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“Holding forth the Word of Life” Philippians 2:16
“Holding fast the Faithful Word” Titus 1:9
A Loving Response to Rev ___’s Paper “Contending in Truth and in Love”
Rev ___ of ___ Church has written a response to Carol Lee’s paper “A Child of God Looks at the Doctrine of Verbal Plenary Preservation” published in the July 2005 issue of The Burning Bush. Since I am the editor of The Burning Bush, and since Rev ___ did quote me in a number of places on pages 1 and 5 of his paper, I believe I have the right of reply, and wish to do so in “truth and love” as suggested by his title.
Before I proceed, I must commend Rev ___ for believing that
(1) “the King James Bible is the English Bible par excellence,” and that we should
(2) “unite to defend the Word of God against its real foes represented by the modern day Bible perversions” (p11).
Praise the Lord!
Rev ___ asks,
(1) Can one be a God-fearing and God-honouring Christian who believes in the doctrine of creation ex-nihilo but not hold to VPP as a doctrine?
(2) Can one be a God-fearing and God-honouring Christian who believes in the doctrine of a literal six-day creation but not VPP?
(3) Can one be a God-fearing and God-honouring Christian who believes in the doctrines of the virgin birth, bodily resurrection and ascension of our blessed Saviour but not VPP?
(4) Can one be a God-fearing and God-honouring Christian who believes in the doctrine of a literal heaven and hell but not VPP?
(5) Can one be a God-fearing and God-honouring Christian and not subscribe to the theory of VPP?
Let me answer Rev ___’s questions with the following questions:
(1) Can one be a God-fearing and God-honouring Christian who believes in the doctrine of creation ex nihilo, and a literal six-day creation, and yet DENIES that the first three chapters of Genesis are verbally and plenarily inspired and verbally and plenarily preserved, and hence infallible and inerrant, without any mistake?
(2) Can one be a God-fearing and God-honouring Christian who believes in the doctrines of the virgin birth, bodily resurrection and ascension of our blessed Saviour and yetDENIES that the Christian today possesses each and every one of the verbally and plenarily inspired words that tell us of our Lord’s virgin birth, bodily resurrection and ascension?
(3) Can one be a God-fearing and God-honouring Christian who believes in the doctrine of a literal heaven and hell which he has yet to see WITHOUT believing that the very words that tell him about a literal heaven and hell are totally inspired and entirely preserved, and hence presently infallible and inerrant without any mistake, and therefore completely true and trustworthy?
(4) Can one be a God-fearing and God-honouring Christian today by believing that his Bible today contains mistakes because God did not infallibly preserve His inspired words to the last word, to the last letter, even to the last syllable as taught in Matthew 5:18, and 24:35?
I trust the above questions answer the questions posed by Rev ___.
Rev ___ rejects the VPP of Scripture on the basis of the words of certain “God-fearing and God-honouring Christians” with the assumption that they had indeed rejected the VPP of Scripture, or that they actually believed:
(1) that God did not infallibly preserve His words,
(2) that God did allow some of His inspired words to be utterly lost and completely corrupted without any hope of restoration,
(3) that God took a “hands off” approach to the preservation of His inspired words and did not care at all to intervene in history to correct the intentional or unintentional mistakes the scribes made as they copied the Scriptures so as to restore for His people all of His inspired words and identify for them where His inspired words are precisely.
Rev ___ went on to argue, “The fact is that, over the ages, there had been God-fearing and God-honouring Christians who believe in the plenary verbal inspiration of the Word of God and not the VPP.” Surely, Rev ___ must know that our supreme and final authority of faith and doctrine is none other than the Bible itself and the Bible alone, and not man (B-P Constitution, article 4.2.1).
In light of this, can Rev ___ please prove his non-VPP view from the Bible itself? That the Bible does not at all teach God’s infallible preservation of all of His inspired and inerrant words to the jot and tittle, and that God’s people (including us today) can be sure that we have the very words of God in our hands, 100%?
