Monday, October 05, 2009

Bibliology and Separation part 3

We practice separation to protect the purity of doctrine and practice, since we are not our own and the One to Whom we belong, God, is holy. We are to be holy as He is holy. We do this out of love for God, His church, His doctrine, and His practice. We want to protect the doctrine of the Bible. God's Word gives us everything we need to be what God wants us to be and to do what He wants us to do. How much of the doctrine of the Bible should we defend? Is it only the doctrine of inspiration? Or even only a very narrow aspect of inspiration? Or should all the bibliology that Scripture teaches be protected by us through separation?


We've heard talk about separation over violation of a certain tenet of bibliology, namely dividing over the false doctrine of double inspiration. Is that the only bibliological doctrine worthy of separation? If so, why? Or why not? Is the Bible itself sufficiently defended by separating only over errors in the scriptural teaching of inspiration? All the teachings of the Bible are worth protecting, even if that separates us from men and churches who hold to several other similar doctrines as we.

So far we've looked at two articles of bibliology: inspiration and canonicity. You will rarely hear something preached about the latter, so I want to direct you to a recent, excellent sermon preached on this by Gary Webb (the first of which can be found here). We believe in dividing over wrong beliefs in these two doctrines of scripture. Now we move to another component of bibliology, the doctrine of the preservation of Scripture.


Is the preservation of Scripture taught in the Bible? If it is taught, what kind of preservation does it teach? Many fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals claim to believe in the preservation of Scripture. W. Edward Glenny writes in Only One Bible? (p. 121):


A proper understanding of the doctrine of preservation is a belief that God has providentially preserved His Word in and through all of the extant manuscripts, versions, and other copies of Scripture.


Why is that a proper understanding? Glenny writes the next sentence:


This conviction is based on the evidence of history.


Then he adds:


Has God perfectly preserved His Words so that no words have been lost? The evidence from the OT text suggests that such is not the case.


History


Glenny among others contradicts a belief in the perfect preservation of Scripture, that is, that God did perfectly preserve His Words so that no words have been lost. Contrary to what Glenny writes, the historic position of believers is that God did perfectly preserve what He inspired. You see that in the Westminster Confession of Faith (1633) and the London Baptist Confession (1689):


The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic.


The Formula Consensus Helvetica (1675) reads:


God, the Supreme Judge, not only took care to have His word, which is the "power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom. 1:16), committed to writing by Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles, but has also watched and cherished it with paternal care ever since it was written up to the present time, so that it could not be corrupted by craft of Satan or fraud of man. Therefore the Church justly ascribes it to His singular grace and goodness that she has, and will have to the end of the world, a "sure word of prophecy" and "Holy Scriptures" (2 Tim. 3:15), from which, though heaven and earth perish, "one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass"(Matt. 5:18).


What did these statements mean regarding the preservation of Scripture?


Foremost historian Richard A. Muller in his Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, Holy Scripture: The Cognitive Foundation of Theology writes (p. 81):


There is no elaboration or discussion distinguishing between "words" (verba) and "substance" (res) such as appears in the systems of the day and no discussion of the autographa. The emphasis of the confession is simply upon the original language texts currently known to the church.


Later he continues (pp. 433, 435):


By "original and authentic" text, the Protestant orthodox do not mean the autographa which no one can possess but the apographa in the original tongue which are the source of all versions. . . . Turretin and other high and late orthodox writers argued the authenticity and infallibility of Scripture must be identified in and of the apographa, not in and of lost autographa.


In line with the observations of Muller, Westminster expert and author of The Theology of the Westminster Symbols, Professor E. D. Morris, wrote in 1893:


As a Professor in a Theological Seminary, it has been my duty to make a special study of the Westminster Confession of Faith, as have I done for twenty years; and I venture to affirm that no one who is qualified to give an opinion on the subject, would dare to risk his reputation on the statement that the Westminster divines ever thought the original manuscripts of the Bible were distinct from the copies in their possession.


