Monday, October 19, 2020

Andrew Warrick: A Systematic Defense of the Textus Receptus

Andrew Warrick, an RB brother here in Virginia and a contributor to the Particular Baptist website and podcast, has written an article worth reading, titled "A Systematic Defense for the Textus Receptus" (find it here).

This article hones in on the overlooked but key theological issue when considering issues related to the text of Scripture: epistemology.

To borrow James Carville's mantra from the 1992 Presidential election ("It's the economy, stupid!"), we can say that the mantra most likely to open the eyes of conservative Reformed men to the dangers of wholeheartedly embracing the modern critical text is, "It's epistemology, stupid!"

JTR


The Tale of a Great Puzzle: An Allegory on the Preservation of the Text of Scripture

Poul de Gier, an RB pastor in Alberta Canada has written the "The Tale of a Great Puzzle," an allegory on the preservation of Scripture, turning the modern critical text puzzle analogy on its head.

The allegory begins:

Many centuries ago, there was a wise man, named Dominus, who lived in a large castle with four majestic towers. Each of these towers was commissioned as a testimony of the amazing feat Dominus had accomplished in his realm. Dominus ordered a painting to be made of his castle. In the background, the painting portrayed a magnificent landscape with rolling hills and a beautiful forest.  Carving the painting into an exact one thousand pieces, he made it into a grand puzzle.  Dominus bequeathed the beautiful puzzle to his twelve sons, who received the majestic work with much joy and care.  He explicitly promised his family that the puzzle would always be part of their family, a part of what identified them....

Read the rest of the story here. 

JTR

Two Views of the Transmission of the Bible: A Farmer's Perspective

 

Here is a meme shared by my friend Poul de Gier, RB Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church, Pononka, Alberta Canada. In addition to his work as a pastor, Poul is also a farmer, so he knows something about baling twine.

Enjoy, JTR

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Vision (10.16.20): The Wisdom that is From Above

 


Image: Pear tree, North Garden, Virginia, October 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on James 3:14-18.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy (James 3:17).

James 3:14-18 describes two types of wisdom. First, there is the false “wisdom” from below, that is “earthly, sensual, and devilish” (v. 15). In contrast, there is the true wisdom that is from above (v. 17). It is marked by seven characteristics:

First, it is pure.

It is not sullied. It is not cynical. It is not suspicious. Christ said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt 5:8).

Second, it is peaceable.

Christ taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt 5:9). In Romans 12:18 Paul exhorted, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live at peace with all men.” Above all we must have peace with God (Rom 5:1).

Third, it is gentle.

The wise man is not like the proverbial bull in the china shop. He is not a steamroller. He is not a “it’s my way or the highway” type of man. The same term is used in Philippians 4:5 to promote “moderation”, and it is used in 1 Timothy 3:3 to describe a bishop as one who is “patient.”

Fourth, it is easy to be intreated.

The man who has this wisdom is eager for reconciliation and swift to pursue it. When reconciliation is achieved, he keeps no record of wrongs. The NKJV renders the term here as “willing to yield.” It refers to one who has a teachable spirit, rather than insisting on his own way.

Fifth, it is full of mercy and good fruits.

Christ taught, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt 5:7) and “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:36).

Good fruits are good works that overflow and abound from the life of the man that is truly converted (cf. Eph 2:10).

Sixth, it is without partiality.

The wisdom that is from above is not judgmental. Yes, there is a place for judgment and discernment (1 John 4:1). But the wisdom that is from above is not overbearing in judgment of others. It is impartial in the sense that is not quick to jump to conclusions without first weighing all the evidence. It is a spirit that hopes for the best in the other, rather than assuming the worst.

Seventh, it is without hypocrisy.

It does not teach one way, then act in another way. It does not have an integrity gap between words and actions (cf. Matt 7:1-5).

May the Lord give us the grace to live with the wisdom that is from above.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

CCP "Updates" the Woman Taken in Adultery Passage


A friend sent me a link to this news article on a Chinese textbook that "updates" John's controversial account of the Pericope Adulterae (PA) or woman taken in adultery (John 7:53-8:11).

In the new CCP version of the story, Jesus oversees the stoning of the woman and announces, "I too am a sinner."

This story has never been popular with unbelievers, legalists, and oppressive rulers. Though modern scholars (like Knust and Wasserman) continue to tell us that there was no attempt to suppress the narrative in early Christianity, Augustine tells a different story, and this recent attempt to mangle the PA's content is yet more anecdotal evidence of the perennial scandal represented by the sacred record of Christ's deeds and words [both "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her" (v. 7) and "go and sin no more" (v. 11)].

JTR

Taylor DeSoto Responding to 20 Common Claims Made Against the TR

Taylor DeSoto continues his prolific blogging pace over at his "Young, Textless, and Reformed" site (He's probably written three articles in the time it's taken me to post this one!). He recently posted an article with convenient links to 20 of his past articles addressing various objections to the TR position. Read the post here. Sample some of the articles below:

Common Claims Made by Critical Text Apologists Answered:

  1. TR Advocates are more skeptical than Bart Ehrman
  2. Treating Text and Canon the same is a category error
  3. P75 proves that Vaticanus is early and reliable
  4. Beza was doing the same thing as modern textual critics
  5. The CBGM can get us to 125AD
  6. There is a “fatal flaw” in TR argumentation
  7. The CBGM is going to give us a Bible more accurate than before
  8. The CBGM is “God’s gift to the church”
  9. The TR position offers no meaningful apologetic to Bart Ehrman
  10. The TR position is “anachronistic”
  11. The TR position starts with the TR and is circular
  12. Adopting the critical text is consistent with presuppositional apologetics
  13. There is no doctrine affected between the TR and CT
  14. The TR position is “textual mythology”
  15. Learning textual criticism is necessary for apologetics
  16. The burden of proof is on the TR advocates
  17. The Bible does not teach providential preservation
  18. There is no difference between Critical Bibliology and Reformed Bibliology
  19. It is possible to reconstruct the original autographs with extant evidence
  20. The TR position is just fundamentalism, emotionalism, and traditionalism
JTR

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Particular Baptist Podcast Debate: Is the Textus Receptus the Word of God?

