Monday, August 31, 2015

The Meaning of the Word Church According to ReligiousAffections.Org (RA) will help you discern. You should read the works by Scott Aniol, its president.  I recommend the site and most of the work done by its contributors.  It doesn't surprise me that it differs on the nature of or definition of the church, but in light of the purpose of RA, it intrigues me that it posted on the meaning of the word "church."  I want to review what Pastor David Huffstutler has written there in an article entitled, "The Meaning of the Word Church and What It Means for Us Today."

I want to evaluate the linked article for two main reasons.  First, Huffstutler presents a defense of the universal church and I want to investigate the scriptural premises provided, whether they prove his assertion.  Second, I want to diagnose the effect of the content or theology of the post on the religious affections of professing believers.

My experience with those who write about a universal church is that they assume what they don't and can't prove.  A first assumption comes in the first paragraph, last line, "Ekklesia. . ., as applied to believers in the present age, . . . refers to people who have been called out of this dying world to be part of the church, the body of Christ."  Not one verse in the Bible makes that point.  I wouldn't even call it speculation, because it's made up.  I would be happy to admit it if it were true, but it reads something into the Bible that isn't there.  One should not assume ekklesia, which means "assembly" and is used in that way exclusively, is an unassembled thing and never in time will be an assembled thing.

Hufstutler says that ekklesia is used four ways in the New Testament, two of which are never assembled and belie the meaning of the word.  The first is its usage as an assembly other than the institution Christ founded, four times in the New Testament.  The nature of ekklesia is still an assembly, a point Hufstutler should have mentioned in a post about the meaning of church.  These referenced usages key an understanding of the word, a group of people assembled for a particular purpose, how people would have understood it in that day.

The second usage for ekklesia Huffstutler says is "the universal church," terminology absent from the Bible even in descriptors.  You can't locate that universal idea anywhere, which should be tell-tale. He lists three references to prove that usage.  His fourth usage is closely related, what he calls "the entire church on earth at a given point in time."  He uses four New Testament references to buttress that point.  He briefly cites a second usage, "local church," not mentioning that of the 115 and more usages of ekklesia, the majority speak of particular churches.  Obviously, when ekklesia is used in the plural, those are assemblies and then when it is connected to a locale, it is again, an assembly there.

What some might call the more ambiguous usages of ekklesia are nothing more than generic singular nouns, referring to the church as an institution.  If you are not talking about a particular church, that doesn't change the meaning of the word "church."  A church is local only, because it is an assembly, and assemblies are always local.  There can't be a universal church.

Huffstutler's first proof text is "Ephesians 1:22-32."  There is no Ephesians 1:24-32, but guessing he meant Ephesians 1:22-23, you don't have a basis for believing that "church" in Ephesians 1 means "all believers."  There are only two grammatical usages of the singular noun in language, a particular or a generic.  It is true that there is only one church, the church, and it is local only.  Jesus is the Head of the church.  If I answer the phone, it doesn't mean that I'm answering a universal, mystical phone. That doctrine would need to be established somewhere in order to assume it some place.  If it hasn't, then we should assume that it is a generic use of the singular noun, what it would always be unless otherwise communicated, which it isn't.

Next Hufstuttler uses 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 to say “all the members of the body… baptized into one body,” proving a universal church.  What is "the body?"  If it is all believers, then Paul excludes himself later in the chapter, when he writes in verse 27, "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."  Paul says the church at Corinth is "the body of Christ," excluding himself from what he calls "the body of Christ."  That alone clinches the argument that the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12 is local only -- or else Paul wasn't a Christian.

The point of "one body" in 1 Corinthians 12:13 is not that there is numerically one in the entire universe, but that the body is unified where it is.  1 Corinthians teaches the unity and then diversity of a church.  Plural diversity becomes part of singular unity.  One body, many body parts.  One is not numeric one, but the oneness of each body.  That is clear through the teaching in the chapter and similar references are found all through the New Testament, like Philippians 1:27, "ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."  "One body" in 1 Corinthians 12:13 doesn't mean numeric one any more than "one spirit" and "one mind" are numeric one in Philippians 1:27.

Then Hufstuttler references Ephesians 5:25 as a usage of the "universal church":  "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it."   Two verses earlier, Paul writes, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church."  To be consistent, if "the church" is universal and invisible, then "the husband" and "the wife" both need to be universal and invisible too.  "The husband" is a generic singular noun.  "The church" is a generic singular noun.  It is not talking about a particular husband or a particular church, but in both cases, the meaning of the word doesn't change.

Christ gave Himself for "the church," but Paul also writes in Galatians 2:20 that He "gave himself for me."  Did Christ give Himself only for Paul?  We can't assume that Christ's giving Himself for the church means that the church is all believers.  And if "the church" is universal in verse 25, then "the husband" and "the wife" must be in verse 23.

Regarding the usage of 1 Corinthians 15:9 and Galatians 1:13, identical usage, at the time Paul persecuted the church, there was only one church that we know of.  Believers had been scattered, but there was only the church of Jerusalem.  Even if there were another church besides at Jerusalem, Paul was persecuting Christ's assembly, His institution.  It is either particular or generic.

1 Corinthians 7:17 doesn't prove a universal church, when Paul writes, "And so ordain I in all churches," and in 1 Corinthians 14:33, "in all churches of the saints."  Why would Paul write "churches of the saints" if "the church" means "the saints"?  That proves the opposite of what Huffstutler is writing.  According to his proposed belief, Paul would be saying, "churches of the church," but he doesn't.  "Churches" and "the saints" are not identical like Hufstuttler himself is asserting, and this is seen in the text he references.  He's seeing something there that isn't there because of his predispositions.  He's not getting his teaching from the text, but reading into it.

Huffstutler asserts the universal church teaching to get to a particular point of application in the last two paragraphs:

Theoretically, if all the true, local churches indeed belong together as the one church and body of Christ, we should be able to perfectly get along. Unfortunately, there is great divide in understanding many important passages in Scripture, which has led to scores of denominations today. The choice one is left with is to limit one’s message and increase their connections or to decrease their connections but have a high level of commonality with others by means of a confession. For the sake of practicality in relating to others and in accord with my own doctrinal convictions, I encourage opting for the latter of the two.

For those who are truly our fellow Christians, we should strive to have what level of fellowship we can. And for those who are sister churches in both cardinal doctrines and distinctives, we should strive for fellowship all the more.

The application of his universal church teaching contradicts his universal church assumption.  If the church really is universal, he says that all the churches should get along.  He's right.  The Bible doesn't teach unity among all believers.  When Paul says there should be no schism in the body, he's saying there should be no schism in a particular church.  The unity taught in scripture is in individual churches.  Each church can have it.  It isn't "theoretical," but real.  Huffstutler treats the very unity of scripture as theoretical, as though it is no more than an ideal.

As a result of Huffstutler's wrong understanding of the nature of the church, he is obviously struggling with an application.  It's impossible, so he resorts to calling the unity required in the New Testament as theoretical (if you want a non-theoretical teaching, showing what the Bible says, buy and read A Pure Church), like most of the rest of fundamentalism and evangelicalism.  The Bible is not like this in any doctrine and practice.  It doesn't offer a theoretical, impossible teaching.  Evangelicals and fundamentalists are constantly looking for the sweet spot between separation and unity in article after article after article.  They assume that you have to give a little on both unity and separation and never have biblical unity or biblical separation, but settle for a compromise between the two.  The debate and argument and articles are about where the proper line or balance is.

The idea of a "level of fellowship" isn't taught in the Bible.  The idea of "cardinal doctrines and distinctives" isn't taught.  Fellowship is like what occurs between the Father and the Son (John 17).  This isn't theoretical.  It's real.  Much of the New Testament tells us how to have that fellowship.  The assumption of the New Testament isn't that you can't have it.  Huffstutler thinks it's theoretical, because what he's teaching about the church is wrong.  The New Testament works.  If it isn't working, you aren't getting it right.  This is foundational to the only view of truth and a Christian worldview, which brings me to the application to religious affections themselves. can never and will never protect religious affections with the wrong ecclesiology.  Scott Aniol and his fellows there don't separate from an apostasy of religious affections.  They just talk about religious affections.  They exhort.  They warn.  They do not separate.  God separated the culture outside the ark from the inside.  He didn't leave it muddled.  God expected Israel to separate from outside culture.  The only way to preserve the right way is to separate from the wrong way.  This theoretical unity and separation will never get it done.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Lie of Two Worlds, pt. 2

Earlier today, I linked to a sermon I had preached on coming to positions.  Still go there and listen to that.

Some of you might recognize this "two worlds" language as Christian worldview talk, and you would be right on that.  Only one thing ever happens, not two.  I don't both do what I did and what I want people to think that I did.  If you come along writing in the sand, it wasn't caused by waves.  Someone wrote it, and the person who wrote it is the one who wrote it.  There are not two options there, depending on what you feel it to be or want it to be.

