Friday, October 30, 2020

The Vision (10.30.20): But he giveth more grace

 


Image: Sunrise, North Garden, Virginia, October 30, 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on James 4:5-7.

James 4:6: But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

In James 4:1-5, the apostle describes man’s dilemma in sin, including the lusts that war in his members (v. 1).

In v. 6, however, there is relief: “But he giveth more grace.” This refers to God’s saving grace (cf. Eph 2:8-9). He gives to those who are his own grace that is greater than all our sin. John 1:16 says: “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” Some modern versions render that last phrase in John 1:16 as “grace upon grace.” The idea here is grace piled on grace, grace heaped on grace.

What if you had a huge debt. It was like a cloud hanging over your head every day. It made you to lose sleep. The harder you worked the further behind you got. But then someone comes along and says, I have paid off all your debt and, what is more, there is a huge surplus left over, and I have transferred this to our account also.

Our sin is great, but God giveth more grace.

James cinches his point by citing Proverbs 3:34, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” This fits with Christ’s teaching in Matthew 23:12: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

Likewise, in Matthew 18, we are told how Christ once set a child into the midst of his disciples and said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3-4).

A child is generally not too proud to ask for help. An infant will, in fact, wail and cry till his needs are met. Even though a toddler cannot articulate the words, he can extend his arms and ask to be picked up and comforted. It seems the older we get, the more prone we are to pride. The man who stiffens his back in pride against God will be broken in his obstinance, but the man who humbles himself will be saved.

Yes, our sin is great, but God giveth more grace. Let us then humble ourselves, child-like, and extend our arms to him.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Eusebius, EH.10.4 (part three): The Panegyric of Eusebius (part three)



This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryBook 10, chapter 4 (part three).

Notes and Commentary:

This section continues and completes the lengthy chapter 4 which records the Panegyric of Eusebius dedicated to Paulinus of Tyre at the end of persecution under the tyrants and the rise of Emperors sympathetic to the Christians.

The occasion of the Panegyric is the dedication of a magnificently restored and expanded church building.

This final part begins by continuing a comparison between the physical restoration of the building and the spiritual restoration of the people.

Eusebius notes, with thanksgiving, how God first raised up the Emperors (Constantine and Licinius), “dearly beloved of God” in order to cleanse “the whole world of all the wicked and baneful persons and of the cruel God-hating tyrants themselves.” Next, he raised up his disciples, including the church leaders, whom he had secretly concealed from the storm of persecution.

Eusebius takes up a spiritual allegory using the idea of locations of various persons in the church building to describe how God had “duly divided the whole people according to their several abilities.” Some were at the entrances. Others were at the pillars becoming acquainted with “the letter of the four Gospels.” Still others were on the inside taking in “the innermost mystic teachings of the Scriptures.” The whole temple was adorned with “a single, mighty gateway”, the praise of God.

He also describes Christ as being the “unique altar” and as standing by it as “the great High Priest of the universe.” The Word has created not only this temple but the whole universe.

He closes the panegyric with a call to worship “the Author of the present assembly … even the Ruler of the Assembly Himself.”

Conclusion:

This final part concludes this lengthy speech that comprises EH 10.4. Eusebius continues to celebrate and give thanks to God for the removal of the tyrants and their replacement by the sympathetic emperors. We also see his use of spiritual allegory in taking the dedication of the restored building to describe the restoration of the Christian community with Christ, as their altar, in the center.

JTR


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Eusebius, EH.10.4 (part two): The Panegyric of Eusebius (part two)



This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: Book 10, chapter 4 (part two).

Notes and Commentary:

This section continues the lengthy chapter 4 which records the Panegyric of Eusebius dedicated to Paulinus of Tyre at the end of persecution under the tyrants and the rise of Emperors sympathetic to the Christians.

In this section Eusebius recalls the pagan attacks on the Christians, and especially how the “books [no doubt, including Bibles] they destroyed and set on fire the sanctuary of God” adding “they profaned the dwelling place of His name to the ground.”

He also notes that this trial served as divine chastisement for the church, as discipline from “a careful father.” The end result was that the church emerged even stronger.

Paulinus is also highly praised as “our new and goodly Zerubbabel.” Taking Christ as his “Ally and Fellow-worker”, who alone can quicken the dead, Eusebius says that Paulinus “raised up her who had fallen.”

Eusebius next gives a detailed description of the church building that had been restored by Paulinus. It was built on the foundations of the previous building and expanded. Oulton calls this “the earliest account that we possess of the structure and furniture of a Christian church” (421, n. 2).

He begins by describing an outer porch, “great and raised aloft,” so that “even strangers to the faith” could gaze inside. The building thus served as an “evangelistic” tool to encourage pagans to enter. Between the entrance and the temple were “four traverse colonnades, fending the place into a kind of quadrangular figure.” An open space let in the sun and fresh air and fountains supplied “copious streams of flowing water.”

Within the temple were the “innermost porches,” adorned with “rich materials” including “costly cedars.” One entered through three gates, the central one of which was larger and ornately decorated.

The building was ordered with “perfect wisdom and art” leaving those who saw it in awe of “the surpassing beauty of every part.”

The temple was also fitted with thrones, “very lofty, to do honour unto the presidents”, and with benches.

In the midst was the “holy of holies,” an altar, protected “with a fence of wooden lattice-work.”

The pavement was of “fair marble.” Various chambers and buildings were also erected outside the temple.

After the description of the church building, Eusebius says its beauty is fitting since Christ had taken the church (both people and building) and changed its “foul body” into “His splendid and glorious body.” This also anticipated what will happen at the resurrection, when believers receive their glorious resurrection bodies.

