Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Harvard Joins the Audience of Brandenburg and What Is Truth

Harvard University has included What Is Truth in its curriculum as part of "The Pluralism Project." Harvard researcher Ellie Pierce quoted a post on What Is Truth as part of a case for class discussion and education. She titled it "Fliers at a Peace Parade." It seems that Harvard agrees that Brandenburg and What Is Truth should be read by the students of Harvard University. The alma mater of the President of the United States and the Forbes top ranked university in the U. S. includes What Is Truth in class discussion.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Erroneous Epistemology of Multiple Version Onlyism part five

Gregory Boyd in his book, God of the Possible (2000), wrote in a section (p. 107) entitled, "Integration of Theology and Recent Scientific Advances":

As Christians, we of course want our worldview to be fundamentally derived from God's Word, not the climate of opinion that happens to prevail in the world in which we live. Still, since "all truth is God's truth," as Aquinas taught us, we should assume that whatever is true about the views of our culture, including the views of science, will be consistent with God's Word (assuming we are interpreting it correctly).

His approach is classic evidential epistemology. Presuppositional epistemology is not the absence of evidence, but evidence being interpreted in light of scriptural presuppositions. The veracity of the evidence is judged by the Bible. Boyd interprets scripture in light of his so-called evidence. To support his view, he refers to a statement most often attributed to Thomas Aquinas, "all truth is God's truth."

All Truth Is God's Truth

"All truth is God's truth" has become the mantra for the integration of the Bible and man's observations. But what does it really mean? And is it true? "All truth is God's truth" is credited to Thomas Aquinas, a Roman Catholic priest and philosopher. Living in medieval times, he grappled with the integration of revelation and ideas reflected in the teaching of great philosophers before him, such as Aristotle and Plato. Aquinas insisted that there are "mixed articles," truths that can be learned from both nature and revelation.

Aquinas, however, also believed in the unity of truth with the perspective that all truth is consistent and coherent. If we understand nature or science and the Bible properly, they won't deny one another. Thomas Aquinas would not subordinate the Bible to science or nature. The highest source of truth is God's revelation, God's Word. What is known from nature through man's observation, science, can supplement what is known from the Bible, but never contradict it.

What I'm saying about "all truth is God's truth" as it originated was that it didn't promote integrationism. When it is used that way, it is being used in contradistinction to its historical usage. The truth meets at God and whatever isn't consistent isn't truth. That's how it is God's truth. If it gets to Him and upon meeting Him isn't truth anymore, than it isn't truth at all.

General Revelation

The Bible is not the only source of God's revelation. Besides special revelation, which is what the Bible is, we also have what we call "general revelation," and it comes to us from nature. Scripture talks about this. There are things that we can know because God has revealed them through His creation. Douglas Bookman in the chapter, "The Scriptures and Biblical Counseling," within the book, Introduction to Biblical Counseling, on pp. 77 defines general revelation:

[G]eneral revelation is truth that is manifestly set forth before all humanity (Rom. 1:17-19; 2:14,15); it is truth so clear and irrefutable as to be known intuitively by all rational beings (Ps. 19:1-6; Rom. 1:19); it is truth so authoritative and manifest that when people, by reason of willful rebellion, reject that truth, they do so at the cost of their own eternal damnation (Rom. 1:20; 2:1, 15).

Bookman refutes the notion that somehow human observations could be consigned to the same level as revelation (pp. 74-75):

My contention is that by reason of the proper definition of the theological category “general revelation” and by reason of the intrinsic and [JCA 2:1 (Summer 1998) p. 17] divine integrity and authority that must be granted to any truth-claim that is placed under that category, it is erroneous and misleading to assign to that category humanly deduced or discovered facts and theories. The issue is larger than appropriate taxonomy. In fact, to assign such humanly determined truths to the category of general revelations introduces a two-fold fallacy into the argument when it is used as a rationale for the integrationist position.

First, there is the fallacy that might be termed falsely perceived validity. Revelation is from God; thus it is by definition true and authoritative. To assign human discoveries to the category of general revelation is to imbue them with an aura of validity and consequent authority that they do not, indeed, they cannot merit. Thus, to assign a concept to the category of general revelation when that concept is in fact a theory concocted by a person is, in effect, to lend God’s name to a person’s ideas. That is fallacious, no matter the intrinsic truth or falsehood of the theory under question.

The second fallacy might be called crippled accountability. That is, once it is acknowledged that these theories are revelatory in nature, the issue of challenging them becomes moot. Much may be said about testing the ideas thus derived before acknowledging them as part of that august body of truth that God has communicated in the natural order of things, or about honoring the distinction in intrinsic authority between general and special revelation but to craft an argument for integration based upon the equal merits and authority of general revelation and special revelation is functionally to short-circuit such efforts and to deny such distinctions.

Very simply, if it is revelation, then God said it; if God said it, then it is true; when God speaks truth, mankind’s responsibility is not to test that truth but to obey it. It is self-contradictory to insist that general revelation can include truths that must be studied and examined for their trustworthiness.

The question here is: "what do we do if it seems that man's observations do contradict the Bible, that is, that science and the Bible disagree with each other?"

