Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Criticizing Professor Wallace part four

Fifteen years ago Professor Daniel Wallace from Dallas Theological Seminary wrote the essay, “Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism.” In this now four part series, I have essentially, based upon Wallace’s recommendation, answered that article. I have contended that perfect preservation of God’s Word is both the Scriptural and the historic doctrine. He sent me to this journal publication as His refutation. In this we get a new position historically, so it has to be something very convincing to overturn the historic position. It isn’t. I don’t know how anyone could expect someone to believe it with some of the simple mistakes. In the first three posts in this series we have seen enough blatant errors to discredit the article. In this last portion, I will pick out some other problems with his presentation.

I don’t expect friends of Daniel Wallace to be happy about this series. So far, I’ve only been lectured about tone and style with him. Others have guessed that this is personal with me—that either Daniel Wallace or his supporters haven’t treated me very well, so I'm lashing out. They haven’t been nice and I haven't lashed out, but that has nothing to do with this. I’ve enjoyed a lot about Wallace and have said that repeatedly. I think it ironic that those who fixate on tone overlook their own. It makes that whole line of criticism to be a big red herring. Meanwhile, no one has refuted any of the points of the article.

Inspiration and Preservation

In the fourth paragraph of his introduction, Wallace writes this:
I wish to address an argument that has been used by TR/MT advocates—an argument which is especially persuasive among laymen. The argument is unashamedly theological in nature: inspiration and preservation are intrinsically linked to one another and both are intrinsically linked to the TR/MT.
Those keen on looking at style should have spotted the pejorative Wallace uses toward “laymen.” He says these exegetical arguments used by preservationists work well with the laymen, i.e., they’re overly simplistic, because that's what the corn-pone lay people will need. “Only the scholars or academics can really do the intellectual heavy-lifting.” So much for the Holy Spirit and the discernment He gives His church. He also assumes with his language that we’re supposed to be ashamed of using a theological argument, something like silly sole scriptura and sole fide.

So are inspiration and preservation intrinsically linked to one another? According to Wallace, I should feel ashamed of myself, but let’s go ahead and look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17 anyway:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Those two verses tie the inspiration of “all scripture,” “every writing,” to the future sufficiency of Scripture. "May be" is present subjunctive. A. T. Robertson writes in his grammar (p. 926):
[T]he only fundamental idea always present in the subjunctive is that of futurity and . . . this is the primitive meaning from idiom of Homer.
There is the assumption of the future with God's Word continuing (present tense) to fulfill its sufficiency. Every God-breathed writing will be able to continue to throughly furnish the man of God. Doing everything that God wants us to do is tied into the inspiration of every Word. The verse implies that without every Word of God we would not be guaranteed the sufficiency described here. We can see an intrinsic connection between inspiration and preservation. What this asks is: what difference does it make if God gave us all His Words if we don’t have all of them in our possession?

Sundry Points

Wallace further insults first in the first paragraph of the next section when he calls TR-advocates “fundamentalist pamphleteers.” Then he attempts to trace the preservation position back to the work of the recent Seventh Day Adventist Jasper James Ray. And not much later he writes this clause concerning the work of Baptist pastor, David Otis Fuller: “dressed in more scholarly garb.” In other words, it isn’t scholarly; just adorned as such.

Wallace then makes a Latin translation argument that doesn’t recognize the historic doctrine of preservation, original language preservation, which is stated in the Westminster and London Baptist Confessions. His following argument reads:
If the TR equals the original text, then the editor must have been just as inspired as the original writers, for he not only selected what readings were to go in this first published edition, but he also created some of the readings.
Wallace is referring in this quote to the common assertion among textual critics that Erasmus missed one leaf in his manuscript of Revelation, so he back-translated that portion from the Latin Vulgate. Wallace can’t locate preservation in Scripture, easy as it is to see, but he’s sure he knows that none of the editions of the TR had Greek manuscripts with all the original Words of the book of Revelation. The Latin also varies from the TR, so it doesn't look like he was using that either. Textual scholar Herman C. Hoskier argued that Erasmus did not go Latin to Greek. Instead, he suggests that Erasmus used other Greek manuscripts such as 2049 (which Hoskier calls 141), and the evidence seems to support this position. Hoskier collated all the manuscripts for the book of Revelation. Manuscript 2049 contains the reading found in the Textus Receptus including the textual variant of Revelation 22:19. To this we can also add the Greek manuscript evidence of 296, and the margin of 2067 (Herman C. Hoskier, Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse, vol. 2 (London: Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., 1929, p. 644).

