Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bibliology and Separation

Two posts were written during the last week about separation over faulty bibliology. The first to my attention was an essay written by David Doran, president of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary at his blog. The link to Doran's article was tweeted by Phil Johnson at his twitter site. Then I read a comment (another more recent one) by Mike Harding, a pastor in Michigan, that at one point related to bibliology over at SharperIron. Then Jon Pratt, a professor at Central Seminary, chimed in at the Central Theological Blog.

A common criticism of the eclectic and critical text guys is the bad treatment of the KJV crowd. I think they're mainly referring to the English inspirationists (Ruckman). I've often said that the eclectic/critical crowd is nearly as bad. Consider these statements made in their articles and consider whether they contribute edification on this issue.

Mike Harding: "the unending KJV only non-sense"

Jon Pratt: "The fallacies of sound logic, revisionist historicism, and bold-faced scare tactics employed by King James Only supporters are not characteristics of scholarly fundamentalism (and no, this is not an oxymoron) and are, instead, an indelible stain on the garments of modern-day fundamentalism."

Dave Doran: "wide variety of theological and ministerial goofballs," "the lunacy in defense of the KJVO position."

KJVO people hold no corner on name-calling and insults, so let's let that one rest. Please. You can't complain about one side doing it and then do it yourself. If you're going to do it, then you have to leave it alone.

I can't put my finger on what fundamentalists really believe about separation. I had one tell me that it is impossible to be consistent in matters of separation. Doran laid out the DBTS terms of separation, however, in very clear fashion. This is one doctrine that he will separate over.

(1) our church and ministry will not have fellowship with any who claim for an English translation what can only be properly claimed for the autographs; and (2) we will not have fellowship with those who refuse to break fellowship from those who hold such false doctrine.

Doran lowers the gauntlet on this issue. I too believe we should separate over false bibliology and that's what I want to talk about.

Scripture should provide our basis for separation. We are separating over a doctrine or practice that the Bible teaches. So we look to the Bible to find out what the it says about itself. That sounds simple---just study the Bible. And it is. But not as simple as some make of it. To come to the right position on an issue, I have taught five criteria to our church.

1. Conversion --- The Holy Spirit illuminates those whom He indwells (1 Corinthians 2:13-14).
2. Study the Bible --- This is more than looking up verses in Strong's Concordance or checking out a commentary or systematic theology. This means understanding the Words in their context, their syntax, the usage of those Words elsewhere, comparing scripture with scripture, etc. (2 Timothy 2:15).
3. Historic Confirmation --- Since no doctrine is new, we look to see whether people believed it in history. If we can't find historic confirmation, we better have a lot of scriptural support to overturn what we do see in history. History doesn't have authority, but we would expect a perpetuity for the truth---no total apostasy (2 Peter 1:20-21; 1 Timothy 4:1).
4. Church Agreement --- The New Testament church should agree with the position. The Holy Spirit authenticates truth through those He indwells (1 Corinthians 3:16; John 16:13).
5. Courage --- If the Bible tells us something different than what we believe and practice, we must be willing to change (Hebrews 11).

Having my above stated criteria in mind, what are some of the main points that we see about Scripture in Scripture?


Pas graphe theopneustos kai ophelimos. 2 Timothy 3:16. Every writing is God breathed and is profitable. Graphe is an anarthrous (no definite article, "the") noun and the general rule is that an anarthrous adjective (theopneustos) related to an anarthrous noun (pas graphe) is normally predicate. Even though the graphe is anarthrous, the pas makes the noun graphe as definite as the article, so the adjective, theopneustos must be predicate. A copula is lacking, so it is supplied in the English. The natural place the copula goes is between the subject (pas graphe) and the first word that follows it (theopneustos). It is normal for the copula to be left out when it is obvious to the audience where it should be. It is obvious here.

We know that God breathed every writing in the past, but the assumption here is that what He breathed out continues to be that which He has breathed out, because it "is" breathed out by Him. The adjective theopneustos makes an assertion about the subject pas graphe. Writings that were breathed out continue to be breathed out. Like a child that is born continues to be born, the Words that God breathed continued to be His Words, continue to be breathed out by Him after He first breathed them.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 teach the sufficiency of Scripture. But what is sufficient? It is pas graphe that is sufficient. The assumption again is that we will have all of the Words. If being throughly furnished unto every good work is dependent upon pas graphe (every writing), then we would assume that we would have every writing. This is a logical conclusion that we get from these two verses when we are attempting to get our doctrine from the actual verses of scripture. We'll come back to this later, because it doesn't fit so much under the doctrine of inspiration.

The writings that God breathed out were Hebrew and Greek. Those were what He inspired. To say that English words are breathed out would be to say that God breathed out new Words after the completion of the canon (in contradiction to Revelation 22:18-19). That is false bibliology. Scripture doesn't say that.

