Modern Scientific Textual Criticism - Bound or Independent

In 1558 William Whitaker, a master apologist for the truth of sola Scriptrua, wrote his comprehensive apology against the Roman Catholic dogma of Bellarmine and Stapleton on the topic of Holy Scripture - Disputations on Holy Scripture. Under the First Controversy and the Sixth question Whitaker writes concerning the necessity of Scripture,

"For if in civil affairs men cannot be left to themselves, but must be governed and retained in their duty by certain laws; much less should we be independent in divine things, and not rather bound by the closest ties to a prescribed and certain rule, lest we fall into a will-worship hateful to God." [523]

So for this brief post, here is the question, to those whose trust rests in the quality and certainty of modern scientific textual criticism [MSTC], in what way is MSTC "bound by the closest ties to a prescribed and certain rule" seeing that Holy Scripture falls most conspicuously under the category of "divine things"?

I maintain that MSTC is not bound but rather is a "will-worship hateful to God." For the nay-sayer, I concur that a form of textual criticism was in practice before the likes of MSTC, but that form was not of the same genus. Not of the same genus in that pre-Enlightenment textual criticism was subject to the leading of the Holy Ghost as manifested in the spirit-filled believing community of the time, whereas MSTC is subject to the scientific deductions of select scholarly board. For those perhaps a bit confused on this point, here is a slice of Theology 101. Where the Holy Spirit is leading the word of God is also present, and where the word of God is present so also is the leading of the Holy Spirit. MSTC pretends no such thing. You need not look any further than the several prefaces to the various editions of the leading Greek NT's on the market today. The goal of the MSTC scientific exercise is not for certainty, truth, or doxology, but for scientific worship of their own wills by oppressing the church with their findings and declaring all others uneducated, ignorant, and old-fashioned. So I conclude, where the Spirit of God is leading, the word of God accompanies that leading, thus pre-Enlightenment textual criticism is not of the same genus as MSTC, and should not be considered as such.

For those who seek to position MSTC with in the limits of the "prescribed and certain rule" [i.e. Holy Scripture], know that if you cannot, then you are in danger of condoning, supporting, and advancing a "will-worship hateful to God." Why is it will-worship? Because MSTC's goal is professedly not that of God's will but of a never-ending scientific endeavor governed by the limitations of human cognition to locate God's words. [i.e. men worshipping their own will to decide certain content qualities of divine revelation] Why is it hateful to God? A willful act not subject to the will of God is what brought us sin and the fall of man. Thus, MSTC is nothing more than an present day extension of that god-overthrowing will evidenced by our first parents.

The purpose of this post is to sharpen the iron of the supporters of the MSTC, by challenging them to locate MSTC in the greater exegetical and historical tapestry of Bibliology and if they cannot, to abandon MSTC as a system suitable for the work of Christ's Kingdom.

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Peter Van Kleeck Jr.'s picture

First off I would like to say I have thoroughly enjoyed the give and take these past months. Thanks to all for taking time out of your busy schedules to have this conversation. I will be leaving on a extended vacation for the Christmas and New Years holidays and as a result this will be at most 1 of 3 posts, the 3rd of which I will do my best to index those things I have said and post that index. The 3rd post will not be a polemic against any of those who have taken a contrary opinion to my position, but will simply aid those who come after in locating the elements of the Standard Sacred Text position offered over the past months. Once that is complete I will go on vacation and then return to engage in a topic in some other forum here on SI, so these 3 [at most ] will be my last posts on this thread. Once again thank you all.

Quote:
Brother Van Emmerik wrote,

Actually, it does contradict itself. You claim the NIV and the NASB cannot both be the Word of God because they are not the same. Yet you claim iteration #1 and iteration #2 are both the perfect, eternal, unalterable Word of God because they are accepted as the Word of God at different times in History.

