Preservation: How and What? Part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Does the Bible teach that God’s people will always be able to point to a particular text1 of the Bible and know that it is the word-perfect, preserved text? Those who believe a particular choice of translations is “the biblically right” option, tend to answer (passionately) in the affirmative. But many who use other translations or simply prefer the KJV are not so sure. Who is right?

Points of agreement

Nearly all involved in the controversy are agreed that God has preserved His Word for us in some sense. Nearly all are agreed as well that Scripture teaches God will preserve forever, somewhere and in some form, every one of the words He inspired and that some believers will always have access to Scripture in some form. God’s ability to use imperfect sinners to perfectly preserve His Word is also not in dispute, nor is the fact that we should accept what the Bible reveals to be true regardless of the claims of the “science of textual criticism” or any “high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5, KJV).

It is also agreed that the Bible depicts human beings as both finite and fallen and prone to error in what they do, but that God overcame human fallibility when He inspired “holy men of God” to record the Scriptures (2 Pet. 1:21). This is where we come to a major fork in the road. Though we do not have equally direct and clear statements to the effect that God also ensures word-perfect preservation (see part 2), many believe a compelling case for this kind of preservation can be derived from less direct passages. The book Thou Shalt Keep Them (TSKT) is an important example.

The next two articles in this series aims to examine all of the relevant biblical arguments in TSKT to see whether we have sufficient grounds for believing God has continuously overcome the limitations of His servants so that they maintain a word-perfect, preserved text of the Bible.

Passages handled previously

TSKT has chapters devoted to several of the seven popular preservation texts I examined earlier in this series: Psalm 12:6-7 (TSKT, ch. 1), Matthew 5:17-18 (TSKT, ch. 3), Matthew 24:35 (TSKT, ch. 5) and 1 Peter 1:23-25 (TSKT, ch. 7). These passages clearly affirm a concept of preservation, but do not tell us to expect a word-perfect text to be available to every generation.

Though all of these passages would be consistent with the idea that we will always be able to access word-perfect copies of Scripture, “consistent with” is not strong evidence that God has chosen to overcome the human fallibility the Bible clearly teaches us to expect.

Other important passages

Perhaps recognizing that these often-cited passages are not sufficient to support their conclusions, the writers of TSKT look to several other verses as well. We’ll consider these individually.

“Every word that proceedeth”

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matt. 4:4)

Thomas M. Strouse handles this passage in TSKT’s second chapter and concludes the following:

The Lord clearly stated His belief in the availability of Scripture by assuming the accessibility of every Word. The Savior clearly stated His belief in the verbal, plenary preservation of God’s Words since they had been and were still preserved intact in His day. (p. 39)

But Strouse’s case proves to be weak on several grounds. First, the perfect tense of “it is written” (gegraptai), does not indicate anything about the future of what is written, as he asserts (p. 38). Rather, the tense indicates an action that occurred in the past and has produced a state that continues in the writer’s (or, in this case, speaker’s) present. The idea here is simply “it stands written.”

Second, Jesus describes the “every word” He has in mind as coming from the “mouth” of God, and uses the Greek rhēma (ῥῆμα) for “word.” Rhēma normally indicates spoken rather than written words.

Third, “proceeds” is in the present tense. The sense is “every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God.” Though continuation is not always part of the meaning of a present tense verb, the fact that “shall live” is future almost requires that sense here. “Man shall live now and in the future by every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God.”

Finally, the context is also significant. Deuteronomy 8:3, which Jesus quotes here, is a reminder to the children of Israel that they are dependent on God’s decrees for their well being. And in the immediate context, Jesus is responding to pressure from Satan to turn stones into bread (during a long fast).

These details do not prove that Jesus was referring to unwritten words, but together they do strongly suggest He was speaking of God’s continual commanding of what we need to “live.” He was emphasizing our dependence on the Father as well as the Father’s sovereign control over our lives. In Matthew Henry’s words:

It is true, God in his providence ordinarily maintains men by bread out of the earth (Job 28:5); but he can, if he please, make use of other means to keep men alive; any word proceeding out of the mouth of God, any thing that God shall order and appoint for that end, will be as good a livelihood for man as bread, and will maintain him as well.2

Jesus’ statement here does not communicate that He had access to an Old Testament text that contained every word originally inspired. The statement is even further from teaching that every generation of believers will have access to such a text.

“They have received them”

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. (John 17:8)

In ch. 4, Strouse takes up the case once again, this time emphasizing the concept of a “received Bible.”

This essay will demonstrate that…the Lord Jesus is the Author of the received Bible mindset and expects His followers to be united around the received Bible movement throughout history. (p. 52)

The chapter’s argument is based in part on the view that “the words” Jesus says the Father gave Him are the entire “Bible canon,” and the same as the “all Scripture” of 2 Timothy 3:16—the same words Jesus said would never pass away (Matt. 24:35, p. 53). Furthermore, since all will be judged by these words (John 12:48), all of the “canonical Words” must be written and preserved. To judge men by anything less than “perfectly preserved, inscripturated Words” would be unjust (p.53).

Strouse then cites several references to believers “receiving” the word (pp. 54-55) and, in the process, gives “receive” a special meaning: something along the lines of “to get a hold of a copy of the entire Bible that you know is a word-perfect copy” (my words, not his).

A close look at the text, however, reveals that it does not support the conclusions Strouse draws from it. That Jesus is referring to the entire canon when He says “the words which thou gavest me,” is far from “presumably” true (p. 53), especially since much of the canon had not yet been written at the time. Plus, the words Jesus says His hearers will be judged by (John 12:48) refers most naturally to those He had been speaking to them personally. Other passages may expand on the content of what men will be judged by, but can we reasonably argue that every word of Scripture must be preserved, recognized and accessible in order for this judging to be just? How would someone be judged differently if Luke 9:3 reads mēte ana duo chitōnas, “not two tunics apiece” (Textus Receptus), rather than simply mēte duo chitōnas, “not two tunics” (Nestle-Aland 27th ed.)?3

What Jesus says in John 17:8 is simply that He has faithfully passed on the words He was given. Turning this into “every single one of the words of Scripture” is reading into the text. Even if we suppose that Jesus meant exactly that, the conclusion that He promises a word-perfect text for every generation does not follow.

“Thou hast known the holy scriptures”

In ch. 6, Charles Nichols argues that “inspiration implies preservation,” based on 2 Timothy 3:15-17.

15And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Nichols summarizes his claim as follows:

2 Timothy 3:15-17 strongly suggests perfect, available, verbal and plenary preservation of Scripture just as it establishes God’s inerrant, verbal, plenary inspiration. (p. 68)

His argument asserts that “holy” (v.15) indicates “unadulterated, and pure from defilement” (p. 65). He argues further that the primary meaning of grammata (“scriptures” in v.15) is “letters,” therefore, Paul was pointing out to Timothy that Timothy had grown up having access to a letter-perfect Old Testament text (p. 66). On the basis of the relationship between v.15 and v.16, Nichols observes, “what God inspired is perfect. Therefore, the Old Testament was perfectly preserved to Timothy’s day” (p. 66).

Based on the sufficiency of Scripture expressed in 3:17, Nichols concludes that “Sufficiency depends on every writing God breathed” and “the availability of every writing is an obvious ramification of ‘all Scripture is profitable’ ” (p.67). His conclusion is that “the unadulterated Words, recorded up to or more than a thousand years earlier, were available to Timothy.”

A closer look

Several problems exist with this line of argument as well. First, “holy” (hieros, which Nichols says is synonymous with hagios) does not always mean completely pure. For example, 1 Corinthians 7:14 describes the children of believers as hagios.

Second, the passage does not say that Timothy “had access to” or “possessed” the “holy scriptures” but that he knew them. Unless we suppose that young Timothy knew every single inspired word of the Old Testament, “holy scriptures” in v.15 cannot have that meaning. Rather, it refers to the subset of the Scriptures Timothy had personally learned.

Verse 16, however, does specify that “all Scripture” is theopneustos (an adjective rendered “given by inspiration” in the KJV). Paul’s point is that the Scripture Timothy knew was powerful and sufficient because the Scripture that was inspired was powerful and sufficient. He does not say that what Timothy knew included every word originally given.

Third, even if Timothy had had access to a word-perfect copy of the Old Testament, what would this prove about what we have today?

The sufficiency argument based on 3:17 remains. Nichol’s reasoning is that if “all Scripture” is sufficient, missing any words would render it insufficient. But the reasoning is faulty. If I say “all of my money is sufficient to buy a hamburger,” I’m not denying that “some of my money is sufficient to buy a hamburger.” Granted, if the “some” is reduced to a small enough subset of “all,” it eventually becomes insufficient. But it is far from obvious that the discrepancies we find in the MSS cross that threshold.

