Among interviews for his book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible, Mark Ward said that the arguments from textual criticism were going nowhere in persuading people to stop using the King James Version. He wanted to make progress, and that wasn't doing it. So, if the Greek texts that someone used were different, that was totally fine, according to Ward, not really a big deal at all to him. To him, you would be fine to use a contemporary translation of whichever text you think is best. He doesn't want to fight about that, because he doesn't think the differences are very great.
I would join Ward in his unhappiness with people mangling the meaning of the Bible with whatever translation they use and if it is because they don't understand the words of the King James Version. If you have the right words of the Bible, but you don't understand them and teach a different meaning than what they actually mean, that is really, really bad. I hate it when it is someone reading it and messed up in his understanding and especially when someone preaches something wrong because of his misunderstanding. I also join Ward in saying that the power of the very words of God are found in their actual meaning. If you have the right words and the wrong meaning, it is like having the wrong words. He's right on that.
I would not join a church that used something other than the Hebrew and Greek text behind the King James Version. However, if I had a choice to attend a church where someone preached something wrong from the King James Version or preached something right from the English Standard Version, I would choose the latter. Getting it right is more important. I agree with that, enough that I would be far more chagrined -- by far -- with someone who was massacring the meaning of the King James than someone who was getting the meaning of the English Standard Version exactly right. I believe the power is in the meaning and in the substance.
Mark Ward is a critical text proponent, which has different words in the text underlying the modern translations than that of the King James Version, up to 7% total difference in the underlying original language words of the New Testament. He says he doesn't care about those differences and that there isn't enough that matters, because what does matter is the meaning of the words.
I want to focus on Mark Ward's problem as it applies to the doctrine of the preservation of scripture. I don't care what accurate translation of the Bible one uses, he will find that it teaches the same exact doctrine on the preservation of scripture. You can find the historical and biblical teaching on the preservation of scripture in whatever Bible you happen to use. Let's say you were using the English Standard Version to come to your position. What you would learn from the English Standard Version would stop you from using the English Standard Version. You would have to believe in the perfect preservation of scripture, knowing that it is an actual doctrine of scripture. The meaning is so important, just like Mark says.
As a church and an individual believer, I get all of my doctrine from the Bible, not from experience or feelings. I know I'm depraved because scripture says I'm depraved. In the same way, I know I'm justified because the Bible says I'm justified. I trust the Bible, which God says pleases Him. This is called living by faith.
Scripture is inspired, and I know that and believe that because scripture says it's inspired. God says His Word is inspired. If I deny inspiration of scripture, I'm denying what God says about His Word.
Then we come to the preservation of scripture. The historic doctrine of scripture has reflected what scripture says about itself, what it says about its own preservation. The doctrine of preservation of scripture, like justification in the doctrine of salvation, comes from God's Word, not from experience or feelings.
So God says He preserved every Word and every Word is available to every generation. If you are saying that God didn't do that, when He said He would, then you are, first, calling Him a liar, and, second, saying that not everything we're reading is inspired by God. Inspiration applies to words. If a word isn't inspired, it isn't inspired. Third, you don't have a Bible without error if the words are changed from what God gave originally.
A lot of what the Bible says, one believes without any proof except the Bible itself is true. I can't tell if my sins are gone. I didn't see creation. I didn't see the flood. I haven't seen anything the Bible prophesies and it prophesies a lot. It hasn't happened yet. You believe the Bible because it is true and it has already been validated as true. Whatever it says about anything is true.
The authority of scripture relies on its truth. What it says is true. If something outside of the Bible can invalidate it, then it isn't true. This is serious. For history, Christians believed God inspired and then preserved every word, based upon scripture. They got their doctrine of preservation from scripture. For them, that outdoes or trumps anything that occurs outside of scripture or that people feel or experience. They knew about textual variations of the copies. That didn't change what they believed. They wouldn't allow something outside of scripture, whether it seemed like evidence or not, to stop them from believing what God said. This is conservative theology, where the beliefs come from scripture.
Doctrine doesn't change. If the Bible ever taught something, then it will continue to teach that. It can't suddenly start meaning something different. There can't be a new teaching. When what it teaches is changed, people become in authority over the Bible, instead of the Bible over people.
It is a problem not to believe what God said He would do. If He didn't do what He said He would do, then He is lying, and He doesn't lie. There's more than that. I want to illustrate. I've talked to many Muslims through the years. I've talked to a lot of other religions far more, but the biggest argument of Muslims against Christianity is that our Bible has errors in it.
If you were Mark Ward, you would need to say to that Muslim, you're right Mr. Muslim, the Bible has errors, but it doesn't matter! We've got the meaning! If he was a sharp Muslim, which they are by nature more sharp than your average professing Christian, he would bring up the problem I'm talking about. He says his book is divine, so it doesn't have any errors. Mark would say, my book is divine too, but it has errors. Ooops!
There are many people turning from the faith today because they've lost trust in scripture. I've talked about the story of the famous, atheist textual critic, Bart Ehrman, and what happened to his faith when he became convinced that God didn't preserve His words, like He said He would. Ward doesn't want to talk about this. He says it doesn't matter, because the meaning is all that matters. God didn't inspire a meaning. I'm not saying Ward believes that, but in a practical way, he does, and it's a kind of neo-orthodox position on the Bible. Scripture puts the emphasis on words, and Ward against that emphasis, puts it on meaning, because he doesn't believe in preservation of words.
Scripture promises all the words. I believe we have all of them. I have no problem talking to the Muslim man. I know my position is biblical and historical. There is a big problem for someone like Ward though and everyone else like him. This is where the faith itself is under attack, the faith which is actually the meaning of scripture.