Monday, February 23, 2009

Whose Beliefs Aren't Taught In Scripture and Have No History Before the Nineteenth Century?

What would you think if what you believed had no biblical basis and no history before the nineteenth century? What would you call yourself? Could you even have such a belief? Who do you think of when I ask such a question? Is it the Mormons? Is it the Jehovah's Witnesses? Is it the Campbellites? Is it Seventh Day Adventists?

You might say that what you believed was a kind of restoration movement, that other people were duped up until that point, but you were able to bring them the true doctrine. You wouldn't be the first. Of course, to do so, you would have to argue for a kind of total apostasy of doctrine or of that particular belief, the one that isn't in the Bible and has no history before the nineteenth century. You would have to have some explanation.

Do you think it would bug you that you can't find your doctrine taught by orthodox believers since the invention of the printing press, 1440-1800, except for perhaps a few radical unbelievers? I know that for myself, I would have to take a belief very seriously if I didn't have a historic basis for the belief. I recognize that we get our doctrines from Scripture. But if my scriptural doctrine had no history behind it, then I would really want to be sure that it was in Scripture. If there was no history and neither was it in the Bible, I would reject it. What about you?

For a belief to originate that was not in the Bible and had no history, someone would need to become convinced of a total apostasy. So let's ask ourselves. Do you think there was a total apostasy of a particular doctrine especially in the 16th to 18th centuries? Was that a unique time of apostasy or was there something during that time period that took place that resulted in more people reading the Bible and more conversions of sinners than there had been before that period for centuries?

If believers during the 16th to 18th century had a doctrine that they believed, do you think that they could all be fooled? Would the Holy Spirit allow that? Is that something that we see in Scripture, that every believer would be fooled on a particular doctrine for three centuries, so that there was no history of the actual true doctrine? I don't think so. I would have a very hard time believing that.

I know that a lot of new beliefs originated in the nineteenth century. This period is called post-enlightenment. "The Enlightenment" speaks of a period in the eighteenth century Western civilization during which time, for many, reason became the primary source and legitimacy for authority. What do you think of post-enlightenment Christology? What do you think of any doctrine that originated after and out of post enlightenment? Did you know that a lot of cults originated just in that time of unbelief and attack on scriptural authority? I know that I would be very, very careful with anything that arose during that period of time.

The belief I happen to be talking about is post-enlightenment bibliology. The critical text belief, the eclectic text belief was not found among professing believers before the 19th century. Across the board, you read that men believed that God has preserved His word perfectly in the available original language texts. They believed that they had in those texts, the apographa of Scripture, every Word of the original manuscripts. During the nineteenth century, we find that belief subjected to the science of textual criticism. It wasn't some new exegesis of Scripture, some level of Christian growth that led to this new belief, but the criticism of doctrine and the text of Scripture that came along with age of enlightenment.

Now we have a new doctrine of preservation of Scripture, that doesn't come from the Bible and it doesn't come from history. It comes from the minds of textual critics during the post-enlightenment period. They weren't concerned about the promises of God. They weren't concerned what Christians believed before. They didn't want to let any of those things get in the way of their developing science and their new discoveries. They believed that their reasoning was superior to what God promised in His Word and that Christians had believed.

Of course, evangelicals and fundamentalists didn't believe that, did they? They wouldn't, would they?


Anonymous said...

if people throughout history until the 19th century really "believed that God has preserved His word perfectly in the available original language texts. They believed that they had in those texts, the apographa of Scripture, every Word of the original manuscripts", does that justify your particular belief in one translation? I don't think so. if the claim is that's what most Christians believed, and most Christians had different Bibles how can that be compared to today? For example, we know many believed the Vulgate to be that very original. . but some clung to the Old Latin. . others preferred the Geneva to the KJV. how does any of that justify your position? Also, if history is to be a guide how can one hold to things like dispensational premil, or even local-church onlyism for that matter? Aren't you local church only? The Westminster Confession certainly was not.
If believers before the Enlightenment believed as you do, how in the world could they have compiled texts? Did Erasmus believe that way? Did the KJV translators themselves believe that way? And by the way, none of us who are non-KJVO believe our reasoning is superior to what God promised.
Please answer this, what changed for you in 1611? Why do you say that we had "general accessibility" all the way down the centuries but now we must cling to one 17th century Anglican translation into Elizabethean English? Why can't I continue to believe you "general accesibility" argument today, or moreover, apply particularity to another Bible?

Kent Brandenburg said...


It justifies my belief in one Bible. I'm KJVO because the KJV comes from that text. I have other reasons for the NKJV but I don't deny that it comes from the same text (I thought I'd answer that for you).