Rev ___ cited a host of “God-fearing” and “God-honouring” men to prove his point. Let it be known that we do not deny that Turretin, Baxter, Owen, Wesley, Gill, Spurgeon, and Burgon were indeed “God-fearing” and “God-honouring” men, but let us ask again, does their being “God-fearing” and “God-honouring” mean that their words are infallible and inerrant, and that they were incapable of making mistakes in their comments and observations?
Our faith must not be based on the words of men but purely on the inspired words of God which we have today by virtue of God’s many promises to preserve His forever inspired, infallible and inerrant words. “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt 5:18). “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matt 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33).
Let it be known once for all that in our defence of the KJV, and the VPP of Scripture, we do not question the salvation of these illustrious men.
Nevertheless, let it be stated without equivocation that our faith is hardly based on these men, but only on the Lord Jesus Christ, and on His forever infallible and inerrant words as cited above.
Now let me interact with the comments of those whom Rev ___ cited in support of his anti-VPP position. Let me deal with all of them one by one, point by point.
Richard Baxter (1615–1691)
Rev ___ wrote: “Baxter was the beloved pastor of Kidderminster. He warned of two extremes: On one end are those who deny the divinity of the Word of God. These, Baxter writes give too little to the Scripture who deny it to be indicted by inspiration of the infallible Spirit of God, and be wholly true.”
My Response: We agree with Baxter’s affirmation of the divine nature of God’s Word, and that we should not take the Word of God lightly, but consider the words of Scripture to be “inspiration of the infallible Spirit of God, and be wholly true.”
Rev ___ said: “At the other end are those give too much (in bulk, but too little in virtue) to the Scripture, and included in this group are ‘those who say that God hath so preserved the Scripture, as that there are no various readings and doubtful texts thereupon, and that no written or printed copies have been corrupted.… All these err in over-doing.’ (A Christian Directory, p. 725)”
My Response: Obviously Baxter was not denying that every God-breathed word of the Sacred Scriptures to the last iota has been preserved (the doctrine of VPP). He was simply making a true observation that there are “various readings and doubtful texts.” No one who knows and understands VPP denies that there are “various readings” in the copies, but the correct reading has always been preserved, and has been identified from the multitude of faithful manuscripts, and through the successive editions of the Textus Receptus as the Lord guided His servants (from Erasmus, to Stephanus, then Beza, and finally the King James men) to restore or identify for us the true reading of the Greek NT. Neither do we deny that there are “doubtful texts” which I am sure Baxter would agree are the corrupt Alexandrian, Westcott-Hort or critical texts that underlie the modern “perversions” (in Rev ___’s own words) of the Bible.
John Owen (1616–1683)
Rev ___ wrote: “Owen was a pastor, preacher and vice-chancellor of Oxford University. He was described by one biographer as the greatest British theologian of all time. He wrote, the whole Scripture, entire as given out from God, without any loss, is preserved in the copies [not one particular copy] of the originals yet remaining; what varieties there are among the copies themselves shall be afterward declared. In them all, we say, is every letter and tittle of the word.”
My Response: Again we do not deny what Owen had said, and I would urge you to read my paper, “John Owen on the Perfect Bible,” The Burning Bush (July 2004): 74–85, and see how Owen affirms in no uncertain terms the present perfection of Scripture. Many fundamentalists today (like those from BJU) say that God has not preserved His words, but only Hismessage, or truth, or doctrine, but Owen surely objects to this false view of providential preservation. Owen clearly believed in the preservation of the words of Scripture (ie, verbalpreservation), not just the doctrines (ie, conceptual preservation), for he wrote, “Nor is it enough to satisfy us, that the doctrines mentioned are preserved entire; every tittle and iota in the Word of God must come under our care and consideration, as being, as such, from God.” As quoted by Rev ___ above, Owen affirmed, “the whole Scripture, entire as given out from God [ie, plenary preservation], without any loss [of any of the words] is preserved [ie, verbal preservation].”
