Archive for the ‘Bibliology’ Category

I’ll Be Over Here:

So coming back to this particular blog doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. However, the other blogs to which I’ve been contributing have been revamped and that’s where I’ll be spending most of my blogging time. Hope to see you over there!

Re: Fundamentals KJV Only Debate Blog

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Darrell Bock on Paul’s Christianity

Jesus was a revolutionary leader of a Jewish reform movement against religious legalism and political oppression. Years later, Paul came around and elevated him to a god-like status. The latter is the Christianity we’ve inherited.

This is the argumentation of the day when it comes to refuting Christianity. And I believe it’s fueled by man’s hatred of the Church. This is why I detest the Emergent ideas of repainting the entire faith as if we’ve got it wrong for 2,000 years. Oh believe me, we’ve gotten many things wrong. Christians have done terrible things. And I stick by the motto “Reformed and Always Reforming.” But this doesn’t suggest we’ve been duped all along. The fundamentals have stayed the same. Jesus claimed he was Lord and exalted Himself. Paul wasn’t giving anything new, just elaborating on established truth given to him by Jesus Himself.

Continuing in the stream of a previous post, here’s what Darrell Bock recently said about the Jesus-Paul connection in a recent interview with John Dickson:

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Dr. D.A. Waite’s King James Only Seminar: Conclusion

I stopped taking notes at around slide #150. I did note some of the Q&A time, but I addressed much of that in previous posts. Plus, I see this series has run its course. So I want wrap to this up with a few concluding thoughts.

The good

1. Dr. Waite’s gentlemanly demeanor. It’s unfortunate that Dr. Waite has to share a position with Texe Marrs, Peter Ruckman, Gail Riplinger, and Samp Gipp. Though he does generalize more than necessary and oddly singles out John MacArthur, Waite comes off as a sincere Christian man who is defending a view he really believes in. 

2. Non-ruckmanism. Dr. Waite did all he could to avoid Ruckmanism in his presentation and Q&A. He even went further than most non-Ruckmanite KJVO would go, in saying that the King James Version is not “inspired.” In fact, at one point he said he would hesitate to call anything man-made as “perfect”, and cited the fact that the original 1611 contained the Apocrypha as proof of its imperfection. I was both surprised and in agreement. I doubt Jeff Fugate would be.

3. Decent presentation of typical KJVO arguments. Overall, his 4-point outline is a decent presentation of what the more typical arguments for moderate KJVO are: 1. Text 2. Translators 3. Technique 4. Theology. I would be more than happy to stick with those four headings to counter his claims.

The bad

1. Overstating his case. Interestingly, the first time I attended, a man began to proclaim, a little more loudly than was necessary during the Q&A, “you’re overstating your case!” He said he was a Bob Jones grad who actually agreed with Dr. Waite, but wanted to say he overstated his case. I was a bit caught off guard at the time, but now, I couldn’t agree more. To relate textual variation in transmission to the serpent’s questioning in the garden; to make it seem like all modern versions depend on dynamic equivalence and the King James only uses formal/verbal equivalence; to make a long list of terrible synonyms for dynamic equivalence (ignoring the fact that the KJV uses it at times); to include different Bibles which varied one with another in the list of “good” Bibles; and to use the word “deny” as if modern versions actually reject certain doctrines of the Faith are all outstanding examples of how Dr. Waite indeed overstated his case.

2. The scholarship. Dr. Waite presents this to laymen in churches, not scholars in ivory towers. However, that doesn’t mean his claims shouldn’t be backed by good scholarship. Judging by his credentials (and the fact that his works all list those credentials), he should be able to provide a scholarly basis for his claims. But things like claiming the Septuagint was created by Origen “because it is found in his Hexapla” or using the Peshitta (which did not contain 2 Peter, I John 5:7, II John, III John, Jude or Revelation as part of its canon) as part of the good line of “received kind” Bibles lacks that basis. In addition, his out-of-context, tailor-made Westcott and Hort quotes reveal a failure in accuracy, whether oversight or willful deception (I believe the former).

3. Double standards. The argumentation was full of double standards. It’s ok for the KJVO to include different Bibles in his line of pre-1611 “types” of KJVs, but anything different today is not the Word of God. Dynamic equivalence is seen as evil, yet the KJV uses it. Talk of scholarship in the non-KJVO realm is seen as arrogant and man-centered, yet an entire section is given on the great scholarship of the King James translators. The fact that the Nestle-Aland text has reached 27 editions shows it’s “unsettled”, yet the TR itself has gone under multiple editions (roughly 30 according to Art Farstad). The science of textual criticism is man-made and wrong, yet Waite cites Burgon’s reasoning behind the inclusion of variants like Mark 16. Why should that even matter? If we were to employ the same argumentation Burgon did for Mark 16 to the whole New Testament, the King James would not be the result.