One supposed example that some will use to argue for an integrationist approach to Scripture and evidentialist epistemology is the case of Galileo and geocentrism. Of course, for this to work, we have to assume that heliocentrism is true. To do that, we have to trust science. Most people who are talking about heliocentrism don't even understand it. They couldn't make a presentation of Copernicus or Kepler if their lives depended on it, but they are happy to ridicule anyone who is a geocentrist. I think it would be an interesting debate to set these evangelicals and fundamentalists up against the best-known geocentrist in the world today, Gerardus Bouw, who has been a professor at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio for many years. Even if Christian heliocentrists could pick out their best scientist, I believe that most people who have a hard time even understanding the science that they would be talking about.

Fallacious Example

Even with heliocentrism being true, it isn't as if at the time of Copernicus that this overturned a position that originated from biblical theology. Here's what Danny Faulkner at Answers in Genesis has to say about it:

In the middle ages and well into the Renaissance, the Roman Catholic Church did teach geocentrism, but was that based upon the Bible? The Church’s response to Galileo (1564–1642) was primarily from the works of Aristotle (384–322 BC) and other ancient Greek philosophers. It was Augustine (AD 354–430), Thomas Aquinas (1224–1274) and others who ‘baptized’ the work of these pagans and termed them ‘pre-Christian Christians’. This mingling of pagan science and the Bible was a fundamental error for which the Church eventually paid a tremendous price.

Confusion persists to today in that nearly every textbook that discusses the Galileo affair claims that it was a matter of religion vs science, when it actually was a matter of science vs science. Unfortunately, Church leaders interpreted certain Biblical passages as geocentric to bolster the argument for what science of the day was claiming. This mistake is identical to those today who interpret the Bible to support things such as the big bang, billions of years, or biological evolution. Therefore, any evangelical Christian misinformed of this history who opines that the Bible is geocentric is hardly any more credible a source on this topic than an atheist or agnostic.

So the heliocentrism-geocentrism issue wasn't a matter of science versus theology, but science versus science. When the quote above talks about "church," it means Roman Catholicism.

The Truth

Truth by definition meets at God, Who is Truth. Without that context, some human observation, even that finds agreement from God's Word is less than truth. We exist to glorify God and if knowing "truth," does not result in God's glory, it cannot rise to the level of truth. If what is called truth does not result in the glory of God, it has missed the context necessary to be truth. We can be happy that someone knows scientific facts, but he doesn't know the truth until that fact can lead Him to the one and true God. What he knows may contain some of the pieces that make up truth, but while he remains self-confident and self-serving, what he knows can't yet be called truth.

God has promised to help man understand His Word (1 Corinthians 2:12-16). He hasn't given the same promise to man for comprehending and explaining science, nature, or the universe. This is why theology was once understood as the "queen of the sciences." Biblical theology, the revelation of God in Scripture, supercedes all other sources of information and knowledge. And so, for centuries what the Bible concluded about nature and man's observations was science. Any observation that is at odds with what Scripture says should be reassessed and reinterpreted to fit God's Word.

Before the enlightenment and before biblical criticism and before evidential epistemology, Christians made conclusions about the text of God's Word based on the science of Scripture. The Bible says it is pure. It will be. The Bible says it is perfect. It will be. The Bible says every Word is accessible to every generation of believers through God's providential working. It will be. Based on those presuppositions, they concluded the perfection of their one Bible. Just like God didn't say how many books of the Bible there would be and what the names of them would be, He didn't say what the name of the Greek text is. They knew that would have every book and every Word. That's what He said, so that's what they believed. With that science, believers were convinced it was the textus receptus of the New Testament.

The rationalism of enlightenment led to the two-book, integrationist approach to knowledge and truth. The teachings and text of scripture became submitted to man's thinking and theories. The certainty of faith turned to the uncertainty of external evidence.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Erroneous Epistemology of Multiple Version Onlyism part four

I was in a hotel in southern California last week and the USA Today newspaper showed up in the hallway in front of the door to my room. I paged through it until I got to an article in the opinion section, entitled Fightin' Words. It was a positive review of Bart Ehrman's book Jesus, Interrupted. I'm settled that Ehrman is scourge of the earth. What most sealed that for me in this column was this quote:

Ehrman's central message is that the New Testament is a human book, written by different people in different situations with different audiences and different objectives. Is this a bid to disabuse believers of their Christianity? Absolutely not, Ehrman says.

What a bold-faced lie. He knows exactly what he's doing. That's all that he wants to do, that is, pull people away from Christianity, well, besides making money and being the beloved pseudo-scholar of the atheist and Islamic. He more than others, because of his background in evangelicalism, understands that he is trying to get people to forsake Christ. I'm thinking that his chair at UNC motivates him to say he isn't trying to get people (college kids) to leave Christianity (that would be a separation of church and state issue too, wouldn't it?).

With all that being said, a recent debate between James White and Bart Ehrman revealed only minutiae of differences between the two in their approach to the preservation of Scripture---they both have about the same view. They differ greatly as to the conclusions to be made, but their differences on preservation itself aren't much. James White and Daniel Wallace are about the same too and here's what Daniel Wallace said in an interview about textual criticism:

I have quite a few heroes! Colwell for his method; Metzger for his learning and insights; Fee for his ability to burst bubbles with data; Tischendorf for his dogged determination in search of manuscripts; Kurt Aland for his vision for INTF; Jerome and Origen for their handling of the textual variants in the pursuit of truth; Sturz for his humility. The list is endless, frankly. I could add Michael Holmes, Bart Ehrman, . . . .