Rev ___ went on to quote Owen concerning translations, “These copies, we say, are the rule, standard, and touchstone of all translations, ancient or modern, by which they are in all things to be examined, tried, corrected, amended; and themselves only by themselves. Translations contain the word of God, and are the word of God, perfectly or imperfectly, according as they express the words, sense, and meaning of those originals.
My Response: Praise the Lord! Amen and Amen! On what basis do we examine, try, correct and amend our translations today? It is by “these copies [ie, apographs]” which are “the rule, standard, and touchstone of all translations [whether English, Chinese, Korean, French or German, etc], ancient [eg, the Septuagint, or LXX] or modern [eg, NIV, NASV, RSV, TEV, ESV, CEV, TLB etc].” Translations “are” the Word of God, and may be deemed the “perfect” Word of God [ie, in the derivative sense] only if “they express the words, sense, and meaning of those originals [ie, the original language Scriptures—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek—which God has inspired and preserved].
Rev ___ continued to quote Owen, “To advance any, all translations concurring, into an equality with the originals—so to set them by it as to set them up with it on even terms—much more to propose and use them as means of castigating, amending, altering any thing in them, gathering various lections by them, is to set up an altar of our own by the altar of God, and to make equal the wisdom, care, skill, and diligence of men, with the wisdom, care, and providence of God himself.” (The Integrity and Purity of the Hebrew and Greek Text of Scripture, Works of John Owen, Volume 16. AGES Library).
My Response: Again, praise the Lord! Amen, Amen, and Amen! No translation (not even the KJV can be more inspired than, or as inspired as the original language (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) Scriptures. As such we must never use a translation or a version (not even the KJV, not to mention the NIV, NASV, RSV etc, and certainly not the LXX, a Greek translation of the Hebrew OT) to castigate, amend, or alter the original language Scriptures which we see the liberals, neo-evangelicals and neo-fundamentalists do in such places as Psalm 12:7, Judges 18:30, 1 Samuel 13:1, 2 Chronicles 22:2 etc.
John Wesley (1703–1791)
Rev ___ wrote, “Wesley was the founder of the Methodist Church. In his Explanatory Notes to the New Testament, he writes, ‘I write chiefly for plain, unlettered men, who understand only their mother tongue [English], and yet reverence and love the word of God, and have a desire to save their souls. In order to assist these in such a measure as I am able, I design, first, to set down the text itself, for the most part, in the common English translation [which in Wesley’s time was the King James Bible], which is in general (so far as I can judge) abundantly the best that I have seen. Yet I do not say, it is incapable of being brought, in several places, nearer to the original.’”
My Response: I am thankful for Wesley’s promotion of the KJV which he said was “the best” among all the other Reformation versions (Tyndale’s, Coverdale’s, Matthew’s, Great, Geneva, Bishops), and indeed still is the best. Since a translation remains a translation, with limitations in the translated tongue, there is a need, even for those who believe the KJV to be the best English translation available, to go back to original language Scriptures betimes to get the fulness of meaning and for clarity. This we do not deny, but rather affirm.
Wesley was quoted as saying “Neither will I affirm that the Greek copies from which this translation was made are always the most correct.” (The Complete Works of John Wesley, Volume 14. AGES Library).
My Response: Without the context, it is premature for me to judge what Wesley meant by what he said. But even at face value, this statement does not reveal to us anything about Wesley’s view of Biblical preservation, that he denied the verbal and plenary preservation of the words of Scripture (according to Matt 5:18), or that he believed some of God’s inspired words have been lost and no longer in existence.