Conclusion

Several passages and Bible-based arguments in TSKT remain to be considered. So far, its case for a biblical doctrine of word-perfect text preservation proves nothing beyond what is generally agreed: that God has seen to it that we have His Word today in a form that is sufficient to inform our faith and direct our obedience.

Notes

1 “Text” here means a complete Hebrew and Aramaic OT and complete Greek NT.

2 Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Matt. 4:4).

3 Of course, not all manuscript differences are so minor, but a vast quantity of them are. TSKT’s preservation argument here requires that every pronoun and qualifier be preserved in order for God to judge justly.


Aaron Blumer, SI’s site publisher, is a native of lower Michigan and a graduate of Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC) and Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). He, his wife, and their two children live in a small town in western Wisconsin, where he has pastored Grace Baptist Church (Boyceville, WI) since 2000. Prior to serving as a pastor, Aaron taught school in Stone Mountain, Georgia and worked in customer service and technical support for Unisys Corporation (Eagan, MN). He enjoys science fiction, music, and dabbling in software development.

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RPittman's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
RPittman wrote:
Aaron wrote:
I think I'm starting to lose my mind so I'll have to wrap up my involvement in this thread ... soon. The repetitiveness is driving me nuts but I'm not quite "there" yet.
No, not yet. But you are perturbed to have your comfortable way of thinking disturbed.

Oh, is that it? LOL People have been doing that all my life!
I thought it was from not having my question answered. Just one... why do believe my case against perfect preservation is naturalistic/rationalistic/modernistic? Why should anyone else believe it is? (Sounds like two questions, but they're really just different ways of asking the same thing)
Evidently you're not following my flow of argument. You are still trying to press me into the naturalistic/rationalistic/modernistic mindset. Aren't you aware that there other means of knowledge other than evidence-proof method. Your demanding of a proof or reasoned argument is proof of the method that you employ. You can't lock me into this because I have publicly disavowed Modernity. (Please don't speculate what I do believe before you hear me out.) What are some of the other means of knowledge? Well, intuition plays some little understood role. The big one, however, is revelation. Revelation is without proof although it is not with demonstration and evidence. (Don't take this anywhere because my ideas are not fully expressed here--don't make assumptions.) My point is simply that there are other means of knowledge whereas the naturalistic/rationalistic/modernistic methodology only allows for knowledge through observation and reason. This appears to be your methodology? Is it not?

RPittman's picture

Jon Bell wrote:
So I awoke this morning and now I am a convinced Particular Preservationist.
1. I believe that God has miraculously preserved His revealed, inspired Word in a line of texts, known as the Majority Text, from the time of inspiration until the present.
2. I believe that we have God's inspired Word present in written form today.
3. I believe that the Believing Church is the recipient, conservator, transmitter, guardian, and preserver of God's Word.
4. I believe that God's preservative power and acts are presupposed in our acceptance of canonization and inspiration.
5.I believe that the same reasoning that leads us to plenary verbal (The Bible does not say plenary verbal) inspiration with the inferences of inerrancy, infallibility, etc. are applicable to establishing the doctrine of preservation.
6. I believe that the ESV is God's inspired Word in the English language. It is miraculously being widely accepted and I hardly even need to mention all the people that have gotten saved after reading the ESV in the very short time that it has been available.
7. I do not believe or accept Ancient Critical Text Theory(read it was OK for old catholics to examine the manuscript and decide what the original was but not for modern scholars to do it).
I reject the epistemological tenets of Modernity (i.e. Modernism) and naturalistic-rationalism (i.e. scientific rationalism) so I don't really have to explain why I believe any of the above but I have faith that my position is correct and I am prepared to vigorously defend every one of the above. What more would you like to know?

How would this be any different from what is being posited by Mr. Pittman here?

This signifies nothing because it is simply a parody extrapolating a statement of my beliefs, which I was asked to post, into silliness. This is a waste of bandwidth.

RPittman's picture

Aaron wrote:
Roland wrote:
So, please define your own paradigm. What is your epistemological system?

For purposes of the present discussion, it's just this: Bible says it, I believe it. Bible doesn't say it, I might or might not, depending on where other evidence points.


Well, this really doesn't say very much--it just sounds spiritual. The Bible does speak explicitly about many things but some things that we believe, and I'm sure that you believe, are inferences, etc. How do you arrive at these? How do you determine what the Bible says? Do you use external data?

RPittman's picture

Aaron wrote:
On 5... you have stated (I'll drop "accused" since that seems to distract you) that my case against perfect text preservation is based on naturalistic thinking. You have shown no evidence of that at all. The honest thing to do is either back it up or stop repeating it. The only "epistemological paradigm" etc. that matters here is the one that I've employed in the articles, which is simply that the Scriptures mean what they say and do not mean what they do not say. So my method is to interpret the Scriptures using the grammatical-historical method and reason to conclusions based on what is written.

  1. This is not a question of honesty. I am not trying to deceive anyone. It's hard to stay away from those emotional words, isn't it? We all use them because they are favorable to our viewpoints.
  2. As a hypothetical question, am I required to offer proof if I say it was revealed to me in a vision? To require proof is naturalistic (i.e. observable)/rationalistic (i.e. meets my logic requirements)/modernistic (i.e. presupposed tenet of Modernism).
  3. In light of your proposed epistemology ("For purposes of the present discussion, it's just this: Bible says it, I believe it. Bible doesn't say it, I might or might not, depending on where other evidence points."), would you agree with the attitude and spirit of the following quote? "The truth is, Fundamentalist epistemology has more in common with the foolish “wisdom of the world” than with the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:17-31). True proclamation must determine with Paul “to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)" [URL=http://www.mainstreambaptists.org/mob/sbc_deifies_bible.htm [/URL ]
  4. I can see not room in the methods you employ and try to impose upon me for the leading into by the Holy Spirit. This is typical of naturalistic/rationalistic/modernistic methodology.
  5. Is your epistemology different from what you learned at BJU. If not, it is naturalistic/modernistic/modernistic as I repeatedly said, "Fundamentalism uses the methods of Modernism to refute Modernism."
  6. Basic to the concept of naturalistic/rationalistic/modernistic epistemology is the idea that claims which cannot be proved are irrational, or false, or contrary to evidence. It seems that you have tried to force this view upon me thus identifying your epistemology with naturalistic/rationalistic/modernistic epistemology.
Ron Bean's picture

Let's see if I can draw fire from all sides.

Quote:
1. I believe that God has miraculously preserved His revealed, inspired Word in a line of texts, known as the Majority Text, from the time of inspiration until the present.
2. I believe that we have God's inspired Word present in written form today.
3. I believe that the Believing Church is the recipient, conservator, transmitter, guardian, and preserver of God's Word.
4. I believe that God's preservative power and acts are presupposed in our acceptance of canonization and inspiration.
5.I believe that the same reasoning that leads us to plenary verbal (The Bible does not say plenary verbal) inspiration with the inferences of inerrancy, infallibility, etc. are applicable to establishing the doctrine of preservation.
6. I believe that any faithful translation based on the MT is God's inspired Word in the English language.
7. I do not believe or accept Ancient Critical Text Theory because I don't accept the idea that older is better.

8. Because of my position on the MT, I have my doubts about the inclusion of I John 5:7.

There. That should bring me enough pain and suffering for today.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

RPittman's picture

Aaron wrote:
On 5... you have stated (I'll drop "accused" since that seems to distract you) that my case against perfect text preservation is based on naturalistic thinking. You have shown no evidence of that at all. The honest thing to do is either back it up or stop repeating it. The only "epistemological paradigm" etc. that matters here is the one that I've employed in the articles, which is simply that the Scriptures mean what they say and do not mean what they do not say. So my method is to interpret the Scriptures using the grammatical-historical method and reason to conclusions based on what is written.