Bart Ehrman is a hero to Wallace. He said it. There are some strong similarities between Ehrman and Wallace. Ehrman assumes the Bible must not be true if God promised preservation, because he's looked at the evidence and that ruins everything about Christianity for him. Wallace has also shaped his view of inerrancy around evidence. Ehrman kept what he thought Scripture said, looked at evidence, and apostatized his beliefs completely. Wallace looked at evidence and then changed what he believed about Scripture. Both have allowed evidence to alter their beliefs. Wallace has said:

Up until the last few years, I would say—and have said—that the practice of textual criticism neither needs nor deserves any theological presuppositions. For example, I am not convinced that the Bible speaks of its own preservation. . . . As for the broader realm of the integration of theology and scholarship, . . . sometimes that pursuit seems to be in conflict with bibliology. 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. The evidence has shaped my viewpoint . . . . What I tell my students every year is that it is imperative that they pursue truth rather than protect their presuppositions. . . . When they place more peripheral doctrines such as inerrancy and verbal inspiration at the core, then when belief in these doctrines start to erode, it creates a domino effect: One falls down, they all fall down. . . . The irony is that those who frontload their critical investigation of the text of the Bible with bibliological presuppositions often speak of a ‘slippery slope’ on which all theological convictions are tied to inerrancy. Their view is that if inerrancy goes, everything else begins to erode. I would say that if inerrancy is elevated to the status of a prime doctrine, that’s when one gets on a slippery slope.

Since Wallace starts with evidence, which is in his case the textual variants and then the theories that he believes in, he submits his view of preservation and inerrancy to evidence to arrive at what he believes about the perfection of Scripture. He suggests that in order not to push the eject button on Christianity like Ehrman, everyone should dumb down their doctrine so as to spare themselves the falling away from the Christian faith, essentially adjusting Christian doctrine to external evidence.

What Wallace has done isn't anything different than what Benjamin Warfield did to come to his view of an old earth and a day-age creation account. He also revised the meaning of the Westminster Confession because of similar concerns as those communicated above by Wallace. Warfield was also afraid that once men saw variants, they would sort of freak out theologically and not hang on any longer to what they believed. Warfield also had history to deal with, so like is often the case with modern historians, he revised the history of the doctrine of preservation and extrapolated new beliefs for the reformers and the post-reformation divines. We call this revisionist history (sometimes also called politically correct history). Now Warfield's belief, altered by evidence, also had a "history." D. G. Hart and John R. Muether write:

For a variety of historical reasons American Presbyterians throughout the nineteenth century were fully committed to the Enlightenment and scientific methods as the surest means for arriving at truth. Though still believing in the authority of Scripture, the best—or at least the most widely accepted—way of demonstrating the truth of the Bible was by appealing to reason and Scripture's harmony with nature and the self-evident truths of human experience. Even though the Presbyterian theologians who taught at Princeton Seminary, such as Charles Hodge and Benjamin B. Warfield, believed in and defended the sinfulness of man, including human reason, their fundamental acceptance of the Enlightenment also produced apologetics that in many cases deemed the mind to be a reliable and authoritative guide to truth, including the truths of the Bible.

What Presuppositions?

James White in his debate with Ehrman decries Ehrman's unbelieving presuppositions. The USA Today article makes mention of this:

One of Ehrman's chief critics is the theologian and author James White, a leading practitioner of apologetics, the branch of theology devoted to defending and proving the orthodox faith. White denounces Ehrman as an apostate guided by deep anti-Christian bias. He charges in one Internet post that Ehrman has "moved far beyond the realm of his narrow expertise in his last three most popular books, all of which are designed to do one thing: destroy Christian faith."

This was White's biggest point in the debate. It was really all he had to debate, since they were both in such agreement on textual criticism. The key phrase from White in USA Today is "an apostate guided by deep anti-Christian bias." He is saying that Ehrman shouldn't be guided by theological bias in his view of the text. White and Wallace would say that they don't have a theological bias at all, only Ehrman. I again point you to these words from Daniel Wallace:

Evangelicals tend to allow their doctrinal convictions to guide their research. It is better to not the left hand know what the right hand is doing: methodologically, investigate with as objective a mind as possible, allowing the evidence to lead where it will.

Wallace's statement agrees with the idea of not having a theological bias in our approach to the text. Of course, this isn't the historic position, the one recorded in the Westminster Confession and London Baptist Confession, but it is the view of textual critics. The biblical and historic Christian approach to the preservation of scripture, and, therefore, the identity of the New Testament text, has been guided by biblical presuppositions, so a presuppositional epistemology.

Bart Ehrman, even by testimony of White and Wallace, is one of the foremost textual critics in the world. Ehrman comes to his conclusions through evidence. Since they themselves do not rely on scriptural presuppositions, White and Wallace must rely on evidence to overturn Ehrman. Credentials are an important factor in modern textual criticism. White and Wallace aren't as credentialed as Ehrman. That hurts any argument they make in a world that depends on credentials.