John Gill (1697–1771)
Rev ___ quoted Gill concerning inspiration and translations: “Gill was a Baptist pastor. He was a contemporary of Wesley and George Whitefield. He says that divine inspiration is ‘to be understood of the Scriptures, as in the original languages in which they were written, and not of translations; unless it could be thought, that the translators of the Bible into each of the languages of the nations into which it has been translated, were under the divine inspiration also in translating, and were directed of God to the use of words they have rendered the original by; but this is not reasonable to suppose.’”
My Response: I agree with Gill totally. That has been my contention all along, that the “inspired” Scriptures must be understood in terms of the “original languages” (as stated in Article 4.2.1 of our B-P Constitution) and not the translated languages whether English, Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Thai etc. We have never endorsed (in fact we strenuously reject) the view of Peter Ruckman (who incidentally earned his PhD from BJU) that the King James translators were “inspired” in their translation, and that the KJV is “more inspired” than its underlying original language Scriptures. I hereby enjoin all VPP opponents to cease and desist from hitting below the belt. To score points by lumping us together with Ruckman would certainly be a violation of the 9th commandment (Exod 20:16).
Rev ___ went on to say, “On the differences between the various Greek texts and the various translations, Gill says, ‘Let not now any be uneasy in their minds about translations on this account, because they are not upon an equality with the original text, and especially about our own; for as it has been the will of God, and appears absolutely necessary that so it should be, that the Bible should be translated into different languages, that all may read it, and some particularly may receive benefit by it; He has taken care, in his providence, to raise up men capable of such a performance, in various nations, and particularly in ours; for whenever a set of men have been engaged in this work, as were in our nation, men well skilled in the languages, and partakers of the grace of God; of sound principles, and of integrity and faithfulness, having the fear of God before their eyes; they have never failed of producing a translation worthy of acceptation; and in which, though they have mistook some words and phrases, and erred in some lesser and lighter matters; yet not so as to affect any momentous article of faith or practice; and therefore such translations as ours may be regarded as the rule of faith.’ (A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book 1, Chapter 2. AGES Library).”
My Response: I am unable to see Rev ___’s point as regards “the various Greek texts” that he thinks Gill is saying for Gill does not deal with “the various Greek texts” in the above quotation at all, but that the translations are not as perfect as the “original text,” but nonetheless “worthy of acceptation” if they have been translated by faithful men who are “well skilled in the [biblical] languages,” who are “partakers of the grace of God [ie, born again],” who have “the fear of God before their eyes.” That translations or versions could possibly err because God did not “breathe out” English words or Chinese words or any translated words, but the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words, we agree with Gill, but there is nothing here in Gill that tells us that he denies VPP.
Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892)
Rev ___ wrote of Spurgeon: “Spurgeon was the pastor of the London Metropolitan Tabernacle. He is also known was [sic] the Prince of Preachers and the last of the Puritans. In a sermon titled ‘The Bible Tried and Proved’ based on Psalm 12:6, Spurgeon said, ‘I do not hesitate to say that I believe that there is no mistake whatever in the original Holy Scriptures from beginning to end.’”
My Response: What a wonderful statement by Spurgeon who used Psalm 12:6 to argue that the Bible is “tried and proved” (and may I add that this is so precisely because God has promised to keep and preserve His words as stated in the next verse, verse 7). I affirm with Spurgeon: “I believe that there is no mistake whatever in the original Holy Scriptures from beginning to end [from Genesis to Revelation, from beginning till now].”
Spurgeon says, “There may be, and there are, mistakes of translation; for translators are not inspired.” (The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. Vol. 35. AGES Library).
My Response: This we do not deny. There are very many mistakes in the modern versions because of their use of the false text (Westcott-Hort Text) and their use of the wrong method of translation (dynamic equivalency). As far as the KJV is concerned, we take it to be “the very Word of God” in English, and hence do not think there are any mistakes in it because it was translated (1) on the basis of the true and complete text, and (2) by means of the verbal equivalence or word-for-word method (which is in keeping to the doctrines of VPI and VPP).
