Thursday, July 18, 2013

You Know the Critical Text Position Is In Trouble When It's Propped Up by Blatant Lies

Let's just admit it, the critical text position doesn't believe the Bible.  God said He would preserve every Word.  Anyone taking the deserted island interpretation, where you just take the Bible at face value, as if you were picking it up and reading it on a desert island with no outside effects, knows the Bible says that about itself.  God promised to preserve all the Words and make them accessible to His own.  If the Words aren't accessible, that is not, um, preservation.

I do find myself boggled with the people who try to spin the Bible into saying something else about it besides perfect preservation.  What good do they get from having it not say it's preserved?  Less faith.  More doubt.  Less certainty.  More disobedience.  Is that what they want??  They might say, "It doesn't teach that, at least like you're saying!"  But theirs is a new viewpoint.  Christians have thought it did say that.  You read it and it says it.  The Bible says it and Christians have thought and said that it said it, until along came textual criticism.  We wrote a whole book about it, that was mainly attacked in very crazy, off-the-wall ways.  When you read the criticisms, you know their position is in trouble.  A lot of the criticisms are insane.

I want to give you a recent example.  I'm going to have to review this guy's book, because in the main it is a book to bash our book.  I don't want to give any attention to his book, which is my main negative to not reviewing it.  One more person might read it and entertain accusations that should not be considered.  The book was pushed along and encouraged and then the preface was written by the great scholar Bob Hayton.  I would say that Bob has an axe to grind.  A big one.  Most people don't know how big of an axe Bob Hayton is grinding.  They don't know what motivates his material.  It's easy to see if he was a member of your church, like he was ours, and you saw what he did and then what he later said about it.  Bob knows our position.  He was in our church.  He accepted our position.  He didn't oppose it.  He asked questions about it, but gave no sign that he didn't believe it.  I write all this about Bob, because Bob knows a bold faced particular lie in a recent published book is not true.  He knows it, and he says nothing about it.  It's a mean, evil, very scummy thing.  And he's good with it.  He brags on the book, knowing this lie is in it.  The book isn't very good, and I'll talk about it at some point, but I'm going to talk about this one whopper of a lie first.

When I read the left, I have noticed that they have no moral compunctions against lying to get their point done.  It is "end justifies the means," a philosophy of utiliarianism and pragmatism that came out of the age of reason.  God is diminished, man is at the center of things, and lies become acceptable.  You know for sure then that they are not interested in the truth.

I've been preaching through 2 Corinthians and I know it isn't new.  Paul was attacked in the most scandalous ways by false teachers to discredit him, to ruin his reputation, so that the false teachers could have their way with the Corinthians.  You've got to expect it.  You saw the Pharisees do it with Jesus.  So what are you to think when you see these critical text people do this?  I have to say I get it now.  It's sad.  I wish it weren't true, but it is.  They will use whatever they want, whatever it takes for them, to destroy the truth on this.  It's their way at almost any cost. It's just the way it goes, I guess.  I don't want to believe it's true, but I've just seen it too much.

Jason Harris in his new book, called The Doctrine of Scripture (highly misrepresentative really), mainly just attacks the perfect preservation view.  It's not any kind of quality, well-researched, scholarly, studied-out book on the doctrine of Scripture.  It's just a hatchet job against the doctrine of the preservation of Scripture, regularly making outlandish statements without any documentation, asserting what it cannot prove.  He doesn't present any kind of historic, established, or exegetical view himself of this.  He just smears the perfect preservation position and assaults the people who believe it.  He lumps all sorts of different positions together as if they are one, not distinguishing between them.  The people cheering him on wouldn't care about such inaccuracy.

In a section on 1 Peter 1:23-25, Harris deals with the notion of people who believe that someone can only be saved by means of the preaching of the King James Version.  In that section, he quotes Jack Hyles as having taken that position.  It's true that Hyles took it.  Our book was very clear to say that position was wrong.  I wrote a footnote in that chapter and the first line of it reads:

There is enough of God's Word (at least 93%) in the CT that a person could be born again by means of that text.

And then the rest of the footnote backs up that initial statement.  That is an unequivocal statement that would deny anything that Hyles wrote.  Even further, I write:

As strong as this text is in relating salvation to the purity of the Bible, it does not go so far as to teach that conversion can only occur through the King James Version.

