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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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Roland, I'm not interested in any more discussion with you about your incoherent paradigm or any further defending of my falsely labeled "naturalistic" paradigm. I'm rarely, if ever, writing to people who do not accept the sufficiency of Scripture for doctrine and who do not accept the grammatical-historical approach to interpretation. Without that as a common starting point, I really have nothing to say.

(You can't really claim the sufficiency of Scripture for doctrine and simultaneously insist that proving doctrines from Scripture is a "naturalistic methodology" that should be dismissed.)

I think it's obvious to most readers that I'm just trying to determine what the Bible really teaches on the subject of preservation. It really is that simple.

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.

clong's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

I'd really love to see a few folks help Roland out here. There are probably some other perceived (or real) problems in my case, but we're not hearing from many perfect text preservationists. Kent Brandenberg tells me he will be posting some responses at his blog pretty soon, so we'll get some additional criticism there I'm sure. Would be nice to see more here, though.

Mr. Pittman wrote:

1. I believe that God has miraculously preserved His revealed, inspired Word in a line of texts, loosely known as the Received 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 KJV is God's inspired Word in the English language.
7. I do not believe or accept Original Autographs Theory, Modern Critical Text Theory, etc. These are either reactions or products of Modernity (read Modernism).
8. I reject the epistemological tenets of Modernity (i.e. Modernism) and naturalistic-rationalism (i.e. scientific rationalism).

I can't offer much help to Mr. Pittman, but I can stand with him in saying I believe the first six points of his TR Confession. I might be persuaded of the remaining two, but I'm not sure I understand them fully - yet. The whole preservation series has been fascinating, informative, and edifying. I hope it will continue. I, for one, would like to read this paper that Mr. Pittman has proposed writing.

Chris Long

MShep2's picture

RPittman wrote:
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.

Ok, Roland. I don't think I can read any more of this thread. My head is spinning. So, I have a suggestion for you:

Please, for the sake of this discussion, assume that we (Aaron, others, I, etc.) have accepted your statement that our thinking is wrong. (Believe me, if I am wrong I really would like to hear about it and I would assume that the others would too). We accept that you are being an iconoclast. We now (for the sake of this discussion) have admitted we are wrong, and are willing to "step outside [our incorrect ] paradigm" and "consider another framework of thought." Therefore, I am asking you to tell us succinctly how to think correctly. It is not enough to say that you don't want to have your ideas "ridiculed." Challenging someone's position is not the same as ridicule - and as I look through this thread it seems everyone has been patient with you.

It is not enough to simply refute others' arguments. You must tell us what your "framework of thought is."

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

Bob Hayton's picture

RP,

Can you point us somewhere that explains your epistemology? Certainly you aren't the only one with this particular viewpoint. You should be able to point an inquirer somewhere for help in grasping from what vantage point you are coming from.

Thanks

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.

Bob T.'s picture

It is interesting that we have a thread by Dr. Warren Vanhetloo on SI right now. He was Dean and professor to theology at Central Baptist Seminary when I was a student there. He always allowed class time for opinions and discussion. One statement he made was that; "if a person cannot explain something clearly they may not know what the are talking about."

If a person has been asked several different ways to explain a position and their answers appear to several persons to not be clear, then continuing conversation is impossible.. They should be ignored and we move on. If they have not said anything clearly they really have said nothing and may continue to do so. They should be left to explain their position to themselves alone.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

MShep2 wrote:
We accept that you are being an iconoclast. We now (for the sake of this discussion) have admitted we are wrong, and are willing to "step outside [our incorrect ] paradigm" and "consider another framework of thought."

Great idea... but good luck with that. Wink

I think Bob T has probably nailed it this time: it seems likely to me that there is nothing explainable there to explain, at least not yet. But I don't envy Roland his task. Once you throw out the basic tools of logic and rhetoric, you have nothing to work with to persuade others that your views are true.

