Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Theistic or Divine Correction to the Man-Centered Trajectory of Modern Bibliology

Man has a rebellion problem. He wants charge of everything or anything in defiance of Divine rule. God is a Spirit. And since men can't see Him, they very often act as though He either doesn't exist or He is relatively uninvolved in what He created. We know from what He inspired, the Bible, that neither of these are true.

The dominance of Christianity of various degrees of orthodoxy shaped the imaginations and therefore the perspectives of men after and even before the printing press and then previous to the Enlightenment. Men saw through their imaginations the unseen hand of God. God was working. God was doing His will. God was operative in causation of events and outcomes, even if there was little to no human reasoning. God was the explanation for what and why things happened. Both bad and good related to God.

That pre-Enlightenment culture related everything to God and saw the world through a Divine prism that was reflected in its art, its music, its architecture, its government, and more. Those people saw kings as having authority from God and yet receiving a Divinely formed consent from their subjects according to God ordained inalienable rights. A major fire was a work of God. A loss in battle was a lesson from God. A child was a gift from God.

Some today call those of this era of such transcendent sentiment to be superstitious. They defined themselves according to their view of God. They explained occurrences relative to God. This way of thinking is even seen in the writings of that time's theologians and preachers. There was more God-centeredness in their theology than there is today. They could believe that God was doing what He said He would do even when they didn't have the "facts" to back it up. The proclivity of that day was assuming the teaching was true without other "objective" criteria to back it up.

We live in different times post-Enlightenment. Man became the measure in men's perspective. Now we allow the "evidence" to lead us to the truth and we're not honest unless we believe the "facts." A seven twenty-four hour day creation, yes, but then enters science, and then no. God preserved every jot and tittle, inerrancy in the apographa, then enters textual criticism. That now couldn't mean what God said. Now it's only superstition, a lack of objectivity. Unless I can feast my eyes on a hand-written manuscript, unless I can put my own fingers in those wounds in His side, I won't believe. My new doctrine must agree with what I can see.

The change in perspective, outlook, and point of view overall in culture influenced bibliology. The Westminster divines had doctrinal certainty about the preservation of Scripture and therefore textual certainty. Today's "textual scholars" act as though they were the first ones to discover differences in hand-written manuscripts. They are the first to be truly "honest with textual evidence," not allowing any theological presuppositions to cloud their understanding of the text of Scripture. This is the new, post-Enlightenment, "objective," modernistic interpretation of the "facts."

The Westminster divines and those like them came to hand copies shaped by a transcendent view of everything. God said He would preserve to the jot and tittle, so He must have done so. And that's the position they took. That's the view that believers took. It wasn't until after the Enlightenment that another view even came along.

Instead of being guided by the doctrine of preservation, theologians are led by what they call the facts. William Combs, professor at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote the following with regards to Matthew 5:17-18:

I wonder how it could be anything else but hyperbole? Taken literally, it would seem to demand perfect preservation, which, of course, the evidence flatly refutes.

Matthew 5:17-18 can't mean what it says it means. It must be hyperbole. Why? The evidence refutes it. "It would seem to demand perfect preservation." Yes. I wag my head. This demonstrates a post-Enlightenment, modernistic imagination with relations to bibliology. He can't envision God doing what He said He would do. And when he says "evidence," he doesn't mean the verses of Scripture, but the "science" of textual criticism.

How would transcendent thought correct his imagination? Matthew 5:17-18 does mean what it says it means. It isn't hyperbole. There is no grammatical reason to think so. The text will fulfill its theological presuppositions, because God does not deny Himself.

Just recently on his Dividing Line internet program, James White displayed this same lack of faith in God during questioning from a caller to his show, Will Kinney**. Here's a transcription of the beginning of their conversation (one which started at 17:30 and ended at 29:55 in the embedded youtube video below):

Will Kinney**: First question though, you never answer this: do you believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God?

James White: Of course I do.

Will Kinney: What are you referring to when you say that?

James White: Uh, what God gave us when He inspired the Bible.

Will Kinney: So in other words, the originals only.

James White: Uuuum.....that's what's inspired, yes, God's writings, yes. Uh-huh.