Rev ___ wrote: “Spurgeon generally preached from the King James Bible, but it may surprise some VPP proponents that he did not hesitate to use other versions and readings from older manuscripts when he found it helpful. Case in point, Spurgeon preached a sermon entitled ‘And We Are: A Jewel from the Revised Version’ based on 1 John 3:1. That three-word addition (and we are) in the Revised Version, according to Spurgeon is correct, ‘I have not the slightest doubt. Those authorities upon which we depend—those manuscripts which are best worthy of notice—have these words; and they are to be found in the Vulgate, the Alexandrian, and several other versions. They ought never to have dropped out. In the judgment of the most learned, and those best to be relied on, these are veritable words of inspiration.’ (The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. Vol. 32. AGES Library).”
My Response: I strongly object to Spurgeon’s endorsement of the Revised Version of Westcott and Hort (which is the progenitor of all the modern perversions in the market today). Now, I have some questions for Rev ___:
(1) Is he supportive of Westcott and Hort? Does he adopt the Westcott-Hort theory that the Alexandrian manuscripts are better since they contain “older” readings?
(2) Is he saying that it is helpful to use the modern perversions since Spurgeon also did so and found them helpful?
(3) On page 11 of his paper, Rev ___ calls on us to unite “to defend the Word of God against its real foes represented by the modern day Bible perversions.” If so, why is he contradicting himself at this juncture by endorsing the Revised Version, the Westcott-Hort text, and say that it is useful and helpful to consult the other versions and older Alexandrian manuscripts which are decidedly corrupt?
I must categorically state (lest I be misunderstood) that I do not believe at all that Rev ___ is speaking hypocritically (as an ___ graduate, he is surely a cut above the so-called “fundamentalist” scholars from BJU who wrote against the KJV and VPP of Scripture, who say one thing, but mean something else), but I cannot help but think that he is confused.
John William Burgon (1813–1888)
Rev ___ cited Burgon: “Burgon is popularly known in BP circles as Dean Burgon. Burgon rightly took a strong stand against the inferior textual methods and erroneous presumptions of Brook Foss Westcott (1825–1903) and Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828–1892). Burgon was right in disagreeing with Westcott and Hort on the weight that they ascribed to a few but older manuscripts. Burgon is correct: Age of the manuscript does not equate to its quality.”
My response: I am very glad that Rev ___ takes a strong stand with Burgon against the false textual critical method of Westcott and Hort that the few but older manuscripts are bad and must be rejected. In light of this, he should disagree with Spurgeon’s view of the Revised Version and the so-called “older” manuscripts (since he, like Burgon, believes that “older” doesn’t mean “better”).
Rev ___ went on to point out: “However, on the Received Text, Burgon states categorically, ‘Once for all, we request it may be clearly understood that we do not, by any means, claim perfection [emphasis Burgon’s] for the Received Text. We entertain no extravagant notions on this subject. Again and again we shall have occasion to point out … that the Textus Receptus needs correction. We do but insist, (1) that it is an incomparably better text … infinitely preferable to the New Greek Text of the Revisionists. And (2) That to be improved, the Textus Receptus will have to be revised on entirely different principles’ from those who are just now in fashion.’ (The Revision Revised, footnote on p. 21). Burgon was not averse to revising the Textus Receptus, meaning to say that he did not hold the Textus Receptus to be perfect and on par with the autographs.”
My Response: We are thankful to the Lord for Dean Burgon for a number of reasons: (1) Burgon was a defender of the Byzantine or Majority Text which he called the Traditional Text over against the Alexandrian or Minority Text of Westcott and Hort which he viewed as the Corrupted Text and rightly so. (2) Burgon was a strong defender for the KJV and spoke against any revision of it. Although Burgon defended the KJV in no uncertain terms, there was a weakness in his defence of it. It is unfortunate that Burgon did not defend the Textus Receptus—the Greek Text underlying the KJV—as strongly as he did the KJV. That is the reason why he disparagingly spoke of the need to “revise” the TR.