 

 

The Particular Baptist podcast is a ministry of some young men from a sister RB church (Covenant RBC, Warrenton) in the Reformed Baptist Fellowship of Virginia. This episode from 10/3/20 features a charitable and collegial debate on the topic: "Is the Textus Receptus the Word of God?" Sean Cheetham did a very able job in defending the TR and Daniel Vincent represented well the modern critical text side. Glad these types of conversations are taking place.

Enjoy! JTR

Debate follow up: Steven L. Anderson reviews the Mark 16:9-20 debate

 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Eusebius, EH.10.1-3: The Triumph of Christianity


  

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: Book 10, chapters 1-3.

Notes and Commentary:

Chapter 1 of book 10 begins with an expression of thanksgiving to God for bringing an end to the persecution against the church and the restoration of peace.

Eusebius dedicates the entire Ecclesiastical History to Paulinus, bishop of Tyre. Oulton notes that he also dedicated his work Onamasticon to Paulinus, whom he admired greatly.

He expresses his intention to lift up a panegyric (discourse of praise) to God in this closing book, in light of the removal of enemies of the churches of Christ.

Chapter 2 notes that whereas all men had reason to rejoice at the fall of the tyrants, the Christians had even more cause for rejoicing. They were revived after a time of destruction and were able to build temples to boundless heights.

The emperors issued enactments on behalf of the Christians and the bishops received personal letters and gifts (including money).

Chapter 3 begins by noting in particular the dedications of new houses of prayer and the free assemblages of bishops coming together from many lands that were now able to take place. The Christians enjoyed great unity as they came together in worship and the leaders offered “panegyrical orations.”

Conclusion:

The tone of these opening chapters of book 10 is indeed celebratory as Eusebius notes the fall of the tyrants Maxentius and Maximin at the hands of Constantine and Licinius. These chapters anticipate Eusebius’s own extended panegyric, dedicated to Paulinus, which will follow in the next chapter.

JTR

Friday, October 09, 2020

The Vision (10.9.20): Taming the Tongue

 


Note: Devotional taken from last Sunday's sermon on James 3:6-13:

James 3:7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind. 8 But the tongue no man can tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

James begins by describing the mastery that God has given to man over all the other creatures (v. 7). This takes us back to the dominion mandate given to man on the sixth day of creation (see Gen 1:16-27). Genesis 2:19-20 even describes how God brought the animals to Adam and had him name them.

“But,” James continues, in v. 8, “the tongue no man can tame.” Massive animals, elephants, rhinos, giraffes man can subdue. Fierce animal, lions, tigers, and bears (Oh my!), man can subdue. But he cannot tame the tongue. I imagine a lion tamer standing with his whip and chair before the tongue, but not able to tame it!

Notice James does not say it is very difficult for a man to tame the tongue. Nor, it takes a lot of work and practice and patience and humility and discipline to tame the tongue. No. He says that no man can tame the tongue. That is, no sinful man will be able in this life fully to manage his tongue.

He adds two more very, very vivid metaphors:

First, the tongue is “an unruly evil.” The word unruly (akatastatos) can mean restless or disorderly. Imagine an incorrigible child running around in a grocery store knocking items off the shelves, taking bites out of fruit, upsetting shopping carts. The tongue is like that. It is an unruly evil.

Second, the tongue is “full of deadly poison.” It is lethal. It can bring about the ruin of a man’s life.

James description is strong, vivid, and foreboding. Little help is offered men, apart from God’s grace, in the management of the tongue.

But there was one man who perfectly tamed the tongue.

This is best exemplified when he went to the cross, fulfilling Isaiah 53:7, “as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” That took perfect self-control.

Peter says he did not sin and no guile was found in his mouth (cf. 1 Peter 2:21-25). When he was reviled, he did not revile in return. When he suffered, he did not threaten, but he committed himself to the one who judges righteously.

Christ controlled the tongue so that we, as his followers, might be conformed unto his image (cf. Rom 8:29).

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

The Vision (10.2.20): The tongue is a little member

 


Note: I failed to post last Friday's Vision (10.2.20) devotional to the blog, though it was sent out on our church's email list, and am posting it now. The devotion is taken from the 9.27.20 sermon on James 3:1-5.

James 3:3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

Notice the flow of the argument here as we have two “beholds” (vv. 3-4) and one “even so” (v. 5).

The first behold (v. 3) makes a parallel between control of the tongue and the bridling of a horse. I am not a horseman, but just this summer we went hiking at Grayson Highlands and our path crossed a horse trail and we saw a group pass by on these magnificent large horses (especially larger in contrast to the small wild ponies we had also seen). Some of these horses were being ridden by young children. How were they able to direct and control these huge and muscular animals? The horses had been broken and tamed and they had the bit in their mouths to turn them wherever the rider would have them go. The point: a small bit can control and direct a massive horse.