So what about an English translation of those Hebrew and Greek writings? Is it inspired? That is where we have to come up with some new bibliological words to describe inspiration as it relates to a translation. I have no problem using the terminology "derivative inspiration." An accurate translation that properly represents the Hebrew and Greek writings is derived from those writings. With that in mind, we can call an English translation inspired.

God's Words, which He breathed out, are different with Him having breathed them. The Words have the breath of God in them. How do we know this? By what Scripture says about them. At least two verses come to my mind:

John 6:63, 68, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. . . . [T]hou hast the words of eternal life."

Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

Psalm 19:7-10 also validate that the Words that God breathed out are significantly extraordinary.

How do men go astray on inspiration? They believe in natural inspiration or conceptual inspiration. They deny inspiration. They don't believe every writing was inspired. In certain cases men have taken a new position of "double inspiration," that is, that God had inspired the Hebrew and Greek writings, but He has done it again in an English translation, the King James Version. All of these go astray from a scriptural position. If we are going to protect the doctrine of inspiration and honor what God has said, we must separate over it. I think that is what Dave Doran is saying that he believes, that we separate over this scriptural doctrine.


More to Come!


Charles e. Whisnant said...

You have well stated your position. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Inspiration also touches on authority. Because "all Scripture" is the only rule of faith that is "given by inspiration" it necessarily leads to it's function as the only infallible, and final authority in matters of faith and practice.

I love this topic, and I am so glad you are taking the time to blog about this matter. More please, more! Praise God!

Don Johnson said...

Hi Kent,

I know how tempting it is to stoop to rhetoric in this discussion. I hope I am not too guilty of it! I agree with you that this is not the exclusive territory of any one side of the issue.

As you know, I come to different conclusions than you do. I have always believed that those different conclusions shouldn't necessarily mandate separation. I wish that at some levels men of differing views can support joint ventures of some kinds. (For example, we do support at least two missionaries who hold to a KJO view. I don't have any problem with them, I appreciate what they are doing, and they know we differ on these points.)

In my ideal world, the guys of the more KJO position would clearly separate from the Ruckmanites and the fundamental guys of the non-KJO position would clearly and forcefully repudiate the mealy mouthed apologists for error in the new-evangelical camp. (Oh, sorry, there are no more neos. Just "conservatives". My bad.)

I recognize that our differences would preclude some kinds of cooperation, but I remain convinced that we can encourage one another, pray for one another, and do some work together in certain circumstances.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

PS Ferguson said...

Like many of the polemicists on the New Atheist movement, Harding, Doran, Pratt, all assume that caricatures and insinuations trump arguments. It puts me in mind of Cicero's old dictum, "When you have no case, abuse the plaintiff.” It is notable the desperate desire for them to be recognized at the court of the Emperor MacArthur and his crowd. Despite MacArthur’s deeply disturbing views on the blood of Christ, total lack of biblical separation by preaching with Ecumenists and Charismatics in his ministry, promotion of rank CCM music at his conventions, BJU Board Member, Mike Harding, imperiously dismisses those who oppose MacArthur for their “the total lack of appreciation or honest commendation for men such as John MacArthur by some in our circles.” It wasn’t long ago that MacArthur was being blasted for these failings by Dr Bob Jones Jr. Indeed, it was only in 1984 that the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (FBF) used to stand unequivocally against all Bible versions produced by liberals. In their FBF 1984 Resolutions they state,

“We condemn paraphrases such as The Living Bible and Good News for Modern Man and the products of unbelieving and liberal scholarship such as the Revised Standard Version and the New English Bible. We deplore the rash of new versions which add to or delete from the Word of God, such as the New International Version, with special reference to those so-called “revisions” which by footnote additions undermine the text. We recognize the unique and special place of the Authorized King James Version, providentially preserved by God in the English-speaking world.”

The Neo-Fundamentalist cabal are desperate to be recognized as “scholars” by the “Conservative” Neo-Evangelicals. They attended their schools for graduate training and are now pining to make the brief flirtation in the “other camp” a permanent relationship! David Burggraff, Larry Pettegrew, and Edward Glenny could not wait for this to occur and have jumped ship to the world of goatees, movies, CCM, and casual unseparated Christianity. In fact, the only people Harding et al really despise are those who stand unashamedly for the TR/KJVO. I can imagine he sits with gritted teeth in the BJU Board Meetings when he sees the arrival of Dr Ian Paisley there. Dr Ian Paisley rightly observed in his book My Plea for the Old Sword Ian Paisley agrees: “I believe the Authorised Version preserves the Word of God for me in the English tongue and that it contains no errors.”