Regarding the Geneva, Vulgate, etc., all that, you're arguing something different to read a bibliology into what some who weren't even saved thought was the best Bible. I'm just the reporter---no one took the CT/eclectic position until post-enlightenment. Daniel Wallace doesn't argue this. What evangelicals (salvation by grace through faith) took the Vulgate position? You had a lot of English translations from essentially the same text for about a hundred years, 1500-1600 but like they agreed on the same 66 books, they came together on the same Bible. All of that really is a moot point relative to this post.

I carefully wrote this, knowing that men would bring in eschatology. I think is a valid come-back, which is why I brought into this. Have you read material on the history of premillennialism and pretribulationalism? There is a lot on the former, and as I have preached through the gospels, I see several NT characters teach it. Thomas Ice has a lot of material on the latter that perhaps you haven't read. It's all over the internet, but I've read the books too. My belief is that eschatology is one doctrine that we will advance in our knowledge, as seen in Daniel 12, knowledge increasing. However, premill and pretrib people are arguing from Scripture too, not what you see in the post-enlightenment bibliology.

As to my ecclesiology, I'm always giving the history for it too. I don't know how you may have missed my reference to the earliest church father, 1 Clement, who shows a local only ecclesiology, as well as Michael Sattler in the Schleitheim Confession, 1526. I'm not bereft of history. It has been Baptists who take this position, for obvious reasons. I've written on this a ton on this blog, giving history. I'm sure many were not paying attention. Thanks for asking though.

As to your whole second paragraph, you're starting with the wrong question. I'm starting with biblical presuppositions, which happen to also be historic ones. When I refer to the WC and the LBC, which are the same, I'm saying that you won't find anything that believers have written that support the post-enlightenment bibliology. You've sucked up that Erasmus stuff hook, line, and sinker, it seems, as if he was the only man interested in the Greek text at the time. Go with the obvious, what people believed and then what took place. Don't be drawn away by the red herrings and the smokescreens written to invent an eclectic/CT position before 1800.

If you use an eclectic/CT Bible, you believe the eclectic/CT position. That text wasn't accessible for over a millennium. And then when you find it, it disagrees in thousands of places from the text accepted by the church. That's the problem. It isn't a belief in preservation, and the guys that did the work for that text didn't believe in it either.

Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

"What evangelicals (salvation by grace through faith) took the Vulgate position?"

John Wycliffe, for one.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I don't know how much you know, so if I say something you already know, I'm not attempting to be condescending. England was still Roman Catholic in 1300 when Wycliffe came on the scene. He was an early reformer in a sense, called the morning star of the Reformation. Since he was a reformer, and did not separate, he was still using what he had grown up using. Obviously, having the Vulgate to translate from was better than having nothing of Scripture.

They translated from the Latin and that was a Roman Catholic belief, something that was fought over in the reformation in which the belief was stated by believers not affiliated with Catholicism that preservation was in original language texts. Read WC and LBC on that.

I'm noticing that you are not budging or agreeing one inch about this, which seems odd to me, if you are an open person.

Now if the reason you are bringing this up is the issue of availability, this is why, during the hand copying phase of preservation, we say general accessiblity. Wycliffe's continued association with an apostate denomination affected, I believe, the text that he possessed, as it did with many other people who did the the same.

limrenmuh said...

hi, may i say something, seems to me that this is going on until the cows come home, i think the reason is we tried to established some general bench mark for general christians regarding preservation of scripture...i remembered well, the bible said this,Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. (Psa 119:89)...
my question is this: could it be like this: that the LORD had man created to write HIS word, preserved His word according to the very direction of scriptures? :) just a thought....

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Limrenmuh. I believe what you are saying is correct.

Thanks for coming over to the blog.

I'm not going to move on to another topic here soon.

Chris said...

Pastor Brandenburg,
I think you are right on the mark. I've been trying to help a guy at work who has gotten involved with JW's on an introductory basis. I have found from there book of reasoning and the NWT that they primarily used Wescott and Hort with their ASV. THe critical text crowd got just what they bargained for with the JW's. Many of them questioned the diety of CHrist so they resulted in JW doctrine. THey called the Johnanine Comma less than reliable so they got the JW doctrine of no trinity.
Although the mormons use the KJV for their own pernicious ways it seems that quite simply all of these strange beliefs came from textual criticism.
Wouldn't it make a difference if a lot of these critics would just believe every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

The Puritan said...

You may not like the source, but you will learn something from this PDF:

The source shouldn't bother you, if one is interested in truth then look for truth despite the source. Roman Catholics laid down a lot of propaganda in their time, destroying writings, putting for false histories, smearing men and women of God.