Would you agree with the following? Do you use this methodology?
Quote:
The historical-grammatical method is a Christian hermeneutics process that strives to discover the Biblical author's original intended meaning in the text. [1 ] It is the primary method of interpretation for scholars in the major branches of Christianity: Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox.[2 ] [3 ] The terms grammatico-historical, historico-grammatical and historical-cultural are regarded as synonymous with historical-grammatical.
The process for determining the original meaning of the text is through examination of the grammatical and syntactical aspects, the historical background, the literary genre as well as theological (canonical) considerations.[4 ] The historical-grammatical method distinguishes between the one original meaning of the text and its significance. The significance of the text is essentially the application or contextualization of the principles from text.
Well, it appears to me that the historical-grammatical uses materials external to Scripture. Thus, I don't think your methodology is "just this: Bible says it, I believe it. Bible doesn't say it, I might or might not, depending on where other evidence points." I think that you determine what the Bible says by using a form of naturalistic/rationalistic/modernistic methodology, the historical-grammatical method. Where is room for the work of the Holy Spirit? Yet, Jesus clearly stated that the Holy Spirit would lead us in all truth (John 16:13). Am I correct?
Quote:
Many practice the historical-grammatical method using the inductive method, a general three-fold approach to the text: 1) observation, 2) interpretation, and 3) application. [6 ] [7 ] Each step builds upon the other, and so they follow in order. The first step of observation involves an examination of words, structure, structural relationships and literary forms. After observations are formed, then the second step of interpretation involves asking interpretative questions, formulating answers to those questions, integration and summarization of the passage. After the meaning is derived through interpretation, then the third step of application involves determining both the theoretical and practical significance of the text, and appropriately applying this significance to today's modern context. There is also a heavy emphasis on personal application that extends into all aspects of the practitioner's life. Theologian Robert Traina, in his 1952 Methodical Bible Study, wrote that "the applicatory step is that for which all else exists. It represents the final purpose of Bible study." [8 ]
Where is the Holy Spirit? Compare this to another method also with Enlightenment roots, the Historical-Critical Method.
Quote:
The historical-critical method is an interpretative technique employed by many academic Bible scholars in secular universities, as well as some Christian theologians. The method utilizes higher criticism in an attempt to discover the sources and factors that contributed to the making of the text as well as determining what it meant to the original audience. The historical-critical method treats the Bible in the same way as other human texts and, embracing a naturalistic methodology, precludes interpretations which allow prophetic foresight on part of the authors[11 ]. Historical-critical scholars as such are also typically less interested in determining what the text means for people today. For these reasons conservative Christians tend to reject the method.
Where is the Holy Spirit?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

RPittman wrote:
Well, it appears to me that the historical-grammatical uses materials external to Scripture.

Clearly, whatever method you are using does the same, when you come to conclusions about the Received Text and the KJV.

Let's say for the sake of argument you grow up in a country with only one translation of the Bible available in your language, and the text used for that translation was the critical text. What information coming from the scriptures themselves would allow you to determine you had an errant Bible and that the basis for the translation you are reading is incorrect?

Dave Barnhart

RPittman's picture

dcbii wrote:
RPittman wrote:
Well, it appears to me that the historical-grammatical uses materials external to Scripture.

Clearly, whatever method you are using does the same, when you come to conclusions about the Received Text and the KJV.
Dave, you seemed to have missed all of the points.

  1. Aaron, not me, was the one who claimed that he was only using the Bible. Well, that's not realistic and not accurate. And you fail to connect the dots of how my method clearly does the same. What method am I using? What external sources does it use? (BTW, I do use external sources--we all do--that's my point. ]
  2. I only use the Bible is pious fluff. It's just spiritual oneupmanship.
    1. We use external sources to understand the Bible
    2. We use external sources for things about which the Bible does not speak
    3. We, modern Fundamentalists, use the basic epistemology as the Modernists. That's what I'm trying to establish but Aaron, et. al. have a hangup about admitting this. They can't shake off what they've been taught. Until they deliberately alter their paradigm and look at things through different spectacles, they will never see until they change the lens through which they view the world.[/quote]

      Quote:
      Let's say for the sake of argument you grow up in a country with only one translation of the Bible available in your language, and the text used for that translation was the critical text. What information coming from the scriptures themselves would allow you to determine you had an errant Bible and that the basis for the translation you are reading is incorrect?
      Perhaps the Holy Spirit would guide me.
RPittman's picture

Ron Bean wrote:
Let's see if I can draw fire from all sides.
Quote:
1. I believe that God has miraculously preserved His revealed, inspired Word in a line of texts, known as the Majority Text, from the time of inspiration until the present.
2. I believe that we have God's inspired Word present in written form today.
3. I believe that the Believing Church is the recipient, conservator, transmitter, guardian, and preserver of God's Word.
4. I believe that God's preservative power and acts are presupposed in our acceptance of canonization and inspiration.
5.I believe that the same reasoning that leads us to plenary verbal (The Bible does not say plenary verbal) inspiration with the inferences of inerrancy, infallibility, etc. are applicable to establishing the doctrine of preservation.
6. I believe that any faithful translation based on the MT is God's inspired Word in the English language.
7. I do not believe or accept Ancient Critical Text Theory because I don't accept the idea that older is better.

8. Because of my position on the MT, I have my doubts about the inclusion of I John 5:7.

There. That should bring me enough pain and suffering for today.

Ron, you are perfectly right and consistent to do so. There are reasons for doubt if you hold to a naturalistic/rationalistic/modernistic epistemology. But, why stop here. Scripture cannot be sustained in such a system taken to its logical conclusion. Nothing is to be believed or accepted without proof that includes observable, verifiable, and replicable components. The Fundamentalists were only able to maintain their beliefs by exclusions and not following the system to its end. Their system is a selective semi-permeable membrane. So, let's take it further and chop out additional hunks of Scripture where it may be doubtful. What do you think?

RPittman's picture

Aaron, I've found this particular thread most unimaginative particularly during the last few days. It seems that folks became stuck in a rut. There has been a poverty of ideas in that no one was able to envision any other possibilities other than their own. It was not a question of which possibility was right and which possibility was wrong but it was a matter of no other possibilities. Well, the link below may offer some subtle possibilities to rejuvenate your imaginative powers. That is unless one is brain dead. Smile As someone observed, a rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.
http://benbyerly.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/the-limitations-of-historical-...

RPittman's picture

Do I use external sources? Yep, sure do. Here's one:

Quote:
(Westminster Confession of Faith, chapt. 1, viii.) The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical;(1) so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them.(2) But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them,(3) therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come,(4) that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner;(5) and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.(6)

  1. Mt 5:18
  2. Isa 8:20; Ac 15:15; Jn 5:39,46
  3. Jn 5:39
  4. 1Co 14:6,9,11,12,24,27, 28
  5. Col 3:16
  6. Ro 15:4

    [emphasis added ]

Well, at least, we know some Christians believed in preservation before the rise of Modernism. It is not an entirely new doctrine as some of its opponents insist.
dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

RPittman wrote:
Dave, you seemed to have missed all of the points.

I've been paying attention, but I have been waiting to see how all of this plays out.
Quote:
And you fail to connect the dots of how my method clearly does the same.What method am I using? What external sources does it use?

I may have been unclear about what I meant, but the dots are connected well enough, and I don't need to know either your method or sources:

1. You have come to conclusions about the Received Text and KJV being the proper vehicles for preservation.

2. Neither of these are referred to in scripture.

3. Therefore, you are using something external to the scriptures to come to your conclusions. QED.

Quote:
We use external sources for things about which the Bible does not speak.

Agreed. Yet you seem to decry natural observation as being unworthy of use. However, even the scriptures declare that things about God can be revealed through natural revelation. That means that both observations and conclusions for those observations are considered by God to be valid methods of evaluating information (in fact, man will be held accountable for them), though they do not trump God's direct revelation.

I would agree (though I know some don't), that the Bible teaches preservation of God's word. It nowhere teaches that preservation was in the received text (or any particular text), or that the KJV was the only valid translation of God's word for English-speaking people. The authors of TSKT (a book I own and have read twice, the second time making annotations) argue that not only can preservation be shown from scripture, that the conclusions about the received text and KJV can be drawn from "proper" interpretation of scripture. I do not believe that the authors have sufficiently shown that such conclusions MUST follow from scripture.

Obviously, even the TSKT authors are using some external sources, as they rely on Greek lexicons and other tools in the writing of this book, in which they attempt to present the scriptural argument for their view of preservation. To some extent, we all do. However, I believe it's perfectly appropriate to attempt to use the same technique (make the argument from scripture, instead of history, etc.) to refute a work that the work itself is using. I think you are being intentionally obtuse when you make the claims you do about not recognizing we all use external sources, etc.

Quote:

We, modern Fundamentalists, use the basic epistemology as the Modernists. That's what I'm trying to establish...

Are you including yourself by saying "we," after you have declared that you have renounced any modernist epistemology? You do switch to "they" fairly quickly after this, so I suppose this use of we might have been a mistake.

Quote:
They can't shake off what they've been taught. Until they deliberately alter their paradigm and look at things through different spectacles, they will never see until they change the lens through which they view the world.

I'm curious what lens you believe you are using and how you think you can completely remove a modernist one from your own thinking. Believing you can is not the same as actually being able to do so.

Quote:
Perhaps the Holy Spirit would guide me.

