Thursday, October 29, 2009

West Point on CNN

CNN visited West Point. At 20 seconds into the video, you'll see someone very familiar in the middle of the class, back row, with glasses. They visited his math class. He did an 18.6 mile ruck march on Saturday in a storm. (Get a load of the Navy professor at 2:20 and what he says about diversity.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When A Classification Slanders

In the summer of 2009 at a Bible faculty summit for fundamentalist Bible college and seminary faculties, Jeff Straub read a paper entitled "The Fundamentalist Challenge for the 21st Century: Do We Have a Future?" in which he attempted to classify segments or branches of fundamentalism by assigning characteristics with certain titles for each branch (you can read it here and here). With his essay came a chart he titled, "The Broad Theological Landscape of the 21st Century --- A Working Taxonomy," with contributions from Kevin Bauder, Dan Brown, and Jon Pratt. His three classifications for fundamentalists were Hyper Fundamentalism, New Image Fundamentalism, and Historic Fundamentalism.

What is the purpose of these three classifications for fundamentalists? What I can surmise is that he wants everyone to know that he and his friends represent historic fundamentalism. The paper really is not to establish who is obedient to God and the Bible, but who are the real fundamentalists. Why is this important? Um. I don't know. I don't think God cares at all, but this is a big deal to fundamentalists, it seems, because they are regularly speaking in these taxonomies and classifications. It reminds me of what I do every year when I'm doing my taxes and I'm working at aligning myself with the sweetest spot tax-wise for my family and me. These fundamentalists place themselves in the sweet spot and the others outside of it.

Another reason someone like Straub, who has put himself in the Historic Fundamentalist category, would be interested in drawing up these classifications would be to combat some of the work that has been done by the New Image Fundamentalists (which would include several that many are calling "the young fundamentalists) to include the Evangelical Right in the column of Historic Fundamentalism. The New Image guys see an "emerging middle," as noted by Straub in his chart, that would include conservative evangelicals as fundamentalists. Not only would this allow the young fundamentalists to be a part of the big and famous boys of conservative evangelicalism (Piper, MacArthur, Carson, Dever, Mohler), but it would give them cover for making this move, some sort of fundamentalist legitimacy.

Of course, from my perspective, I wonder why it matters to be a fundamentalist. I've been asking this for a long time. Why isn't it good enough to be a church? Why isn't Baptist good enough? What about a saint? I don't consider myself a fundamentalist, so I'm attempting to help out men like Straub, which would allow them to have that term all to themselves. However, in Straub's classification system, I likely can't avoid still being a fundamentlist, because I would have to be a Hyper Fundamentalist. This is not a good thing to be on his chart.

So I look at the chart to see who I would be. It is, after all, a Hyper Fundamentalist, that is, what Clarence Sexton, David Cloud, and D. A. Waite are, according to the Straub lay-out. I'm pretty familiar with D. A. Waite and David Cloud and Clarence Sexton. Shouldn't Jack Schaap be in there too? And Paul Chappell? And Pensacola Christian College? Maybe it would have looked too bad for Cloud and Waite to have lumped those men in there too. So we get the strange bed fellows of Cloud, Waite, and Sexton. I think we all know what has those men in common---the King James Version. Why not just have that column have one thing under it---KJVO---and he would have been done?

But according to the chart, that's not all that they have in common. And just as a reminder, I'm sure that Straub would be put me in the Hyper Fundamentalist category too. He says that they are strongly anti-calvinist. I don't know what that is, because I know that historic Baptists, according to John T. Christian's History of Baptists, have been more Calvinist than Arminian. That doesn't sound too strongly anti-Calvinist. And doesn't Clarence Sexton have Ian Paisley there on campus to speak? Doesn't he associate himself with all things Spurgeon in almost everything that he publishes? Does D. A. Waite push anti-Calvinism? Those are the names that he used.

