Saturday, February 26, 2011
When I Left Fundamentalism part three
Monday, February 21, 2011
When I Left Fundamentalism part two
Thursday, February 17, 2011
When I Left Fundamentalism part one
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Is it True That No Two NT MSS Are Exactly the Same?
The idea that no two New Testament manuscripts (MSS) are exactly the same has been widely circulated. The testimony of Wilbur N. Pickering, Ph. D., in his essay, “In Defense of the Objective Authority of the Sacred Text,” (http://walkinhiscommandments.com) explodes this myth based on his own personal collations. Dr. Pickering writes:
[Out of 21 MSS of the Thessalonian epistles I have personally collated], eleven of their exemplars (over half) were ‘perfect,’ and another five were off by only one variant. . . . The MSS come from all over the Mediterranean world. . . . [Considering] minuscule 18 . . . at least ten [generations passed between this MS and] the family archetype[,] [very possibly] fifteen or more[.] . . . However many there actually were, please note that every last one of them was perfect! The implications of finding a perfect representative of any archetypal text are rather powerful. All the ‘canons’ of textual criticism become irrelevant to any point subsequent to the creation of that text [Emphasis in original, both here and below in the bold print.]. . . . For MS 18 to be perfect, all the generations in between had to be perfect as well. Now I call this incredibly careful transmission. Nothing that I was taught in Seminary about New Testament textual criticism prepared me for this discovery! . . . MS 18 is not an isolated case . . . [By contrast, a] typical “Alexandrian” MS will have over a dozen variants per page. . . . [but] one of the better f35 MSS [the f35 group is a segment of the Byzantine MSS] will go for pages without a variant. . . . A monk copying an “Alexandrian” MS evidently did not consider that he was handling Scripture, in stark contrast to one copying a f35 MS. . . . In 2 John . . . [I have collated] twenty-four . . . MSS [that] are perfect representatives of the family as they stand . . . in 3 John . . . also twenty-four . . . in Jude . . . seventeen . . . for all three . . . eleven . . . all thirty-seven MSS [from which the statistics of this sentence come] are independent in their generation, as were their exemplars. . . . I see no evidence of collusion, of ‘stuffing the ballot box’—there was no organized effort to standardize the Text. We are looking at a normal transmission, except that it was incredibly careful. . . . [There were] twenty-one perfect exemplars [for all three books, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude]. . . . [In the book of James] . . . the examplars of [MSS] 18, 35, 1864, 1865, 2221 and 2723 are perfect representatives . . . [In] 1 Peter . . . we have four exemplars that [are perfect copies] . . . [in] 2 Peter . . . we have eight exemplars . . . [in] 1 John . . . we have eight exemplars . . . [in] 2 John . . . most of the [collated] cursives are perfect representatives . . . [in] 3 John . . . we have twenty-one perfect exemplars . . . [in] Jude . . . half of the cursives are perfect representatives . . . The exemplar of [MS] 2723 . . . is perfect throughout a section of seven books. (pgs. 1-12)
Thus, there are actually substantial numbers of manuscripts of the NT that are exactly alike. The findings above are the work of only one man, working with a relatively small number of the over 5,000 MSS of the New Testament. Someone who says that no two MSS of the New Testament are exactly alike does not know what he is talking about.
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Children of Obedient Parents Turning Out for God--Certainty or Mere Possibility? Part 2
Other texts in Scripture confirm the fact that parents who train up their children rightly can rejoice in a joyful certainty that their children will be saved and serve God. Proverbs 29:17 states: “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” As Proverbs and the rest of the Bible—not to mention experience—makes clear, a wicked and unconverted child does not give rest and delight to godly parents. Proverbs 29:17 teaches, as does Proverbs 22:6, that a child who is properly trained will be saved and serve the Lord. Similarly, Proverbs 23:13-14 declares: “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” This passage guarantees that a properly disciplined child will come to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and will not go to hell. Other texts in the book of Proverbs make similar promises. In light of these Divine promises, it is not surprising that neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament record a single example of parents who did everything they were supposed to do for their children, yet their children rejected God and refused to walk in holiness.
