“kept pure in all ages…”

(posted in 2010)

I hold to the same position the 17th century Reformers confessed, and is stated in Westminster and Second London Baptist Confessions.  According to these confessions, the scriptures are:

“immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them.” (article 1:8)

Dr. Edward Hills explains how Erasmus, in his first printing of his Greek New Testament, was guided by a common faith held by all concerning, the text they had. And that,

“Luther, Melanchton, Stephanus, Calvin, Beza, and the other scholars of the Reformation Period who labored on the New Testament text were similarly guided by God’s special providence. These scholars had received humanistic training in their youth, and in their notes and comments they sometimes reveal traces of this early education. But in their actual dealings with the biblical text these humanistic tendencies were restrained by the common faith in the providential preservation of Scripture, a faith which they themselves professed along with their followers. Hence in the Reformation Period the textual criticism of the New Testament was different from the textual criticism of any other book. The humanistic methods used on other books were not applied to the New Testament. In their editions of the New Testament Erasmus and his successors were providentially guided by the common faith to adopt the current text, primarily the current Greek text and secondarily the current Latin text. … thus the logic of faith led true believers of that day, just as it leads true believers today, to the Textus Receptus as the God-guided New Testament text”

The Greek text edition circulated by Theodore Beza was in common use and considered authoritative. There was little or no further textual criticism done to his Greek edition, hence, it was received. In history we find a clear witness of the Protestant church to the Received Text. The church is the witness, the pillar and ground of truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

J. H. Gosden of the Gospel Standard Baptist observes in his commentary on the Gospel Standard Baptist Articles of Faith,

“By inspiration of God gave the Holy Oracles, and power – perennial miracle – He preserves them intact. They are inerrant, unchangeable, unlosable. Could they err or change or be lost, their divine origin would be disapproved and dependence upon them would be misplaced. In such a case there would exist no foundation upon which to build for eternity, no final court of appeal respecting truth and error, no standard of doctrine, no rule of practice, no touchstone of experience. “

Those who prefer to use a rational approach in defining the New Testament text have to admit that scripture is selected by the text critic. In the office of a scholar many manuscripts are studied. The assumption is often stated that “only the originals are inspired.” The scholar must conduct examinations of the many manuscripts to determine which verse is more likely to be inspired and therefore authentic. But what kind of method does he use? What is his rule to determine what is, might be or is not scripture? The Bible critic or critics, whatever the case maybe, must choose and whatever kind of rule chosen, becomes their guiding principle. It is not driven by the logic of faith the Reformers used but a secular naturalistic presupposition. This presupposition denies the God who acts in history and intervenes in our daily lives. It denies what scriptures reveals about itself.

As the peoples historian D’Aubigne declared, “Christianity is neither an abstract doctrine nor an external organization. It is a life from God communicated to mankind…”

The CT man has no biblical text:

Bart Ehrman states, “there is always a degree of doubt, an element of subjectivity.”

Kurt Aland declares that the latest Text of the United Bible Societies is “not a static entity” and “every change in it is open to challenge.”

G. Zuntz admits that “the optimism of the earlier editors has given way to that scepticism which inclines towards regarding ‘the original text’ as an unattainable mirage.”

Douglas Wilson writes,

“This witness is not offered by the Church as “something to think about” or as a mere “suggestion.” The testimony of the Church on this point is submissive to Scripture, but authoritative for the saints. For example, if an elder in a Christian church took it upon himself to add a book to the canon of Scripture, or sought to take away a book, the duty of his church would be to try him for heresy and remove him immediately. This disciplinary action is authoritative, taken in defense of an authoritative canonical settlement. This does not mean the Church is defending the Word of God; the Church is defending her witness to the Word. As the necessity of discipline makes plain, this witness is dogmatic and authoritative. It is not open for discussion. God does not intend for us to debate the canon of Scripture afresh every generation. We have already given our testimony; our duty now is to remain faithful to it. “

Dr. Daniel Wallace is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and is considered an expert inn ancient biblical Greek and New Testament criticism. In a blog post about the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature he wrote,

“As remarkable as it may sound, most biblical scholars are not Christians. I don’t know the exact numbers, but my guess is that between 60% and 80% of the members of SBL do not believe that Jesus’ death paid for our sins, or that he was bodily raised from the dead. “

We cannot declare the originals only, exchanging “King James Onlyism” for “Original Text Onlyism,” our very idea of sola scriptura does not allow for it. Without a foundational set of manuscripts Protestantism is reduced to just one of many traditions with sola scriptura a late development and no less of a tradition then that found in Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism. This tradition is reduced to a Magisterium of scholars instead of Popes, Cardinals and Bishops. We have replaced the Roman Magisterium with a Magisterium of Textual Critics.  Rome acts like a final authority, and the scholar tells us what the final authority might be.


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