Wednesday, November 13, 2019

WM 138: Text Note: Ephesians 3:9

I have posted WM 138: Text Note: Ephesians 3:9. Listen here.

A popular internet apologist (PIA) has recently suggested that Ephesians 3:9 is a “blatant error” in the TR, and, therefore, this poses a supposedly insurmountable “defeater” for the Confessional Text position.

Is this, in fact, the case? Is defense of the TR, in general, and the TR reading in Ephesians 3:9, in particular, completely irrational?

Let’s look at the evidence by posing a series of five questions and responses:

First: What is the supposed “blatant error” in the TR of Ephesians 3:9?

The controversy in Ephesians 3:9 involves the TR reading η κοινωνια του μυστηριου, “the fellowship of the mystery” (as translated in Tyndale, Geneva, KJV). In the modern critical text the reading is η οικονομια του μυστηριου, “the plan of the mystery” (ESV) or “the administration of the mystery” (NASB).

The controversy here is really about one single word:

TR: η κοινωνια

MCT: η οικονομια

We can immediately see that the words are very similar in form to one another, and we can see how there might easily have been scribal confusion between the two words. One has 8 letters and the other 9 letters. Every letter in κοινωνια appears in οικονομια, except one: omega. Both words end in iota alpha.

Second: Why is it argued that the MCT reading is superior to the TR reading in Ephesians 3:9?

A friend shared a FB post from the aforementioned PIA which begins:

There is no evidence to my knowledge (manuscript, patristic, versional, inscriptional) within the first 1000 years of church history of anyone reading Ephesians 3:9 as "the fellowship of the mystery" (ἡ κοινωνία τοῦ μυστηρίου). The reading is unquestioned: it is "the administration/plan of the mystery" (ἡ οἰκονομία τοῦ μυστηρίου).
We should note that this argument against the TR reading is entirely based on the external evidence.
Let’s begin with some analysis of the Greek manuscript evidence, which is generally the most important.
Among current extant Greek manuscripts, of all eras, the Majority reading is indeed η οικονομια. In fact, the external evidence is so overwhelming that the NA28 does not even list any variants at this point in its critical apparatus.
Bruce Metzger, however, offers the following comments on this variant in his Textual Commentary, Second Edition (1994): “The Textus Receptus, in company with a scattering of late minuscules, replaces οἰκονομία with the interpretive gloss κοινωνία (hence AV “fellowship”). The true reading is supported by p46, all known uncials, almost all minuscules, all known versions, and patristic quotations” (535).
Though Metzger, unsurprisingly, dismisses the Greek ms. support for the traditional reading as confirmed only by “a scattering of late minuscules”, he does, at least, acknowledge that this reading is present in the Greek ms. tradition.
This brings up an important related point, which the intrepid PIA seems always to overlook in throwing out random objection passages to the TR like this one. Namely, those who prefer the TR readily and openly acknowledge that it is an eclectic text. It is not based on the Majority text. Many of its readings are found in the Majority text (like the traditional ending of Mark), but some are based on a minority tradition. The PIA seems completely oblivious to this point.
It seems particularly odd for the PIA to reject the TR reading at Ephesians 3:9 based on the fact that it is not the Majority reading since, supposedly, he is not himself an advocate for the Majority text but, instead, embraces an eclectic method (reasoned eclecticism). We might call the TR “providential eclecticism.”

Side Note: There is another variant in Ephesians 3:9 that involves the prepositional phrase at the end of the verse, “through Jesus Christ.” In this case the Majority text and the TR both include the phrase while the MCT rejects it. If the PIA supports the Majority text in the case of the “fellowship/plan” variant, why not accept it here also? Why not follow the Majority text in passages like Mark 16:9-20?