If I understand the scriptures correctly, the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth *through* the scriptures. Well, in my posited case, the scriptures would be what you have in front of you, flawed or not. Are you arguing you would receive special, extra-scriptural revelation that would tell you the scriptures you have are false? If so, what would make it possible for you to discard certain words rather than distrust the whole work, and the basis for your belief in a Holy Spirit?

Dave Barnhart

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

RPittman wrote:
You are still trying to press me into the naturalistic/rationalistic/modernistic mindset. Aren't you aware that there other means of knowledge other than evidence-proof method.

OK, Roland. We should all believe you just because you say so. No reasons required... because requiring reasons is the naturalistic-rationalistic paradigm and we shouldn't force you into it.

On the grammatical historical method
Of course I use external information to interpret Scripture. Everyone does. Words do not have meaning without reference to things in our experience. And the principle of author's intent in interpreting Scripture has been well established for a very long time. This is not the same thing as building a case on external evidence. Rather, I have made my case based on the evidence of Scripture. (FWIW, I'm not crazy about the wikipedia excerpts you quoted. There are many better places to read up on the grammatical-historical method.)

Where is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit never promised to do our thinking for us, Roland.

Where you seem to be going is the idea that there is some direct route to knowledge of the meaning of Scripture apart from employing the faculties of the mind. Do you hold to perfect text preservation because you believe the Holy Spirit has revealed it to you directly? Because you have grasped this truth intuitively? Received it in a vision?
That may be good enough for you, but it will not persuade others. This is why the writers of TSKT didn't simply publish a one-page book in which they reported "God has revealed to us by 'other means of knowledge than evidence-proof method' that He has preserved a word-perfect text of the Bible down to today, and it's the TR."

Instead, they interpreted passages using the grammatical historical method and offered reasoned conclusions to support their claims. You would do well to take that approach as well!

I happen to believe they executed the grammatical historical method poorly in lots of places and also reasoned badly to conclusions that don't follow, but their method is the right one and the same one I'm using.

No disrespect intended, Roland, but "other means of knowledge" is the ultimate cop out. It basically declares your view to be beyond all debate.
At least the TSKT guys are trying to give people something to think about.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bob Hayton's picture

I left this thread at post #5 or 6 I think, and only just came back and read the rest. I'm dumbfounded as many others are as to Pittman's responses.

I would agree we need more than just naturalistic methods for Bible interpretation, we need Spirit-filled teachers and the Spirit does guide the church. Illumination is key, as 1 Cor. 2:14 teaches that a natural man is not able to understand the Word. Still the principle of finding the author's intent goes back way before modernity. It predates the Reformation as well.

I find it odd that RP gives a list of declarations that he believes and is prepared to contend for. Then when Bob Torpatzer and others ask for that defense and contention, he refuses to give it.

It appears that the Spirit's teaching the church, and the common faith that we have inherited as members of the church, plays a role in RP's thinking as revelatory or at least a way of gaining knowledge. Still, citing the WCF doesn't take the day. That statement in its specificity was relatively new in the history of the church, and given in the day of much debate with the Romanists. Still, it doesn't exactly say that the copies of Scripture they had were confessionally held to be equal to the Scripture as given originally. Furthermore, some of the signers and fellow Reformed leaders and thinkers (all pre-Modernity, mind you) reveal that they don't shun any text-critical sort of thinking. Turretin, Calvin, Luther all sought evidence in ancient copies about whether certain readings were genuine. Beza and Stephanus added textual notes to their TR editions.

On the 2 Tim. 3:16 point, you do know the words aren't equivalent necessarily in vs. 15 and vs. 16. Vs. 15 has grammata and vs. 16 has graphe. I contend that the in the word theopneustos in vx. 6 (inspired of God) implies a one-time event. That event (God's breathing out the Word) left the resultant text with a particular quality. That quality extends to the copies that Timothy had in vs. 15, but not because the copies are exactly identical in every particular. But because they are generally faithful copies of the text of Scripture and so share the quality Scripture has. So I find the hamburger analogy still holds pretty well. Saying Timothy was made wise to salvation by the scriptures he had. And that every Scripture is inspired, does not say anything about how accurate the copies that Timothy had were.

I do say it appears awful convenient for RP to sidestep argumentation altogether in this by denouncing our epistemology. What may be lost in the shuffle on this, is that he hasn't shown how or why we should believe that he is using his different epistemology correctly. It's almost as if he just uses that to obscure matters and he does this because this particular topic is touchy or something.

That is how it appears. Honestly, Roland, if you really want to convince us that our epistemology is totally misguided, then try being irenic and humble and show us patiently how to get where you are. The Spirit has guided a good many of us, along with the majority of the English speaking church, to accept and make wise use of modern English Bible versions. And He has guided us on the basis of many texts in Scripture too.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

RPittman's picture

Bob Hayton wrote:
I find it odd that RP gives a list of declarations that he believes and is prepared to contend for. Then when Bob Torpatzer and others ask for that defense and contention, he refuses to give it.
Bob, I find it odd that you didn't see why I refused. Bob T was defining the rules. My reasons are not cogent in a context of Modernity, which is prejudicial against anything that cannot be observed, verified, and replicated. Before we can have intelligent dialogue, these guys must realize that they must judge my points within my paradigm as I have tried to refute their points within their frame-of-reference. We are describing things from different frames-of-reference. What's hard to understand about that?

RPittman's picture

[quote=Bob Hayton ]On the 2 Tim. 3:16 point, you do know the words aren't equivalent necessarily in vs. 15 and vs. 16. Vs. 15 has grammata and vs. 16 has graphe.[quote]Of course, I was aware of this but I don't attach the importance or significance to it that you do. As far as I can tell, γραμμα is translated Scripture only once but γραφη occurs about 51 times and is translated Scriptures. Yet, it is apparent that both refer to the same thing. If you think otherwise, then you going to have to explain. Look at the context and flow. Don't get hung up on variety of word choice and create an artifact.

Bob Hayton's picture

RPittman wrote:
Aaron, I've found this particular thread most unimaginative particularly during the last few days. It seems that folks became stuck in a rut. There has been a poverty of ideas in that no one was able to envision any other possibilities other than their own. It was not a question of which possibility was right and which possibility was wrong but it was a matter of no other possibilities. Well, the link below may offer some subtle possibilities to rejuvenate your imaginative powers. That is unless one is brain dead. Smile As someone observed, a rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.
http://benbyerly.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/the-limitations-of-historical-...

Roland,

I greatly enjoyed this article. I almost entirely agree with him. But a redemptive historical interpretation doesn't lead by necessity to a complete overturn of epistemological structures and a rejection of any resort to evidence.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

RPittman's picture

Jon Bell wrote:
RPittman wrote:
Well, Jon, you gotta help me here in order to at least understand. …Then why did you bring it up if it doesn't apply to those posting here?

[Getting a little aggravated but attempting to remain charitable. ]
Here's some help, Mr. Pittman. One. Tell me how you can posit #1 and #6 on your list. You don't have to write a book. Just give the outline. A leads to B leads to C or whatever epistemological method you want to use.

It doesn't work this way. Mine is not a linear argument. It's hypertext with a feel and recognition of the geometric patterns. It's somewhat like Chaos Theory.
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Two. I minister in an area that is full of other "frame of reference" and so I have heard a lot of the arguments but not one of them that avoided the problem that we are discussing here, namely the Bible teaches preservation but does not tell us exactly how that works.
Right! Yet, it must have some practical application or it becomes a meaningless abstract.
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Three. You still sound as if you are asking us to just accept on faith that God has miraculously preserved his word exclusively in the KJV and the TR without any rational proof or evidence from scripture or church history or any kind of objective standard.
Now your trying to force us back under the other Modernist system. What's wrong with faith?
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Four. Thanks for admitting that there could be another miraculous translation as good as the KJV--so how would we recognize it?
This point was never contested.
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Five. I brought up the straw man because it was germane.
Not so. It did not represent a position of anyone in this thread.
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Six. As for not answering questions, my whole post was about wanting (honestly interested in wanting!) to hear your explanation of how I might know where God's Word was residing if I was a non-english speaker now or say prior to 1500.
I wouldn't know unless I was in the situation. I don't know of any formula. Two things for consideration are the Believing church and the Holy Spirit.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

There is a reason that the "believing church" embraced sola scriptura during the Reformation.
Among other things, how does one tell the difference between the Holy Spirit and some random intuitive impression? If we make a distinction between Holy Spirit and Scripture and suggest that Scripture is not enough to establish doctrine, we basically head into territory where any notion we happen to like can be blamed on Him.