But Harris can't leave it alone.  He has to somehow connect us with this false position.  It's the strategy that false teachers do, who don't have the truth on their side.  They misrepresent people to harm their reputation and their credibility.  Of course, Bob Hayton knows we don't believe anything close to that, but he likes to have us smeared, even if it takes a lie to do so.

After dealing with Hyles in his footnote, he quotes three different people in our book:  Gary LaMore, Dave Sutton, and then me.  His quote from LaMore was saying nothing more than we are dependent on God's preservation of His Word in order to be saved.  Are we to assume that Harris believes that we can be saved without the Word of God?  Are we?  Should we assume that?  Perhaps I could write a book that says that Jason Harris believes we can be saved without the Bible.  I'm not going to do that, but why would he attack LaMore, who said nothing more than that?

He quotes Dave Sutton with a big bracketed statement in it as an attempt at mind reading from Sutton's chapter on the phrase, "it is written."  Here's what Harris writes, first quoting Sutton with his own bracketed material included:

"The doctrine of salvation is dependent upon preservation.  If there were no preserved Words [he's implying preservation in a particular text], then there would be no preached Word, and man could not believe on Jesus Christ; for 'faith cometh by hearing.'"  Following this logic, if one does not have the right "Words" (i.e., the text Sutton holds to) how can he be saved?

No, that is not Sutton's logic.  It isn't what he was thinking or writing.  He's actually writing what he means.  If you don't have the Words, then you can't preach them, and people are saved through hearing them preached.  That's what Romans 10 says.  Is Harris saying that you can be saved by Words that are not in fact God's Words?  If one can be saved by any Words, Words that are not in God's Word, then why would someone need the Word of God?  This is what Harris is denying by attempting to smear Sutton.  I don't think it's worth it to have so much disdain for someone else's position, that when you go after it, you risk orthodox doctrine yourself.  That's what Harris does.

Then he quotes my chapter on Deuteronomy 30:11-14 and accessibility or availability of God's Words. People use the unavailability of scripture as an excuse for not obeying God.  God says the Words will be there for us and Paul quotes this passage in Romans 10, a salvation passage.  I've preached through the whole book of Deuteronomy, studying it in the original languages, and I know what Deuteronomy is all about.  I talk about the layout of Deuteronomy in my chapter, and I don't think that Harris understands it.  I'm not going to say he didn't read it, but he writes like he didn't read the chapter.  If he understood the chapter, he would know that agreement to obey all that God said is equated with salvation in Deuteronomy.  That's how Deuteronomy reads.  Harris quotes one line from that chapter.

Belief in Christ assumes the reception of all God's Words.

From that line, Harris extrapolates a truckload.  He says:

This statement implies the dangerous error that belief in Brandenburg's understanding of preservation is necessary to salvation.

Really?  That's what that line implies, especially in light of the teaching of Deuteronomy and the instruction in that chapter?  Remember, I wrote that footnote to LaMore's 1 Peter 1:23-25 chapter.  The first line said that people can be saved through the critical text.  I edited the book.  I wrote that line in the footnote. Why try to read into something that I wrote something that I clearly said that I don't believe?  Harris is very, very loose with the truth.  He is so eager to discredit us that he's fine lying about us.

There will those who will be fine with Harris's lie, because he's lying about me, and that's fine.  He's smearing me, so that's good.  That's how they roll. That is their method of operation.  They'll be fine with it.  They will defend Jason, attack me.  I'm expecting that people will say, "You lied about me!"  And then they'll make up things about that too.  Of course, if they are concerned about lies, then they wouldn't want someone lying like that, but they aren't concerned about lies, but about a position that they appreciate, adore, support, like, or love being defended and believed.  If lies are what it takes, you use them.  The lies you oppose are the ones that hurt your position, but you're not really interested in the truth.

Should I assume that Harris believes that someone can deny God's Words, the ones He doesn't like or agree with, and still believe in Jesus Christ?  In other words, can someone be unrepentant of rebellion against teaching of God and still believe in Jesus Christ?  Is Harris into easy-believism?  All I would need to do is ask Harris if that's true.  That wouldn't be hard.  And that's what Harris did with me, rather than say that I believe this "dangerous error" that he says I believe.   No.  He doesn't ask me.  He just makes the statement without proof.  It's horrible.