Scripture

Where did this kind of conviction of these historic Christians come from? It came from Scripture. God's Word teaches the doctrine of preservation. Rather than cut and paste what I have written before on this or to tweak it, I thought I would instead cut and paste exactly what Paul Ferguson wrote in his recent article Preservation of the Bible: Providential or Miraculous? For one, I wouldn't write anything differently than what He said. Here's what he wrote:


(1) God revealed the Scriptures so men could know His will both in the Old and New Testaments and in the future (Deut 31:9-13, 24-29; 1 John 1:1-4, 2:1-17; 2 Tim 3:14-17; 2 Pet 1:12-15). Certainly the Bible makes clear that no Scripture was intended for only the original recipient (Rom 15:4, 16:25-26; 1 Cor 10:11). God intended for those writings to be recognised and received by the Church as a whole (e.g., Col 4:16; Rev 1:4). These Words were to be guarded (1 Tim 6:20-21) as a "form (pattern) of sound words" for the church (2 Tim 1:13-14) and to be used to instruct the future Church (2 Tim 2:2).

(2) The Bible promises that God will preserve every one of His Words forever down to the very jot and tittle of the smallest letter (Pss 12:6-7, 33:11, 119:152, 160; Isa 30:8, 40:8; 1 Pet 1:23-25; Matt 5:18, 24:35).

(3) The Bible assures us that God’s Words are perfect and pure (Ps 12:6-7; Prov 30:5).

(4) The Bible promises that God would make His Words generally available to every generation of believers (Deut 30:11-14; Isa 34:16, 59:21; Matt 4:4; 2 Pet 3:2; Jude 1:17). (This is general availability, not necessarily to every person on the planet.) Certainly, we are told that for around two millennia in history only one small nation had the true and pure Words of God, "He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD" (Ps 147:19, 20 cf. Rom 2:14).

(5) The Bible promises there will be certainty as to the Words of God (2 Pet 1:19; Luke 1:4; Prov 1:23, 22:20-21; Dan 12:9-10; 1 John 2:20).

(6) The Bible promises that God would lead His saints into all truth, that the Word, all of His Words, are truth (John 16:13, 17:8, 17).

(7) God states that the Bible will be settled to the extent that someone could not add or take away from His Words (Rev 22:18-19; Deut 12:32). Indeed, the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3:2 warned the saints of his day to be mindful of the "Words" of the Old Testament writings (v2a) and the New Testament writings (v2b), which would be absurd if some of these Words had been corrupted or lost.

(8) The Bible shows that the true Church of Christ would receive these Words (Matt 28:19-20; John 17:8; Acts 8:14, 11:1, 17:11; 1 Thess 2:13; 1 Cor 15:3).

(9) The Bible implies that believers would receive these Words from other believers (Deut 17:18; 1 Kgs 2:3; Prov 25:1; Acts 7:38; Heb 7:11; 1 Thess 1:6; Phil 4:9).

(10) The Bible shows that Bible promises may appear to contradict science and reason. In Genesis 2 we see that a newly created world may look ancient. However, the Scriptures remind us that "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man" (Ps 118:8).

(11) Christ implied the preservation of His very Words as a Standard of future judgment (John 12:48). He also warned of the vanity of ignoring His actual Words (Matt 7:26). Christ emphatically declared, "the scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). In Matthew 22:29 Jesus rebuked, "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures." If the Scriptures were only accessible in the Originals then why would He chide them for being ignorant of Words that were not available? Believers are commanded to contend for the faith (Jude 3) and this faith is based upon the Words of God (Rom 10:17). Note that concerning the end-times, the Lord Jesus warned, "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8 cf. Amos 8:11; Lam 2:9).


This is what Christians have believed through history and is why still believers "in the pew" think they have a perfect Bible, despite strong efforts by even some who are leading them. It is what they see taught in Scripture.


Change


We recognize the historic doctrine of preservation. So what happened? What changed? Ironically something Kevin Bauder (editor of Only One Bible?) recently wrote at SharperIron explains why this doctrine changed:


Christians, under the influence of Common Sense, did not deny the transcendent, but they did demote it. In their metaphysical dream, they began to reverse the priority of the transcendent and the immanent. God and His Word were no longer axiomatic. These became matters to be defended, and that defense now involved the methodological priority of doubt and the appeal to neutral foundations within the immanent order. This shift in perspective led to a massive refocusing of the intellectual and spiritual center of Christian faith, with the result that the immanent order became “real” reality.