But the anti-Calvinism is a relatively minor one. Next the Hyper Fundamentalists elevate orthopraxy over orthodoxy. Wow! Maybe Sexton, but not Cloud, and especially not Waite. And as for me, well, I would guess that Central and Straub are more revivalistic than I am, placing more emphasis on pragmatics than I would. Then the chart says that Hyper Fundamentalists over emphasize a separation which is unrelated to church discipline. I know quite a few that he would place in this category would not practice church discipline. Cloud and Waite, two of the three names he mentions, believe in it and practice it. The churches I'm in fellowship with practice it. And we all see our separation relating to church discipline.

Next on the chart for the Hypers is that they separate from other fundamentalists. True. But it's not like these separatists choose out fundamentalists as some special group. I would think that Cloud and Waite, and I know it is true for me, would separate based on what Scripture said irregardless of whether the person or church thought himself to be a fundamentalist. My experience has been that historic fundamentalist churches will welcome people that we have disciplined from our church based on the passages on church discipline, and they don't give me so much as a phone call. I've also noticed that it comes back to haunt them, but they still have done it nonetheless. I would not do that to them. When I asked one pastor why he did that, he told me it was because I was KJVO. There we go.

Straub and company next include this as a characteristic of the Hypers, which include Cloud and Waite---they use a "mixture of old Gospel and Southern Gospel music, some CCM." It's pretty easy to find that Cloud rejects Southern Gospel. He has written and spoken about it extensively---you can get the articles and the DVDs where he has. I would think that Waite, a BJU graduate, does not use Southern Gospel either. That leaves Sexton, which does use Southern Gospel, but the other two are against it.

Then the Hyper Fundamentalists expand the central core of fundamentals beyond the "five," as well as "extraneous issues --- e. g. Bible versions" as a basis for separation. You could just call this practicing what the New Testament teaches on separation. This isn't a slander against these men, because it might be the one that is the most accurate of all his 'scholarly' classifying.

Next is topical preaching. Waite rarely does topical preaching. I preach almost exclusively expository, as do pastors I am friends with. Straub says concerning his group, the historic fundamentalists, "Some good expository preaching." It's not only not topical, but it is good expository preaching. I grew up in what Straub calls "historic fundamentalism" and I rarely heard an expository sermon, so it is not entirely historic. Now it is more of an emphasis in churches everywhere. This is not necessarily with thanks to historic fundamentalism, but let us all be glad for this development. However, to across-the-board say that the Hypers do topical preaching isn't true.

In his group, Straub includes Tim Jordan, Matt Olson, Mark Minnick, David Doran, Kevin Bauder, John Hartog 3, and Chuck Phelps. Those were likely the guys represented at the meeting he was making his presentation. You weren't going to get too much of a protest from them. Of course they don't separate too much or too little. They separate just right. Why? Because they are willing to compromise more on the "non-essentials." We're supposed to see that makes them better. They may have allowed Uzzah to live.

But I titled this post, "When a Classification Slanders." To include Cloud and Waite in a presentation that smears them with certain characteristics that they don't have is slander. No explanation is given. It is just put out there with those inaccuracies for people to assume that these qualities characterize these two men. I've tried to give my point of view on Straub's blog at Central, but they wouldn't allow it. He's welcome to come here and tell me how he hasn't slandered anybody. That's called "due process," by the way.(1)

What brings these two together is their support of the KJV---that's it. So again, the KJV position really is the determining factor here, since half of the other characteristics don't even describe them. The chart would have been a little boring and sort of thoughtless if it had one point under Hyper Fundamentalists: KJVO. Cloud and Waite are living men, men who are saved. I don't think Straub is questioning that. But they are men who should not be slandered by him.

(1) I received an email from a source I shall not name who informed me that everyone in the group of "Historic Fundamentalists" he lists were not there. I want everyone to know that. So he was not influenced by their presence. What I was saying was that there is acceptance from the people to whom you are making this presentation. I'm not against some judging of motives, as long as I'm careful with the wording---which I was. I have mentioned in the comment section that he leaves out the New Image Fundamentalists, except for a Stephen Davey with a question mark, so he had the ability to leave people out. If he was really looking for men who represented his qualities of Hyper Fundamentalists, he missed them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Word of Truth Conference Site


As many of you know by now, we've got a conference here at our church November 11-15, Wed-Sun, called the Word of Truth Conference. My friend Jack Lamb has created a website to be home base online for the conference here. Feel free to bookmark it along with my blog and the church blog.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How Much Should Church Leadership Be Involved In Governmental or Political Matters?

