Preservation of the Bible: Providential or Miraculous?

A Response to Jon Rehurek of the Master’s Seminary

Paul Ferguson


In Spring 2008, The Master’s Seminary Journal published by The Master’s Seminary in California contained an article titled “Preservation of the Bible: Providential or Miraculous? The Biblical View” by Jon Rehurek.1 In this article, Rehurek rejects any Biblical doctrine of perfect preservation of the Words of God and concludes that

an examination of exegetical evidence from commonly cited biblical texts supports only a general promise of preserving the truth of God’s message to mankind, not a particular version of the Bible. Many verses—including some related to immutability, infallibility, and preservation—have been incorrectly interpreted and applied to preservation. The preservation of God’s revelation is the lesson in many of the passages, but no explicit indication applies them directly to written Scripture or to how and when a promise of general preservation would be fulfilled. Since historical evidence demonstrates that scribal errors exist in every extant manuscript, the conclusion to be drawn is that the Bible has been providentially preserved by means of secondary causation through the plethora of available manuscripts and not through miraculous preservation of particular manuscripts and versions. God Himself is faithful and true and His Word reflects His character; His decrees are absolutely immutable and infallible. Although the Scriptures themselves strongly assert that truths contained in it are firmly established and will endure forever, the case for providential preservation must rest upon theological grounds through the historical (i.e., canonicity) and manuscript evidence (i.e., textual criticism) rather than upon exegetical grounds.2

Jon Rehurek’s conclusions are wrong on both exegetical and historical grounds. The truth is that every believer, using either Biblical or philosophical presuppositions, is led to some conclusion as to the content of the original autographs. The Scriptures do not simply promise the preservation of God’s “truth” or “message” but the Words. The Church has historically held fast to these promises concerning the Words of God; not only in respect of divine inspiration, but also in regard to perfect providential preservation throughout the ages. However, since the Enlightenment, Protestantism has granted science increasingly independent authority and has surrendered the Bible’s authority whenever any supposed conflict arose between the two. The Enlightenment brought the age of the “sovereignty of reason” which attempted to verify everything in Scripture by modern critical methods of historical research. Just as in the case of creationism, until the eighteenth century the Church held to the historic doctrine of the perfect inspiration and preservation of the Words of God in all ages.

The zeitgeist of our contemporary apostate age now demands a “new and improved” version of everything including the Scriptures. Our places of worship have dropped the name “Church,” reduced worship to entertainment, and promoted effeminate “preacher gurus” in Hawaiian shirts to share the latest psychological fad. We have also now a marked subservience to scientism as the dominant cultural standard. Did the Church make such a gross error in over 500 years of interpretation? What has primarily changed since the Reformation is the way man defines and uses science. Modern scientific opinion has been elevated to the status of general revelation giving it an absolute a priori veto over how we interpret Scripture. So much for singing, “Immortal, invisible, God only wise!” Textual criticism is built on the intolerant foundation of prejudice against the promises of Scripture. Modern man always seeks out a way of removing His Creator from the source of truth, as autonomous man aspires to fill the vacancy.

Jon Rehurek’s facile position is not the historic position of believers and the Reformation and his objections are mere hand-waving. Critical Text (CT) advocates, such as Rehurek, have no ultimate and certain standard for determining objective truth. Without the Biblical doctrine of perfect providential preservation, we are left with non-answers in these areas. This is not a minor shift but one of seismic proportions. Fortunately, most CT advocates of the past were better believers than theologians and have been able to live with the inherent contradiction of their system by simply declaring the gospel from the Textus Receptus (TR). They were incapable of following their own premises out to the end of the road they were on. This has now been challenged by the belligerent approach of the new breed of CT adherents and proliferation of translations and the latest edition of their evolutionary Greek Text.

Rehurek’s error is sadly perpetuated by contemporary fundamentalist teachers and writers, many of whom have obtained their graduate degrees at neo-evangelical seminaries. These men might preach great sermons on preservation but ultimately have no way of ever coming up with a real text! Some prize examples of semantic gymnastics can be found in the statements of modern fundamentalism. Speaking of God and the preservation of Scripture, Central Baptist Theological Seminary President, Kevin Bauder, tries to argue the Lord is indifferent as to His Words as Bauder claims, “He might preserve some words and He might permit some to be lost, depending upon His own purpose.”3 Bob Jones University (BJU) professor, Stewart Custer, speaking at Marquette Manor Baptist Church in Chicago in 1984 said that God preserved His Word buried, “in the sands of Egypt.”4 Larry Oats of Maranatha Baptist College in Wisconsin, an institution that formerly argued for the fact of the preserved Word of God in the King James Version, claims, “God could have preserved His Word but history proves He did not.”5 William Combs of the fundamentalist Detroit Baptist Seminary boldly asserts, “The Bible does not teach its own perfect preservation, and it is a serious error to claim otherwise.”6

The CT position is a fallacy as it claims to reach conclusions that conform to the Bible, which are not derived from the Bible. It is true that some CT advocates talk about “preservation” but only by investing in their exegesis of preservation passages such as Matthew 5:18 entirely new meanings. In effect, they act like Humpty-Dumpty who retorted scornfully to Alice’s ignorance of his meaning, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”7 Their position is not some imaginative or honest attempt to follow the truth where it leads, but radical interpretations of biblical texts based on Enlightenment premises. These fundamentalist and evangelical “scholars” need correcting for when theologically educated men make absurd statements they are no less absurd than when the lay person makes them. We reject their arguments because they are fundamentally illogical, and believers should not utilise unsound arguments nor appeal to unbelievers to place their confidence in them. True fundamentalists, especially those of the Reformed faith, will not surrender our historic faith for the gods of Enlightenment thinking just to be seen as acceptable by “progressive evangelicals.” The objections to the doctrine of perfect preservation are rooted in philosophical pre-commitments and not exegetical concerns. Like Ezra we will prepare our hearts “to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it” (Ezra 7:10) whatever the cost.

The Bible and Preservation

Reformed Theologians have always regarded Reformed doctrines such as the Sovereignty of God as the most consistent expression of Biblical Theology. As such, the starting point is that the Bible is the propositional revelation of God and hence it alone can be the ultimate test for truth and knowledge. As Cornelius Van Til argues, “It is the genius of Protestantism to make the God of the Scriptures the final reference in all predication.”8 Believers are mandated to presuppose the Scriptures in all of their thinking and practice as the ultimate criterion of truth, whereas unbelievers resist this obligation in every aspect of thought and life. To stand for perfect preservation is arrogantly dismissed and those who still hold to it are subject to ridicule as adopting the Bible’s faith-view in order to escape from the “fact” that textual criticism has shown that God did not preserve all of His Words and make them available in every generation.

CT advocates will ridicule anyone who exalts the authority of the written Word over the authority of liberal “scholarship.” Many adopt the methodology of the evolutionists who figured that the best way to insulate their doctrines from scrutiny is to prevent a debate from ever beginning in the first place by ridiculing their opponents as “fideistic” and demanding that “religious presuppositional” views must not mix with “science.” These critics are removing the “ancient landmarks” concerning preservation and replacing them with a rationalistic system of logic. Although they cry “fideistic presupposition” at us, we may point out that they are presupposing that God has not done what He promised to do with their unbiblical and revisionist logic. Despite disclaimers, they have not abandoned faith in their approach, just switched supreme norms. However, our faith is not blind or irrational as it is conformed to the highest norms of thought in Scripture. CT advocates have replaced faith in God with that in man through supposedly neutral, scholarly, and scientific means to restore as closely as possible what the original text of the Bible was. It is ironic that one side of the debate is unfairly accused of engaging in fideism, when the reality is that both sides are working from presuppositions in their differing supreme norms. Despite their bombastic approach, CT advocates are like the rhetorician in the story who wrote in the margin of his notes, “Argument weak. Shout here.”

CT advocates inconsistently look presuppositionally to the Church for authority in receiving the Canon, and establishing the Creedal and Confessional basis of our faith but now reject it for the canonised words. This seems to be a curious way of proceeding. CT advocates need to logically explain why the Epistle of Barnabas, a treatise against a Jewish interpretation of the Law, which dates from the late first or early second century is included in the New Testament canon of the fourth century manuscript Codex Sinaiticus. Did God lead His people to recognise the Words here but not the Canon? Ultimately, we could never have even begun to argue from Scripture had not the Church received it and handed it down to us. Indeed, if we had been given a different canon or a tampered translation we would not know the difference. We would simply argue from that which we were given. Douglas Wilson illustrates the inconsistency,

Unbelieving criticism says that words, verses, pericopes, and books are all up for grabs. To grant this legitimacy with the first three, while drawing the line to keep 66 inspired books, is like being a little bit pregnant. 2 John has 301 words while the last twelve verses of Mark have 260. At what word count does the authority of science becomes illegitimate?9

Cornelius Van Til rejects such casuistry by making clear, “We cannot choose epistemologies [theories of knowledge] as we choose hats … [as if] a matter of taste.”10 David Norris also observes, “To profess verbal inspiration and at the same time to subject the Scripture texts to rationalistic critical methodology is to live in a crazed schizoid world, denying on the one hand what is confessed on the other.”11 By rejecting the Biblical presuppositional approach to the text, CT advocates reinterpret preservation promises in light of textual criticism. This invariably opens the door to all forms of pernicious Biblical Criticism, which can be witnessed in the lives of men like Bart Ehrman who correctly observed that once you adopt naturalistic premises it is wholly consistent not to let it guide you on other doctrines such as inspiration, inerrancy etc. After all, if it is irrational to believe that God preserved all His Words, it is equally irrational to believe He inspired them.

