I just want those reading here to know that I get, I get that evangelicals and fundamentalists want me and people like me to accept those who use a different version of the Bible. I get it. I get that they want me to accept whatever version they use within reason. I say "within reason" because they would probably be fine with my rejection of a gender inclusive version or a paraphrase or the Jehovah's Witness Bible, but they want me to accept the NASV, ESV, NIV, etc., to treat all those like they are all acceptable. If I did that, I would myself go a long ways to being accepted by those men myself. I get it.
My problem with acceptance of multiple versions is that I can't harmonize that decision with the biblical and historical position of the preservation of scripture. I try to do that. I do. But I can't. I'm open minded in the Allan Bloom kind of way. In other words, I'm willing to believe that multiple version position. I am willing to work it around in my mouth, tasting it, before swallowing it. But I can't swallow. It isn't biblical, so it isn't faith and it doesn't please God. Swallowing it contradicts a Christian or biblical worldview, contradicts God, contradicts biblical doctrine, and sets us up for a slide away from the truth.
On the other hand, I don't think evangelicalism and fundamentalism are open minded. I believe they have been affected by wrong views of unity and toleration and, therefore, the truth. The truth to them is wide-ranging, cobbled together differences, agreeing to disagree, and that is constantly morphing. It's why we have same-sex marriage today, because not even the church will stand in a way that would stop that. I skimmed Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind, written in 1987, and I see the problem he addressed in evangelicalism and fundamentalism themselves, which are ruined vehicles for transporting the truth to another generation. They have closed their minds, because they refuse to swallow what they know is the truth.
I looked at Kevin Schaal's article in Frontline, introducing the preservation and version issue in that edition. He starts by saying that the first distinctive of Baptists is Bible sole authority. He says we cannot hold something that the Bible does not teach. I understand what he is saying. We can take only a position on preservation and the versions that the Bible teaches, no more or no less. That's what I want. Read Schaal's article. He mentions inspiration, preservation, and translation. He is fine on inspiration there.
And then he gets to preservation. Read it with an open mind, which includes a critical eye, but with the willingness to swallow, not just mull on it. I couldn't swallow. Why? The first line he writes, "The Bible also claims that God will preserve His book (Ps. 119:152; Isa. 40:8; Matt. 5:17, 18; 24:35; and others)." What's wrong with that? Schaal is different in that sentence than he was about inspiration. Guys like Schaal will hold fast exactly to what the text says on inspiration, gleaning it all, fleshing it all out, and then they fudge on preservation. They say something like he does in the second sentence, "Individuals may exegete these passages differently, but most if not all Bible believers affirm the fact of the providential preservation of Scripture." Why doesn't he say about inspiration, "Individuals may exegete these passages differently"? Why not? He's not going to fudge on inspiration, because that is a hypothetical text to him, not exactly what he holds in his hands.
So Schaal says, "preserve His book." "His book." When you look at those verses within the parenthesis, they read more like the inspiration passages: testimonies, words, jots and tittles. Not "book." Inspiration? He inspires words, not the book. Then we get to preservation and we get more ambiguous and fuzzy to make room for multiple positions. Just admit it! We are already not allowing the Bible to guide us. In other words, we're not letting the Bible be our final, sole, and infallible authority. Not anymore. And men are good with that, because they want the position that Schaal will end with, one that allows for their position on the text, on versions, on truth itself to exist. It is a position that will end in total apostasy. We are headed there.
Read Schaal's paragraph on inspiration and then the one on preservation. Notice how doctrinal and how exegetical and how textual he is on inspiration. Notice how he doesn't do any of that kind of work with the preservation passages that he lists. He has one line really, and then immediately he moves to his opinion and with italics. "Nevertheless, the Bible makes no statement about the particular method of its preservation; neither does it give guidelines for its transcription." That statement is not true. It is not. It is blatantly untrue. Evangelicals and fundamentalists close their minds to what the Bible says about its own preservation.
And then Schaal writes the following in the second and last paragraph on what he says is "preservation": "The debate over New Testament and Old Testament texts is beneficial as we seek to identify the most accurate texts." That is self contradictory to everything he wrote before. He says the Bible does not teach the method of preservation, but he says the method of debating over the texts is beneficial. And then he says we are "seek[ing] to identify the most accurate texts." That says scripture is not preserved. We don't know what the words are. We are not sure, and that is still an ongoing process that will be benefited through debate. Why debate? And if we are still seeking the texts, what does preservation mean? What is this "preserve His book" that Schaal talks about? Is it that we still have the book called the Bible, but we don't have the words? Is that what the final authority tells us?
I'm happy that Frontline is even considering the idea of thinking about preservation. They don't do it in this magazine edition, but they indicate that people should consider the idea of thinking about it (yes, I know that is highly qualitative with multiple qualifiers, leaving room for not thinking). In the meantime, however, accept all the good versions of the Bible, whatever those might be, while who-knows-who sorts this out. This is not an example of how to handle a Bible doctrine.
For those who like this position that any number of Bible versions and texts and so forth are good and that's the superior way of handling this, have a good time with that. Enjoy trying to convince people that the Bible is an authority. And when I say that, I don't believe in preservation so that I will have an authority. I believe in preservation. However, if you don't believe in it, you won't have that authority. And that is why we are sliding, my friend, and will continue to.