4. Lack of counter-argumentation. I realize this wasn’t a debate, but it would have been nice to offer some of what non-KJVO say on this issue. A lot has been written for the other side, but Waite hardly mentions it. The only time he did, he used multiple slides to show how many fundamentalists believe no doctrine is affected by the changes in the modern versions. People like James White, D.A. Carson, and others were dismissed as though they didn’t believe biblically. The audience is left thinking that anyone who is not King James Only is just plain ignorant.

Final thoughts: I attended Dr. Waite’s seminar the first time as a Byzantine/Majority text-type preferred Christian questioning whether or not I made a mistake dropping my King James Onlyism. Afterwards, I was convinced that it was not a mistake. The second time I attended, I had been persuaded by critical text arguments. Though I wasn’t necessarily committed to the critical text at that time, I recognized it as my default position and went into the seminar with an open heart for the King James Only side one more time. At the end, I was even more convinced that King James Onlyism was fundamentally flawed.

Dr. Waite’s seminar will only work for those who are already convinced of the King James Only position, or for those who do not bother to check what is being said. After examination of his points, however, I have hoped to prove in this series that when one does his homework, he will remain unconvinced of the KJVO view.

From now on, I will be writing on the King James issue on the King James Only blog, and will switch to new topics on this blog.

An Analysis of Dr. D.A. Waite’s King James Only Seminar, Slides #84-108: The KJV Translators

john-reynoldsPart VI – The Translators (Slides #84-108)

If I were to mention to a KJV user that modern biblical scholarship continues to advance so that today we have more precise texts and translations of the Bible, I would be charged with “scholarolatry” – the heresy of trusting in man’s wisdom to teach me God’s truth. One pastor in particular prides himself on a sermon called, “Shut up, you don’t speak Greek!” And he’s not alone.  Many KJVO preachers love to purposely down-play the study of original languages, calling Greek scholars “Geek” scholars, and, in more extreme circles, accusing those who engage in those kinds of studies as having lace in their underwear.

Now obviously not every King James Only advocate will engage in the tactics explained above, but nearly all of them love to point out the “unsurpassed” scholarship of the King James translators. For the KJVO, scholarship is not all bad – it just ceased to have a place in the conversation in 1611.

In Slides #84-108, Dr. Waite cites Alexander McClure’s Translators Revived to show the amazing credentials of the King James translators. No one doubts that these men were great scholars. But just showing their credentials doesn’t prove they were the best ever. They built upon scholarship of the past and improved it to be the best of its day. Who is to say that hasn’t continued since the Hampton Court conference convened? More discoveries have been made, lexicons have been updated, meanings of words have been given more precision, and much more has been done since the 17th century. Even if McClure is right, and no other group will ever match the scholarship of those men, that doesn’t stop the scholarship and overall work of Bible translation and editing (an ancient practice) from continuing. The whole point brings very little to the table, as no one disputes the fact that these men were great scholars. Still, great scholars have existed since then, and do exist, and all of those men are fallible. I doubt the KJV translators would want the honor of being the last great scholars producing the final Bible ever. They even urged the reader not to take their word all the time when it comes to other possible, variant readings, but to consult other sources.

When reading The Translators to the Reader, it’s interesting how much the King James translators themselves would disagree with the positions of modern King James Only advocates. They support a “variety of senses” in the margins, that not all of the scriptures can be “dissembled” yet matters of faith, hope, charity, and salvation, are “plain”, that difficulties in the scriptures don’t concern doctrinal points of salvation but things “of less moment”, and that a variety of translations is “helpful for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures.”

