We hear over and over from CT/MVO academicians that modern versions are “sufficiently reliable.” When pressed on the meaning of that term it seems that they mean something like, “It is possible to be saved out of many of the modern translations” or “The general gist of all major Christian doctrine is present in most modern versions.”
I have no problem agreeing with the former and I suppose I do on the latter as well so long as we understand that the Action Bible and the Golden Children’s Bible do the same. But are the modern versions, being “sufficiently reliable, able to do what is necessary?
Can the stream be purer than the fount from which it springs? Good trees bring forth good fruit and bad trees bring forth bad fruit (Matt. 7:17), do they not? Is it not the case then that sufficiently reliable trees bring forth sufficiently reliable fruit? It seems so. And if Scripture is merely a sufficiently reliable tree then the fruit derived from the Scripture is also only, merely, sufficiently reliable.
And what kinds of fruit are derived from the Scripture? Knowledge of the Triune God. Faith that comes by the hearing of the word of God. Sanctification through the word of truth, and of course salvation itself. A sufficiently reliable fountain can only yield sufficiently reliable streams. And sufficiently reliable trees can only yield sufficiently reliable fruit.
There once was a fig tree which had no figs, but that was because it wasn’t the time of year for fig trees to bear figs. What did the Lord do to this tree? Did the Lord say, “Now there’s a sufficiently reliable fig tree. One day we’ll have some of its figs.”? No, it was quite the opposite. Christ cursed the fig tree because it was only, merely, sufficiently reliable. And why did He curse the fig tree?
The fig tree as a symbol of Israel represents their imperfect obedience, indeed, their hypocrisy. And how is it that one is to achieve perfect or complete obedience? Well, as was said above, if the tree is complete then the fruit which comes from that tree will also be complete.
Jesus says, Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Christ is recorded in several places saying that heaven and earth would pass away before the law would pass away, before a jot or tittle of the law would pass away.
Paul tells Timothy that the Scriptures make a man of God perfect or complete. Peter tells us that the Scriptures pertain to all life and godliness. The point being that if a soul is to be saved they need only a handful of verses to come to know themselves as sinner and Christ as Savior. Furthermore, the Bible is unnecessary to have a sufficiently reliable understanding of the major tenants of Christian theology. Erickson’s one volume Christian Theology offers a sufficiently reliable understanding of the major tenants of Christian theology though it is not a Bible.
But the Bible is not only for salvation, but also, and just as equally, for sanctification, for the perfection of the saint. And it is the word of God which does that perfecting. Again, sanctify them through thy truth thy word is truth, Jesus says.
If the word of truth is only a sufficiently reliable word of truth then its perfecting power is only sufficiently reliable. Christ did not come to bring a sufficiently reliable redemption; He came to bring a perfect and perfecting redemption.
Sufficiently reliable Christianity as born from a sufficiently reliable Bible is that cursed fig tree and that lukewarm Church which Christ can only spew out.