eyed way of speaking" (??). I say it again, I would debate James White any time I'm free to do so on this topic.

Read this line that he ends his blog on 2/4/09 with: "one can only imagine what an encounter between one of these folks and Ehrman would look like, but that's another issue." How egotistical? He thinks so highly of himself. You could buy him for what he's worth and sell him for what he thinks he's worth, and you'd be a billionaire.

What topped this off was his conversation with Robert on Dividing Line. I don't know Robert. Robert phoned in. His credentials: he wrote a comment on the puritanboard forum. That is the perfect KJVO person for James White to talk with. Then when Robert proceeded to flub up in his defense, should anyone wonder? I have to remember this strategy if I ever do my own webcast. Hand-pick your opponents and then say that they represent the typical advocates for a position. There are plenty of others on the puritanboard that would be able to do a great job against White, like Jerusalem Blade or Thomas Weddle (Thomas2007) or Matthew Winzer (armourbearer). Ooooh, feel that disdain for Calvinism pouring out? I'd like to hear you talk to one of these guys on Dividing Line, James White, and you probably won't even have to pay for a speaking fee.

I don't mind debating White. However, why would anyone want to? As soon as the debate is over, he puts all his combined resources to creating a story of the debate to affect the perceptions of readers of what really happened. You would just have to learn to put up with it. I guess this is the "gentleness" of James White coming out that is part of the introduction to his Dividing Line program. After he laughs and hisses and feigns incredulity, then he poses as a victim. This is the exact kind of thing that Bart Ehrman rolled his eyes at during the debate, not expecting to encounter these kinds of melodramatics. What I would rather hear about my criticism of the debate is real analysis of the criticism. That would come across as credible.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

First Impressions of the Ehrman-White Debate

I've now listened to the entire debate, every minute. I'll probably listen to the whole thing again. My goal is to be objective with this analysis. To start, I would far prefer James White over Bart Ehrman. For me to be objective, I couldn't have a horse in this race and be fair.

I've debated twice---once for one night like the Ehrman-White Debate and second for an entire week of nights. I had an online debate about a year ago. I've coached debate a little. I taught a class on rhetoric once and logic twice. I understand that the two men were debating the proposition: "Do the New Testament Texts Misquote Jesus?" I don't think the NT texts do misquote Jesus. However, I wasn't the one debating Ehrman; White was. At the end of the debate, with complete objectivity I would have to say, "Yes, based on what I just heard, the New Testament texts did misquote Jesus." Only Ehrman was really debating that point. James White seemed to want a different debate topic---whether the degree of error in the NT text would result in denial of the inspiration of Scripture.

Some that read me here aren't going to like what I am saying. However, I say, listen to the debate yourself and make your own decision. I know what I heard. I don't know how anyone could conclude otherwise. As a matter of fact, I think if someone comes on here to defend a White victory, he doesn't understand debating. He's also letting his beliefs and his like and passion for James White get in the way.

Who Won

I would love for someone to slay Bart Ehrman. In a very small sense, James White did. Even though he plainly lost this debate, he did take some shine off of Bart Ehrman's point. He did expose Ehrman as a deceiver with an agenda. He cleared up some matters for which a majority of evangelicals would be happy. However, that wasn't what this debate was about. White knew it wasn't supposed to be about inspiration. During the debate, Ehrman made it clear that he had agreed to do the debate with the provision that the inspiration issue wouldn't be the proposition. It seems that White brought it in against his own pledge not to do that.

White didn't have a chance to win this debate right from the very start. He shouldn't even have debated that proposition. Why? There was no way he could refute what Ehrman was saying because he agreed with Ehrman's position, at least as far as the debated topic goes. Ehrman said that he had nine propositions in his book, Misquoting Jesus, and that James White agreed with him on 8 1/2 of them. It was true. James White agreed with almost everything that Ehrman said in Misquoting Jesus. James White didn't attempt to refute that. Why? Because James White too believes that the New Testament misquotes Jesus. He loses the debate right there. He's supposed to be arguing against it.