“Some peradventure would have no variety of senses to be set in the margin, lest the authority of the Scriptures for deciding of controversies by that show of uncertainty, should somewhat be shaken. But we hold their judgment not to be so sound in this point. For though, whatsoever things are necessary are manifest, as S. Chrysostom saith, and as S. Augustine, In those things that are plainly set down in the Scriptures, all such matters are found that concern Faith, Hope, and Charity. Yet for all that it cannot be dissembled, that partly to exercise and whet our wits, partly to wean the curious from loathing of them for their every-where plainness, partly also to stir up our devotion to crave the assistance of God’s spirit by prayer, and lastly, that we might be forward to seek aid of our brethren by conference, and never scorn those that be not in all respects so complete as they should be, being to seek in many things ourselves, it hath pleased God in his divine providence, here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness, not in doctrinal points that concern salvation, (for in such it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain) but in matters of less moment, that fearfulness would better beseem us than confidence, and if we will resolve, to resolve upon modesty with S. Augustine, (though not in this same case altogether, yet upon the same ground) Melius est dubitare de occultis, quam litigare de incertis, it is better to make doubt of those things which are secret, than to strive about those things that are uncertain. There be many words in the Scriptures, which be never found there but once, (having neither brother nor neighbor, as the Hebrews speak) so that we cannot be holpen by conference of places. Again, there be many rare names of certain birds, beasts and precious stones, etc. concerning which the Hebrews themselves are so divided among themselves for judgment, that they may seem to have defined this or that, rather because they would say something, than because they were sure of that which they said, as S. Jerome somewhere saith of the Septuagint. Now in such a case, doth not a margin do well to admonish the Reader to seek further, and not to conclude or dogmatize upon this or that peremptorily? For as it is a fault of incredulity, to doubt of those things that are evident: so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (even in the judgment of the judicious) questionable, can be no less than presumption. Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversity of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is no so clear, must needs do good, yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded. We know that Sixtus Quintus expressly forbiddeth, that any variety of readings of their vulgar edition, should be put in the margin, (which though it be not altogether the same thing to that we have in hand, yet it looketh that way) but we think he hath not all of his own side his favorers, for this conceit. They that are wise, had rather have their judgments at liberty in differences of readings, than to be captivated to one, when it may be the other. If they were sure that their high Priest had all laws shut up in his breast, as Paul the Second bragged, and that he were as free from error by special privilege, as the Dictators of Rome were made by law inviolable, it were another matter; then his word were an Oracle, his opinion a decision. But the eyes of the world are now open, God be thanked, and have been a great while, they find that he is subject to the same affections and infirmities that others be, that his skin is penetrable, and therefore so much as he proveth, not as much as he claimeth, they grant and embrace.” (The Translator’s to the Reader, “Reasons Moving Us To Set Diversity of Senses in the Margin, where there is Great Probability for Each”, King James Translators)

An Analysis of Dr. D.A. Waite’s King James Only Seminar, Slides #66-83: “Things that are different are. . .?”

 

2-biblesPart V: The Differences Between the Texts (Slides #67-83)

Slide #67, titled “the Battleground”,  introduces the next part in the seminar: the differences between the texts. Waite repeats the statistic of difference also used by the Trinitarian Bible society, a 7% difference. This stands in contrast to the more common statistic of a 2% difference given by most textual scholars. But Waite does support this in slide #68 with the numbers of changes in the Westcott/Hort text. It seems possible that any little change in a word, such as spelling, was considered to be a “change”, thereby producing a larger number than is more commonly given. He also cites Jack Moorman’s count of 2,886 words “missing” in the Nestle Aland text. The problem here is that he didn’t prove that they were “missing” anymore than he can prove whether they should have been there in the first place. The credible theories of harmonization, homoioteleuton (similar endings omitted), and fuller readings due to the expansion of piety (“The Lord Jesus Christ” rather than just “Jesus”) are not even mentioned or refuted. The topic of the percentage of differences between the texts will be addressed later. But it’s obvious that the slides in Waite’s seminar do not tell the whole story. Rather, they leave the audience with an emotional sense of being robbed.

Slide #72, in speaking of the differences between Aleph and B, accuses Westcott and Hort of worshiping Vaticanus (B). That’s rather slanderous. Sure, they may have leaned on it more heavily, because they were sincerely convinced of its superiority, but is that a basis for that kind of accusation? With all the books, seminars, and sentiments for the King James Version, wouldn’t it be more appropriate, following Waite’s reasoning, to charge him and his followers with worshiping the King James? 

But what of these differences between Sinaiticus and Vaticanus? Do they not matter?

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Dr. James D. Price on Providential Preservation

dr-priceIt is a privilege to be able to post, with his permission, an essay on the topic of the preservation of scripture by Dr. James D. Price. I’ve been helped by some of his articles on the Internet and most recently by his book, King James Onlyism: A New Sect. The 600+ page book serves as a tremendous resource for the issue at hand. It is a textbook I consult often from a trustworthy source.

