The Beggarly Borrowing of the Critical Method or Don’t Bring a Football to a Baseball Game

Those following Standard Sacred Text have noted that our defense is modeled after the Apostle Paul’s instruction to the church in Corinth in 1 Cor. 2 with special reference to verse 14. There are essentially only two methods of argumentation not only for the Biblical text but for all things considered – the Spiritual, or that governed by the Spirit in and by the word and the natural, without the Spirit, man functioning in his fallen, natural state. There is no middle or common ground between the two methods. The present textual debate enigma is that those who would make a personal claim to be Spiritual have succumbed to natural arguments for their flavor of the defense of the Faith once delivered unto the saints.

Since my first venture into the KJV debate in the 80’s certain patterns have emerged coming from MVOists. It is important to note that every objection is limited by the capacity of the opponent to formulate one, but among these variables, one factor remains consistent. For the KJB position the Scripture’s self-authentication confirms the object (Scripture’s authority) predicated by the subject (the KJB advocate). To make the case for the KJB nothing needs to be borrowed from a contrary position to find common ground, because the KJB position is self-contained. Other issues are discussed but not out of necessity. Allowing the Word and Spirit to speak for themselves is consistent with Paul’s admonition in 1 Cor. 2.

This however is not the case for objectors. Because the objection confirms only the object (or argument) predicated by the subject (the objector) it is impossible that the objection remotely relates to the self-contained KJB position unless the objector borrows some common ground between the objection and that which is objected against, or, for the sake of discussion, the KJB defender allows an exchange for some didactic purpose. Standing apart from the Word and Spirit this line of argumentation falls under the paradigm of natural. Because there is no common ground between the Spiritual and natural, the natural argument must borrow elements of the Spiritual argument to enter the sphere of a Biblical discussion. The natural perspective possesses no Spiritual elements.

The critical biblical polemic is like showing up on a baseball field with a football and trying to make the case for the fallacy of homeruns while pressing the point for field goals. To be relevant, with football in hand, some element of baseball is borrowed, such as both football and baseball use balls, to make the natural premise credible. The single point of contact may be similar, but the games are entirely different. This borrowing, no matter how minimal, argues against or at least marginalizes the credibility of the initial objection. The objector must borrow from a self-contained apologetic system he is attempting to prove invalid by utilizing the system he is trying to prove invalid.

But one might protest, how can you claim that it is impossible that the number of paperback books critical of the KJB only remotely relate or do not relate at all to Standard Sacred Text apologia for the KJB? A cursory review of the literature will quickly show a pedantic, redundant, evidential similarity of such consistency that the whole can be lumped into one genre reminiscent of the Byzantine “text type.” There are not a host of arguments critical of the KJB; rather, there is one evidential conglomerate published ad infinitum critical of the KJB with such consistency as to be predictable and with such frequency as to be worn out. The monolithic objection only confirms the object (or argument) predicated by the subject, which in this case is plural subjects. Our answer to claims of success to the overthrow of the KJB is simply, “Of course you end up with that answer if that is where you start” because the scientific method confirms the object predicated by the subject. If you make the rules, you can win the game, as if forgetting God has already given his Rule to which all lesser rules must yield. Any capacity of the critic to relate to the self-contained apologetic system of the self-authenticating text must borrow elements from the system being disparaged. The protest is thus answered.

For instance, manuscript evidence is vitally important to an evidential defense of the quantified canonical collating process but is secondary or tertiary to the self-contained argument of Scripture’s own self-authentication. We greatly appreciate the work but the argument for evidence will only confirm the object predicated by the subject and within these self-imposed limits is merely sectarian and provincial, secondary, and tertiary to Scripture’s claims for itself. Furthermore, there is no common ground between the relativity of the proposed evidence and the absolute certainty of God’s word. The evidence only becomes valid as it aligns itself with the self-authenticating Word. If the critic is to locate common ground, something about the certainty of God’s word must be borrowed to create a bridge to the evidence, because certainty does not exist in the critical world.

This “something” is highly problematic to the critic. Consider the following example, “I do not believe the minority reading can be self-attesting.” In this statement we identify a splendid example of an evidentialist borrowing from the KJB apologetic by using the term “self-attesting” thereby establishing a bridge between the two positions. The relative use of percentages and numbers common to evidential arguments are foreign to the terms the Bible uses for itself, but in this statement the relative use of numbers is tied with the pre-critical argument for Scripture’s self-attestation, which by definition means, it does not need numbers or percentages to validate its Authority. Though the statement was not developed, are we to assume then, that a majority reading is self-attesting? Once self-attestation is integral to the argument, the full weight of Protestant Orthodox theology comes to bear on the evidence, but this is not what the evidentialist asks for. Indeed, if it were, they would cease being an evidentialist altogether. And if not inferring the majority reading is self-attesting why say it at all?

How then should one proceed considering this bridge? The idea of a “bridge” begs the question “A bridge to what?” or “Common ground to what purpose?” As noted above, the bridge is necessary for the critic to have a perceived impact upon the self-contained nature of a KJB defense but does not seem intended to provide the common ground of congruence or agreement as noted in continuing discussion. After all, the critic is standing on a baseball field with a football saying, “Listen to me. I have a ball!” The bridge is therefore only conceptual, a device to borrow apologetic credibility for an evidential system incapable of achieving its goal of determining what is and is not Scripture.

The solution is a change in logical sequence of the critic’s debate. For the critic, the change does not require a change in the strength of the evidence, only a subjugation of the evidence to the self-attesting Word. This change of sequencing accepts the self-contained argument for the self-attesting Word as primary while providing credible secondary evidential support for the self-attesting word. And this change in sequence is not an insurmountable dilemma, having already identified the value of borrowed pre-critical categories, no matter how slight, for objections against the pre-critical apologetic.

Because the scientific method confirms the object predicated by the subject, the scientific method by any definition is incapable of relating to the word of God just as the natural man considers the things of the Spirit foolishness. If you want to call the critical text, the majority text, the XYZ text the word of God, as the word of God, the next line in the discussion must be, the text is the self-attesting, self-authenticating, self-interpreting canonical collation of the preserved apograph. After borrowing these words from the Standard Sacred Text defense of the TR/KJB there would indeed be common ground for additional discussion. But until then, the critic with his football must retire to the bleachers, or head over to the football field, while those who have come to enjoy America’s pastime, cruise over in their Chevy Corvette, enjoy a hotdog at the concessions stand and in the warm summer breeze hear the words, “Batter up!” Blessings!

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.

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