Will Kinney: But do you, sah, you used a present tense verb, the Bible is, you said you believe, the Bible is...

James White: Yes, I believe God has preserved His word for us, yes.

Will Kinney: Do we have the originals, sir?

James White: No, we do not, of course not.

Will Kinney: So then what are you referring to when you say the Bible is the inerrant Word of God?

James White: Well, for a man who says he has read my book four or five times, it's shocking to me that you wouldn't know what I mean.

Will Kinney: You....(interrupted by White)

James White: I explained it! I explained....

Will Kinney: You're talking around the issue, you're not answering the question.

James White: Mr. Kinney, Mr. Kinney....Um, everyone on the audience right now, has, knows that I have refuted your allegations and that you have acted in a....

Will Kinney: That's in your own mind, sir.

James White: acted in a very boorish manner, so that if you'd like to have a conversation, we can do that.

Will Kinney: You won't answer the question.
I can understand the discomfort James White has with the question, unwilling to answer, because that answer, guided by human reasoning, would clash with a biblical and historical presentation of the perfect preservation of Scripture. It's a simple question with a simple answer if shaped by a pre-Enlightenment belief in Divine providence. But White cannot any longer allow biblical presuppositions to lead him to a conclusion. He is a man of his times.

Pre-Enlightenment theologians would have an answer: the text received by the churches. A perfect text, because God inspired and then preserved a perfect text. God the Spirit would point to a text. It would be the one. They would not stagger in unbelief because their God works unseen to fulfill what He promised.

+++++++++++++++
**I don't know whether Will Kinney takes an English preservationist position or not. I haven't read his materials. And he never says in this dialogue with James White. That is not the biblical or historic doctrine of preservation, which is original language preservation, the doctrine held by believers before the Enlightenment, if it is in fact the position Kinney holds. However, one can see his dialogue here is guided by a theological presupposition.

20 comments:

1611 said...

James White sounds like an evangelical Richard Dawkins in his sarcasm and appeal to 'anyone with a rational thought'. That's just classic Dawkins and White doesn't even have the cool british accent to make it sound substantive. Anyway, what books would you recommend for study on the issue of preservation? My email is Greg1611 at msn dot com if you'd rather send me something directly that's fine. Please include yours as I want to get a copy if it's still available. Thanks for your help. God bless, Greg

Kent Brandenburg said...

Greg,

I wanted to be sure that your email couldn't be spammed, so I reprinted your comment with the slight change to email address. The tone of James White should shut anyone up who makes tone an issue, which are many. Kinney speaks in a normal, calm voice. And I don't need to describe White's tone; it's obvious. And that is typical James White. If his position was strong and right, he doesn't need to talk that way.

d4v34x said...

I don't see anywhere in the WCF that specifies a specific Greek text, and being published(?) only 35 years after 1611, I don't think it's fair at all for one to assert that the Westminster Divines approved of one particular greek text, much less held a TSKT style doctrine of preservation.

Kent Brandenburg said...

D4,

Have you read the writings of the Westminster divines? It would seem you have based on how you commented here. But I have read them, and they did take a bibliological position identical to TSKT. There was only one text, the TR, that was received. I know the next question, which TR, but that was settled with the acceptance of the KJV. TSKT 2 will show this, but read my writings here and at Jackhammer on this issue. I have a lot of history, which is what PS was criticizing me for in the comments of my last post.

Besides that, do you understand the difference in the pre-Enlightenment bibliological mindset?

d4v34x said...

Your source cites the WCF not the Divines. If you have the quotes from the Westminster Divines where they expressly state they receive the TR as the only preserved text, I'd think you would use them rather than a PRC source that says the WCF goes farther than it does.

As far as I've read here, you've never posted a "smoking gun" quote from the WDs.

As for your last question, yes but probably not as well as you or, say, Bauder.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi D4,

The divines wrote the WCF, so this is a bit like exegeting the WCF, how would the authors understood what they were writing? They understood it according to how they wrote, like original intent of constitution, we read the founding fathers. The TR was the only text, so we can assume it was the text they talked about. Have you read TSKT? Because TSKT does not attempt to prove the TR per se. We show how the TR fits the model in the addendum. The divines wouldn't have attempted that because it wasn't necessary. Everybody accepted the TR as the preserved Word of God. That is the smoking gun. By the way, the "scholars" say the same thing. This is not a new revelation, although fundamentalists won't admit it because they are concerned about what people thought after fundamentalism, as if all history started with the fundamentals.