As Christians granted epistemological priority to the immanent order, they lost their sense of the numinous almost completely. Natural observation displaced revelation as the instrument by which they organized their knowledge of the world. Their naïve belief in the transparency of the world left Christians open to noxious influences against which they no longer sought to maintain any defense. Increasingly, divine intervention was limited to whatever gaps remained after the application of Baconian method. The doctrine of Providence remained formally intact, but it no longer exerted much influence over the everyday thinking of Christian people.


Unfortunately Bauder contradicts himself when it comes to this one doctrine. He is guilty of the very violation that he decries in his series of criticisms of fundamentalism. Why does he do this? It relates to something else that he wrote in the next article of the same series:


Unlike the Catholic magisterium, evangelicals do not accept a separate, oral tradition as a source of revelation and authority.


Instead of relying on Scripture and getting his doctrine from God, he and others have become enamored by a scientific magisterium that uses its own extra-scriptural authority to put down the teaching of Scripture. It makes sense, common sense, to those forming a new doctrine of preservation to deny the transcendence of God in His promises. Bauder and others trample all over history and Scripture in order to hold to a new position on the doctrine of the preservation of Scripture.


Paradigm


Only one time in scripture does anyone amaze Jesus. Who is it? It is the Gentile centurion in Luke 7:1-10. You should read that text. Many are amazed at Jesus, but only one man does He marvel at. Why? He had so little evidence for His faith than the Jews, and yet He believed. Jesus said there was not a greater faith in Israel. He was a man who perfectly illustrated the sermon Jesus had just preached in the previous chapter.

The centurion had a slave boy who was sick unto death and yet he had deep compassion for this mentoring soldier, so he sent men to Jesus to ask if He would spare him. Consider vv. 6-8 in that text:


6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: 7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. 8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.


The centurion understood Jesus' authority. He calls Him "Lord" in v. 6. He knew that if Jesus wanted the boy to be healed, he would be healed in just a word. The centurion would believe it even if he were not in the presence of his slave. He knew Jesus could do it from long distance. The centurion described Jesus' authority by comparing it to his own. Whatever Jesus said would happen, would happen.


Here's the paradigm in this. God has said He would preserve every Word and make them available to every generation of believer. His Words would be pure unto every generation. We should just believe God. He has the authority and power to get that done. We should dismiss our common sense in this instance and go with what God said.


Separation


Why would we separate over what the Bible says about its own inspiration and not separate over what it says about its own preservation? Why would we be so selective in our obedience to passages on separation? Would that be living by faith? We should separate from those who attack and attempt to change the historic doctrine of preservation.

13 comments:

bhardecker said...

How ironic - the historicist cites history as the basis for a no providential (or perfect) preservation view, which is actually non-historical and worse non-Biblical. Bravo, Pastor B.

Aaron B. said...

You mentioned Bauder's "contradiction" on preservation. I don't believe it's a contradiction at all. ...and I've been itchin' to do some writing (besides forum posts) for a while so thanks for a good topic idea.
I do not believe the Scriptures themselves claim the view of preservation that many allege they do. Neither does Bauder, and a "scientific magisterium" is not what has motivated his thinking on that, I don't believe. It certainly is not what drives my own.
So I'll probably crank out something concise at SI on preservation sometime soon.
... and give you something to take shots at (which I welcome... I'll probably learn something).

Kent Brandenburg said...

Bill,

Absolutely.

