We have finally come to the last episode of the Textual Confidence Collective [TCC]. This episode was about 30% shorter than all the others. The bulk of the conversation took place around things each member was thankful for, what they appreciated most about their own podcast, and books they recommended for further study. I was glad to see that I had already read a couple of them. Brash’s book and Myths and Mistakes have been added to my reading list.
Given the nature of this episode they offered little by way of new information and argumentation though they did not wholly escape from such observations. In fact, one of the salient elements of their position on the authority of textual critics was no more clearly stated than in this episode.
1.) Both in the intro and around [10:42-10:50] Tim Berg, in the context of saying that the Holy Spirit has not left the Church, states,
“We want to honor the work Spirit that He does through imperfect people, imperfect translators, imperfect textual critics and not to look at that and take something that is the work of the Spirit and accuse it of being the work of the Devil.”
Here Berg, like the TCC in Episode 6, seems to assume the general goodness of textual criticism. Indeed, he seems to indicate that textual criticism is by default the work of the Holy Spirit and anyone who demurs on this point is accusing text-critical work of being the work of the Devil.
Berg has erred on both extremes. First, he nor the TCC has yet to establish the work of textual criticism as being the work of the Holy Spirit. There is no exegetical or theology grounding for making that point other than, “By God’s providence He causes the rain to fall and the tides to rise and so His providence oversees textual criticism.” This is true, but it does not make textual criticism good. God’s providence thusly construed allows for the death of churches and Christian institutions. His providence oversees the dissolution of homes and nations.
No where does the TCC address this side of divine providence. The side that accounts for the destruction of good things, the pruning side, the testing side of divine providence. The point being, the TCC has not and does not address the reality that divine providence can allow for wolves into the fold nor has the TCC demonstrated that textual criticism is a lamb instead of a wolf.
Until the TCC and those like them make such a robust defense it seems fair to conclude that for the TCC and those like them, the academy is God’s instrument for determining what is or is not God’s word because they are doing the work of the Spirit and all those who disagree are carrying the message of Satan. In kind, this is not different than claiming the Pope or the College of Cardinals are doing the work of God the Holy Spirit and all those who disagree are of the Devil.
We have been making this case for years and it is often ignored. But Berg’s words here in this last episode have made our case for us and made it loud and clear.
By contrast, we argue that it is the Holy Spirit working through not textual scholars but through the rank and file of the Christian faithful. There the Holy Spirit speaks through His words to His people and they accept the Spirit’s words to be His words by faith. The work of the Spirit in God’s people is throughout Scripture and easily defended. The work of the Spirit through textual critics is a much more difficult claim, which may explain why we have yet to receive exegesis on this point.
2.) From the beginning of our critiques of the TCC we have observed the trauma that all four members of the TCC had experienced. In this episode they made a point to call for unity among the brethren on the textual/version issue. And yet at least two of the TCC have experienced horrible familial fracturing, and over what?
The TCC argues time and again that the differences between the KJV and the other versions are minor. They argue that no major doctrine is at stake and yet Tim, Peter, and Mark all profess in this episode to have lost friends and family including the approval of their parents because they forsook a version [the KJV] which according to their words has only minor differences and where no major doctrine is at stake.
Members of the TCC are the kind of people that allow fracturing of their families and the loss of friendships over what they believe are minor details and non-doctrinal issues, and yet in the same breath call for unity. Based on what?! If the TCC is ready to break up families and lose friendships over what they call minor details and things of non-doctrinal significance, I can’t understand why they could ever consider themselves champions of unity within the body of Christ. They are willing to hurt families and lose friendships over minor details which “often aren’t even translatable” and non-doctrinal differences.
And why is it that the TCC is the culprit for this brokenness of family and friendship? Because the TCC is the thing that has moved. The TCC’s friends and families already hold to a Bible. They have not moved. It is the TCC that has caused the ruptures. If the KJV has only minor differences and no doctrine is at stake, then the least the TCC could have done is honor their fathers and mothers, a clear and obvious commandment of Scripture, and they would be far better off. They would have whole families and friendships, they would obey the fifth commandment, and they would have a Bible with only minor differences that don’t affect doctrine. That’s a win, win, win. But instead the TCC has opted for fractured families, wrestling with the fifth commandment, and a Bible [i.e., ESV, NIV, CSB] that also, in their words, has minor differences that don’t affect doctrine.
In sum, the TCC’s argument has traded healthy relationships and a Bible with minor differences that don’t affect doctrine [i.e., KJV] for broken relationships and a Bible with minor differences that don’t affect doctrine [i.e., ESV, NIV, CSB]. All the while claiming to be champions of unity. I hope you can see that unity has been sacrificed, in the confines of their arguments, for nothing. The TCC will sacrifice unity for no gain except perhaps for academic recognition within limited evangelical circles. Yeah, definitely trade familial cohesion for academic recognition. That’s a biblically sound idea.
3.) I appreciated the TCC’s quotations of what they call “absolutists”. In several episodes as in this one, the TCC took the opportunity to quote someone who held to something approximating a standard sacred text or confessional text, and then of course proceeded to belittle the “absolutist” position. The value though of this exchange is that it appears all three positions have existed for a very long time. There have always been those who held to a standard sacred text, those who doubted the text a little, and those who doubted the text a lot.
The TCC likes to think they hold a moderate position, but as the economist and diplomat George Shultz once opined,
“He who walks in the middle of the road gets hit from both sides.”
The TCC’s position is not moderate, it is untenable and simply because they can point to those in the past that held something similar to their position does not mean their position is viable. To this day the whole of their position is stitched together by a scrap here and there demonstrating the existence of there position. What they do not have is a robust exegetical tradition and systematic theology to defend their position.
While the Ecclesiastical Text and the Skeptical position have robust systems drawn from extensive argumentation throughout history on questions of first principles, metaphysics, epistemology, authority, religion, science, Scriptural exegesis, archeology etc.; the TCC and the middle-of-the-roaders are merely attempting to claim “peace in our time” between the skeptic and the Christian worldview and as such are caught in the crossfire.
Overall I thought the TCC has well produced videos and in this regard I was challenged to step up my aesthetic game in presentation. As for the content, their argument was little more than the standard regurgitation you could get out of any intro to text-criticism book or class.
Regarding Confessional Bibliology it would have been a huge help to the TCC to at least have Jeff Riddle or the like review their questions and offer some accurate content to interact with. As it stands, the TCC basically spent their time asserting why their position was the best and then beating up on KJV Only IFB folks, paying little attention to IFB KJVO’s epistemological warrant and the robust theology behind a Confessional Text.
All in all I appreciate the work that the TCC did over these last seven weeks or so. Their arguments did little to move the ball down the field. They provided plenty of opportunity to show their lack of understanding concerning the major issues at stake. In the end, it made for an effortless and fun series of blog posts. Thanks to all those who dropped by to read our work. We hope it has been as much a blessing to you as it has been to us. If you would like to read the whole critique of the TCC, here are the links:
Part 1: The Emotional Trauma Behind the Textual Confidence Collective
Part 2: Ward’s Textual Confidence Collective is Turning out to be a Dumpster Fire
Part 3: My Prediction was Right and the Dumpster Fire Continues to Keep the TCC Warm and Cozy
Part 4: An Analysis of the Textual Confidence Collective’s Collective Doubt
Part 5: The Textual Confidence Collective’s View of Itself
Part 6: The Textual Confidence Collective: Having Confidence in Everything But Scripture