Ehrman was not arguing for a theological position. It is true that White brought up the theology and then Ehrman addressed it. White then said that Ehrman always brings it up in debates. Ehrman swatted this aside by explaining that he always talked about it because his opponent in these debates always brought it up. White had no answer for that. At the most, all that White wanted Ehrman to admit was that Scripture was more reliable than any ancient manuscript, essentially on the same terms as those manuscripts would be considered to be reliable. That wasn't even what this debate was about. Ehrman admitted that, but that was something that we already knew about Ehrman. True, he doesn't go all over the country defending Scripture. True, he relishes the reason why the secular world loves him and quotes him so much. But he isn't afraid of saying what he thinks. He wasn't trying to hide his skepticism or his disbelief. I think he was willing not to make too much of his own particular point. He says that he doesn't know what the originals were. That's something White will not say, even though it is what he thinks too.

Reliance on Textual Critics

White got caught on his reliance on textual critic as authority. He quoted Aland in agreement with him on the issue of the reliability of the New Testament. He was depending on Aland's expertise, viewing himself as not an authority, which was true. White hadn't studied the manuscripts himself. Ehrman one-upped him by telling him that very few textual critics believe what Aland does anymore. Ehrman exposed this about White by asking him if he knew who the foremost critics were in Germany and France. White acted like this shouldn't matter, when it was he who opened up the door of authority-by-critic. White cherry-picked his critics and then Ehrman started naming the critics that he knew. And White himself acknowledged that Ehrman himself was one of the foremost critics in the world. Ehrman manifested White's death by a dozen critics. The critics agree with Ehrman, oh, except for the evangelical ones. They don't. Men like Wallace don't. Why don't they? Not because of the evidence, says Ehrman. He made a big deal about that. Let me explain that one point, that was interesting.

The evangelical textual critics say that textual variants don't matter. They repeat regularly that they don't matter. Ehrman points out the obvious. If they don't matter, then why is it that Wallace is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars running around cataloguing and photographing manuscripts? Good question. Ehrman asks in essence, "What does he tell his sponsors, those funding him? I'm doing all of this because it doesn't matter. Of course he doesn't tell them that, because they do matter! Why check for all the variants and look very carefully at all of them if they don't matter?" I agreed. The textual critics don't think that the text matter is settled. James White speculates that we've reached about as far as we can go in NT textual criticism, that is, unless we have another Dead Sea Scroll like find. So on the one hand, the evangelical textual critic says the variants don't matter and then on the other hand he is saying that they really, really do matter. Ehrman succeeded in the debate at showing, if one believes that a particular variant might be a part of the originals, that it really can change the meaning of the text.

Reliability of Manuscripts

Since they were ultimately not debating the topic because White in essence conceded that point to Ehrman, then we got a discussion about other matters. A major part of the conversation was about how reliable are the manuscripts we possess in replicating the originals. Ehrman made this argument: "The early scribes weren't very good at copying. They weren't trained in it. So they made a lot of errors, and that's why we see so many mistakes in the earliest manuscripts." White agreed on this point and added his own---"they didn't have scriptoriums" and "they were on the run from persecution." That only played into Erhman's hands. The earliest manuscripts, both agreed, are from around AD220, about 150 years after the book was complete. I think it was P45. Anyway, the further back we go, Ehrman argues, the worse the believers were at copying because the less trained they were. Therefore, if the oldest copies that we have, which are copies of copies, then how far off was the copy that made that copy and then the copy that made the copy from which that came from. He says that there is no way for us to know what the originals were, based upon that.

You can see how that with that theory, the more recent textual critics could reject inspiration, not even think about inspiration. You can see how that they could develop into this kind of unbelief. White's explanation for that, said in exasperated tones in his final statement, was postmodernism. There we go. These men are a product of postmodernism and that's why the new textual critics have a greater degree of uncertainty than the earlier textual critics, which had only a lesser degree of uncertainty. My heart couldn't be warmed by his reassurances for why this was happening, even with the condescending exhalations.

