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The Swinging Scripturalists

December 1, 2009

Is the correct view of inspiration really that hard to figure out?  I don’t think so.  So what’s gone wrong?  Here’s what I think.

You’ve got one side that believes in inerrancy only in the autographa, only in those manuscripts originally etched by holy men of God.  They think there are errors in what we have today without any hope of discerning what all the Words of Scripture are.  That doesn’t represent what we see taught in Scripture and it leaves us without full certainty in God’s Word.  Authority comes in shades of gray.  This view comes across like it’s the position of scholarship, the real brainiacs, some very deep thinkers.  They just can’t wrap their faith around the promises of God, but, instead, men like Metzger have wrapped them around their little fingers.  Heavy hitting institutions like Bob Jones and mainstream publishers push the critical text and modern versions.

If you say that you believe that we have all the Words of God in the languages in which they were written, and you base that upon the promises of Scripture about the Bible, they call you a hyper fundamentalist, not worth considering in any other theological point.  If you comment on some other subject, they’ll likely delete your comment.  You’re not welcome to the adult table.  You’ve got to eat at the little picnic table out back with the other children.  You’re now very near or already a laughingstock.  Everything else you say will be treated like a creationist at an evolution conference.

On the other side, you’ve got the people who are stronger on the Bible than the Bible is on itself.   There are others on this side that are pretty much right where the Bible is about the Bible, but they fight against others that are also right where the Bible is, so that they will stay in good standing with those who are stronger than the Bible itself.  For instance, some of these believe that God inspired the English words of the King James Version in addition to having inspired the Hebrew and Greek words of the original manuscripts.

Others take the strongest possible view of the Providence of God by saying that God superintended the translation work in something less than inspiration, but something so close to inspiration that every single word was exactly what God wanted.  He didn’t want “assembly” but “church.”  He didn’t want “immerse” but “baptize.”  He didn’t want “lampstands” but “candlesticks.”  Even the italicized words are exactly the ones God wanted.  And so on.   If you don’t believe that strongly, then to them you just don’t believe in the Providence of God.  You know that Scriptural teaching of the Providential Perfect Translation of the Bible into English view, right?  Hezekiah or 2nd Maccabees, I think.

If you say that you don’t believe that the King James Version was inspired like the original manuscripts, they pounce all over you because you don’t believe that the King James Version was inspired.   You begin to explain, but it’s too late.  You’re weak and defensive.  They are much stronger critics of you, if you believe in the perfect preservation of the inspired Hebrew and Greek words, than they are of Gail Riplinger for her quacky, wacky, and unscriptural views.  There’s no doubt to them on whose side the Rippler is on, but you’re suddenly losing your King James credentials if you say something that sort of sniffs of something less than an inspired King James.  She at least has a Bible, but you; well, snort.  These Ruckman and Riplinger enablers do more damage than good.

I’m tired of playing this game.  I’d like to say that I’m done playing it.  I don’t want to play it any more.  The only thing that tells me that I’ll keep playing it is that there are far, far more on both sides of the swing than there are those with their feet planted on the ground.  You’ve got to play the game even a little just to have a conversation.

The first side will barely to never even deal with your arguments.  The latter side might deal with your arguments.  I think a few of them do.   However, they confuse the issue by not pointing out certain obvious points.  Usually the first side will say, “Oh, I believe in preservation of Scripture.”  The second side will say, “Oh, I don’t believe in double inspiration.”  The first side are no Bart Ehrmans.  The second side are no Peter Ruckmans.  That’s balance for you.

However, you can’t believe in preservation of Scripture and also believe that we aren’t sure what all the words are, at least based on what the Bible itself teaches about preservation.  And you can’t say that you don’t believe in double inspiration when you will not differentiate between inspired original manuscripts and an inspired English translation.  If you believe in double inspiration, then you don’t believe in inspiration at all.  And if you don’t believe in perfect preservation, then you deny what Scripture teaches about itself.  And if you believe in double inspiration, then you also deny what the Bible says about itself.