James D. Price was Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Temple Baptist Seminary in Chattanooga, Tennessee, from 1972 to 2005, and Academic Dean from 2000 to 2005. He has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, with 25 years experience in that profession, serving as a senior research engineer for Franklin Institute Research Laboratories in Philadelphia before moving to Temple Baptist Seminary. He has an M.Div. from Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Tacoma, Washington and a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Biblical Literature from Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Languages in Philadelphia. He has traveled on teaching missions to Germany and the Ukraine. He had been involved in various lay-ministries for over 60 years. He is a member of several professional organizations and the author of numerous journal articles.

He was the Old Testament Executive Editor and Chairman of the Executive Review Committee of the New King James Version of the Bible and a translator and section editor for the Holman Christian Standard Bible. He is the author of several books including God’s Wisdom for Daily Living, Complete Equivalence in Bible Translation, The Syntax of Masoretic Accents in the Hebrew Bible, and A Concordance of the Accents in the Hebrew Bible.

My generation is often accussed of carelessness when it comes to tweaking our doctrine. When we leave one theological position for another, we are treated as if we have not consulted our God in prayer, consulted His Word, or consulted sources of input equally credible to those we are forsaking. Though I’m sure there are many exceptions, this is not the case for me and my peers. In particular, I have spent much time in prayer, Bible study, and deep meditation going over the issue of King James Onlyism. Because of the emotion tied to the position, it is not an easy thing to leave behind. For those who read my blog and disagree with me, I ask you to at least give me the benefit of the doubt. You may believe I am sincerely wrong, but at least agree that I’m sincere.

As I analyze things said by men such as D.A. Waite, I get asked, “so you think you know more than Dr. Waite?” No. Basically, I’m just an observer. I observe the ongoing debate between men much more capable than I. Dr. Price is one of those men. I don’t cling to him as an end-all. But he is certainly one that has given at least as much time to this issue as men on the KJVO side. And his arguments resonate with me more than the others. Here is his article:

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An Analysis of Dr. D.A. Waite’s King James Only Seminar, Slides #37-47: Guilt by Association

 

westcotthortSection IV – Guilt by Association (Slides #31-47)

Slides #31 and 32 display the good tree of Bibles and the bad tree, respectively. Again, the problem is that the “good” tree contains Bibles which disagree with each other. 

Slide #34 lists four questions that supposedly makes one raise an eyebrow about consulting a modern version. Unfortunately, it is poor logic at its finest – the favorite tactic of King James Onlyism, guilt by association. The reasoning is as follows: since no farmer would put a fox in charge of his chickens, no teller would put a thief in charge of his bank, and no parent would put a pedophile in charge of his children, then no Christian would put a heretic in charge of his Bible.

This interestingly avoids the fact that God is the one who preserves His Word, not man. He is in charge. He determines who will be able to preserve His Word.

Another problem is the double standard used here. If those responsible for modern versions and their underlying texts were “heretics”, what do we consider the KJV translators and those responsible for the TR and MT? First of all, the Masorites who are lauded for their precision rejected Jesus as the Messiah. For the TR, Erasmus was a Roman Catholic priest until he died and Beza was Calvin’s successor at Geneva (an alliance between church and state). King James was responsible for the persecution of non-conformists and for the death of the Baptist Edward Wigtman. The translators were baby-baptizing Anglicans who also advocated persecution for non-conformists. The majority of people that we may thank for the preservation of manuscripts of any kind were Catholic or Eastern Orthodox monks. If guilt by association disqualifies modern versions, it disqualifies the King James Version. 

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An Analysis of Dr. D.A. Waite’s King James Only Seminar, Slides #17-30: The Textual Argument

 

sinaiticus1Section III  – The Textual Argument (Slides #17-30)

Waite claims that the KJV is God’s only Word because it is translated from superior texts. But the terminology alone seems to defeat this argument: for the Hebrew text, Waite claims that the “true” text is the “Traditional Masoretic Text, Daniel Bomberg Edition, 2nd Great Rabbinic Bible, Edited by Ben Chayyim” in 1524-25. I do not understand how God’s perfectly preserved, “intact” Word could be “edited”; an “edition”; the “2nd” anything; or created as late as the 1500s. Is that not self-defeating in and of itself? Simply because it was not questioned for 400 years does not mean it is the only representation of the original Hebrew.