White had a come-back for this textual theory. It was very involved. He assumed that Ehrman couldn't understand it. As a result, he spent a great deal of time explaining it again, eating up most of his rebuttal, ripping on Ehrman for not understanding (mainly because he didn't read White's book, sigh, such lack of preparation). Oh, Ehrman understood. That wasn't clear to White, but it was clear to me. Ehrman just didn't believe in White's textual theory. White's theory was something like this: "You've got an old copy of Scripture from the fourth century. Then you've got a later copy that looks very much like it. It comes from a different line. You read two different lines and they both agree closely---this agreement gives evidence of what the original text is."

White also does a computer comparison using his home pc, comparing the TR with the Nestles Aland, and between those he finds great agreement, so that too shows the tenacity of the text. The text is there. And then on top of that, Kurt Aland says that it's there, so it must be there, because he is a renouned textual critic that knows several languages, is indeed no hick. That's the essence of the White argument.

Ehrman has a come-back for that. He says that the agreement of the later text simply means that it was copied from the earlier text. That's what that means. How do we know who is true on this? I don't think we do based only on textual criticism. You've got to take your pick between the two if you're going to decide based on textual criticism.

Where White Exposes Ehrman

White exposes Ehrman in at least four ways. They were all good for evangelicals who care if they know for sure that they have all the doctrines and at least 93% of the text. One was one that Ehrman has said already, but he doesn't like to repeat it too many times in public, that is, that the NT text has more textual attestation by far than any text from antiquity. In his review of himself, White says that we should put that on t-shirts for college students, as a quote from Ehrman. I thought, "That would be funny." Then I thought, "That would be just like a modern evangelical. Witness by t-shirt with clever statement." I also thought, "What a weak statement. 'Our Bible has less errors than Socrates does!! It's God's Word!!'" Anyway, I give that point to White.

White also made Ehrman say another thing that he has written but that you don't normally hear from him. He made him say that we can't conclude Scripture isn't inspired from the evidence. It could be. God could have done it that way. Ehrman made no conclusion about inspiration except that He didn't believe in it. He didn't say that it wasn't true.

Third, White did flush out from Ehrman that he quotes other ancient books as if they had been preserved, even though there is far less evidence that they have been. A humorous moment took place at that juncture when White asked Ehrman in cross examination about the length of time between the writing of the book and the earliest copy that we possess. Ehrman had said a humonguous period of time in terms of copying. And so compared to Tacitus and other ancient works, whose earliest copy is much further away in years? White asked Ehrman to give a word to describe that length of time, to which he answered that it was gi-humonguous, or something like that. Very funny. You got the sense that Ehrman really did believe in the preservation of these other books with their lesser textual evidence, indicating a theological bias coming through.

In fairness to Ehrman, even though I hate the work that he does, he has a higher standard for text that comes from God than White does. White acts like any of us should expect errors. I think it is White's Calvinism---God wanted errors in the text because of the greater good there would be (something like that). The reason Ehrman, it seems, is willing to trust Tacitus more than the Bible, is because Tacitus doesn't claim inspiration or preservation. The Bible does.

Last, James White showed how that the variants in the manuscripts that we possess do not really get rid of doctrine. They may change doctrine in a few places, which White concedes. But the variants don't change the essence of the meaning of the text of the New Testament. White exposed this aspect of Ehrman.


I do believe that Ehrman had to believe he was toying with White. White was like the boy who put together a lot of airplane models arguing against the engineer from Boeing. Ehrman is a textual critic. He has examined the actual manuscripts. Ehrman is one of the few men in the world who are called in to examine a recent archeological find. When they dig up something old and significant, Ehrman is on speed dial. White isn't in the phone book. Ehrman got his degree from Princeton. White got his from a P. O. Box. I don't care about those kind of things too much, but when we talk about textual criticism, these credentials are a big deal. Ehrman was on the recent discovery of the copy of the Gospel According to Judas. White doesn't get called in on those kinds of assignments. Daniel Wallace is at least doing big boy manuscript work that even Ehrman must recognize.