Along with most of my friends, I believe that America has reached an all time low in the way of moral decline and spiritual discernment. While we are going about doing ministry in and through the church, it seems that the coverage and the most tangible impact in those areas that distress us the most and stem the flood from a stinking cesspool are those who organize in patriotic meetings and political protests. What should Christians do to help halt the advancement of this world's agenda against God? Many believe that the best solutions rest in political activism, boycotts, and public meetings.

As I look on at this as an American citizen, I understand their rationale. I sympathize with their feelings. Evil is disfiguring our society. All Christians should oppose the policies that drive the destructive trends. I'm on the side of those in opposition to the government that voice out their objections to corrupt government positions. I have strong opinions about how our government should operate, I think I'm right, and I believe I can prove it through scripture and history. From teaching American Government, I know the constitution better than most.

The question I ask is not what position should I take or who do I support. The question is: "Is this how a church and church leadership should be investing its energies?" I've taught history for 20 years. I am able to influence students in a scriptural view of the world about 200 days a year in our school. I want them to know how to vote and what it is that a citizen of this country should do to influence his government. I think every American citizen should know these things. But should a church leadership be using its time to sway American voters and organize conservatives to support conservative issues? I'm asking just so that we would think about it.

I believe that for us it is a matter of first diagnosing the problem. I believe that the biggest problem we have is not with the world. It is with professing Christians. That's why I write very little about government on this blog. I believe that the unscriptural beliefs and practices of churches are what hurts this country the most. I do believe that 2 Chronicles 7:14 does apply here, that is, that it is God's people that need to humble themselves and pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways. God didn't ask how many unrighteous there were in Sodom and Gomorrha, but how many righteous were there.

The religious right in Jesus' day were the Pharisees. They were also His biggest enemies. Don't get me wrong. I believe Jesus would be a conservative today. However, I don't think He or the Apostle Paul would be having anything to do with political rallies and organizing opposition to government policy. And yes, I've read Anita Dunn's Mao's-my-favorite-philosopher-speech. I know who President Obama has in his administration. No, I don't like it. But we don't have to guess what Jesus would do. We know what He did and that's what we're supposed to do. He and Paul had much greater difficulties with their government than we.

There are some temporal, superficial benefits to using the democratic process to oppose immoral practices. I often point to John Leland's heroic organization of Virginia's Baptist pastors for the inclusion of freedom of religion in the bill of rights. I would have had a lot in common with those Baptists. This, however, cannot become the church's main strategy for influencing a nation. And I do believe times have changed. There were enough good churches to affect the Constitution of the United States without having to compromise what those men believed about the Bible. I don't want anything to do with most people in the moral majority.

I'm afraid that the political issue has become a bit of a fake issue with many. It replaces the real issue. It's not hard to talk about what bothers you about the national debt or uncontrolled spending or government control of the healthcare industry or homosexual marriage. What about the issue of our own lack of devotion to God? What about our relative disinterest in spiritual things? What about our seeming indifference about the eternal destiny of our fellow man? You might seem like you care about morality when you're fired up about coddling terrorists, but you really are straining at a gnat in this instance. That's when we might say that we've gone from preachin' to meddlin'.

Our best weapon is still evangelism. Our best work is still preaching. The Bible is a spiritual weapon, powerful to the pulling down of strongholds in people's minds. Moral and legislative efforts that leave people in unbelief cause almost no eternal good. I'm afraid in the process that we could cause others to look to the wisdom of men for a solution at the loss of the glory of God.

I'm certainly open to correction on this.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Complicating Evangelism

I was talking to someone recently about evangelism. He said that he had talked to a pastor who had studied this out and found that door-to-door, the cold call, was the sixth best way of evangelism. The pastor had gone to some sales classes and took what he learned and developed a formula of how to locate the best contacts and then how to keep them warm until they finally are saved. The formula required a certain number of connections with the contact, including a specific number of visits. In the end, more people would be converted if the formula was followed.