Furthermore, the PIA expresses great confidence in the new CBGM, despite the fact that in the NA28 it favors a reading in 2 Peter 3:10 based on NO extant Greek mss.! There seems to be a problem with consistency.
Third: What about the Greek manuscript evidence for Ephesians 3:9?
When the PIA proclaims that the TR reading does not appear in any manuscripts in the course of over 1,000 years of church history that initially sounds quite overwhelming.
But we should remember the wisdom of Solomon, who said, “He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him” (Proverbs 18:17).
This leads us to another major problem with the PIA’s analysis of this textual variant at Ephesians 3:9: His analysis (or failure to provide sufficient analysis) of the Greek manuscript evidence regarding this reading.
To begin, can we ask the PIA to list for us the minority of minuscules (acknowledged by Metzger) which include the TR reading, along with their suggested dates in order to verify that none of these appear before the eleventh century? If the PIA cannot list these, does this indicate that he has offered this challenge without first doing a proper analytical study of this variant?
Even if he can substantiate his claim, would he not agree that even late mss. sometimes contain the earliest readings? On this see David Lanier’s chapter “Dating Myths, Part Two: How later manuscripts can be better manuscripts” in Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism (110-131).
Again, we are not denying that the TR reading is a late minority reading at this point, but this does not mean ipso facto that it is a “blatant error”?
To continue, we might ask for specific information about the earliest Greek manuscript evidence for Ephesians 3:9. When we look more closely, in fact, we find that the total early Greek manuscript evidence for Ephesians 3:9 is extremely thin.
A quick check of the INTF online Liste for Ephesians 3:9 reveals that there are only 6 extant Greek manuscripts containing this verse that are dated pre-AD 800. See this table:
Early mss. containing Eph 3:9
Mss. estimated dates by century

So, according to the INTF date estimates, there are 0 mss. pre-AD 225, and there is only one ms. pre-AD 300 (p46). The earliest ms. we have of Ephesians is at best c. 250-300 years after the letter was written.
To push a little further regarding the early mss. evidence, I took a look at James R. Royse’s chapter on “The Early Text of Paul (and Hebrews)” in Charles E. Hills & Michael J. Kruger, eds., The Early Text of the New Testament (Oxford University Press, 2012, 2014): 175-203.
Royse notes that there are only 20 extant mss. (19 papyri and 1 majuscule) from the Pauline corpus that are plausibly date before AD 350 (175).
He provides a table of these mss., most of which are highly fragmentary (Table 10, 176-177).
Of these 20 mss. only 3 have any portion of Ephesians:
Mss. with Ephesians
Date according to Royse
c. 200
Eph 4:16-19, 4:32-5:13
Eph 1:11-13, 1:19-21

Regarding p46 Royse describes its textual quality as “free” (Table 10, 177). Later Royse says the text of p46 is “basically Alexandrian, but it often supports readings found in D F G and even the occasional Byzantine reading (such as Eph. 5:9)” (181). Royse suggests “one aspect of a scholarly concern for the text” of p46 is found in its “corrections” (181). He adds: “These number 183, of which possibly 109 are by the scribe, 56 are by the second hand, 14 by the third hand, and 4 by the fourth hand” (181-182). He also notes that it contains 639 “singular readings”, adding, “The overall tendency to omit is clearly evidenced in these numbers” (183). Royse adds that another important aspect of the p46’s copying is “a tendency to harmonize to the content” (183).
So, to sum up, let’s break down the Greek ms. evidence for this variant at Ephesians 3:9 for the first three centuries of early Christianity:
In the first century (up to AD 100): no extant Greek mss. support η κοινωνια, and none support η οικονομια.

In the second century (up to AD 200): no extant Greek mss. support η κοινωνια, and none support η οικονομια.

In the third century (up to AD 300): no extant Greek mss. support η κοινωνια, while one ms. supports η οικονομια.

We readily acknowledge that there is no early Greek ms. support for the TR reading η κοινωνια, but we also recognize that there is almost no early Greek manuscript evidence for the MCT reading of η οικονομια. Yes, η οικονομια is the reading found in the five early uncials and became the Majority reading, but this does not mean that the modern critical method can prove it is the original reading, and, in fact, contemporary text critics would be loathe to say that they can do any such thing, given the evidence.