James White is the little train that could. He's actually quite a big train, but that's beside the point. "Please give me scholarly respect" oozes out and drips all over him. You don't have to try to see it. He constantly brings it up. I guess, to be nice, we're supposed to ignore it. I know it's gotta be hard for him to feel the disrespect he thinks is there. Christians should get accustomed to it. They're not going to get accolades. But he says things like, "You didn't even read my books. You said your book was the first book on textual criticism, but I (throat clear) was actually the first with my textual critic book, The King James Version Controversy, used at Podunk Hollar U. and School for Basket Weaving." Ugh. That is not a text on textual criticism. Come on. He wrote his own review of his debate (which is quite revisionist in my opinion) that starts with "I was riding my bicycle up South Mountain, a 7 mile long ascent with portions hitting a 12% grade." What did that sentence have to do with anything! Then when he gets a bad review from American Vision and he writes his own review of the review, coming across as desperate. Again, I know it's tough, but these kinds of things don't aid his cause.

Almost all critical text evangelicals talk and talk about how they are mistreated. In White's commentary on the debate, he says that the people there were really surprised at how poorly Ehrman treated him. I listened to the whole thing. I didn't hear it. I thought Ehrman treated White with great respect. He brought in the textual critics question only because White had opened the door for it with his dependence on Aland for his point on the tenacity of the text. White also presented an argument during his cross examination, slipping it in with a sarcastic tone to his voice, sounding as though he knew exactly what was doing, even though that is a no-no during the cross.


Ehrman is far more consistent in his theological expectations of Scripture than White is. Ehrman knows what verbal inspiration is. He knows how that is tied into authority even by evangelicals. He also knows about the promises of preservation. He knows what the Bible says. He assumes that if the Bible is inspired, that God could make sure that they got every Word, that God could also preserve every Word. It seems that Ehrman understands that presupposition better than White.

White has been saying that he is a presuppositionalist in his after-debate defenses. Maybe he is. I didn't catch his presuppositions. I only heard a Scriptural argument seep through a few times. Once he mentioned that the NT writers thought that the Old Testament was inspired. He could have mentioned Peter's reference of Paul in 2 Peter 3 if he wanted to get a little more presuppositional on inspiration (although this wasn't what the debate was about). The one that he mentioned more, I believe, blew up in his face like the coyote with the road runner, and that was Jesus' quoting the Old Testament. White tried to use that as a defense for mistakes in the text. He said that Jesus quoted a corrupted text of the Old Testament, so a corrupt text is obviously not that big a deal. Ehrman latched right ahold of that argument. He said, "Yah! Some of what Jesus quoted from the Old Testament wasn't even in the Old Testament!" From that exchange, I thought that White's main presupposition defended Ehrman's proposition quite well, that is, it doesn't really even matter if the New Testament misquoted Jesus. After all Jesus misquoted the Old Testament. How does that buoy your faith?

Overall I thought Ehrman had a better handle on the authority of Scripture than White. He saw how that errors in the Bible take away from its certainty and authority. That was enough for him to push the eject button on Christianity. White argued using what he saw as the best evidence. Based upon that, he leaves us with uncertainty on the text. He doesn't care if there are errors. He even argues for errors, like that is a scriptural position. You can mainly see this from White in how he argues the issue.

