Trust me, I’m a Text Critic

We at Standard Sacred Text do not see historic, orthodox, theological precommitments as a liability to a sound defense of the Faith and Scripture. Indeed, consistent Christianity demands the Lordship of Christ through the Word and Spirit in every part of life, including research and writing. Dr. White’s presentation reminds us that there are Christian scholars that do see a problem with their Christian precommitments and assure others, for the sake of perceived credibility, that they don’t let their Christian faith get in the way of their academic work. But Theology is unlike any other discipline in that it is the study of the wholly other, self-revealed, God. Scripture is His Word. True theology, then, must only say what God has already said about Himself, and not what others say He said. Putting or taking words in or out of God’s mouth is a failure of submission to the King. The spiritual resistance of restricting the kingdom rule of Christ in their lives from influencing any text critical work or apologetics is now integral to the credibility of modern, so-called “Christian” scholarship. Without being pejorative, scholarship cannot be called Christian if not Christocentric.

Of all the disciplines one might choose to apply this secular model, for White and others, it was the theological principium of the Christian Faith, or the special principle and source of Christianity, the Holy Scripture. They could have decided to manufacture microchips like the unregenerate do, or fly airliners like the unregenerate do, or write computer code like the unregenerate do, but instead decided to recreate the principium cognescendi of the Christian Faith like the unregenerate do, relegating what is uniquely transcendent, the written Word of God, to a transcendentless method. Since the 19th c. this God-less methodology has been standard fare in academia. As one of my Westminster profs relayed in class, once the notion of truth becomes so muddled, historically, it takes a 1,000-years to find realignment. Of course, those creating the muddle believe everything is fine. Dr. Ward disparages the KJV and Dr. White the TR, neither man suggesting corresponding standard, authoritative replacements, and yet we are to conclude that the confusion they are creating in the Church is fine, should be welcomed and endorsed, and rather than our culture’s present slip backward to a second Middle Ages, (when the priests could not read the Latin), is rather producing a new Renaissance (another Erasmus) on the way to a new Reformation (another Tyndale). Scripture is clear, that when God is turned aside, personal, and national calamity awaits, the data Dr. Van Kleeck cited in his closing remarks.

Dr. White serves as a single data point for members of the Church who have finally been convinced by academics, and now say, “We will not believe the Holy Scripture, until we see the manuscript evidence for it.” While preserved manuscripts have always been essential to the preservation of Christianity, the immutable fact, beyond dispute, is that the Original writings of Scripture are forever beyond the scope of scientific discovery, forever lost. Recent critical scholarship accepts this and has moved on to the “initial” text existing several centuries later having given up looking for the Originals. With the undiscoverability of the original words of Scripture, where is the empirical grounding for faith, if the Word of God in the autographs is forever lost? What will Dr. White show the Church to convince them it is grounds for faith. Right now, many are taking his word for something that neither he nor anyone else can ever produce.

The Scripture says, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Is this the viva vox Dei, “the living voice of God” to you, or must you see the manuscript evidence that no one knows or will ever know, empirically, is indeed the words of the Original? The Scriptures have always been a target for corruption leading one to ask “how could anyone know what was and was not God’s word?” Considering the insurmountable empirical obstacles to preserving the words of God in a sin cursed world, the providential preservation of God’s word is intrinsic to the words themselves. It seems clear that White likes neat categories that can be classified, categorized, and easily referenced and finds the Divine algorithm of providential preservation throughout history too messy. Yes, history is very messy. There are no external criteria to determine what is or is not God’s Word. Scripture is self-attesting, self-authenticating, and self-interpreting, possessing authority over all other criteria and authorities because it is the Word of God. The existence of the preserved words of God is therefore, empirically, unquantifiable. With support from categories such as Apostolicity, antiquity, and ecclesiastical usage, this theological/critical model produced the TR and KJV.

Without historic Christian precommitments the identification and collation of the written words of God is impossible. The dynamic interaction of the Word, Spirit, and Covenant keeper through the Church — faithful saint, dedicated pastor, erudite scholar, and skilled linguist – performed this unquantifiable labor. Within this believing context, the Bible was read as the viva vox Dei, “the living voice of God” to them. The result of this Isa. 59:21 dynamic is Greek Received Text and the King James Bible.

“Trust me, I’ll recreate your Bible solely from manuscript evidence,” the text critic says. “But you have been doing this work since the 19th c. How much closer are you to the Original writings?” you inquire, to which the critic replies, “I don’t know. I’ve never seen the Original writings.” “Well, if that’s the case, how do I know if any of your work so far is valid?” you ask, to which the critic replies, “Trust me, I’m recreating your Bible solely from manuscript evidence.”

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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