The second behold is a nautical image (v. 4). We are asked to imagine a great ship out on the sea, even one driven by fierce winds. And yet it is turned with a very small helm or rudder. If I am not a horseman, neither am I a sailor or helmsman, but I have seen ships, and I have see the small rudder that directs the ship. The point: a small rudder can direct a massive ship wherever the governor (pilot) wishes it to go.

This takes us to the “even so” (v. 5). The tongue is a little member. It is a small part of the body. Just like the small bit in the mouth of the horse or the small rudder on the massive ship. But it boasts of great things. It can direct or drive the whole person. It can exercise a completely outsized impact out of all proportion to its tiny size

We might think James would provide a positive example, but he offers a negative for warning; “Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” (v. 5).

Here the tongue is compared to one small spark that kindles a fire that consumes a great matter. They say the recent massive fires in California may have had one of their sources in a “gender reveal” party. There were unintended consequences for one small spark. Sometimes the tongue can set off massive unintended consequences.

By God’s grace and the Spirit’s help, may we direct that little member towards that which edifies rather than that which destroys.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Was the mature Van Til a "TR Onlyist"?


Christian McShaffrey posted an interesting blog article yesterday titled, "Cornelus Van Til and the Textus Receptus" (read it here).

The article begins: "The Christian philosophy of Dr. Cornelius Van Til was a major influence in my acceptance of the Textus Receptus as the authentic text of the Greek New Testament."

McShaffrey shares this illustration: "a man’s presuppositions are like a pair of eye-glasses through which he sees all things. The glasses of belief enable him to see reality as God has defined it through revelation. The glasses of unbelief blind him to reality and make all rationality ultimately impossible. There is, of course, a spectrum of lenses between the two extremes."

He also discusses an anecdote that has appears in a recent collection of articles from Rushdoony which suggests that late in life Van Til embraced the text position of E.F. Hills as consistent with his own apologetic method.

Worth reading.

JTR

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Debate Follow Up: The Two Most Shocking Things Said By James White in Our Debates

 


What were the two most shocking things said by James White during our two debates last weekend?

Both of the things I found most shocking came out during the cross-examination periods:

First shocking statement:

During the cross-examination of the first debate on Mark 16:9-20 (the Traditional Ending of Mark or TE) (begin listening at c. the 1:25:25 mark), I asked my opponent if he believed the author of the TE was orthodox in his theology. To my surprise JW said that he did not believe the author of the TE was orthodox in theology. I then asked if he believed the TE, if spurious and not original, could be rightly described as a “corruption.” I asked this knowing that this was the way White had described the TE in writing [see his KJVO Controversy, Revised Edition, 2009: “some parallel corruption took place, drawing from oral stories and the other gospels to create the longer ending” (320)]. I had expected JW might say the author of the TE was orthodox but that the TE was still a corruption, thus conforming to Bart Ehrman’s theories of the NT being rife with “orthodox corruptions.” JW’s answer, however, went even further than Ehrman suggesting that the TE of Mark is an “unorthodox corruption”!

I tried then to point out that this would mean that most Christians, throughout the longest period of church history, up to the present day, have had a Bible that is filled with an “unorthodox corruption.” This text has appeared in all our Protestant Bible translations since the Reformation. It has been preached from countless pulpits. It was used as a prooftext for our Protestant confessions (see, e.g, WCF 28:4 which cites Mark 16:15-16 as a proof, as well as Acts 8:37-38!).

Such a view destroys not only any understanding of the integrity of Mark’s Gospel but the entire doctrine of providential preservation! We might have expected such a statement from a unbelieving liberal, but from an evangelical apologist?

Second shocking statement:

In the cross-examination during the second debate (begin listening at c. the 1:05:00 mark), I asked JW something like the following: “Yesterday you noted that if there were papyri discovered which contained the TE of Mark, then you would embrace it. I assume that the same would apply with Ephesians 3:9. Does this mean that you are ultimately not completely sure about whether or not it is right to reject the authenticity of the TR of this passage?” He agreed he would be willing to shift his view on these texts given proper evidence.

I then asked him, “Does this also mean that every verse in the Bible is up for grabs, at least theoretically? Is there any text in the NT about which you have 100% certainty?” After a good bit of tap-dancing around the question, JW was never able to name any specific passage about which he might have confident certainty. Not John 3:16, not Paul’s summary of the gospel as preached at Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:3-5), not the Gospel passion narratives, not even “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

This was stunning! During and after the debate White accused those of us who hold to the TR of exhibiting “extreme skepticism” with regard to our pessimism as to the prospect that the modern critical method will ever be able to reconstruct the text. Does he realize, however, that his method has left him with a Bible about which he has absolutely no confidence or certainty? Now that is extreme skepticism. 

JTR

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Audio Available: WM 177: Debate: Mark 16:9-20 & WM 178: Debate: Ephesians 3:9


 

JTR

Debate Follow Up: Why didn't James White respond to the "grammatical objection" that Mark's Gospel would not end with γαρ?

 

Another follow-up to my debate with James White on Mark 16:9-20:

Evangelicals who reject the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 are left with a dilemma.

One option is to argue that the original ending was lost or that the Gospel was unfinished for some unknown reason. This view would not only challenge the integrity of Mark but also deny the doctrine of preservation.

Another option would be to argue that Mark was originally meant to end at Mark 16:8. James White embraces this view, following the reasoning of Dan Wallace [see Dan Wallace, “Mark 16:8 as the Conclusion to the Second Gospel” in David Alan Black, Ed., Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views (B&H Academic, 2008): 1-39].

One of the major problems with the idea that Mark might have ended at Mark 16:8 is what might be called the “grammatical objection.”