Wallace's Theological Argument

I never intended to show every error in the Wallace article. I wanted you to see that it does not disprove the Scriptural doctrine of preservation. I’ve written many articles laying out the doctrine of preservation, including editing an entire book about this subject. As we skip down to look for something that would treat that specific proposition, about all that’s left is a theological argument that Wallace ironically makes on this issue. He spends a lengthy chunk of space to parallel preservationists with Marcionites. In order to be one of these unbelieving heretics, however, the preservation-believer must fulfill so many criteria that it only applies to a group of men whom I have never met and may not exist. That makes it another straw man. It would only debunk people who would say that the Old Testament was not preserved like the New Testament. It really is a pathetic attempt at a very nasty smear on Bible believing people. It hardly serves as an argument against the doctrine of preservation of Scripture.

One reason why preservation of the Old and New Testaments differ somewhat in the means they were accomplished is because there is one Israel but several churches. Lots of copies were made for many churches. We see preservation in the majority of the manuscripts. Nonetheless, no one is saying that God said every Word would be kept in the majority of the manuscripts.

At the end of his introduction, Wallace wrote:
If inspiration and preservation can legitimately be linked to the text of the New Testament in this way, then the (new) KJV NT is the most accurate translation and those who engage in an expository ministry should use this text alone and encourage their audiences to do the same.
Scripture does say we'll have every Word and all the Words available to every generation of believer. We have a basis biblically for believing in a settled and perfect text of Scripture. We have legitimate linkage of the doctrine of preservation with the textus receptus. We know it was preserved and available for hundreds of years when nothing else was. The churches used it, viewed it as the very Words of God. Based on Wallace's above statement, we wait for him and others to join us in the Scriptural position.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Criticizing Professor Wallace part three

In 1991 Grace Theological Seminary of Winona Lake, IN published a book, New Testament Essays in Honor of Homer A. Kent, Jr, in honor of their longtime professor. Included in that book and then later reproduced in the Grace Theological Journal from Winona Lake, IN was an article written by Wallace entitled, "Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism." This article gets referenced and relied upon without criticism by evangelicals in many places as a landmark, authoritative work. What this article did was invent a brand new doctrine denying the historic and biblical doctrine of preservation of Scripture. When I confronted Dan Wallace about the doctrine of preservation, he refused to engage in a conversation, but instead referred me to this article.

As you could see after part two, I got silence about two blatant errors made by Wallace. People are reading. I know that from my site meter. They came around after the first article, especially to correct my tone, when I merely introduced the subject, but now they're nowhere to be seen. I've said that there's nothing here personal with Wallace. In a lot of ways I like him. I've liked his grammar. He has written some good articles. I confront his errors and it becomes amateur psychiatrist hour. Bibliology is foundational to all our theology. We need the Bible for all our doctrines. I'm going after uncertainty regarding the Words of Scripture with a diligence that is at least matched by conservative evangelicals reproof of emergents regarding uncertainty of the meaning of Scripture. I think both are important, but the Words themselves are more fundamental than the meaning.

Wallace and Vox

I've written some things about Wallace's view of inerrancy. Myself and others have issues with his position. As you read the breadth of his bibliological materials, you see troubles in every aspect of his position. For instance, Wallace takes the ipsissima vox position relating to the Words of Jesus in the Gospels. In his “An Apologia for a Broad View of Ipsissima Vox,” paper presented to the 51st Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Danvers, Mass., November 1999, he wrote:
[T]he concepts go back to Jesus, but the words do not—at least, not exactly as recorded.
His colleague, Darrell Bock, wrote a chapter in Jesus Under Fire [ed. Michael J. Wilkins and J. P. Moreland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995):73-99], defending the vox position, entitled, “The Words of Jesus in the Gospels: Live, Jive, or Memorex." Bock’s chapter tries to defend the historical reliability of the Gospel writing of Jesus’ Words from the destructive criticism of the Jesus Seminar. He writes, “The Gospels give us the true gist of his teaching and the central thrust of his message,” but “we do not have ‘his very words’ in the strictest sense of the term.” In his own vox article, Daniel Wallace states that Bock there represents “the best of evangelical scholarship when it comes to describing ipsissima vox."