Samuel Schnaiter of BJU critiques Wilbur Pickering’s Majority Text position by making the deeply disturbing critical observation, “Finally, although Pickering has avoided an excessive reliance on theological presuppositions in his presentation, it is nevertheless clear that a theological presupposition essentially undergirds his entire purpose.”12 According to Schnaiter’s fulminations it is acceptable and even necessary to have theological presuppositions about the resurrection, but it is unacceptable to hold theological presuppositions about the historical sources that the belief in the resurrection is based upon. Anti-preservationist Daniel Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary concurs, “A theological a priori has no place in textual criticism.”13 Interestingly, Bishop Westcott also rejected such an approach to studying the text, as he wrote to Hort,

I hardly feel with you on this question of discussing anything doctrinally or on doctrine. This seems to me to be wholly out of our province. We have only to determine what is written and how it can be rendered. Theologians may deal with the text and version afterwards.14

Leading contemporary textual critic, Bart Ehrman, concludes,

The fact that Warfield and Burgon both affirmed a doctrine of general preservation, and yet held antithetical views of how the text was preserved suggests that the doctrine is inappropriately used in support of any particular view of the text’s transmission history. Instead such affirmations can only be made subsequent to the assessment of the evidence for the progress of the history of transmission. The evidence must lead to the doctrine, not vice versa—else the doctrine will simply be adduced to support a certain set of historical conclusions.15

Such a statement shows the depth of rationalistic and unbiblical thought that is now prevalent in modern fundamentalism. For an experienced Seminary Professor like Schnaiter to implicitly reject both the existence and need of a Biblical presupposition concerning a Biblical doctrine is frankly astounding. Like the Deists, this view is premised on the belief that nature is the only light needed by man in his search for God and His truth. The same failure to renounce the intellectual autonomy of man outside the revealed promises of God was at the centre of man’s fall into sin. The Scriptures explicitly warn that man as a finite creature is forbidden to test God’s Word (Deut 6:16; Luke 4:12). Nowhere in Scripture does God separate so-called “spiritual” truths from “secular” ones. By contrast, it is emphasised that “all wisdom and knowledge” is found in the revelation of Christ, who is God in the flesh (Col 2:3). The Psalmist makes it clear, “In thy light shall we see light” (Ps 36:9). Unbiblical presuppositions will therefore “oppose themselves” (2 Tim 2:25) as their fundamental beliefs will fail to properly integrate because of inherent contradictions.

This uncertain “certainty” position of modern evangelicalism and fundamentalism is in marked contrast to what the Lord spoke through Solomon about the inspired Words (Prov 22:20–21). All of our doctrines must be from the Bible (2 Tim 3:16) as it is self-attesting (1 Cor 14:29, 32, 37; Matt 18:19). How we view our world is not how God views it and believers are mandated to think God’s thoughts after Him (Isa 55:9), which requires a scriptural presuppositional approach to the textual problems. A believer must study to show himself “approved unto God” (2 Tim 2:15). As Cornelius Van Til puts it, “The Bible is thought of as authoritative on everything of which it speaks. And it speaks of everything.”16 We are to receive these promises by faith (Heb 11:13; Matt 13:23; Rom 1:17).

Biblical Presuppositions to Determine the True Text

(1) God revealed the Scriptures so men could know His will both in the Old and New Testaments and in the future (Deut 31:9–13, 24–29; 1 John 1:1–4, 2:1–17; 2 Tim 3:14–17; 2 Pet 1:12–15). Certainly the Bible makes clear that no Scripture was intended for only the original recipient (Rom 15:4, 16:25–26; 1 Cor 10:11). God intended for those writings to be recognised and received by the Church as a whole (e.g., Col 4:16; Rev 1:4). These Words were to be guarded (1 Tim 6:20–21) as a “form (pattern) of sound words” for the church (2 Tim 1:13–14) and to be used to instruct the future Church (2 Tim 2:2).

(2) The Bible promises that God will preserve every one of His Words forever down to the very jot and tittle of the smallest letter (Pss 12:6–7, 33:11, 119:152, 160; Isa 30:8, 40:8; 1 Pet 1:23–25; Matt 5:18, 24:35).

(3) The Bible assures us that God’s Words are perfect and pure (Ps 12:6–7; Prov 30:5).

(4) The Bible promises that God would make His Words generally available to every generation of believers (Deut 30:11–14; Isa 34:16, 59:21; Matt 4:4; 2 Pet 3:2; Jude 1:17). (This is general availability, not necessarily to every person on the planet.) Certainly, we are told that for around two millennia in history only one small nation had the true and pure Words of God, “He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD” (Ps 147:19, 20 cf. Rom 2:14).

(5) The Bible promises there will be certainty as to the Words of God (2 Pet 1:19; Luke 1:4; Prov 1:23, 22:20–21; Dan 12:9–10; 1 John 2:20).

(6) The Bible promises that God would lead His saints into all truth, that the Word, all of His Words, are truth (John 16:13, 17:8, 17).

(7) God states that the Bible will be settled to the extent that someone could not add or take away from His Words (Rev 22:18–19; Deut 12:32). Indeed, the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3:2 warned the saints of his day to be mindful of the “Words” of the Old Testament writings (v2a) and the New Testament writings (v2b), which would be absurd if some of these Words had been corrupted or lost.

(8) The Bible shows that the true Church of Christ would receive these Words (Matt 28:19–20; John 17:8; Acts 8:14, 11:1, 17:11; 1 Thess 2:13; 1 Cor 15:3).

(9) The Bible implies that believers would receive these Words from other believers (Deut 17:18; 1 Kgs 2:3; Prov 25:1; Acts 7:38; Heb 7:11; 1 Thess 1:6; Phil 4:9).

(10) The Bible shows that Bible promises may appear to contradict science and reason. In Genesis 2 we see that a newly created world may look ancient. However, the Scriptures remind us that “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man” (Ps 118:8).

(11) Christ implied the preservation of His very Words as a Standard of future judgment (John 12:48). He also warned of the vanity of ignoring His actual Words (Matt 7:26). Christ emphatically declared, “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). In Matthew 22:29 Jesus rebuked, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures.” If the Scriptures were only accessible in the Originals then why would He chide them for being ignorant of Words that were not available? Believers are commanded to contend for the faith (Jude 3) and this faith is based upon the Words of God (Rom 10:17). Note that concerning the end-times, the Lord Jesus warned, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8 cf. Amos 8:11; Lam 2:9).

Here are other Bible evidences that guide us:

(1) God also has established Biblical precedents which show that He keeps and protects His Words. For instance, when Moses broke the original copy of the tables of God, they were replaced very soon afterwards and not hundreds of years later and Scripture makes the point that these second tablets were written “the words that were in the first tables” (Deut 10:2). In the book of Jeremiah, God responded to the burning of His inspired Words by preparing Baruch to record in it “all the former words that were in the first roll” (Jer 36:28).

(2) Jesus preached from the existing scrolls and we are explicitly told they were “scripture” (Luke 4:21). Jesus also explicitly said the “Scripture” that they were reading was “spoken unto you by God” (Matt 22:31 cf. Mark 12:24–26). Indeed, Christ said to His audience that when they read the Scripture they would see that which was written by Daniel the prophet himself (Matt 24:15; Mark 13:14). Other New Testament passages argue from the Old Testament text based on a phrase (as in Acts 15:13–17), a word (Matt 22:32), or even the difference between the singular and plural form of a word (as in Gal 3:16).

(3) The Bible warns that there would be those who would “corrupt the word of God” (2 Cor 2:17; Jer 23:29) and handle it “deceitfully” (2 Cor 4:2). The Apostle Paul warns of those who “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” as heading towards apostasy (Rom 1:25). There would arise false gospels with false epistles (2 Thess 2:2). Jesus taught us that if a tree is corrupt, the fruit will be corrupt (Matt 7:17). False prophets and false teachers corrupt the Scriptures (2 Pet 2:1–3). We must understand that there will always be a line of perversion as there will be of preservation. We are mandated to verify this fruit based upon the premise that if a man’s doctrinal belief is in error invariably he will do the same to the Scriptures (2 Cor 2:17). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov 1:7); so all knowledge of the Words of God is rooted in God.