We live in an age in which your position is more authentic, because its yours, even if it didn't happen. Things that didn't happen can't be authentic.  Only real things can be authentic.  Only one real thing happens.  I understand that there are different interpretations of what happened, but still only one thing happened.

We can speculate on the motives of someone in the present and in history, but a person's motive is his motive.  God knows what that is.  There isn't more than what his motive was.  Only one thing happened too regarding motivation.  Someone could have a certain motivation and later say that it was a different, better sounding one.  God knows.  The only authentic motivation was the one the person actually had.

Things also work only the way God has designed, upheld, and allowed them to work.  Whether they really work is also determined by God.  Someone may say they work, but God is the final judge on whether that's true.  For years, many people could say that something was great and really worked, and wasn't that tremendous, when actually it was very bad and didn't really work, except toward the bad.  God knows.  For instance, someone could have been very successful previous to the flood and then didn't get on the ark.  The fact that he wasn't on Noah's ark meant that he wasn't successful.  His life was a failure, even if the story was that he was successful.  He failed.

I can have a James White say that I'm the biggest dufus, the biggest moron, the all time dud of all history, and actually not be that person.  He could also be right, but it can't be two ways.  There isn't a world where I'm very fine and a world where I'm horrible on what James White is speaking.  Phil Johnson can say that the experience of White with me is purgatory, when it could be that James White is really purgatory and I'm just pointing out that he is wrong.

James White and I, for instance, take different positions.  I say that, based upon the Bible, we know what the words of scripture are.  We've had them in every generation available and they are settled. James White comes along and says that's not true and gives his reasons.  Our two positions could be both right in our two worlds, except that there is only one world.  There aren't two worlds.  Neither is there a position that is the best of both worlds.  There is only one world.  When there is a contradiction, the positions both can't be right.  They could both be wrong, but there is a position that is right that God knows is right.  It's a lie to say there are two worlds on this.

It is true that people can live in their own world that doesn't exist.  They live it in their imagination, and like Paul says, that needs to be pulled down with a spiritual weapon, namely scripture.  Scripture can eliminate the fantasy world and it should.  The only world left is the real one, which is the one that lines up with the Bible.

Evangelicals and most fundamentalists today give credit to a fantasy world.  Amillennialism represents a fantasy world.  It's sheer fiction.  We don't do better to justify it by ignoring it and having communion anyway.  This makes room for a world that doesn't exist.

Conservative evangelicals act like there is one truth.  They trumpet that.  They tell you that they think that.  And yet, they behave as though there is more than one.  They act like there are several worlds that exist in which you can live.  They say, well, those things will just be sorted out in heaven, and we're going to ignore them now in the only real world in which we live.  They should repudiate the false and separate from it, rather than giving people the impression that there are gradations of reality.

There might be more to come.

How to Come to Positions on Issues

I might be coming back to write a second part of the series on the lie of two worlds, but we had recently uploaded a sermon I preached or taught on a Wednesday night in July of 2012 on how to come to positions, actual title -- How To Come to Positions on Issues Scripturally and Obediently.  It would be worth listening to understand what is wrong with the approach of James White on issues and others in conservative evangelicalism.  You can get it by clicking here.  It's only 41 minutes.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Lie of Two Worlds

You've heard the expression, the best of both worlds.  As an expression, it doesn't need to be wrong, because someone can live in the country close to the city and enjoy the best of both.  I get that. Almost everyone in the world though acts like there are really two worlds.  There is the world they live in, which is acceptable, albeit not real, but fictitious, and then another world, the biblical world, which is actually the only world,  To them the real world is a kind of ideal world, an impossible one and, therefore, not required.  They choose to live in a fantasy world.  They do.  God is still going to judge them for what they do in His world, the real one, the only one.  He's not going to judge them based upon how they operate in their own fictitious world.

What happens, of course, is that people have to alter the truth about God Himself, invent a new god, who does accept their fictitious world, and inhabits that world in their imaginations.  He's fine with them.  The problem is, it's not Him, this one they've made up.  The one judging their fictitious world is a false God.  At some point this all breaks down into false worship, because they are not worshiping the one and true God.  There is no such thing as a brain in a vat, but they are living like they are brains in vats, projecting on this world the one in which they live, which doesn't happen to be the one in which they live.  They're only living it in their brain.

From the perspective of the world, there is the world of engineering that builds bridges and skyscrapers according to certain laws that it cannot transgress without consequences.  Then there is the world of their own morality that can infringe many other natural laws that are as concrete and inviolable as the laws of physics adjudicating the construction of infrastructure.  However anyone argues, he is assuming laws of logic that exist to the same degree that man is separated from God because of his sin.  There are not two worlds, but the world lives like there are.

I've been thinking of this two world thought for awhile, but what brought it to my mind is especially when I have seen it all over in evangelicalism and in fundamentalism.  Let me give you an example that I observed recently.  A segment of evangelicalism says they believe in complementarianism and eschew egalitarianism.  They write books about it.  I would like to take them at their word in those instances.  I'm very happy that they would want to support in writing male headship of a home and distinct roles for the man and the woman.

Sometimes in the real world, the only world, male headship does clash with evangelical church growth philosophy or technique.  Other times it contradicts their views of the church and of unity.  To make this all work with everything they might want to allow, they right on the spot spontaneously invent their own version of complementarianism that looks just like egalitarianism.

There is a fairly conservative, evangelical Christian talk show host(ess), Janet Mefferd, who got more famous at one time when she attacked the cussing former pastor, Mark Driscoll, because of plagiarism in one of his books among other things.  She got big time support for her putting it to Driscoll again and again.  Several conservative evangelicals fawn over her pounding of Driscoll and treat her like fans for this kind of application of her gender role.  It's not intended for a woman, but she gets a pass because of her position.  Is this right or even appropriate?

Driscoll deserves negative exposure and repudiation, but do complementarians support this being done by a woman?  Do we need a woman to do it?  Should a women be encouraged to do it or even be placed in a position to do it?  How can an evangelical support complementarianism on the one hand and then cheer her role reversing behavior on the other?  This occurs again and again in evangelicalism, because they have capitulated to their own world, even conservative ones.  Conservatism itself has chosen to do this too.  Rejecting two worlds is at the heart of conservatism, but yet accepting various editions of world has begun to characterize it.

The encouragement of egalitarianism is a small example that is very much on the ground that anyone can see day by day.  Conservative evangelical men, who say they are complementarian, essentially act egalitarian or encourage it.  They are supposed to be giving a clear presentation of the only world, God's world, to everyone, and yet they don't because they have sunk to the fantasy, the fictitious.  The real world isn't egalitarian even if real people construct that fiction in their fake worlds.  Same sex marriage is a mirage.  They swear it.  That's true too. One egalitarian mirage should not accompany another though if we live in just one world. And yet, they give in again and again, this just an example.

The above type of exposure I make of the two world lie brings upon me the wrath and disdain of conservative evangelicals, as seen in this tweet by Phil Johnson, giving his best evidence against it.

I'm not a thing like Bob Wilkin, who preaches a false gospel in my opinion.  He is living in his own world.  However, Phil Johnson must live in mine, because it is the only one.  He can't defend his view of the world, so he just mocks me in order to poison the well.  That is enough  proof for his adherents.  Phil Johnson never gives me biblical reasons why he opposes the things I preach that he denies.  He just calls names.  This reveals the level of desperation in keeping the bridge from the only world that exists to the fantasy one he has erected in his own mind to justify its existence.  You're in trouble if you even point it out. It isn't real trouble though.  It couldn't be, because it's only trouble in their fantasy world, not in the real world that God created.


I would like add another example for those who are reading here.  I'm right now watching the google hangout as part of the Ligonier, R. C. Sproul work, with John MacArthur.  There is so much for which I'm thankful with John MacArthur.  So much of what he says is good and right.  You'll hear much helpful.  I wish people would recognize that I say that.  Very few people even in fundamentalism are as strong as him.  However, the host there asked about his relationship with R. C. Sproul.

MacArthur answered that Ligonier and Sproul invited him to a conference many years ago even though he was a premillennialist and they were so kind to him.  Later he talked about lying about choosing a president and figuring which is the best liar between them.  This is confusing to people, because isn't amillennialism a lie that peverts a third of God's holy Word?  What about the lie of infant sprinkling that might be the lie that has condemned more people to hell than any other lie?  If you don't care about the lie of amillennialism and the lie of infant sprinkling and you justify it with your fellowship, your communion, then what is lying?

