Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Is Being a Believer, Believing Scripture about Scripture?

When our church first published Thou Shalt Keep Them (TSKT) in 2006, the point of the book was to report what scripture said about its own preservation, so we called a biblical theology of preservation.  I still don't know of any that had been written before our book.  Our point was to let the Bible speak about itself.  Can we believe what scripture says about itself?  Is someone believing God, who doesn't believe what God says about His own Word?

There is a lot of disagreement about the Bible among those who don't take the same position as TSKT. Is there any final authority to settle disputes about the Bible?  As I see it, the wide variety of belief and thinking about the Bible comes because the Bible itself isn't the sole source for belief or knowledge about the Bible.  More new manuscripts are found.  Another ancient book is uncovered. Another edition of the critical text is published.  Teaching about the Bible is in flux.

Two important questions especially guide how we see the world.  Can we know?  How we know?  Can we know God?  How we know God?  The Mormons rely on the burning in the bosom.  Roman Catholics depend on tradition.  Charismatics trust in experiences.  Shouldn't scripture be the final authority about itself?  Shouldn't true believers have as their major premise that what the Bible says about itself is true?

A corollary to the previous paragraph could be some thoughts about source criticism, historical criticism, or biblical criticism.  Should we go outside of scripture for the interpretation of scripture?  Here's what a passage of scripture says, but the external evidence doesn't match up; therefore, we adapt or conform the teaching of the passage to the external evidence.  I read a lot of commentaries and this is a new hot fad among even conservative evangelical commentaries.  I've been studying Ecclesiastes a lot recently and the most popular new position on Ecclesiastes is that there are several authors, and that position is mainly buttressed, not by internal evidence, but by the existence of ancient texts that rely on frame narration.  Is the Bible sole authority, when its meaning is guided by non-inspired information?

I wish the critics of TSKT would be honest about it.  I wish they would take the book at face value and judge the meaning of preservation texts.  I wish they would point out their own, already established doctrine of preservation, before they ever dipped into external "evidence."  TSKT doesn't present historical theology (that will be a second book), but I wish they would move next to what Christians have believed in history, and not just independent Baptists or individual churches.  There is a reason why many Presbyterians, Free Presbyterians, and Reformed men take the same position as TSKT.  It really hurts the crazy theory that this doctrine originated from Benjamin Wilkinson and the Seventh Day Adventists---that is just a blatant lie (really among many, many lies that I read about the position we teach---why do they need to resort to these lies?).

Most men today approach their doctrine of preservation, even their doctrine of the Bible, different than they do other doctrine.  This is a new, modern or postmodern approach to a doctrine.  At one time, men started with what the Bible said about something.  They believed that.  Their explanation of what happened was guided by that presupposition.  When I study historical doctrine, I look to see if that's what someone did.  I also expect historical theology.  I expect that someone has established already, before believing something, that there is some historic basis for believing it.  Those start all off my beliefs.  If it is something new, then it must be thoroughly vetted by scripture, coming out of really firm exegesis, not speculation.  This is what honors and glorifies God.  Faith pleases Him.  This doesn't happen in the discussions on preservation, which is why what you read is so all over the map, like a buffet table of various doctrines, taking about anything that they think will stick.

As an example, an article was written in the last month by Mark Ward on his blog, called By Faith We Understand.  It should come with a disclaimer on his doctrine of scripture, because he doesn't start with scripture or operate by faith for his doctrine of scripture.  He wrote, KJVOism, Fanatacism, and Epistemology.  There are so many falsehoods in the article, it's hard to know where to start. When it comes to the Bible, you really can say almost anything you want today, true or not, and it is accepted as long as it comes to an acceptable conclusion to your audience.  Ward essentially mocks people who use only the King James Version, and buttresses his scorn with falsehoods.  He doesn't start with a doctrine about the preservation of scripture, but he uses a "scriptural argument" in his article.  I hate articles like this one, but it must be dealt with.