As he was talking to me, my mind was wandering to scripture and the whole point of evangelism. Let me give you my formula. Preach it to everyone. Get the gospel to as many people as possible. Go to everyone to bring the gospel, so that no one is missed. That is what I see in Scripture. It is all I see in the Bible. I should love the people I'm preaching to. I should want them to be saved. I should want to live in accordance with the God about Whom I'm preaching, so that my testimony won't hinder the meaning of the Words I'm proclaiming. I can't talk them into it though. I can't warm them into it. The gospel is going to do everything for the salvation to occur. I don't have any special love for door-to-door. I see the example of it in scripture. I don't believe there is any more effective way for people to be saved than just preaching it.

My theology is repulsed by the conversation represented by the first paragraph. I hear the words being said and I can't wrap my brain around them. Why? Salvation is a supernatural work of God. Salvation comes from the gospel. The gospel is a message from the Bible. The salvation doesn't come from human effort. It is not by the will of man. I believe these types of formulas just confuse that issue. They make the salvation of souls about the wisdom of men.

I don't know who will want to hear the gospel and who will not. My responsibility is to preach it. If I preach the gospel to everyone, I have fulfilled my role in the work of salvation. When I don't preach it, I don't complete that responsibility.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More West Point

West Point presented the Thayer Award for 2009 to Ross Perot. They had a very special supper Kirk attended. Here is Kirk (at the right) and his roommate after the supper in their room. His roommate is a professing Christian.

Ekklesia

Ancient Greece rose out of the earliest cultures of Europe around the shores and islands of the Aegean Sea. Long before Homer, ancestor worship made family ties very strong and after that the families came together to form tribes and then villages. Villages joined to form the polis, city, from which our word "politics" comes. The government of these Greek city states was called ekklesia, assembly, the town meeting. The first known assembly was held as early as the reign of Draco in 621 B.C. At each meeting of the assembly certain topics were discussed and voted on. The assembly would also gather in cases of emergency and in cases of trials of law in which the assembly became a jury. Votes were taken by a tally of hands raised. After being tallied the majority decision ruled and carried.

Throughout the Greek world right down to New Testament times (see Acts 19:39), ekklesia was the designation of the whole body of citizens in a free city-state, "called out of" (ek--out of, klesia--called) their homes by the kerux, the herald, for the discussion and decision of public business. Translators of the Hebrew Old Testament used ekklesia to render the Hebrew qahal, which means "congregation." We see Stephen in Acts 7:38 call the Old Testament congregation of Israel the "ekklesia in the wilderness."

Jesus thought the same about ekklesia. Ekklesia occurs only twice in the gospels. It is clear from the second usage in Matthew 18:15-20 that Jesus had in mind an almost identical meaning to the historic usage of the word. He used ekklesia like the people hearing him in that day would have understood the word. It was a congregation possessing powers of self-government in which questions of discipline were to be decided by the collective judgment of members.

The only other times after Matthew 18 that we see Jesus speak of the ekklesia are the nineteen occasions in Revelation 1-3 in which in each case is a distinctly local, functioning, and organized assembly of people. Those attempting to discern a definition of ekklesia based on His usage of the word would see it as something like the governments of the ancient Greek city states. The major differentiating factor was that these assemblies to which He referred were His assemblies, now sacred not secular. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said that that He would build "my assembly" differentiating it from the then congregation of Israel and the secular Greek town meeting.

If I said that Greek cities operated with the government of the city-state, no one would assume that there was only one. They would assume that each city had its own town meeting. When Jesus said He would build up (oikodomeo, "edify") His ekklesia, we should not assume that He meant that there was or would be only one in number either. His ekklesia would be how the Lord Jesus Christ would operate on earth until He left and after He was gone.