Namely, this would mean that the entire Gospel would end with the post-positive particle gar [γάρ]. This would be the equivalent of ending a Gospel with “for….” Or “therefore….”

N. Clayton Croy’s The Mutilation of Mark’s Gospel (Abingdon, 2003) provides what I believe is a devastating critique of the idea that Mark might have originally ended at Mark 16:8 (though Croy does not affirm the authenticity of the TE).

In the debate I shared several quotes gleaned from Croy on the grammatical problem inherent in the idea that Mark might have ended at Mark 16:8, including Norman Perrin’s assessment that such an ending would be “grammatically barbarous” (see Croy, 31, n. 18).

Another quote I did not get the chance to work in is this one from J. K. Elliott, another notorious TR advocate (smiles): “I conclude that no author would have chosen to end a piece of writing, sentence, paragraph and even less a book, with a postpositional particle….” (Perspectives, 89).

How did James White respond to this argument? He ignored it altogether and never responded to it.

This, however, is a foundational objection to the idea that Mark might have been meant to end at Mark 16:8. Anyone who takes this view must respond to this objection. Surely, James White gave this serious consideration and study before embracing his position, right?

Maybe James White will take a future DL and respond to this challenge in detail…..

JTR

Debate Follow Up: Vlad Stefan's Analysis of Debate Two on Ephesians 3:9

Image: Closeup of koinonia at Ephesians 3:9 in minuscule 2817.

Here is Vlad Stefan's analysis of the second debate on Ephesians 3:9 which was posted on the Confessional Bibliology FB group:

Analysis Of James White's Views In His Second Debate Versus Jeff Riddle:

00:23:00 - [UNBIBLICAL PRESUPPOSITIONS] Mr White accuses the TR position of being circular and irrational, and says that Dr Riddle will not use the same arguments he used in the previous debate because the evidence is "non-existent" for this reading as opposed to the previous one. Later @ 00:34:00 - Mr White talks about reconstructing the modern eclectic text according to the principles of modern textual criticism. His argument is basically that he is using a consistent methodology that could reconstruct the current edition of the critical text while TR proponents are not being consistent, and their methodology could not reconstruct the TR.

The question is what is the source of those principles? Mr White's principles of textual criticism are completely unbiblical, based on man-made atheistic reasoning, treating the Bible like any other text of history, presupposing the Bible has been corrupted and needs to be reconstructed. The Confessional View's principles are based on what scripture teaches regarding its own preservation, and a view of history and the transmission of the text through these Biblical presuppositions. Which view is more appropriate for a Christian? To stand on the authority of scripture or on the authority of man-made atheistic falsely so-called "science"?

Furthermore it is not inconsistent for Dr Riddle to list the extant evidence available for any particular reading. The evidence is simply a statement of fact. The fact is that the TR does include some minority readings. If one believes based on one's biblical presuppositions and a view of history through that biblical lens, that the TR is the pure preserved Word of God, then one will believe that God's care and providence was over the minority readings just as it was over the majority readings. Providential preservation is not "inconsistent", it is what the Bible plainly teaches as recognized by the Reformation-era divines.

Dr Riddle will go on to show that the modern critical method is itself inconsistent with the application of its unbiblical man-made "principles".

00:31:55 - [HYPOCRISY] Mr White accuses Dr Riddle of not addressing him by name. But actually Dr Riddle has addressed Mr White by name since at least September 2014 when Dr Riddle did the first of many Word magazine episodes where he plays Mr White's teaching and responds to it ( https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=83014816351 ). What happened is that over the last 2 years as the Confessional View has gained more prominence, Mr White refused to engage with any of the many hours of Word magazines put out by Dr Riddle, but started making episodes of his podcast with thinly veiled responses to Riddle and others, without naming them or including links to their material. Dr Riddle comments on this during his later Word magazines. Dr Riddle then started doing the same, referring to Mr White as Popular Internet Apologist, giving Mr White a taste of his own medicine. But Mr White behaving like a child started to whine about it like a total hypocrite; Mr White can dish it out, but he can't take it.

00:37:50 - [FALSE CLAIM, CONJECTURE] Mr White tells one of his famous stories, about how Erasmus instructed his printer to use their own texts to fill in the section he was missing, but the printer just used Erasmum' first edition. Where's the proof? I have never seen concrete proof that the printers didn't use their own texts but used his first edition without him knowing. Prove it Mr White. This is purely conjecture that Mr White passes off as fact.

 

00:39:45 - [STRAWMAN] Mr White compares Dr Riddle to infidel Muslims, Mormons. This is a common tactic used by Mr White to strawman Confessional Text advocates as Muslims/Mormons/Ruckmanites to enable him to easily burn and destroy the strawman instead of engaging the real position, and to try to poison the well by getting the listeners to identify the Confessional View with nonbelievers. The irony is that it is Mr White's own view that is based in infidel atheistic rationalism, while the Confessional View is based on what the Bible teaches concerning its own preservation.

00:43:30 - [FAILED METHODOLOGY] Dr Riddle correctly points out that the Confessional Text view is not a reconstructionist view, that the modern textual critical method has failed to reconstruct the text, that there simply is too many extant witnesses lost to be able to reconstruct the ever-elusive originals. This is acknowledged by modern textual critics, who are now only trying to find the "initial text" floating aroundd the 2nd-4th century and have given up on getting back to the originals. Mr White is still in denial that the goals of the methodology he has adopted have now changed and the methodology itself is incapable of reconstructing the originals. In contrast the Confessional View, based on what scripture teaches about its own preservation, believes that God has preserved the autographs in the faithful apographs, which the Reformers had in their day and we still have today.