You can read Ward's article yourself.  I've linked to it.  In the first paragraph of his section, "KJV-Onylism and Sources of Revelation," he argues something that I have not read in historical theology anywhere ever and I think I'm widely read, that is, that creation and providence are an authority over the meaning of scripture, and, therefore, scripture itself.  He doesn't really stop there, because he also says that your own personal experience is necessary for the interpretation of scripture.  You can read his argument there. The closest I've seen of this in history is the Petrine theory on papal primacy, which is not putting you in good company.  It's easy to see where he's headed with this novel approach. I was the only person that I've read, who even criticized this new doctrine, and that doesn't surprise me, because this is the new nature of theology.  You are credited with coming up with new stuff, invented new doctrine.  There were two major problems here among many others.

First, the history of sola scriptura includes the analogy of scripture, that is, Holy Scripture is its own interpreter.  Scripture is self attesting.  Scripture doesn't require outside knowledge to know what it means.  In that way, the Bible is truly the final authority.  If outside sources were required, then the authority for scripture would shift to those sources, which is what Ward does, and he doesn't understand that by faith.  He understands that by his own experience.  He makes it up and talks like it is scriptural.  It isn't.  Don't believe it is, because beliefs come from scripture, and it isn't from scripture.

Scripture is fulfilled in the real world.  It applies in the real world, but you don't work in reverse of that, looking to the world to find out what scripture is saying.  That is what Ward asserts.  Read him yourself.  I say that I get what he's doing.  He's justifying textual criticism, using this argument, saying that we look out there in the world of manuscripts to allow that to tell us what scripture is.  I say he's got it reversed, because you've got to start with understanding what scripture says by faith ("by faith we understand," the name of his blog).  He doesn't do that.  This is how we have run into all sorts of problems today, because the burning on the bosom is someone's understanding of James 1:5, and why shouldn't that be wrong?  Your take on scripture becomes very subjective, when you've got the whole world to call general revelation for purposes of getting your meaning of scripture.

I can already hear it---"that's not what he's saying!"  That's why I keep saying, read it yourself. Ward's article itself is an example of why you don't want to do what he says to do.  You can make up things, like he is making up things, when you start with something so subjective.

Do you know what the answer to what I'm writing here is?  Brandenburg is a Baptist brider!  I'm not. I don't even believe the bride is the church.  I've written about that here, but people just say it anyway, because it will stick as a smear.  It's a lie.  Or they say he's a borderline Baptist brider, like someone is a borderline serial killer, as a means of deniability.  Like some of the comments I'm reading about me on SharperIron right now, "I didn't say you 'were' that, just that you might be."  I'm not.  I didn't.  It's not true.  Remove it.  It still stays.  Why?  It contributes to the approved view, which is not "a" view, but not a certain view, that is the unacceptable view, almost anything else is tolerable, as seen in some of the theories thrown out without justification from scripture or history.  It's like watching CNN right now, or MSNBC.

Second for Ward, he is espousing a false, unscriptural, and anti-historic, modernistic view of general revelation to defend his point.  He turns general revelation to general in its content.  General revelation is general in its audience.  In other words, it is "general" in that everyone sees it, like Romans 1 explains.  Everyone knows it.  Ward elevates his own observations to general revelation. This is a view that you will read all over in evangelicalism today.  Just read what Ward writes.

Ward notices that men are not computers.  He sees that men make copyist errors.  He observes that there are textual variants.  Guess what?  Christians have been doing that for centuries.  But that is not general revelation.  It might be providential, but it isn't revealing any new doctrine that contradicts scripture.  It isn't providing an adjustment to what scripture already teaches.  What we observe isn't doctrine and there are a number of good reasons to deny that, the greatest being something related to copyist errors, and that is the depravity of man.  There are so many reasons to question many's observation.  He gets it wrong.

Mark Ward in his article repeatedly misrepresents the biblical and historical view of preservation.  He won't let me comment on his blog to correct his errors.  There are so many of them that it would seem to be purposeful, he's fibbing on purpose.  I am going to reject that and just say that he's ignorant and deceived.  He's accustomed to operating that way, so he can't help it, sort of like a copyist error.  Like a good writer would, he should provide any quotes or examples of his particular made-up fictional observations, but he doesn't.