Hebrews 2:12 accounts for the ekklesia of Jesus functioning while He was still on earth and not yet ascended into heaven, when it says: "Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." Jesus sang in the ekklesia. He could not have done that if His ekklesia had not yet started. He was not standing in the midst of every believer on earth.

When the Lord Jesus incorporated the term ekklesia, He took a word with distinctly local and visible connotation. He sanctified it for His own use, but He did not give it a whole different meaning. The word excludes anything broader than a meeting or gathering. The concept of universal or global contradicts the meaning of the word. If Jesus wanted His governing institution on earth to have some larger context than local, he could have used "kingdom" or "family" or "nation" or "empire" or "state." But He didn't. He used ekklesia.

In both 1 Corinthians 1:2 and 2 Corinthians 1:1, Paul writes: "unto the church of God which is at Corinth." To make the ekklesia something more than local only deviates from the meaning of the word. An ekklesia must be at some local context---city, town, village, area. All believers did not reside in the city of Corinth. Paul wrote to the church at Colossae and he told that church to pass that letter along to the church of the Laodiceans, seeing that those were two separate churches (Colossians 4:16). Paul wrote to the church of the Thessalonians (1 & 2 Thessalonians 1:1). He said that the bishop, the pastor, is to "take care of the church of God" (1 Timothy 3:5). One man isn't responsible to take care of all believers on earth. At the end of 2 Timothy, the afterwords say that Timothy, to whom 1 Timothy 3:5 was written, was "ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians."

A church is local only because that is what ekklesia, the word translated "church," means. I'm not trotting out landmarkism or Baptist bride-ism. Those who make ekklesia anything other than local only are reading something into the word that isn't there. It never has been.

Monday, October 12, 2009

King James Version: Elizabethan English?

I wanted to explore the idea about whether the King James Version actually was Elizabethan English. Elizabethan, of course, refers to Queen Elizabeth, who reigned until she died in 1603. To understand what was the language of the day, we should consider the writings of William Shakespeare, who died in 1616. The last of Shakespeare's works to be printed were finished in 1609. So Shakespeare wrote in "Elizabethan English." The translators were done with the KJV in 1611. Shakespeare's works are still being performed all over the English speaking world and hold up in attracting an audience. People still go to watch Shakespeare.

You can see all of Shakespeare's works online here. The first work that you can click on happens to be his comedy, All's Well That Ends Well.
That title sounds like a familiar modern colloquialism, doesn't it? Here's the first substantial line in scene one from that Shakesperean play:

You shall find of the king a husband, madam; you,
sir, a father: he that so generally is at all times
good must of necessity hold his virtue to you; whose
worthiness would stir it up where it wanted rather
than lack it where there is such abundance.

I don't see "thou" or "thee" in that passage. It looks like "you," "you," and "you." Here is the first line from Act I, Scene II, of The Comedy of Errors:

Therefore give out you are of Epidamnum,
Lest that your goods too soon be confiscate.
This very day a Syracusian merchant
Is apprehended for arrival here;
And not being able to buy out his life
According to the statute of the town,
Dies ere the weary sun set in the west.
There is your money that I had to keep.

Again, we see "you," "your," and "your." Where is the "thou" and the "thy" and the "thee"? I see a "give," a "buy," and a "set," instead of a "givest," "buyest," and "settest." Well. I move to the history category and click on The Life of King Henry the Fifth and paste for you a lengthy line by the Canterbuy in Act I, Scene I:

Hear him but reason in divinity,
And all-admiring with an inward wish
You would desire the king were made a prelate:
Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs,
You would say it hath been all in all his study:
List his discourse of war, and you shall hear
A fearful battle render'd you in music:


I read "you," "you," "you," and "you." No thou or thee. Now tragedy and Romeo and Juliet. Here's some text from Act I, Scene I:

SAMPSON

No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.

GREGORY

Do you quarrel, sir?

ABRAHAM

Quarrel sir! no, sir.

SAMPSON

If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you.

Again, I see a "you," "you," "you," "you," and "you." For instance, in the line by Gregory, I don't read, "Dost thou quarrel, sir?" Not there.