Thanks.

d4v34x said...

Why would I read TSKT when I can read What Is Truth and get it all straight from you? :)

The TR was not one uniform thing, so they dealt with variants somehow.

Where are the pre 1875-1900historical writings that expressly affirm that the reception of the KJV solidified which was the true TR? Are there any? Or does that bit only go back a hundred years or so as well?

Kent Brandenburg said...

d4,

This is a good little discussion. These are forms of the most common questions, but asked in a little different way than normal.

TSKT is a biblical theology and I haven't written anything close to it here, because it already exists. You would probably be surprised at how different it is than any other book on the issue.

Textually it was uniform. There were variants, but so few that it would be considered to be no variation. And where there was variation, the divines talked about how they were to be dealt with. And they concluded a perfect text and it is based on divine providence and the agreement of God's confessing people. The Holy Spirit will guide to His own words.

Saying they didn't settle opens the door for the critical text, eclecticism, B and Aleph, huge variations, no settled text, all of which would be contradicted by those men and their beliefs.

They weren't arguing about what the Bible was. That was settled. The TR was a uniform text with minor variations. An incorrect variant would be corrected by another text, but the Spirit would settle it through God's confessing people. The dividing point for me is, does someone even believe in a perfect text? That's the historic belief, inerrancy in the apographa. The new inerrancy in the original manuscripts is the new post-Enlightenment position.

The KJV came from the TR and that became the Bible for God's people. English, yes, but look at where confessing Christianity was. And what other Bible comes from the TR? None. Not even the NKJV, but that is a moot point. They received that text before Erasmus, who possessed manuscripts of an already accepted text, and continued receiving it. The change in position resulted from a different mindset without the same moral imagination.

This is a position that says let the theological presuppositions guide, not the so-called facts, elevating the facts above God.

Charles E. Whisnant said...

First question though, you never answer this: do you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God?

Simple answer: The Bible was (past tense) inspired by God giving to the writers of the Bible. And so written as to be perfectly given by God.

The current translations we have today is just that a translation.

The men who translate the translations, are not inspired nor did God giving them the words like he gave the writers of the Bible.

While I have taught out of the KJV for 45 years, I understanding it only to be a great and wonderful, and beautiful translation. I, by no means believe it to be as perfect as was the books that was written by the writers of the Bible.

If God can use us sinners and imperfect preachers to teach His word, I bet God can use any translation to bring His elect to salvation.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Charles.

James White isn't answering at that point a KJV or translation question. He is asking if the Bible IS inspired not WAS. When he said "yes" to IS he left himself open to further questioning. I think they are good questions, not "set-ups" as others have said elsewhere.

It is reasonable to ask what White means by "IS," but he didn't want to answer that because it would contradict what he originally said. "IS" yes, but then "IS" no actually.

"IS" doesn't have to refer to a translation, but if not, what does it refer to. White won't say, in part because it is a hypothetical Bible to which he refers. It doesn't actually exist anywhere in the real world, which doesn't seem to fit what the Bible itself says about the Bible.

Thanks.

Damien said...

Hello again!

"The Westminster divines and those like them came to hand copies shaped by a transcendent view of everything. God said He would preserve to the jot and tittle, so He must have done so. And that's the position they took. That's the view that believers took. It wasn't until after the Enlightenment that another view even came along."

This is a pretty simplistic view of history, no? I am wondering if you can point me to some preWCF folk who considered "jot and tittle" to mean "perfect preservation of the text." I also wonder if there were other views out there besides the one you espouse.