White and Wallace live and die by textual criticism, since they both hang on it so absolutely. Textual criticism, as a science, turns and shifts. New discoveries and then conclusions are made. Consensus is reached in the scientific community. We can see a new kind of paradigm being reached in the textual criticism world. The outstanding textual critics seem to be splitting from the evangelicals. It is obvious that something is driving this, and based on what White has plainly said and Wallace has intimated, it is their theological presuppositions that seem to be causing the split.

If one is guided by theological presuppositions, then those must be what we see in scripture. Wallace has done a couple of things to make sure that his textual criticism and his beliefs are compatible. First was this:

I am not convinced that the Bible speaks of its own preservation.

If you have a hard time believing your eyes, then consider what Detroit Baptist Theological professor, William Combs, wrote about Wallace's position on preservation:

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.

But what is the epistemology of William Combs? Notice what he wrote as a comment to someone asking him about Matthew 5:18 and his approach to its interpretation:

I think perhaps you are correct--Matt 5:18 probably does deserve more attention than I gave it in the article. . . . As far as it being a hyperbole, I also cited Robert Stein in support, and there may be others, but I can’t remember. But I wonder how it could be anything else but hyperbole? Taken literally, it would seem to demand perfect preservation, which, of course, the evidence flatly refutes.

Even if the Bible does teach perfect preservation (which it does), Combs isn't going to believe it, because "the evidence flatly refutes" it. Do you see how he is willing to make his interpretation of Scripture depend on external evidence? This is not presuppositionalism. It is the equivalent of Thomas not believing in the bodily resurrection until he could physically touch Jesus. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

We see Wallace go to a brand new "Christological-incarnational based" approach to the text, which is very difficult to understand and is a brand new doctrine. Wallace has said:

As for the broader realm of the integration of theology and scholarship, I would fundamentally disagree with Michael Fox’s definition of faith as having nothing to do with evidence. Genuine Christian faith is a step, not a leap. The driving force in my pursuit of truth is the Incarnation. Unfortunately, too many evangelicals make Christology the handmaiden of bibliology, rather than the other way around. But the Incarnation requests us and even requires us to investigate the data. And sometimes that pursuit seems to be in conflict with bibliology. 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. The evidence has shaped my viewpoint; and I must listen to the evidence because of the Incarnation.

Maybe you have a hard time wrapping your brain around that too. Shouldn't evangelicalism be questioning this new position? I wonder why we don't see other evangelicals criticizing something that has no historic basis, and I speculate it is the evangelical credentials of Wallace that are the reason.

On the other hand, White just attacks Ehrman's anti-theological bias without mentioning that he himself has his own bias. Why? Textual critics aren't supposed to have theological bias. It's a science. You can see the problem. Do we have theological presuppositions or do we not? Of course we are supposed to and they are the basis for what we believe about preservation of the Bible and, therefore, the text.


One word that stuck out to me in Wallace's quote was the word "integration." It is quite fitting for him, "the integration of theology and scholarship." Integrationism is a big problem in evangelicalism. Normally when we think of integrationism, we think of the integration of the "science" of psychology with biblical counseling. This is the new Christian psychology. The critique of this would be the same as for Wallace's integrationism. He mixes his science of textual criticism with biblical doctrine. We will corrupt the Bible, in this case the teaching of God's Word and its text, when we practice this integration. And this all relates to epistemology. Can we trust man's observations in either of these fields? The consequence as related to the text of Scripture is a lack of certainty in the text of God's Word.

In integrationism, there is an attempt to find truth in two places: in God's revelation and in human observations. Often this act is justified by a misused mantra from history: "All truth is God's truth." This raises the level of man's observations to "truth," the same authority as scripture. Nowhere in the Bible do we see science to have a role in enhancing what God has said. We have no scriptural model for submitting the truth of Scripture to man's findings or discoveries. Man's discoveries do not even rise to the level of general revelation, let alone the truth of Scripture. By nature man doesn't discover something that is authoritative.

Examining the Explanations

Examination of the explanations of Ehrman and White (Wallace would be like White) indicate the failure of being able to make a significant point of certainty about the text of scripture by means of evidence. I've been watching this closely and let me tell you what's happening. To start, everyone knows that we have no original mansuscripts, so we're all depending on copies for the preservation of God's Words.

Both sides, White and Ehrman agree that the earliest even fragment of a hand-written copy of Mark dates to around AD 220, called P45, only eight chapters of the gospel of Mark. If Mark was completed as late as AD 70, P45 is 150 years after its original writing. P45 might be six generations of manuscripts after the original.

Both also believe that the worst copying and the greatest errors came into the earliest manuscripts. The explanation is that the copyists were not trained as scribes and neither did they have the right conditions for copying like men did three hundred years later, when scriptoriums were built. Therefore, the most errors came into copies in those early years. This theory is backed up by a comparison of the two oldest manuscripts of the New Testament, Vaticanus (AD 300) and Sinaiticus (AD 350). Those two manuscripts differ in thousands of places and yet they provide the primary basis for almost all of the modern versions of scripture. There are as many differences between them as there are verses in the New Testament. Despite the fact that most of the mistakes were made early on, according to their theories, they say that still means that the oldest manuscripts are the best, because more years equals more errors. Period. They speculate that the Byzantine manuscripts, those that are the basis for the textus receptus, come from one copy that dates around the same time as Vaticanus and Sinaiticus in a different family or line of manuscripts.