Either Ward doesn't understand providence or he is just twisting it for this article.  He doesn't represent what believers mean by providential preservation.  He should read more to get what it does mean.  I know he doesn't understand it, because the first time I talked to him in the last year, he had never heard the historic and biblical view.  It was all new to him.  He was already against it, because it differed from what he already thought, but he hadn't heard it.  Because it was new to him, he assumed that it must be off or weird, when actually his position is the novel one in history and especially the Bible. He had not heard it, because he didn't learn that way and doesn't think that way. He's not thinking the right way.  There's a mocking tone throughout, but also when he writes:
The KJV-Onlyites look at providence, too, and they say that the text used by the greatest number for the greatest time must be the right one; it’s blessed.
People who take the biblical and historical position on the preservation of scripture don't start with providence and then look at the Bible.  That's Ward.  So we don't do it too.  Providence starts with scripture and then looks to see how God works.  This is reading Daniel and then expecting the fulfillment of the prophecies.  It starts with a biblical model and then looks for its fulfillment.  Men see the promise of preservation and then they observe how that looks through history.

In John 16:13, Jesus said:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
All the verses surrounding this promise talk about it.  The Father gives it to the Son and gives it to the Spirit, the Son gives it to the Spirit, and then it is given to them and we know from later also to us. So we expect that.  We look for that.  We have a Bible.  That is not general revelation.  It is providence, but it does not start with observations about what happened and apply that to what Jesus said.  It starts with what Jesus said.  God made a covenant with Israel, teased out in Esther.  This is how providence works, but it starts with the covenant, not with the events fulfilling the covenant.

The error of Ward I'm describing is serious, very serious.  Men should be concerned, but what I've read is in essence and repeatedly, "Good job, Mark."  Good job?  He's wrong.  He opens a can of worms that you want closed.  You don't want that can opened up.  It should stay closed.

Ward is saying that we get our bibliology from this false idea of general revelation and even providence.  He misses it on the analogia scriptura, misses it on general revelation, and he misses it again on providence.  Strike three.  He fans with this article, but he is treated like he hit a home run.

Bibliology starts and stops with scripture.  It originates only from scripture.  It's source is scripture. Bibliology comes from scripture.  That's what we did in TSKT.  That was the point of the book.  What people don't like about TSKT, I've noticed, is that it doesn't delve enough to them about manuscript evidence and historical application.   It doesn't answer from their perspective the crucial question, Which TR? It was never intended to do that.  Doctrine about scripture is the place where men see experience and observation to be priority number one in authority.  Attack on scripture is the first attack in the Bible itself.  It continues to be.


James Bronsveld said...

I'd like to apply Mark's principles of providence to the current transgender onslaught against the binary biological fact of male and female. The Bible says God made them male and female. Using Ward's reasoning that one requires "creation and providence...for interpreting the Bible," I can see a hermaphrodite and conclude that when the Bible says God created them male and female, it means he created them with gender fluidity, because creation can give me such an interpretation. After all, he made "them" "male and female." Not "he made one male and one female." Rejoice, believers! Thanks to this new epistemology (which is not new, but has consistently followed those who found the temporal draw too great to withstand), you don't need to suffer reproach or persecution over the so-called "transgender" ideology!

Ten years ago, that analogy would have been scoffed at as frittering babble. But here we are, thanks in no small part to the experientialism Ward elevates above Scripture. Good thing for experience, right? I mean, you can't believe in the Trinity, without "experiencing it first"...or in creation ex nihilo without experiencing it first, right?...or a worldwide catastrophic flood in which the world is judged and one man and his family and all the kinds of the earth's animals are saved alive in a giant floating box, right? Or how about resurrection from the dead? Or how about the eternal knowledge of God? Keep going down that path, Mark, and don't be surprised when you wind up mouthing the same sentiments as the rationalists and atheists.

One additional observation: Ward's argument (under the sub-heading "KJV-Onlyism and Sources of Revelation") is nearly identical to the reasoning I have frequently encountered from Ruckmanites and Riplingerites over the years. Perhaps knowing this will help him end his struggle to "come up with circumstances in which [he] could become a Ruckmanite."