This is enough of a sample size for me to see that Elizabethans didn't talk and then Shakespeare most often did not write like the English we read in the King James Version. And the works that I chose were written before the King James Version was written. They are more ancient English than the King James.You will read that what you are reading in the King James is Elizabethan English. Someone wrote: "The King James Version was produced in the Elizabethan period of Early Modern English, and so it uses forms of the verbs and pronouns that were characteristic of that period." When you read Shakespeare, you are reading Elizabethan English and you do not read the same language as the King James Version. So the above quote is not true.

This didn't take deep research and study. We can know this kind of information very easily. We have no reason to be ignorant about it. The King James translators didn't write words like "dost" and "thy" and "thou" and "taketh" because that is how people spoke at that time. For the most part, they didn't. So what is the King James Version style all about? What were the King James translators trying to do? I believe that Steven Houck gets it right and says it as well as I would want to say it when he writes these four paragraphs:

They were so concerned about it that they even took over the very phraseology of the Hebrew and Greek. We find in our Bibles, all kinds of Hebrew expressions and concepts that are not natural to the English way of speaking. In fact, it can even be said that the English of the King James Version is not the English of the 17th century, nor of any century. It is an English that is unique, for it is Biblical English-an English formed by the Hebrew and Greek of the Bible. It is Biblical English because the translators were more interested in being faithful to the originals than in making their translation in the street language of the day, as do translators today.

That they sought an accurate translation is further indicated by the fact that they italicized every word that did not have a corresponding word in the original. How many modern Bible versions do that? Moreover, to insure the fact that the reader understands the meaning of certain original words, they added 4,223 marginal notes that gave the literal meaning of the original words, and 2,738 notes with alternate translations. The result is that in the King James Version we have an accurate translation that puts the others to shame.


A Majestic Translation


In the third place we must note the fact that the translators gave the King James Version a majestic quality that raises it high above all other translations. They recognized God to be GOD-a God of glory and majesty. Therefore, they were careful to translate His Word in such a way that it would be filled with His majesty. That is another reason why the English of the King James Version is not the English of the 17th century. The translators deliberately chose words and phases that were no longer used in general conversation even in their day in order that they might set this book apart from all others. All you have to do is compare the language of the dedication to King James in the front of your Bible with the Bible itself and you will see the difference immediately.

Many tell us that the King James Version is no longer useful because its language has become obsolete, but what they do not realize is that its language is not a type of English that was ever spoken anywhere. Oh, it was such that the people could understand it, but it was, nevertheless, a particular language deliberately chosen to make the King James Version a version that reflects the reverence and respect which is due unto its Divine Author. In that respect, they succeeded too, for there is no version that even comes close to the beauty and majesty of the King James Version.

Our culture doesn't think like this today. I believe it is a problem when we start talking about translations that we are so obsessed with the ease for men, rather than translating the Bible in a respectful, elevating fashion out of reverence for God. We don't have that type of formal language today. Anyone interested in what I'm talking about should read John McWhorter's Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music. At the end of the first chapter McWhorter writes:

A society that cherishes the spoken over the written, whatever it gains from the warm viscerality of unadorned talk, is one that marginalizes extended, reflective argument. Spoken language, as I will show in the first chapter, is best suited to harboring easily processible chunks of information, broad lines, and emotion. To the extent that our public discourse leans ever more toward this pole, the implications for the prospect of an informed citizenry are dire. The person who only processes information beyond their immediate purview in nuggets is not educated in any meaningful sense. On the contrary, this person is indistinguishable in mental sophistication from the semiliterate Third World villager who derives all of their information about the world beyond via conversation and gossip. And a culture that marginalizes the didactic potential of written-style language in favor of the personal electricity of spoken language is one whose media becomes ever more a circus of personalities rather than a purveyor of information and guide to analysis.


As I write this, I already hear the Tyndale quote being thrown at us, that we need a Bible that even the plowboy can understand. Plowboys didn't know Latin, the language of scholarship. Tyndale wasn't saying that the Bible should be translated into plowboy rhetoric or tongue. No way. He was saying that the English needed a Bible in their own language---English.