To provide ammunition for his argument, Waite employs the use of another KJVO common misconception. He cites 8 rules that the Jews used to guard the text from corruption. The problem with that? He is giving the example of the Masorites, a sect that began its precise copying methods no earlier than the 7th century. He has not accounted for the centuries leading up to that time. The Masorites simply worked with what they had. 

In slide #28, Waite lists 19 things used by the new versions to “correct” the original Hebrew text. This is a flagrant double standard. The knife cuts both ways here –  the KJV and its underlying texts are not free from these standards of emendation. He starts with the Septuagint, which has been documented by some to be more prevalent in influencing the KJV than any other version. His second thing on the list is conjecture. He tells a story of how his professor, Dr. Unger, once made a conjecture in class about a particular passage. Of course, Unger’s conjecture had no bearing on the text and brings nothing to the debate. However, there was someone who has made a conjecture that made its way into a text, and that was Theordore Beza, in his 5th edition of the TR. He conjectured in Revelation 16:5, and his reading stands in the KJV today. The other 17 things on Waite’s list can be proved to have an effect on the KJV.

An Analysis of Dr. D.A. Waite’s King James Only Seminar, Slides #1-4: The Root of the King James Only Position

dbsemblemMy personal view on the King James Only position is that it is rooted in a misconception about the place of biblical inerrancy in Christian doctrine. Its basic premise is: Christianity stands or falls on biblical inerrancy. 

To begin his seminar, Dr. Waite began with this very premise. The first slide in his presentation represents the vast majority of KJVO defense works. He begins by quoting Satan in the garden, “Yea, hath God said?” (Genesis 3:1). The audience is told that the very first question in the Bible deals with Satan questioning the words of God. This idea corresponds directly with my theory, and provides the basis for the rest of his argumentation. If any word in the scriptures is questioned on its authenticity, it is equivalent to the work of Satan. Therefore, we must have a Bible that contains all of God’s words, without any question, if we are to believe the Christian message.

The problem with this underlying idea is that Satan was not questioning the words of God, as in His choice of nouns and verbs used to convey the idea. He questioned the message. Satan is opposed to the message God has given to man. No where in the Bible is it said that Satan is consenting to God’s message so long as the words are rearranged or a few words are missing. Upon examination of the portion of scripture used, one quickly finds that meaning is Satan’s intended target, not words:

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (KJV)

The serpent begins his conversation with Eve with a question that provoked her to reiterate God’s initial command. He seems to have purposely misrepresented God’s command in order to achieve a certain response. God restricted one tree, but he asked as if every tree was forbidden. It would be tantamount to a mother asking her son, “Did daddy tell you to play with that ball in the house?” The question is a bit rhetorical. The serpent knew the answer. He wanted to contradict the message, as we shall see.

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An Analysis of Dr. D.A. Waite’s King James Only Seminar, Introduction

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Introduction – Why This Analysis Exists

Within the span of about a year, I twice attended a seminar on Bible Versions from the King James Only (KJVO) perspective featuring Dr. D.A. Waite, president of The Bible for Today and The Dean Burgon Societies, and pastor of The Bible for Today Baptist Church. The material in both seminars was identical.

Dr. Waite is probably the most important figure representing the non-Ruckmanite KJVO view today. He has great academic credentials, teaching experience, and is an expert in biblical languages. He has been defending the King James Only view for several decades. Having read his book, Defending the King James Version, several pamphlets of his, as many articles as I could find both on the Bible for Today website and the Dean Burgon Society website, including articles by Jeffrey Khoo, Jack Moorman, and Timothy Tow, no one can accuse me of not being acquainted with his position. Combine that with attending his seminar twice, and I can be basically considered an expert!

Well, maybe not an expert. But a common accusation about former KJVonlyists is that they were KJVO until they read a book by James White or something. This is not the case! As for me, I have read a plethora of King James Only material as well as opposing material. My rejection of this position has more to do with prayerful consideration of the issues than just reading one book. I hope I can articulate my objections to King James Only argumentation as I provide this analysis of Dr. Waite’s seminar. I believe a fair examination of Waite’s arguments will be a big step in understanding the King James Only position.

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Christ and the Scriptures, Part III: Jesus’ Bibliology

biblecross31In the final post in this series, I want to consider what Jesus Christ personally taught about the scriptures. What our Lord said about and did with the scriptures are of utmost importance to all matters of bibliology because of the following argument, which I have tried to articulate in this series thus far:

1. The Christian faith is primarily and initially spiritual, not intellectual. The Christian is a believer because of a work that God has supernaturally performed in his heart, not because he intellectually “figured it out.”