Bruce Jenner is a liar, but is that a worse lie than amillennialism?  I understand that Ligonier says better things overall than Jenner would, but accepting other lies as almost commendable, at least acceptable.  You can preach against both, but can you fellowship with one of them?  Why?  This is where there are two worlds again -- the amillennial world and the premillennial world, the credo-baptism world and the paedo-baptism world.  This accommodation to two worlds influences and prepares people for the two worlds.  People just assume then that truth is relative and whatever world you want to live in is fine.

More to Come

Friday, August 21, 2015

Learn About Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and African Tribal Religions in Scholarly Christian Perspective

I have downloaded (for the right price--free!) and have recently been listening to a seminary level course on Islam, one on Hinduism, and one on Buddhism. as well as a seminar on African Traditional Religions taught by the same professor.  I had listened to a significant number of the great and highly Biblical and expository messages preached at Bethel Baptist Church, and while waiting for another batch of sermons to be uploaded and available, I went on to something else.  Knowing what people in false religions believe is very helpful in effectively evangelizing them, and listening to the lectures has strengthened me to be better equipped to preach the gospel and deal with the spiritual strongholds of those lost in the darkness of Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.  The professor who taught the courses teaches at Gordon-Conwell, so he is both very scholarly and very neo-evangelical, but, I hope, possibly a genuine born-again Christian.  I by no means unconditionally recommend everything he says in the class (for example, at one point in the Islam course, for example, he mentions that he finds dispensationalism strange, although at another point he mentions that his mother was pre-mil and pre-trib--sad), and he is more concerned about "contextualization" than I would be.  In the lectures on Hinduism he mentions that the vast majority of the congregations he works with in India are Pentecostal, for, following in the footsteps of Keswick leader and Gordon-Conwell founder A. J. Gordon, the professor rejects cessationism for continuationism.  Despite these serious doctrinal problems, much of the information is very useful.  Nor do I unconditionally recommend courses specifically on theology by the neo-evangelical organization that offers the courses.  However, I have not found anything equivalent or better by someone closer to my own theological persuasion, so I wanted to commend these specific courses to you, especially if there are significant numbers of Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists in your area.  If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we would do well to know enough about these demonic religions to be able to effectively understand and deal with them.

I have written a pamphlet to evangelize Muslims, entitled The Testimony of the Quran to the Bible, but I do not have anything specifically for Hindus or Buddhists at this time; if you are aware of something similar to my pamphlet for Muslims, please mention it in the comment section, and I will, Lord willing, evaluate whether I want to use it.  Also, if you know someone who is capable and willing to translate the Muslim pamphlet into Arabic, please feel free to get in touch with me about it. (For that matter, I would be happy to have the various evangelistic resources and other material on my website in as many languages as possible, so if you want to do any translation, are of a like mind theologically, and are capable of doing a good job, please let me know, and I can post your translation so that the world can hear the truth in as many languages as possible.)

There are commentaries on the Quran written by people in the realm of Christendom (see here, #2) (I do not know enough about their authors to tell you if he is a true Christian or not), and a translation of the Quran by a born-again Baptist from a Muslim country that does not attempt to cover up the evil and error in the Quran, like many translations made by Muslims do.  My knowledge of Arabic is very limited, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of his translation or any other translation.  I am not aware of equivalent material for the holy books of Hinduism or Buddhism.  If you are aware of useful material for reaching people in any of these false religions, feel free to discuss it below in the comments.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I'm Not Reformed: Why Not?

During one of James White's videos, he called me reformed, among many, many other careless or purposeful errors.  I said I wasn't. Then he came back in another video to "correct" it by saying he was relieved I wasn't.  OK.  So I'm not reformed or restless or unfortunately young.  Why not?  This will be short, because I want to give you less than the cliffs notes.

One, I'm Baptist.  That might rile reformed Baptists, but Baptist history is not reformed.  We never needed reformation.  I don't trace my history through the reformation.  Our doctrine was never lost.  I don't believe in that.  True churches have always been around since Christ and those are my forefathers.

Two, I take a literal interpretation of scripture, that is, I believe in premillennialism and I guess I should just say that I'm dispensationalist, which is nothing more than a structuring of what already existed, the literal interpretation of scripture.  These first two relate.  If you are Baptist, you predate the allegorical interpretation that characterized the state church or Roman Catholicism, which is also amillennialism.  I'm not going to go further here, even though I'd like to.

Three, I don't think that doctrines were lost to be found.  They weren't altogether perverted to be reformed or regained.  I'm less than reformed in that my doctrine isn't reformed, but I'm also saying that I'm more than the reformed, because my ecclesiology and eschatology are literal and historical, true to the Word of God.  I take the prophetic passages grammatically and historically.  I am not state church or never have been.

Four, I don't believe the truth was preserved in Roman Catholicism.

There it is in four reasons.  I could give more, but this really does cover it.  Now I'm teaching Hebrews in eight minutes.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Abortion Arguments

A combination of the Planned Parenthood videos and the presidential race brings some of the best anti-abortion news we've seen for a long time.  We hear candidates making very good arguments against abortion, taking some very conservative, completely scriptural positions.  While on the road yesterday, I heard the impact of this in a discussion on a PBS station.  The tide has turned on this.  A big part of it has also been the use of "science."  What the Bible says is science, but I'm saying that even those claiming to be pro-science struggle with the new emphasis against abortion.

Marco Rubio makes great arguments against abortion to Chris Cuomo on CNN, even in the case of rape and incest.  Rubio argues, of course the baby in the womb is a person, What else is it?  The only possible outcome is a person, not a dog or an elephant or anything else.  Ben Carson says that Margaret Sanger tried to eliminate black babies and that Planned Parenthood locates in black neighborhoods to cull the population.  Carly Fiorina talks about a doctor with the mother, using the ultrasound, referring to the child as a "baby."  They don't say it's a fetus.  They refer to it a baby.  The ultrasound visits have changed minds.  Prenatal surgery "saves the baby's life."  It's hard to say that anything but a person was saved through a prenatal surgery.  Ben Carson performed these.

Ray Comfort presents an argument.  If you were to destroy a skyscraper and you knew there was one person in the building, would you go ahead and destroy it?  No one would.  If there was even a slight possibility that someone was in the building, maybe hidden in some closet, would you?  No.  If it was less than 1 percent chance someone was in the building, would you still destroy it? No.  If there is one percent chance that life starts at conception, would you kill it?  Good argument.

I thought of another one.  At what point would scientists call something life if they found it on Mars? If they found it, would they kill it?  To the extent that that is life, is that in the mother's womb more life after conception?  Would they kill something that is more living than what they found on Mars?  I'm not saying they would find that on Mars, but I'm quite sure that something less than a conceived human being, they would protect, try to save.

If someone dies when his heart stops beating, is he alive when his heart starts beating?  The heart in the womb is already beating.  The Bible is against abortion.  We can go to the verses, but you can argue from morality, even natural law, the common sense, the law written in the hearts of unbelievers.  I hear this moving the argument against abortion even in this pagan society or culture like I haven't seen it in awhile.  This is good news.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Keswick is Perfectionism: A. T. Pierson and W. H. Griffith Thomas agree.

Many modern Keswick advocates deny that Keswick / Higher Life theology is a form of perfectionism.  But what do classic Keswick authors, those who themselves accepted, loved, and defended the Higher Life theology, say?  They readily confess themselves that Keswick theology is a form of perfectionism.

W. H. Griffith Thomas:

“‘Keswick’ stands for perfectionism.  I have heard that scores of times, and so have you—and it does" (Pg. 283, “The Victorious Life (I.). Bibliotheca Sacra (76:303) July 1919, 267-288).

A. T. Pierson:  

“There is one kind of sinless perfection in which every Keswick teacher believes—the sinless perfection of instantaneously and for ever renouncing every known sin.”  Pierson proves this sort of perfectionism in the following manner:  “There is no mistake in the attitude of our Lord. He says: ‘Sin no more;’ and He would not say that if He did not mean it.”  That is, God’s obligation on man and man’s ability to obey are coextensive (which is false; see here.), Pierson believes, so if God commands man not to sin, a fallen man with indwelling sin is able to be perfect; and, furthermore, “Paul preach[ed] perfect holiness,” meaning the Keswick doctrine of perfectionism.  However, other sorts of perfectionism were not accepted at Keswick, according to Pierson—only their peculiar brand was acceptable.  Other than the distinctive Keswick perfectionism, “being sinlessly perfect” is not for the “present” (pgs. 8-10, A Spiritual Clinique:  Four Bible Readings Given at Keswick in 1907, Pierson.  New York, NY:  Gospel Publishing House, 1907.  Italics in original).  During the “‘turn of the century’ era” from “1897 to 1909 . . . Dr. Pierson came to Keswick more often than any other speaker from America . . . and assumed from the first . . . a position of leadership unique in a speaker from overseas.  Again and again we read of him guiding the proceedings in times of particular moment.”  The editor of the Keswick Life of Faith periodical verified that Pierson “dominated the Convention by his spiritual and intellectual powers, and thousands hung upon his words with an intense eagerness” (pg. 405, Keswick’s Authentic Voice, ed. Stevenson).

