Riddle and McShaffrey: Why I Preach from the Received Text

Why I Preach from the Received Text: An Anthology of Essays by Reformed Ministers edited by Jeffrey T. Riddle & Christian M. McShaffrey became available yesterday. Here is a link to the book.

Dr. Van Kleeck Sr. wrote of this book, “The ‘house of the Lord’ (Psalm 27:4) has always been the best place to do theology. More valuable than a seminary’s clinical evaluation of Scriptural texts, this anthology contains multiple compelling cases for the superiority of the Received Text set in a doxological context. With confessional pre-commitments firmly in place, within these pages the reader will appreciate how historic, orthodox Protestant theology and apologetics is properly formulated. This volume reinforces the argument for the superiority of the Received Text and challenges the interlocular to reconsider the pusillanimous expressions of the historical critical method. Written to both edify and inform, I heartily recommend it.”

We have argued here time and again that the way the Scriptures have been preserved and the way we know what is or is not Scripture is by the Spirit of God speaking through the word of God to the people of God who then received the word of God by faith. What Riddle, McShaffrey, and the contributors of this volume have done is put clear emphasis on the latter part of that paradigm, the people of God receiving the word of God by faith.

Consider the follow excerpts:

First, from Dane Johannsson, “Although there are many reasons why I preach from the Received Text, one of the most important is because the Received Text is the Reformed text. Not only the text of one or two prominent Reformed theologians, but the text of all “Reformed catholicism,” that is, the text universally received and used by the men who established, synthesized, codified, and taught the Reformed faith.” [Italics: Mine]

Pastor Johannsson here makes and excellent point. The Received Text was not some obscure text held by a few of the Protestant Reformers. Rather it was embraced by Protestantism at large. To bolster Johannsson’s observation, consider the words of world-renowned Church Historian, Richard Muller,

“The term [Textus Receptus] was adopted as a standard usage only after the period of orthodoxy, although it does refer to the text supported by the Protestant scholastics as the authentic text quad verba, with respect to the words of the text.”

Richard Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally From Protestant Scholastic Theology, Term: Textus Receptus.

Then Pastor Robert McCurley writes, “I preach from the Received Text out of personal conviction and commitment to biblical principle. I believe that the scriptures identify the text of Scripture. God alone supplies his Word, specifies his Word, and sustains his Word. And he reveals that to us in the Bible.”

Here McCurley has made an incisive observation. By writing, “I believe that the scriptures identify the text of Scripture” he is in effect stating that the Scripture is self-attesting, self-authenticating, and self-interpreting because it is the self-revelation of the Triune God.

Pastor McShaffrey writes, “My story is that of one who went from certainty, to doubt, and back again. The Good Shepherd that led me through that shadowy valley of doubt also stands ready to lead you back into the green pastures of maximal certainty.”

Here Pastor McShaffrey confesses something found quite rare in the Critical Text camp. McShaffrey states that Christ shepherded him through the process of doubt and subsequent certainty regarding the textual issue. CT advocates like Mark Ward have little to nothing to say about the Good Shepherd leading God’s people through this process. Rather the emphasis falls almost entirely on Ward et al‘s interpretation of the textual evidence followed by an explicit or implicit “All the smart and nice people read a different Bible.” And usually ends with something like, “God clearly gave us corrupted texts, so if our text is corrupted that is the way God would have it” [e.g., See episode 2 of the Textual Confidence Collective].

Pastor Truelove writes, “When I answer the question of why I preach from translations of the Received Text, I am answering a canonical question. It is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit, authenticating the Scriptures upon the hearts of believers, that leads one to recognize and receive the canon of scripture. This has resulted in the acceptance of those books and texts that are Scripture by God’s people and the rejection of those that are not. This is the Bible’s own teaching on the matter. It is telling that the Bible itself contains no authoritative list of scriptures and yet the biblical authors clearly recognized the scriptures in their own day.” [Italics: Mine]

Here Truelove makes an excellent point in that the Scriptures no where give the list of the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments and yet somehow the faithful know what is or is not God’s word. So it stands to reason, if the faithful can know what is Canon they can know what the Canon contains down the the very words. All is Canon. The books are Canon. The paragraphs are Canon. The words are Canon.

Finally, Pastor Riddle writes, “Why do I preach from the Received Text? I find it satisfying and winsome on many levels, aesthetically, intellectually, spiritually, theologically. It has given me a sure foundation upon which to exercise my ministry, and it has increased my faith.”

Here we see the breadth and width of reason for the use of the Received Text. For reasons of goodness, truth, and beauty. For theoretical reasons and for practical reasons. For the affect and for the intellect. For the body and for the spirit. Usually it seems that Critical Text and Modern Version proponents use and change their Bibles for far less virtuous reasons. Perhaps they read it because it sounds better, or because someone they like on FB recommended it. It seems that rarely if ever has a Critical Text advocate stood up for his NA 28 because of its obviously superior goodness, truth, and beauty.

These are only brief excerpts from 5 of the 25 essays contained in this book. I think you will see that not only do we argue differently about issues like, canon, preservation, inspiration, text, and version; the reasons why we preach from our Bible are also different. To simply sum up that difference, we believe the Bible talks about itself and the Bible that the Bible is talking about is the original. And we believe we have the original in our hand, and its name is the Received Text.

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