I can guarantee you that the rest of the book is the same.  I'm not saying it is bereft of truth at all, but it is full of these same types of problems all over.  I'll be dealing with them, but this is representative of the kind of effort that he is willing to produce.

There is a lot of this that I read from critical text people.  Many are fully willing to do this kind of twisting.  You know their position is in trouble when it's propped up by blatant lies.


Larry said...

Two questions:

1. If you believe that one can be saved through the critical text, how do you reconcile that with your statement that "belief in Christ assumes the reception of all God's words"? [emphasis mine] According to your position, it seems that one using the critical text cannot believe all God's words because he doesn't have them all; he only has 93% of them. I would imagine Harris's comment (which I have read only here) is based on what appears to be an inconsistency, which would not be a blatant lie so much as a misunderstanding, or perhaps miscommunication on your part.

2. If everything you say here is true (and I am not disputing it), how does this undermine or cause trouble for the critical text position? The most it would seem to do is undermine Harris's credibility. But the critical text position doesn't rest on whether or not Harris quotes you correctly or rightly represents what you believe, does it? A lot of people, indeed most people, who hold the critical text position do so without any knowledge of you or Josh Harris, or either of your books. So isn't this a non-sequitur?

The critical text position may indeed have trouble (though not nearly so much as the alternatives, given the revelation and providence of God about the matter), but it doesn't seem connected to anything you have said here.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Larry,

When someone takes a sentence out of its context, not explaining how it falls within the rest of the chapter, it's easy to twist like Gumby. That doesn't mean we can't quote one sentence of someone, but it shouldn't then be placed into another context, attempting to prove something it doesn't say. Why just quote one solitary sentence from a whole chapter to make me conclude something I'm not concluding? He makes me conclude something. There is 7% difference between TR and CT. I say "at least 93%," not only 93%. An agreement to receive all of them is different than receiving all of them. That agreement is not arguing that you don't have all of them, so you can't be responsible. I would say he has a misunderstanding except that he is so eager to group us with Hyles on this that he is obviously scouring and reaching for something that isn't there. His writing is on 1 Peter 1:23-25 and it is in that section that I wrote something different than he concludes I conclude in contradiction to myself. If you are going to put something in a book, publish it, why not ask me? He has commented many times on my blog. Why get it out there with that kind of perversion of my position when you could easily clear it up? Why read into me?

I don't say it causes trouble, but indicates that there is trouble. It doesn't show confidence in your position when you have to do this kind of thing to 'defend' your position.

I see you as understating his lie and overstating the point. Being in trouble and "resting on" Harris are a distance apart.

When someone is doing what Harris is doing, he needs to be called on it. The book reads personal all over, like it's trying to be insulting and slanderous (the latter in framing people as believing something they don't). Harris doesn't represent all CT people, but it's a book that I think that SharperIron reviewed as an important contribution.

You say trouble for the CT position doesn't connect to how people defend it. It's been consistent and so I think it does relate. I understand why.

You watching the open championship? The links golf is interesting.

Larry said...

Typically, I think, when something is in print, it is considered fair game for evaluation. I still think you have a problem with the words that seem to say two different things, but I won't pursue that here.

As for indicating there is trouble, how does the misinterpretation or miscitation of one man of another man indicate that there is trouble in a wide movement? I don't get that.

The truth (or error) of any position on the text does not depend on how someone supports it. It is true when it conforms to reality, even if someone is unethical with someone else's words.

I haven't watched much of the open. I saw a little bit yesterday online. I love links golf. I would love to play some of those courses.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Larry.

Fantasy world: "Wow, Kent, I'm sorry to hear that he took those three different quotes out of context in order to spin you into taking a position similar to Jack Hyles's 'you can only be saved through the King James' position. That really is too bad. He shouldn't have done that. It's horrible when people do that. I don't think it means the CT position isn't true, but it really is bad that he did it."

Instead: "He might have a point. He might be right there. That might be what you were saying, even though you denied it clearly in statements. We'll say he might be right instead."

We're in print. We're published. We're open game. Open game doesn't mean lying. I recognize you are saying in each of the three instances he wasn't lying. They all three believe something similar to the Jack Hyles position, according to you. They say, no. But you know better because of something you can see in those statements that is sinister. You can see something fine in the statements, but it's OK to see something worse if you want to. I get it. Never mind that I was sure to deny that position in the book, so it would be clear and everyone would know. He didn't report that, didn't quote that, because it didn't fit his goal.