(4) God utilised fallible but Spirit-filled human writers to pen His divinely inspired Words of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:21). A fallible but Spirit-filled John the Baptist could point infallibly to Christ. As much as a fallible but Spirit-filled Church can recognise and receive the infallible Canon, so can she also recognise and receive the infallible Words of this Canon (John 10:27). Canonicity was recognised by the true Church (not Rome) and the corollary of this must be that the Canonised Words must be recognised by the true and faithful Church and not Rome’s texts or apostate textual critics such as Westcott, Hort, Aland, Metzger et al.

(5) The Church at Antioch has a noteworthy position in Scriptures in contrast to Alexandria. Antioch is the first place where the born-again believer is called a Christian (Acts 11:26). It is also interesting to see that where both Antioch and Alexandria are mentioned in the same passage, Antioch is listed as a place of service, while Alexandria is listed as a place of disruption (Acts 6:5–10). Egypt is for the most part associated with ungodliness in the Bible (Isa 19:14, 30:1–3; Acts 7:39; Rev 11:8). Most of the New Testament books were written originally to cities in the Byzantine Text area and none written to Alexandria. However, it was precisely in Alexandria that corrupters of the true text dominated.

Kent Brandenburg summarises from these presuppositions,

We know that God uses mathematical probability to bring certainty in the way of fulfilled prophecies. He makes predictions and they all come to pass like He said. The one hundred percent fulfillment is evidence. This relates to evidence for verbal, plenary preservation of Scripture in two ways. First, every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. What believers agree are God’s Words are not just men’s opinions but the Spirit bearing witness, testifying to truth. A four to five hundred year agreement on the textus receptus and Hebrew Masoretic stands as evidence based on Scriptural presuppositions. Do we really think that we can say that all those believers for all those years were wrong? In this one area, Scripture, they were all deceived? And yet, at the end of that period of time, unbelieving textual critics were actually enlightened?

Second, the promises of preservation are like the prophecies that God fulfilled. Are we going to say that God fulfilled all of the prophecies, including the detailed dozens in Daniel and the amazing many in Isaiah, but He didn’t fulfill His promises to protect His Word unto perfection? The fulfillment of prophecy says that God keeps His promises. The power of their fulfillment extends to the trust in God’s promises of perfect preservation and availability of all His Words. One hundred textual critics, mostly unbelieving, can’t be trusted with a holy book written by a holy God.17

Westcott and Hort

The Bible’s whole existence is due to the unique event that it is entirely inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16). From the first inscripturation we are confronted immediately with the reality and involvement of the supernatural, as well as its absolute authority. Therefore, those who reject the Bible on its own premised overview will invariably treat it as any other ancient book. Its uniqueness resides in the fact that while humans have been the vehicle of its production, it never ceases to be the Word of God, communicated by Him, developed, transmitted and preserved by Him. The question then is who or what is the vehicle of agency that God providentially leads to receive these Canonised Words. As Douglas Wilson argued in his debate with CT advocate James White,

Given human agency, either the Church authoritatively recognizes the text, or some other entity does, or there is no text. We both accept the Bible as the self-authenticating Word of God—therefore we agree there are canonical books (along with canonical contents). That leaves us with the first two options in our recognition of this canon. I am maintaining that the Church has the responsibility to recognize that canon through her discipline (e.g., defrocking a minister who claims that Romans is spurious). Now if you deny that the Church has this authority, it means that you must grant it to some other entity. What is that entity?…the science of autonomous textual criticism, far from establishing verity, has only managed to establish thousands of variations and increase a generally destructive confusion about the text of Scripture.18

God does not preserve Scripture using men and methods rooted in a denial of what He has said. A textual position that is predicated on the theories and conjectural emendations of men of the character of Westcott and Hort must be rejected. Apostate textual critics should be accorded no higher authority than evolutionary biologists discussing Genesis or existential French philosophers on ethics—with a barrel of salt! To take a position that an unregenerate man can reason correctly and cogently independent of Scriptures as determination of God’s Words invariably sets man up as the ultimate epistemological authority over what is true. However, having ethically separated himself from the only source of knowledge, a text-critical unbeliever seeks to suppress truth in order to interpret everything without reference to God (Rom 1). Indeed, many false and pagan worldviews have emerged from false conclusions about God from general revelation. We cannot turn to unbelievers for truth about Scripture as each has differing and contradictory ideas. This is why the Divines in the Westminster Confession did not put the doctrine of God in their first chapter as they had to first establish the source of knowledge.

It is also clear that a Christian cannot divorce the spiritual nature of the battle from the battle itself. An unbeliever is not neutral as to textual facts and interpreting them (Matt 12:30; John 3:19). We are warned to avoid “walking in the counsel of the ungodly, standing in the way of sinners, sitting in the seat of the scornful” (Ps 1:1). Robert L Thomas argues,

Sin has distorted man’s ability to receive truth. If the vessel for receiving truth has a depraved mind, whatever it does by way of processing and reproducing that truth will be lacking. It may lack more in some instances than in others, but a blinding by sin will always exist.19

All truth does not possess the same authority, as the only absolutely certain truth is that of inspired revelation. General revelation must always be subordinate to special revelation. God’s Word must be the final arbiter in all truth claims. Milton Terry warns of the attempt to undermine this doctrine,

Others have attempted various methods of “reconciling” science and the Bible, and these have generally acted on the supposition that the results of scientific discovery necessitate a new interpretation of the Scripture records, or call for new principles of interpretation. The new discoveries, they say, do not conflict with the ancient revelation; they only conflict with the old interpretation of the revelation. We must change our hermeneutical methods, and adapt them to the revelations of science. How for the thousandth time have we heard the story of Galileo and the Inquisition.20

He continues,

Hasty natures, however, indulging in pride of intellect, or given to following the dictum of honoured masters, may fall into grievous error in either of two ways: They may shut their eyes to facts, and hold to a delusion in spite of evidence; or they may become the obsequious victims of “science falsely so called.” That certainly is a false science which is built upon inferences, assumptions, and theories, and yet presumes to dogmatize as if its hypotheses were facts. And that is a system of hermeneutics equally false and misleading which is so flexible, under the pressure of new discoveries as to yield to the putting of any number of new meanings upon an old and common word.21

Cornelius Van Til provides an insightful illustration that delineates how foolish it is to turn to unbelievers to determine the Words of God by rationalistic methods,

The intellect of fallen man may, as such, be keen enough. It may be compared to a buzz-saw that is sharp and shining, ready to cut the boards that come to it. Let us say that a carpenter wishes to cut fifty boards for the purpose of laying the floor of a house. He has marked his boards. He has set his saw. He begins at one end of the mark on the boards. But he does not know that his seven year old son has tampered with the saw and changed its set. The result is that every board he saws is cut slantwise and thus unusable because it is too short except at the point where the saw first made its contact with the wood. So also whenever the teachings of Christianity are presented to the natural man they will be cut according to the set of sinful human personality. The result is they may have formal understanding of the truth, mere cognition but no true knowledge of God.22

Sad to say many fundamentalists do not agree. Mark Minnick of BJU argues in the book From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man,

a textual critic may be an unbeliever when it comes to the Bible’s doctrinal truths. But when it comes to the Bible’s text—to this question of the Bible’s words—a textual critic is initially little more than a reporter…. Following this initial reporting, a textual critic becomes an interpreter of this data.23

This is not the historic position of Bible-believing saints. Autonomous theories of knowledge are riddled with problems. Apart from the revelation of God in nature and in His Word, man is unable to rightly interpret reality. We must always start with God in all our thinking or we will become fools in attempting to rationally justify any knowledge claims, especially on spiritual issues. As Paul warned Timothy, the approach must be presuppositional in respect of the Word of God, “keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called” (1 Tim 6:20). Minnick’s theory is simply a Kantian “wall of antinomy” between the phenomenal and noumenal world of epistemology, which ultimately led Kant to a logically fallacious and self-refuting scepticism. Van Til points out, “even to say that there are some facts that can be known without reference to God, is already the very opposite of the Christian position.”24 He goes on to make a pertinent observation to those advocating “neutral textual criticism,”

Hence the difference between the prevalent method of science and the method of Christianity is not that the former is interested in finding the facts and is ready to follow the facts wherever they may lead, while the latter is not ready to follow the facts. The difference is rather that the former wants to study the facts without God, while the latter wants to study the facts in the light of the revelation God gives of himself in Christ. Thus the antithesis is once more that between those for whom the final center of reference in knowledge lies in man, and those for whom the final center of reference for knowledge lies in God, as this God speaks in Scripture.25

A typical historic view is that of Joseph Philpot, Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford, and editor of The Gospel Standard who in 1857 argued against a revision of KJV because the Biblical scholars of that day were “notoriously either tainted with popery or infidelity.”26

Reformers and Preservation

Martin Luther sparked the Reformation on three pillars: faith, grace and Scripture. The final pillar of Sola Scriptura predicated the Bible as the only objective Protestant source of all authority available and was to be regarded as God’s last Words to mankind. It effectively dethroned the pope and enthroned the Bible. The Reformers were cognisant that the reason for the darkness of the Medieval Period was a result of the Roman Church losing sight of the true text in the original languages. They were also equally clear that the dissemination of the Received Text through the printed editions had sparked the Reformation and not the rise of nationalism, corruption in the Roman Church, or even the Renaissance. Since the autographs were not available, the Reformers knew that we must have a reliable tradition or bridge of some sort which connects us to the original autographs. This bridge must be undergirded with faith in a God who controls the flow of all historical events through the true Church and not apostate autonomous textual critics. The Reformers looked to ecclesiastical consensus in textual issues in the same manner they had in Canonical, Trinitarian and Christological issues.