Why did Burgon have such a relatively low view of the Textus Receptus? Dr E F Hills—a friend and classmate of Dr McIntire at Westminster, a ThD graduate of Harvard, and a Presbyterian defender of the Textus Receptus—made an astute observation. He noted that Burgon was biased against the Textus Receptus because of his extreme Anglicanism which believes in the doctrine of apostolic succession. Dr Hills rightly commented that Burgon’s mistaken Anglican view of apostolic succession and emphasis on the NT quotations of the Bishops or Church Fathers “failed him when he came to deal with the printed Greek New Testament text. For from Reformation times down to his own day the printed Greek New Testament text which had been favored by the bishops of the Anglican Church was the Textus Receptus, and the Textus Receptus had not been prepared by bishops but by Erasmus, who was an independent scholar. Still worse, from Burgon’s standpoint, was the fact that the particular form of the Textus Receptus used in the Church of England was the third edition of Stephanus, who was a Calvinist. For these reasons, therefore, Burgon and Scrivener looked askance at the Textus Receptus and declined to defend it except in so far as it agreed with the Traditional Text found in the majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts” (Edward F Hills, The King James Version Defended [Des Moines: Christian Research Press, 1984], 192).
Dr Hills went on to say that Burgon’s approach to identifying the preserved text is “illogical.” Hills wrote: “If we believe in the providential preservation of the New Testament text, then we must defend the Textus Receptus as well as the Traditional Text found in the majority of the Greek manuscripts. For the Textus Receptus is the only form in which this Traditional Text has circulated in print. To decline to defend the Textus Receptus is to give the impression that God’s providential preservation of the New Testament text ceased with the invention of printing. It is to suppose that God, having preserved a pure New Testament text all during the manuscript period, unaccountably left this pure text hiding in the manuscripts and allowed an inferior text to issue from the printing press and circulate among His people for more than 450 years. Much, then, as we admire Burgon for his general orthodoxy and for his defense of the Traditional New Testament Text, we cannot follow him in his high Anglican emphasis or in his disregard for the Textus Receptus” (Ibid).
Rev ___ concluded by saying, “He [Burgon] only insisted, and rightly so, that any revision of the Textus Receptus must be done using the principles of Higher Criticism [sic].”
My Response: “Higher Criticism?!!” Rev ___ must be mistaken! Burgon did not advocate “Higher Criticism” (Read Burgon’s Inspiration and Interpretation). Let me say again that although we admire Burgon for his defence of the KJV, we do not follow him blindly in his relatively low view of the Textus Receptus.
Francis Turretin (1612–1687)
Rev ___ was extremely vague on what Turretin said about “contradictions” in the Bible. Rev ___ seems to give the impression that Turretin actually believes that there are “real contradictions” in the Bible citing his Institutes of Elenctic Theology, volume I, page 71.
My Response: Well I checked, and the words “real contradictions” did not appear at all in Turretin (at least not in the place cited). Let me quote Turretin, in the same volume and on the same page, and you can see for yourself that Turretin denied any “contradictions” in the Bible. Now read carefully Turretin; he wrote, “Unless unimpaired integrity characterize the Scriptures, they could not be regarded as the sole rule of faith and practice, and the door would be thrown wide open to atheists, libertines, enthusiasts, and other profane persons like them for destroying its authenticity (authentian) and overthrowing the foundation of salvation. For since nothing false can be an object of faith, how could the Scriptures be held as authentic and reckoned divine if liable to contradictions and corruptions?” [Anyone who can read English can see that this is a rhetorical question, expecting a negative answer—Turretin denies that there are any contradictions or corruptions in the Scriptures!]
Now, if we read page 70 of Turretin’s Theology, we find him vigorously denying that there are any “real contradictions” in the Scriptures. Turretin wrote, “Finally, others defend the integrity of the Scriptures and say that these various contradictions are only apparent, not real and true; that certain passages are hard to be understood (dysnoeta), but not altogether inexplicable (alyta). This is the more common opinion of the orthodox, which we follow as safer and truer.” This has all along been the primary contention and constant plea of VPP advocates in defending our Perfect Bible.