Aaron,

Thanks for coming over. A few things.
1. He does contradict what He says, and what we are talking about in the realm of scriptural interpretation is historic. You might think that scriptures don't claim what some people think they do, but history says that Christians believed only this view. Even Daniel Wallace admits that this is the historic position, but He rejects based on actually self-admitted pragmatic basis. What is interesting in all of the CT/fundamentalist books (Bauder, Sproul, Emerald Press, James White) is that they don't include a peep, not one, about the historic position. They act like preservation was invented by a Seventh Day Adventist or David Otis Fuller---what an invention!! What a joke! What a lack of study! What a revision of history! What little reading or study! Do you know who they quote in their materials for historic matter? John R. Rice, etc. There's some history for ya. And when you call them on it, they call you a double inspirationist heretic! Argument over. And when you want to make the presentation at SI, they kick you off. It's got inquisition qualities to it. I've challenged several to a debate and nothing. But they continue taking jr. high level potshots.
2. OK, with that rant aside, I can prove to you that it is a scientific magisterium that motivates, because that is what is in the book, "Only One Bible?" I've read all of their books. Ironically, I've read very little of the KJV books. I've never read Which Bible? from which Only One Bible? comes (in title).
3. I've known for awhile how Bauder thinks because it mirrors in many ways what I think. There are a few important differences, but we do think very similarly, which is why we're the same on worship, entertainment, etc. What he just wrote at SI in number 8 in the series is exactly what I wrote in my introduction that was the first in this series, read my list of 5 and compare it to Bauder in my Bibliology and Separation, part one. Anyway, he ignores transcendence and history on this. His view totally comes out of common sense and Baconian principles. That's exactly what Warfield did in the late 19th century.

I'll look forward to reading your article.

d4v34x said...

Kent, perhaps you plan on detailing it in future posts, but I am curious to know what this separation would like like. Are we talking (I'm paraphrasing here) "let him be to you as a heathen and publican" or are we talking no joint worship participation, or something in between.

David

Kent Brandenburg said...

I have written on what separation looks like in several places, and I'll link you to it hopefully later. I can't remember whether I wrote on it here or at Jackhammer.

Kent Brandenburg said...

One more thing d4, what do you think of the post itself? Is it the scriptural and historic view? If not, I'd like material showing a different view is historic and biblical.

d4v34x said...

Kent, As to that portion of your post, I'm still ruminating on it. Don't want to say anything prematurely. :)

bhardecker said...

I think Dr. David Otis Fuller is maligned by many proponents of the CT. Yes, I believe he was wrong in a major area like reprinting Benjamin Wilkinson's work. But Dr. Fuller was no dummy. He was a scholar (M.Div. from Princeton, and D.D. from Dallas Theo. Seminary) and best of all he was a pastor of 40 years. I do not idolize him, I just respect him and his diligent work on the TR/KJV issue.

Lamblion said...

Of course the proponents of the Latin Vulgate/Critical text cannot argue history relative to preservation because they know that history is wholly, completely, totally against them.

John Bunyan, for example, stated explicitly that he believed his copy of the King James Bible (referred to by the men of that time as "our English Bible") was an exact replica of the autographa, and he used that argument against a scholar who had tried to chide him for not knowing Hebrew or Greek.

What an irony... John Bunyan, who could read neither Hebrew nor Greek, knew more of the Word of God than all the Hebrew and Greek scholars of all the ages of Christianity combined, excluding the Apostolic age, of course.

And all poor old John Bunyan had was his King James Bible. This was the common consent of all the true men of God in those days when the Holy Spirit was actually poured out, unlike the false Christianity that has wholly pervaded this present generation in which the Holy Spirit is nowhere to be seen.

Of course, only those of us who are actually indwelt by the Holy Spirit know of what I really speak.

Here's a warning from John Bunyan that will decimate today's Latin Vulgate/Critical text scholars on the day when they stand before the Jesus Christ they do not know --

"There wanteth even in the hearts of God’s people a greater reverence of the Word of God than to this day appeareth among us, and this let me say, that want of reverence of the Word is the ground of all disorders that are in the heart, life, conversation, and in Christian communion. Besides, the want of reverence of the Word layeth men open to the fearful displeasure of God." John Bunyan, A Treatise On The Fear Of God

Of course, there is also a KJV cult which Satan has raised up to try to bury the issue in factions, but the elect are no so easily deceived, for the elect know there are two cults -- the KJV cult on the one side, and the Academic cult on the other, which follows the Latin Vulgate/Critical text, and once again, he who doesn't recognize the CULT of the Latin Vulgate/Critical text scholars is tenfold more blind than Bartimaeus or the Pharisees ever were.