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brandenburg,

Just to sum up my understanding of what's happening between the two websites: 1) You say you wrote TSKT to give a biblical theology of scripture, not a historical view, 2) You think the points being raised by Mr. Ward and the writers at Sharper Iron are not biblical points but historical points, 3) You've got a different book coming out that will deal with historical points. Is that right?

Is there a biblical theology of the Textual Criticism view that Mr. Ward and the writers at Sharper Iron (Aaron Blumer, Tyler Robbins, Thomas Overmiller, Bob Hayton, etc) either use or wrote themselves? Surely someone has done the work on this, and surely they can't be holding to the practice of Textual Criticism without any Scriptures to command it. Some of their questions really got me thinking, and I think both sides make some good points.

Also, on a minor note, it was interesting to see Bert Perry say that "every ancient Greek manuscript we have is different" when Mr. Ross has demonstrated here that that statement is actually not 100% accurate.

I think these discussions you have here are helpful to a lot of people, and I think it's good to see they are interacting with your book.

Thanks again,


James Bronsveld said...

R.L. Dabney in The Sensualistic Philosophy of the Nineteenth Century:

"It not only denies to the spirit of man all innate ideas, but all innate powers of originating ideas, save those given us from our senses. It consequently attempts to account for every general and every abstract judgment, as an empirical result of our sensations, and consistently denies the validity of any a priori ideas."

Whether Ward realizes/acknowledges it or not, he cleverly and articulately laid out an approach to interpreting the Scriptures that, stripped bare of his verbiage and repeated protests of sincerity, is nothing more than the same sensualism that Dabney warned of in his day. I doubt Ward would take it to its consistent ends (and I'd be thankful for such inconsistencies on his part), but the results of such thinking over the years has certainly proved instructive.

Kent Brandenburg said...


That is where the slippery slope sends us, but to start, he's just plain wrong.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Ward isn't depending on historical theology. Historical theology has precedent in history and what Ward teaches came later to conform the new reality of errors in scripture with a theological position. It's not historical though. I'm speaking about historical criticism, which is much different.

No, no one wrote a theology buttressing textual criticism. The founders of textual criticism, which is modern textual criticism, because there is revisionist history today to make the Westminster divines textual criticism, were mostly unbelievers, who didn't care whether the Bible had errors in it.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I haven't really dealt with the SI article or the comments. There are so many errors, it would take a small book to deal with all of it, but there are so many lies.

One of the big ones is the last one right now by the owner of SI, Aaron Blumer, who writes (https://sharperiron.org/comment/92945#comment-92945):

"TSKT et al. relies on history rather than Scripture to support its view, but history is even less supportive than the Bible is."

It is a book that exegetes scripture, reports on what scripture says, and Blumer says that it relies on history rather than scripture. What an absolute lie. Read each of the chapters, see if the book is relying on history. He provides no reason to even make the statement.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'm going to be attempting to answer all the SI stuff, but I want to provide a preemptive strike. I don't know the total number lies or careless misstatements, but the former at least 6-12, probably more, and the letter, dozens. They are poor, just poor. But they'll be the victim, looking for a good spirit and a right tone. The tone police out. Playing the victim, like Adam in the Garden. Bob Hayton appears out of the woodwork there, like he does, with his vindictive spirit. Vengeance is his.

What do they provide? Anything positive. Do they have a doctrine to buttress the weak and feebleminded? No. No doctrine, just attack. Nothing to buoy a world without certainty. They would say, of course, that I find certainty where there is none, so where is their certainty. They're wrong, but I still await anybody's positive biblical presentation that isn't counting manuscripts and comparing it to Plato in trustworthiness.

Anonymous said...

I read the comments at SI. That used to be my “camp” (Northland, Maranatha, Central, etc.), so I shouldn’t be surprised. But, it still amazes me how with such confidence they obscure the truth. To them “KJVO” is this little straw man that they have built that is so fun and easy to knock down. If they can just slide you into the Ruckman / Riplinger category, then they can just sit back and mock instead of actually dealing with the scriptures.

These people (by in large) don’t believe in Sola Scriptura. That is their problem. They have a Neo-orthodox view of preservation (concept rather than words). That is why I left them behind. They don’t trust God’s Word as the sole authority of faith and practice, though they say they do. They have no real answers as to their now lack of a stance on the scripture, music, dress, etc. Just a combination of mocking and saying the same thing enough times to make them believe it’s true.