I think you can see what the vox view does to both the doctrine of inspiration and of inerrancy. When Scripture says, "Jesus said," as it does at least 65 times, to them it doesn't actually mean Jesus said those Words. Wallace and Bock approach Jesus' Words in the Gospels from a naturalistic viewpoint. The apostles forgot the Words like historians often do and so presented the Words the best they could, considering their shortcomings. Wallace's inductive approach to inerrancy results in a rationalistic dealing with Jesus Words, which results in ignoring a theological presupposition in John 14:26 and 16:13-14:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
Frederic Godet wrote in his commentary on John in 1886:
This internal activity of the Spirit will unceasingly recall to their memory some former word of Jesus, so that in proportion as He shall illuminate them, they will cry out: Now, I understand this word of the Master! And this vivid clearness will cause other words long forgotten to come forth from forgetfulness.
Donald Green in an essay on this subject, published in The Master's Seminary Journal (Spring 2001), wrote:
Jesus’ promise of the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit placed the Gospel writers in a different realm in which different standards of memory would be operative. They would be supernaturally enabled to recall Jesus’ words in a manner that freed them from the human limitations of secular historians.
Wallace continues with his vox position a secular or humanistic approach to Scripture. He himself regularly says that we can't come to the text of Scripture with theological presuppositions. In an article that James Borland wrote in Spring 1999 for The Masters Seminary Journal, “The Preservation of the New Testament Text: A Common Sense Approach," he recognized this same flaw in Wallace's thinking and in criticism of it, he wrote:
In general, textual critics do their work apart from theological considerations. They examine manuscripts, note variant readings, then test and apply some basic canons of evidence, both internal and external, both intrinsic and transcriptional. But should a Bible believer see things differently than unbelieving critics do? This has been the assertion of Edward F. Hills, a learned textual critic who studied under Machen, Van Til, and R. B. Kuiper. Extremely perceptive, I thought, were these words of John Skilton, who taught New Testament Greek at Westminster Theological Seminary for longer than most younger scholars have been living (58 years), until his death in 1998. “For men who accept the Bible as the Word of God, inerrant in the original manuscripts, it should be out of the question to engage in the textual criticism of the Scriptures in a ‘neutral’ fashion—as if the Bible were not what it claims to be.” He goes on to say, “This is a point which Cornelius Van Til has been stressing in his apologetics and which Edward F. Hills has been appropriately making in his writings on textual criticism. All along the line it is necessary to insist, as Hills does, that ‘Christian believing Bible study should and does differ from neutral, unbelieving Bible study’.” Skilton concludes that Hills “is quite correct when he reminds us that” ignoring God’s “divine inspiration and providential preservation of the New Testament . . . is bound to lead to erroneous conclusions."
At the end of his journal essay, Wallace wrote: "A theological a priori has no place in textual criticism." He approaches Scripture, like all the unbelieving textual critics, like it is any other book. You see this in many places in Wallace's writing. In another article, entitled "Mark 1:2 and New Testament Criticism" (2004), he wrote: "At all points, textual critics are historians who have to base their views on data, not mere theological convictions."

With these presuppositions in the mind of Wallace, you can see how that he would rush to judgment on the doctrine of preservation. Unlike believers through history, he doesn't start with statements from Scripture to come to his bibliological positions. He looks to "evidence," what might better be called, "science falsely so called" (1 Timothy 6:20). Just because he knows koine Greek really well doesn't mean that we think he is credible on this doctrine. You'll find dozens of people in universities all over America that know Greek as well or better than he, who are brazen liberals in their view of the Bible. The blatant errors in his "exegesis" evince a lack of carefulness that attempts to force his naturalistic view of Scripture onto the biblical text.

Blatant Error Number Three

Even though Matthew 24:35 wasn't referenced by Donald Brake in his Dallas Theological thesis, Wallace chooses to end his dealing with references on preservation by mentioning it in a footnote:
Occasionally Matt. 24:35 (“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”) is used in support of preservation. But once again, even though this text has the advantage of now referring to Jesus’ words (as opposed to the OT), the context is clearly eschatological; thus the words of Jesus have certainty of fulfillment. That the text does not here mean that his words will all be preserved in written form is absolutely certain because (1) this is not only foreign to the context, but implies that the written gospels were conceived at this stage in Heilsgeschichte—decades before a need for them was apparently felt; (2) we certainly do not have all of Jesus’ words recorded—either in scripture or elsewhere (cf. John 20:30 and 21:25).
The eschatological context doesn’t affect the teaching on preservation—it enhances it. The Lord Jesus Christ assures His disciples that His promises not only shall certainly be fulfilled but also shall remain available for the comfort of His people during that troubled period which shall precede His second coming. He offers two other reasons why the verse doesn’t teach preservation. First, however, Jesus’ promise does not make a point that the gospels had already been written down. It assumes that they would be, even as they shortly were. He is omniscient and could make that promise. Even as Daniel Wallace wrote in his Greek grammar, this in Matthew 24:35 is the strongest guarantee in Greek language. His words were preserved because they were written down. Heaven and earth are physical entities that will pass away, that is, disappear. They can be less counted upon in their preservation than Jesus’ Words. Heaven and earth will disappear in the end times, so Jesus’ Words are time sensitive. They’ll be around surely when heaven and earth will not. Why not just take the plain meaning of the text?

I think he is dead wrong about Matthew 24:35 and the plain reading shows this. However, it is his second argument where the third blatant error is. He used John 20:30 and 21:25 to make a point. Why deny the teaching that Jesus just made with something of one's own invention regarding unrecorded Words of Jesus? He can't really know of any Words of Jesus outside of the ones in Scripture, and John 20:30 and 21:25 don’t help his point, because they say absolutely nothing about His Words. He uses two passages to confirm a point that isn't even in those two texts. Both of those speak of things that Jesus did that are not recorded, not what He said. They say nothing about Words.