Nevertheless, he who doesn't know that modern "bibles" proclaim a false Jesus and a false gospel is he who is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Period.

You will certainly say unto me, I am too indwelt by the Holy Spirit and I adhere to the Latin Vulgate/Critical text. So there!

Very well.

One of us is FATALLY, and I do mean FATALLY, deceived, because the Spirit who indwells me utterly excoriates the Latin Vulgate/Critical text, as he does in ALL whom he indwells.

In short, we do not have the same Spirit. Period.

Indeed, one of is FATALLY, and I do mean FATALLY, deceived.

But then, there is a reason why the Spirit-filled Reformers, Puritans, and Great Awakeners aborted the Latin Vulgate/Critical text and adhered to the Textus Receptus.

And all who are genuinely indwelt by the Holy Spirit know why that is.

Wait and see.

PS Ferguson said...

Adam

Appreciate you coming on here. I note SI seems to have a diversity of views tolerated, save for the historic and biblical view of preservation. You are free to disagree with the Biblical presuppositional approach that Kent and I have set out. What you are not biblically correct in doing is refusing to provide an alternative BIBLICAL explanation as to how we are guided to all the perfect Words of God today.

I have read most of what McCune, Bauder, Doran, Harding have written on this subject and not ONCE have they attempted to set this forth. They spend their time ridiculing any one as "unscholarly" who holds to the TR, but never write anything scholarly to state their case for preservation. Indeed, none of them has ever even posited a biblical presuppositional approach to canonicity either; doubtless fearing where it would take them on preservation. Could you ask Dr Bauder to attempt to do that in his copious entries on SI? I have just read McCune's Vol 1 on Systematic Theology and he purposively avoids canonicity (something your reviewer completely missed).

Most CT advocates believe that the key doctrines or the original text preserved somewhere among the variants, but they have no logical or scientific reason to believe so. No matter how they finesse it, their belief is predicated more on sentimentality as they have rejected any Biblical exegetical basis for assuming perfect preservation. No accumulation of sardonic putdowns or intellectual gymnastics can conceal this fact from the discerning reader. They themselves have no Scripture to argue that God said He would preserve it as a "work in progress" in many texts and manuscripts in a way that in 2009 we are confused, uncertain and constantly changing our minds as to the true text. If one side has clearly stated scriptural presuppositions and the other does not, save for attacking the former, that surely is suggestive. This is a dangerous approach for as Dr Martin Lloyd Jones warns, "We do not debate the truth, we declare it."

If you are serious about a true discussion, then set up a written debate on SI and Kent and I will represent the perfect preservation view and you can wheel in any of the big guns from Detroit or Central to take us on. As Kent says, these scholars should easily wipe the floor with people that Jon Pratt say are "historically and theologically ignorant."

Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

Aaron, PS Ferguson,

PS makes a very good point, and I think it's fair to ask this of CT supporters: Where do you find scriptural support for the notion that we "lost" portions of God's Words that then have to be reconstructed by man's "wisdom"?

Gary said...

Lamblion,

Wow, after reading your comments I spent some time visiting your web sight and was truly amazed. I think that Kent would probably be scratching his head on a few of your teachings. Kent at least says that it is his job to correct sinning Christians, but I don't think that he's said that if a Christian (new or old)is not King James Only that he's going to hell.

Your sight seemed only to puff yourself up and look down on those who disagreed with you.

I think that I do agree with you on one thing. We do not have the same spirit. The fruit of my Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Your site shows that you have none of that, only love of self, like a child that thinks that it's all about himself.
Without love your message is not scriptural and you've missed Jesus Christ's message completly.

Lamblion said...

I'll have to take a look at all the examples you provided for your naked assertions...

....
....
....

As usual, same old unregenerate blindness and feeble-mindedness, ad nauseam...