On the former side, you’ve got to continue with that position if you want any credibility with Bob Jones and its orbit and with the conservative evangelicals.  If you want to be invited to speak at the national leadership conference or the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship meeting, then you better find the critical text to have some appeal.  On the latter side, if you want to get in the Sword of the Lord line-up or receive kudos from most revivalists, you’d better not try to “correct the King James.”

I’m afraid that politics continues to plague fundamentalism.  We can barely discuss the Bible anymore without the pressure of politics.  You feel the start of a cold shoulder coming or the beginnings of a whisper campaign.

With me could you just say you’d like to stop the swing, because you’d like to get off?  I don’t care if you say I’m a fideist.  Oh well if I’m kicked off Sharper Iron.  Too bad if Central or Andy Naselli won’t post my comment.   Or if Maranatha won’t put my two books in their library.  I’m not going to keep trying to defend my belief in the continued inspiration of what God perfectly preserved to people who either are or need to remain cozy with English inspirationists or preservationists.   I don’t want to swing any more….even if you push.

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  1. lisa
    December 2, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I’m kjvo too. Do you believe 1 Corinthians 13:10 is the KJV word of God? “that which is perfect is come”… I believe it’s the KJV bible, and “that which is in part shall be done away” is the speaking in tongues among other things. That verse is a big deal. You think so too?

  2. December 2, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Lisa,

    Where did you hear that 1 Corinthians 13:10 was referring to the KJV? Do you understand what that interpretation would mean? It would mean that we didn’t have a perfect Bible until the KJV came. That is ludicrous. It denies the inerrancy and inspiration of the original manuscripts.

    More important that, however, it isn’t what 1 Corinthians 13:10 is about. “That which is perfect” is the eternal state, when we see Christ face to face. When we are glorified at the time of the eternal state, we won’t need knowledge and prophecy, that which is in part, any longer. Speaking in tongues disappeared far before the KJV. “That which is perfect” is neuter in the original language, so it isn’t referring to “God’s Word,” which is masculine. Despite that, the context tells you that knowledge and prophecy, which are in part, will be done away with by the eternal state, when we see him face to face. Now we see through a glass darkly, but then, when we see Jesus, we’ll know even as we are known.

    I must let you know, Lisa, that the particular interpretation to which you are referring is a wacky interpretation. It isn’t believable.

  3. lisa
    December 2, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    I don’t think believing 1 Corinthians 13 :10 denies the inerrancy and inspiration. In the notes in my bible it says “it could refer to the completeness or fullness of Scripture” (pg 1784 in my bible) and I think it does. It is believable. Pastor Paulson of Celina Ohio believes it too.

  4. December 3, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Call me simple. But if our English translation comes from the Greek and Hebrew texts, then how can 1Cor. 13:10 refer to the KJV? If the KJV was translated from the Greek language and the Hebrew language, then that would mean the “original” Bible (in greek and hebrew) would already have been complete as well. So the “that which is perfect is come…” would “have to” refer to the original texts, not the KJV. (Again, all that assuming you believe that verse is talking about God’s Word)

  5. December 3, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    This view that Lisa is putting forth is actually pretty common among English Preservationists. They believe that the KJV is the only perfect Bible, that in 1611 (or somewhere around there), God sovereignly chose to allow the Greek and Hebrew to “go into oblivion” and began preserving the Bible in English.

    This also leads them to argue that when translating the Bible into another language, one should translate from the KJV, with little regard for the Greek or Hebrew.

  6. December 3, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    BTW, while I don’t want to get into this discussion here, on my website I have linked an article from people at Detroit Baptist Seminary arguing that 1 Corinthians 13 speaks of the completed canon of Scripture in the 1st century when it says the “perfect” has come. It was, in my view, very convincing.