The comments at SI are a prime example. Your position (which is the same as mine) is that God preserved every word and is available. The Bible clearly teaches that. Theirs is, at best, “God certainly can preserve his words. God DID preserve his words. But not in the way Kent thinks.” Well, please tell us how he did then! I guess it’s just enough to know that it’s “not the way Kent thinks”. Nothing to see here, everybody back to their CT.
For every single supposed historical “gotcha” they have of our position, it is FAR worse for theirs. One says, “a TR-only view, though commendable, raises very unusual questions”. Really, but a CT position doesn’t raise any questions—like, how am I supposed to live on every word of God, when they tell me I can’t know if I have them (Matthew 4:4)? Or, how can all scripture be profitable for doctrine, when not all scripture is necessary, just as long as we don’t lose any (major) doctrines?

One claims that everything we believe rests on I Tim. 3:15. That’s an important verse, to be sure. I don’t know about you, Kent, but that verse didn’t factor much into me coming to this position. Their comments make your case for you—they trust more in what history says Erasmus did or didn’t do, then what God said He would do.

Mat Dvorachek

Bobby Mitchell said...

Just a few weeks ago (before the SI article) I started reading through TSKT. I am reading it slowly, just a few pages a day, as part of my devotional time.
I've had it since it was first published and I now wish I would have read it when I first obtained it. I have found it to be a tremendous exposition of the Bible passages that teach inspiration and preservation. In reading some of the comments at SI I am left wondering if those commenting have even read the same book I'm reading!

Kent Brandenburg said...


Your comment is right one.

Bobby Mitchell,

Thanks. I'm glad you're reading, it is a blessing, and I agree that it's just explaining what the Bible says.

Tyler Robbins said...


I tentatively plan on posting an excerpt at SI this Thursday providing a Scriptural argument from TSKT. We'll see what kind of interaction we get from commentators on a Biblical text. Looking forward to it.

Whether you agree or disagree with the TR position, I think TSKT is the best thing I've seen from this perspective. I chose to post the issue of epistemology first, because I think it is foundational to the position. So, next, I'll post an argument from the book about preservation, based on a passage of Scripture.

I encourage some of ya'll to comment there. Some regular commentators can be caustic, to be sure, but just be willing to get through that. There are a bunch of people who would welcome an interaction. I regularly comment here, even though Bro. Brandenburg and I (along with some commentators!) don't see eye to eye on everything. I have learned from folks here.

Take care!

Kent Brandenburg said...


First, how does our position not line up with what scripture teaches, how does it not fulfill a scriptural model? I recognize that what we did was lap up Benjamin Wilkinson and the go looking for passages to support him, at least that's what CNN and MSNBC say, but how is our position NOT the biblical position?

Second, I don't mind straightforward commentary. It's the many lies that show no evidence. Unsubstantiated gross misstatements or falsehoods, said like they were gospel truth without correction. I have to clear them up, and then they retract, right? No, they just go a different direction, because the point is to make something stick that discredits.

As an example, Mark Ward. I critiqued his post. Did I misrepresent him? No. I linked directly to him, quoted from him, dealt with his arguments. I did hit him directly, but that was only his reliance on a kind of mockery or scorn. He also won't let me comment there. I wrote one comment, he answered, I followed, so I wrote another comment, and he wouldn't publish it.

Anonymous said...

Tyler Robbins,

Is there a book you can recommend that gave you your Textual Criticism view?

I'm not talking about a book that just questions the TR view, but one that says "here is a verse that teaches Textual Criticism is something Christians have to do."


Mr. Brandenburg,

One, your statement, "Is the Bible the sole authority when its meaning comes from non-inspired information?" seems to get to the heart of the difference between the two views. But then consequently don't you get accused of circular reasoning? (Perhaps the other view should as well.) How do you respond to that?

And two, your point about "how does one know we have 66 books in the canon" never really gets answered in these debates. Can you elaborate on why you keep asking that question in this context of the text and translation debate.



Tyler Robbins said...