The main reason I have focused on the biblical evidence is that the Scriptures are sufficient for doctrine and if they do not teach a doctrine of perfect text preservation, that's the end of the story as far as a "doctrine of preservation" is concerned. It is certainly possible to hold to a position of perfect text preservation based on any number of things... "the believing church" (which is really another way of saying "my understanding of church history"--external evidence), some mind-bypassing direct revelation from the Spirit (if you believe the Spirit is doing that sort of thing today), something even more bizarre, like chaos theory--or just ordinary external evidence (like looking at MSS and finding that a bunch of them match perfectly... so far, waiting for that to happen).

But any conclusion we arrive at in these ways cannot properly be called doctrine and those who disagree cannot be in "doctrinal error."

Roland, there's really no shame in saying "perfect text preservation is my opinion and I can't prove it, but I believe it." But others can't be expected to find that persuasive and it's not OK to elevate an opinion like that to the level of doctrine.
Doctrine can only properly be derived from interpreting Scripture and reasoning soundly from it. And the Holy Spirit's role in the process is mainly that of giving us the Word in the first place. Whatever else He does beyond that is debatable and, in any case, a small factor by comparison. I often think we are insulting Him when we insist on something more than what He has already inspired for us for doctrine, reproof and instruction in righteousness.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

RPittman's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
There is a reason that the "believing church" embraced sola scriptura during the Reformation.
It's fine to invoke this wonderful theological concept of sola scriptura but it is more important to understand what one means by it rather than simply enjoying the warm, fuzzy feeling that it gives. There is more to it than "just the Bible" as you earlier claimed. How one reads and interprets Scripture is influenced and determined by one's epistemology, methodology (application of one's epistemology), theological associations, education, presuppositions, etc. All kinds of groups such as the JW's, Word of Faith, etc. claim the Bible as the authority for their teachings. Although we have arguments against their errors, our reasoning is not persuasive to them. Thus, claiming the Bible as our authority alone does not establish the authority of our teaching in the eyes of others. In other words, simply saying one's teaching is Biblical does not make it so. It could be anything from the truth to a misinterpretation to an outright fabrication. Identifying the source of our authority is important but the bottom line is what we believe the Bible says.
Quote:

Among other things, how does one tell the difference between the Holy Spirit and some random intuitive impression?
This is a problem and was a problem in the early church. This problem, IMHO, is being exploited by unsavory and reprobate individuals who masquerade as "men of God" in religion today. (I think you know what I'm talking about.) However, rationalism cannot solve the problem because there is no observable, verifiable, and replicable benchmark.
Quote:
If we make a distinction between Holy Spirit and Scripture and suggest that Scripture is not enough to establish doctrine, we basically head into territory where any notion we happen to like can be blamed on Him.
It is not a choice between the Holy Spirit and Scripture. Both are compatible and in perfect harmony except as we fail to comprehend one or the other. Aaron, I don't think you will deny the clear Scriptural teaching of guidance by the Holy Spirit. When you advocate the Holy Spirit speaking to us through the Scriptures (and I most certainly don't deny the interaction here) by applying the promise of the Holy Spirit to guide us in "all truth," you are using precisely the same methods that the preservationists use, yet you deny the legitimacy of their case. Although I do not have an answer or exact formula for this problem (I do have some ideas from Scripture but this is not the time and place for discussion.), I find the smug formulation that the Holy Spirit speaks to us only through the Scriptures to be lacking and unconvincing from the Scriptures. Let me ask a simple question. Does the Holy Spirit speak to individuals today? How do you know? The Scriptural precedence is that He did.
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The main reason I have focused on the biblical evidence is that the Scriptures are sufficient for doctrine and if they do not teach a doctrine of perfect text preservation, that's the end of the story as far as a "doctrine of preservation" is concerned.
Is there always a consensus about which doctrines are taught in Scripture? BTW, do you have Biblical backing for this belief. After all, a chain is no stronger than its weakest link. Also, is sufficient synonymous with exhaustive? Finally, I though Brandenburg, et. al. were using Biblical arguments. If so, it comes down to Aaron and Kent disagreeing about what the Bible says. It's not as if one is on the high road and the other on the low.
Quote:

It is certainly possible to hold to a position of perfect text preservation based on any number of things... "the believing church" (which is really another way of saying "my understanding of church history"--external evidence), some mind-bypassing direct revelation from the Spirit (if you believe the Spirit is doing that sort of thing today), something even more bizarre, like chaos theory--or just ordinary external evidence (like looking at MSS and finding that a bunch of them match perfectly... so far, waiting for that to happen).
Aaron, I assumed that everyone had some knowledge of Chaos Theory. My point was simply that what appeared as randomness really has an established pattern and orderliness about it although we couldn't see it. As for all the esoteric things that I pull of the shelf, I am just trying to get you to see all the possible permutations to shake you out of your smug, comfortable position of rationalistic methods that you've been taught.

Let's take another approach. We have an unwavering allegiance to "whatever the Bible says is so." Now, the question is what does the Bible say? In all essential points of salvation, I believe, it is clear. There are other things that are not as explicit. You and I share a common educational background. , I have deep appreciation and respect for my teachers but they, as humans, are undoubtedly wrong about some things. Most of our teachers were teaching what they had been taught. We accepted it as true and went our way. The methodology that we were taught was that arising from the Reformation as influenced by the Renaissance and later the Enlightenment. Out of this tradition of Reformation methodology, Modernism/Liberalism was born. Orthodoxy (e.g. the Princeton Theologians) and Fundamentalists balked along the way. These scholars had a very difficult time reconciling their scholarship to their faith. They offered many innovative, scholarly, and ingenious rebuttals to the Modernist/Liberal challenges but they never questioned the methodology. They salvaged their intellectual respectability but they never questioned the common methods that they used. Now, what we must realize is that the Bible is true but the methods we use for interpretation is a human invention.

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But any conclusion we arrive at in these ways cannot properly be called doctrine and those who disagree cannot be in "doctrinal error."
No, this is a false dichotomy. Doctrine is simply a teaching.
Quote:

Roland, there's really no shame in saying "perfect text preservation is my opinion and I can't prove it, but I believe it." But others can't be expected to find that persuasive and it's not OK to elevate an opinion like that to the level of doctrine.
Aaron, it appears that you're trying to be kind and gentle toward me. Thank you. I have worked hard to reciprocate.
The point is that there a things that cannot be proved or disproved in a rationalistic schema. I know that I earlier stated that the essentials of salvation are explicit in Scripture. I believe it. However, these essentials are not rationally provable. Consider the opposing views of Baptists and the Campbellites (Church of Christ). Or, more recently the furor created by Tom Wright in some circles. Now, don't miss my point. Your methodology is defunct. It can't prove anything even using Scripture. And I have already suggested reasons why it can't. Now, please don't jump to conclusions and accuse me of opening the door to every man with a revelation. I'm not proposing that at all. My point is just that rationalistic methodology is dysfunctional and inadequate in proving doctrine.
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Doctrine can only properly be derived from interpreting Scripture and reasoning soundly from it. And the Holy Spirit's role in the process is mainly that of giving us the Word in the first place.
Aaron, you have just made doctrinal assertions. Back them up with Scripture or retract according to your own previously professed standard!

  1. How do you know from Scripture that "[d ]octrine can only properly be derived from interpreting Scripture?" Is not this a conclusion?
  2. How do you know from Scripture that "reasoning soundly from [Scripture ]" is the only way to derive doctrine? How do you know that reasoning is involved?
  3. How do you know from Scripture that "Holy Spirit's role in the process is mainly that of giving us the Word in the first place"

    Aaron, I am particularly interested in seeing you Scripturally defend # 3. My challenge is that you must do so or you commit the inconsistent act of placing a greater burden on Brandenburg, et. al. than you are willing to bear yourself.

    Quote:

    Whatever else He does beyond that is debatable and, in any case, a small factor by comparison. I often think we are insulting Him when we insist on something more than what He has already inspired for us for doctrine, reproof and instruction in righteousness.
    Well, that's your entitled opinion, which is debatable, but I find it presumptuous to attribute attitudes or feelings to God that He has not revealed, but that's my entitled opinion, which is debatable.
RPittman's picture

Bob Hayton wrote:
RPittman wrote:
Aaron, I've found this particular thread most unimaginative particularly during the last few days. It seems that folks became stuck in a rut. There has been a poverty of ideas in that no one was able to envision any other possibilities other than their own. It was not a question of which possibility was right and which possibility was wrong but it was a matter of no other possibilities. Well, the link below may offer some subtle possibilities to rejuvenate your imaginative powers. That is unless one is brain dead. Smile As someone observed, a rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.
http://benbyerly.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/the-limitations-of-historical-...

Roland,

I greatly enjoyed this article. I almost entirely agree with him. But a redemptive historical interpretation doesn't lead by necessity to a complete overturn of epistemological structures and a rejection of any resort to evidence.