2. Working in the person’s heart, the Holy Spirit testifies to Christ, while Christ draws men to Himself, given by the Father. This trinitarian phenomenon results in the believer’s first and foundational affirmation: that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God.

3. Since believers come to Christ first spiritually, they should come to Christ first theologically. That is, a Christocentric model logically follows the believer’s own conversion and spiritual growth.

4. To begin with the Bible, as noble as it seems, is backwards, because no one can hold the Bible in the esteem of a Christian without first being a Christian. We do not believe in Jesus because we first accept biblical authority, we accept biblical authority because we first believe in Jesus. The danger of reversing this causes us to try to squeeze Jesus into our pre-made biblical constructs. Rather, Jesus should have preeminence in our theology to the extent that, if Jesus said or did something contrary to our understanding or theological framework, we should abandon that framework to follow Christ.

So what exactly did Jesus teach about the scriptures?

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Christ and the Scriptures, Part II: Christology and Bibliology

biblecross41In my initial post on this subject, I took a step back from the answer, “The Bible tells me so” to “how do you know the Bible is the Word of God?” I hope to answer that question in this post. I also seek to expound on the relationship between Bibliology and Christology and how that relationship pertains to the Bible version debate.

We do not arrive at truth ourselves. No amount of intellect or scholarship can uncover the deep things of God. Truth must be revealed. It is revealed only by God. In order for a man, dead in his sins, to be awakened to truth, he must undergo a supernatural experience in which God quickens him to receive that truth. The prime thing to which he is awakened is the truth that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Only those with the Spirit of God can truly say Jesus is Lord (I Corinthians 12:3). If the basis of knowledge for embracing Christ is God Himself, then the basis of knowledge for learning about Christ must be God Himself.

Therefore, before issues of eschatology, before one understands the nature of the church, before one can engage in the Bible version debate, and even before one understands his role as a Christian, the regenerated one submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit has done a work in his heart, and the Holy Spirit’s role is to testify of Christ (John 15:26). The Christian starts with Christ.

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Christ and the Scriptures, Part I: the Basis of Knowledge

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“Because God told me so!” 

In contrast to a contemplative analysis of philosophical systems and the epistemic weighing of evidence, the above statement seems way too elementary to provide a basis for knowledge. However, I think it’s more accurate.

God is Truth. Jesus Christ is God. Jesus Christ is Truth. All Truth comes from Him. The basis of knowledge is God. That means truth exists outside of ourselves. It is not something we can conjure up from within, nor is it something we can attain by taking matters into our own hands. Only God can reveal truth to us.

Since man by nature is alienated from God, it is impossible that he can find truth apart from God. I think that’s pretty much Theology 101, yet sometimes we forget that when it comes to apologetics and our approach to doctrine in general.

In this next series of posts, I will attempt to highlight the relationship between Christology and Bibliology and how that relationship pertains to all other doctrine. I do not expect it to be a perfect foundation that provides the solution to every doctrinal problem. I do, however, think that having the right order in this regard will be pivotal in understanding some current issues. In particular, this will play out significantly in how I approach the Bible version issue.

I want to be very clear at the onset: this is my thinking. That should be obvious seeing how this is my personal blog. But I know the tendency for some is to look at what’s being said and declare, “well, that doesn’t represent  my perspective.” I know that. I’m using this to explain what constituted a shift in my thinking. I do believe that some out there can relate. I hope it is a benefit.

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The Scarlet Hope

Another one of the Bible’s marks of Divine inspiration is its tremendous unity. Within the subject of the unity of the Bible, several other interesting characteristics emerge: the absence of contradictions, typology, numerology, and the law of first mention.

The law, or principle, of first mention is a hermeneutic device that can be employed on many (but not all) occasions of an important biblical word’s first appearance in scripture. Henry Morris, in Many Infallible Proofs, explains:

The very first time an important word or concept of scripture is mentioned in the Bible, its usage in that passage provides the foundation for its full development in later parts of the Bible.

Such is the case with words like “light”, “blood”, and “faith.” What is really amazing, though, is the first appearance of the word “hope.”

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Encouraging Sunday Video, 7.13.08

The honesty of the biblical penmen is just one of the Bible’s marks of Divine Authorship.