I'll grant to Roland that it is possible to believe we establish Christian doctrine legitimately from Scripture and also from direct revelations from the Holy Spirit (though this is not my belief and, I think, a serious doctrinal error). But even if that is one's "paradigm/methodolgy/epistemology," it does not entitle him to look at a sound biblical argument and dismiss it with a "Oh, that's just your natrualistic epistemology at work."

The only way to do that is with a method that embraces direct revelation instead of Scripture... but Roland has rejected that (fortunately) as well.

So I don't think it's possible to distill a self-consistent, working methodology from what Roland has described.
(Next, I expect to hear that "self consistent" is yet another quirk of the "naturalistic methodology" and part of modernity)

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.

Jon Bell's picture

Roland, I am back after a long break from this discussion and I have to say that your extensive posting here on this threat belies your assertion that you don't have the time to outline your views for us. I asked you a couple very straightforward questions and you just ridiculed me. I think we all came here really wanting to hear you out as you told your point of view but it has ended up being a contest of who could nail jello to the wall. In the middle there I felt like I was having a conversation with an Emergent type post-modernist! I had to look around to see if there were dozens of couches and candles!
One of the big problems here is that you seem to be confusing rational thought with rationalism. My impression is that you are a pretty smart and educated person so I am not saying that mockingly. People have been doing rational thought since the beginning of time. Rationalism is the idea that rational thought trumps revelation and thus the human intellect is the ultimate authority. This gets right back to my straw-man comment. You have some kind of rationale for what you believe but Aaron's rationale and others of us who have begged you to explain your position here are being told by you that their thought processes are flawed by rationalism. No one here who has honestly signed the agreement to post here is doing rationalism as per above so you are setting up a straw man by bringing it up over and over and over.
As several have mentioned above, I would beg of you to gather your thoughts and martial your technical terms and submit an article explaining how you can view this matter with such iron-clad clarity when other good men cannot. You might scroll through the posts here and look at the questions that were put to you and answer them even if you think people are just mocking you although I don't think anyone here was. I certainly wasn't when I asked my direct questions of you.
Aaron, thanks for the great original article. I look forward to seeing the conclusion. I have a great deal of respect for you as I have read your writing and even more as I have read your posts on this thread. I think you have done an admirable job keeping your cool through this very trying discussion. I need to go can put some bandages on my head where I am bleeding from pulling our my remaining hairs!

Jon Bell
Bucksport, ME
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and

RPittman's picture

Jon Bell wrote:
Roland, I am back after a long break from this discussion and I have to say that your extensive posting here on this threat belies your assertion that you don't have the time to outline your views for us. I asked you a couple very straightforward questions and you just ridiculed me. I think we all came here really wanting to hear you out as you told your point of view but it has ended up being a contest of who could nail jello to the wall. In the middle there I felt like I was having a conversation with an Emergent type post-modernist! I had to look around to see if there were dozens of couches and candles!
One of the big problems here is that you seem to be confusing rational thought with rationalism. My impression is that you are a pretty smart and educated person so I am not saying that mockingly. People have been doing rational thought since the beginning of time. Rationalism is the idea that rational thought trumps revelation and thus the human intellect is the ultimate authority. This gets right back to my straw-man comment. You have some kind of rationale for what you believe but Aaron's rationale and others of us who have begged you to explain your position here are being told by you that their thought processes are flawed by rationalism. No one here who has honestly signed the agreement to post here is doing rationalism as per above so you are setting up a straw man by bringing it up over and over and over.
As several have mentioned above, I would beg of you to gather your thoughts and martial your technical terms and submit an article explaining how you can view this matter with such iron-clad clarity when other good men cannot. You might scroll through the posts here and look at the questions that were put to you and answer them even if you think people are just mocking you although I don't think anyone here was. I certainly wasn't when I asked my direct questions of you.
Aaron, thanks for the great original article. I look forward to seeing the conclusion. I have a great deal of respect for you as I have read your writing and even more as I have read your posts on this thread. I think you have done an admirable job keeping your cool through this very trying discussion. I need to go can put some bandages on my head where I am bleeding from pulling our my remaining hairs!
Jon, thank you. You pointed out that I have written voluminously. Well, it has been with severe time restrains. (Note the time of this post.) Most of my writing has been between tasks or while multitasking. My output may have been prolific but the quality has been suspect. Fortunately, I already have these ideas in memory because this is an area where I have been reading and writing for several years. I will try to meet your request in time.