This illustrates a key point in my lecture presentations at the T & CC which has been completely ignored by the PIA in his responses so far: the fact that we have very little early manuscript evidence for the NT. So little, in fact, that it makes the entire “reconstruction” method suspect. As Wasserman and Gurry state in an illustration I shared in my final lecture at the T & CC, the evidence from the extant NT mss. is more like a “watercolor” than a “topographical map” of the NT and you would not want to rely on it to “find your way out of the forest”!
Aside from the overall shift from modern to postmodern methodology, this acknowledgement of the meager and often fragmentary early Greek NT ms. evidence (including the papyri!) is a major reason that the stated goal of contemporary text critics is not to find the “original autograph” but merely to approximate the “initial text” (Augsgangstext) of the first few centuries.
This makes the PIA’s declaration that the TR reading at Ephesians 3:9 is a “blatant error” all the more inconsistent with the current academic method he supposedly embraces.
Fourth, what about the versional and patristic evidence for the variant at Ephesians 3:9?
Though we have noted that the key evidence should generally be the Greek mss., we should also address the PIA’s charge that the versional and patristic witnesses to this textual variant also serve as a “defeater” for the TR.
Regarding the versional evidence, we should note several key things to keep in mind:
First, the PIA never provides any specific examples from the versions for our comparison and analysis.
Second, the versions were generally produced later and do not provide earliest or direct evidence for the text.
Third, study of the versions also requires more detailed linguistic analysis and comparison. One thing that should be pointed out is that the Greek words η κοινωνια and η οικονομια might have some possible overlap in meaning, so that either word might have been rendered by the same term in the receptor language. Though η κοινωνια is usually rendered as “fellowship” in English, the lexicons remind us that it also has the sense of “association”, “generosity”, or a “gift” given as a “sign of fellowship” (cf. Phil 1:5, etc.). Likewise, the lexicons remind us that the the noun η οικονομια also has the meaning of “stewardship”, as it is used in near context at Ephesians 3:2 where Paul speaks about the οικονομια of the grace of God which has been given to him for the Ephesians.
A thorough study of the versional evidence would require an examination of how each receptor language rendered the Greek terms η κοινωνια and η οικονομια, and whether they generally used two distinct words for each term (as in Latin) or whether the same word was ever used for both terms. If the latter is the case, then it is possible that a version would not, in fact, provide definitive evidence as to which Greek word undergirds the version.
Regarding patristics, we can raise similar concerns. Most importantly, no specific examples are given. How many times do we find references to Ephesians 3:9 in the church fathers? How do we know if the citation was a direct quotation or a paraphrase? Was the father citing from the Greek text or from a translation?
Fifth, why did the Protestant Reformed embrace and affirm the TR of Ephesians 3:9 rather than the Majority reading?
There can be little doubt that the Protestant Reformed knew that “fellowship” was not the Majority reading of the Greek mss., but they consistently recognized this as the true text.
This is one of those texts where the “which TR” argument does not seem to apply in that it is the reading found in the family of printed TR editions.
It is there in the 1516 of Erasmus, the 1550 of Stephanus, and the 1598 of Beza:

Image: Ephesians 3:9 in Erasmus's Greek NT 1516

Image: Ephesians 3:9 in Beza's Greek NT 1598

Interestingly enough, it is also there in the Colinaeus Greek NT of 1534, a text which very often follows readings found in today’s modern critical text, and was the text used by Calvin in his early ministry, before he embraced the TR as his preferred text of the Greek NT.

Image: Ephesians 3:9 in Colinaeus's Greek NT 1534
We might add that the TR reading also clearly departed from the Latin Vulgate which followed the Majority Greek text and read “dispensatio sacramenti” (cf. Erasmus’s Latin above: “communio mysterii”).

On what basis did the Reformed men affirm “fellowship” here as the true reading, over against the Majority Greek ms. tradition? We do not know. It is certainly possible that they had access to Greek mss. which are no longer available to us.
Those who scoff at this notion (like the PIA), should consult Jacob W. Peterson’s recent contribution to Elijah Hixon and Peter J. Gurry, eds. Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism. Peterson’s chapter three is titled “Math Myths: How Many Manuscripts We Have and Why More Isn’t Always Better” (48-69). In a section on the loss of manuscripts, Peterson notes, “Another factor affecting our manuscript count is loss” (54). He notes that even in the INTF Liste 136 mss. are listed as “Besitzer unbekannt” or “owner unknown”, adding, “there are a number of ways this happens, ranging from accidental to illegal” (54). He also observes, “Manuscripts are lost through more natural causes such as fires, floods, and insects” (55). Manuscripts 1257-1259 from a school in Izmir are listed as “burnt” (55). Manuscripts like 241 and 2039 were damaged or destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden in WW2 (55). Peterson adds that “numerous early manuscripts, such as 062, catalogued in Damascus, Syria” are listed as “owner unknown” (55).
Then consider that Peterson is only addressing manuscripts that were once known by modern scholars and appear on the current Liste that have been lost or destroyed. What about all the ones that were never catalogued or photographed in modern times?
The PIA does not seem to acknowledge the fact that the printed editions of the TR may serve as witnesses to mss. that are no longer extant.
In the end, we can only be sure that in the providence of God the reading “the fellowship of the mystery” was that preserved in the TR. It was the Greek text that became the basis for the Protestant translations of Europe that brought the Reformed faith to the masses. It was the text studied, taught, and preached in the Reformation and Post-Reformation eras, and it remains the preferred text of Scripture embraced by countless thousands of faithful churches and Christians today.
So Calvin would write in his commentary on Ephesians 3:9: “The publication of the gospel is called a fellowship, because it is the will of God that his purpose, which had formerly been hidden, shall now be shared by men.” 
It is only in the modern era that “Reformed” men have abandoned the traditional text for the modern reconstructed text. In so doing they have embraced a religious epistemology that abandons stability, continuity, and consistency.
We do not believe, in the end, that it is irrational or irreligious or irresponsible to embrace the traditional Protestant text of the Christian Scriptures, rather than the ever-changing, every-evolving modern critical text based on an empirical method with origins in the Enlightenment (“Enlightenment Text-Onlyism”).