00:48:45 - [PRESUPPOSE VATICANUS] Dr Riddle points out that the modernists decided in the 19th century to adopt the new Ephesians reading prior to the papyri evidence; it was the weight given to Vaticanus & Sinaiticus. Mr White loves to talk about his "principles", "methodology" etc, but really the methodology of modern textual criticism is all geared up to support Vaticanus. Mr White and most modern critics are presuppositional; they presuppose Vaticanus and witnesses that favor it. The entire logic, reasoning and "principles" of modern textual criticism is designed to support Vaticanus.

00:51:30 - [INCONSISTENT MODERN TEXTUAL PRINCIPLES] Dr Riddle points out that the modern critical method is itself inconsistent; often modern critics will favor Vaticanus and witnesses that support it, but at 2 Peter 3:10 they go with a reading that has absolutely no Greek manuscript support, quite a subjective decision that goes against the principles they apply elsewhere. Similarly at Revelation 5:9, they go with a reading found in 1 witness, Alexandrinus. If the modern critical method can select readings based on no extant Greek witnesses or 1 extant Greek witness, why is it wrong for the TR to contain minority readings with only a few Greek witnesses?

00:55:00 - [STRAWMAN, UNBIBLICAL, FALSE CLAIM] Mr White does a huge epic strawman of the Confessional View. The Confessional View believes God has preserved His Word using the men and the means that God chose to do it. Mr White also says the TR was backtranslated from the English, which is a false claim. Mr White equates the Bible to other historical texts, thereby betraying his unbiblical atheistic presuppositions, that he approaches the text of scripture just as he would approach the text of Homer, the writings of Tacitus etc.

00:56:58 - [STRAWMAN] Mr White says he wants you to make decisions regarding what is and isn't God's Word and is glad that NA29 will enable that. But in practice if you see the evidence and believe the TR, Mr White will strawman you like there is no tomorrow. Ultimately Mr White wants to tell you what is and isn't scripture and you better agree with him or else. Mr White then strawmans Confessional Text advocates into Pope Sixtus and his Vulgate, another favorite strategy of his. This is a strawman as the Confessional Text view is concerned with the preservation of the original language texts not Latin, so this is a false comparison. Mr White then goes to his Muslim strawman.

00:59:10 - [STRAWMAN] Mr White claims that "kept pure in every age" means we must still possess today early extant witnesses of our readings. This is false; it is the text itself that is kept pure not the witnesses to the text. The Confessional View is not a reconstructionist view. Further G.H Milne and others mentioned in the analysis of the first debate clearly show that by "kept pure in all ages" the Reformation Divines believed they had the autographs in the apographs extant in their day.

01:06:28 - [INCONSISTENT, UNBIBLICAL, HERESY, NOBIBLE, DEBATE OVER] - Mr White says that he is willing to change his position on any text in the NT if "there was a discovery of ancient documents that most scholars agreed makes something the earliest reading." So basically any verse is up for grabs, and Mr White can never preach with authority again. When Mr White stands up and says "The Bible says", well, it says that today, but 100 years from now? 400 years from now? Scholars could make some new discoveries and then believe those verses aren't original. At this point the debate is over as Mr White has no Bible. Mr White then says Dr Riddle's question is a false question then attempts to dance around it. Mr White really starts to lose his cool and goes off the rails during the subsequent questions. In contrast Dr Riddle maintains excellent Christian character.

01:15:35 - [FALSE CLAIM, CONJECTURE] Mr White says that the reading he prefers at Ephesians 3:9 "was the public possession of every generation up to the 15th century?" This is a false statement as it is impossible for Mr White to prove this as in order to prove this Mr White would need to have a complete and total knowledge of all witnesses to the text of Eph 3:9 from when it was written to the 15th century. As Mr White does not have this information he cannot prove this; he can merely suggest it from the little extant evidence we have, but this is simply conjecture. Mr White and modern critics often pass off their conjectures as statements of fact.

01:19:30 - [APPEAL TO MAJORITY, INCONSISTENT, UNBIBLICAL] Mr White appeals to the majority of witnesses, Dr Riddle called him out on doing this before. Basically Mr White and other modern critics will appeal to the majority when it suits them, but then appeal to 1/2/3 witnesses against the majority when it suits their preferred reading. Mr White seems to mock the idea that God preserved His Word if the reading is a minority reading, even though he often holds to minority readings himself. Dr Riddle highlights that the Confessional View doesn't approach the text of scripture purely naturalistically as any other man-made text but is based what scripture teaches regarding God, His Word, etc. This seems totally foreign to Mr White, who at this point is treating the Bible and speaking like a nonbeliever.

01:25:07 - [UNBIBLICAL] Dr Riddle highlights the difference in their views; that he will not apply the same treatment to the Bible as to secular literature, because he is a Christian whose approach to the scriptures is based on the scriptures. Mr White smirks but is silent.

Conclusion:

===========

Mr White has no Bible. Any verse is up for deletion or change in the future based upon new discovery and the consensus of the scholars. Mr White can never again preach the Bible with any authority, because even if he believes a verse is original today, his successors might decide it is spurious in the future. Mr White mocks and ridicules the idea that God preserved His Word in a minority reading, appealing to the majority, but then will do a 180 turn and appeal to a distinct minority of witnesses to defend his preferred readings.

Debate follow Up: Vlad Stefan's Analysis of Debate One on Mark 16:9-20


Image: Closeup of the Ending of Mark in Codex Sinaiticus with its anomalous final two lines with decorative marks filling in the blank spaces, likely to block any addition.