In a nutshell, I don't think the passages TSKT uses support your position. I don't think many of them are about preservation at all. That is the crux of my disagreement, and why I do not see preservation the way you do. I mentioned a few years ago, in another thread, that I plan to write a short article on each Scriptural passage commonly used to support this kind of preservation, and demonstrate why I believe it either (a) isn't referring to preservation at all, or (b) doesn't support the kind of preservation you think it does.

I still plan to tackle that one day. I may do 1 Peter 1:22-25 soon; I'm preaching through Peter's epistles again and translating the text as I go. I'll send you a link if I do it.

Kent Brandenburg said...


In a second book on history, there would likely be a section again covering other passages on preservation not covered in the first, two of which I've written a thorough article either at Jackhammer on Isaiah 59:21


And then Revelation 22:18-19


We knew there was more to write about.

So you don't believe that the Bible teaches that God would preserve every Word for usage by believers on earth?

Yes or No.

What is your biblical basis for getting confidence for the authority of scripture, what we actually have, from men doing their best with manuscript evidence?

You comment above is very ambiguous. I was just watching the Comey testimony. I had the same feeling from your comment as I did from watching him.

It's hard to deal with ambiguity, but it's easy to make conclusions based on ambiguity. You don't have anything out there, but you still come to the conclusion. I like my writings better than your no writings, and my writings are much easier to critique.

I believe that men today are colored by modern textual criticism, biased by it, to find the Bible teaching something other than what it says. Before modern textual criticism, men saw preservation in scripture and afterwards that teaching disappears. It makes it hard to believe, even though so far there is nothing offered, just conclusions and pot shots at those who do write.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I just went to SI to see if there were new comments, and I saw that you had put up a new post and I saw the four comments.

None of them comment on whether the exegesis was good. None. I never mentioned the TR, and we did that in that section on purpose. We're just talking about the doctrine of preservation. What these men show is that they don't get their doctrine from scripture, which is the point of my post above. They should just admit it. They depend on something akin to experience, tradition, or so-called science for doctrine.

I think you do too. I'm not sure, but I don't have any reason for thinking otherwise. Everything you write says this.

Tyler Robbins said...


I'll do my best to be more blunt:

1. Yes, I believe God preserved every word for believers here on earth. I just don't think He did it the way you believe He did.

2. I know there are more passages to cite about preservation. A book can only be so long, and I realize you could only include a portion of the evidence. What I did see is not convincing, for reasons I briefly explained in the post above.

3. I realize I haven't written any response articles yet. I will. This issue isn't as important to me as some other projects I have percolating right now. But, it is something I plan to get to. I am certain, however, that the world isn't waiting breathlessly for my articles.

4. I do respect your position and try to understand it as best as I can. I recommend your book on SI anytime the subject comes up. I think it is a good book. I just disagree with you. I don't have scorn or contempt for your position. Some people do. I don't. I hope that comes across clearly.

I'll send you a link when I start getting the articles written. As I mentioned, 1 Peter 1:22-25 will likely be coming soon. I just translated it this morning, and looked at the quotation from Isa 40:8 in the LXX and BHS. I'll send you a link when I get it done.

Tyler Robbins said...


As I mentioned in an email to you the other day, I hope some people at SI will comment on the exegesis. I think this is where the rubber meets the road. What do these passages teach? You have to deal with the text, then form a systematic doctrine of preservation. It has to be that way. It's the way you do theology.

It's why I need to write my response articles - not because I'm an earth-shattering exegete, but so I can document my own thoughts about these passages so you better understand where I'm coming from. Discussion about preservation is pointless unless you go to the text.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brandenburg,

I had sent you another comment, not sure if you got it. No worries if it didn't make the cut.

Tyler Robbins,

It seems like you've set yourself up for eisegesis. You're saying 1) you have not exegeted the texts, and 2) you know that the texts do not mean Mr. Brandenburg's view.

How can you already know that? I mean that as a sincere question. What is shaping your thinking to already know that the TR view can't be right?


Tyler Robbins said...


I meant I hadn't written the articles and personally translated the texts yet. That doesn't mean I haven't read them, pondered them, and don't have an option on them!