I got a Jews for Jesus mailing last week and it had their Christmas catalog. They sold several different mezuzahs, the piece to be placed on the doorpost with the shema inscribed. Shema is the first word of Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear," in "Hear, O Israel." And then, "The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." Since there is only one Lord, He should be loved with all your heart, soul, and might. That love should not be divided with other gods or with yourself, but sanctified unto Him.
One Lord. Proceeding from Him is one Word. Not two. And yet, through many various unscriptural arguments, multiple version or critical or eclectic text supporters expect you to accept two, not one. From one Lord comes one Word. You can't accept two Lords. You can't accept two Words. You can't ever accept two Words, either in inspiration or preservation. And that is the biblical and historical position.
I move to the "Which TR?' question, which exists to argue for two Words.
From my observation and experience, which is opinion, but fairly scientific at this point in my life, the main arguments for "preservation" from the eclectic text, critical text, or various iterations of the multiple version position are really just attacks of the scriptural and historical position on preservation of scripture. They are motivated to write a book that could include a section on preservation in order to prove that we should keep restoring the text of scripture that is still not restored and will never be. That isn't preservation. Perhaps it is preservation, but only in the same sense that the cottage cheese is being preserved under the kitchen sink in that wastebasket. Sure, it's still there, but it has deteriorated from its original state. A sane person shouldn't swallow a non-restored-text view as preservation, even if told that we must do so to preserve unity among Christians.
I've read a lot of the criticism from the yet-to-be-restored-text people, and as I see it, their main argument is that if there is one word that could be different, then we have an opening for an eclectic text. Where does that stop? I don't know. There is no standard that I have read to guide on how much variation or error can be acceptable to those willing to accept any. Kevin Bauder writes in Only One Bible?
If they are willing to accept a manuscript or a text that might omit any words (even a single word) from the originals, or that might add any words (even a single word) to the originals, then their whole position is falsified. . . . If preservation does not really have to include every word, then the whole controversy is no more than a debate over percentages.
But Scripture teaches every Word preservation of itself. That is the doctrine we should accept, because it is what the Bible teaches. Every doctrine about scripture requires belief in biblical teaching -- inspiration, canonicity, authority, sufficiency, and preservation. Bauder would say that we also must prove that every Word we have is also in the original manuscripts, or else a position of perfect preservation is falsified. Really? The position of perfect preservation comes out of God's Word, so it must be true. God's Word is true.
If you take a biblical position on preservation of scripture, it will be verbal plenary preservation. But men like Bauder add something to the Bible, as though it is not sufficient on preservation, unlike all the other doctrines of bibliology. In addition to what the Bible says, they add that you also have to prove with empirical evidence that we have every Word. And "since we can't,' it is as he writes, "a debate over percentages." Is that what we should expect from reading the Bible? No one ever answers that. Imagine preaching that position to a church: "we're talking about what percentage of the Bible we have, not that we do have it, so be assured, brethren."
An additional red herring of the eclectic text and multiple version side, the opponents of preservation (which could only be perfect preservation), is that if there is one word that is brought into question, then, as Bauder has written, "Our discussion should turn from theologizing to the doing of textual criticism." Why? Why are Bauder and others sure about this binary choice, the existence of only two alternatives?
Our theologizing should give us one choice: what the Bible says. That's what we believe. Then I look at how the churches applied it. The position of Bauder and others is a recent one and in the tradition of modernism. It bifurcates truth into two stories: the top story, subjective and questionable, and then bottom story, objective and sure. The identity of the text is subjective and questionable, like theology. You should rely on science for the text, because science is objective and factual. This position is an apostatizing of bibliology. It's not how Christians have believed.
The attack on the one biblical position often takes shape with the question, "Which TR?" The editions of the received text of the New Testament are not identical. According to Bauder, this would mean we're now "debat[ing] over percentages" as well as "turn[ing] . . . to the doing of textual criticism." Understand that there is no biblical basis for this conclusion. It is the conclusion of the lower story that separates theology from science. But how do perfect preservationists answer the "Which TR?" question? This was recently asked in the blog comment section, "Where was the generally available perfectly verbally preserved text in AD 1829?" I'm going to answer "Which TR" in that form of the question.