More debate follows up:

Vlad Stefan sent me his moment by moment breakdown of both debates from a Confessional Text advocate's perspective which he posted to the Confessional Bibliology FB Group. Here are his notes from the first debate on Mark 16:9-20:

Analysis Of James White's Views In His First Debate Versus Jeff Riddle:

00:08:40 - [ULTIMATE AUTHORITY] Mr White asks the key question: "What is our ultimate authority?" Then he goes on to talk about how he wants to know what the apostles wrote because that is what is inspired. The problem is that for Mr White and the modern school of textual critics, their ultimate authority is themselves, the "Guild" of textual critics, who use their man-made infidel reasoning to decide what is and isn't scripture. Mr White's ultimate authority is himself and his textual critic mates, who have set themselves up as the modern popes who will tell you, o ordinary Christian in the pew, what is and isn't scripture.

The Confessional View of scripture is completely opposed to this false view of epistemology; in the Confessional View our ultimate authority is God's Pure & Preserved Word. God has preserved His Word, our job to is to receive it, read it, love it, live by it, and transmit it to the next generation as it was transmitted to us. We do not raise ourselves up as judges over God's Word, rather we submit ourselves in judgement to it. God's Word is not deemed authentic because of "the Guild", because of this critic, or that critic - but first and foremost by the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit. For further reading check out Logos Autopistos by Thomas Ford ( https://www.westminsterassembly.org/primary-source/logos-autopistos-or-scriptures-self-evidence/ )

00:09:20 - [APPEAL TO MAJORITY, INCONSISTENT] Mr White appeals to the majority of Reformed scholars today sharing his modern critical view of the text. In the lead-up to this debate, Mr White has attempted to poison the well by accusing Dr Riddle of being inconsistent. Mr White loves to paint those who oppose his views as being inconsistent, however Mr White is very inconsistent himself with the argumentation and appeals he makes. If Mr White applied "majority rules" consistently, then in the 4th century Mr White would have been an Arian arguing against Athanasius, and in the 16th century a Papist arguing against Luther. Mr White loves to be "Mr Consistency" but keep an eye out for the inconsistency of his own argumentation and appeals.

00:10:00 - [IGNORANT] Mr White keeps talking about "manuscripts". This is ironic since it shows Mr White has not kept up with the latest and greatest developments in the modern school of textual criticism he champions. The correct terminology (to my knowledge) is now "witnesses".

00:15:45 - [FALSE CLAIM] Mr White says that there isn't enough room in Vaticanus / Sinaiticus to put the traditional ending of Mark into the space at the end. But actually this was proven to be false by James Snapp in April 2016 when he used copy&paste to copy characters from the same page to reconstruct the traditional ending, producing a beautiful picture showing it can fit ( http://www.thetextofthegospels.com/2016/04/codex-vaticanus-and-ending-of-mark.html ). Often both in audio and in his written works Mr White makes very confident grand claims, that upon further research turn out to be false, if only one will do the research. Always fact check anything Mr White says.

00:22:40 - [INCONSISTENT] Mr White says he was taught as a young man that you never build a doctrine or dogma based upon disputed texts. This is not "Reformed" in any way shape or form; for the Reformers built doctrine and dogma on texts they knew to be disputed such as Mark 16:9-20, 1 John 5:7 etc, and they did this knowing that these texts were disputed, because they received these texts as the Word of God, by the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit as well as the common faith of the saints. Mr White's own claimed confessional standard, the 1689 London Baptist Confession, quotes Mark 16:9-20 and 1 John 5:7 as proof texts, so here Mr White, the self-proclaimed Mr Consistency, is once again being inconsistent. If Mr White believes doctrine should not be built on Mark 16:9-20 then Mr White must renounce the 1689 LBCF and get together with his modernist mates and come up with a modernist baptist confession. Mr White is also inconsistent in the application of this principle, since in both his written and audio/visual teaching he builds doctrine upon the disputed text of John 1:18, using the textual variant Θεὸς and the modernist understanding of μονογενὴς to argue that Jesus is the "one and only unique God".

00:23:15 - [FALSE CLAIM] Mr White makes the startling claim that "the evidence is wide-spread that in the earliest centuries, it, the longer ending, was not the majority reading". Mr White has proved nothing of the sort. All he has proved is that it was a contested reading. Personally I believe that the evidence is overwhelming that the traditional ending of Mark has absolutely the best and earliest attestation as Dean Burgon has conclusively proved ( https://www.gutenberg.org/files/36722/36722-pdf.pdf & http://www.gutenberg.org/files/26134/26134-pdf.pdf ). Note, however, that the Confessional View is ultimately not based on evidence, but on what scripture teaches regarding its own preservation, and a view of history through this presuppositional lens.

00:25:35 - [CONJECTURE] "what if" - Mr White makes conjectures about when Mark may have been written and how that may have led to the later development of the traditional ending. One thing to look out for Mr White and modern critics is that most of what they teach is based on conjecture. They basically just make stuff up but teach it as the authority. Look out for this when they talk about what scribes did, as if they were on the shoulder watching the scribe actually do it. They are just playing guessing games. You want a PhD? Make up a bunch of crap that downgrades the Christian faith you will get PhD, books deals, invited to speak around the world.

00:27:18 - [NOGOSPEL] "what if Mark is a rather effective gospel tract?" - more conjecture. But White's Mark is no gospel because it doesn't contain a resurrection; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 tells us that the resurrection is a key part of the gospel; without the resurrection there is no gospel, no "good news". Mark without 16:9-20 is not just no gospel, but it is the *worst* gospel tract of all time - there is no good news, just a failed false messiah who predicted his own resurrection but it never happened. This is what they teach at seminaries around the world. Dr Riddle will later stand on the authority of scripture and make this point to Mr White from 1 Cor 15:1-4.