While Pierson was generally correct that the distinctive perfectionism of Hannah W. and Robert P. Smith was dominant at the early Keswick convention, he was not correct in his affirmation that other forms of perfectionism were not also acceptable at the Convention.  Asa Mahan’s early influence makes it clear that Oberlin Perfectionism was acceptable from the beginning.  Keswick leader H. G. Moule was converted to the Keswick theology at a convention which included both Evan Hopkins and “an ardent Salvation Army captain,” an advocate of the Army’s standard Wesleyan perfectionism (pg. 42, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall).  Likewise, the “Japan Evangelistic Band . . . formed at the Convention of 1893 . . . looked to Wesleyan holiness speakers” (pg. 115, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall; cf. pg. 81, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck; the Band was founded by Webb-Peploe’s curate Barclay Buxton).  “Another vital link between Keswick and the Wesleyan holiness tradition was through Charles Inwood,” who spoke at twenty-one Keswick conventions and represented Keswick internationally while receving prophetic impressions through which he predicted the future (pg. 112, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall).  “As a Wesleyan Methodist himself, Inwood actively sought to influence Keswick thinking from within the movement . . . Inwood was deeply indebted to the Wesleyan revivalist tradition” (pg. 50, ibid).  The Methodist perfectionist, continuationist, and woman preacher Amanda Smith, who preached at Keswick and was then invited to and preached at Broadlands by invitation of Evan Hopkins and Lord Mount-Temple in the 1880s, is another example of Methodist perfectionism being propagated at Keswick (pg. 116, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck; The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life:  The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith, ed. Dieter, entry for December 30; Chapter 20-21, An Autobiograpy:  The Story of the Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith, The Colored Evangelist, Containing an Account of her Life Work of Faith, and her Travels in America, England, Ireland, Scotland, India, and Africa, as an Independent Missionary, Amanda Smith.  Chicago, IL:  Meyer & Brother, 1893; pgs. 71-73, 114, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910).  

Thus, the facts are clear that the ecumenicalism of the Keswick Convention embraced a variety of conflicting perfectionisms, predominently the type taught by Hannah W. and Robert P. Smith, but also that of the Oberlin and Wesleyan theologies, in its seeking for a Higher Life spirituality.  To argue that Keswick is not perfectionism involves a clear misunderstanding of the facts.

See here for more on Keswick theology.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

John Owen Again on the Septuagint (LXX) Issue Related to the Presuppositions for the Preservation of Scripture, Meanwhile Answering James White

So many words in a title.  This post is mainly about what John Owen wrote.  I am teaching the book of Hebrews to folks at Mid-Coast Baptist Church next week in Brunswick, Maine.  I've taught through Hebrews three times in my life, but I have been doing some reading.  You can download for free the pdf of a five volume commentary by John Owen on Hebrews, which is too much to read before I go, but I wanted to see some things that John Owen said about Hebrews, to get his thoughts. It was helpful in one way that is not related to Hebrews itself.

When James White began attempting to talk about his own scriptural presuppositions, and it began looking like someone walking through thick mud up to his neck, he dropped "Jesus' use of the Septuagint."  He said it very haltingly.  I can only guess why he wasn't really chipper about bringing that up, but my speculation is that he knows it doesn't work, that it doesn't count as a presupposition for a defensible position on preservation.  It is just another dust cloud.  If you take the argument to its end, which I'm sure he hopes someone does not, it crashes and burns big time.

Old Testament textual critics now correct the traditional text of the Old Testament by using "the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls."  I'm sure to some people that sounds really neat.  They are saying that the Old Testament needs correcting.  They can't even stop with the Old Testament, so what hope is there that they can or will with the New Testament?

I can't write everything about this, because I've got to get to the John Owen point I was making.  I'm pretty sure no one has this material out there and I want you to have it.  However, before I do, can you for a moment wrap your brain around the idea that these OT textual critics are using a Greek translation from the Hebrew to correct the Hebrew?  These are some of the same men who criticize Erasmus for "back translating from the Latin to the Greek in Revelation."  That's only bad when it helps their cause.  I've never said I was opposed at the preservation of God's Word in languages other than the original languages.  I'm happy about Latin speaking people having the Bible in their language. But I digress.  I don't want to turn this into a session on Erasmus.  Neither do I want to go off on the criticism of eclectic text supporters that it is wrong to take a trajectory from an English translation to its underlying text.  They, of course, can only accept that when it travels through a Greek translation into a Hebrew text, eradicating their complaint about trajectories to original language texts from their translations.

If you believe that Jesus quoted from "the Septuagint," you are left with a low view of scripture.  You then believe that the Hebrew text of the Old Testament was lost.  You also believe that Jesus was very satisfied with a corrupt translation from a corrupt text that differed from the Old Testament text received by God's people.  Even the Old Testament textual critic believes his Septuagint is corrupt.

Reader, you may wonder why I put "the Septuagint" in quotes.  There is no settled Septuagint.  You are not referring to one translation when you say "the Septuagint."  There is no "the Septuagint," and most textual critics like White would be happy to have you keep thinking that way.  There is little evidence that some established Greek translation of the Old Testament existed before Jesus from which He could quote.  The view we should take should be the one that respects the inerrancy of scripture the most.  Saying that Jesus quoted the Septuagint doesn't do that.

A position that does respect the Bible and is a historic position based on biblical presuppositions is the one taken by John Owen that I have also read in some more contemporary books on the Septuagint.  Hebrews quotes a lot of Old Testament, especially Psalm 110.  In Owen's first volume on Hebrews, he spends a few pages speaking on this issue that we're talking about.  I'm not going to give you all the pages.  I'm going to give you the explanatory quote.  Owen writes (pp. 67-68):

Concerning these, and some other places, many confidently affirm, that the apostle waved the original, and reported the words from the translation of the LXX. . . .  [T]his boldness in correcting the text, and fancying without proof, testimony, or probability, of other ancient copies of the Scripture of the Old Testament, differing in many things from them which alone remain, and which indeed were ever in the world, may quickly prove pernicious to the church of God. . . .  [I]t is highly probable, that the apostle, according to his wonted manner, which appears in almost all the citations used by him in this epistle, reporting the sense and import of the places, in words of his own, the Christian transcribers of the Greek Bible inserted his expressions into the text, either as judging them a more proper version of the original, (whereof they were ignorant) than that of the LXX., or out of a preposterous zeal to take away the appearance of a diversity between the text and the apostle's citation of it. And thus in those testimonies where there is a real variation from the Hebrew original, the apostle took not his words from the translation of the LXX. but his words were afterwards inserted into that translation.

Owen says more, but this is the essence of it from the Hebrews commentary.  He's got a whole section on it in his biblical theology too, which was only recently translated from the Latin.  This is Owen's position.  This was an accepted position.  This fits biblical presuppositions.  It is also a defensible position.  White's position is not defensible.  "The Septuagint" sometimes follows the Hebrew Masoretic and sometimes it doesn't.  White and others selectively use it.  With their usage, they are in very murky waters theologically.  Owen's position is an old position. It's what believers have thought.  You actually can't prove him wrong.  His position has theological underpinning.  His position should be believed.  I believe it.

Polygraphing the Words of James White, Pt. 3

On August 7, James White gave a whole show over to one part of the first post I wrote dealing with White's answer to a comment made by Thomas Ross on an internet forum.  I really don't want to spend anymore than one more post.  I ask you to read everything I've written in the last three weeks on this, because it will give enough of an answer to everything White will say.

White begins again pointing out my meaninglessness -- only two mentions on his blog, both by Alan Kurschner, one just linking to someone's else's post about Psalm 12.  White mentions my erroneous position on Psalm 12, and he doesn't know what he's talking about.  I'm very sure White does not know what I've said about Psalm 12, what position I take, or what arguments I've made.  That is sufficient for his audience.  There are two main positions on Psalm 12 -- it relates the preservation of "the poor and needy" or the preservation of God's Words.  Most who argue for the poor and needy do so, like the article to which Kurschner referred, based upon the gender of the antecedent to a pronoun.  It is a faulty argument.  I proved that and I've still never received an answer from that crowd.  They're wrong.  Still.

