What I read in Aaron's series was not some biblical theology of preservation of Scripture. What I read was a criticism of someone else's work. Aaron hasn't dealt with all the passages, that is, all of what is "taught in Scripture." I have a pretty good idea as to why eclectic text guys don't go directly to the Bible, but instead try to poke holes in our exegesis. A common sense reading of the passages on preservation do teach our view. By dealing with our book, he's dealing with a history of preservation. He's dealing with what we said. He should just go to the Bible, like he says that he wants to. If he did, he would deal with way more verses than even what we did in TSKT. There are more that I've dealt with recently (Isaiah 59:21 and Revelation 22:18-19) and we're not even done yet. There are more in the Bible that we'll deal with in TSKT-2. If Aaron was looking for what the Bible taught, he would do the same, that is, open the Bible and find every place that deals with preservation. Instead, he finds out what PTP (Perfect Text Preservation---his terminology) guys are saying, and he deals with that. Why would someone who says he's not concerned so much about history go to what other guys have said in order to deal with what the Bible says? Just think about it.
As Aaron and I have had this conversation, he has said that he doesn't want to strawman me and he doesn't want me to strawman him. He doesn't want us to obfuscate. OK. That's all good. I don't want to do that either. That's why I offered to send my last post to him, so that he could criticize it early to cut out all the obfuscation he thought was there. Does that sound like someone who wants to obfuscate? Aaron refused that offer from me. And then after I posted, he proceeded to complain about my strawman and obfuscation. Hmmmmmm. The readers are going to have to determine who is doing the strawmanning and obfuscation. And let's make one thing clear---this should all be about pleasing God. It really should all be about living by faith. In the end, we want a position that represents what God says, because that will please Him. It's not about a constituency, about a club, about a society, about seminary buddies, or about a group we are friendly with. It should be about God.
Now Aaron says that he's going just to start with what the Bible says. Based on what he writes, you know that I don't think that's what Aaron's series is about. It's about it some, but not in a way that I am accustomed to someone going to the Bible first. I can be thankful for the advertising for TSKT, but I would have been fine and even better if he just went straight to scripture and attempted to exegete those appropriate passages on his own without any reference to TSKT. One of the reasons he does go to TSKT is because we did go to the Bible. He himself says in one of his comments to his fourth article that he doesn't know of a dealing from scripture done by someone with his point of view (I didn't think he had a point of view---ooops---but we all already knew that, didn't we?). So there is nothing in the critical-eclectic text position that started with scripture? And at the same time it isn't rationalism? Someone's got sum splainin' to do. But again, I'm not against critical-electic because it's rationalistic, but because it isn't biblical. The rationalism occurs because that's what you're left with when you don't start with the Bible.
I want to give you an example of the kind of argumentation that is used by critical-eclectic guys. Let me start with John 16:13, for instance. Here's the first part of the verse:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.
If you read that, you might think it means that believers will have every Word of God. And I think that would be good. That's even how Christians have taken it historically. They haven't read it like the critical-eclectic text men, who are now reevaluating the historic teaching, you know, just to make sure that Christians really did know what they were talking about. But that idea clashes with the critical-eclectic idea. So it can't be saying that. OK, so now we get the eclectic-critical argumentation. It really is a scorched earth methodology. The next paragraph is the argumentation.
First, in that verse, Jesus is talking to the apostles. He was really telling them in the context that He would provide for them the rest of the New Testament. That's what it was about. It has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit guiding believers after the apostles. We've got to look at this in its context. Notice also that it says "all truth." "Truth" and "words" are not synonymous. "All truth" could certainly be "all the doctrines." Not only that but are there not "truths" that are not in the Bible, truths that even God knows that haven't yet been discovered by man? So when the verse says "all truth," it doesn't even have to be Scripture. It can just be "truth," which would include extra-scriptural truth. And truth itself is not bound by just words. Truth itself is an idea that is not reduced to mere words. So when He said He would guide them into all truth, He meant those ideas that words represent, but not necessarily the words themselves. Now based upon all this of what I just told you, John 16:13 neither teaches nor clearly implies the perfect preservation of God's Words. Men would like it to mean that, because they so enjoy and appreciate and strive for certainty, but it really doesn't mean that.
Here's the commentary by the friends of the critical-eclectic text people afterwards. "Oh that was just really, really good. I've never thought about it like what you wrote there. But it's so true. It doesn't teach what these KJVO guys say. They're just reading into the text to support their KJVO positions." "I really appreciate your dealing with the verse. I think that KJVO is a scourge to evangelicalism and fundamentalism and Christianity and the world." "These KJVO guys are a piece of work, huh? You've done a great service by exposing their clear eisegesis."
But let's go back to the verse again. It's above in block quote.
In the very next chapter, Jesus says some things about the truth. He really does define truth as it relates to what He was teaching the apostles, in essence, the first New Testament congregation of believers. First, John 17:8:
For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
And then John 17:17:
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
"All truth" is "all scripture," every Word, "the words." And the same Holy Spirit who indwelt the apostles continued to indwell believers. That's why believers knew there were 66 Books. They would know what the Words were. This is a theological presupposition as it relates to scripture. Believers will be guided by the Holy Spirit to the very Words of God. Nothing would have us believe that we would not know what the Words are, they would be lost, and then we would need to use scientific means, forensics, to decide what they were, still never knowing for sure.
If Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide into all truth, and all truth is all Words, then we should believe that we would have all Words available to us. Now this is the kind of thing that Aaron says is neither taught nor clearly implied. He can have that opinion. It's a free country. But you'll have to decide if he's right. Believers of the past haven't taken his position and that should be tell-tale. Aaron says that he doesn't know history. He hasn't read it. That's too bad. Because someone should be concerned if his position is non-historic, one that believers haven't taken. He says he doesn't really need it, he can just take his position from the Bible. But he is one man saying that he is taking his position from the Bible contradicting what men have written in the past on this doctrine. In other words, he's formulating new doctrine. These men had it wrong in the past, and he's correcting them. Now he might say that he's not doing any correcting, but nevertheless he is. That's why knowing what men believed in the past is important. To be sure, the Bible is sole authority---not history, not tradition. I want that to be clear. We settle the argument with Scripture. But what men said in history relates to scriptural teaching---no private interpretation, no total apostasy, the continued, leading presence of the Holy Spirit---these doctrines. And we also have the benefit of knowing that new positions on the doctrine of preservation are being crafted now in light of textual criticism. So we must be aware of this.
In the next post, I'll deal with the details of Aaron's part four.