Rev ___ quoted Turretin at length, and I am thankful that he quoted Turretin’s understanding of what “original texts” mean. Rev ___ wrote, “On the purity of the sources, this question is asked, ‘Have the original texts of the Old and New Testaments come down to us pure and uncorrupted?’ Turretin first defines what he means by the original texts. ‘By the original texts, we do not mean the autographs written by the hand of Moses, of the prophets and of the apostles, which certainly do not now exist. We mean their apographs which are so called because they set forth to us the Word of God in the very words of those who wrote under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit.’”
My Emphasis: Take note that when Turretin (and for that matter, the reformers) spoke of the “original texts” which are “pure and uncorrupted,” he was not referring to the non-existent “autographs” but the “apographs” (ie, copies) which “set forth to us the Word of God in the very words of those who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” How can Turretin affirm this if God did not preserve every single one of His inspired words perfectly without any loss of any word whatsoever? To surmise that Turretin did not believe that God has indeed preserved entirely and fully His inspired words to the last jot and tittle (VPP) is to run counter to Turretin’s explanation of the providential preservation of the Scriptures.
Now, in discussing Turretin there is a need to realise that he addressed doctrinal concerns in the 17th century when the issue primarily concerned the doctrine of salvation, and not the doctrine of the Scriptures as we know it today—in the 21st century—with the introduction of Westcott-Hort and the many modern perversions. It is not unreasonable to assume that for this reason, Turretin was unable to see the need to push the doctrine of the VPP of Scripture to its logical conclusion. It was not his battle, it is ours!
As regards the “perfection” of versions, I am glad that Rev ___ quoted Turretin’s view that a Bible version can be considered “perfect” but only in “another” sense–ie, in the derived sense, for “all versions are the streams; the original text [apographs] is the fountain whence they flow. The latter is the rule, the former the thing ruled, … There is one perfection of things and truth to which nothing can be added and from which nothing can be taken away; another perfection of the version itself … Such perfection is the word carried over into the versions. The latter is a human work and therefore liable to error and correction - to which indeed authority can belong, but only human (according to the fidelity and conformity with the original text), but not divine.” (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Volume 1, p. 126). So, it is not wrong to say that the KJV is “perfect,” but it must be understood in the derived sense—insofar as it accurately translates the original. This I made clear in my booklet—KJV: Questions and Answers, page 8.
G I Williamson
Rev ___ wrote, “GI Williamson’s commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith is used (endnote, p.80). Presumably, Williamson’s commentary was used here because proponents of VPP have used his work to support the VPP theory (see Dr Jeffrey Khoo’s KJV: Questions and Answers, p. 23).”
Well, what did I say in KJV: Questions & Answers, page 23? Let me quote in full:
(23) What does the Westminster Confession of Faith mean by the words, “kept pure in all ages”?
Here is an answer from Prof William F Orr of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: “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 had kept pure in all the ages. The idea that there are mistakes in the Hebrew Masoretic texts or in the Textus Receptus of the New Testament was unknown to the authors of the Confession of Faith.”
G I Williamson likewise did write to this effect in his commentary on the Westminster Confession, “This brings us to the matter of God’s singular care and providence’ by which He has kept pure in all ages’ this original text, so that we now actually possess it in authentical’ form. And let us begin by giving an illustration from modern life to show that an original document may be destroyed, without the text of that document being lost. Suppose you were to write a will. Then suppose you were to have a photographic copy of that will made. If the original were then destroyed, the photographic copy would still preserve the text of that will exactly the same as the original itself. The text of the copy would differ in no way whatever from the original, and so it would possess exactly the same truth’ and meaning as the original. Now of course photography was not invented until long after the original copy … had been worn out or lost. How then could the original text of the Word of God be preserved? The answer is that God preserved it by His own remarkable care and providence.”