White hasn't dealt much with me and he does now.  Why do I deal with White?  White is now the most well known evangelical defender of the eclectic text and detractor from the King James Version for the modern versions.  If you are going to deal with the issue, you do deal with White.  I'm not saying that evangelicals should be proud of that.  It's just the truth.  Several books have been written about this now, but White's is probably still the most well known and highest regarded from that crowd. Including White's book, here are other prominent ones, not in order:

James White, The King James Only Controversy
D. A. Carson, The King James Version Debate
James Price, King James Onlyism:  A New Sect
Central Seminary Faculty, One Bible Only?
Two Volumes by the Fundamentalist Text and Translation Committee -- From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man, and God's Word in Our Hands

Many articles have been written and a few other books, espousing the same position as the above books, but those are the go-to volumes for an introduction to the new invention of Warfield in the late 19th century.  There are others, but those are enough to get it done for you.  You'll understand their new position by reading those books.  It is a new position in the history of Christianity, just like Ruckmanism or double inspiration is a new position.  Both of those positions originate from unbelief in the preservation of scripture.  I recognize White acts angry and rejects that accusation.  I really am not trying to get under his skin.  Preservation of scripture means something historically and biblically, and it is different than what White believes.  His position is new and changes the meaning.  His belief is actually a denial of biblical and historical preservation, while saying that he believes it.  You could hear that in what he said in all of this recent spate of videos on his website.

White says that he understands the attraction of a settled, traditional text and the association of an eclectic text with a collapsing evangelicalism.  I would wonder how much he really does understand it. The underlying philosophy, the presupposition, behind an eclectic text is the actual collapse with what we are witnessing being the physical manifestation of what already started.  It is true.  You can trace everything back to the shift from transcendent truth to immanent truth.  Truth comes from outside this world and is objective and absolute.  A change in thinking led to a malleable Bible, an eclectic one.

White acts like the idea of a settled, traditional, preserved text is of recent origin as a reaction to apostasy or liberalism.  He's got the order out of wack.  You had the settled text, then you had liberalism, then you had an eclectic text.  The eclectic text wasn't accepted by rank and file.  It took a long period of erosion like with so many doctrines to get where we're at.  The rebellion even in churches, that I know White is concerned about, is because the churches lack in authority.  You can change the meaning of marriage, because people can't be sure enough to say there is a meaning.

The belief in perfect preservation, a settled text, is not externally derived.  White says it is.  We've dealt with that.  He says it is the end of meaningful apologetic interaction.  He has a wrong view of apologetics.  We've dealt with that.  White says that the ecclesiastical text is vague.  It isn't.  It is the textus receptus.  White says that is vague, because you have several editions.  We've dealt with that again and again through the years.

White slips up when he says that even if you take a Byzantine position, you get back to presuppositions.  He quickly says then, "I guess everybody has their presuppositions."  What he does though is expose that he doesn't start with a biblical presupposition for his position.  It came out just very naturally for him.  He briefly caught himself, but didn't correct it.  There was nothing to correct for him, because that is what he believes, that is, that you don't start with presuppositions.  Textual critics say, start with the evidence and let that lead you to the truth.

One tell-tale moment for White is when he is leafing through his book looking for his presuppositions.  He says he wrote a big book.  He acts like he's telling you and then he says nothing. This is also when you can tell he is in trouble.  I've seen people like Governor Rick Perry when they are trying to tell you something that they don't know.  It's awkward and painful for him.  He paused very long and fails.

White brings up the LXX, saying Jesus quoted from it, and says that this is a problem and worthy of serious thought.  I have written again and again on that subject here.  I'm going to write on it again, maybe tomorrow.  How is that a presupposition?  The fact that it isn't a presupposition is why he pauses so long.  That argument is an argument against preservation.  The LXX, as White knows, is corrupt.  He would be arguing for a corrupt Bible.  You can't really take a propositional position from the Bible from that LXX argument.  Half of it is speculation, which is why White is so vague about it.

It really is not a good argument for White to bring up the LXX to me.  I've written on it again and again.  White has trouble himself if he's going to take that argument.  Was Jesus really quoting from the LXX?  Does White believe that?  I'd be happy to have him deal with the "tough stuff"?  Do you understand that White is saying that Jesus quoted from a corrupt translation?  Where does Jesus say He's quoting from the Septuagint?  Is that the correct view?  Does it hold up?

White says there is confusion about categories between canon and text.  We're not confused about that, but we dealt with that too.  White brings up the uselessness of men who don't take his position, but that's not true.  It's possible that some of the reformed men don't get out much, but that's not because of their text position.  White smears me as a Ruckman/Riplinger type who lies.  We've dealt with that.  It's non sequitur.  He puts me into "the nastiest group."  He says I'm right along with them. I'd be happy to find out the examples of my nastiness.  Please point it out.  I'd say lumping me with Ruckman is about as nasty as it can get.

Like most eclectic defenders, White says you can't take the ecclesiastical text or traditional text type of position without pointing out the exact edition of the TR that is the preserved edition.  This is something he says right after a long riff on strawmen.  You have very much settled on the text of scripture if you settle on the TR.  He knows that.  The reason you don't report what you think is perfect to people like White is because you'll spend the next several hours hearing about the differences between the TR editions.  That doesn't refute the position, so it is a red herring too, but it raises such a distraction that you just lost what is most important, that being, the focus on the presuppositions.  Creation of confusion on Revelation 16:5 is not a position.  It's just a criticism.

The TR, traditional text, eclectic text is a defensible position.  That is what it has the most going for it.  It arises from biblical exegesis.  It originates from scriptural presuppositions.  You might not be able to answer every question to every eclectic text critic to his satisfaction -- that is almost guaranteed -- but you can defend the position from the biblical presupposition.  The other side doesn't have a scriptural position.  They can't get theirs from the Bible.  I've never read one biblical theology for an eclectic text.  Without a biblical mooring, it is faithless.  Again, criticism of the only defensible, biblical position is not an actual position itself.  It's like an old-time preacher once said, "I like my position better than your no-position."

White says that his position, that in his book, is that there isn't anything that has ever been lost.  It doesn't take much to see he doesn't believe that.  The papyri wasn't "found" until the 20th century, so it was lost.  And again, I ask about the manuscript for 1 Samuel 13:1.  I've never met an eclectic text position that believed that we have it all available.  They hope we will find it.  That's why Dan Wallace is doing what he's doing, because these men want to find something to reconstruct the text for them.

White attacks the idea that nothing was lost after saying that he believes that nothing was lost.  He says the Johanine comma was lost.  Those who don't believe anything was lost don't believe that was lost, but this is an example of the tit for tat discussion that occurs after saying you believe you have a perfect, settled text.  White rejects that presupposition, so there will always be discussions about what is in and what is out.  He wants it.  He likes it.

Can we debate Bart Ehrmans and the like?  We could.  I would debate him if I thought it would be helpful.  I don't believe he'll be persuaded if I can beat him on textual evidence.  I know Ehrman is lying about that, but he's not going to be persuaded by a manuscript evidence argument.  This is another example of White's apologetic problem.  I'm right next to California-Berkeley and Stanford.  I debate those people all the time almost every week out in evangelism.  The Bible holds up without starting with manuscript evidence.

White says people like me can't answer an Ehrman's questions.  White can't answer our questions.  He can't square what the Bible says with what he believes.  It's pretense with him when you want to know how his belief is historical.  It isn't.   White doesn't understand what matters on this.

When White talks about the KJV translators and Erasmus, this is revisionist history.  They had a homogenous text.  We know that.  If you took all the differences between all the editions of the TR, there are very few.  This is nothing like the Grand Canyon between Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.

I'm going to end it there for the one hour video that he called Strawmanism. I've answered what he said there already in some place that I've written in the last three weeks.

James White came back in yesterday's program, August 11, and spent about 5 or 10 minutes talking about how out of balance his critics are.  He, of course, is balanced, and he lectures us on lacking on balance.  I've always wondered about the word balance, used by Christians.  It's not a word used in the Bible.  The point about me is that I've written way too much on this subject.  Before my flurry of posts the last three weeks, it was 10 months ago I've written on this.  If you look at the 450 or so sermons on the website of our church, I don't think you'll see one sermon on this subject.

I do more work on this than many others, because I was a biblical language major and have taught Hebrew and Greek.  We have written a book on this subject.  The way that I support my belief about the Bible is by preaching it.  I'm sure I'll keep writing on this, when I think I need to.  It's more important to me than numbers of other subjects out in the world.  It's God's Word.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Polygraphing the Words of James White, Pt. 2

Part One.

The Westminster Confession of Faith in 1646 as part of its definition of sola scriptura says,

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

Scripture alone is sufficient for all of anyone's doctrine.  Someone can get all of his doctrine of the preservation of scripture from scripture itself.  Yet White says that, no, your doctrine of scripture can change from something derived alone from scripture, because extra-scriptural evidence changes doctrine. This violates sola scriptura.  White by his own admission doesn't believe sola scriptura.  Many doctrines will change with that approach.  White may say he changes only this one, but it buttresses all the changes anyone wants to make.  This is his admission.  This isn't me trying to create a problem.  I'm just the reporter.  It isn't the only issue for him, but it is at the root of his problem.