Conclusion:

This panegyric is essentially a building dedication speech or sermon. As Oulton points out it serves as the earliest written description of an early Christian church building. Whereas, according to the book of Acts and the letters of Paul, the church of the first century met in the homes of believers or in rented school buildings (cf., e.g., Acts 18:7-8; 19:9; Rom 16:5) the Christian movement of the early fourth century meets in spacious and prominent public buildings. The church building is described in terms taken from the OT temple. There is a strong emphasis on the pleasing aesthetics of the architecture of the building. The early Christians are concerned that their churches be places of beauty and order. They are taking a new place in the Roman public square.

JTR


WM 179: Refuting James White's Four Internal Arguments Against Mark 16:9-20

 



Recorded this WM last Saturday (10/17/20) but just getting around to posting it.

JTR

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Vision (10.23.20): Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss


Image: Rose, North Garden, Virginia, October 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on James 4:1-4.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (James 4:3).

James here suggests that one reason for unrest in the heart is faulty prayer, immature prayer, self-serving prayer, described here as “asking amiss.”

He reminds us that mature prayer, born of mature faith, does not center on the satisfaction of our good pleasure but in doing God’s will, giving him glory and in giving blessing to our neighbor.

So, Christ taught: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13; cf. John 16:23; 1 John 3:22).

The reason to pray for an education is to love God with your mind.

The reason to pray for a job is to serve God with your vocation.

The reason to pray for a good salary is so that you can be a faithful steward for the kingdom of the resources with which you have been entrusted.

The reason, if single, to pray for a spouse is so that you might serve him or her and establish a household where Christ is at the center.

The reason to pray for a home is so that you can extend hospitality in the name of Christ and wash the feet of the saints.

The reason to pray for children is so that you might be able to raise disciples for the Lord.

The reason to pray for good health is so that you might serve him with your body.

The reason to pray for a church is that you might join with like-minded brothers and sisters to worship the Lord and serve the brethren.

The reason to pray for the peace and security of the world is that the Great Commission might be fulfilled.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Taylor DeSoto: The Textus Receptus: A Defense Against Postmodernism in the Church

Image: I don't know who created this meme, but just grabbed it off Google images.

Taylor DeSoto has been at it again on his Young, Textless, and Reformed Blog.

He just dropped another article noting how the Textus Receptus represents an emphatic "No!" to the encroachment of postmodernism into traditional Christianity.

He writes:

My goal here is to convince you that the discussion of textual criticism is not only Postmodern in nature, but that its impacts are far reaching well beyond which Bible you read. Starting with the Critical Text, we have to understand that the process of reconstructing a Bible is at its core a fruit of Postmodernism. It begins with the assumption that the previous structure must be torn down and replaced with empirical methodologies. The faith based systems of the past were good for their time, but the modern men of science know better. We shouldn’t be enslaved to the chains of tradition and the narrow thinking of the men of old.

Enjoy, JTR


Vince Krivda: Which Textus Receptus?! A Response to Mark Ward's Critique of Confessional Bibliology


My friend Vince Krivda has written a solid and detailed response to Mark Ward's "Which TR?" objection to the Confessional Text position. He shared this with me in August, and I am just getting around to doing a post on it. Sorry for the delay. You can read the full article here on academia.edu.

The conclusion to the paper begins:

Although Ward’s paper is to be welcomed for thoughtfully engaging CB, his insistence to forge the position as a kind of KJV-Onlyism is overreaching. If anything, his argument is a sure warning for CB proponents not to fall into the motions of KJV-Onlyist tendencies that ignore the slight differences in the micro-TR editions or to view Scrivener’s GNT as a diplomatic text. Perhaps, besides any typographical misprints, the latest Scrivener revision is a perfect replication of the authentic NT texts. But to assert so dogmatically risks the type of special pleading that Ward accuses CB proponents of committing because it is not a claim that is necessitated by the position. Rather, CB proponents may pragmatically appeal to the Scrivener GNT prima facie, recognizing that any defeaters to this position are not sufficient to upset the authority of the macro-TR or its baring on matters of faith and practice. 

Glad to see Vince makes use and reference to some of my material in WM 140: Responding to the "Which TR?" Objection and that he pointed out Ward's reluctance to engage with it.

Enjoy, JTR



Ernesto Rodriguez Cruz: EL TEXTO INSPIRADO NO NEGOCIA CON LA CRÍTICA TEXTUAL


My friend and fellow RB Ernesto Rodriguez Cruz is a student  at the Seminario Reformanda Latinoamericano.

He shared a recent paper he wrote for his NT class offering a Confessional Text position on Matthew 5:18, titled EL TEXTO INSPIRADO NO NEGOCIA CON LA CRÍTICA TEXTUAL (THE INSPIRED TEXT DOES NOT NEGOTIATE WITH THE TEXTUAL CRITICISM).

You can read the original paper in Spanish here and an English translation here.

It is encouraging to see that men studying for the ministry are embracing the Confessional Text position.

Ernesto also reports that the seminary instruction he is receiving is friendly to the Confessional Text position. He writes:

This Seminary is one of the few that still teaches good doctrines on this topic. I would recommend watching clases 20 through 24 here (Class 20Class 21Class 22Class 23Class 24).

He also shares the following on some of his ongoing ministry:

I have a channel in Youtube where I am uploading reformed audiobooks in Spanish. So far I published The Attributes of God by A. W. PinkCalvin's catechism, and the whole New Testament in audio. For the New Testament I used a good version of the Biblia in Spanish, it is called Reina Valera Gómez 2010, this is a revision by Dr. Humberto Gómez, he restored all the missing/changed words in 1909 version and he updated the grammar and language but keeping the beauty of the original translation made by Casiodoro de Reina (1569).

Blessings, JTR

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