Wallace Destroys His Straw Man

Daniel Wallace put words in the mouth of historic believers when he wrote:
Any claim that God preserved the New Testament text in tact, giving His church actual, not theoretical, possession of it, must mean one of three things—either 1) God preserved it in all the extant manuscripts so that none of them contain any textual corruptions, or 2) He preserved it in a group of manuscripts, none of which contain any corruptions, or 3) God preserved it in a solitary manuscript which alone contains no corruptions.
You should notice first the amazing lack of objectivity on the part of Wallace when he starts off with a "theoretical possession" of Scripture. Most of all, he orders the church the only three possibilities for a position. I've read much historical theology on this subject and I have never read any of these three as the historic position of God's people. However, from his hubris he mandates these three as the only possibilities and in the next paragraph, he argues them away in a few sentences. I've never read in history that God had promised that (1) every copy would be perfect, (2) that there would be zero errors in an entire group of copies, or that (3) one copy would be passed down perfectly from generation to generation. With his odd view that has no theological presuppositions along with very little curiosity regarding the historic belief, he assumes that the only possibilities are those that popped into his head. Then he proceeds to shoot them down.

Wallace represents well the straw man argument in the denial of the preservation of God's Words. God's people believe that God preserved every Word. God said "Words" and they believed "Words." Scripture doesn't mention preserving copies, manuscripts, or families of manuscripts. The Bible tells us that God would preserve every Word for every generation of God's people.

Stay tuned for Part 4

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Criticizing Professor Wallace part two

Daniel Wallace Invents New Doctrine

The Bible teaches its own perfect preservation. Evidence shows the history of a belief in the perfect preservation of Scripture. We have no historical record of Christians not believing the doctrine of perfect preservation until the 19th century. Enter Daniel Wallace. He contends that history of the perfect preservation doctrine traces back only to the Reformation and that upon close examination, the Bible doesn't teach the verbal preservation of Scripture. Here's what William Combs, professor at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote in the DBTS theological journal [DBSJ 5 (Fall 2000): 3-44] on p. 5:

In an article entitled “Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism,” by Daniel B. Wallace, we find what is apparently the first definitive, systematic denial of a doctrine of preservation of Scripture. He has been joined in his view by W. Edward Glenny. . . . [T]he position of Wallace and Glenny appears to be a rather novel one. . . . [T]hey have eliminated any vestige of the preservation of Scripture as a doctrine.
I agree with Combs. The first outright denials of the doctrine of verbal preservation of Scripture that I had ever read or seen came with Daniel Wallace and W. Edward Glenny. So historically their doctrine is a brand new doctrine. With it being an already established doctrine, one would assume that they would have a convincing Scriptural basis to overturn centuries of continued belief in verbal preservation. It should be a very serious thing for a professing believer to declare a total apostatizing of a particular doctrine. In other words, Wallace and Glenny need to have a very good Scriptural case to overturn historic doctrine.

In this case, Wallace and Glenny say that the true doctrine has been one of "no preservation," a denial of preservation. They would say that the church (NT churches) unanimously, erroneously, and against the wooing and moving and guidance of the Holy Spirit had taken on a false doctrine for centuries until these two men came along to correct the church and bring a revival of bibliological truth. Genuine believers had centuries believed that God had providentially preserved His Words for every generation of believer, but that was actually an apostate doctrine, according to these two men. But then they came along and set the church back on its rightful course.

Overturning the Historic Position

The true doctrine, according to Wallace and Glenny, was that God had purposefully allowed His Words not to be preserved and that Scripture itself does not anywhere guarantee its own preservation. These two men championed, according to them, a doctrine that would have been understood by the primitive church, understanding the text of Scripture in the way that the people would have understood it in that day. Moses, David, Paul, and Peter all knew that God's Words had no guarantee of survival for the usage of the saints according to Wallace and Glenny.

I discussed this with Daniel Wallace directly on his blog, Parchment and Pen. He granted that history was on my side. His only argument against the historical argument was that it was a doctrine that arose during the Reformation, not before. He couldn't prove this, but that was his assertion. He said that the major proof against preservation was that Scripture did not teach it, so he was actually going back to the original source, ad fontes, to come to his position. I told him that I believed that preservation was all over the Bible. He said, "No." I said, "Show me." He said, I already have an article that I've written and has been out for over a decade that stands as an authority on this issue. He referred me to the same article that Combs mentioned in his journal article above. He talked as though it was obvious that this work he had written was landmark in bibliological history, which would be clear to anyone having read it. Wallace had spoken; the position was settled.