In part one, White said that we (that includes me) didn't do history very well.  How history is done well in this instance is interpreting the original intent of the framers of the London Baptist Confession.  That is historical theology.  To do that, you read what they wrote on the same subject. Again, we're talking about the doctrine stated therein, not what someone like Calvin or Beza said about a few textual variants.  Calvin made 41 statements about variants and on 37 of them, he agreed with his textus receptus.  He was a textus receptus person.  The four that he didn't still were available to him.  He knew about them.  He accessed them.  You've done history well, regarding doctrine, if you accurately represent what the people were saying.  In his earlier ecclesiastical text video, White says that Calvin disagreed with "a number of TR readings" -- that is a misrepresentation. In the relatively few mentions of textual variants, he agrees with the TR 37 out of 41

White is saying that doing history well means guessing something that the authors of the LBC would have done or they would have believed or they would have written if conditions were on the ground the same as they were three hundred years later.  Benjamin Franklin would have gone to the moon. We are saying that they derived their position from scripture.  You can not only see that in the confession, but you can also see it in all their writings, when they discuss the doctrine of preservation.  They start with what scripture says about its own preservation.

At 48 and following of his first video, White says the methodology is the issue, the how God did it. The London Baptist Confession and believers of that period talk about how.  The following statement in the LBC in the section on scripture represented a fundamental of their method:

Yet, notwithstanding this, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth of Scripture and its divine authority, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

The method that God used through His Spirit is represented well in the bibliological confession of Thomas Ross:

Scripture teaches the verbal, plenary preservation of the verbally, plenarily inspired autographa (Psalm 12:6-7; Matthew 5:18; Matthew 24:35);   that the preserved words would be perpetually available to God’s people (Isaiah 59:21); and that Israel was the guardian of Scripture in the Mosaic dispensation (Romans 3:1-2), and the church the guardian in the dispensation of grace (1 Timothy 3:15). The Holy Spirit would lead the saints to accept the words the Father gave to the Son to give to His people (John 16:13; 17:8). Believers can know with certainty where the canonical words of God are, because they are to live by every one of them (Matthew 4:4; Revelation 22:18-19) and are going to be judged by them at the last day (John 12:48).

This is the methodological presupposition, which is the basis of believers writing that God's words were "kept pure in all ages."  Further statements in his confession reveal further this truth:

God intended for His Word to be recognized and received by the churches as a whole (Colossians 4:16; Revelation 1:3-4). . . .  The Bible promises that God would lead His saints into all truth, and that the Word, all of His words, are truth (John 16:13, 17:8, 17). Believers are not to set themselves above the Word but receive it with the faith of a little child, rejecting secular and worldly “wisdom” (Matthew 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 3:18-20). . . . The Bible shows that the true churches of Christ would receive and guard these words (Matthew 28:19-20; John 17:8; Acts 8:14, 11:1, 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Timothy 3:15). . . . The Bible presents as a pattern that that believers would receive these words from other believers (Deuteronomy 17:18; 29:29; 1 Kings 2:3; Proverbs 25:1; Acts 7:38; Hebrews 7:11; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Philippians 4:9; Colossians 4:16).

Richard Muller writes in his Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2, Holy Scripture: The Cognitive Foundation of Theology (p. 541):

All too much discussion of the Reformers' methods has attempted to turn them into precursors of the modern critical method, when in fact, the developments of exegesis and hermeneutics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries both precede and, frequently conflict with (as well as occasionally adumbrate) the methods of the modern era.

This is what I've said about comparing what believers did 1500-1850 and what Westcott and Hort did. They weren't the same.

The LBC authors presupposition about the text is the same as about the canon, because they are both theological.  They believed that scripture was self-authenticating.  John the Baptist recognized Jesus. That didn't mean that John had authority over Jesus.  Believers received the text of scripture.  In JETS, July 1997 (p. 204), Roger Nicole writes:

There is a notable parallel here with the establishment of the OT canon. God entrusted his OT oracles to the Jews (Rom 3:2), and they were providentially guided in the recognition and preservation of the OT. Jesus and the apostles confirmed the rightness of their approach while castigating their attachment to a tradition that was superimposed on the Word of God (Matt 15:1–20; Mark 7:1–23). God entrusted his NT oracles to his people in the churches, and they are nearly unanimous in the recognition of the NT canon. . . . The consensus of churches on the NT is an index and evidence of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The Holy Spirit is the moving authoritative force.

Keith A. Matheson wrote recently (2001) in his book The Shape of Sola Scriptura (p. 319):

But although the Church is a fallible authority, [scriptural teaching] does not assert that this fallible Church cannot make inerrant judgments and statements. In fact, in the case of the canon of the New Testament, adherents of [scriptural teaching] would confess that the fallible Church has made an inerrant judgment. But do we believe this because a particular Church tells us so? No, we believe this because of the witness of the Holy Spirit, which was given corporately to all God's people and has been made manifest by a virtually unanimous receiving of the same New Testament canon in all of the Christian churches. This is not an appeal to subjectivism because it is an appeal to the corporate witness of the Spirit to whole communion of saints. The Holy Spirit is the final authority, not the Church through which He bears witness and to which He bears witness.

Much more could be said here, but this is the thinking of believers on the text of scripture, paralleling with the reception of the canon, they received the text also.  The text is actually what the Bible talks about, the words of scripture.  The canon is an outgrowth of that theologically.

At about 49, White ridicules my mention of his brushing the authors of the reformation period and post reformation period confessions, reformed scholasticism.  He himself in his ecclesiastical text video dismissed them by saying that he "doesn't believe in the infallibility of reformed scholasticism," smearing them as scholastics instead of biblical theologians.  It was the early reformers who have been proven to be influenced by scholastics, not the authors of the LBC.  Influence of scholastics and the wholesale capitulation to scholastics are much different.  Either way, you can't just dismiss the doctrine of hundreds of years of believers with a name call, which is what he does.

At 49:22, White says that he didn't call anyone reformed scholastics, but read someone else who talked about reformed scholasticism.  That's not what he was doing in his ecclesiastical text video, so this if falsehood #7.  White needs to go back and listen to what he said.

After 50, White goes back to something he has been saying a lot.  The people who agree with the statement on preservation in the London Baptist Confession will be stuck in their internet chat and not able to deal with people in evangelism in the real world, since they have so much evidence they'll be able to use.  I'll call this falsehood #8, because it is not true.  I am quite confident that I have personally evangelized more people in my lifetime than White.  As a pastor, I've influenced then many others to evangelize even more.  Where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I deal with every religion in the world on a regular basis, ones that I would guess that White has never met.

You reading here who are James White apologetic fans really do need to reconsider your support of him.  I've preached through all four gospels.  Jesus presented evidence, no doubt, but that was not the basis of faith.  These were signs that He was the Messiah, but for men to believe, they must receive His Words.  Paul expands on this by saying that the problem is the suppression of the truth.  It's a volition problem, not an intellectual one.  Jesus said that they must want the will of God, or they would not know the doctrine.  I can't cover all this here, but White does not have a sound, scriptural apologetic, and this is seen again and again.  He is caught up in his own knowledge and thinks that he contributes a lot through that, and in so doing, confuses a lot of people.  I recognize he calls me dangerous.  The religious leaders called Jesus a lot of things.  The name-calling, which White employs again and again, means nothing.  The rebellion problem of even Muslim scholars will only be changed by a powerful, scriptural message, not a man-centered evidential one.

If you go out and evangelize and use the Bible, that's enough.  The Bible is sufficient for every good work.  The Bible has all that you need.  You don't need the so-called mound of evidence White refers to.  The enemies of God may mention it, but it really is a distraction in the matter of evangelism.  I have found that I need that evidence more for someone like James White and others like him, more than I need it for any kind of evangelistic work.

I said that White was overturning accepted doctrine, and White just before 50:30 asked me to show him a counsel that was binding upon him.  There is no counsel binding anyone, that is true. The Bible is binding though, and Paul said that some will depart from the faith, not all.  This is the value of historical theology.  You can't expect everyone to be wrong on doctrine.  Especially seeing the quality of the belief of that period, the biblical theology of those men shouldn't be dismissed.  White is doing that at his own peril.  He's saying they're wrong and he isn't showing why they're not from the Bible. He says they're wrong because of the extra-scriptural evidence.  I haven't been pointing out the strawmen of White through this whole analysis, but this is a strawman, that someone was referencing a counsel binding upon him.  He goes into a tirade over something that didn't happen.