I wonder will Dave Doran and Mike Harding separate from BJU for having such a “heretic” sit on their board, chair the World Congress of Fundamentalists, and for selling his “heretical” book in their bookroom.....Thought not! Pragmatism and politics trumps their much vaunted hubris about separating when writing on their blogs.

Joshua said...

I'm not sure what you mean when you say you wish the KJV guys would separate more from the Ruckmanites. In my church we had a conference speaker who someone warned us (once he had arrived) that he went to Pensacola. When the pastor questioned him about it he started crying, said he'd walked away from Ruckmanism years ago but everywhere he went the mud followed him. Always being questioned and interrogated over it.

Looks to me like among kjv ifb's, the slightest association with Ruckmanism seems to warrant instant separation. Is there some group of non double inspirationists who are hanging out with ruckmanites that I don't know of?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for the comments. More to come, Billy. Don, I appreciate your willingness to get along with KJVO guys. PS, those were some interesting quotes and that is true---what do they do with Paisley? Very interesting. Especially in light of Doran's #2. I'm sure they would say that he doesn't believe in double inspiration, so a sigh of relief.

Joshua, I understand what you are saying and think it is true. It made me laugh, because I thought that I didn't know of these English inspirationists either. You've almost got to be looking for them, which means that you're not fellowshiping with them in the first place. Strong English preservationists I put in a different category. However, in Doran's article, he did read some quotes of English inspirationists. I've read the same types of quotes. However, I'm never around these types of guys and they are the ones constantly quoted, sort of broad brushing all KJV men. Men should be given the opportunity to learn and move to biblical positions---I believe that goes for the critical text guys and the double inspiration guys. Thanks for your comment.

Jerry Bouey said...

Brother Kent, I have a question for you - and I am not trying to be argumentative, just looking for an answer to something that has puzzled me for years:

Why do most people state God breathed OUT His Word, when the word "INspiration" means "breathed IN"? I am assuming by this term that God breathed life into His Word (Hebrews 4:12), and that life is always present when we have His Word.

Please see this entry on my blog for further clarification of what I mean:

Kent Brandenburg said...


I don't care if you argue. You care about the Word and you've shown you want the truth. I believe that about you.

Regarding "breathe out," the term is literally "God breathe," so there is no "in" or "out" with the term. Since it is God giving it to us, I think we can assume that it isn't "in." In other words, God didn't breath "in" something, but breathed "out" something. We got it by His breathing it out.

That's why I use "out." I see "inspire" as a technical English term to describe God breathing.

Regarding your essay on this, I looked for something that would prove your point and I do see that you have looked up the Greek word in Strong's, which is good. However, there is no "in" in the Greek Word. God's name is in the word, Theos, and then the word for breathe or spirit (pneo). If the Words are right out of God's mouth, which we see in Matthew 4:4, His breathe, that is a greater activity than God breathing into Words that already exist. I think you "words that already exist" idea is not scriptural. I don't mind you explaining how that it is. These Words were already settled in Heaven, so God didn't take human Words and then breath something into them.

Jerry Bouey said...

Brother Kent, thanks for taking the time to reply. You have given me something to consider. God bless.

Don Johnson said...

I suppose I should clarify what I mean about clearly separating from Ruckmanites.

There are some fellows who do make statements against Ruckman's errors, but are willing to cooperate with their friends who 'appreciate Ruckman'. To me, the Ruckman errors are so egregious that one's friends should be put on notice. If they are going down that road, they go alone.

There are also some fellows who will allow Ruckmanites to show up at fellowship meetings without any rebuke or censure, even guys who are guilty of unethical practices against other independent Baptist churches. I'll not go into more details here, but these statements refer to a real situation I am fully acquainted with. And no, I am not the injured party. To me, this toleration is completely intolerable. I wish my KJO friends would be more vigorous against this fellow. It might get him to smarten up.

But, again, see my earlier post. I have some good friends who take KJO positions. We agree to disagree and work together when and where we can. One of them is coming over for dinner on Tuesday night!

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

reglerjoe said...


How do you respond to the Riplingers of the world who insist that the KJV is inspired because it says "IS given" not "WAS given"?

Mike Harding said...


For clarification, I don't object to those who believe that the KJV and TR are the best English translation or Greek text. I use the NASB and the eclectic text in my preaching and study for the same reasons. However, for those who teach the direct inspiration of the KJV, I do separate from and always have. I believe we are in agreement on that.

Regarding Paisley, he has not made the KJV translation or TR a test of fellowship and has been very gracious toward BJU which has used the eclectic text in its Bible classes for at least 40 years.