Since we don't have the original manuscripts, we don't know how much different the copies are from the originals. Hypothetically, they could be vastly different. We don't have the evidence to make that decision. But we are talking about one bad copy being made from another bad copy, which is made from another bad copy, and so on. Even by the time they were trained in copying and had good resources to accomplish the task well, they were starting from poor copies with unknown numbers of errors because a lot of bad stuff happening before anyone knew what he was doing.

All the textual critics believe in everything I've written so far. White's theory for what happened next is that by looking at vast numbers of copies with similarities and at translations that match up with those manuscripts, we can extrapolate what the original text was enough to give us assurance that none of the doctrines of scripture are lost. So we look at copies that look similar, have most of the same words, and we get attestation from that of what the original words likely were.

Ehrman says "no." He says that we can't come to that conclusion. He contradicts that with a few points. He says that the similarities between copies just mean that they were made from the same manuscript and probably the same very corrupt manuscript. He also says that we're talking about books that were copied based on a bias of those copying. They had a particular view of Jesus that they wanted to support with the words that they wrote down. Their understanding of Jesus may be different than what we might read in the originals if we had them. Therefore, we can't be absolutely sure what was even the content in the original copies, let alone the words. On top of that, Ehrman would say that other books written at that time and refused by the churches will give a fuller texture and description of the people and times than what we see in only the apocryphal books.

White says that Ehrman gets his position based on his own "anti-Christian bias." Ehrman says again, "No, I got it from looking at the evidence, allowing the evidence to lead me, like the evidence leads all major textual critics. And who are you to criticize me? What have you done and who do you know?" Ehrman says that the bulk of the experts agree with him, their all reaching the same conclusions the same way that he did. And, therefore, Ehrman means that White's position is based upon White's own bias to give more accreditation to the Bible, because he needs what the Bible says in order to support his faith.

When White says that Ehrman is wrong, he says that Ehrman is holding the Bible to a higher standard of preservation than he does other secular writings. He says that the Bible has more textual attestation than Tacitus for instance. Ehrman retorts that all textual critics hold their particular texts, whether secular or scriptural, in a great deal of doubt, so they shouldn't handle the books of the New Testament any differently. Ehrman goes further in his writings by saying that we're not even sure that the gospels themselves are the true version of Christ's life, but just the ones that made it through the scrutiny of some very biased followers who wanted to keep His story alive to give them hope.

So between White and Ehrman you get two interpretations of the evidence. Ehrman says we really don't know what exactly Jesus said because there are so many variations. Based on this, he gets the title of his book, Misquoting Jesus. White counters by saying that, based on earlier textual critics, who came to different conclusions than Ehrman, we should think that there is great textual attestation for the Bible, enough to say that at the bare minimum all the teachings are intact. Both of the views depend on the interpretation of the evidence by men, irregardless of doctrine or the Holy Spirit.

No matter which side you believe in the battle of the textual critics, you get a 150 year period that we have no evidence whatsoever, a time from the originals to the first fragment. Both sides say that we should assume lots of corruption. One side says that it could be amazing amounts of alteration. The other says that we should conclude that it is very little change in content. Both are relying on naturalistic, humanly-derived process and analysis, probably coming at it from a certain bias, but both not admitting that they do so.

How Certain Are They in Their Science?

I'm going to use Ehrman for this, because he would be the one between White and him, who would be the most sure about his methodology. He's the expert. He's the one who other experts have on speed dial. Consider these lines from Ehrman in Misquoting Jesus:

It appears (emphasis mine) that Erasmus relied heaviy on just one twelfth-century manuscript for the Gospels and another, also of the twelfth century, for the book of Acts and the Epistle---although he was able to consult several other manuscripts and make corrections based on their readings" (p. 78, this last part, saying that he consulted other manuscripts, is often left out).

All of these texts, however, relied more or less (emphasis mine) on the texts of their predecessors" (p. 79).

Erasmus's edition princeps, which was based on some rather late, and not necessarily (emphasis mine) reliable, Greek manuscripts (p. 80).

It appears that someone copied out of the Greek text of the Epistles, and when he came to the passage in question, he translated the Latin text into the Greek (p. 82).

One of the reasons that someone must say "appears" and "necessarily" and "more or less," as well as other qualifiers, is because he isn't completely sure. First, we don't have the originals, so based upon evidence, we can't say that a certain wording isn't in there. If we aren't sure about a text that has thousands of copies, then how can we be sure about a history that has far less validation? As a basis for textual criticism, the textual critic must perform the function of erasing what was the text received by the churches in order to create the new text received by the scientists, based upon their theories. They do this by attempting to break down what Erasmus, Bezae, and Stephanus did in the sixteenth century.

Normally in a dialogue between textus receptus believers and critical text supporters, we get a pushing match over Erasmus versus Westcott and Hort. I think this happens mainly because of the critical text side. Why? The method used by men is what they depend upon to come to their conclusions. To establish how good their work is, they start by bashing Erasmus. In response to that, the textus receptus side often smacks around Westcott and Hort. Then you get a tit-for-tat walloping of both sides. In the end, Erasmus played with silly string and Westcott and Hort were demon worshipers. This is the textus receptus side arguing on the same terms as the critical text side. It's not good.