Summary on Ephesians 3:9
  • The TR is an eclectic text and is not based merely on the reading of the earliest or the Majority of the extant Greek manuscripts. Therefore, the fact that texts like Ephesians 3:9, are based on a later minority reading, is not necessarily a “defeater” for the TR position.
  • There is, in fact, very little early Greek manuscript evidence for the Pauline epistles, for the book of Ephesians, and, especially, for Ephesians 3:9.
  • The Confessional Text position rejects the reconstructionist method of modern text criticism, in part, because there is not enough extant Greek manuscript evidence to justify this approach.
  • Reformed pastors and scholars of the Reformation era, based on evidence and reasoning that may no longer be available or discernable to us, providentially affirmed “the fellowship of the mystery” in Ephesians 3:9 as the fitting reading of the received text.
  • The printed editions of the TR may serve as witnesses to Greek mss. of the NT that are no longer available to us.
  • There is no compelling reason to abandon the TR in our times and many convincing reasons as to why it should continue to be affirmed by faithful Christians instead of the Enlightenment text.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Matthew C. Bingham on Reformed Baptists being "Reformed"

Image: CRBC baptismal service (11.10.19) [in the baptistery of Louisa BC]

In his article in the book On Being Reformed: Debates over a Theological Identity (Palgrave Pivot, 2018) [see WM 137] defending the propriety of Reformed Baptists to be considered “Reformed” and distinguishing Reformed Baptists from those who are merely Calvinistic Baptists, Matthew C. Bingham offers this succinct summary (pp. 47-48):

With the wider Reformed tradition, Reformed Baptists affirm monergistic soteriology, an appreciation of God’s meticulous providence, and a robust declaration that all things work “to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy” [2LBCF 5:1]. But alongside these things, and also in keeping with the wider Reformed tradition, Reformed Baptists affirm the regulative principle of worship, demand that a plurality of elders rule in the local congregation, and recognize the need that local churches not be isolated from one another but are instead called to hold “communion together” for their mutual “peace, union, and edification” [2LBCF 26:15]. With the wider Reformed tradition, Reformed Baptists embrace the Lord’s Day as the Christian Sabbath, understand the Lord’s Supper to be more than a bare memorial but rather a means of grace given for our “spiritual nourishment” (2LBCF 30:1], and recognize that the Lord of the Decalogue has given therein a summary statement of his immutable moral law. And with the wider Reformed tradition, Reformed Baptists understand all of Scripture as covenantally structured, rejecting dispensationalism and seeing the New Testament church as properly and fully “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16).

To this he then adds:

On these and other points, those Christians subscribing to the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of faith identity, not with the nebulous and ill-defined “Baptist” community, but rather with the Reformed tradition out of which their confessional document emerged. The fact that seventeenth century churchmen who drafted the confession would not have used the term “Reformed Baptists” to describe themselves was the result of political and cultural, rather than theological, considerations and should not dissuade contemporary Christians from embracing the term without embarrassment. Ultimately, then, if pressed as to why I would eschew terms like “Calvinistic Baptist” and stubbornly persist in calling myself “Reformed,” I would simply have to say that I agree with R. Scott Clark and others when they remind us that “Five Points” are not enough. A Calvinistic and Augustinian monergism does not exhaust the confessional heritage to which I subscribe; for that I need a better term: “Reformed.”


Saturday, November 09, 2019

Eusebius, EH.5.1: The Gallic Martyrs: "Athletes of Piety"

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryHere is Book 5, chapter 1. Listen here.