Jon Bell's picture

Bob T. wrote:
It is interesting that we have a thread by Dr. Warren Vanhetloo on SI right now. He was Dean and professor to theology at Central Baptist Seminary when I was a student there. He always allowed class time for opinions and discussion. One statement he made was that; "if a person cannot explain something clearly they may not know what the are talking about."

If a person has been asked several different ways to explain a position and their answers appear to several persons to not be clear, then continuing conversation is impossible.. They should be ignored and we move on. If they have not said anything clearly they really have said nothing and may continue to do so. They should be left to explain their position to themselves alone.

I awoke this morning thinking about what Bob said. This post and this thread illustrate what I have found of the KJVO movement: that they are sure that they are right but are unable to explain how they got there other than to use unverifiable/unmeasurable evidence ("God has mightily used the KJB!") or the spiritual dodge ("You just have to have faith that it is so!") or the vague warning ("Your modern version is undermining doctrine!"). I have come to realize that the vast majority of KJVO people are good people who sincerely want to hold to sound doctrine but they are following after leaders who seem at the end of the day to be unable to give an answer for how this works. Until you can explain 1) How a perfect translation can objectively be known/recognized/produced in any place, time and language and 2) Which actual doctrines are at stake in any translation then there is really nothing else to talk about.
The beauty of preservation is that God uses many men in many ages all of whom are imperfect and many of whom acted from ulterior motives to preserve and translate His Word so that we can say, "I have the very words of God here!" SDG!!

Jon Bell
Bucksport, ME
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and

PhilKnight's picture

Jon Bell wrote:
One of the big problems here is that you seem to be confusing rational thought with rationalism. My impression is that you are a pretty smart and educated person so I am not saying that mockingly. People have been doing rational thought since the beginning of time. Rationalism is the idea that rational thought trumps revelation and thus the human intellect is the ultimate authority. This gets right back to my straw-man comment. You have some kind of rationale for what you believe but Aaron's rationale and others of us who have begged you to explain your position here are being told by you that their thought processes are flawed by rationalism. No one here who has honestly signed the agreement to post here is doing rationalism as per above so you are setting up a straw man by bringing it up over and over and over.

I didn't see this latest installment until last night. As I read through Roland's responses, I had the same thought about rationalism vs. Rationalism. I believe it is critical for this discussion that we make a distinction between the philosophy of Rationalism and rational thinking (i.e. reasoning based upon the rules of logic).

As I read through this thread last night, I was reminded repeatedly of the series of essays Dr. Kevin Bauder wrote some time back called "Shall We Reason Together?" I believe it would greatly benefit the discussion on this topic if all of the main contributors would read that essay series (or re-read it, as the case may be). There are several reasons I strongly recommend that particular set of writings:

  • It describes the approach to the Scriptures and external truth that I believe Aaron and most of the contributors to this thread share: It describes the framework we are working from, and in the process, furnishes a vocabulary that will help bring clarity to our discussion.
  • It does an excellent job explaining various types of rational arguments and clarifying the place that reason should have in our approach to Scripture. I think that will help us to be more clear about what we mean when we speak about "rationalism" (lower case) vs. Rationalism (one instance of that "vocabulary" I was talking about).
  • It uses the Scriptures themselves to demonstrate his points. (I believe the argument he presents is unanswerable.)
  • It is written in a very clear and simple way that is accessible to most anyone--you don't need to be a philosopher or an expert in epistemology.
  • It is extremely succinct: very high IPLT ratio ("insight per line of text"). Smile
  • On a personal note, this series brought more clarity to my thinking about the interpretation and application of Scripture than any other single thing I've ever read.