I don't think I've ever written in all of my work one critical word about Westcott and Hort. I don't reject the critical text because of who Westcott and Hort were. I reject it because it doesn't fit the presuppositions that we read in scripture. I believe God would do what He said He would do.

The bigger problems should be that the position of the textual critics doesn't fit what God said about the preservation of His Word. Instead, we should believe what God said He would do, not what men speculate had happened. Faith is what pleases God. Since everyone is in different degrees of doubt based on evidence and since no one can prove what happened between AD 70 and 220 anyway, we trust in the Lord as our evidence. This includes the intangible witness of the Holy Spirit. His truth is good enough.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Oft Quoted on Economic Matters

I speak hyperbole. And yet, I had a recent spree, unnoticed by the realm of Christianity, of being quoted in relations to the state of the economy. My heads up began with someone commenting on an old post. I wondered why. I googled. I found out.

One was Salon Magazine, also called That's a big named, left-leaning operation with a home in New York City, but also branches out of Washington, DC, and San Francisco. According to them, Salon has 5.8 milliion unique visitors to its site every month. Judith Levine of Salon read What Is Truth and quoted me. Here's the paragraph:

The hellfire and damnation faction is also finding great material, as it always does, in signs of moral, economic and environmental decline. "So what caused this recession?" thunders Kent Brandenburg at a Web site called What Is Truth. "Greed. What caused the Great Depression? Greed.”

"Of course, it's very deep rooted," he avers. "Man is depraved and greed is part of it." There’s just one solution: Jesus Christ.

Leon Gettler picked up this very quote on a column called "Management Line" for Executive Style at the Sydney Morning Herald.

The post to which they referred was quite old. I know they weren't saying good things about what I wrote, but I'm happy for what people would have read because it is the truth.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Proper Understanding of Affections

The Great Awakening was perhaps the second most important era in American history after the founding of the Jamestown colony in 1607. The Great Awakening describes a period in the mid 1730s to early 1740s in England and its colonies that resulted in a massive number of conversions and increased devotion to God's Word. In America much of it centered on the open air preaching of George Whitefield. Whitefield preached to very large crowds with many turning from sin to Christ. Many of the new believers found they must leave their dead churches to submit to scriptural baptism into the multiplying number of independent Baptist ones.

Jonathan Edwards, a Christian, graduated first in his class at Yale in 1720. He continued studies in theology and became full-time pastor in Northampton, CT in 1729. The Great Awakening began at Edwards' church in 1733, including his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. This revival subsided and then surged again with the arrival of Whitefield a few years later.

Toward the end of the Great Awakening, Edwards became concerned about the genuineness of the conversions in this revival. He wrote various books to point out the problems and potential ones that he witnessed. His concern solidified into a series of sermons he preached in 1742-43 at his church from which came a book he authored in 1746 entitled, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. In it he provided a means by which the validity of conversions could be tested. Edwards thought that much of the Great Awakening was real, but some was not, as seen in its lack of certain distinguishing marks.

In his treatise, Edwards centered the problem of false conversions on the means by which men responded to the preaching of the gospel. To explain, he wrote of the difference between responses that were either too intellectual or too emotional. He showed how that genuine salvation was centered in man's affections. Edwards in essence used the term "affections" to describe scriptural love, distinguishing it from something oriented to man's feelings or passions. These affections were part of the inward working of man's soul in contrast to the functions of his body. Jonathan Edwards presented a pre-enlightenment understanding of love, unspoiled by rationalism or romanticism and even worse perversions in contemporary culture.

Edwards portrayed the soul as understanding and deciding. Man knows and then chooses based on that knowledge. However, underlying the mind and the will of a man is his affections. His affections are his inner yearnings that are informed by his understanding. Edwards taught an internal anthropological order fleshed-out from scripture. Man receives revelation in his intellect, which interacts with his affections. Nature reveals a good, loving God and man is either grateful or unthankful. The proper response of the affections to the right understanding of God is faith. Belief is a choice (volitional) informed by knowledge (intellectual) and affection. Man will not choose God without affection for Him. The right knowledge and the right affection and the right choice results in a genuine conversion.

We can see Edwards' teaching in Scripture. Knowledge without love is not a true salvation (1 Corinthians 16:22; John 14:15-23; Romans 8:28; all of 1 John but especially chapters 3 and 4; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3; etc.). The greatest commandment is to love the Lord. The true believer loves the Lord. The truth of salvation impacts a man's affections resulting in a life-changing choice, beginning a life of love for God.

The rest of Edwards' treatise provides indications as to whether this is genuine in an individual. There are certain signs that are not trustworthy as a basis of knowing this. They may indicate someone is saved, but not necessarily. Edwards gives twelve of these. He follows these signs with twelve manifestations of real salvation in a person. These twelve show genuine conversion that center on the affections of a man. On every point, Edwards comes from the Bible as his authority.