Regarding Mac, there are things he should be criticized for (some of which have been mentioned)and things he should be commended for. I have never had Mac in to preach and do not plan to. Some Fundamentalists, however, who do not agree with him on soteriology have unfairly condemned him. Mac was not and is not heretical on the blood period. Bob Jones Jr. was mistaken on that issue. BJU does not consider Mac heretical on the blood today.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Regler Joe,

Here are the problems with the Riplinger position.
1. "God-breathed" is an adjective, not a verb---so the emphasis is not on new breathing-out taking place. All scripture at that point had not been breathed out, another reason for "is."
2. The new breathing out (today, not in Paul's day) as advocated by Riplinger contradicts the closing of the canon (Revelation 22:18-19)---that serious warning is as applicable to her as it is to others who might tamper with scripture.
3. The supplied "is" primarily shows equality between the subject and the predicate, showing the present quality of the subject. All scripture is God breathed. It is. It doesn't originate from man.

Kent Brandenburg said...


We separate from Ruckmanites. And I get the point you're making. Part of our critique has been that fundamentalists today accept conservative evangelicals because of the things they agree with. You are saying that this goes the direction of Ruckman should be true for us too---his certainty about the KJV. All we're doing is comparing relative damage of positions. Ruckman still doesn't take the correct position, but we should give recognition to relative damage to the faith. Being embarrassing seems to be worse to many evangelicals and fundamentalists than being wrong.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Pastor Harding,

Thanks for coming over and thanks for your statement about the acceptability of the position you represented in the first paragraph. I am also grateful for your position on the gospel and on worship.

I think the issue with Paisley, which was not brought by me, is the actual statement that he made about the KJV (just to be consistent)---preserved the Word of God in the English tongue and it contains no errors.

Regarding the blood issue, I thought you might be referring to my articles at Jackhammer on the blood, but you were referring to P.S. Ferguson's comment. I don't think I have unfairly condemned MacArthur ever. For awhile I defended him on the blood position because I thought he was being misrepresented, and he was. However, I watched a youtube audio statement made by him in an interview with Phil Johnson recently and I believe that his blood position is unscriptural. I pointed out the errors over at Jackhammer. I would enjoy hearing your take on my criticism of his position.

You may wonder why I might go after MacArthur more than others. I do believe that he is the most conservative of the evangelicals. However, he is the most dangerous in my opinion because he has the most influence in bridging the gap between separatists and evangelicals. He more than anyone, even than John Piper, I believe, sends separatists over to the evangelical side. I believe that means we must deal with his errors and show them. Should we show his good things too? Yes, and I have done a little of that, but I'm careful about it because of my above-stated reasons. Can you see this too? Despite your disclaimer on MacArthur, my opinion is that you are too accepting of him.

Back on the blood issue, at what point do you think that someone is heretical on the blood? I ask that question because I believe MacArthur's position on the blood is unscriptural. I don't think it is unscriptural either at the level of something like the "sons of God" in Gen. 6. Is unscriptural doctrine heretical in our opinion?

One more thing. You have said that Paisley is gracious in his KJV position. By that, I think you mean that he doesn't break fellowship with KJV, so he's gracious. Is separation ungracious? Isn't rightful separation the gracious thing to do? I believe that I am separating graciously. I see gracious separation as trying to teach the position and help the person understand, so that we can reconcile and be in fellowship. I don't see ignoring differing doctrine as being a gracious thing to do. I see grace as coming from God and God doesn't accept unscriptural doctrine.

PS Ferguson said...

Pastor Harding

I also appreciate your Biblical presuppositional stance on music (which places you at odds with the YFers). I just wish you were consistently Biblically presuppositional on the text of the Words of God.

I grew up amongst the Free Presbyterians and they are militantly KJV/TR people. If any preacher dared cite another version they would be removed immediately from the pulpit (not just be rebuked afterward). Dr Ian Paisley states in his church weekly for the last 20 years “No modern perversions used in this Church.”

As I understand it, Dr Paisley will not share fellowship in services where any other English Bible Version is used. So he does make this a test of fellowship. BJU has never once used another version in any meeting he has been involved with. He says in his book, “God has delivered His Book to the custody, not of the scholars, the universities, colleges or seats of learning, but only to His saints. Can any ordinary saint who has no knowledge whatever of the original languages know what is a proper version of God’s Word or which is absolutely reliable? The answer is “yes” or else Jude verse 3 is error. Jude verse 3 is not error but divinely revealed truth. The attempt to bamboozle the ordinary saints of God with irrelevant controversy must be demonstrated. The ploy to take from the saints their divinely appointed role of custody of the Book and place it in the hands of scholars must be exposed for what it is, a device of the devil himself. Thank God for the simplicity which is in Christ which devastates the duplicity which is in Satan.”

Now, that sounds pretty unequivocal towards those promoting the CT. Dr Paisley goes on to draw a strong line here, “There is no middle ground. We either have a reliable Bible in our mother tongue or we have not. What is the use of God verbally inspiring the Bible if He did not preserve it verbally for all generations?