The believing community of iteration #1 believed it to be perfect, eternal, and immutable because the Bible said so of itself. When iteration #1 [Tyndale ] pointed to iteration #2 [Coverdale ] by the leading of the Spirit the believing community certainly had respect for #1 but then held #2 as the perfect, eternal, and immutable word of God in the place of #1 therefore not holding both as equal. You appear to be thinking of this process of iterations in a 21st century, Western, one dimensional mindset, and it therefore impossible for you to remotely grasp the fact of this process. You must begin with a mindset that there is no English Bible, that the Greek had just recently come to the Western Church, that there were only a handful of Protestants at this time, that the issue at hand was a life and death issue under the persecution of Rome, that there was no internet or even a viable postal service, and then of course there was the necessity of time which is forever a factor in the movement of God's people by the Spirit as would any pastor so attest.

Then of course there is the spiritual factors: the Bible says it is perfect, eternal, and immutable and therefore it is incumbent upon saints to believe that. Furthermore, given the fact that so many in the Western Church had been without the Bible in their own language and as a result being oppressed by the boot of Rome there was a maturation process where the people of God grew as the words of the N.T. canon were be canonized. God's people grew as their knowledge of God's words grew as well as their knowledge grew of the connotation and denotation of God's words.

So then you might say, to believe in iteration #1 is based on a false faith if iteration #2 proves to be the better iteration.

So I offer this example:

I am not sure of your eschatological view of the future Brother Van Emmerik but I believe the Lord could come today. With true God given faith I believe the Lord could come this very moment, but as I write this He has not. I put my faith in moment #1/iteration #1 and low and behold I put may faith in something that did not come to pass and so I put my faith in moment #2/iteration #2 and as I write this He has not returned and so I put my faith in moment #3/iteration#3 and so on. Does that call into question the legitimacy of my faith when what I put my faith in does not come to pass but rather points me to the next moment/iteration? No, of course not. I am perfectly within the bounds of God given faith to believe moment #1/iteration #1 at that time in which Jesus Christ will return. Now if I exist in moment #55/iteration #55 but believe the Lord should have returned in moment #1/iteration #1 then I enter the realm of disbelief and/or heresy. Still, my faith was perfect before God when I believe the Lord's return in moment #1/iteration #1 as I lived in moment #1/iteration #1. God's word teaches that I am called to watch every day, so it is my business to simply obey the commandment and teaching of Scripture. God's word also teaches that God's word is literally perfect, immutable, and eternal so I believe it as much as I believe in the literal imminent return of Jesus Christ.

Ontology Precedes Epistemology.

StandardSacredText.com

JG's picture

Peter Van Kleeck Jr. wrote:
I am not sure of your eschatological view of the future Brother Van Emmerik but I believe the Lord could come today. With true God given faith I believe the Lord could come this very moment, but as I write this He has not. I put my faith in moment #1/iteration #1 and low and behold I put may faith in something that did not come to pass and so I put my faith in moment #2/iteration #2 and as I write this He has not returned and so I put my faith in moment #3/iteration#3 and so on. Does that call into question the legitimacy of my faith when what I put my faith in does not come to pass but rather points me to the next moment/iteration? No, of course not. I am perfectly within the bounds of God given faith to believe moment #1/iteration #1 at that time in which Jesus Christ will return. Now if I exist in moment #55/iteration #55 but believe the Lord should have returned in moment #1/iteration #1 then I enter the realm of disbelief and/or heresy. Still, my faith was perfect before God when I believe the Lord's return in moment #1/iteration #1 as I lived in moment #1/iteration #1. God's word teaches that I am called to watch every day, so it is my business to simply obey the commandment and teaching of Scripture. God's word also teaches that God's word is literally perfect, immutable, and eternal so I believe it as much as I believe in the literal imminent return of Jesus Christ.

Brother Van Kleeck,

While I have much sympathy with some aspects of your position, I find this statement sorely lacking. There is a major difference between possibility and absolute fact.