White after 50:40 says that the believers of that period used the TR by default and not by choice.  You can't have it both ways.  You can't point out Calvin and his agreement with a few non TR readings (he calls it "a number") and then ignore the 37 where he agrees with the TR reading.  That is not default. Nevertheless, we're not talking about the text itself at this point, but whether their doctrine was correct.  White includes that in his assessment.  If they had the papyri, their doctrine would have changed too.

At 51, White says, "sorry but this is just very badly written."  I had one pronoun without a referent in a blog post that I changed after hearing White critique it.  That could have been better written, it's true.  A lot of times when I write these posts, I break a long paragraph into two and I don't clean up the referents.  I agree with White on this one sentence, but not everything.  What I want you to consider is a White, who uses very often very long verbalized pauses, "uuuuuuuuummm," and all the time is using wrong noun pronoun agreement. He slaughters the language on a regular basis.  I'm being kind here.  This is just another strategy to discredit by him.  I think he should just keep on the subject here.

At about 51:30, White says that only King James onlyism causes division among evangelicals, not belief in the preservation of scripture.  That agrees with my point.  Evangelicals don't care about preservation of scripture as much as they do what causes division.  They relegate the doctrine of preservation to a non-essential.  You have a wide range of beliefs that are acceptable in order to keep unity.  This is why White gets a pass for much of what he says from evangelicals.  On the other hand, I've said in the past, a change in versions in a church through the last 25-50 years has caused more division even than Ruckmanism.  I believe the latter causes it too, but not to the extent that all the new versions have.

At 52:15 and following, White says that any text you use has been mediated to you through textual criticism.  That is not a doctrine of scripture.  The doctrine is that God preserved the text and ensured that it was available to every generation of believers.  I don't give credit to textual criticism for getting me my Bible.  Yet, this is how White thinks.

At 53:49, White says that "Erasmus had the biggest influence on the production of what is called the textus receptus."  Aland says that the textus receptus already existed before Erasmus and it was the text before Erasmus that was agreed upon by the churches.  In other words, Erasmus was taking the received text and printing it.  There wasn't very much amendment occurring.  This wasn't Erasmus pulling in text families and culling together an apparatus.  The political scene had changed and the invention of the printing press came along, and he was able to print a first edition.  What was a hand copy became a printed one.  I refer you back to the Muller quote above in the evaluation of what went into a reformation era text.

After 54, White continues to harp on the idea that the entire history of the transmission of the text of the Bible was regular textual decisions.  Not one speck of theology comes in here, nothing supernatural at all.  This not the language you would hear from believers until post-enlightenment.  They talked about what God had done in preserving His Words.

After 54:30, White mocks the idea of providential preservation, saying that I can believe that angels brought down "an Oxford calfskin bound King James if" I want.  He turns from an original language text preservation to an English translation in order to brush it as some type of Ruckman position. That is falsehood #9.

After 55, White says that when he says "preserved perfectly," he means all the original readings still exist.  That is a conservative evangelical eclectic text position.  It is a new position on preservation that began with Warfield in the late 19th century.  The adherents have no biblical basis for it.  It is an attempt to straddle what the Bible teaches with their assessment of textual evidence.  I have never met someone who believed it after one or two questions, as weak, unbiblical, and unhistorical as it already is.

First, the explanation of White is not what God tells us to expect about the preservation of His Words.
Second, the explanation of White is not what the writers of the London Baptist Confession believed.
Third, the explanation of White isn't actually preservation, because then the Words would not have been available for use by God's people in all ages.
Fourth, the explanation of White will result in a never ending process with an unsettled text.
Fifth, the explanation of White comes from unbiblical presuppositions.
Sixth, the explanation of White clashes with at least what I've ever heard from those who say the same as him, because no one I have talked to believes that there is a manuscript existent with the original reading of 1 Samuel 13:1.  I'm guessing that White doesn't know of one either.
Seventh, the explanation of White is a human invention.

At 55:15, White says he can defend his position and has with some fairly knowledgeable opposition.  I don't believe he can defend it against what I've written above.  Even if he could, he's starting with an unscriptural position to defend.  Last, he can't defend it, because to defend it, he would need to know what was in the original manuscripts,and so he'll never be able to say he's sure.

White's riff after 55:30 is funny if you majored in biblical languages like I did.  He's showing off in a condescending way, and he just looks silly doing it.  It is the true straw man here, because the biblical and historical position isn't the preservation of a "manuscript."  There isn't a belief that this one perfect hand copy made its way down through history.  It is the belief in the preservation of Words.  He asks, "Which one?"  The belief is a presupposition.  If you believe what the Bible says about preservation, it is what you believe.  Is there a text?  Of course there is.

At about 56, White says no two manuscripts are identical.  That is falsehood #10.  He should read Wilbur Pickering, who actually did look at the Byzantine manuscripts and found that several of them were identical.  This is a common eclectic text falsehood.  If he keeps saying it, after reading Wilbur Pickering and checking that out, then he's lying.  At this point, we'll just say he's not well informed, despite acting like he is.

As White wraps up the first video, he says that "this stuff is dangerous, because it destroys faith."  Faith comes through hearing the Word of God, and the Word of God doesn't teach what White does. What White teaches is what is faith destroying.  When the Bible says God preserved every Word so that someone believes God preserved every Word, that is the strengthening of faith, not its destruction.  Not knowing what the Words are, that is what destroys it.  That's what White believes.

More to Come.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Polygraphing the Words of James White, Pt. 1

Instead of providing background for this post, if you want to get up to speed, you can do seven things:  (1)  read my four part series last week (1, 2, 3, 4), (2) then read my five part series from two weeks ago (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), (3) to really get serious, read Thou Shalt Keep Them, (4) read everything I've written here and at Jackhammer on the preservation of scripture or the version issue, (5) read what Thomas Ross wrote at his website, (6) above all, read what the Bible says about its own preservation, including the methodology (which we talk about in TSKT), and (7) read the historical theology of the preservation of scripture between 1500-1850 (look here at Richard Muller's book to get a good grasp,but there are many other places).  If James White would have at least read what I'd written before he made these last two videos, then he would have heard the answers to some of his questions or attacks (not that it would have mattered to him).

After Thomas Ross linked to my articles defending him at the Logos forum, James White started talking about them on his Dividing Line program, which you can watch live on his youtube channel. The first one is the last third of a show he calls, KJVO Deceitfulness.   A whole second video he titles, King James Only Straw Manism:  Kent Brandenburg.  Maybe there is more to come, but I wanted to begin on these first two.

It really is not my goal at all to win a debate here.  I want us to cut through the dust cloud to see the truth in this.  I hear and understand everything James White is saying.  I'm going to be very careful in looking at these first two sessions.  You are welcome to ask questions and even challenge, but please keep it on the topic.  I don't want to deviate to Ruckmanism, double inspiration, English preservationism, or whatever one might call that, unless it is necessary.

I certainly don't want to argue a straw man.  What reason would there be?  I have no intention in dealing with something James White is not really saying.  I am arguing with what James White does say, which is also what most critical  or eclectic text advocates say and write, and then some that is just pure James White, his own novel ideas.  I guarantee you that the one erecting a straw man is White.  Does anyone who reads here and has watched his words in the recent videos think that he represents what I believe and teach, or even what I wrote?

If James White and I did debate one another with a neutral moderator, which I would, and I'm sure our church would send me to do that, we could ensure that we understood each other perfectly and the games would end -- of course, I mean his games.  I understand that a lot of professing Christians like White.  With the way the country is sinking, it's just where we're at, but I believe this could contrast the biblical and historical position with what White offers.

As I write this, I'm watching them completely through for the first time (the first one starts at 40:40). I will number every one of his falsehoods, bold and italicized and will also point out when he uses a form of personal mockery that is completely unnecessary.  Some of it with White, I believe is just normal for him. I'm saying a kind of ridicule comes natural to him, but I'm going to expose every instance of it.  I want you to know that I know, and that this is the means White uses.

My biggest issues with this particular teaching of White about scripture are that (1) it dishonors God, the Author of the Bible, by contradicting what God said about His preservation of scripture -- that makes Him a liar, (2) it teaches and influences people away from a biblical position on the preservation of scripture, which leaves those people less certain, more easily swayed by false teaching and practice, and less faithful, (3) it revises a huge portion of history in order to justify the new doctrinal position and practice, and (4) it relegates the Bible to unsettled, open to further and further change, which results in a transference of human authority over scripture and diminished in its authority.  White becomes the enabler of doubt and weakness, until it reaches apostasy. He also perverts a biblical apologetic, elevating external, human documentation above the Word of God.  He thinks and then says the real spiritual battle is accomplished through spouting off manuscript evidence framed in the rules of textual criticism.  God is not glorified by that.  I could say much more here.