You can find the series in the archives for In the Nick fo Time:

http://www.centralseminary.edu/resources/nick-of-time/132-nick-archives

The first of ten essays begins with the 09/15/2006 issue.

Here's a teaser:

Reasoning from the Scripture, Dr. Bauder demonstrates the following truths about reason and the Scripture:

  1. Scripture presupposes that we use reason to understand its premises
  2. Scripture requires that once we understand its premises, we then reason from those premises to understand their necessary implications
  3. The prior point is demonstrated by the fact that the Scripture holds us accountable for conforming not only to the requirements of its direct statements, but also the requirements demanded by the implications of those direct statements. I could explain how he proves this from Scripture, but he does it so much better than I could.

Philip Knight

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Thanks, Phil. I do remember that series. I took exception to part of it (I don't believe authority, as we are able to discern it, is binary or that necessary inferences from Scripture have the same authority as what Scripture asserts) but the over all role of reason was much as I view things. I agree as well that a distinction between use of reason and Rationalism is very important, but I'm not sure lower case r 'rationalism' is a good label for the former for most people. Too easy to get them mixed up.

But in the case of this particular thread I have another view as to what the real problem is. When it comes to being persuaded to change our thinking about something there are two major factors:
1- the quality of the case (the accuracy of facts and soundness of reasoning)
2- the openness of our will (how willing we are to fairly consider the case)

Often the real sticking point is #2, but folks are not willing to simply say "My mind's made up and I'm not willing to do any more thinking on the subject." It just doesn't sound like a strong defense I guess. So, instead, they do a sort of shallow engagement (if it can be called engaging at all) with the arguments but mostly in a dismissive way, latching on to plausible sounding (in their mind) reasons to just not consider the substance of what's been said. Just give the view you're not open to an unattractive label and act like that settles it.
In the case of perfect text preservation I have seen this occur more frequently than in any other debate I've been involved in. There is a group that is deeply committed to the idea and not willing to examine it in the light of Scripture. And being unwilling to do so, the actual biblical case is irrelevant in their case.

So the whole Rationalistic Epistemology thing is really a rabbit trail. If it weren't that rabbit trail, it would be some other one.

I have posted similar thoughts at Kent Brandenburg's blog where he responds to the article above:
http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2010/05/answering-aaron-on-doctrine-...

Basically because his response, while having a couple of legitimate challenges regarding clarity, etc., is mostly reflective of a commitment to not really thoughtfully read what I've written.

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.

Jon Bell's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Just give the view you're not open to an unattractive label and act like that settles it.

Back in my debating days we called this "Lump 'n' Dump". It is also a popular method in our political discourse from both sides. It is something that I have less and less patience for in others but especially myself. That is why I spent so much time in this thread. I want to really understand and interact with people that think differently than me. But you are correct: to get most KJVOs to interact on any kind of logical basis is rare and difficult. And I think this is a broader issue in IFB circles on other issues to especially soteriology (Calvinism) and church history (Landmarkism)!

Jon Bell
Bucksport, ME
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

What I just posted over at Brandenberg's site...

Aaron @ 'What is Truth' wrote:
[Kent wrote ]"...maybe you don't know what I mean by 'provide an exegetical basis.' You didn't give any examples from scripture that would prove that man's depravity is related in anyway to God's promises of preservation being annulled. I would be looking for those examples. Showing us that man is depraved and then making a conclusion that this means that God would forfeit the ability to use men to preserve His Words"

Everything in me screams that I'm wasting my time, but I'm addicted. There are worse vices I guess. So anyway, two things on this

1) Exegetcal basis for my view of preservation.
You don't seem to have noticed that our views on preservation overlap considerably. I have a theory about why, but I'll skip it for now. In part 3, you'll notice a heading "Points of agreement." Don correctly observed that these are, well, points of agreement.

That is, in both your view an mine, God preserves all of His inspired words. In both your view and mine these words are accessible to at least some believers and in some form. We disagree about the form and the accessibility.

In my view there are no "promises of preservation being anulled."

It's very important to see this overlap in views because it means that your case for the idea that God preserves every word is the same as mine. They have the same exegetical basis (basically). I pointed this out in part 1.