Rev ___ wrote that in two separate e-mails, Williamson, a retired Presbyterian minister wrote to clarify his views, and I have noted what Williamson had said way back in 2002 when a couple of my students wrote against me, and misrepresented me (which they subsequently retracted in a signed statement).
Let me just say that what Williamson wrote in his book speaks for itself (res ipsa loquitur). Let me also say that Williamson did not deny that the words of Scripture are verbally and plenarily preserved (for that would be disastrous, and would contradict what he himself had written in his book). He simply wrote, “I do not believe that it [Textus Receptus] is quite equal to a photocopy of the autographa [though he qualified his statement by saying that he has ‘great respect’ for the Textus Receptus].” It is also important to note that although he does not believe that the TR is an “exact replica” [as caricatured] of the autographs, yet he was careful to point out that “the foundation of the argument for the superiority of the TR is the doctrine of divine providence” (which is precisely the argument of Dr Waite in Chapter 1 of his book—Defending the King James Bible: A Fourfold Superiority).
But the fundamental Baptists of BJU say they believe in “providence” and yet deny the TR in favour of WH. How will Rev ___ reconcile this with Williamson’s equation of the Textus Receptus with the doctrine of providence? I should think that Rev ___ should be picking on BJU instead of FEBC. May I also point out that Williamson’s half-hearted commitment to the TR may be due to his preference for the NKJV and possibly the so-called Majority Text edited by Hodges and Farstad. If so, Williamson would find himself in disharmony with the Trinitarian Bible Society (TBS) with which ___ BPC (and FEBC) finds herself more in alignment. As such I should think that Rev ___ should be siding with FEBC and TBS than with Williamson and the NKJV (which the TBS has ably critiqued as an inferior version to the good old KJV). But perhaps Rev ___ was ignorant of this? At any rate, the final analysis is this: Although Williamson does not uphold the TR as much as we do, he did not deny in any way that God has indeed preserved His words to the last jot and tittle, without any words lost (as seen in his excellent “photocopy” illustration) which is the doctrine of VPP.
Definition of VPP
What does VPP mean? “Verbal” means “every word to the jot and tittle” (Ps 12:6–7, Matt 5:18). “Plenary” means “the Scripture as a whole with all the words intact” (Matt 24:35, 1 Pet 1:25). So VPP means the whole of Scripture with all its words even to the jot and tittle is perfectly preserved by God without any loss of the original words, prophecies, promises, commandments, doctrines, and truths, not only in the words of salvation, but also the words of history, geography and science. Every book, every chapter, every verse, every word, every syllable, every letter is “by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages” (WCF I:8).
What and where are the preserved words of God today? They are the inspired OT Hebrew/Aramaic words and NT Greek words the prophets, the apostles, the church fathers, the reformers used which are today found in the long and continuously abiding or preserved Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words underlying the Reformation Bibles best represented by the KJV, and NOT in those corrupted Alexandrian manuscripts and critical Westcott-Hort texts underlying the modern versions which the church had seen fit to reject for all these millennia but revived by modern ecumenists and compromisers in these last days of apostasy.
Basically, those who hold to the VPP of Scripture believe and embrace the following tenets:
…Rev ___ has taken no oath, but I have taken an oath that the Bible is perfect without any mistake. I will not bow to any pressure nor be cowered by any threat to force me to agree that the Holy Scriptures which I have in my hands today are imperfect or contain mistakes. I fear God and His judgement, not man and his criticisms. I seek the approval of God, not the popularity of men.
I pray that Rev ___ and all FEBC alumni would stand fast together with their alma mater on the sole and final authority of the forever infallible and inerrant words of God, “in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27). Soli Deo Gloria!
Rev Dr Jeffrey Khoo
This article is also published in the Dean Burgon Society website.