The leading Reformers rejected Rome’s tradition and its corrupted texts, and held fast to the Received Text readings, which they knew evoked the wrath of Satan and had triggered the great Protestant Reformation during which tens of thousands of true believers perished by flame, famine and torture. Rome had used a handful of copies in which numerous variants existed in an attempt to refute the principle of Sola Scriptura. The Reformers were well aware of the corruptions of the texts of Alexandria and regarded the variant readings in the minority texts as either intentional or inadvertent corruptions. The seventeenth century Confessions focused in on the doctrine of special providential preservation, such as the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Helvetica Consensus Formula, as a direct response to the attack of the Council of Trent on the Received Text. The Council of Trent solemnly affirmed in the following words,

Moreover the same Sacred and holy Synod, considering that no small utility may accrue to the Church of God, if it be made known which out of all the Latin editions now in circulation of the Sacred Books is to be held as authentic, ordains and declares that the said old and Vulgate edition, which by the lengthened usage of so many ages has been approved of in the Church.27

The Reformers asserted the counterpoint to the Vulgate that the Received Text was the “authentic” text; as the locus of Biblical authority was the apographs not the Church. Their view was not derived from the supposedly neutral science of textual criticism but in their presuppositional faith in the promises that God had preserved His Words for them. They knew that an inspired Bible that no one could see was no use to them, for as Calvin said on his commentary of 2 Peter 1:19 that, “without the Word, there is nothing left but darkness.” Textual critics, Woodbridge and Balmer admit, “It is true that in the seventeenth century a good number of Christians esteemed the Bibles they had in their hands as infallible.”28 The liberal historian, McCabe, accepted that the Reformers had no time for rationalistic textual principles,

The reformers, indeed, extended little patronage to the exercise of reason in religious matters; they denounced it and its fruit, philosophical speculation, as an evil not to be tolerated; and Luther went so far as to assert (even to the disgust of the Church of Rome) that a proposition may be true in theology and false in philosophy.29

As we search the Reformation writings this fact becomes quickly apparent. Samuel Tregelles notes,

Beza’s text was during his life in very general use among Protestants; they seemed to feel that enough had been done to establish it, and they relied on it as giving them a firm basis…. After the appearance of the texts of Stephanus and Beza, many Protestants ceased from all inquiry into the authorities on which the text of the New Testament in their hands was based.30

Even the Anabaptist leader, Balthasar Hubmaier, took this position and wrote in 1526,

Thou knowest, Zwingli, that the Holy Scripture is such a complete, compacted, true, infallible, eternally immortal speech, that the least letter or tittle cannot pass away in this book.31

So strongly did the Reformers and their heirs fall back on the TR that textual critics such as Richard Bentley in 1716 derided it as “the Protestant Pope Stephens,” but admitted that “Stephens’ edition, set out and regulated by himself alone, is now become the standard. The text stands, as if an Apostle was his compositor.”32

Although the Reformers were accused of “bibliolatry” it was not the Bible they worshipped but the Author of it who has chosen to reveal Himself empirically in His written Word. Despite the revisionist argument that Calvin and Beza had no other option but to use the Received Text, the facts are that they did have alternative options but deliberately rejected them. They may not have had the quantity of evidence, but they were aware of the diversity of the variant readings thrown up by the textual critics today. Instead, they chose the path of Sacred Criticism which simply studied the texts to see what was received by the Church through history rather than the rationalistic “restoration” of the text by Enlightenment Criticism. They recognised that copies and editions differed because of variants, but trusted the Holy Spirit and the common faith of God’s people. Beza made it clear, “that he was very unwilling to amend the basic text and was interested largely in readings which confirmed it.”33 One Reformed critic of the TR, Greg Bahnsen admits,

Some Protestants have argued for the inspired infallibility of the vowel points in the Hebrew Old Testament (e.g., the Buxtorfs and John Owen; the Formula Consensus Helvetica more cautiously spoke of the inspiration of “at least the power of the points”). The errorless transmission and preservation of the original text of Scripture has been taught by men such as Hollaz, Quenstedt, and Turretin.34

Challenge of the Vulgate

Cognisant of the role the Received Text had in damaging the Romanist cause and giving authority to the Protestant cause, the Council of Trent (1545–1563) declared Erasmus a Pelagian heretic, rejected his New Testament, and edicted that only Jerome’s Latin Vulgate was the authentic Bible.35 Trent’s argument was that the Scriptures are corrupted at the fount and we need an infallible Church to determine the Word of God, as one can never be sure of the true text of Scripture. The Reformers posited a rejoinder by maintaining that the Scriptures guide the Church, as we have, by God’s providence, the uncorrupted fount, “by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages.” Ironically, now many fundamental Protestants are positing that Rome was right when it sought to undermine our doctrine of Sola Scriptura on the basis of the variants they showed in their manuscripts. They argue that notwithstanding Rome’s other errors in theology, they were right about the Scriptures, and the post-Reformation dogmatists were wrong.

To try and influence the English people back to Rome, the Jesuits prepared an English New Testament translation in 1582 based upon the Vulgate which was immediately sent to England, and secretly distributed through the country. As one historian observed, “The English Papists in the seminary at Rheims perceiving that they could no longer blindfold the laity from the scriptures, resolved to fit them with false spectacles; and set forth the Rhemish translation in opposition to the Protestant versions.”36 The preface to this Rheims translation expressly states its purpose,

It is almost three hundred years since James Archbishop of Genoa, is said to have translated the Bible into Italian. More than two hundred years ago, in the days of Charles V the French king, was it put forth faithfully in French, the sooner to shake out of the deceived people’s hands, the false heretical translations of a sect called Waldenses.37

Catholic priest, Paolo Sarpi (1552–1623), in his History of the Council of Trent recalls,

On the contrary, the major part of the Divines said, that it had been necessary to account that translation, which formerly hath been read in all the churches [Latin Vulgate], and used in the schools, to be divine and authentical, otherwise they should yield the cause to the Lutherans, and open a gate to innumerable heresies …The Inquisitors will not be able to proceed against the Lutherans, in case they know not Hebrew and Greek, because they will suddenly answer, “the text is not so,” and “that translation is false.”38

Queen Elizabeth (1533–1603) was so concerned of the threat to English unity by the Jesuit Rhemist Bible that she sent to Beza for assistance to refute this perversion of the Received Text. It is recorded that he told her, “that one of her Majesty’s own subjects was far better qualified to defend the Protestant cause against the Rhemists; and this person, he said, was Thomas Cartwright.”39 It was said of Thomas Cartwright (c. 1535–1603), that he regarded the Vulgate as, “the Version adapted by the Rhemists … that all the soap and nitre they could collect would be insufficient to cleanse the Vulgate from the filth of blood in which it was originally conceived and had since collected in passing so long through the hands of unlearned monks, from which the Greek copies had altogether escaped.”40 Brook records that,

Mr. Cartwright defended the holy Scriptures against the accusation of corruption, and maintained that the Old and New Testaments written in the original languages were preserved uncorrupted. They constituted the word of God, whose works are all perfect, then must his word continue unimpaired; and, since it was written for our instruction, admonition, and consolation, he concluded that, unless God was deceived and disappointed in his purpose, it must perform these friendly offices for the church of God to the end of the world. If the authority of the authentic copies in Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek were lost, or given up, or corrupted, or the sense changed, there would be no high court of appeal to put an end to disputes; so that the exhortation to have recourse to the law, the prophets, and the New Testament would be of very little effect. In this case our state would be worse than theirs under the law, and in the time of Christ; yea than those who lived some hundred years after Christ, when the ancient fathers exhorted the people to try all controversies by the Scriptures. Their own Gratian directs us, in deciding differences, not to the old translation, but to the originals of the Hebrew in the Old Testament, and of the Greek in the New.41

Thomas Cartwright observed this about preservation,

Woe unto the churches, if the Scriptures, the charters and records of heaven be destroyed, falsified, or corrupted. These divine charters were safely kept in one nation of the Jews; and though they were sometimes unfaithful, yet they kept the keys of the Lord’s library: but now, when many nations have the keys, it is altogether incredible that any such corruptions should enter in, as the adversaries unwisely suppose. If the Lord preserved the book of Leviticus, with the account of the ancient ceremonies, which were afterward abolished, how much more may we conclude that his providence has watched over other books of Scripture which properly belong to our times and to our salvation? Will not the Scriptures bear witness to the perpetuity of their own authority? “Secret things belong to God;” but things revealed belong to us, and to our children forever. Jesus Christ said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Notwithstanding the sacred writings were disregarded, and even hated by most persons, they had been preserved entire as they were the first day they were given to the church of God. More than fifteen hundred years had elapsed, during which not any one book, nor part of any book, of canonical Scripture had been lost: and it was evident not only that the matter of the Scripture, but also the words; not only the sense and meaning, but also the manner and form of speech in them remained unaltered.42

Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, William Whitaker (1548–1595), wrote the one extensive work on the subject of the Bible written by an English Reformer. In a classic riposte to the Romanist translation posited perfect preservation as an absolute necessity,

Now we, not doubtfully or only with some probable shew, but most certainly, know that this Greek edition of the New Testament is no other than the inspired and archetypal scripture of the new Testament, commended by the apostles and evangelists to the Christian church…. If God had permitted the scripture to perish in the Hebrew and Greek originals, in which it was first published by men divinely inspired, he would not have provided sufficiently for his church and for our faith. From the prophetic and apostolic scripture the church takes its origin, and the faith derives its source. But whence can it be ascertained that these are in all respects prophetic and apostolic scriptures, if the very writings of the prophets and apostles are not those which we consult?43

Whitaker went on to say he accepted the Received Text handed down by faith,

Now the Hebrew edition of the old, and the Greek of the New Testament, was always held the authentic scripture of God in the Christian churches for six hundred years after Christ. This, therefore, ought to be received by us also as authentic scripture. If they doubt the major, we must ask them, whether the church hath changed its authentic scripture, or hath not rather preserved, and commended to all succeeding generations, that which was in truth authentic from the very first? If it lost that which was published by the prophets and apostles, who can defend that negligence, who excuse so enormous a sacrilege?44

Whitaker also cleverly rejected the argument that the Masoretes had corrupted the Hebrew Text,

Besides, if the Jews had wished to corrupt the original scriptures, they would have laid their sacrilegious hands specially upon those places which concern Christ and confirm the faith. But in those places these fountains run so clear that one feels no lack: nay, they sometimes run far clearer than the Latin streams.45

He also showed how God protected the Scriptures in the ages,

God protects the scriptures against Satan, as being their constant enemy. Satan hath frequently endeavoured to destroy the scriptures, knowing that they stand in his way: but he hath never spent any trouble or thought upon these unwritten traditions; for he supposed that his whole object would be gained if he could destroy the scriptures. In pursuance of this plan he hath raised up such impious tyrants as Antiochus, Maximin, Diocletian, and others, who have endeavoured utterly to quench the light of scripture. Now, if religion could remain entire even when these books were lost, it would be in vain for Satan to labour with such furious efforts to remove these books.46

Bishop of Salisbury and eminent Divine, John Jewel (1522–1571), who was a strong apologist against the Church of Rome, also makes clear the need of perfect preservation,

By the space of so many thousand years, the word of God passed by so many dangers of tyrants, of Pharisees, of heretics, of fire, and of sword, and yet continueth and standeth until this day, without altering or changing one letter. This was a wonderful work of God, that having so many, so great enemies, and passing through so many, so great dangers, it yet continueth still without adding or altering of any one sentence, or word, or letter. No creature was able to do this, it was God’s work. He preserved it, that no tyrant should consume it, no tradition choke it, no heretic maliciously should corrupt it. For His name’s sake, and for the elect’s sake, He would not suffer it to perish. For in it God hath ordained a blessing for His people, and by it He maketh covenant with them for life everlasting. Tyrants, and Pharisees, and heretics, and the enemies of the cross of Christ have an end, but the word of God hath no end. No force shall be able to decay it. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.47

Cambridge-educated Puritan preacher, Nicholas Gibbens, also retorted in 1602,

For by these authorities it may seem apparent, that the Hebrew Text has been corrupted by the Jews: which if it be; where is the truth the Scriptures to be found, but either perished, or only remaining in that translation which the Papists so greatly magnify. For answer whereunto, we affirm and testify by the authority of the Scriptures themselves, (which is the voice of God) of the Fathers, and of the adversaries themselves; that the Scriptures in the Hebrew tongue are pure, and unspotted of all corruption.48

Johannes Andreas Quenstedt (1617–1688), the German Lutheran dogmatician, argued,

We believe, as is our duty, that the providential care of God has always watched over the original and primitive texts of the canonical Scriptures in such a way that we can be certain that the sacred codices which we now have in our hands are those which existed at the time of Jerome and Augustine, nay at the time of Christ Himself and His apostles.49

English Puritan and theologian, Edward Leigh (1602–1671), explained why we needed confidence in a pure text for our Bibles,

If the authority of the authentical copies in Hebrew, Chaldee and Greek fall, then there is no pure Scripture in the Church of God, there is no high court of appeal where controversies (rising upon the diversity of translations, or otherwise) may be ended. The exhortations of having recourse unto the Law and to the Prophets, and of our Saviour Christ asking “How it is written,” and “How readest thou,” is now either of none effect, or not sufficient. 50

The great Puritan, Thomas Watson (c. 1620–1686), makes clear,

The devil and his agents have been blowing at Scripture light, but could never blow it out; a clear sign that it was lighted from heaven…. The letter of Scripture has been preserved, without any corruption, in the original tongue.51

The prodigious Puritan scholar, John Owen, who entered Oxford at 12 years old, adopted the same stance,

It can, then, with no colour of probability be asserted (which yet I find some learned men too free in granting), namely, that there hath the same fate attended the Scripture in its transcription as hath done other books. Let me say without offence, this imagination, asserted on deliberation, seems to me to border on atheism. Surely the promise of God for the preservation of his word, with his love and care of his church, of whose faith and obedience that word of his is the only rule, requires other thoughts at our hands.52

Swiss Hebraist, Johannes Buxtorf (1599–1664), defended the preservation of even the Hebrew vowel points against the attack of Louis Cappel with studies published in 1624 and 1650. Buxtorf also affirmed the purity of the Received Text in 1620,

From the extremity of the East to the extremity of the West the word of God is read with one mouth and in one manner; and in all the books that there are in Asia, Africa, and Europe, there is discernible a full agreement, without any difference whatever.53

John Woodbridge notes of Rome’s influence in this attack and states, “Cappel was able to publish one of these works only with the help of the Roman Catholic apologist, Jean Morin.”54 Martin Klauber also notes the staunch defence of the Masoretic Text by the Reformers by noting, “Reformed scholars of the mid-seventeenth century, following the lead of Buxdorf, considered all other versions of the OT as subordinate to the Masoretic text. … Cappel’s theories were generally rejected in Reformed circles.”55

A typical presuppositional approach based on special providential preservation was that of the Principal of the University of Edinburgh, Robert Rollock (1555–1599). He argued for “the preservation of the divine oracles of God unto our times” and the retention of many disputed passages such as 1 John 5:7, Mark 16, John 8 based on the fact that these are, “our Greek books, which we hold for authentical, have this verse and our Church receives it.”56 He rejected all the textual-critical assaults of Rome on the Received Text by summarising,

Thus we see then the adversaries cannot prove by these places that the Greek edition of the New Testament is corrupted, and so act authentical. Wherefore it resteth that the Hebrew edition of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament is only authentical.57

Henry Walker in 1642 also discerned the wiles of the Jesuit plot and argued that the supposed textual problems were “vanity” and “inventions” as, “the Pope is glad of these distractions amongst us, and would now take the opportunity to snatch away the Bible from us; he would fain take our religion away; but we hope to send him back to Rome again with a powder.”58 Narcissus Marsh (1638–1713), provost of the College of Dublin and later Archbishop of Armagh, writes against one sceptic who attacked the Hebrew Masoretic Text,

It may be suspected, that the intention is to bring it into doubt, whether we have any such thing, as a true Bible at all, which we may confide in, as God’s Word…. However, I doubt not, but that, by God’s Providence, as the Hebrew Text hath hitherto stood firm, so it will stand on its own bottom to wear out all assaults against it, and be, what it always was, received as the undoubted Word of God, when all the arguments and objections against it are vanish’d into smoke.59

The Rhemist version was later revised by Richard Challoner in the mid-eighteenth century. He was an English convert from Protestantism who knew well the nuances of the King James Version and deliberately sought to revise the Douay-Rheims into closer conformity with the diction of the King James Version.60 Notwithstanding, so successful was the King James Version and Cartwright’s rebuttal of the Rhemist version that the devil was forced to change his strategy and attack not by the Latin but by the Greek.

It was about another century before Rome refined a weapon to combat Sola Scriptura at the hands of Romanist priest, Richard Simon (1638–1712), through “Textual Criticism.” Baird tells us, “Simon sharpened historical criticism into a weapon that could be used in the attack on Protestantism’s most fundamental error: the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.”61 Indeed, Simon himself explains plainly his purpose, “the great changes that have taken place in the manuscripts of the Bible—as we have shown in the first book of this work—since the first originals were lost, completely destroy the principle of the Protestants … if tradition is not joined to scripture, there is hardly anything in religion that one can confidently affirm.”62 They assembled many of the variant readings into Polyglots to aid this attack. The Cambridge History of the Bible accepts the universal standard of the TR amidst the Reformed Churches,

In creating the phrase textus receptus they had confirmed acceptance of the third edition of Estienne and Beza’s recension of it as the standard version. Effective awareness of the significance of textual criticism for the ancient versions of the biblical text may be said to begin only with the Biblia Polyglottaof Bishop Walton in 1657.63

Even the ecumenical textual critic, Dan Wallace, accepts that, “New Testament textual criticism was born as a polemic against Protestants, intended to show that they couldn’t really trust the Bible!”64 Thus under the influence of Romanism, textual criticism emerged from enlightenment and humanistic grounds and would culminate in the 1881 Revised Version.