  7. December 3, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Lisa,

    The idea of “that which is perfect” coming is that it had not come yet. If the KJV was “that which is perfect,” it would be assuming, if applied to Scripture, that the Bible God actually gave, which was written in Hebrew and Greek, wasn’t perfect. That contradicts other Scripture.

    Thomas,

    That is probably the best defense I’ve seen of the completed canon as the meaning of “that which is perfect,” but not convincing enough, in my opinion, to change my view from the second coming of Christ. A few good arguments for my position he doesn’t deal with. I don’t want to argue over it either here. I have a basis from other passages for a completed canon.

    Dave,

    I didn’t know that they used that verse like that. This is the first I’ve ever heard it.

  8. December 3, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    “Perfect” in that verse is translated “complete”, meaning when the whole bible is written. Why is that so hard to understand?

  9. lisa
    December 3, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    I don’t know how that switched to Elizabeth, but yes I’m Lisa too.

  10. December 4, 2009 at 12:06 am

    Pastor B,

    I would like to see you make a case (on Jackhammer or Whatistruth)for I Corinthians 13:10. I have always believed it referred to the completed canon of scripture. I am curious as to what arguments you have against the D.B.S. article. (I remember reading in one of your post a few years ago, that you had a different position. I think it was a post on tongues.)

  11. David O
    December 4, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Hi Brother Brandenburg,

    I have heard you say more than once that not having retained “all the Words” leads to uncertainty in the Words that we still have (I speak rhetorically from a CT perspective). Yet that is not the experience I have had in a church where the CT, while not yet used in the pulpit, is accepted and used in other settings (including study for sermon prep). Our pastor and our congregation (with on or two exceptions) have confidence in the Words they read and hear.

    On another note, have you encountered the argument that the jot and tittle cannot refer to the actual letters as the letters of the OT Hebrew did not actually have jots and tittles yet, that Jesus referred to the contemporary Hebrew script in order to make a less than literal point? If so, I am interested in hearing your rebuttal.

    Thanks,

    David

  12. Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
    December 5, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    I have to admit, I always interpreted I Cor. 13:10 to be referring to the completed canon, but I’m sort of moving away from that view and towards Pastor Brandenburger’s position.

    The word “part” in vv. 9,10,12 is meros, referring to something that makes up a portion of something larger, especially in the sense of being alloted to someone or something. The term is often used geographically in the NT to refer to the “parts” pertaining to a city, etc. This tells me that when the Bible here is using “part,” it is not just talking about the fact that we only have partial knowledge, etc. – it is saying we have the partial knowledge that God has alloted to us, perhaps alluding to the fact that we don’t know the secret things that belong to the Lord (Deut. 29:29). For now, we “know in part”, though when we are “face to face” (i.e. with Christ, in glory) we will know perfectly, just as He knows us – we WILL know the secret things.

    Now, how this would then bear upon the usual arguments made in favour of cessationism from this passage, since there wouldn’t seem to be anything that would necessarily say that tongues, etc. have ceased. If the passage is referring to the completion of the canon, then no problem, but if not, and is instead referring to the time of glorification by and with the Lord, then they could theoretically still, and never have ceased to be, operative.

    For the record, I do believe in cessation of the sign gifts, of course. Just merely exploring some implication.

  13. December 6, 2009 at 12:40 am

    Titus,

    That’s a nice addition. The word “ceased” with “tongues” is a different verb than “done away” in a different voice. It is in middle voice. Tongues stop on their own. Knowledge and prophecy are done away with. Passive verb. What does away with them? Coming face to face with Christ. On the other hand, love is eternal.

    Terry,

    I’ll write on gifts sometime over at WIT probably. Thanks.

    David,

    You can’t but have uncertainty when you don’t know what the Words are. It would be like my handing you a train schedule and saying, “There are 7% errors in here.” There is a degree of uncertainty.

    Jots are Hebrew consonants. Tittles are vowels. There is no historical basis to say that “jots and tittles” is a figure of speech. It has become one in modern language, but it wasn’t when it was used. He’s saying not one letter will be lost. Thanks.

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