Notes and Commentary:

Book 5 begins with a brief preface in which Eusebius, after noting the succession of Eleutherus as bishop of Rome following Soter, explains that whereas non-Christians historians write about victories in wars, triumphs over enemies, and the exploits of generals, Christian historians write about the martyrs, those “athletes of piety” who are “valiant for the truth.” The idea of the martyrs as athletes engaged in a great contest of faith is a theme throughout this chapter.

There then follows a very long and extended opening chapter.

Eusebius begins by citing a description of the martyrs of Gaul (Lyons and Vienne) from his “collection of martyrs.”

These included Vettius Epagathus, called “the Comforter of Christians.”

He records that some, under duress, failed in faithfulness. Heathen household servants falsely accused the brethren of Thyestean Feasts (eating children) and Oedipodean intercourse (incest).

Among the martyrs there was Blandina, a woman mercilessly tortured but who confessed, “I am a Christian and nothing wicked happens among us.”

There was also Sanctus, the deacon from Vienne, who despite unspeakable tortures would only say, “I am a Christian.”

A woman named Biblis first denied Christ, but then rallied and confessed faith to die as a martyr.

Those not immediately killed were thrown into prisons to suffer and die.

Account is given of the sufferings and abuse of Pothinus, the 90 year-old bishop of Lyons, who died after just two days in prison. This recalls the martyrdom of Polycarp.

Even those who initially denied Christ did not escape, but they suffered shameful death in imprisonment.

Description is given of Marturus, Sanctus, Blandina, and Attalus who were led to wild beasts. Marturus and Sanctus were first tortured in the amphitheater by being roasted on an iron chair. Blandina was hung on a stake, as if crucified. Attalus had a placard paraded before him which said, “I am a Christian”, and he was railed against by the crowd.

Mention is made of Alexander, a Phrygian physician, who was encouraging those who had initially denied the faith to be restored, till he was also seized and cast into the amphitheater to join the martyrs.

On the last day of the gladiatorial sports, the still-suriving Blandina and Ponticus, a fifteen-year old believer, were brought forward. Blandina encouraged the youth till he met his end, then she was put in a net and thrown to a bull.

The bodies of the saints were afterwards abused by the pagans in their zeal and hatred. Those who died in prison had their bodies desecrated and fed to the dogs, with the pagans mocking, “Where is their god and what good to them was their worship, which they preferred above their lives?” After six days the bodies of the martyrs were burned, and the ashes thrown in the Rhone river so as to leave no relics. The account ends with pagans mocking their hope in the resurrection: “now let us see if they will rise again….”, but the reader knows the reality of this hope.


This narrative not only describes the persecutions endured by early Christians, but also the brutality and bloodthirstiness of the pre-Christian Roman world. It also illustrates the early Christian interest in the cult of the martyrs (cf. the epistles of Ignatius of Antioch and the Martyrdom of Polycarp).


Friday, November 08, 2019

The Vision (11.8.19): The Call of Elisha

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 1 Kings 19:19-21. Audio not yet available.

“…and Elijah passed by him and cast his mantle upon him…And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah…Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him” (1 Kings 19:19-21).

The call of Elisha to follow after the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19:19-21 anticipates the call to follow after Christ. This is Old Testament discipleship, a shadow or type of a greater coming reality. Not only does it point forward to Christ’s ministry as the great Prophet who would call men like Peter, Andrew, James, and John to leave their nets and follow after him, but it also points to a present reality as we are being called to abandon all and follow after the Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice at least six aspects of the call of Elisha:

First: The call came upon Elisha suddenly and unexpectedly (v. 19).

Second: The call demanded that Elisha leave his present circumstances (v. 20a).

Third: The call took precedence over all other relationships, including even that of his own family (v. 20b).

Fourth: The call required sacrifice and abandonment of former things (v. 21a).

Fifth: The answering of the call was accompanied with joyful celebration (feasting) (v. 21 a).

Sixth: The call required lowliness of spirit and willingness to serve in the humblest of ways (v. 21b).

Christ still calls upon men to deny themselves, to take up the cross daily, and follow him (Luke 9:23). May the Lord grant us grace to be his faithful disciples.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, November 07, 2019

WM 137: Round Table: Are Reformed Baptists Reformed?

WM 127: Round Table: Are Reformed Baptists Reformed? is posted. Listen here.

This episode was recorded on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 in Sandston, Virginia, following a fraternal meeting of RB pastors. In it, I join with four brothers to discuss the book On Being Reformed: Debates over a Theological Identity (Palgrave Pivot, 2018).