The Reformers did not take their creedal stand against Rome upon a utopian inerrant original autograph. To them, there was an identifiable and existing text in use by the Greek-speaking Church which had been transmitted from a handwritten manuscript form to a printed form. Likewise, they did not advocate a radical individualism where every man decides for himself which words are genuine and would have rejected the current state of textual criticism, where every man is a textual critic with horror. It is true, that unlike Luther, John Calvin did not initially uniformly base his readings on the text of Erasmus and “had an affinity for a renegade edition published by Simon de Colines (1534).”65 This text included a number of variant readings from critical text manuscripts and from Rome’s Complutensian.66 However, in later life Calvin rejected this view to return to the TR preferring the common readings by faith.67 The facts of history are that Rome accused Protestants of having a “paper pope” by judging all matters religious with the Scripture. Ironically, five hundred years ago a man positing this kind of accusation would be called a Romanist heretic but today he is called an enlightened fundamentalist! Indeed, TR critics even attack preservationists today by equating heresy with faith in an inerrant Bible.

Westminster Confession of Faith

A good example of the Reformation view on preservation is the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) written in response to Tridentine Romanism and early rationalism. The Confessional understanding of the doctrine of Holy Scripture was a dyke to keep out the deadly waters of disbelief in God’s word. Like the early Reformers, the Divines looked first at the history of manuscript transmission to see what God had done, rather than the manuscripts to see what man had to do. The Westminster Divines never argued for the preservation of a copy, but the preservation of the Words, because that is what the Bible teaches. That took a presuppositional approach to this issue. They knew that if there is another authority (whether it be our individual determination of trustworthiness or the authority of an ecclesiastical leader) by which we are to determine and believe that the Bible is the Word of God, that authority itself would be the ultimate authority. Is it up to the reader to discern which portions of the Scriptures are inspired and which are not? Hence, the WCF (1:4) states,

The authority of Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

A crystallisation of the opposition to textual and historical criticism is stated in positive terms in the WCF. It should be noted that the Confession first deals with the canon of Scripture before it turns to discuss the doctrine of inspiration and authority and preservation. There is then a refutation of the canonicity of the Apocrypha before the Confession deals with the declaration of special providential preservation. This understanding of cause and effect in respect of canonisation will be an important principle to remember when we consider the preservation of the Scriptures. This seems to have been a reasoned and logical presuppositional unfolding as they are implicitly stating that the same methodology for determining canonicity must be extended to the individual words of the canon.

The Confession is a constitutional document and must be interpreted in the light of its historical context. Chapter 1.8 should not be read in a vacuum of this history, which is presuppositionally set forth in the prior statements which identify the canonical text, and disclaim the Apocrypha as being non-canonical. Unmistakably, the Westminster Divines claimed to possess the authentic text, and all critics should candidly acknowledge this rather than attempting to re-interpret it to conform to the fluid tradition of modern textual criticism. The divines were men of prodigious learning and were aware of many minor textual disagreements going back to the days of the Early Fathers. Yet this awareness did not diminish their unshakable conviction that they continued to hold in hand an indestructible authentical revelation. They knew it was the Church’s treasure and rock of defence against Rome and not one to ever casually or carelessly surrender. Given this approach, we are left with one of two choices: either the text they used is the “authentic text” or their claim was false. The Confession requires an acceptance of the Reformation Text as the authoritative court of appeal or else it is meaningless. Indeed, so seriously did the Westminster Divines view even spelling errors in various printings of the Authorised Version as “dangerous to religion,” that they moved Parliament to outlaw the importation of bootleg reprints from Europe.68

William Orr in his commentary on the WCF makes clear, “Now this affirms that the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New which was known to the Westminster divines was immediately inspired by God because it was identical with the first text that God has kept pure in all the ages. The idea that there are mistakes in the Hebrew Masoretic texts or in the TR of the New Testament was unknown to the authors of the Confession of Faith.”69 Indeed, the Westminster Confession divines clearly cognisant of textual critics positing naturalistic and man-centred doctrines of preservation explicitly states that the doctrine of preservation must be hedged by Holy Scripture alone:

IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

X. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

The WCF notably does not argue that Scripture is established by the prior and superior authority of modern textual criticism, but that the perfectly preserved TR (as cited in the WCF), sits in judgment upon textual criticism. The liberal writer, McCabe, writing in 1897 agrees that the Westminster divines had assumed the special providential preservation of all the words by sneering,

Until the seventeenth century divines had assumed that Providence had miraculously guarded its inspired books. From this torpid belief they were at length roused by the controversies on the date and origin of the vowel points of the Hebrew text between the Buxtorfs and Morinus and Cappell, and by the discovery of a vast number of variations in the manuscripts and printed books of Scripture. Kennicott’s Hebrew Bible, published from 1776 to 1790, gave 200,000 variations. Thus a door was opened to a certain reverent kind of criticism.70

Leading contemporary textual critic, Dan Wallace, admits that the Divines based their doctrine of perfect preservation on the TR,

The response by Protestants was swift, though perhaps not particularly well thought out. In 1646, the first doctrinal statement about God preserving his text was formulated as part of the Westminster Confession. The problem is that what the Westminster divines were thinking of when they penned that confession was the TR. By virtually ignoring the variants, they set themselves up for more abuse.71

Swiss-Italian Protestant theologian, Francis Turretin (1623–1687), expounded on the early confessional doctrine of Biblical preservation and clearly understood it to mean “entire preservation,” “Nor can we readily believe that God, who dictated and inspired each and every word to these inspired men, would not take care of their entire preservation.72

Richard Capel, one of the Westminster Divines, warned concerning those who undermined the preservation of Scripture when he wrote in 1658,

And to the like purpose is that observation, that the two Tables written immediately by Moses and the Prophets, and the Greek Copies immediately penned by the Apostles, and Apostolical men are all lost, or not to be made use of, except by a very few. And that we have none in Hebrew or Greek, but what are transcribed. Now transcribers are ordinary men, subject to mistake, may fail having no unerring spirit to hold their hands in writing.

Referring to these types of statements, Capel immediately writes,

These be terrible blasts, and do little else when they meet with a weak head and heart, but open the door to Atheism and quite to fling off the bridle, which only can hold them and us in the ways of truth and piety: this is to fill the conceits of men with evil thoughts against the Purity of the Originals: And if the Fountains run not clear, the Translation cannot be clean.73

Another of the original members of the Westminster assembly, John Lightfoot, writes, “The same power and care of God that preserves the church would preserve the Scriptures pure to it: and He that did, and could, preserve the whole could preserve every part, so that not so much as a tittle should perish.”74

J S Candlish rightly observed in 1877 that, “the word authentic is used, not in the modern sense in which it has been employed by many…as meaning historically true, but in its more literal sense, attested as a correct copy of the author’s work.”75 Indeed, the Reformers would have no grounds to oppose the Vulgate as deviating from the fountain of the originals if their text was also corrupted and uncertain. It is also notable that the Westminster Confessional documents, including the Bible version used in conjunction with the Annotations, all quote the Authorised Version including so-called problematic passages such as 1 John 5:7. Reformed church historian, Richard Muller, summarised the post-Reformation Reformed view of the providential preservation of the Holy Scriptures,

By “original” and “authentic” text, the Protestant orthodox do not mean the autographa which no one can possess but the apographa in the original tongue which are the source of all versions. The Jews throughout history and the church in the time of Christ regarded the Hebrew of the Old Testament as authentic and for nearly six centuries after Christ, the Greek of the New Testament was viewed as authentic without dispute. It is important to note that the Reformed orthodox insistence on the identification of the Hebrew and Greek texts as alone authentic does not demand direct reference to autographa in those languages: the “original and authentic text” of Scripture means, beyond the autograph copies, the legitimate tradition of Hebrew and Greek apographa.

The case for Scripture as an infallible rule of faith and practice and the separate arguments for a received text free from major (non-scribal) error rests on an examination of the apographa and does not seek the infinite regress of the lost autographa as a prop for textual infallibility.76

Other Confessions

The Formula Consensus Helvetica (1675), which was drafted amidst the rising tide of text-critical challenges is even more explicit that we have all the Words of God perfectly preserved for us today to the jot and tittle. It extended the doctrine of inspiration and perfect preservation to the very Hebrew vowel points and argued that those who accept variant readings, “bring the foundation of our faith and its inviolable authority into perilous hazard,”


I. God, the Supreme Judge, not only took care to have His word, which is the “power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth” (Rom. 1:16), committed to writing by Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles, but has also watched and cherished it with paternal care ever since it was written up to the present time, so that it could not be corrupted by craft of Satan or fraud of man. Therefore the Church justly ascribes it to His singular grace and goodness that she has, and will have to the end of the world, a “sure word of prophecy” and “Holy Scriptures” (2 Tim. 3:15), from which, though heaven and earth perish, “one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass” (Matt. 5:18).