I informed Wallace that I had read that article several years ago, but that I would read it again. I assumed that it would be a very careful and thorough work to overturn years of belief and teaching that contradicted it. When I was done, I told him that I would tell him whether I thought that it did actually do what he said it would do. In the rest of this post and another, we will look at that article, the work that has overturned the doctrine of verbal preservation for all time in God's church. This should be very important to all of us, since Scripture is our sole authority for faith and practice.

The Reaction to a Scriptural Defense of the Historic Doctrine

Before I start into the critique, I want to say that I'm amazed at the reaction I have endured just for pointing out the above information. I have understood since I was very young the importance of doctrine being historic. When I say historic, I don't mean 100-150 years old, like the age of the Charismatic movement and the critical text. I mean back to at least around the time shortly after Gutenberg's printing press. I don't get how that people can just ignore this and be taken seriously. I also find the ridicule I have received to be very interesting. I haven't always taken the mockery really well. I get testy, but scoffing seems to be the rule rather than the exception on this issue. It comes in heaping helpings. Sometimes it goes beyond personal attack to literal slander. I get the exact same response on this issue from professing believers as I receive from evolutionists over creationism. I represent the historic position, which I'm just supposed to assume could be dismantled by any type of smoke and mirrors offered up. Even when someone goes further than ridicule, the answers are often so varied and novel that many of them seem as though they are being made up on the spot. In this age of tolerance and uncertainty, nearly every spontaneous, never-before-heard improvisation must be respected as a legitimate alternative.

My goal in this criticism of Wallace's paper is to focus my analysis upon his dealings with Scripture in the doctrine of preservation. I want to skip over everything else to locate and examine just the passages he interacts with on the preservation of God's Word. In my copy, downloaded from bible.org, out of twenty-one pages in the article, he treats Scriptural arguments only on pp. 13-17, all told about four pages. Technically, he doesn't start dealing with anything from the Bible until the last part of page 15 and ends at the bottom of page 16. In other words, Daniel Wallace is able to overturn centuries of historic doctrine, in his opinion, in the space of a page and a half. We will write only about this section, the one to which Daniel Wallace himself directed me.

Blatant Errors that Belie Trustworthiness

Daniel Wallace treats five references in the body and two in the footnotes. He explains why:

I am aware of only one substantial articulation of the biblical basis for this doctrine by a majority text advocate. In Donald Brake’s essay, “The Preservation of the Scriptures,” five major passages are adduced as proof that preservation refers to the written Word of God: Ps. 119:89, Isa. 40:8, Matt. 5:17–18, John 10:35, and 1 Pet. 1:23–25.
Wallace acts like there wasn't much for him to find in defense of the preservation of God's Word. He could have found plenty of other written material on the doctrine of preservation in Scripture if he had looked even a little. He could have gone back and read John Owen, Francis Turretin, among other Westminster divines. He could have looked in the book of a man he quoted in this very article, Edward Hills, the honors Yale undergraduate and Harvard PhD, who gives a Scriptural defense of preservation of the original language text of God's Word in his book, The King James Version Defended. With no large effort, he could have found many more presentations on preservation, but I’m left to deal with the few with which he chose to interact in the essay by Brake, a fellow Dallas Theological alumnus.

This short list of verses is very convenient for Wallace. He invalidates Isaiah 40:8 and 1 Peter 1:23-25 in one sentence. Psalm 119:89 and John 10:35 are not even texts that I would use in defense of preservation. They are nice supplementary references, but that’s about it. He attempts to swat away this historic doctrine without even working up a sweat. He should have worked harder.

Blatant Error Number One

Wallace writes:

But 1 Pet. 1:23–25, for example, in quoting Isa. 40:8, uses rhema (not logos)—a term which typically refers to the spoken word.

His first argument is that since 1 Peter 1:23-25 uses rhema instead of logos, it can't be speaking about the preservation of the written word, because rhema is used to refer to the spoken word.

Good exegesis or even checking someone else's exegesis includes reading the text. I don’t know how Wallace could have read 1 Peter 1:23-25, because v. 23 uses logos and then v. 25 uses rhema. This directly contradicts his point. Verse 23, the particular portion of these three verses that contains the specific words supporting preservation, says the logos of God lives and abides forever. It’s also logos in the UBS 3/4 in case you were wondering. So Wallace says that rhema is spoken word as opposed to logos, written word. Since in this case “word” really is logos, it must be the written text here unless someone tried to have it both ways, not something anyone should get away with. If I made the same mistake as he does here, I would be laughed out of the room. To overturn centuries of teaching, I would assume that someone who cared would know what the words were. He sweeps away 1 Peter 1:23-25 and Isaiah 40:8 with this one false statement.

This study first appeared over a decade ago in the Grace Journal from Grace Theological Seminary. In other words, this is a peer-reviewed article. Aren't the peers supposed to review? Shouldn't they have looked up what he used as arguments against a centuries old doctrinal position? I would call this a "rush to judgment." Academics see an essay that doesn't negate their favored position, so they give it blanket approval. Is it that easy to nullify a doctrine cherished for hundreds of years by saints of God?