00:50:20 [APPEAL TO MAJORITY, INCONSISTENT] Mr White once again appeals to majority, calling Dr Riddle's view "very unique, very minority". This is a false and inconsistent standard for reasons previously highlighted. Furthermore, Dr Riddle's view is simply the majority Reformed view of the 16th and 17th century, the fact that it is in the minority today is of no relevance to whether it is correct or not. So Mr White's absolute claim that Dr Riddle's view is "very unique, very minority" is actually a false claim as it is only true in our day, not throughout history.

00:50:40 [CONJECTURE, FALSE CONCLUSION] Mr White makes the argument that the Reformation-era divines who wrote the historical reformed confessions did not possess all the data we had today, implying that if they did they wouldn't have come up with the same doctrines. Apart from being pure conjecture (they could have had for better and older witnesses which we don't have today) this is also an incorrect conclusion; as the Confessional View is first and foremostly based on what scripture teaches about its own preservation, "evidence" doesn't change the position. Mr White here once again shows that he doesn't understand the historical Confessional View of scripture.

00:52:30 [UNBIBLICAL] Mr White rebukes Dr Riddle for "having a theological position, that determines everything he sees in the historical column, in the historical data". Of course Riddle does, just as all Christians should do - the view of scripture, its transmission etc, must be based on scripture first and foremost. Scripture is the ultimate authority and cannot be set aside when we come to the text of scripture or the history of the transmission of the text. What scripture says about itself, its own transmission and preservation, must of necessity form the core set of presuppositions that we hold to when we examine the question of the authentic text. Here Mr White shows that his view is thoroughly UNBIBLICAL; that when it comes to the text of scripture, Mr White sets aside the Bible, and adopts his secular atheistic presuppositions as his ultimate authority.

00:52:45 [DANGER OF HERESY, NOT REFORMED] Mr White mocks and rejects the doctrine of Logos Autopistos. Mr White is completely and utterly not reformed, he is a modernist ... who has rejected one of the core doctrines of the Reformers concerning the biblical view of the scriptures. At best, if one wishes to be as charitable as possible, Mr White is a New Evangelical with Calvinistic tendencies.

00:58:30 [CONJECTURE, FALSE CONCLUSION] Mr White keeps asking why there are multiple endings? Modern critics like White just make up a story about why there are multiple endings to suit their established conclusion, that the traditional ending is not authentic. They simply can't prove or provide any concrete evidence about why there are multiple endings because that would require a complete video recording and interview with every scribe who ever copied Mark to actually know the exact certain reasons. Modern textual criticism is not a science, it is an art, an art of making stuff up to suit your conclusion.

00:59:35 [CONJECTURE, FALSE CONCLUSION] Mr White says the TR has no consistent historical perspective. Mr White claims Erasmus was just doing textual criticism like the modernists do today. E.F Hills ( https://www.amazon.com/Text-Time-Reformed-Testament-Criticism-ebook/dp/B07DB7ZBLC ) makes the argument that Erasmus was providentially restrained by God through the common faith, such that his more eratic tendencies were confined to the annotations and did not impact the text itelf. I believe E.F Hills is correct here. When Mr White says the TR has no consistent historical perspective, Mr White is denying that God could have preserved His Word using the means that He chose. In contrast the Confessional View sees history through the presuppositional lens of what scripture teaches concerning its own preservation, and simply accepts the means and men God used to preserve His Word.

01:04:15 [MASSAGING THE TRUTH] Dr Riddle points out the craftiness of the modern critical scholars, how they massage their presentation of the evidence to stack the deck in their favour. Mr White is especially guilty of this both in his written and audio/video materials, this is a debating tactic to "win the point", at the expense of sacrificing the truth.

01:06:30 [DIFFICULT QUESTION FOR MR WHITE] Dr Riddle makes the point that Mark couldn't end in γάρ, that would be abrupt and bizarre grammatically. Dr Riddle puts it to Mr White that if the traditional ending is not authentic, then the real ending has been lost, which would contradict what scripture teaches regarding its own preservation. Mr White never really answers this, apart from his conjecture about Mark being a gospel tract to lead into a gospel conversation, which is just that, conjecture.

01:23:40 [CONJECTURE] Mr White makes up a story about how and when the traditional ending of Mark came about as a later development. Someone get this man a legit PhD! Remember and watch out for modern critics like White who invent stories and theories to justify their conclusions and recognize that these are just that, conjectures.

01:27:30 [CONJECTURE] More stories and inventions from Mr White about how the traditional ending of Mark came to be.

01:35:15 [ULTIMATE AUTHORITY, UNBIBLICAL] Mr White says the key issue is "what did the Apostles write? We want to know what the Apostles wrote". The major difference between Mr White & Dr Riddle is that Mr White wants to use his own man-made infidel reasoning and atheistic presuppositions to make himself and his critical scholar mates the ultimate judges of what the Apostles wrote. In contrast Dr Riddle and the Confessional View stands on the authority of scripture that God has preserved His Word as the scriptures teach, and receive, believe and submit to the text that God has preserved. The Confessional View looks at scripture and its transmission through biblical presuppositions and submits itself to scripture, while White's modern critical view divorces itself from what the Bible teaches concerning its own preservation and sets itself up as the judge over the scripture, who will decide what is and isn't scripture.

