So that I don't reinvent the wheel, here is a very typical argumentation from an eclectic text person or non-preservation person (to whom I'll refer as NP, Non-Preservation Person). I'm Kent.Kent:
God preserved all His Words in the language in which they were written and they were generally accessible to every generation of believers. The King James Version comes from those Words that God preserved for every generation of believers.NP:
Did you know that you actually aren't reading the 1611 King James, because it was revised several times after that? And that you are actually reading the 1769 Blayney revision of the King James?Kent:
What does that have to do with what I just said? I said God preserved all His Words in the language in which they were written.NP:
Even the King James translators in their preface said that no translation of Scripture could be said to be perfect. They believed that other translations could be called the Word of God, so you are going way beyond what even the translators intended.Kent:
I've not said anything about the translation except that the King James Version comes from preserved Greek and Hebrew words. The translators said nothing about that in their preface to the King James.NP:
Did you know that the defense of the King James only started with a Seventh Day Adventist, Benjamin Wilkinson? Almost all the arguments used by King James only proponents come from Wilkinson, a Seventh Day Adventist?Kent:
I've never read Wilkinson's book, but the position I take is actually the same one found in the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646, the London Baptist Confession of 1689, and that which you can read from men in the 17th century. It wasn't invented by Wilkinson in the 20th century. I don't even know what Wilkinson believed. Actually, it is your position, the one that says that God didn't preserve every Word for every generation, that is the new position, dating back only to the mid to late 19th century. You won't find a no-perfect-preservation position, except from liberals, before the 19th century.NP:
So what you're saying is that everyone has always had a perfect copy of Scripture to read?Kent:
No, what I'm saying is that all of the Words of the Old and New Testament have been generally accessible to every generation of believers. I base that, like godly men through history, upon scriptural presuppositions about God's preservation of Scripture.NP:
If God perfectly preserved His Word, then why isn't there one single hand-copy of the New Testament identical to another?Kent:
First, I haven't compared every single one of the manuscripts to see if any are identical to another. I don't think there is anyone who has, but, second, from what I've read, there are a few manuscript fragments, which are mainly what we have---we don't have many old complete hand copies of the New Testament---so, like I was saying, there are a few manuscript fragments that are identical to one another. Third, there are very few differences between the hand copies (manuscripts) that were a basis for the textus receptus
. Fourth, of those copies, based on scriptural presuppositions we believe that every one of the Words were available, and then, fifth, that believers agreed on those Words during the period which those hand written words were amalgamated into one printed edition. The Bible teaches a settled text.NP:
But didn't you know that no edition of the textus receptus
was identical to the other?Kent:
Yes, I know that, but there were very few differences, and all of the Words were there. And by the end of that period, believers agreed on what the Words were. The Christians of the seventeenth century believed that they had a text identical to the originals in their printed edition. We know that by what they wrote.NP:
But even if there was one word that was wrong or missing, you can't claim that there was a perfect text.Kent:
What I claim is that there was perfect preservation of every Word. All the Words were there and then the churches, guided by the Holy Spirit were led to a perfect text, so I don't believe that there was one wrong or missing word, and that is based upon scriptural presuppositions.NP:
So you too believe in textual criticism, because that's exactly what they were doing in the sixteenth century. That's what Erasmus was doing.Kent:
To read textual criticism into the sixteenth century really is revisionist history. Textual criticism is completely rationalistic and long post-dates the sixteenth century. Actual textual criticism is not based upon any theological or biblical presuppositions. Textual critics, in fact, reject the use of scriptural presuppositions. The basis of textual criticism, as it is explained by the textual critics themselves historically, is ongoing, never settled, and based upon literary criteria that are the same rules applied to secular literature. The sixteenth century men responsible for the various editions of the textus receptus
weren't applying these criteria to the copies of the New Testament they possessed. And those manuscripts were very uniform compared to the manuscripts relied upon by textual criticism, which were not generally accessible until the 19th century.NP:
But didn't Erasmus back translate portions of Revelation from the Latin Vulgate? Isn't it true that some parts of the textus receptus
have no basis in any copy of the Greek New Testament?Kent:
What I have found to be the case is that advocates of the eclectic or critical text have a strong belief in the preservation of historical data, including what they read about Erasmus, even greater trust in information God didn't promise to preserve than in the Words of God that the Lord did promise to preserve. First, we don't know all that Erasmus had as a basis for that first printed edition of the textus receptus
. Second, Erasmus very likely was relying on manuscripts that had the Words he included in his printed edition of the book of Revelation in the Greek. Third, the churches didn't settle on Erasmus' edition of the textus receptus
anyway, making this all a moot point.NP:
So then what is the perfect edition of the textus receptus
? Which one is it?Kent:
It is the Greek text that is the basis of the King James Version of the Bible.NP:
When was that text printed?Kent:
We can buy a copy of it today from various sources. However, again, the scriptural position is that all the Words of God were generally accessible to every generation of Christian. The Words behind the King James Version come primarily from the textus receptus