Where we actually truly differ is on the part of TSKT's case that has to do w/the word perfect form and the every generation accessibility to such a form.

As for depravity, I showed in part 2 that it applies to everything we do. Absent a promise from God to overcome it in the case of preservation, it applies to that as well. The real question there is whether God has made such a promise. ... but I've said all this before repeatedly. Part 2 could not possibly be more clear on that point.

But clarity is not the issue here! One does not see what one is determined not to see.

2) God's ability to use men I can't believe you're going back to that again. Please reread the introductory paragraphs in part 3. God's ability is not, and has never been, in question in any of what I've written. But again, this is clear to anyone who gives it a fair reading.

My point on that has been that we need a biblical basis for believing that God uses His ability to maintain an accessible word-perfect text if we're going to claim it as Bible doctrine.
(Failing that, we could look at history and other external evidence and conclude that He has used His ability in that way. But then we really would not have a Bible doctrine, we would have something less.)

But I've said all of this before. There is no way to clarify what people are determined to obfuscate.

Edit: "Lump N Dump" ... Great term, Jon, thanks!

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.

Jon Bell's picture

After going over to Kent's blog and reading some of the exchange there including his discussion with Frank Turk I think that the term "fantasy" is very operable. "If you don't believe in my preservation you don't believe in preservation" is pure fantasy. It is a true slippery slope that applies to all doctrine. "If you don't believe JUST LIKE ME, you are wrong!" Because obviously the write/speaker has is ALL figured out.
Fantasy: The creative imagination; unrestrained fancy. See synonyms at imagination. Something, such as an invention, that is a creation of the fancy. A capricious or fantastic idea; a conceit. Fiction characterized by highly fanciful or supernatural elements. An example of such fiction. An imagined event or sequence of mental images, such as a daydream, usually fulfilling a wish or psychological need. An unrealistic or improbable supposition.

I was incredulous that Kent attacked your 3 foundational statements and apoplectic that he states that he cannot understand what you mean by that. My impression, the more I read these things, is that the KJVO movement has been taken over by the post-modernism of the emergents. They have a certainty that is demanding that their opponents have uncertainty!

"I believe in the inspiration of the Bible, both the Old and the New Testaments…" I have been saying and believing that since I was a lad and I have no uncertainty about the Word of God or any of the doctrines that it teach. I have no uncertainty that God has and will preserve His Word throughout time and eternity. I love to read the word in all English versions especially the ESV. I love the Jerome's Latin translation. Luther had a good balance of formal and dynamic equivalence that makes his translation a joy to read. I love the Word of God but I will not worship the King James Translation. If anyone wants to fantasize that my last statement negates all the other statements than have at it but I will not join you on that quest!

Jon Bell
Bucksport, ME
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

You read the Vulgate?
.... somebody makes better use of their time than I do!
(I was probably watching reruns while you were learning Latin)

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.

Jon Bell's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
You read the Vulgate?

It has been my practice for 20+ years to follow along in another language during preaching. I read a parallel German-English Bible throughout college. When I started learning Latin I started to carry a Latin NT. Since I have never studied Greek it is especially informative since it is very close to the Greek in sentence structure and verbiage (i.e. Latin has distinct words for "love" that mirror the Greek words). Now with the wonders of the iPod Touch and Bible Reader App I can carry the Vulgate, Luther, and all the English translations with me along with search and other works like Matthew Henry CCB. It is only going to get better with the iPad since the bigger screen will allow easier reading and comparison of different texts!

Jon Bell
Bucksport, ME
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

So maybe there is a good use for the ipad, after all.
I'm going to stick my cheap netbook for a good while though.

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.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Kent Brandenberg has posted a highly distorted paraphrase of my article here... http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2010/05/inspiration-how-and-what.html

I think it speaks volumes, but not those he intends. When you have the truth on your side you do not have to misrepresent what those who disagree with you are saying.

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.