Furthermore, do we not all use evidence to arrive at our conclusions? If it were so easy to say "the church received this, so this is the one," then why not the Vulgate? Why do you reject the apocrypha but accept the 66? Do you affirm the ecumenical councils and creeds, or pick and choose which ones based on your own interpretation? I think it's obvious we're looking at evidence, whether that evidence be critical, logical, historical, or exegetical, to arrive at our conclusions. Things aren't so cut and dry. I wonder if the paradigm you present here is compatible with a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox perspective.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Damien,

It is kind of simplistic isn't it. The right answer is often simple, so the not many noble who are the called could even understand. We've gotten much smarter and more complicated post-Enlightenment. We like it difficult. It makes us look smarter.

I think you know enough about history for you to know. Catholicism essentially controlled the information until 1500. That doesn't, of course, mean there weren't independents around up to 1500. There just isn't much written history period. There isn't even very much of the history of the English speaking people period until Alfred.

Do you count Catholicism as a true church? I don't. Without the Holy Spirit there, you aren't getting guidance. So what did saved people say? We read that after the printing press. Not that they weren't around, just not publishing anything, running for their lives.

Even your side, Aland, says that the TR was accepted BEFORE Erasmus. The Holy Spirit was testifying to these men. The questions you ask are good. Why do I accept the 66 and not the apocrypha? Because believers rejected the apocrypha. They did recieve the text behind the KJV, the textus receptus.

It's easy to understand the Roman influence over Catholicism, and then the Latin, the acceptance of a Latin version. But Catholicism was an apostate church. That is simple for me, as it was for the divines.

Read what I've written on this at Jackhammer and here and I have a ton of history.

Good seeing you.

d4v34x said...

Actually Kinney's first question, if you go back and listen, is do you believe the Bible is the innerrant Word of God.

PSFerguson said...

There is a lot of historical ignorance about the WCF. The WCF Divines used the term "authentical text" to describe the TR as a counterpoint to the Roman Church who posited at the Council of Trent that the Vulgate Text based on the Critical Text was the authentic text.

I listed source after source in a paper I did on this subject:

http://www.febc.edu.sg/BBVol15_2b.htm

The evidence for the WCF's belief in the TR over the CT was their selection of so-called TR readings in their Confessional documents such as 1 John 5:7, the ending of the Lord's Prayer etc.

1611 said...

PSFerguson:
Thanks for the reference to your paper...I read the conclusion and it gripped me, I've printed off so I can read later. Does anyone have a top 5 list of books on preservation? (for or against a KJV position)

I plan on reading:
1)E.F.Hills "King James Version Defended", 2)Thomas Holland "Crowned with Glory, 3)James White "The King James Only Controversy" 4)Pastor Brandenberg's work (brother can you direct me to where your book is available?

Anyone have any other strong recommendations?? God bless you guys!

Will Kinney said...

Hi saints. Thank you for posting your comments about the "discussion" I had with James White on his Dividing Line program. It is almost impossible to have a conversation when Mr. White keeps interrupting and dodging the issue of his "inerrant Bible". I did a follow up tape on our "chat". Mr. White has blocked me from his Facebook alpha and omega page, but another brother put up the link. I didn't even last a day and they took it down. But here is my response to his radio program and the points he brings up. I was incorrect about one thing though. The Alexandrian text John Gill refers to is probably codex Alexandrinus, not Vaticanus. Here is my response-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvGX772hOno&list=PL16B2149EE5E54979&index=19

"Accepted in the Beloved" - Eph. 1:6

Will Kinney

Kent Brandenburg said...

1611,

Two ways to get the book. Order it through paypal over at the sidebar of this blog. Or go to Amazon and order it there. Thanks!

Will,

I'll go over and look at your debrief.

Liam O'Brian said...

Greg,

I would recommend "Preserving the Preserved Word" by Dr. O. Talmadge Spence. I would also recommend that you contact Dr. Mark Cowles, pastor of Highway Bible Church in Placerville whose extra-biblical studies have been in ancient churh history, and can give a tremendous exposition of where the Gnostics quoted from the CT while true Christians used the TR.

Damien said...

Yes, well by "simplistic" you know what I mean.

So your time frame for pre-englightenment is even smaller than I originally thought. You're looking for evidence (for the non-KJVonly side) between 1500 and 1750ish.

1611 said...

Thank you Liam, I'll track down both the sources you provided.