We can learn much from Edwards' teaching. He provides an accurate basis for a proper analysis of someone's salvation. He reminds us of the importance of preserving the right view of love. We see the priority of protecting a proper function of our affections. In so many cases today, we have replaced affections with passion, emotions, or lust. We are fooled into thinking that feeling produced by external, bodily means is affection, when it is in fact just the opposite. It has been choreographed by man. Men, even professing Christians, mistake love for a cheap, worldly imitation. Churches and other religious groups all over participate in the process in their contemporary music and marketing techniques. We find from Edwards' exegesis that the affections are closely related to the mind and the will. We do great damage in whatever manner we use to separate love from intellect and volition. We must nurture our affections by what what we see and hear---our literature, art, and music especially.

Edwards' expositions relate to the nature of our gospel presentation. We must properly inform the minds of men toward a love for God, so that they do choose the Lord from their affections. Salvation isn't just intellectual. It isn't merely volitional. A proper view of God is vital. Men are greatly affected in their view of God by how we worship Him. The worship must match up with His nature. If we love Him, it will. We will choose the manner of worship out of scriptural understanding. Our affections for Him will demand it. Faith in Christ is man's first act of worship, presenting our soul to God as a sacrifice, our mind, affections, and will. God's saving grace will enable believers to persevere in the faith in a life pleasing to God until the day they see Him.

I will be continuing my epistemology series soon. However, this does much relate to epistemology.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Erroneous Epistemology of Multiple Version Onlyism part three

In his private notebooks, Jonathan Edwards wrote:

If we look over all the accounts we have of the several nations of the earth, and consider everything that has been advanced by any or all of the philosophers, we can meet with nothing to induce us to think that the first religion of the world was introduced by the use and direction of mere natural reason.

Edwards believed that man's reason and speculations led to "false and ill-grounded notions" of the Creator. In Edward's view, divine revelation alone had provided man with the correct notion of the "true nature and the true worship of the deity." Edwards' was the Christian epistemology until the age of the enlightenment in the 18th century.


The period of the enlightenment was mainly a result of conditions in France and the relationship between the government and Roman Catholicism. The people began to question their ties to religion and the Bible. The French philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau gave the revolution justification for breaking from the old regime. At the core of the enlightenment period was a critical questioning of traditional institutions, customs, and morals. The ideas of this age bled into many other countries, culminating with the writings of Immanuel Kant in Germany and David Hume in Scotland. Kant defined the enlightenment as "man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity," and he went on to write that "religious immaturity is the most pernicious and dishonorable variety of all."

Deductive reasoning is often defined as pre-enlightenment thinking because it's based in the commonly held belief that God created the universe. Inductive reasoning is considered to be the scientific, non-religious formula that gained authority after the enlightenment. This follows from two different types of logic, deductive and inductive. In a deductive argument, the conclusion is said to be true if it follows from the premises. Deductive logic does not appeal to empirical evidence, so long as the premises are true and the argument is valid then the conclusion must be true. On the other hand, inductive logic is concerned with making generalizations about the empirical world based on observation. It is closely connected with experimental science, a particular type of observation. Garth Kemmerling, a well-known professor of philosophy with his PhD from the University of Iowa, writes (2002):

In a deductive argument, the truth of the premises is supposed to guarantee the truth of the conclusion; in an inductive argument, the truth of the premises merely makes it probable that the conclusion is true.

The original method of deductive logic based its premises on the presence of agreed upon truths which led to an otherwise unknowable conclusion. Christians accepted the Bible as the fountainhead for truth, but the enlightenment led to the criticism of the Bible as a dependable and authoritative source for such.

Dialecticism or Hegelianism

The new logic is a combination of deduction and induction in the form of a dialectic. Dialectic is rooted in the ordinary practice of a dialogue between two people who hold different ideas and wish to persuade each other. The aim of the dialectical method is resolution of the disagreement through rational discussion and ultimately the search for truth. At the root of dialecticism is the idea that there is no absolute truth. Truth comes from an ongoing synthesis of a thesis and antithesis to form a new and better thesis.

Most today also call this dialecticism Hegelianism, a philosophy developed by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and can be summed up by Hegel's philosophy that "the rational alone is real." His thought was that we take a concept where we first find it and combine it with an opposite one to find a higher, truer, richer, and fuller concept. Hegel's influence in the 19th century changed the entire nature of Christian theology by revolutionizing the means by which men acquired their beliefs. The application of his dialecticism led to the challenge of long accepted scriptural truths by historical investigation. New theologies emerged from the synthesis of the Bible and rational inquiry into external sources.

Before Enlightenment and Dialecticism

Before Hegel's dialecticism produced these historic investigations to synthesize with already established truth, men relied on biblical presuppositions to make their theological conclusions. This was the deductive logic mentioned earlier. During the time period preceding the enlightenment, Kurt Aland, world renouned textual critics reports ("The Text of the Church?" in Trinity Journal, Fall, 1987, p.131) a different mindset:

[I]t is undisputed that from the 16th to the 18th century orthodoxy's doctrine of verbal inspiration assumed this Textus Receptus. It was the only Greek text they knew, and they regarded it as the 'original text.'