Jon Bell's picture

I really dislike allowing the KJVO position to be called "perfect preservation." What they espouse is really particular preservation as opposed to general preservation. Both sides in this debate are inerrantist and both believe in perfect preservation. The divergence is where that perfect preservation exists. Are the scriptures perfectly preserved in a particular group of manuscripts or a particular translation or are they generally preserved in all the manuscripts and translations.

Jon Bell
Bucksport, ME
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and

Greg Long's picture

Great comment, Jon. That is a helpful way to summarize the two positions.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I've been getting in the habit of using "perfect text preservation," for that reason--though sometimes lapse into shorthand. I started the series calling it "discrete preservation," which is closer to what you describe, but it seemed the term was a bit obscure and those holding the view woudn't own it. So I tried to find a term that they would accept but that was still accurate. PTP works for me because, in the end, what it's about for them is that there must be a particular text that is the word perfect one vs. anything eclectic or Westcott/Hort, or--for those who know the difference--even majority text (which does not have all the same words in it as the TR... I know you know all this, Jon. Just throwing in some context for other readers).

So far, nobody of the TSKT perspective has complained about my use of "perfect text" or "perfect text preservation," so that tilts me its favor. But at this point, even if they do, I'm likely to keep using it. It's accurate, non-pejorative and not hard to understand (and a nice plus is that PTP sounds like a dangerous toxin! ...kidding!)

I really think it serves everyone well if a vocabulary can be established that folks on all sides recognize. But at some point I fully expect PTPers to resist that because many of them do not want the debate itself to be clear. That is, they do not want what the disagreement is really about to be clear. The reason is that when the debate is properly framed as really being mainly about what the Scriptures say, they can feel that this is not a winning approach for them. If they grant that, they lose the biblical doctrine debate and I think some of them know this or at least sense it. They fear that they will have to admit that they cannot claim their view is legitimate "biblical doctrine" but rather is a position based on other criteria.

Once that happens, you have to grant the other side an equal playing field in evaluating the external evidence. This they want to avoid because if it's not a true biblical doctrine, then we merely have a difference of opinion about history and there is nothing to "preach" on the subject--and neither side's legitimacy as fundamentalists can be called into question, etc.
It's a very hard path to walk for those who are already deeply vested in PTP as an article of faith--because of years of preaching it and serving up polemics based on it.

But I'm comforted that some who believe in PTP are well aware that it is really based on a view of external evidence and not a biblical doctrine. And we get along just fine.

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.

Jon Bell's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I really think it serves everyone well if a vocabulary can be established that folks on all sides recognize

Very true. It is hard to discuss anything without defining terms. Again though it seems that PTP put us on the side of Imperfect Text Preservation which *sounds* like an errantist perspective so, while they might not reject the term I would be uncomfortable being labeled ITP! I serve up the particular/general distinction because 1) it is non-pejorative to either side and 2) it is a well-recognized distinction in other areas (i.e particular vs general redemption).
Aaron Blumer wrote:
Once that happens, you have to grant the other side an equal playing field in evaluating the external evidence.

LOL There you go with your unscriptural assumptions again! J/K. Pittman almost got there here when he admitted that another perfect translation could be produced which opened the door to providing criteria by which one can know a "perfect" translation. Then we just got back to the faith dodge.
Aaron Blumer wrote:
But I'm comforted that some who believe in PTP are well aware that it is really based on a view of external evidence and not a biblical doctrine. And we get along just fine.

There are some of these in my church. Unfortunately many people who believe fervently in particular preservation only know that they have been taught that general preservation gives away doctrine but they really don't understand the issue. They talk a lot about scripture but when pressed they always fall back on St. Riplinger, St. Waite and all the other apostolic fathers of KJVO! I get along with these dear brothers and sisters as well but I get very perturbed with the purveyors of this "doctrine" and the damage that it is doing to real unity around the teaching of scripture. I know that some will bridle at this but, it seems that while we are fighting about which translation to read the Conservative Evangelicals are fighting the real modern battles of orthodoxy!

Jon Bell
Bucksport, ME
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and

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