Since my first speaking introduction by Dr. David Otis Fuller to present the defense of the King James Bible in 1987, the CT/MVO position has hardly budged from its original 19th century moorings. Like a boat that has never seen open water the position is so tied to a narrow interpretation of the evidence that it has been allowed to see the ocean of evidence for the Reformation Scriptures. After so many years the CBGM remains dependent upon the same four antiquated and worn-out presuppositions of Westcott and Hort in the 1880’s –the shortest, longest, oldest, and mss that best explains the origin of another – is to be preferred. The point is, the critic scoffs at the notion that the interpretation of the evidence can only be performed by the guidance of the Word and Holy Spirit. He’s on his own. He boasts of being on his own, but is this boast really boast worthy? What follows is a little Calvin Theological Seminary grad school tutorial on epistemology or “knowing what we know.”
What connects the manuscript evidence, or object, to the mind of the critic that enables the critic to understand the evidence properly? It is external to him, he did not write it, the manuscripts are empirically observable, parchment, ink (which in itself creates a multitude of problems by their own admission). Which brings us to the truth that facts are not what man makes them; facts existed before the mind of man analyzed them, six-day creation a demonstration of that fact. The worlds were here before Adam was created to experience them. God makes the facts what they are; God’s interpretation of the facts is the only true interpretation. In other words, ontology, or what is, precedes epistemology, what we know about it. God made both the mind of the critic and the object, in this case the mss, and it is God which is the personal, common bridge between the mind of man and the thing he immediately created or through secondary causes brought into existence. God as the personal, common bridge between the mind and object enables the mind to properly interpret the world in which it lives. God allows us to see a sunset as it was meant to be seen and properly interpret it because He is the link between the sunset and the mind of man. If God is omitted, the sunset is because of “mother nature.” God also allows us to see the mss as it was meant to be seen and properly interpret them because God allowed them to be written and allows them to exist. To properly interpret all the facts that surround us we must know the God that made the facts what they are, and the only way to know the God that made the facts as they are is through the Word and Spirit.
But let’s suppose an impossibility that there is no God to be the link between the mind and the object. The autonomous mind must then project or create meaning for the object and interpret the object according to that projection making the fact what it is. In this case epistemology precedes ontology – what we know about something makes the thing what it is. Either the mind of God or the mind of man will assign the object meaning, and with the exclusion of God, the mind of man is what remains. The irresolvable problem with this scheme is that autonomy by definition is singular, isolated, and fundamentally schismatic. Autonomy drove Eve to separate herself from God and Adam to blame his beloved Eve for the transgression. Autonomy destroys perfect unity. Indeed, autonomy has no unifying characteristics. Autonomy makes every man god. See Gen. 3. The minds of men project multiple meaning to the object and multiple interpretations of the multiple objects. One means of limiting the multiplicity of meanings and interpretations is for one mind or some minds to convince other minds that their mind’s projection of the object is superior to all others. This convincing can be performed in different ways. One manifestation of the autonomous tyranny of this projection is what we call secular scholarship. After removing God, the autonomous mind gets to interpret the world and the facts however they please. Such minds assign value to objects and value to morals and virtue. Such minds determine what is right and wrong good or bad, accurate or inaccurate. To agree with them is good; to disagree is not only mistaken, but also bad. Another kind of convincing is when these gods have the power of the State to compel the lesser minds to yield or to conform to their interpretation of the facts and their projection of the world. Visit the Holocaust Museum in DC to see to what lengths such projectionism will go to assert itself.
The problem is yet further exacerbated when after years of the mind failing to make the facts what they are, leaving men in despair, finally and totally isolated within himself. His confidence in other minds wanes, the impossibility of opposites meaning the same thing depending on the many autonomous interpretations of the facts leads to skepticism, the uncertainty of the mind itself after making a projection and then reversing itself, leaves the mind isolated within itself. The autonomous mind, after removing God, cannot maintain the link between itself and the object, which leaves the mind abandoned to itself, knowing nothing for sure. With Descartes, all that can be said is, “I think, therefore I am.” Not to be sidetracked from its goal, the mind in this paradigm creates a world of little gods, each god making a world in their own image, with their own sectarian laws and morals; little autonomous kingdoms were the autonomous mind reigns supreme. Man does indeed want to be like God, but God is God, and He has asserted his Authority through the Word and Spirit. God lovingly stands in the way of the host of gods and in his grace and mercy sent His Son, so that little gods might be rescued from their self-deluded, meaningless world and experience the fulness of truth and life. See Luke 19:10.
The modern textual critic is attempting to gain power over the minds of men the likes of which the world has never seen. Some may not see the forest for the trees but whether actively or passively engaged, the results are the same. To control the creation of the Book ascribed to God, a Book that has the power to change the lives of men and shape the course of history, by themselves taking the role of God in its creation seems more than a serious thinker could contemplate. Are we to swallow the notion that the only way to recover the words of God is to leave God out of the project? If we have access to the Original Writer, why not ask Him what He meant by His Writings? But you see, there is no one to ask. This entire project acts as if God does not exist, that we do not have access to Him, or if He does exist what He has already told us about His Word is futile and impossible. See Matt. 5:18. The critical text, even if it could come to completion, would only be provincial or sectarian, serving only the kingdom of the mind that created it. If that autonomous kingdom had the “scriptures” what a powerful kingdom it would be. Indeed, look around you at the power the autonomous kingdom of the scholar and his interpretation of the “evidence” already possesses over the Church. According to that autonomous kingdom, if they don’t have the scriptures, neither does anyone else.
If God is preserved as the link between the mind and the object, the interpretation of the object will be made through the Word and Spirit. What is right or wrong, good, or bad, sweet or sour, will stand for all minds because the Mind of God is the link between the minds of all men and the object. Today, like every day, the saint has the choice of kingdoms within which to live. He can either live in his own autonomous kingdom in forsaking the love of his Lord, or he can submit his life to Lord and live in the kingdom of Heaven.