I believe that it is entirely possible for Christ to return in the next minute. I do not believe with certainty that He will. If I state that He will and He does not, I am a liar and have stated that which is not true. Even if I state that He will and He does, that would still only be valid if He had told me that He was going to. If He told me that He was going to return in the next minute and He did not, then He would have been a liar.

If we go now to the text, either God told His people, by the Spirit, that a prior TR text was His Word, or He did not tell them. If He did not tell them, then the argument of attestation by the believing community falls flat. If He did tell them, then either the newest iteration of the TR is wrongly attested, or else God lied. If He told them that it is possible that the text was His Word (just as He told us His imminent return is possible), then that is certainly true, but you have no certainty, no attestation by the believing community of a certain text.

In moment #1, the imminent return of Christ is unchanged from the imminent return of Christ in moment #2. His return remains imminent, for imminence does not mean He will return in a particular moment, it means that He may return at any time. On the other hand, the received text of the believing community, as far as how you have expressed it, has changed, but the true Word of God has not. This suggests that the received text of the believing community, while it may be the primary witness, has not historically been an absolute witness to the true text, and therefore its validity as an absolute witness today must be in question.

Perhaps I have misunderstood....

Jay's picture

Quote:
The believing community of iteration #1 believed it to be perfect, eternal, and immutable because the Bible said so of itself. When iteration #1 [Tyndale ] pointed to iteration #2 [Coverdale ] by the leading of the Spirit the believing community certainly had respect for #1 but then held #2 as the perfect, eternal, and immutable word of God in the place of #1 therefore not holding both as equal. You appear to be thinking of this process of iterations in a 21st century, Western, one dimensional mindset, and it therefore impossible for you to remotely grasp the fact of this process. You must begin with a mindset that there is no English Bible, that the Greek had just recently come to the Western Church, that there were only a handful of Protestants at this time, that the issue at hand was a life and death issue under the persecution of Rome, that there was no internet or even a viable postal service, and then of course there was the necessity of time which is forever a factor in the movement of God's people by the Spirit as would any pastor so attest.

Peter,

How can anyone believe that something is 'perfect, eternal, and immutable' and then admit in the very next sentence that it needed to replaced by something that is also 'perfect, eternal, and immutal'? Either something is perfect - devoid of flaw - or it's not. You can't have a perfect thing that needs to be replaced, because the act of replacing something means that the original is flawed in some way (or else it would not need to be replaced).

It's not a matter of mindset, as you would like us to believe. It's a matter of truth - either the Tyndale or the Coverdale were 'perfect, eternal, and immutable' or they weren't. They can't both be 'perfect...and immutable' and have differences that we see by comparing them side by side.

You said in one of your posts that you are not a double inspiration guy because you are talking about preservation; my response to you is that if you are going to argue that the Holy Spirit has any kind of direct guidance in the act of preservation, especially when you talk about the Spirit's leading to a translation that is (by your own admission) 'perfect, eternal, and immutable', you're getting very, very close to arguing for double inspiration, which is heretical. There's no way to spin that.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Peter, this seems to be what you're claiming:

Bible 1 = word perfect Scripture
Bible 2 with different words = word perfect Scripture

("Bible 1" is a version made from the traditional text; "Bible 2" is a version made from a later edition of the traditional text.)

If this is your view, how is it possible that two texts with different words are both word perfect editions of Scripture?

If words mean anything at all, it's obvious that if the believing community thought Bible 1 was word perfect but also came to believe Bible 2 was word perfect, there are only three possibilities:
1- They were wrong about Bible 1
2- They are wrong about Bible 2
3- God's word changed

So which is it?

(Spare us the drivel about 21st century mindsets, blah, blah... I'm talking about something formally true here. It's the most basic level of reasoning: a statement and its opposite cannot both be true at the same time in the same sense and in the same relationship... Two documents with different words cannot both be word perfect editions of the same thing.)

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.

Jay's picture

Peter-

Would you agree with the following quote:

Quote:
I believe that the Authorized Version is the inspired, infallible, inerrant, immutable, pure word of God to English speaking people...I believe that God not only inspired the writers in the original languages, but also the New Testament writers when they translated the Hebrew passages into the Greek, and the translators of the Authorized Version as they made their selection of English words.