Blatant Error Number Two

Wallace left most of the heavy lifting to his footnotes. In footnote 77 Wallace references Matthew 5:18 and writes:

[Matt. 5:18] plainly refers either to the ethical principles of the law or the fulfillment of prophecy, or both. (The validity of each of these options turns, to some degree, on how plerothe is used elsewhere in Matthew and the weight given to those texts—e.g., are Matthew’s OT quotation introductory formulae [hina plerothe] in 1:22; 2:15; 4:14, etc., connecting the term to eschatological fulfillment] more significant or is Jesus’ own use of plerothe [in 3:15, connecting it to ethical fulfillment] more significant?) Either way, the idea of preservation of the written text is quite foreign to the context.

He says he is treating Matthew 5:18. And yet plerothe isn’t in Matthew 5:18; it’s in 5:17. The word “fulfil” in 5:17 is a different word than “fulfilled” in 5:18. 5:18 uses ginomai, which cancels out his entire paragraph. In this one note, he makes those two plain errors. Again this is the composition to be relied upon to overturn the doctrine of preservation.

“Jots” and “tittles” do refer to Hebrew letters. Paraphrased, this could read: Not one Hebrew letter will disappear from the law until all of it comes about. In 5:17 Christ didn’t come to destroy the law, and the law’s jots and tittles will not disappear (5:18). The parallel in Luke 16:17 states: “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” Nothing had been lost from the text of the law, and nothing ever would be lost. It would be easier for heaven and earth to pass than for such a loss to take place.

What to Think?

Wallace doesn’t say much about the Scriptural promises of preservation. We have only the few things he says to judge whether he truly has relied on Scripture to overturn the historic position. What we get is sloppy work that should be rejected. We should expect more to turn from a position so long settled in the hearts and minds of Christians. Daniel Wallace doesn’t get to change doctrine by merely showing up. The burden of proof was upon him. He failed.

Part Three to Come.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Criticizing Professor Wallace

As you peruse Scripture, you won't find a God-ordained office of "professor." You won't see a single mention of "scholar." In Ephesians 4, God didn't give His church "educators." Did God know what He was doing? Could He have somehow performed a glitch in His plan? Could He not have foreseen an age of advanced electronics and mammoth libraries? By faith, I still choose a church and a pastor above man-made positions, employees of colleges, universities, and graduate schools.

Two or three weeks ago, preacher friends and I were relaxing at a restaurant after finishing preaching at a 50th anniversary church celebration conference in North Carolina and I asked our waiter where he was from. He said, "Jerusalem, Israel." I asked him if he was a student at University of North Carolina there in Chapel Hill and he answered, "Yes." Then I inquired about his study. "International Studies, minoring in Arabic." Before we left, he had pulled up a chair and we talked a long while, reasoning with him from the Old and New Testaments. He had just finished a class on the Old Testament with Bart Ehrman. I groaned inside. He was learning about the Bible from the secular humanist perspective, presented by an aggressive agnostic. This is the new forum for Scripture, playing with truth in a test tube.

I believe what makes this even more insidious is the respect that is given this new society by Christians, especially young men who train for actual church offices. They elevate the opinions of these operatives above any others. Parachurch campuses speckle the world, populated by men and women of advanced degrees, who contribute an expertise to God's family not prescribed anywhere in God's Word. They aren't in the Bible, but they have become worthy of the highest respect among church leaders. They don't have to fulfill the qualifications of church office, but they do fit into a secular idea of education that is more in line with John Dewey or Horace Mann.

I contend today that these "scholars" are not untouchable. They are not beyond criticism. They should be taken through the gauntlet and questioned in a greater way than those in legitimate church offices. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). We should trust God on that. Rather than entreat an elder as a father, the professor is entreated and often the overseer, the presbuteros, the president of the assembly, is ridiculed. I see it regularly firsthand. This should be a matter of trusting how God works first, trusting that the Father does know best.

The graduate professor carries tremendous weight today. Would-be scholars hasten to curry favor with these men and form a brood of fawning admirers, waiting for a mere mention from their lofty lips. They reference them in hushed tones. They crowd themselves like unmarried females anticipating the bouquet of flowers to be tossed by the new bride, scrounging for compliments. If you quote one of these men, you have spoken ex cathedra, requiring that all witnesses humbly genuflect.

If we could pause a moment in the midst of this ostentatious respect, we should recognize that this attitude doesn't tend towards knowing the truth. The things they write should hold up to criticism. If they don't, they shouldn't be accepted just because of the letters next to the authors name. If they write something helpful, great, but that doesn't mean that they are beyond the helpful grilling of ordained bishops of God's church. They should be able to be questioned about their material.

