The Standard Sacred Text Debate of Yesteryear.

The following is the opening post of a discussion I had on the Sharper Iron forum over 11 years ago. The discussion took the better part of 3 months with over 300 comments largely between me and three opposing interlocutors. I had just finished my Th.M. from Calvin Theological Seminary the previous Spring and longed for a little academic interaction.

After perusing the argument again today I was struck with how much of the substance of the Standard Sacred Text argument remains the same. Still, it is clear, to me at least, that my rhetoric has somewhat toned down. Conversely though I believe the argument has gotten sharper over the last decade and we continue to hone its edge even today. The discussion started in October of 2011 and went until nearly Christmas of that same year. So without further ado here is my opening post to that disucssion,

“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 a 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.”

The whole discussion can be found here:

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