As for paragraph two, take it for what it is. It's a blog post. I didn't write every example of this occurring. There are many. This book was pushed on SharperIron, given an endorsement. No disclaimer.

You are choosing not to see how I'm arguing this. I'm not saying that the lie makes it trouble, but that the lie says there is trouble. You don't need to lie when you're position is steady. I said that. I repeated that. Now I repeat it again. A threepeat. I hope Pat Riley doesn't sue me.

Does lying verify your position as untrue? No. Like in the Zimmerman case. If the prosecution lied, that doesn't mean their position was wrong, and, of course, the jury should disregard lies, and act like they don't mean anything as to the credibility of the position. Ooops. Actually they are supposed to judge credibility on that. Does Jason Harris destroy the CT position? Not by himself, but again I wasn't saying that either, obviously.

Larry said...

Kent, my main point was about what you said, not Harris. Obviously, I don't approve of anyone lying or misrepresenting what anyone else says. I think that goes without saying. I think it is wrong.

But let me repeat my initial question: If you believe that one can be saved through the critical text, how do you reconcile that with your statement that "belief in Christ assumes the reception of all God's words"? [emphasis mine] According to your position, it seems that one using the critical text cannot believe all God's words because he doesn't have them all; he only has 93% or more of them. And since believing in Christ assumes the reception of all God's words, how can he believe in Christ? (My question there is primarily about the world all.)

That seems like an inconsistency. What am I missing?

Whatever Josh (not Jason right?) may have done isn't my point. If he lied about what you said, he shouldn't have. But my point in asking wasn't really about Harris. I can see, based on what you cite, how he might conclude something, and I can see that you disagree with his conclusion. Since they are your words, I will take your side that he misrepresented you. But my question was the comments you cite of yourself above.

As for your argument about trouble, I see how you are arguing it. I just disagree with it. You are correct that you don't need to lie when your position is steady. But it is non sequitur to say that lies mean a position is unsteady, or has trouble, or however you want to put it. One can lie in support of a right cause; the cause is not thereby undermined or shown to have trouble. It is shown merely to have a sinful supporter.

Kent Brandenburg said...


OK. If what you are saying in the last comment is it, then I'm fine with that kind of challenge, not anything that Jason Harris did in his book. He didn't argue in that kind of reasonable fashion, where you are looking to find something like that. However, I don't think you would have been thinking that I believed that if you read the book, because it doesn't read like that kind of position. It's an original language position.

The context of the quote in my book was Deuteronomy 30, a passage where you see that they are to receive all the words, the words, not just the message. Obviously it's receiving the message, but it doesn't just say 'message.' I'm arguing that in order to receive the words, they have to be accessible. If someone only got the gospel of John and received Jesus Christ, he would be saved. However, he wouldn't be rejecting any of the words that God revealed by doing so. He would be agreeing on all the Words that God said. I can try to explain it even more than that, but that is how I believe it and would present it. Does this undermine the doctrine of perfect preservation? No, it can only help it. There is the assumption of the accessibility of all the Words to those who believe. Harris doesn't go that direction in the book, the one you are taking, but your point isn't a gotcha moment either, because the point I'm making is from the exegesis, not from a systematic bibliology concocted consequentially to modern textual criticism. God's people assume the accessibility of all God's Words, because that fits a biblical presupposition.

Overall, there is a point to be made that lies are not necessary to buttress the truth. The truth will stand without them. That is my experience with all doctrines. People tell lies to defend. We see religious leaders do this with Jesus and Paul. That goes for me too, if I were to do that. I don't have an example of that, but it's not something someone will do in order to make his point look better.

I do think that someone may not be lying, but just gets it wrong about someone, and should have checked first. In this case, here is someone with all the evidence of someone who is being dishonest. Our book should not be one made to make the point he wants to make. No. Use Hyles. Use Ruckman. Use whoever believes that. Don't use us, because we don't believe that.

Larry said...

Thanks for that explanation. To me, that seems to have more to do with soteriology. I am not convinced it has relevance or does justice to the textual discussion. But hey ... it's your book, right? But I completely agree that one should not misuse or misrepresent another.