Okay, Bob, now we've got something to talk about. Oh, please don't misunderstand me. I've tried very hard to be challenging and provocative without falling into the pit of denying evidence. Go back and read my posts. I'm not arguing about substance but about the rules that we play by. The problem appears to me is that many guys equate the man-made rules of interpretation and evidence with Scripture. No, the two are separate and distinct on two different levels of certainty. What I'm asking is to rethink the rules and methodologies. Perhaps what I am asking is for the posters on this thread to interact with the deficiencies of Modernism as exposed by Post-modernism, although I reject Post-modernism as a system. This is not contradictory. I saying that Post-modernism does show us what is wrong with Modernism but it cannot show us the way out of the woods. Allow me to illustrate. R. J. Rushdoony was great critic of Secular Humanism but his teachings on Theonomy, Post-millennialism, etc. were suspect. I cited his ideas, works, etc. many times in refutation of Secular Humanism but I never positively recommended his theology.

By showing a number of possible alternatives, I hope to persuade posters that the alternatives are not limited to the prevailing epistemology or a return to baseless superstition. I am not opposed to observation, reason, etc. as components of epistemology as they must be. However, I think that we stretch the system to make everything proven or provable. It is better to say, "I don't know." Proof, evidence, and support are precise words with limited semantic range. Yet, they are used far too loosely. I can't prove how God has preserved His Word. I can't prove that He did but I believe that God did because of His statements and actions. It's argument from a consistent pattern. Furthermore, God's past actions provide a pattern of both Scriptural evidence and external evidence to reasonably suppose that He will act consistently in the present and future. This does not mean that everyone will be persuaded, as everyone is not persuaded of any doctrine/teaching, but it is a valid and reasonable position to hold.

RPittman's picture

Aaron wrote:
Among other things, how does one tell the difference between the Holy Spirit and some random intuitive impression? If we make a distinction between Holy Spirit and Scripture and suggest that Scripture is not enough to establish doctrine, we basically head into territory where any notion we happen to like can be blamed on Him.
Aaron, if you are looking for universally persuasive certainty, then forget it because you will never have it even with a perfect application of the grammatical-historical method. All you have to do is look at the plurality of doctrines masquerading under the name of Biblical Christianity. Simply put, you trying to make your view more palpable and reasonable by painting the opposition as a dive into anarchy and darkness. Not true. This is akin to fear-mongering. Allow me to illustrate your fear is unfounded. How did the early church and the church in succeeding centuries continue in truth prior to the Reformation?

Bob Hayton's picture

RPittman wrote:
By showing a number of possible alternatives, I hope to persuade posters that the alternatives are not limited to the prevailing epistemology or a return to baseless superstition. I am not opposed to observation, reason, etc. as components of epistemology as they must be. However, I think that we stretch the system to make everything proven or provable. It is better to say, "I don't know." Proof, evidence, and support are precise words with limited semantic range. Yet, they are used far too loosely. I can't prove how God has preserved His Word. I can't prove that He did but I believe that God did because of His statements and actions. It's argument from a consistent pattern. Furthermore, God's past actions provide a pattern of both Scriptural evidence and external evidence to reasonably suppose that He will act consistently in the present and future. This does not mean that everyone will be persuaded, as everyone is not persuaded of any doctrine/teaching, but it is a valid and reasonable position to hold.

This is the closest we have come to seeing your rationale for your positions, Roland. Thanks, this helps.

I read the same Bible and just don't come away with an equal stress on the word perfect nature of preservation. I see loose quotations all over the place, and statements about the authority of Scripture and its perfection, but not of the need for perfect representations of the text of Scripture. That wasn't the focus of the Scriptural texts when it talks of preservation and the role of the Bible for the church, as far as I read it. When it comes to seeing how the Spirit guided the church in the last 2,000 years we also manifestly come away with differing conclusions. For the first several centuries the church used the LXX. Then the Vulgate was used by one wing of the church and the LXX / Ecclesiastical Greek Text was used by the other. The Reformation brought us back to the Ecclesiastical Greek Text being prized and this was disseminated in even more common language translations than there were before. And since then this translation impetus has continued even as the discovery and study of the Greek and Hebrew has intensified all birthed out of the respect for the authority of the text of Scripture which the Reformation recovered.

Now that's my reading of history and of Scripture. And it is the reading of many other Spirit-indwelt believers. This is behind the widespread adoption by the English speaking church of the last 40 years, of the NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV and other sound translations.

Now how exactly do you disagree with this reading of history and Scripture? How does accepting other inputs to knowledge from beyond rational or observable sources make you see things in a different light? How do you get from point A to point B? And why is your way better than mine and the many others who agree with me and also claim the name of Christ?

Like Aaron, I'm at a loss for this kind of reading being described and summarily dismissed as modernistic with no alternative explained....

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Roland, you are a genius at evasive answers, I'll give you that! But you're also sinking deeper toward serious doctrinal trouble and that's much greater cause for concern.

RP wrote:
you are using precisely the same methods that the preservationists use, yet you deny the legitimacy of their case.

Yes! We have an understanding here! I've been trying to say that for days. We are using the same methods and neither theirs nor mine is a "rationalistic schema" or any of the other things you have called it. I do not deny the "legitimacy" of their case, only their conclusions because--as I have explained repeatedly, I believe they made errors in the interpretive process as well as in the post-interpretation reasoning.

RP wrote:
I though Brandenburg, et. al. were using Biblical arguments. If so, it comes down to Aaron and Kent disagreeing about what the Bible says. It's not as if one is on the high road and the other on the low.

Right again! This is encouraging. (Sadly, what comes later is very discouraging)
I've never claimed a higher road, only that Kent et. al. have not correctly interpreted and/or reasoned from the passages they use. There is no problem of methodology, only of execution.

RP wrote:
Does the Holy Spirit speak to individuals today? How do you know? The Scriptural precedence is that He did.

See Mark Snoeberger's excellent series on cessationism for one good answer to that. Two more installments coming. The short answer is, I believe He does not because Scripture does not seem to support the idea that He does.

RP wrote:
[on what we were taught in school.... ]We accepted it as true and went our way.

Maybe you did. I did not. I accepted what was well supported based on the convictions I had at the time, filed much in the "Maybe" file, and rejected some things as well (some of which I later discovered to be the truth after all. And many things have moved in and out of the "Maybe" file multiple times!).

RP wrote:
Aaron wrote:
But any conclusion we arrive at in these ways cannot properly be called doctrine and those who disagree cannot be in "doctrinal error."

No, this is a false dichotomy. Doctrine is simply a teaching.

Doctrine is the teaching of Scripture. If it helps, what I mean by the term is "something Scripture teaches." We cannot claim Scripture teaches things that we have figured out only by external evidence (or some claim of direct revelation). But there's a simpler answer. We cannot claim as "doctrine" in the 2 Tim. 3:16 sense anything that is not taught in Scripture. That was my point.

RP wrote:
earlier stated that the essentials of salvation are explicit in Scripture. I believe it. However, these essentials are not rationally provable

Actually, they are. This is an important point for understanding what my "paradigm" really is, so please don't miss this part: there are things we all take "without proof" as starting points, our a priori beliefs. We cannot really prove there is a holy God or that He has revealed Himself in the Bible. These things are convictions I have not arrived at by evidence and reasoning.

There are "reasons" for them, but they are circular (I believe the Bible is true because the Bible claims to be true). It's fairly easy to put my "objectivity hat" on and see that this is not "proof." Yet I am convinced. The Spirit did not reveal these things to me directly. He convinced me (John 16:8) that what the Bible said about them was true.

Once a person becomes convinced by the Spirit that the Bible's claims about itself and God are true, a whole lot of things become "rationally proveable." Whether we are willing to see them is another matter, but if you believe the Bible is true, it's a rational process to figure out what it says so you can believe it.
The role of reasoning is in understanding what it teaches. This reasoning process is inescapable if we are going to truly "read" it at all. More on this later.
The tenets of the gospel are absolutely rationally provable once a person accepts that the Bible is true.

To put it in the ol' syllogism format
A. The Bible is true
B. The BIble teaches A
C. Therefore A is true [edited to fix... got a bit rushed there ]

This is not a rationalistic/modernistic/etc. "paradigm;" it's just thinking straight.

RP wrote:
Your methodology is defunct. It can't prove anything even using Scripture. And I have already suggested reasons why it can't. Now, please don't jump to conclusions and accuse me of opening the door to every man with a revelation. I'm not proposing that at all.

