“The strange thing about it all is that here it is men considered evangelical who accept the results of anti-supernatural scholarship.”

Himself an advocate of the historical critical approach, A. T. Robertson acknowledges the difficulty of reconciling “anti-supernatural scholarship” with “reverence for the Bible as God’s only revelation” in an 1892 article entitled “The Inerrancy of Scriptures.” Robertson observed,

“In Germany, Rationalism has so long held sway that no man has to apologize for any theory he advances, however anti-supernatural. But you cannot transplant those naturalistic tendencies to English and American soil without provoking conflict. And the conflict has come. The strange thing about it all is that here it is men considered evangelical who accept the results of anti-supernatural scholarship. It is certainly a grace question how long one can reconcile such results with his reverence for the Bible as God’s only revelation of grace to men.” A. T. Robertson, “The Inerrancy of Scriptures,” Western Recorder, June 30, 1892,

Something was very wrong in the hearts of those considered “evangelical” to accept the results of “anti-supernatural scholarship.” I doubt if these evangelicals said, “I believe in the resurrection and I don’t believe in the resurrection” or “I believe in the deity of Christ and I don’t believe in the deity of Christ.” But what they did say was “I believe the Bible is the word of God” and “I don’t believe the Bible is the word of God.” What transpired in the hearts of men over 100 years ago that they would reject the formal principium of the Christian faith? What Robertson calls a “strange thing” has now for long been accepted as normative, the reconciliation of anti-supernaturalism and reverence for the Bible now accomplished. What Robertson did not know in 1892 was that the historical critical path he and his fellow travelers decided to take would do away with reverence for the Bible altogether leaving only the contradiction of an anti-supernatural Christianity. While the impossibility of reconstructing the autographa is obvious to some members of the Academy, much of the Church seems to be unaware that the scholarship has reversed itself, the same scholarship the Church trusted to exchange the Authorized Version for a novel version.

What then, is the Church to do, coming to the realization that its faith in scholarship was sorely misplaced? 1. It can ignore the findings for an “initial text” and follow other mainstream critical scholars still hoping for the impossible. 2. It can accept the certain conclusion that a change of course is necessary, but apathetically coast along, waiting for something even more novel from which to derive its authority. 3. The Church can accept that the historical critical method is irreparably broken and have the heart and mind to return to a supernatural Christianity founded on a supernatural text no longer seeking reconciliation with the anti-supernatural. For the English-speaking Church the breaking of this contradictory reconciliation would be demonstrated in a return to the Reformation Bible, the Authorized Version.

            The Church is experiencing a spiritual weariness born out of generations of trying to assimilate what the Academy has passed down to them through malleable pastors and what the Bible says. Facing the social issues of today, the Church deserves a sure foundation. The Christian intuitively knows that reconciliation of the supernatural with the anti-supernatural is impossible, this contradiction like a persistent drip boring a hole through their conscience. Sheep need shepherds. The Church needs pastors and teachers to lead to green pastures and still waters, not to advocate failed academic methods, asking the congregants to trust in notes about “oldest and best manuscripts.” The words “oldest and best manuscripts” have done nothing to fortify the spiritual strength of the believer being at best distracting and at worst contributing to doubt rather than faith. As our academic backgrounds indicate, the Academy is a powerful tool and extremely useful, but not at the expense of the spiritual well-being of the people of God, or saints, as Paul calls them.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

3 thoughts on ““The strange thing about it all is that here it is men considered evangelical who accept the results of anti-supernatural scholarship.”

  1. “For the English-speaking Church the breaking of this contradictory reconciliation would be demonstrated in a return to the Reformation Bible, the Authorized Version.”

    No, I am afraid not. The KJV has been demonstrated to be deficient. Mark Ward has exposed the tip of the ice berg on that. The KJV also has an innate Anglican bias and the bias of a divine right of kings mentality. Scholarship does not have to be a bugaboo nor does one have to have faith in it. Rather one can be informed by the facts exposed by it without accepting its solutions.

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    1. Ross, thanks again, but I thought you would appreciate the cover A. T. Robertson gives your argument: “The strange thing about it all is that here it is men considered evangelical who accept the results of anti-supernatural scholarship.” You’re an evangelical, I suppose, that makes an evidentialist’s argument for Holy Scripture. Scientific method, or your evidence will confirm the object predicated by the subject and nothing more. This is projectionism in the spirit of Feuerbach, “The Essence of Christianity.” Blessings!

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