Thanks for letting us know.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Peter Van Kleeck Jr.'s picture

Beginning the topic with William Whitaker - Post #1

I. Going with the flow of the opposition's questioning.

A. Correlations between the allowance for the multiplicity of versions but not for other authoritative documents within their contextual limitations e.g. the U.S. Constitution or class syllabus. (Post #28)
B. Drawing correlation between the mindset of feminist theology and the present modern textual criticism. (Posts # 24, 28)
C. Introducing the flow of God's Spirit in God's people concerning God's word. ( Post #44-45)
D. An argument for the principle of gradation/source and product. (Post #45)
E. An initial explication of historical context with regard to the Bible in the Renaissance and Reformation. (Post #61)
F. The first visitation to the maturation process the believing community went through in accepting the English Bible tradition. (Post #62)
G. Answering questions concerning the next iteration from the King James Bible. (Post #70)
H. Brief treatments of Luke 16:27-31; John 18:37; Acts 1:1-9; Ephesians 5:19; and Romans 8:1-4. (Post #97)
I. Answering how the doctrine of Scripture relates to the apographa and translation and the certainty of that doctrine in Scripture. (Post #100)
J. A brief discussion of the necessity of faith and truth with reference to the nature of Scripture. (Post #100)
K. An introduction to the Best-Possible-World line of reasoning. (Post #115)
L. The objective basis for the Principium Theologiae [Scripture ]. (Post #144)
M. A correlation between modern text critical theory and the newly formed Emergent Church. (Post #145)
N. An introduction to Turretin's treatment of "jot and tittle." (Post #145)
O. Addressing the loss of certainty in Scripture for the gain of aspiration. (Post #155)
P. Astrophysics and the textual debate. (Post #155)

II. A brief summary of certain central points of the Standard Sacred Text position.

A. Texts used in the summary. (Post #166)
B. A brief treatment of Ps. 12:6; Ps. 119:140; Pro. 30:5 and II Tim 3:16. (Post #167)
C. Some historical theology with regard to the above Scriptures. (Post #167 and 168)
D. The definition and brief treatment of key Latin and Greek terms. (Post # 169, 171-173)
E. Concluding summary. (Post # 174)
F. Whether Scripture + personal reasoning is enough to engage in orthodox theology (Post #188).

III. An abbreviated treatment of certain elements of modern text critical theory.

A. Texts used in the summary. (Post #192)
B. The Scripture that support modern text critical theory. (Post #192)
C. The theology that support modern text critical theory. (Post #192)
D. The mistreatment of the believing communities Bible at the hands of modern text critical theory. (Post # 193 and 194)
E. Final conclusions. (Post #194)

IV. A discussion of Ps. 119:140

A. Discussion whether the word of God in Ps. 119:140 refers to David's Bible and whether that Bible is unconditionally pure from corruption. (Post #212)
B. Expansion of presuppositions, arguments, and conclusions of the Ps. 119:140 discussion. (Post #215)
C. The call for one certain meaning of Scripture to believe and preach. (Post # 217)
D. Addressing preference vs. certainty. (Post #217 and 220)
E. A brief treatment of authoritas Scripturae and certain aspects of Theology Proper with regard to Bibliology. (Post # 237)
F. Expounding certain elements of Turretin and introducing Hoornbeeck. (Post #243)
G. Treating whether the same God can do two different things at the same time and in the same way in a single moment in history. (Post #259)
H. Elementary presuppositions and questions from the Standard Sacred Text position to its adversaries. (Post #260)
I. Treatment of the believing community's maturation during the time in which the Holy Scriptures were formulated and received in the English language. (Post #274 and 275)

Ontology Precedes Epistemology.

StandardSacredText.com

Jay's picture

PVK,

Instead of recapping the entire thread, why don't you deal with the most recent posts and questions about what you believe?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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