01:40:28 [NOT REFORMED, UNBIBLICAL] Mr White defines his view of preservation, that "every single original reading of the apostles continues to exist in the manuscript tradition today". We just don't know what they are and we are still trying to work it out, 2000 years after Christ, we still haven't figured out the definite text the apostles wrote. If you read your Bible, do you get that from what the scripture teaches concerning itself? Absolutely not, that doctrine is not from the scriptures, it is from the minds of nonbelieving infidels, atheists. This is quite clearly not the Reformed view; the Reformation-era divines believed they possessed in their day the autographs in the faithful apographs, extant in their day, and hence these could be the ultimate standard against the Papacy for all faith and practice. The Reformation-era divines were not seeking an infinite regress to an ever-elusive hypothetical autographa. Mr White is clearly not Reformed by any historical standard, he is clearly a modernist heretic.

Conclusion:

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Dr Riddle destroyed Mr White. Dr Riddle put forth the historical confessional reformed view of scripture based upon what scripture teaches about itself. Mr White's view is totally divorced from biblical presuppositions and instead based on man-made infidel reasoning often total pure conjecture and invention.

Further Research:

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For anyone who wants to better understand the Confessional View of Scripture, the following books are good starting points:

* G.H Milne "Has The Bible Been Kept Pure" ( https://www.amazon.com/Westminster-Confession-providential-preservation-Scripture/dp/1522039155 )

* William Whitaker "A Disputation On Holy Scripture" ( https://www.bookdepository.com/Disputation-on-Holy-Scripture-William-Whitaker/9780343925000 )

* Thomas Ford "Logos Autopistos" ( https://www.westminsterassembly.org/primary-source/logos-autopistos-or-scriptures-self-evidence/ )

* E.F Hills "Text & Time" ( https://www.amazon.com/Text-Time-Reformed-Testament-Criticism-ebook/dp/B07DB7ZBLC )

* To understand the origins of Mr White's school of modern critcism Dean Burgon "The Revision Revised" ( https://www.bookdepository.com/Revision-Revised-Dean-John-William-Burgon/9781888328011 )

* For more material by Dr Riddle check out his "Word Magazine" series on SermonAudio, particuarly the many episodes where he steps through and debunks James White, Daniel Wallace, etc ( https://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?seriesOnly=true&currSection=sermonstopic&sourceid=crbchurch&keyword=Word+Magazine&keyworddesc=Word+Magazine )


Monday, October 05, 2020

Debate Follow Up: What's in a name?

 

More follow-up thoughts to last weekend’s debates (available to view here and here):

What’s in a name? Over the weekend, my opponent (James White-JW) protested publicly, during the second debate, and privately, in a brief conversation after that debate, that I had not called him by name during our exchanges.

In response to his complaint in our private post-debate conversation, after intentionally addressing him by name, I explained that there had been no malicious intent behind not using his name during the debate and referring to him most often as “my opponent.”

I explained that I had refrained from using his name for two reasons:

First, it was a rhetorical strategy to de-personalize the substance of the debate. This was not a personal conflict between me and my opponent but a question about the text of Scripture.

A friend recently pointed me to the guidelines for “Debate Decorum” on Robert’s Rules of Order online, which states the following under point 43 (underline added):

43. Decorum in Debate. In debate a member must confine himself to the question before the assembly, and avoid personalities. He cannot reflect upon any act of the assembly, unless he intends to conclude his remarks with a motion to rescind such action, or else while debating such a motion. In referring to another member, he should, as much as possible, avoid using his name, rather referring to him as "the member who spoke last," or in some other way describing him. The officers of the assembly should always be referred to by their official titles. It is not allowable to arraign the motives of a member, but the nature or consequences of a measure may be condemned in strong terms. It is not the man, but the measure, that is the subject of debate.

Second, it was also meant to be a humorous inside joke for those in the TR camp and others who have followed our past interactions. I explained to JW that for several years on his DL podcast it had been noticed that he had a tendency not to mention my name directly and the names of several others who had critiqued him. As a result, we began talking about using the “Voldemort Principle” (“he who shall not be named”) when discussing JW. No harm was intended.

We found creative ways to refer to JW, like “an apologist in Phoenix” or “a cyclist who dabbles in apologetics.” Yes, this continued in the Text & Canon Conference in Atlanta in October 2019, where we generally avoided referring to JW by name, though we did do so a few times (even if it was a slip up). There has never been a formal rule to avoid his name but only an informal practice.

Later, in a few blog posts and WM podcasts I began to refer to JW as the “Popular Internet Apologist” or PIA for short.

After I explained this to JW in our post-debate conversation, his response was to say that he had never avoided using my name or anyone else’s name on the DL. I was a little stymied by that response since that was not my recollection, but I again assured JW this was not meant to be taken as malicious but in good humor.

I am addressing this in a public blog post, since JW mentioned it publicly in the debate, several folk made mention of his complaint in post-debate comments I read or heard, and Samuel Nesan (and his panelists) also made glancing reference to our off-air conversation during his post-debate review [see the 58:53 mark for comments on our post-debate conversation; and the 10:43 mark for Samuel’s views on our pre-debate meeting].

For the record, in light of this expressed sensitivity, I do plan to use JW’s name, if (when) I respond to him in the future. I don’t desire to swerve into “foolish talking” or “jesting” that is “not convenient” (Eph 5:4) or “vain jangling” (1 Tim 1:6; one of my favorite AV phrases!). I also want to it be known that every-once-in-a-while I might also refer to him by a circumlocution, whether by intention or by chance. If I should do so, I hope it will not necessarily be interpreted as coming with malicious intent.

JTR