White begins in the first video by talking to himself, "What is this guy's name again?  Uuuuh, yes, Kent Brandenburg." My name is in the bibliography of his book (p. 342).  I'm not saying he did know my name, just that one highlights a lack of name recognition by saying such a thing.  How could he be ready to do a whole segment on someone and not know his name?  This strategy, by the way, acting like someone is a nobody, is what the religious leaders did with Jesus when they couldn't undermine the authority of what He said (see John 17:15).  It is an ad hominem argument that characterizes a loser.

Next James White identifies me a "King James Only guy."  You should know that title is still a pejorative, even more so, which is why White uses it again and again.  You use that title and you already drag it into the Gail Riplinger crowd, to whose position White is closer than me in his bibliological presuppositions. If she is KJVO, then I'm not.  We're not close to the same. I'm saying that I'm more radically different than the rank and file KJVO than White is.

Falsehood #1:  At 40:50 White calls me a "reformed King James Only guy."  I'm not reformed. He shouldn't make that statement unless he knows.

At 41:29, White editorializes that "there is something about hiding behind a keyboard that they're able to just speak in absurd ways."  The implication here is that these people who write against White are cowards, who would never say it to his face.  I'm not afraid of White intellectually, spiritually, or physically.  White doesn't inspire fear in me at all.  It really is not that hard for him to say things to a camera either.  I watched the Steven Anderson interview and White is about (literally) ten times more civil in person than he is when he's alone in his studio.  Anderson believes a false gospel, something that White never mentions in his long interview.

At 41:50 White says that he "vaguely remembered Kent Brandenburg and some weird King James only thing that he had said."  'It had to be vague because this guy is not someone that anyone would remember.  He's a nobody, ya know.'  'He's also weird.'  White being White.  A weird King James only thing in my case would be that the Bible teaches its own perfect preservation and availability.  Very weird.  There were two small posts written by Alan Kurschner that most today would call "drive-bys" or "trolling." They were nothing substantive -- just deceptive shots with the intention to hurt.  These comments by White serve no purpose except to poison the well before he gets started -- 'this guy is a kook, just know that to start with.'  He spends a long time on a backwater hayseed.

Falsehood #2:  At 42:20 and following White calls Thomas Ross's claim that White's position contradicts the 1689 London Baptist Confession an "abjectly ahistorical abuse of the writers, the framers, the 1689, and others."  It seems that if you string together a lot of words that start with "a," they have a better chance of being true.   I don't know who he means by "others," but White does not believe what the 1689 writers believed.  White in essence admits this right afterwards, but explains that it was because those writers didn't have the same manuscript evidence then that White has today. We're just talking about what they believed.  White doesn't believe what they believed.

Pause here for a moment to think about White's riff between 42:20 and 43:05.  Does the doctrine of scripture change because of new manuscript evidence?  That's what White is saying.  Even Burgon didn't have what we have today, he says, and if those earlier did have it, he is saying that their doctrine would have been different.  Like his.  Their doctrine though came from scripture.  That position in the confession came from a biblical presupposition.  They would interpret the outside evidence through an internal lense. This is critical that you understand what White is saying.

White then says after 43:05 that if you don't approach history like he does, that is, interpret the Bible in light of new historical documentation, that you are one of these people who don't "do history very well."  This is a post enlightenment method in which the doctrine can only be true if it can be verified as historical.  This method necessitates a willingness to progress in doctrine.  If they had what we had today, he's saying, they would have been different.  The London Baptist Confession at that juncture was what it was, but with new extra-scriptural evidence, it could progress.  This thinking was popularized in Germany in the 19th century and came to the United States from there through American professors trained in Germany.  It is a kind of rationalism.  It's why our constitution can mean something new too as history progresses.

White's method is also a two book approach.  You've got one book, the Bible, and the other book, history or science, which is what modern textual criticism is.  The two synthesize to a new truth. This is how doctrine progresses through history in White's mind.  White is presenting this like it is the Bible, but notice that he doesn't use the Bible to make the presentation.  Actually, based on what we see from him, White would just laugh and roll his eyes and mock the whole idea.

After 43:15, he says if you don't use this historico-critical approach, you are using history as a bat. We are batting James White out of sheer sadistic joy.  Do you see what White does here?  It's not that, and this is where White doesn't understand or is lying or is deceived too.  The uniformity of Christian doctrine, the unity of the Spirit, testifies to the truth of the doctrine.  I have mentioned this two or more times in these posts.  If you can't find your doctrine in history, you should be concerned, because not everyone is going to be wrong, especially when it is accompanied by exegesis.  For White to keep going with his fiction after 43:20, it is enough that I'll call it Falsehood #3, that this guy (Thomas Ross) just wants to be combative, proverbially fisticuff with James White.

To equate me with the Riplinger types, next White says he's surprised that my headline didn't have more capitals and underlines and red blinking lights.  He meant it as an insult.  I've seen a few of those websites.  Ironically, White's show itself has some characteristics like those websites, with the oddball props around him and the way that he uses them at times.  He has the plasma lamp in the back.  In his second video, he proudly pulls out his old, 1550 Stephanus and takes a long sniff of it. Before that, he talked about the safe that held the copy, looking all proud of himself.  He inserts regular short brags about his biking exploits at whatever elevation. I could go on (maybe later :-D ).

At about 44:25, James White begins to read my first post, the first question that I ask, as to whether believers were wrong on the doctrine of preservation for hundreds of years.  This, he says, is the straw man.  He scoffs at that for the next few minutes, laughing, tickled with himself -- "Just do that type of thing, um, I could put him on a little thing" -- professing that you know it's not going to be good when your first sentence is a straw man.  After that, you kind of wait for him to tell you how it is, ya know, a straw man, as he rocks back and forth, and his mouth opens, and he says, "And, um, that's the way it is."  Then he moves on.  We know it's a straw man, because he says it's one.

White doesn't answer my first two questions.  He implies, "no," because he explains why it's no, because of what we know today about the character of manuscripts.  What that means, he says, "is that to try to drag them in and make them participants in the current debate is illogical and dishonest." What?  That is falsehood #4, where White essentially is voiding the London Baptist Confession statement about preservation because they didn't have the same manuscript evidence.  To bring up their statement ("drag them in") he says is illogical and dishonest.  Illogical and dishonest.  He then says that is strawman number one.

A "strawman" is to give the impression that you've refuted someone's argument, when you've set up a replacement, a straw man, that is an easier argument to knock over, and then say that you just refuted his argument.  To make even a straw man argument, you've got to make an argument.  Those first two questions haven't even concluded an argument yet.  I'm arguing in that first paragraph that it's a serious thing to reject the doctrine of the London Baptist Confession.  If White is doing that, it's a serious thing.  Is that a serious thing to White?  It seems, no.  However, it isn't a straw man.

At 46, White says I'm lying when I say he rejects biblical and historical preservation of scripture.  I will call that falsehood #5.  Let's hear what White says in defense of his charge that I'm lying, because if I am lying, I really should stop that.  I know what those men meant about preservation.  I've read about everything we still possess from the period of the LBC and before about preservation.  Daniel Wallace says they were wrong about preservation.  White parks awhile, broadbrushing the lying King James Onlyists.

White holds up his book, and says people have read that book, King James Only Controversy.  White says he has defended the preservation of scripture.  That doesn't surprise me.  I said biblical and historical position.  He says to make that absurd argument destroys credibility right off the bat.  OK. And?  "Why do you all do this?"  He asks, you all.  He takes time to talk about how that King James Only are liars.  He drops Sam Gipp and Steven Anderson, guys who don't in fact believe in preservation of scripture.  He asks why I want to be associated with names like those?  Because I dream to be associated with liars?  Then he adds Peter Ruckman and Gail Riplinger.  We really have almost nothing in commong, but this is White.

I bring up how that about everyone believed those confessions.  And White says, which confessions? He lectures that there are differences between them that are important.  Oh really?  How are they different on the subject we're talking about, the preservation of scripture?   They're not actually.  And the Helvetic confession teaches the same.  Which confession teaches something different on that? None.

White says at 48 that "the issue as everyone who has honesty and integrity knows is not the issue of the preservation of scripture.  It is the methodology of that preservation."  No, falsehood #6,  it really is preservation itself that is the issue too.  Were all the words preserved for that generation of believers?  White doesn't believe that.  He believes we didn't have all of them available until the papyri, for instance, were found in the 20th century.  Those were lost for at least 500 years.  That's not just methodology.  Method is an issue too, and scripture and the confessions both also talk about that, and White doesn't agree with those either.  So, putting aside his slander that I'm a liar without integrity (I thought it was only KJVO that called people liars...hmmmmm).  I never called him a liar or lacking in integrity.  I said he might be lying about this, but I didn't know, because he could be deceived or not know what he's talking about.

More to Come.