Is Evangelical Textual Criticism Compatible with the Traditional American Christmas?

Is Evangelical Textual Criticism Compatible with the Traditional American Christmas? The answer must be no, and for the following three reasons:

While White pusillanimously failed to answer the question posed by both Dr. Van Kleeck and Dr. Riddle as to whether any portion of Scripture is open to question or change based on manuscript evidence, his obfuscation argued that even the Christmas event of Luke 2 given additional manuscript evidence would bring the account into question.

The inception of text criticism was a German idea, later adopted by the British and then the Americans. Carson, White, Ward, et al, have adopted a German concept and approach to the Scripture. At this data point, the unique and exceptional American church has been usurped by German philosophies, and for allowing this usurpation the American church is no longer unique or exceptional. Of the German scholar Johann Semler (1725-1791), popularly known as the “father of German rationalism,” Knittel writes, “He denied the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. He was, if not the originator, certainly the great promoter of that Infidel system so fashionable amongst the modern Neologians or Rationalists of Germany: I mean the Accommodation Theory.” Francis Antony Knittel, New Criticisms on the Celebrated Text, 1 John 5:7, translated by William Alleyn Evanson (London: C. and J. Rivington, St. Paul’s Church-yard, J Hatchard and Son, Piccadilly, 1829, 1785), Translators Preface, xvii-xxiii. Semler, “became notorious as the founder of the modern school of so-called historical critics of the Bible.” https://www.biblicalcyclopedia.com/S/semler-johann-salomo.html

And, modern evangelical textual criticism’s attack on the King James Version strikes at the religious traditions of American culture. Christopher Flannery, in an article ran in Hillsdale College’s Imprimis, writes the following:

“And from Dickens to Die Hard, running through and making possible all these charming and uplifting stories that have become part of American Christmas, is the original Christmas story, which most Americans from the earliest days would have read from the King James Version—even as Linus did in the 1965 animated classic A Charlie Brown Christmas:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Christopher Flannery, “American Christmas, American New Year,” Imprimis 51, no. 12 (Dec. 2022): 3.

Of the King James Version, editors Robert Alter and Frank Kermode in The Literary Guide to the Bible write, “Here is a miscellany of documents containing ancient stories, poems, laws, prophecies, which most of us cannot even read in the original languages, and which are a best, if we are English speakers, in an English that was already archaic when the King James (or “Authorized”) Version was published in 1611, and may now often seem distant and exotic: ‘that old tongue,’ as Edmund Wilson once vividly expressed it, ‘with its clang and flavor.’ Yet, as Wilson went on to say, ‘we have been living with it all our lives.’ In short, the language as well as the message it conveys symbolizes for us a past, strange, and yet familiar, which we feel we somehow must understand if we are to understand ourselves.”

Yes, we have been living with it our entire lives, but now, the Christmas story has been changed thanks to the Carsons and Whites of this world. Rather than the passage cited in the Charlie Brown Christmas I heard a pastor read, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Even the words of the Christmas event are subject to the text critic. “Peace” in the KJV, through the sending of Christ would bring peace and good will to all men. That is, Christ is benevolently disposed to all men not simply to some. “The gift of the Saviour is an expression of good-will or love to people, and therefore God is to be praised.” https://biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/luke/2.htm.

So, is evangelical textual criticism compatible with the traditional American Christmas? The answer is no, and for three reasons. 1. The evangelical critic casts doubt on the validity of the Christmas event and record; 2. The evangelical critic has adopted a foreign method that has no altruistic reason for supporting the American church or culture. Indeed, historically, the two countries have twice been at war with one another; and 3. The traditional Christmas record has already been changed by the multi-version onlyists.

Maybe if White, Carson, and Ward see Marley’s ghost they will be less “Bah, Humbug” and more Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

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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