I write this post because of major disinformation on a widespread level about the nature of the King James English. It is not Elizabethan English. When you hear that, understand that it isn't true. It was written in a kind of English especially for the Bible itself that would give us the best possible representation of Holy Scripture in the English language.

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.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

What's the Scoop on the New King James Version?

I've noticed critical/eclectic text guys wondering, if the text is really the issue, why the King James Version supporters don't support the New King James Version. It's supposed to be one of those gotcha moments. We're bumbling and fumbling, exposed as the English inspirationists or preservationists that we must be. I'm sitting here at my keyboard looking at absolutely nothing to give me a basis for my answer. So this answer is for sure what I'm thinking on this. To start, it isn't because of the text that I don't use or support the New King James Version. I don't like the New King James Version as a translation. When I think about certain aspects as to why I don't like it, I feel angry. Here's why.

1. The translators attack the King James Version.

How can you call the translation the New King James Version and attack the King James Version? Call it something else. Please. You shouldn't be the ones doing the translation if you don't like the King James Version yourselves. And don't tell me that, "yes, you do like it very much," when you don't like the translation you're doing as much as you like other versions.

2. The translators attack the text behind the King James Version.

What comes out on the footnotes is that the translators didn't even like the text behind the King James Version. Since the NKJV was done, James Price, a big man on the translation committee on the OT, has authored a huge volume attacking the King James Version. They never loved the text anyway. It is rank hypocrisy to translate from a text that you don't even believe in.

As opposed to stressing the importance of the text behind the KJV, the translators attack it. They say it is inferior and they attempt to make it look inferior. They weren't attempting to keep people connected with the KJV. They were trying to get people disconnected from it. That strategy could work in an incremental way. You start with no longer using the KJV and then you are ready to move to some other version that comes from a different text.

3. The translators do not take the historic and biblical position on the preservation of scripture.

I don't get that the preservation of scripture had anything to do with the project for the NKJ. These were not men that were seeing the text behind the KJV as authoritative, preserved apographa of God. It wasn't a belief in these particular Words that motivated these men to translate from them. They knew that others loved the Words of the King James Version. They knew that people would find an interest in something called the New King James Version.

4. How can I support the NKJV when its footnotes cast doubt on its very Words?

The footnotes take away certainty concerning the text. It's a way to get King James Version users to take a look and what they get are men telling them that they don't even have the best text of scripture. That's not what I want people thinking or supporting. I don't believe it is a scriptural position either.

5. I don't want to pad Thomas Nelson and its mainly new-evangelical and compromising translators' bank accounts.

6. The NKJV plays KJV supporters for fools.

We're supposed to think that we've got an easier addition of the KJV. And who are the men giving it to us? People who want to change the KJV. They want more than a change in the translation. They want a change in the text. And yet if we don't support it, we're some sort of double inspirationists or English preservationists. Wrong.

Next.

ADDENDUM

THE NKJV DOES NOT COME FROM THE SAME TEXT AS THE KJV

IF SOMEONE SAYS THAT, IT'S NOT TRUE

This is an announcement as far as my blog is concerned. I'm now convinced that despite saying that they used the same text as was used for the KJV, they didn't. That is a lie. They used a different text and this was pointed out very clearly by someone who commented on the blog (read comments below).

He wrote:

Jude 1:19, the LV/C text omits eautou ("themselves"), as does the NKJV.

Acts 19:39, the the NKJV follows the LV/C text in "peraiterw" instead of "peri eterwn", subtle but different.

Acts 19:9, the NKJV follows the LV/C text in omitting "tinos"

Acts 17:14, the NKJV omits "as it were" ("ws" in the Greek) and thus once again follows the LV/C text.

Acts 15:23, the NKJV follows the LV/C text in omitting "tade", or "after this manner".

Acts 10:7 the NKJV follows the LV/C text in omitting "unto Cornelius" in the first clause.

As far as I'm concerned, that lie has now been exposed. Some may say it out of ignorance, but some are flat out lying about this. The NKJV does not come from the same text as the KJV. It does not represent God's preserved Words.