Encouraging Sunday Video, 7.6.08

Here’s two, serving distinct yet wonderfully compatible purposes to get you ready for this Sunday!

Doubting the Gospel of Thomas

Based upon the comments from a previous post about the Gnostic gospels, and Judas in particular, I’d like to consider the validity of the Gospel of Thomas.

One thing that I find fascinating about the product of Jesusanity studies is how quick people are to discount scores and years of evidence in support of traditional Christian views in order to accept new theories based on flaky and minute evidence. This is something that is addressed in Gary Habermas’ debate with Kenneth Humphreys on the resurrection, as in other debates.

I have found the same in conversing with friends. One such friend of mine actually teaches Sunday School at his Catholic parish, yet doesn’t believe the Bible at all. In fact, he denies the traditional Christian view of Jesus. When we talked about this, I could sense an influence of Ehrman, Crosson, Borg, and other Jesusanity scholars. Now, it’s not that their information is to be completely discounted either. But the sad fact is that even those within the realm of Christendom seem more energetic to believe one side of the story and take for granted that what the Church has told them for centuries is simply fable. To be fair, we must examine both sides.The side of Jesusanity uses the Gospel of Thomas as a key in understanding an alternative view of Christianity. Is it a credible source on which a new theory could be based? I doubt it.

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Do the Gnostic Gospels Present a Credible Alternative?

Leading Jesusanity scholar Bart Ehrman would like us to believe that the views expressed in the Gnostic gospels expose Christianity’s diverse roots, and that the reason modern mainstream Christianity appears more united in thought is simply because one system prevailed over the rest. Ehrman said, “one of the competing groups in Christianity succeeded in overwhelming all the others.” This is the Jesusanity’s take on Christian history.

Jesusanity is defined in Dethroning Jesus by Darrell Bock and Dan Wallace:

“(Jesusanity is) an ideology advocated in universities and in the media which depicts Jesus of Nazareth as a first-century political radical, and advocate for social justice, and a prophet of mystic wisdom. It explicitly denies any historical basis to the Jesus of faith and the creeds.”

This is the view being promoted, to a greater or lesser extent, by Bishop Spong, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, Elaine Pagels, and the Jesus Seminar. As such, it is not a friend to true Christianity. Christians need to be aware of this mentality, for it underlies much of what is being sold as a scholarly and honest look at Christian origins. Many people are being tricked into believing that the views presented by Jesusanity are more credible than those beliefs to which Christians subscribed for centuries. As more books hit the shelves, and movies such as “Angels and Demons” (based on the novel by Dan Brown, of the Da Vinci Code fame), are in the works, we must confront these challenges. One such challenge is the place of the Gnostic gospels. Do they really give us a look into what could be a credible alternative to traditional Christianity?

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Double Standards in Fundamentalism Today, #5: Me

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Galatians 4:16
 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

True friends tell you what you need to hear. As much as I covet those comments in which people say, “great website!”, I need much more to hear about the things I need to change. Those things have been brought to my attention, and it seems like I’ve been one of the biggest Double Standards all along. I hope now to articulate some of the problems, and offer some possible solutions.

(No, that’s not really me in the picture.)

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KJVO Arguments That Don’t Hold Up

The following is a response I wrote to a website I highly respect. My response, however, was apparently not approved, for it’s been over two months and it’s nowhere to be found. I completely understand and mean no ill toward the writer of the website. He is writing to the KJVO crowd and probably isn’t looking for an argument. However, the article, which gives reasons why the KJV is accepted as the exclusive English version, warrants a reaction. What I want people in fundamentalism to see, from all sides of the issue, is that these kinds of arguments simply don’t hold up. If one wishes to reduce the controversy to a text issue, there are tons of more reasonable discussions that can take place.

The article is titled, “The King James Version of the Bible” by Steven Houck, a Protestant Reformed minister.

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The Bibliography of the New Testament

The Bodmer PapyrusIn a previous post, we examined the reliability of the Old Testament by testing it bibliographically. We found that despite the small amount of extant manuscripts, the few Massoretic texts that we do have are of outstanding integrity. This is proven by comparison with the Dead Sea Scrolls which predate the oldest Massoretic manuscript by about 1000 years. The reliability of the Old Testament, therefore, is proven bibliographically.

By contrast, the reliability of the New Testament is not only proven by the integrity of extant copies, but it is confirmed even further by an overwhelming number of manuscripts that we have today. It has been said that on the basis of manuscript evidence alone, the documents that make up the New Testament are the most frequently copied and widely distributed books of antiquity.