Case in point is Daniel Wallace, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, a man who presently dedicates himself with great vigor to the restoration of Scripture to something he hopes is closer to its original condition. He assumes we've lost some of God's Words. Earlier he was known as a Greek professor who authored a grammar and syntax used for Greek classes across the United States. Now he's worked himself up to a textual critic. A part of his process is a denial of a New Testament doctrine of preservation. He opposes an approach to copies of Scripture that starts with any presupposition of Divine preservation or perfection. We must live in his opinion with a certain number of mistakes. It takes on the fervor of something that is more a mandate than an opinion.

When you question Dr. Wallace on this, as I did a year or so ago, he sends you with a sigh to something he wrote, convinced it is still the standard on the topic of Divine preservation. After you read it, you are to assume that you will bow to his great expertise and fall into a relative fetal position next to his heights of academic prowess. It's all done. Daniel Wallace has spoken. Move on. Rev up the bus, the party's over.

I questioned him about this over at one of his online locations, Parchment and Pen. I saved the link to the particular post upon which I commented. I critiqued what he wrote, pointing out several incredible errors, and I have since noticed that the entire post disappeared as if it never existed (it was here, but no more). The embarrassing stuff doesn't get to stay. He hasn't submitted to the correction. None of his covey of supporters would even admit he made a mistake. What he said to me was that I was playing unfair, because I was just "cherry-picking" his mistakes. He was and is beyond that kind of criticism. Isn't the truth what we most want? Isn't that the point of all these studies? In the next week or so, I'm going to show you what is wrong with his article. Perhaps the entire thing will just disappear as well. It should; it's wrong.

By the way, you'll still have men supporting him. They might be told by the great PhD that they have become one of his acquaintances, that he gave them a passing thought on some given day. Others, of course, will attack me and say that I don't like Dan Wallace. I'm ambivalent toward that. I love Dan Wallace. I truly hope the best for him. I think he's wrong. Big boys in the so-called rough and tumble academic world should be able to handle it, but perhaps they're protected in their camelots of tranquility. I often hear "peer-reviewed journal" from them. They have been exposed to the review of peers---"two enthusiastic thumbs up, Dan Wallace." If someone reads the party line, he often gets the good review. If he says the politically incorrect thing, then comes the bruising. The scholars learn to cow-tow to the acceptable position.

Stay with me in the next few posts as I criticize Dr. Wallace. Pastor Brandenburg goes to Dallas. Hopefully I won't get all enamored by the stained glass and the ivy covered walls.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Story: Lies, Libel, and Blogdom

Besides writing some posts here and at Jackhammer, I read and comment on a few other blogs. With not every one of these am I in ecclesiastical fellowship. I would categorize them anywhere from fundamentalist to conservative evangelical. Perhaps the most visited blog among the conservative evangelicals, non-separatists, is called Pyromaniacs. It sounds criminal, but the title means to catch attention and then inform us about the Bible being like fire in a certain sense as described in Jeremiah. The regulars at Pyro know me and know who I am and where I stand. Every few weeks there I comment, probably 50-50, positive and negative. If I read something and don't agree, I'll say it. If I like it, I'll type that too. It has given me a forum for understanding how these types of men interact with what I believe. For the most part, they don't engage in a substantive way, but instead choose to mock and insult. Some of their rhetoric must be met, but mostly I keep it to a scriptural discussion.

A Story

Recently, Phil Johnson, the purveyor of the blog and the executive director of Grace to You, wrote a challenging post targeting Arminians in which he called on them to apply their understanding of God's sovereignty in inspiration of Scripture to the doctrine of salvation as well. I wrote this comment:
God is sovereign in salvation. We get this from Scripture, so we believe it. This is in the London Baptist Confession. Every man still sins and sins, but we still believe this; God is sovereign.

God is sovereign in verbal, plenary inspiration. We get this from Scripture, so we believe it. This is in the London Baptist Confession. Men don't possess the original manuscripts, but we still believe this; God is sovereign.

God is sovereign in verbal, plenary preservation. We get this from Scripture, so we believe it. This is in the London Baptist Confession. Men have made errors in copying, but we still believe this; God is sovereign.

Who believes in sovereignty?
One of Phil's two partners at his blog, Frank Turk, immediately begins with something both false and insulting. Ultimately he writes this:
We love you and your cultic interpretations of both the confessions and the preservation of the text of the Bible, Kent.

Play on. May God have mercy on you.
Of course, he's being sarcastic and mean. He means that he doesn't love me (I figured that out awhile ago) or what he calls my "interpretations" (I don't know what "interpretation of...the preservation of the text of the Bible" means). "Play on" is meant to be insulting as well as the benediction to his comment. That is normal fare from Frank.