Roland, it doesn't matter if you are "proposing" it or not. There is nothing else left after you reject the approach to understanding the Bible that I have described (and which you are incorrectly calling "rationalistic methodology.") We have to use reason to even read the Bible. It is not possible to make sense of even the simplest sentence if we don't take the sequence of words, associate each word with some referent in our experience (or imagination), and then do the logical exercise of applying a set of grammatical rules to discern how each word is related to each other in the sentence. We normally do this without consciously thinking about it, but we always do it. When studying the Bible, we do it very intentionally.
There's a reason we don't just take all the words in the Bible, each on its own little slip of paper, shake them thoroughly and pull them out and read them at random for a "text" on Sunday morning! God chose to give us sentences and paragraphs, and by doing so He communicated an important fact: "I intend that you should reason." This inference is a "necessary" one. It cannot be avoided. Otherwise, there is no point in translating the Bible at all. We could hear it in Hebrew, and--without knowing the language--know intuitively (claiming it's "by the Spirit" if we like) what it means. No reasoning required.

RP wrote:
Aaron wrote:
Doctrine can only properly be derived from interpreting Scripture and reasoning soundly from it. And the Holy Spirit's role in the process is mainly that of giving us the Word in the first place.

Aaron, you have just made doctrinal assertions. Back them up with Scripture or retract according to your own previously professed standard!
How do you know from Scripture that "[d ]octrine can only properly be derived from interpreting Scripture?" Is not this a conclusion?
How do you know from Scripture that "reasoning soundly from [Scripture ]" is the only way to derive doctrine? How do you know that reasoning is involved?
How do you know from Scripture that "Holy Spirit's role in the process is mainly that of giving us the Word in the first place"

2 Timothy 3:16 has no meaning apart from this, Roland. The whole idea of sufficiency of Scripture has no meaning without it. As to how I know reasoning is involved, see my remarks above.

Now we've gone on quite a rabbit trail here. I really don't want to spend any more time on it.
I've written this series of articles (and pretty much every other article as well) with a particular audience in mind and certain givens in place.
These givens include that my readers are already firm believers in the sufficiency of Scripture for "doctrine, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness." To be honest, the sufficiency of Scripture to answer these questions is not a belief I'm really very interested in defending. That is, it's on my short list (and it is a short list) of things I take for granted, pretty much right up there with my belief that God exists and the Bible is His Word.
But there are lots of good books on the subject, and others have done excellent work on it. For me, it's just a given. So I'm probably not going to spend much more time on that.

(I sure hope all this work is helping someone! Biggrin )

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

MShep2's picture

Roland,

I appreciate how you clarified your position with your 8 points in Post #14 (above). Normally in these debates when someone tries to prove something not found clearly stated in the Scriptures the proofs have to go one of two directions:

  1. The evidence of history, the church, etc. proves my point. Additional points are usually made that my expert (or translator or manuscript compiler) is better than yours (i.e. more godly, intelligent, etc.) and my thinking is better than yours.
  2. I have received some kind of direct revelation which shows that I am right.
    You seem to be following the second point and added a third:
  3. My mind is able to grasp concepts which your mind is not able to grasp (e.g. your references to "thinking out of the box," "chaos theory," that you have "other means of knowledge" which no one else on this thread seems to have).If this is true, putting #2 and #3 together makes it appear you are walking on dangerous ground since this "method" subjugates the Scriptures to human thoughts and feelings and makes one to be unteachable.

    Roland, you have posted 30 of the 56 comments on this page and (if I could speak for the rest of us) you still have not clearly stated what your source of truth is which makes you feel you can claim those 8 points and "vigorously defend" them. I am afraid that your method of defending the Received Text and KJV actually ends up denigrating them.

MS
--------------------------------
Luke 17:10

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

MShep2... well summarized. Thanks. Much of the time a few words is way better than pages full. I hadn't noticed the #3 pseudo-argument, but yes, it does seem to be in the mix. The thing is, if a guy possesses some knowledge and skill that others lack, doesn't he want to pass that on? ... especially if it's knowledge and skill that is supposed to be the key to understanding something God wants us to believe. But the trouble with #2 is that it cannot be passed on. It just isn't possible to put some kind of "I know because I just know" into a format that allows others to know as well. We have to either doubt or take it on the ethos of the one who has had the experience. This is another reason God gave us words and reasoning. When you have words and reasons, you can pass those on to others and they may also be persuaded to believe what you do.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

RPittman's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
MShep2... well summarized. Thanks. Much of the time a few words is way better than pages full. I hadn't noticed the #3 pseudo-argument, but yes, it does seem to be in the mix. The thing is, if a guy possesses some knowledge and skill that others lack, doesn't he want to pass that on? ... especially if it's knowledge and skill that is supposed to be the key to understanding something God wants us to believe. But the trouble with #2 is that it cannot be passed on. It just isn't possible to put some kind of "I know because I just know" into a format that allows others to know as well. We have to either doubt or take it on the ethos of the one who has had the experience. This is another reason God gave us words and reasoning. When you have words and reasons, you can pass those on to others and they may also be persuaded to believe what you do.
Well, here's a few words. Earlier, you were complaining that I skewed your arguments. Now, I make the same charge against you. You are speculating and jumping to conclusions. I have never said "I know because I just know."

RPittman's picture

MShep2 wrote:
Roland,

I appreciate how you clarified your position with your 8 points in Post #14 (above). Normally in these debates when someone tries to prove something not found clearly stated in the Scriptures the proofs have to go one of two directions:

  1. The evidence of history, the church, etc. proves my point. Additional points are usually made that my expert (or translator or manuscript compiler) is better than yours (i.e. more godly, intelligent, etc.) and my thinking is better than yours.
  2. I have received some kind of direct revelation which shows that I am right.
    You seem to be following the second point and added a third:
  3. My mind is able to grasp concepts which your mind is not able to grasp (e.g. your references to "thinking out of the box," "chaos theory," that you have "other means of knowledge" which no one else on this thread seems to have).If this is true, putting #2 and #3 together makes it appear you are walking on dangerous ground since this "method" subjugates the Scriptures to human thoughts and feelings and makes one to be unteachable.

    Roland, you have posted 30 of the 56 comments on this page and (if I could speak for the rest of us) you still have not clearly stated what your source of truth is which makes you feel you can claim those 8 points and "vigorously defend" them. I am afraid that your method of defending the Received Text and KJV actually ends up denigrating them.

So, what's your source of truth?
RPittman's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Roland, you are a genius at evasive answers, I'll give you that!
Aaron, it may be that my answers are simply unsatisfying to your preconceived notions (i.e. your epistemology). The fact is that my ideas won't fly in naturalistic/rationalistic/modernism. In an earlier exchange, you brushed aside my suggestion of a "logic of faith" without any apparent understanding of the concept. Why should I trot out ideas only to have them ridiculed with the same old stale arguments. There has been very, very little serious discussion of the ideas that I have proposed. Sometimes I have intentionally been evasive and sometimes I have not. Here are some reasons:

  1. If I propose an idea, then I know that it will be attacked and I will be called upon to defend it. A defense of these ideas would require a tremendous amount of time and effort that I cannot afford just now. So, I reserve it until I can adequately explain and defend it.
  2. I make leaps and jumps in logic and information assuming that the readers/posters are well-read and educated to follow my allusions to things generally known. I am not trying to profess esoteric knowledge but I can't supply all the details and background. I'm surprised that folks missed my point about Chaos Theory.
    [*[When I post, it is composed on the fly from memory. I do not have the time to pull my references and make my posts conform to scholarly academic standards.
  3. There are things that I don't know and haven't worked out. It's more like an outline than a finished work.
  4. There are simply too many points and questions for me to answer adequately. I have to pick and choose.

    And some folks have just failed to comprehend what I have said. I have told you that I am being an iconoclast. Also, I have plainly told you that I am trying to shake your Modernist epistemology. Until some of you guys step outside this paradigm and are willing to consider another framework of thought, then I will not submit my ideas to be ridiculed within a Modernist epistemology. The error that you make is assuming what my position is. I asked in an earlier installment of this article, "How did people think before Modernity?" Am I advocating a return to a Pre-modern epistemology? No, it there are some things that may be instructive for us.

    And don't think that I reject Scientific Rationalism, which tells us what works and what does not in physical phenomenon, as long as it is observable, verifiable, and replicable. However, it is totally unsuited for things theological.

    BTW, some of you are evasive in defining your methodology beyond superficial definitions and the work of the Holy Spirit today. Let's keep the playing field level.

    Quote:
    But you're also sinking deeper toward serious doctrinal trouble and that's much greater cause for concern.
    Nonsense! What doctrinal error am I headed toward?
    Quote:

    RP wrote:
    you are using precisely the same methods that the preservationists use, yet you deny the legitimacy of their case.