The fact that the New Testament requires spiritual leaders to have godly children also demonstrates that Proverbs 22:6 and similar texts are promises. The pastor, and every other spiritual leader, must be “one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Timothy 3:4-5). He must have “faithful children not accused of riot or unruly” (Titus 1:6), because otherwise he is not “blameless” (Titus 1:7; 1 Timothy 3:2). The fact that every minister who has children that grow up to be unregenerate and unfaithful is not qualified for office only makes sense if believers who properly raise their children can be certain that they will live for God—while ungodly children are certainly responsible for their own wickedness, such a tragic result also evidences a moral failure on the part of their unhappy parents, for the requirement that the bishop have faithful children is as much a moral qualification as are being vigilant, sober, and of good behaviour, or not being a striker, greedy, or covetous. The fact that pastors are disqualified if their children go bad, no matter how old those children are, also demonstrates that Proverbs 22:6 is a promise that even into old age children who are trained correctly will not depart from the way of righteousness. The New Testament provides further evidence that Proverbs 22:6 and other Old Testament texts promise that parents who raise their children correctly can be certain that they will have a godly seed.
Proverbs 22:6, other Old Testament passages, and the New Testament, harmoniously teach that parents who raise their children properly can be certain to have a godly family. Christian parents should rejoice at the Divine guarantee that they can have saved and holy children, act in faith on such promises, and plead them before God in prayer. They should reject the false doctrine that it is possible for parents to do all that they ought to do and have their children reject Christ and live for the devil. They should also be soberminded and zealously, passionately determined that they will live lives of faith, love, and holiness before God themselves, since, while their children are certainly moral agents who are personally accountable if they reject Christ, parents with ungodly children do bear the responsibility, in every case, of having failed in their childrearing.
 It is outside of the scope of this analysis to deal with those who deny that lwøaVv actually does refer, with some frequency, to torment in hell, arguing instead that in Scripture Sheol refers only to the grave. It will merely be noted how incredibly inane it would be, if “hell” were merely the grave, to warn: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17), since then Psalm 9:17 could with equal accuracy have stated, “The righteous shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that remember God,” since all the godly people of David’s day went to the grave as did the wicked. It is also beyond credulity to believe that when David penned Psalm 86:13 (“For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.”) he was not rejoicing that God’s mercy had saved him from torment in hell fire, but he was looking forward to being buried in a shallow grave rather than a deep one.
 For example, Proverbs 29:15 guarantees that the rod and reproof will give wisdom, and thus a properly disciplined and trained child will not be a fool, but a wise man, which requires regeneration and a walk with God. Proverbs 22:15 promises that a properly disciplined child will not have foolishness near to him, and so he will not be an ungodly man, the fool of the book of Proverbs. Note also Proverbs 20:7.
 If the office of the deacon requires a godly family (1 Timothy 3:12), how much the more must evangelists, church planters at home and abroad, and other ministers, have a godly family to be qualified for office?
 touv i˙di÷ou oi¶kou kalw◊ß proiœsta¿menon, te÷kna e¶conta e˙n uJpotaghØv meta» pa¿shß semno/thtoß (ei˙ de÷ tiß touv i˙di÷ou oi¶kou prosthvnai oujk oi•de, pw◊ß e˙kklhsi÷aß Qeouv e˙pimelh/setai);
 te÷kna e¶cwn pista¿, mh\ e˙n kathgori÷aˆ aÓswti÷aß h£ aÓnupo/takta.
 Note the specific connection of the requirement of faithful children and blamelessness in Titus 1:6-7; the bishop must have faithful children, “for” (ga¿r) he must be blameless.