This booklet has four essays written in response to and discussion of R. Scott Clark's Recovering the Reformed Confession: Our Theology, Piety, and Practice (P & R, 2008), especially relating to the question of whether or not modern Reformed Baptists can rightly be labelled as "Reformed."

In favor of Reformed Baptists being Reformed, there are two articles from Baptist scholars:

Chris Caughey and Crawford Gribben, History, Identity, Politics, and the "Recovery of the Reformed Confession"

Matthew C. Bingham, "Reformed Baptists": Anachronistic Oxymoron or Useful Signpost?

And on the opposite side, two articles suggesting that Reformed Baptists are not really Reformed:

D. G. Hart, Baptists are Different

R. Scott Clark, A House of Card? A Response to Bingham, Gribben, and Caughey

Beyond analysis and evaluation of the booklet we also discussed issues like whether a Reformed Baptist church should have the name "Reformed" in its title, how to interpret/explain Reformed theology to those new to our churches or the faith, etc.

Thanks to these brothers for taking part in the discussion!

Image (Left to Right): Clevenger, Jones, Loomis, Davidson


Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Charles Marsh on avoiding the "comparative religions" approach to evangelism

I shared this quote in WM 136 from Charles Marsh, who served as a longtime Brethren missionary in North Africa, from his book The Challenge of Islam (Ark Publishing, 1980), under a section headed “Mistakes to avoid” in doing evangelism with Muslims:

Do not give him a free tuition in Islam! Remember that not every Muslim is a theologian. In fact, many who come to Europe as students or workmen know very little about their faith. A man in the villages of Algeria once assured me, ‘Everything I know about Islam I learned from the missionaries!’ The Christian states, ‘The Bible says…, but you Muslims believe….’ The Muslim was totally unaware of that particular point of the Islamic faith. It is the missionary who taught him. Avoid the type of discussion which is based on comparative religion. Religions have always antagonized, but faith in a living God who works in men’s lives carries conviction (171).

See also this blog post on Marsh from 2015.


Monday, November 04, 2019

A Challenge to James White on Apologetics and Text Criticism

A friend sent me a copy of comments apparently posted today to FB by popular internet apologist James White (JW) responding to the recent Text and Canon Conference (find audio here), in which he began with the following (bold and underlined added):

I have gotten through 4+ hours of the Text and Canon conference from last weekend. A great deal to talk about as time permits, but two things right now:
First, to my fellow apologists who do not buy into TROnlyism and who seek to give a defense of the NT against atheists, Muslims, etc., in the public square (something that to my knowledge the TR Only position has yet to attempt in any major way), you will need to tune into the arguments being put forward by the TR Only guys, because *they will be taken up and used against you by the atheists and Muslims.* ....So, you will have atheists and Muslims, in particular, quoting these guys in their favor against you. ....

So, JW believes that content from our conference will be used by atheists and Muslims to disprove the Christian faith and the Christian Scriptures?

In light of his statement, I want to issue a challenge to JW. I am going to provide embeds below to five videos posted from just one Muslim apologetics channel (Muslim by Choice), which feature clips from James White’s teaching on text criticism. These videos are posted by Muslim by Choice in order to support the Muslim contention that the NT is hopelessly corrupted. One will also note that Muslim by Choice sometimes tandems clips of JW’s teaching with similar teaching by Bart Erhman and others.

My challenge to JW is to post at least five similar videos in which Muslim apologists have posted teaching from advocates of the Traditional or Confessional Text to support their attacks on the integrity of the Christian Scriptures.

If he is able to find five such videos (which, admittedly, I am doubtful he will be able to locate), I will then match them with five more videos in which Muslims apologists have posted clips from his teaching, and then (if he can find them) he can post five more videos, and so forth, until we see who runs out of material first.

This should allow us, in a fair and open manner, to see whose views on Scripture are actually more prone to being used by atheists and Muslim apologists in order to promote their cause. This, then, will help us evaluate which approach to the text of Scripture, in fact, provides the strongest defense of the faith (apologetic) in the “public square.”

Here are my first five videos:

On Mark 16:9-20:

On 1 John 5:7, Mark 16:9-20, and John 7:53-8:11:

On Mark 16:9-20:

On 1 Timothy 3:16:

On Luke 23:34:


Update (11.5.19): After I posted this someone also shared with me the following video which essentially makes the same point of this blogpost "challenge" in a perhaps more entertaining and less time consuming manner: