“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”I Corinthians 5:6-8
As some of you know the Lord has blessed my wife and I with 9 children so when my wife makes bread she makes a lot, sometimes up to 40 pounds of dough. She then bakes twenty 2 pound loaves and we freeze them for the week. Pop a frozen loaf into the microwave for 11 minutes on Time Defrost and and you get a delicious loaf of hot homemade bread ready for butter and honey.
Follow me for more cooking and baking recipes.
To the point, 40 pounds of dough takes a relatively small amount of yeast/leaven to cause the whole lump to rise. Paul warns the church in Corinth that such is the way with evil. A little evil, a little immorality will adversely affect the whole of one ‘s moral life. It’s a principle of Christian life as leavening is a principle in baking.
But not so in the Christian academic world. If leaven is that which is corrupt or that which is not from God, then the modern Christian academic world recognizes and admits there is leaven in the Critical Text and in the subsequent English versions of that New Testament. This is why the term “sufficiently reliable” is used rather than “utterly reliable” or “totally reliable” or even “certainly reliable.”
“The original text is in the body of the text or the apparatus,” we are told. Or, “Yes, there are errors or variants or uncertainty regarding this or that reading but on the whole no major Christian doctrine is affected.” I wonder how that plays out with Paul’s language quoted above? Perhaps it would go something like this:
“Yes, I know I have some small sins in my life but on the whole I commit no major immoral acts.” Most Christians would object to such a claim but they have little problem accepting and vigorously defending the argument that their version of the Bible has little problems, but nothing major.
Our opponents would have us believe that Paul’s text of Scripture at Paul’s time was not free from all leaven, while at the same time they claim Paul calls the Corinthians to a holiness absent all leaven of immorality. Again, the modern evangelical textual scholar has put the cart before the horse.
One can only be purged of their “leaven” if the thing doing the purging is equally as purged. Put another way, one can only be sanctified insofar as the thing doing the sanctifying is itself sanctified. We are told that there are word of men, albeit few and relatively meaningless per our interlocutors, among the words of God in the Greek New Testament.
That is, the word of truth which we are to be sanctified through is not itself perfectly sanctified. How then is the Christian to believe that they too have been called to perfect sanctification when the thing doing the work of sanctification [i.e., the Bible] is not itself perfectly sanctified? And with that question in the balance evangelical textual scholars then have the audacity to claim that no major doctrine is at stake.
But some might object, “No, it is the Holy Spirit who does the sanctifying work through the Scripture and not the Scripture itself. Therefore the Scriptures can be a little off and we can still be called to remove all leaven from our lives.”
I do not deny that the Holy Spirit does indeed affect sanctification in the Christian’s life, but the words of Christ are, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Jesus says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). No doubt, the Holy Spirit has a vital and primary role in the work of sanctification, but He does it only through His word and that is the emphasis of John 17:17. Unless of course you are Charismatic and you believe God still issues special revelation apart from Scripture but consistent with Scripture, but that is another blog post.
In sum, whether Christian academics like it or not, the term “sufficient reliability” claims that the whole of Scripture is not set apart unto God. Contained therein are the words of men, but that’s ok because no major doctrine is affected. In reply, “Of course major doctrine is affected. You are claiming a Bible which you admit has leaven in it and then you turn around and tell God’s people they can’t have any leaven in their lives.” The hypocrisy is palpable.
If God’s word can have leaven in it and remain morally upright then so can ours, and only out of the abundance of one’s heart does the mouth speak. Leaven in the heart is leaven in the mouth and leaven in the mouth is a sign of leaven in the heart.
When our interlocutors admit to leaven in the Greek New Testament they admit to leaven in the mouth of God and if in His mouth then in His heart.
Remember kids, no major doctrine is at stake.