edition of Bezae in 1598 and those of Stephanus in 1550 and 1551. The number of differences between those three editions are very, very small. Christians settled on the Words behind the King James Version. Those are the ones that a large majority of believers, led and guided by the Holy Spirit, agreed upon. The Greek Words behind the KJV NT were printed in a single edition in 1894 posthumously by F. H. A. Scrivener. However, all of the Words in Scrivener were agreed upon by believers and churches. We can read sermons from preachers and pastors of the 16th and 17th century and see that the textus receptus
was the text used by the churches. The men of God of the 17th century believed they had every single Word accessible to them. That is the historic Christian position.NP:
So it's obvious that the text that you believe is perfect wasn't available until the late 19th century, which isn't anything different than the text of Westcott and Hort.Kent:
No, the Words were available and relied upon in the 16th and 17th centuries. Our position, the scriptural one, is that the Words were preserved and generally accessible. Those men that preached the King James in the 17th century were relying on the Greek Words behind the New Testament of the King James Version.NP:
So you believe that there was a second act of inspiration that took place in 1611 when the King James translators did their translation?Kent:
I don't believe at all that it was a second act of inspiration. That idea didn't come about, as far as I know, until Peter Ruckman is credited with espousing it in the mid to late 20th century. I don't believe in double inspiration. What I'm talking about is providential preservation. God providentially worked to ensure that we would have every Word of God generally accessible during every generation.NP:
But what you are claiming is that a miracle took place, which is different than providence. A miracle utilizes primary supernatural causation and providence only secondarily.Kent:
I do believe that preservation has been supernatural. And we haven't differentiated providence in the past as unmiraculous. Historically, providence was considered to be a miracle. James Orr in The Fundamentals
in the chapter on "Science and the Christian Faith" writes of what theologians call "'providential' miracles, in which, so far as one can see, natural agencies under divine direction suffice to produce the result." So whether God uses natural agencies or completely transcends those laws, it is a miracle. That is the historic understanding of providence. Inspiration itself is a miracle in which God uses natural agencies. He used men to write down scripture without error. If we can't believe in preservation because of the natural agencies that God used, then we can't believe in inspiration either.NP:
But God nowhere said that He would preserve His Word in a particular text type.Kent:
That isn't the position that I take either. I believe He preserved all His Words and that they were generally accessible to every generation of believers. The Bible also teaches a perfect and a settled text. So do you believe that the Bible teaches the preservation of Scripture?NP:
Where do you believe it teaches it? What is it that Scripture teaches about the preservation of Scripture?NP:
I don't know. I haven't really studied it out. But I believe God has preserved His Word.Kent:
So when you say that God preserved His Word, what do you believe that He preserved?NP:
I believe that we have enough of the Words to give us all the doctrines we need to be obedient to God. I believe He preserved His Word in general and that there are not enough errors to change doctrine.Kent:
And what is your scriptural basis for that?NP:
I guess I can't believe that God did some sort of miracle at some point in time to make sure that all of the Words were in one place at one time.Kent:
But you believe all the books are there, all sixty-six, no more or no less?NP:
Yes, but that's different. We have enough historical evidence to demonstrate that we have sixty-six books. It's way different than believing that we have every single Word, especially since the manuscripts themselves don't agree with each other. I'm sorry, but I can't go that far. I don't think it should be an issue that we should divide over and that is what King James people do. They are divisive about it, and I don't think that's right.Kent:
Do you think that errors in the Bible should be a separating issue?NP:
Errors in the original maybe.
I'm not going to keep going. There are more arguments, I'm sure, that the eclectic text people think are brilliant, and that they have on their side, such as their "Septuagint argument" and their "Beza's conjectural emendation in Revelation 16:5" argument. What I do want to do is to point out the manner of operation of the eclectic text/no preservation side of this argument.
First, they don't present a position themselves. They question yours only.
Second, they don't listen to your position. They normally start arguing with a Ruckmanite or English preservationist, even if you're not, and then they keep doing that after you have told them several times. On many occasions, I've found they will still come back to their arguments against these other groups long after you've corrected them several times.
Third, when their point is debunked or defeated, they don't admit that you're right in any way. They move on to the next point they want to make. This shows a closed mind and that they're not interested in the truth, only in winning the argument. They like to argue from history ("Look! Hand copies vary!"), but when they find out that they have no historic basis for their position, that doesn't matter to them at all. They don't seem to care at all that their position was not what was believed or taught before the 19th century.
Fourth, they don't rely at all on Scripture. On this one doctrine, they look away from the Bible to find out what they believe.
Fifth, their quest is a gotcha-game. They want to catch you in an error. They want to prove mistakes in Scripture. That will justify their use of the modern versions.
Sixth, even though they say they believe in the preservation of Scripture, they are trying to show how that God didn't preserve it.
Seventh, when they ask questions, they expect answers, acting is if the burden of proof is upon our side. When we ask questions, they don't give answers and they don't think they have to do that. The burden of proof should be on the people who say that what actually happened is something different than what Scripture promised would happen. What's difficult about that, of course, is that they would need to show the original manuscripts to prove that point.
These multiple version, no preservation people provide the foundation for postmodern uncertainty. If we don't even know what the words are, then how can we be expected to know the meaning?