One of the promises of Isaiah 59:21 is that the word will be the mouth of the covenant keeper. The four-fold reference to the words, in thy mouth, speaks of perpetual accessibility for edification, evangelism, meditation and conversation. But what about the illiterate adult or the young child who cannot read. Of what value is the Scripture to them?
Turretin points out that the universality of this promise to every individual believer or church at every point throughout history is not the emphasis. Dealing with individuals who cannot read, such as young children, and thus could not have the word in their own mouths of their own accord, Turretin writes, “Although the Scriptures formally [the writing] are of no personal use to those who cannot read (analphabetous), yet materially [the doctrine] they serve for their instruction and edification much as the doctrines preached in the church are drawn from this source.” Turretin, Institutes, 59.
This succinct statement demonstrates the effectiveness of the doctrinae substantia through verbal communication. That as the voice of a man or woman communicates the word of God, in the spoken word of God the hearer hears the viva Vox Dei, the living voice of God. At the entry for viva vox and viva Vox Dei Richard Muller writes,
“This term was applied to the Word of God spoken directly to Israel before the Mosaic inscription of the law to the Word of God spoken directly to the prophets. In addition, because of the Reformers’ emphasis upon the power and efficacy of Scripture, the term was used by the Reformers and the Protestant orthodox to indicate the reading aloud of vernacular Scriptures during worship. Reformation and post-Reformation interpretation of Scripture, for all its emphasis upon a strict grammatical reading of the text, holds in common with the earlier exegesis a sense of the direct address of the text to the present-day church. The preacher is not one who applies an old word to new situations, but rather he is a servant and an instrument of the living Word, the viva Vox Dei, for its effective operation in the world.” Muller, Dictionary, 328
The speaker of the written Scripture, according to Muller’s research, “is a servant and an instrument of the living Word, the viva Vox Dei, for its effective operation in the world.” A dependent audience for this effective operation is those who cannot read. Considering that in cities like Baltimore, MD, 77% of high school graduates read on an elementary level or not at all, the importance of the spoken Word is heightened. The Bible Version debate is essentially less relevant to the child and the illiterate, their soul’s future depending on the clear articulation of the viva Vox Dei to them by parents and servants of the Lord.
Are there any critical text proponents that argue that their preferred novel version is the viva Vox Dei? If it is not the living word of God they are sharing, what hope do they give to those who cannot read?