 The requirement that the minister have te÷kna . . . pista¿, “faithful children,” includes the fact that their children must be believers, not unsaved people, but it is not limited to belief—backslidden and unfaithful regenerate children also disqualify the minister, for such are certainly able to be “accused of riot” and are “unruly” (Titus 1:6) and are not in “subjection with all gravity” and well “rule[d]” (1 Timothy 3:4-5). The other references to pisto/ß in Titus signify “faithful,” not simply “believing” (1:9; 3:8). Note also that in the very large majority of the uses of pisto/ß by Paul in syntactical constructions similar to that in Titus 1:6, the word means “faithful”; out of 22 uses (1 Corinthians 1:9; 4:2, 17; 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:18; Colossians 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Timothy 1:12, 15; 3:1, 11; 4:9; 6:2; 2 Timothy 2:11, 13; Titus 1:6, 9; 3:8; Hebrews 3:5; 10:23; 11:11), only one possibly means simply “believing” (1 Timothy 6:2), and even this instance could reasonably be viewed as “faithful.” Likewise, either 90% or 100% (depending, again, on 1 Timothy 6:2) of the uses of pisto/ß in the accusative case, as it is in Titus 1:6, signify “faithful” (Acts 13:34; 16:15; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Timothy 1:12; 3:11; 6:2; Titus 1:6; Hebrews 3:2; 11:11; 3 John 5). In the very close linguistic parallel to Titus 1:6 in 1 Corinthians 4:17, employing both pisto/ß and te÷knon, “faithful” is the idea conveyed. The broader use of pisto/ß in the New Testament supports the truth established by the immediate context of Titus 1:6 that the children of overseers, elders, or pastors must be not only regenerate but also obedient.
 The clauses te÷kna e¶cwn pista¿ (“having faithful children,” Titus 1:6) and touv i˙di÷ou oi¶kou kalw◊ß proiœsta¿menon, te÷kna e¶conta e˙n uJpotaghØv meta» pa¿shß semno/thtoß (“one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity,” 1 Timothy 3:4) are adjectival, describing the elder or bishop in the same way that simple adjectives such as “blameless” (aÓne÷gklhtoß) do.
 The qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are not limited to the time that the children are in their parents’ house. The qualification is not limited to “young children,” “infants,” or the like; it simply says that the elder’s “children” must be walking in the way of holiness, without any limitation as to age. As long as the elder is a parent and his children are his children—that is, for the entire course of their lives—so long do the requirements of 1 Timothy 3:4-5 and Titus 1:6 last. The word employed for “children” in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, te÷knon, is employed in Scripture for those who are descended from their parents, without regard to age, and without a limitation to children still at home (cf. Matthew 23:37; 27:25; Luke 13:34; 19:44; Romans 9:8; Galatians 4:25). It is used in Acts 13:33 for the apostle Paul and for other “men of Israel” (Acts 13:16) for “men and brethren” (Acts 13:26), and even for one who grows up, becomes rich, rules a wealthy household, grows older, and is already dead (Luke 16:25). Furthermore, it is easy to hide the rebellion of children when they are very young and still at home; it is when they are older and their rebellion becomes obvious that parenting failures become public. It is entirely unreasonable to say that as soon as a pastor’s children become rebellious enough to reject his authority, run away from home, and totally give themselves to the world, the requirement of his office to have a godly seed comes to an end—and certainly it is very difficult to argue that a man with such children is “blameless” in his parenting (Titus 1:6-7).
 The exegetical analysis in this composition is sufficient to demonstrate the truth of the proposition that God has promised that properly trained children will be saved and live for God. Speculation about how such certainty is consistent with the freedom of the will, Divine sovereignty, and other such high and lofty topics may be worth pondering, but they do not determine what Proverbs 22:6 or any other passage of Scripture means. Far less does personal experience or the limited, fallible evaluation of the lives and families of other people determine the proper interpretation of Scripture. Whatever the Bible teaches is true, whether frail and finite men can figure out how to fit it into systems of speculative philosophy or not—and whether or not God’s infallible revealed truth matches the extremely limited and easily mistaken personal observations of mortal creatures has no bearing whatsoever upon proper Biblical interpretation.