I don't think there is anything significant to the year 1829. That's just random, but for the sake of the answer, I'm going to deal with only before 1829. I would think that the point of the question was to deal with verbal preservation before Scrivener 1881, the so-called "reconstructed Greek text behind the King James Version." I often say, "They translated from something." And Edward F. Hills, the summa cum laude graduate of Yale and PhD from Harvard in textual criticism, wrote that "the King James Version ought to be regarded not merely as a translation of the Textus Receptus but also as an independent variety of the Textus Receptus." Were the Words translated into the King James Version in the printed editions of the TR? Yes. Preachers who used the King James were studying from a Greek text. In 1815, Frederick Nolan had published An Inquiry Into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate, Or Received Text of the New Testament. If the received text didn't exist, then how could there be a book written about its integrity? I add to this all the exegetical commentaries before 1829 from the received text and using the King James Version. How could they exegete from a text that did not exist? If we do write a second edition of Thou Shalt Keep Them, which deals with the history, I want to look into the quotations of exegetical commentaries from 1550 or so to 1881 to show that they were referring to those Words.
The biblical position on preservation says that all the Words were available to every generation of churches. If there are differences between the TR editions, they were minimal, so small in number relatively not to be considered to be different. But they are different. They vary. And this then brings us to the single word challenge of Bauder and others, where they say that one word of difference opens the door to the science of textual criticism and an ongoing and never ending "restoration" of the original text. No. Believers settled on the words. And this is where the doctrine of canonicity is applied to the Words -- the unity of the Spirit, the Spirit guiding believers. A settled text is required for "adding" and "taking away" to mean anything. It should be assumed.
From here, perfect preservation opponents engage in a game of "gotcha." They try to find places where the KJV misses on Scrivener or misses on Beza, looking for that one word of difference to send everyone in the direction that Bauder described, willy-nilly assuming a binary choice without regard of a scriptural and historical doctrine of preservation. This is an assumption against preservation. For sure, the Bible doesn't teach the need of restoration of the text. It does not. That should never be accepted. Just like with canonicity of 66 books, believers should be willing to live with the possible minor tensions of the arguments over those few words. This is what Hills called "the logic of faith." He wrote:
If we are Christians, then we must begin our thinking not with the assertions of unbelieving scholars and their naturalistic human logic, but with Christ and the logic of faith. For example, how do we know that the Textus Receptus is the true New Testament text? We know this through the logic of faith. . . . In biblical studies, in philosophy, in science, and in every other learned field we must begin with Christ and then work out our basic principles according to the logic of faith. . . . The defense of the Textus Receptus . . . is entailed by the logic of faith, the basic steps of which are as follows: First, the Old Testament text was preserved by the Old Testament priesthood and the scribes and scholars that grouped themselves around that priesthood (Deut. 31:24-26). Second, the New Testament text has been preserved by the universal priesthood of believers by faithful Christians in every walk of life (1 Peter 2:9). Third, the Traditional Text, found in the vast majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts, is the True Text because it represents the God-guided usage of this universal priesthood of believers. Fourth, The first printed text of the Greek New Testament was not a blunder or a set-back but a forward step in the providential preservation of the New Testament. . . . When we believe in Christ, the logic of faith leads us first, to a belief in the infallible inspiration of the original Scriptures, second, to a belief in the providential preservation of this original text down through the ages and third, to a belief in the Bible text current among believers as the providentially preserved original text. . . . In short, unless we follow the logic of faith, we can be certain of nothing concerning the Bible and its text.
The one word for which opponents of verbal plenary or perfect preservation are seeking or desiring does not contradict the logic of faith. It does not veto the theology, the doctrine. That all stands. The "gotcha game" does not work.
Let God be true and every man a liar.