White's goal is to show that the Bible is better preserved than other ancient works. Since those works are considered reliable by scholars, then the Bible should be seen to be even more reliable, enough to believe. But what he does is this---he drags the Bible down to the level of the other books. He approaches preservation like other ancient texts, using scientific laws of textual criticism. What we see is that those laws actually change. Modern textual critics see themselves as objective. They think that the evidence leads them to conclusions. They think they are being honest with them. But they start with the multiplicity of the manuscripts as the basis of their conclusions. Hence, they reach the wrong conclusions. Christians should be reaching their conclusion from Scripture and then going to the manuscripts. But you have no textual critics starting with a scriptural bibliology. They do not begin with biblical presuppositions. This affects their outcome.

As sad as it could get in the debate, White couldn't muster up a defense of the historic position on preservation as seen in the Westminster Confession and the London Baptist Confession. He couldn't explain a scriptural position on preservation, perhaps because he doesn't even know what one is. He hasn't given it enough thought. He has been so busy reading Bart Ehrman and Dan Wallace and Bruce Metzger and Kurt and Barbra Aland that he hasn't sorted through the passages in scripture on preservation and their historical understanding, reading Turretin and Owen and others.

I might have more to say about this later. Then again, this might be it. I'll probably come back with something if I learn anything new that I want to share. You could listen to it yourself. It was interesting to hear, as sad as it was.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Ehrman-White Debate

I had read about this and was interested in listening if they recorded it, but James White and Bart Ehrman debated on January 21 this year on the resolution, "Did the New Testament Misquote Jesus?" This is a take-off of Ehrman's NY Times bestseller, Misquoting Jesus, which is essentially textual criticism for dummies. Ehrman's a former skeptic, now agnostic, and his new life's mission is to help everyone get there with him. Because he's not a believer, he gets to be the head of the religion department at UNC, Chapel Hill. James White hasn't done much to defend the Bible against the skeptic. He's mainly attempted to give more uncertainty to people without a doubt in Scripture. However, White would profess Jesus Christ and defend Christianity. Ehrman would attempt to tear it down. Ehrman is so popular, I'm sure, because he attacks Scripture and does so on a fifth grade level. He understands his audience. Ehrman studied under Metzger to get his position. White reads Metzger to get his position.

I've downloaded the audio for $6 over at White's Alpha-Omega ministry site and I listened to the introduction and Ehrman's opening statement. I'm interested in listening to all of it as I make the time. And I will write about it here. You'll read an interesting review of the debate at The American Vision by Joel McDurmon. He would be friendly to James White, but his review calls it a draw---neither of them won the debate. And that despite evidence that Ehrman did nothing to prepare for it, but White spent a large amount of time.

What will further spur anyone's interest is what White goes about saying after the debate. McDurmon has some kind, yet harsh words about a few things that White says and writes. White says that it is ironic that McDurmon labels him an evidentialist, when clearly he is a "presuppositionalist." Whenever I listen to White talk on this subject, and I haven't listened to the debate all the way through yet, he sounds like an evidentialist to me too. I say that if he is a presuppositionalist, he should debate like it. I believe I know why he doesn't on this subject at least. He isn't a presuppositionalist on this issue. He didn't prepare for a presuppositional presentation on his side of the debate, so he didn't present one.

What White does, according to McDurmon, and I've yet to hear it (but will), is argue the exact same way that Ehrman does. Ironic, huh? McDurmon comes across as very objective. White goes to his speculation about the text to say that there's enough evidence in the manuscripts to support Christian beliefs and enough confidence in Scripture. Ehrman goes to his speculation about the text to say that there's enough evidence in the manuscripts to support a denial of the inspiration of Scripture and, therefore, a rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

That's all I have to say for now, but I'm planning, Lord-willing, on breaking it down for you in the near future, so stay tuned. Read the McDurmon article and see how familiar his conclusion sounds. White says that the best thing that comes out of this debate is that Ehrman is exposed as the skeptic that he is. Well, did anyone really doubt the skepticism of Ehrman? That wasn't much of a goal reached if I put the effort White did for this debate. I'm thinking that the best material that I'll get out of this debate will be the content in opposition to White. I already knew that Ehrman was a fraud, having read two of his books. Now we'll see about White.