II. But, in particular, the Hebrew Original of the Old Testament, which we have received and to this day do retain as handed down by the Jewish Church, unto whom formerly “were committed the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:2), is, not only in its consonants, but in its vowels—either the vowel points themselves, or at least the power of the points—not only in its matter, but in its words, inspired of God, thus forming, together with the Original of the New Testament, the sole and complete rule of our faith and life; and to its standard, as to a Lydian stone, all extant versions, oriental and occidental, ought to be applied, and where ever they differ, be conformed.

III. Therefore we can by no means approve the opinion of those who declare that the text which the Hebrew Original exhibits was determined by man’s will alone, and do not scruple at all to remodel a Hebrew reading which they consider unsuitable, and amend it from the Greek Versions of the LXX and others, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Chaldee Targums, or even from other sources, yea, sometimes from their own reason alone; and furthermore, they do not acknowledge any other reading to be genuine except that which can be educed by the critical power of the human judgment from the collation of editions with each other and with the various readings of the Hebrew Original itself—which, they maintain, has been corrupted in various ways; and finally, they affirm that besides the Hebrew edition of the present time, there are in the Versions of the ancient interpreters which differ from our Hebrew context other Hebrew Originals, since these Versions are also indicative of ancient Hebrew Originals differing from each other. Thus they bring the foundation of our faith and its inviolable authority into perilous hazard.

There are many other Confessional writings exhibiting TR only readings. For instance, the influential Particular Baptist Confession of Faith of 1644 cites Acts 8:37 and the disputed long ending of Mark. The Particular Baptist Second London Confession of Faith, originally printed in 1677 references 1 John 5:7 to prove Trinitarianism and references the long ending of Mark three times.77 The General Baptist Orthodox Creed of 1679 writes out 1 John 5:7 in the text and references it five times. The Baptist New Hampshire Confession (1833) also concurs:

We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is an infallible and inerrant treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter … and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true centre of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.78


It is axiomatic to even the most ardent critic of the KJV that the recovery of the “autographic text” is outside the possibility of recovery simply by a neutral textual scientific methodology. Even the leading exponents of textual criticism candidly concede this. By eliminating God’s work of preservation, they have left the Church disarmed, vulnerable and in total confusion. They are like those of old of whom God says in the last verse of the book of Judges, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judg 21:25). These multi-versionists have no final authority, save for their own reasoning or outsourcing to a scholar to tell them what God probably said.

When CT advocates appeal to an authoritative Bible from their evolutionary text they are functioning as an illusionist. Their infallible Bible is lost in a vaporous philosophical cul-de-sac and they are desperate for others not to possess one either. They believe that the Bible emerged from a “big bang” and then it was lost. Thanks to an evolutionary path which will culminate one day through liberal scholarship it may theoretically reappear in the future, although they do not think so. However, God has promised preservation in the minutiae, and not simply in the main. Although the Bible is not exhaustive in setting forth every detail of the preservation of God’s Words, when and where it speaks, it speaks with God’s authority. This authority does not extend to all competing and contradictory theories of the mode and methodologies of preservation. We should never be tempted to surrender the clear promises of God’s Word (1 Cor 4:6) amidst the capricious waves of textual critical theories.

The Scriptures explicitly teach that preservation is a work of God and offers no encouragement to those who seek a compromise with rationalistic textual criticism. There can be no question as to what God did, as He never acts contrary to what He promised. Even the contemporary agnostic textual critic, Bart Ehrman, accepts the TR advocates are the only consistent group on preservation,

One cannot read the literature produced by the various advocates of the Majority text without being impressed by a remarkable theological concurrence. To one degree or another, they all (to my knowledge, without exception) affirm that God’s inspiration of an inerrant Bible required His preservation of its text.79

Ehrman also accepts as fallacious the logic of those who argue that God was involved in preservation but this was just “general,” as he argues, “If one affirms God’s involvement in the transmission process in any way at all, is it anything but high handed to claim that He was generally, but not fully involved?”80

The disciples of Westcott and Hort have now for a century disturbed the Protestant world by making merchandise of the Church implicitly arguing that all along Rome has always been right. This deadly poison once confined to the corners of dusty German university philosophy classrooms has now routed a whole generation of churches and seminaries. Theological rationalism and textual criticism spread like ivy, the growth stages of which have been described as sleeping, creeping, and finally leaping. Textual criticism has proven to be liberalism and Romanism’s destructive child. It emerged from the same graveyard of unbelief as liberalism, Deism, and Darwinism. It is interesting to note that the latest United Bible Societies Text descended from the Westcott and Hort family boasts, “the new text is a reality, and as the text distributed by the United Bible Societies and by the corresponding office of the Roman Catholic Church (an inconceivable situation until quite recently) it has rapidly become the commonly accepted text for research and study in universities and church.”81 The United Bible Societies Vice-President is Roman Catholic Cardinal Onitsha of Nigeria. On the executive committee is Roman Catholic Bishop Alilona of Italy and among the editors is Roman Catholic Cardinal Martini of Milan. Patrick Henry happily claims, “Catholics should work together with Protestants in the fundamental task of Biblical translation …[They can] work very well together and have the same approach and interpretation … [This] signals a new age in the church.”82

In 1943, the Papal encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu encouraged a new ecumenically translated Bible as it said, “These translations [should] be produced in cooperation with separated brothers.”83 Indeed, the Introduction in that Catholic Bible says,

In general, Nestle’s-Aland’s Novum Testamentum Graece (25th edition, 1963) was followed. Additional help was derived from The Greek New Testament (editors Aland, Black, Metzger, Wikgren) produced for the use of translators by the United Bible Societies in 1966.84

In 1924, the liberal paper The Christian Century said clearly that “the Bible of the fundamentalist is one Bible: the Bible of Modernism is another.”85 Today, we have the same Ecumenical Greek Text for the modernist, liberal and Romanist Bibles. Just as Christ was hated by the world and despised by the conservative religious leaders in His day (Matt 12:14, 24, 15:12, 27:18), so the perfect Written Word is similarly attacked today. Indeed, a telling evidence for the truth of the TR can be seen by simply observing the text that the modern scribes envy, fear and mock the most. When once Protestants looked to the Received Text as the final court of appeal in faith and practice, they now look to Rome and apostates to adjudicate over what the Words actually are of the evolving text. We are being led by Rome and apostate textual critics (Semler, Griesbach, Lachmann, Metzger et al.) in this “enlightened” approach to text criticism, which simply continued Rome’s agenda but under a different banner. Through these fifth columnist “allies,” Rome’s assault against the despised “Protestant Pope” has swept the field. Yet sadly so many fundamentalists have embraced such a corrupted source as their “infallible rule of faith.”

In our supposed postmodern age which opposes certitude of truth and morality, the “buffet style” approach to the true text will lead the churches back to Rome in a “Deformation” and finally to the certainty of the authority of the Antichrist. By relegating God’s Providence outside of His Words they have robbed Him of His glory and urged us to be thankful for the elevation of man’s autonomous reason. However, our Reformation history and consequent revivals testify that God is not indifferent to His Words. Protestants rejected the authority of the Popes, because of their clear contradictions with one another; so we reject Rome’s critical textual position which results in the same nebulous position. Despite their worship of the contemporary gods of modern textual criticism, we will not embrace the idols of Enlightenment modernity. Conservative CT advocates, such as Jon Rehurek, would rather believe the textual history cobbled together by mainly unbelieving textual critics than the promises of Scripture or the historical doctrinal statements of our forefathers.

It is amazing that Reformed believers who believe in the depravity of unregenerate man and the degeneration of man and the world system in general, have accepted that scientific rationalism and classical education have somehow “evolved” to the point where apostates and liberals are more qualified to “discover” and “translate” God’s Word today than in 1611. Michael Maynard makes a pertinent observation in his work A History of the Debate Over I John 5:7–8, “Received Text advocates are still waiting for the fundamentalists minority text advocates to explain why they trust four liberals and a Jesuit, who is in line to become the next pope, with the identity of the New Testament.”86 What a tragedy!


1 Jon Rehurek, “Preservation of the Bible: Providential or Miraculous? The Biblical View,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 19 (2008): 71–90.

2 Ibid., 71.

3 Kevin Bauder, One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2001), 159–160.

4 Jack Moorman, Forever Settled (Collingswood: Bible For Today, 1985), 90–95.

5 M H Reynolds Jr, “Dangerous Misconceptions Concerning Satan,” Foundation Magazine (May–June 1996), Editorial.

6 William Combs, “The Preservation of Scripture,” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 5 (2000): 38.

7 Lewis Caroll, Through the looking-glass, and what Alice found there (with fifty illustrations by John Tenniel) (London: Spark Educational Publishing, 2003), 219.