    Yes! We have an understanding here! I've been trying to say that for days. We are using the same methods and neither theirs nor mine is a "rationalistic schema" or any of the other things you have called it. I do not deny the "legitimacy" of their case, only their conclusions because--as I have explained repeatedly, I believe they made errors in the interpretive process as well as in the post-interpretation reasoning.
    Good! Now, one cannot ridicule the preservationists because the two sides are on the same level. It is simply a disagreement between two views--Blumer and Brandenburg. Aaron, you obviously tolerate other views on such things baptism, etc.; now, let's show a little tolerance toward the KJV boys. I'm tired of hearing them disparaged.
    Quote:

    RP wrote:
    I though Brandenburg, et. al. were using Biblical arguments. If so, it comes down to Aaron and Kent disagreeing about what the Bible says. It's not as if one is on the high road and the other on the low.

    Right again! This is encouraging. (Sadly, what comes later is very discouraging)
    I've never claimed a higher road, only that Kent et. al. have not correctly interpreted and/or reasoned from the passages they use. There is no problem of methodology, only of execution.
    Great! These godly men also think that you are wrong and not correctly interpreting the passages. However, I must disagree because I would differentiate in the methodologies. Whereas it is true that both sides are using the Bible as their source, there is a very subtle difference in approach. Brandenburg, et. al. employ what I call the "logic of faith." Now, this is something that I don't have the time to develop here, but I may be willing to do it in a longer article if you would consider publishing it.
    Quote:

    RP wrote:
    Does the Holy Spirit speak to individuals today? How do you know? The Scriptural precedence is that He did.

    See Mark Snoeberger's excellent series on cessationism for one good answer to that. Two more installments coming. The short answer is, I believe He does not because Scripture does not seem to support the idea that He does.
    Oh, Aaron! You need to elaborate. What about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer? Before I jump to conclusions or accuse you of being evasive, I ask you to expound.
    Quote:

    RP wrote:
    [on what we were taught in school.... ]We accepted it as true and went our way.

    Maybe you did. I did not. I accepted what was well supported based on the convictions I had at the time, filed much in the "Maybe" file, and rejected some things as well (some of which I later discovered to be the truth after all. And many things have moved in and out of the "Maybe" file multiple times!).
    Aaron, cute retort but you should know better. Haven't you seen enough of me on SI to deduce that I'm one and one-half degrees off center? Smile Oh, I wasn't saying that you agreed on every point--nobody does. I'm saying that you pretty much following that line of thinking. BTW, I don't believe for one minute that people sit down and rationally think through all of their beliefs. It's more complicated than that.
    Quote:

    RP wrote:
    Aaron wrote:
    But any conclusion we arrive at in these ways cannot properly be called doctrine and those who disagree cannot be in "doctrinal error."

    No, this is a false dichotomy. Doctrine is simply a teaching.

    Doctrine is the teaching of Scripture. If it helps, what I mean by the term is "something Scripture teaches." We cannot claim Scripture teaches things that we have figured out only by external evidence (or some claim of direct revelation). But there's a simpler answer. We cannot claim as "doctrine" in the 2 Tim. 3:16 sense anything that is not taught in Scripture. That was my point.
    This is a minor point that we ought not waste time arguing about but all doctrine is not explicitly stated in Scripture--we use inferences too.
    Quote:

    RP wrote:
    earlier stated that the essentials of salvation are explicit in Scripture. I believe it. However, these essentials are not rationally provable

    Actually, they are. This is an important point for understanding what my "paradigm" really is, so please don't miss this part: there are things we all take "without proof" as starting points, our a priori beliefs. We cannot really prove there is a holy God or that He has revealed Himself in the Bible. These things are convictions I have not arrived at by evidence and reasoning.

    There are "reasons" for them, but they are circular (I believe the Bible is true because the Bible claims to be true). It's fairly easy to put my "objectivity hat" on and see that this is not "proof." Yet I am convinced. The Spirit did not reveal these things to me directly. He convinced me (John 16:8) that what the Bible said about them was true.

    How did you know John 16:8 was true? Was it feeling? Intuition? Ratiocination? So, just how did you know? Does the Holy Spirit convince a person only on this one matter? Once you say the Holy Spirit convinced me of this, is it any less valid to say He convinced me of other things? Do you have rational control over what He convinces you?
    Quote:

    Once a person becomes convinced by the Spirit that the Bible's claims about itself and God are true, a whole lot of things become "rationally proveable." Whether we are willing to see them is another matter, but if you believe the Bible is true, it's a rational process to figure out what it says so you can believe it.
    The role of reasoning is in understanding what it teaches. This reasoning process is inescapable if we are going to truly "read" it at all. More on this later.
    The tenets of the gospel are absolutely rationally provable once a person accepts that the Bible is true.

    Nope, not true. This is a pipe dream. If this is true, then why do we have a wide plurality of doctrine? Greg Bahnsen may have believed this but I don't. BTW, I am intrigued by how you use "convinced by the Spirit" since you earlier seemed to deny His working. Does the Spirit continue to interact after one is convinced of Bible's veracity?
    Quote:

    To put it in the ol' syllogism format
    A. The Bible is true
    B. The BIble teaches A
    C. Therefore A is true [edited to fix... got a bit rushed there ]
    Sure, Aaron, I know what a syllogism is. The truth table is if A is true and B is true, then C is true, but if either A or B is false, then C may or may not be false. This works well enough in the normal course of things but it may not work for observers in different frames of reference. Smile Oh, oh...............whoa.............don't go there............I'm not questioning the veracity of Scripture.................I just questioning your syllogism. For example, do you know if it will work for two observers, one on earth and the other in a black hole, observing some particle falling into the black hole?
    Quote:

    This is not a rationalistic/modernistic/etc. "paradigm;" it's just thinking straight.

    RP wrote:
    Your methodology is defunct. It can't prove anything even using Scripture. And I have already suggested reasons why it can't. Now, please don't jump to conclusions and accuse me of opening the door to every man with a revelation. I'm not proposing that at all.

    Roland, it doesn't matter if you are "proposing" it or not. There is nothing else left after you reject the approach to understanding the Bible that I have described (and which you are incorrectly calling "rationalistic methodology.") We have to use reason to even read the Bible. It is not possible to make sense of even the simplest sentence if we don't take the sequence of words, associate each word with some referent in our experience (or imagination), and then do the logical exercise of applying a set of grammatical rules to discern how each word is related to each other in the sentence. We normally do this without consciously thinking about it, but we always do it. When studying the Bible, we do it very intentionally.
    There's a reason we don't just take all the words in the Bible, each on its own little slip of paper, shake them thoroughly and pull them out and read them at random for a "text" on Sunday morning! God chose to give us sentences and paragraphs, and by doing so He communicated an important fact: "I intend that you should reason." This inference is a "necessary" one. It cannot be avoided. Otherwise, there is no point in translating the Bible at all. We could hear it in Hebrew, and--without knowing the language--know intuitively (claiming it's "by the Spirit" if we like) what it means. No reasoning required.

    RP wrote:
    Aaron wrote:
    Doctrine can only properly be derived from interpreting Scripture and reasoning soundly from it. And the Holy Spirit's role in the process is mainly that of giving us the Word in the first place.

    Aaron, you have just made doctrinal assertions. Back them up with Scripture or retract according to your own previously professed standard!
    How do you know from Scripture that "[d ]octrine can only properly be derived from interpreting Scripture?" Is not this a conclusion?
    How do you know from Scripture that "reasoning soundly from [Scripture ]" is the only way to derive doctrine? How do you know that reasoning is involved?
    How do you know from Scripture that "Holy Spirit's role in the process is mainly that of giving us the Word in the first place"

    2 Timothy 3:16 has no meaning apart from this, Roland. The whole idea of sufficiency of Scripture has no meaning without it. As to how I know reasoning is involved, see my remarks above.

    Now we've gone on quite a rabbit trail here. I really don't want to spend any more time on it.

    Sounds as if you're taking a position akin to the radical Karlstadt. Yet, I read your posts on the sufficiency of Scripture.
    Quote:

    I've written this series of articles (and pretty much every other article as well) with a particular audience in mind and certain givens in place.
    These givens include that my readers are already firm believers in the sufficiency of Scripture for "doctrine, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness." To be honest, the sufficiency of Scripture to answer these questions is not a belief I'm really very interested in defending. That is, it's on my short list (and it is a short list) of things I take for granted, pretty much right up there with my belief that God exists and the Bible is His Word.
    But there are lots of good books on the subject, and others have done excellent work on it. For me, it's just a given. So I'm probably not going to spend much more time on that.

    (I sure hope all this work is helping someone! Biggrin )

    I ran out of time and wasn't able to deal adequately with all of your points. Perhaps later.

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