Frank couldn't leave this one alone so he wrote a whole post about his use of the word "cultic." This was the first time I had ever written a comment on his blog and I did so only to clear up the "cultic" terminology. If you read the 83rd comment, you'll see that in the end, he bans me from his and the Pyro blogs for something I had said about Daniel Wallace.

I first wrote:
Daniel Wallace doesn't believe in inerrancy even in the original manuscripts. I don't know if that affects anything for you.
I wrote this because someone linked to a Wallace article. Then Frank wrote:
Ardent engagement is one thing, and libel is another. Find some way to here retract your statement and apologize, or get banned.
I replied:
Evidence. And I'll let you decide. Read this article by Daniel Wallace. http://www.bible.org/page.php?pa...php? page_id=676

He says that the CT reading in Mark 1:2 is in the originals, even though it is an error. There in Mark is a quote from Malachi 3:1, which the CT attributes to Isaiah. The T says "the prophets." He calls himself an inerrantist; true, Carl, but in this article he says that the error was in the originals. This is why he gives a long explanation of his particular view of inerrancy. So there is my explanation, Carl.

I don't have a personal bone to pick with Daniel Wallace. I think his Greek Grammar is very helpful and I've told him that personally. I believe that he is harmful; however, because of what he says. Just because I criticize his views doesn't mean that I don't like him, Carl. It could mean, and I believe it does, that I love him.

I believe in verbal, plenary inspiration, so one or two words in error void inerrancy. You are welcome to disagree with that, but it isn't an unusual view, Carl.
Frank then wrote:
You're banned for being what you have demonstrated here: an unapologetic liar, and a person who is willing to resort to libel in order to advance an argument.

Dr. Wallace does not deny inerrancy, and for being unable to admit you were wrong, you're banned until you apologize.
I still believe that Daniel Wallace rejects the historic view of inerrancy. So would this man, based on this article. In this article, Daniel Wallace says:
My own views on inerrancy and inspiration have changed over the years. I still embrace those doctrines, but I don’t define them the way I used to.
He has changed on the doctrine of inerrancy. You'll notice in the Wallace article on Mark 1:2 that he charges anyone who disagrees with him as "quite arrogant." Should we assume that this is always true, because Wallace says it? Couldn't Wallace's position be arrogant too? His only explanation for differing is that they're quite arrogant.

In this article, Wallace agrees with Metzger (Metzger denied inerrancy) that certain texts went out from their author uncorrected (in other words, with errors). The textual variant in Romans 5:1 puts the doctrine of reconciliation in doubt---we might have peace with God rather than surely have peace with God. As another example, Wallace says that Paul made an error in 1 Corinthians 1:14 that he later corrected in 1 Corinthians 1:16. That doesn't read as inerrancy to me and I don't believe it does to many others either. Daniel Wallace doesn't believe in any Scriptural or theological presupposition of inerrancy. I have enough of a reason to reject Wallace's claim of inerrancy that this is not a libel against him. And yet Frank says I'm a liar and a libel and I'm banned. What do you think is happening here? Do you believe I have lied about and libeled Wallace?

Frank expects me to apologize for the lie and the libel. I told him that apologizing would be the actual lie in this situation. At this point my conscience is clean and clear because I do think that Wallace does "not believe in inerrancy" (my words).

On the other hand, Frank has lied about me many times, and I guess that since it is public, it could be called libel. I have mentioned these several times and Frank has never retracted them. One is the "cult" charge that started this whole thing. Frank becomes angry over my errancy charge with Wallace, but he's fine with calling me a cultist. He gets there by making false statements. I think they are false statements until corrected and if not, they become lies. That is regular with Frank.

He does this dozens of times in our debate at his debate blog. By the way, Frank tried to get his followers and readers to comment about our debate. He solicited comments. He got nothing. He has a huge readership and yet he didn't get any public support. If you read the debate, it will be easy to see. The position of verbal, plenary preservation wiped his view all over the floor. Frank and his view were decimated. I'm happy to hear explained how this wasn't true, but it very much was true. But I digress.

What About These?

In the comment section of Pyro, these are false statements that are lies:

"my cultic idea that the KJV is the only legitimate translation in English"
Then we go over to Frank's blog and we read these lies in the original post:
"Kent Brandenberg showed up to wave the flag of KJVO"

"to get to the place where the NIV and the NASB are not just flawed but devil-inspired"

"Which edition of the TR is the inerrant edition? You haven't answered that question yet. Across 3 blogs and many months, you haven't answered that."

"Kent doesn't answer questions."

"he has invested a lot of his writing time on this topic, discrediting himself as a person who is serious about the Gospel"
In a later comment, Frank lied about me when he said this:
"BTW, Kent has informed me that you are all "yes-men" who are only flattering me to a "dense and desolate" end."
I don't have to get into another long list of times that Frank does this during our debate.

This is where the story ends.


Did I lie or libel?

Did he?