Kurt Aland's wife, Barbara Aland, writes in her book The Text of the New Testament (pp. 6-7):

[T]he Textus Receptus remained the basic text and its authority was regarded as canonical. . . . Every theologian of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (and not just the exegetical scholars) worked from an edition of the Greek text of the New Testament which was regarded as the "revealed text." This idea of verbal inspiration (i. e., of the literal and inerrant inspiration of the text) which the orthodoxy of both Protestant traditions maintained so vigorously, was applied to the Textus Receptus.

Christians before enlightenment believed they had a text verbally, perfectly preserved by God. They based that upon scriptural presuppositions, a logical deduction from promises of God in His Word. You see this position advocated as well in the Westminster Confession and the London Baptist Confession.

The original method of deductive logic was the position of sole scriptura. Christians took their bibliology from Scripture alone. They deduced from biblical promises that God had preserved His Words. They deduced from biblical instruction alone that the Holy Spirit had led the church to all truth. For that reason, they viewed not just the autographa, but the apographa as the very Words of God, verbally inspired. This understanding is reflected in the above quotes of Kurt and Barbara Aland. Pre-enlightenment believers viewed the Bibles in their hands as infallible in line with their sole scriptura.

Textual criticism is not the historic position of sole scriptura. When I've been on the road, I've visited some reformed Baptist churches. Many will have banners decorating their auditorium with the five solas at the front of the auditorium, to announce to anyone who visits their view of the world. The preaching starts and the pastor often begins reading out of the New American Standard Version. I mentally pull down one of his banners from his auditorium wall. He is lying to his people and the visitors either knowingly or ignorantly. He does not have the same epistemology as the history he espouses to represent.

Biblical Criticism, Textual Criticism, and Warfield

Despite the protests of conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists, Biblical criticism and textual criticism are two bedfellows of post-enlightenment thinking. They come out of the same philosophical underpinnings. What does Biblical criticism do? It says Scripture isn't trustworthy, not sufficient, and not good enough. It adds to the thesis of the Bible the antithesis of man's reasoning, science, and observations. The latter is the inductive logic relied upon post-enlightenment. I know that most conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists would want to reserve that category for solely the liberals.

Not so. Consider what Mark Noll writes in his book, Faith and Criticism, concerning Hodge and Warfield:

Hodge and Warfield, on the other hand, profess more willingness to let "induction" take its course and (perhaps) to doubt what merely appears to be "the plain implication" of biblical passages. For them, the recovery of the texts "in all their real affirmations" is the key. They stress that the books of the Bible "were not designed to teach philosophy, science, or human history as such," and that the writers depended on "sources and methods themselves fallible."

You should read the whole section here to get the flavor of it. Well, were Hodge and Warfield liberals? So what happened to them here? Of course, they were influenced by post-enlightenment empiricism and dialecticism. Noll continues on p. 29:

Theologians acquainted with recent scholarship advanced sophisticated arguments in defense of infallibility and of conservative literary conclusions. In this effort, B. B. Warfield led the way. His work was both negative, to strip concepts of "inerrancy" of mechanical or dualistic connotations, and positive, to affirm the right of critical, scientific study of the Bible within reasonable confessional guidelines.

What Warfield did was overturn the whole concept of infallibility as was believed by centuries of Christians. He created a new position that applied the newly coined word of "inerrancy" to only the original manuscripts. Why?

Christians believed that their Bibles were perfect, in the original languages identical to the autographa. Then began the scientific inquiry into the external evidence. Men began searching for copies. These scholars compared the manuscripts and found variations. They found older manuscripts with even more differences. Influenced again by the Hegelianism, they took the original thesis based on the truth of Scripture and combined it with their reasoning and observations to invent modern textual criticism. The old source of authority was no longer trustworthy or sufficient. It wasn't alone good enough.

The dialectic of Warfield was in view in his combining the Genesis account with evolution to form theistic evolution. Warfield's dogmatics were apparent as he agreed with the Westminister Confession that the New Testament text had been “kept pure in all ages” by God’s “singular care and providence,” but in the realm of New Testament textual criticism he agreed with Westcott and Hort in ignoring God’s providence. He staggered at the science of textual criticism.

Warfield bridged the gap between historically accepted scriptural truth and human observation by suggesting that God had worked providentially through Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Westcott and Hort to restore the New Testament text. Of course, none of these claims anything at all like what one reads about the doctrine of preservation in Scripture. Warfield's dialectic leads to conclusions which are extremely bizarre and inconsistent---the text used by the Protestant Reformers was the worst of all, the true text was not restored until post-enlightenment, when Tregelles exumed it from the Pope’s library (Vaticanus) and Tischendorf rescued it from a waste basket on Mt. Sinai (Sinaiticus).

Out of these same conclusions Westcott and Hort did their work in the mid to late 19th century by using rules of textual criticism that were also applied to any other secular manuscript. They were considered to be scientific laws of literary forensics that would identify the text closest to the original. Concerning the work of Westcott and Hort, Mark Noll, no critic of the two, wrote (Faith and Criticism, p. 69):

Yet their work as a whole pushed further into the background the older view of the Bible as a divine gift from heaven.

The older view was the view of deductive logic, starting with scriptural presuppositions. The newer one was that of induction, combining the thesis of scripture with the antithesis of human reasoning and observation to produce a critical text of the New Testament with no claim to perfection either verbally or even theologically.