We will put the New Testament to the same bibliographical test by examining the number of extant manuscripts in comparison to other works of antiquity and by examining the accuracy within those manuscripts. We will also mention the support that is provided by the variety of translations and the writings of the Church Fathers.

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The Bibliography of the Old Testament

Christianity is the religious faith of the Bible. The foundation for our entire belief system is found in the Scriptures. If any idea or practice is incompatible with the Bible, then it is incompatible with the Christian faith. So, naturally the Bible is the target for much of the scrutiny of skeptics and non-Christian opponents.

Historically, most of the charges brought against the Bible have to do with its reliability. However, there are literary tests which are commonly used to determine the reliability of literary works that can be held against the Bible to determine whether it is reliable or not. One of those tests deals with the bibliography of the piece.

The bibliographical test is an examination of the textual transmission or the process by which documents reach us. This test is necessary when original documents are not available, as is the case with the Bible. Because we do not have the original documents of the Bible (commonly called autographs), we must determine how reliable the copies (commonly called manuscripts, or written as MSS) are. We can test the reliability of the text itself by examining #1 – the number of manuscripts and #2 – the time interval between the original and existing copies (referred to as extant) and #3 – the accuracy of the manuscripts.

When the Bible is tested bibliographically, it does more than pass. Simply put, it aces the tests.

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How The Information Age is Changing Fundamentalism

In 1993, Gail Riplinger contributed her infamous book, New Age Versions to the world of fundamentalism. The work claimed to contain “exhaustive documentation” that proved that the occult was really behind all those new translations of the Bible. Despite the “acrostic algebra” and conspiracy theories (including one about the Titanic sinking because of it being a part of the Whitestar line), Riplinger’s book was well received in non-Ruckmanite circles, because it offered a fresh look at the issues. After all, it contained hundreds of footnotes and this mysterious G.A. Riplinger was apparently well educated. However, in time, the Information Age got a hold of the situation. Fundamentalists learned that her book was not trustworthy. This became documented even by other KJVO fundamentalists. Now Riplinger has been pushed into her rightful place – the radical wing of the fundamentalist KJVO movement, right beside Ruckman himself, Texe Marrs, Jack Chick, and Samp Gipp. Fundamentalism benefited from the Information Age because the works of these vitriolic conspiracy theorists could not pass the scrutiny of evidence. Thankfully, they cannot enter a church, bring a PowerPoint presentation, and make mind-boggling assertions without some members of that church going home and checking things for themselves. 

We’re going beyond Berea here. Not only is it imperative for us today to search the scriptures daily, it is our responsibility to be good stewards of the Information Age. When special speaker so-and-so comes to town to prove his point of view, he is coming with a ton of extra-biblical sources. You and I would love to trust him, but the sad truth is fundamentalists have lost credibility here, as will be shown. So it is now our obligation to check those sources, and in doing so, change the face of fundamentalism.

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Archaeology and the Bible

Some of the most prevalent criticisms leveled against the Bible are concerning its historical reliability. These criticisms are usually based on a supposed lack of evidence from non-biblical sources to confirm the Biblical record. Because the Bible is filled with supernatural claims and is inherently a religious book, many take the position that its record cannot be trusted as historical fact. Some stop there and say that the Bible is still a good book of moral lessons despite historical inaccuracy. Others go further and claim that it cannot be a standard of morality because of its historical errors. Either way, their claims spring from a “guilty until proven innocent” charge based on a lack of outside evidence. Nevertheless, the Bible’s “innocence”, and more specifically its reliability, has been evidenced time and again, particularly in the field of archaeology.

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Book Review: Culture Shift by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Culture Shift by Al MohlerDespite the avoidance and in some cases blatant rejection he has received from many fundamentalists, there is perhaps no greater figure in present day evangelicalism with a more thorough grasp on current issues than Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. He is currently the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and thereby a prominent leader in the Southern Baptist convention. He is a regular contributor to such nationally acclaimed periodicals as The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. The unique thing about Dr. Mohler, however, is that despite such an involvement on a national level, he is the figurehead of the conservative movement in evangelicalism as well as a fountainhead of conservative evangelical thought. Dr. Mohler’s blog and radio show are for many a standard for interpreting today’s most pressing issues in the light of Biblical thinking.

In the first book with him as the lone author, Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth, Dr. Mohler does exactly what its subtitle advertises.

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