8 Cornelius Van Til, The Intellectual Challenge of the Gospel (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1980), 10.

9 Douglas Wilson, “Discerning the Manuscript Traditions,” Credenda 10/1 online at http://www.credenda.org/issues/10-1disputatio.php accessed 20 April 2009.

10 Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, Vol 2 (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1932), Introduction.

11 David W Norris, The Big Picture: The Authority and Integrity of the Authentic Word of God (Cannock: Authentic Word, 2004), 294.

12 Cited in “Textual Criticism and the Modern English Version Controversy,” Biblical Viewpoint 16 (April 1982): 72.

13 “The Majority Text” by Daniel Wallace in Bart D Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research (Grand Rapids: Wm B Eerdmans, 1995), 309.

14 Arthur Westcott, Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott (London: Macmillan, 1903), 393.

15 Cited in Wilbur Pickering in The Identity of the New Testament Text (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1977), Appendix A from a copy sent to him personally by Bart D Ehrman, “New Testament Textual Criticism: Search for Method,” MDiv thesis, Princeton Theological Seminary, 1981, 44.

16 Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1976), 2.

17 Kent Brandenburg, “The Erroneous Epistemology of Multiple Version Onlyism,” online at http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2009/03/erroneous-epistemology-of-multiple_30.html accessed 31 March 2009.

18 Douglas Wilson, “Discerning the Manuscript Traditions,” Credenda 10/1 online at http://www.credenda.org/issues/10-1disputatio.php accessed 20 April 2009.

19 Robert L Thomas, “General Revelation and Biblical Hermeneutics,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (1998): 5–23.

20 Milton S Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d.), 533.

21 Ibid., 534.

22 Van Til, Defense of the Faith, 71.

23 Mark Minnick, “Let’s Meet the Manuscripts,” in From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man, ed. James B Williams (Greenville: Ambassador-Emerald, 1999), 71.

24 Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1969), 5.

25 Ibid., 6.

26 Joseph Charles Philpot, “The Authorized Version of 1611,” The Gospel Standard (April 1857).

27 J Waterworth, Canons and Decrees of the Sacred and Ecumenical Council of Trent, (Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, 2003), 19.

28 John D Woodbridge and Kenneth S Kantzer, Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982), 219.

29 Joseph McCabe, Modern Rationalism: Being a Sketch of the Progress of the Rationalistic Spirit in the Nineteenth Century (London: Watts, 1897), 9.

30 Samuel Tregelles, An Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament with Remarks on Its Revision upon Critical Principles (London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1854), 33–35.

31 Henry Clay Vedder, Balthasar Hübmaier, the Leader of the Anabaptists (New York: G P Putnam’s Sons, 1905), 190.

32 James Henry Monk, The Life of Richard Bentley (London: J G & F Rivington, 1833), 399.

33 Irena Doruta Backus, The Reformed Roots of the English New Testament (Pittsburgh: The Pickwick Papers, 1980), 6–7.

34 Greg Bahnsen, “The Inerrancy of the Autographa,” in Inerrancy, ed. Norman Geisler (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979), 155.

35 Will Durant, The Reformation (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957), 285.

36 Cited in William Fulke, Confutation of the Rhemish Testament (New York: Leavitt, Lord & Co, 1834), preface essay by editor.

37 Gerald Lewis Bray, Documents of the English Reformation 1526–1707 (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co, 2004), 366.

38 Paolo Sarpi, History of the Council of Trent, trans. by Nathaniel Brent, (London: 1629), 156.

39 Benjamin Brook, Memoir of the Life and Writings of Thomas Cartwright (London: John Snow, 1845), 258.

40 Ibid., 276.

41 Ibid., 274–5.

42 Ibid., 275–6.

43 William Whitaker, A Disputation on Holy Scripture: against the Papists, especially Bellarmine and Stapleton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1588), 142, 148.

44 Ibid., 155.

45 Ibid., 162.

46 Ibid., 653.

47 John Jewel, The Works of John Jewel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1848), 7:291.

48 Nicholas Gibbens, Questions and Disputations Concerning the Holy Scripture (London: 1602), 316. Cited in David S Katz, God’s Last Words: Reading the English Bible from the Reformation to Fundamentalism (Cambridge: Yale University, 2004), 75.

49 Cited in Robert Preus, The Inspiration of Scripture: A Study in the Theology of the Seventeenth-Century Lutheran Dogmaticians (London: Oliver & Boyd, 1955), 139.

50 Edward Leigh, Treatise, Vol 1 (London: 1656), vi, 102–3.

51 Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), 27.

52 John Owen, The Works of John Owen (Edinburgh: Johnstone and Hunter, 1853), 357.

53 Cited critically in Henry Charles Fox, On the Revision of the Authorised Version of the Scriptures: With an Account of the Revision Now (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1875), 10.

54 John Woodbridge, “Biblical Authority: Towards an Evaluation of the Rogers and McKim Proposal,” Trinity Journal 1 (1980): 202.

55 Martin I Klauber, “The Helvetic Formula Consensus (1675): An Introduction and Translation,” Trinity Journal 11 (1990): 105–106.

56 Robert Rollock, A Treatise of Effectual Calling (1603) (Edinburgh: Woodrow Society, 1844), 71.

57 Ibid., 127.

58 Henry Walker, Five Lookes Over the Professors of the English Bible (London: 1642) cited in Katz, God’s Last Words, 76.

59 Edward Pocock, The Theological Works, ed. Leonard Twells (London: 1740), i, 74. Cited in Katz, God’s Last Words, 75.

60 William Baird, History of New Testament Research: From Deism to Tubingen (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 19.

61 F F Bruce, “Transmission and Translation of the Bible,” Expositor’s Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), 1:52–53.

62 Cited in Werner Georg Kümmel, The New Testament: The History of the Investigation of Its Problems, trans. S McLean Gilmour and Howard C Kee (Nashville: Abingdon, 1972), 41.

63 J Greenslade, ed., The Cambridge History of the Bible, Vol 3 (Cambridge: University Press, 1963), 64.

64 Dan Wallace, “Is the Bible a ‘Paper Pope’ for Protestants?,” online at http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2007/08/is-the-bible-a-“paper-pope”-for-protestants/ accessed 4 February 2009.

65 Theodore P Letis, The Majority Text: Essays and Reviews in the Continuing Debate, (Edinburgh: Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies, 1987), 119.

66 Greenslade, ed., The Cambridge History of the Bible, 61.

67 Theodore P Letis, Edward Freer Hills’s Contribution to the Revival of the Ecclesiastical Text (Philadelphia: The Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies, 1987), 26.

68 Frederick Scrivener, Authorized Edition of the English Bible (1611) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1884), 25.

69 William F Orr, “The Authority of the Bible as Reflected in the Proposed Confession of 1967,” as quoted by Letis, The Majority Text, 174.

70 McCabe, Modern Rationalism, 46.

71 Wallace, “Is the Bible a ‘Paper Pope’ for Protestants?” online at http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2007/08/is-the-bible-a-“paper-pope”-for-protestants/ accessed 4 February 2009.

72 Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T Dennison Jr (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992), 1:71.

73 Richard Capel, Capel’s Remains (London, 1658), 19–43.

74 John Lightfoot, The Whole Works of Rev John Lightfoot (London: J F Dowe, 1822–25), 408.

75 J S Candlish, “The Doctrine of the Westminster Confession on Scripture,” The British and Foreign Evangelical Review 26 (January 1877) as cited in Letis, The Majority Text, 174.

76 Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993), 433.

77 For a complete list of Baptist Confessions citing the TR see Thomas Ross, “The Canonicity of the Received Bible Established from Reformation and Post-Reformation Baptist Confessions,” online at http://thross7.googlepages.com/CanonicityoftheTRSeeninBaptistConfes.pdf accessed on 5 Februray 2009.

78 Philip Schaff, ed., The Creeds of Christiandom with a History and Critical Notes. Vol III: The Evangelical Protestant Creed (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1931), 742.

79 Cited in Wilbur Pickering, from a copy sent to him personally by Bart D Ehrman: “New Testament Textual Criticism: Search for Method,” MDiv thesis, Princeton Theological Seminary, 1981, 40.

80 Ibid., 47.

81 Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm B Eerdmans, 1995), 35.

82 Patrick Henry, New Directions in New Testament Study (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1979), 232–234.

83 The New American Bible: Basic Youth Edition (Winona: Saint Mary’s Press, 2005), Preface, 9.

84 Ibid., 1054–1055.

85 Charles Clayton Morrison, “Fundamentalism and Modernism, Two Religions,” The Christian Century (January 3, 1924): 6.

86 Michael Maynard, A History of the Debate Over I John 5:7, 8 (Tempe AZ: Comma Publications, 1995), 329.

Dr Paul S Ferguson holds degrees from Queen’s University, Belfast (BSc), and King’s College, University of London (LLB), and Foundations Theological Seminary, Dunn, North Carolina (MRE, DRE), and is currently a ThD student at Far Eastern Bible College.

Published in The Burning Bush, Volume 15 Number 2, July 2009.