Monday, July 11, 2022

WM 241: Responding to a Comment by Mark Ward

Responding to a comment on WM 240 by Mark Ward:

Brother Riddle, I am not "against the Authorized Version." I love and trust the KJV. If you are asking for charitable descriptions of your position, I must ask the same. This is a persistent misrepresentation of my view. I am not against the KJV anymore than I am against the Wycliffe Bible. But if people insist on using it exclusively in churches, I must call them to the standard of 1 Cor 14: edification requires intelligibility.

My point in this podcast was to make the observation that, from my perspective, it seems you often put forward inconsistencies in your rhetoric.

For example, in you book Authorized, you begin by noting that that you grew up “reading and hearing the KJV,” adding, “and I don’t recall having any trouble with the verbiage” (1), but you later exhort your readers, “Children and new converts should not be given copies of the KJV” (120). Clearly, this latter statement is “against” the usage of the AV. To point this out and to say that you are “against the AV” is not, in fact, a misrepresentation, nor is it uncharitable. It is simply a statement of fact drawn from your own words.

In the WM 240 podcast I called attention to an inconsistency in your argument against CB in your 2020 article. In that piece, you initially state that proponents of CB “take a different path to a similar but not identical viewpoint” as KJVO (57), but, later, you argue that CB and KJVO have “the same viewpoint” (62-63). Your rhetoric here is inconsistent.

I sincerely wish to avoid pejorative labeling. After my book came out, when I was first contacted by William Sandell, who was then, at least, a proponent of Confessional Bibliology (I don't know where he's at now), I believed him when he said he was NOT KJV-Only.

If you truly wish to avoid pejorative labeling, then do not refer to those who hold to the traditional Protestant text as KJVO.

But then I started talking with your followers, Dr. Riddle. And I simply could not avoid the parallels. I grew up KJV-Only. I know the arguments we made to one another. I note that there is massive overlap between the arguments made by IFB KJV-Onlyists and those made by Confessional Bibliologists. 

First, I’m not sure who these “followers” of mine are or whether they accurately reflected my position. I can only speak for myself.

Second, definitions are again a problem in your argument. Did you grow up in a church of the Ruckman/Riplinger KJVO variety? Or in a church that simply preferred the KJV? Whatever the case, your experience does not necessarily mean that you properly understand the Confessional Text position. You claim there are “massive overlaps” with your (undefined) KJVO. Are there not also “massive differences”? Let’s look at your list:

- Both groups use the same prooftexts (Mt 5:18; Ps 12:6–7; Ps 119:105; Mt 4:4; etc.).

Wouldn’t nearly all Christian make use of these passages and other similar ones in building their Bibliology?

- Both groups use the same key words to describe the TR/KJV: "preserved," "pure," "stable," "settled," "unchanging."

Wouldn’t most ordinary Christians use these words to describe the Bible, even those who have no firm views on text or translation?

- Both groups insist that inspiration demands perfect preservation.

But true KJVOs of the Ruckman/Riplinger variety would say this applies to an English translation and not the “immediately inspired” divine original (WCF 1:8).

- Both groups use the same tone. This is admittedly a more subjective judgment than the previous two points. And, frankly, you are a more courteous combatant, Dr. Riddle. I don't expect this comment to be persuasive to you, but for the cause of truth I must say it.

You’re right when you say your argument here is completely subjective. BTW, I’ve also received some pretty harsh comments from Modern-Text-Onlyists.

- Both groups maximize the differences between the TR and the critical text. You yourself, in your review of my book, called the CT a "completely different underlying text."

Do you deny that there are fundamental differences between the traditional text and the modern critical text? If they are not different, then why not just embrace the traditional text?

- Both groups call the critical text "corrupt" and argue that it undermines or attacks Christian doctrines. (CT proponents do not return this favor; I believe Scrivener's TR is a good reconstruction of the original text, just not the best available.)

Is not the integrity of the text of the Bible a key doctrinal issue? Does it not affect other issues like canon, preservation, authority, etc.? To remove Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 would remove 24 verses from the Bible, the equivalent to one or more shorter books in the NT. To remove 1 John 5:7b-8a would deprive the church of a key prooftext for the Trinity. Modern translations/texts of John 1:18 challenge the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son. These and other examples clearly show that the doctrinal stakes are high.

BTW, modern critical text advocates claim that the traditional text is corrupted (so they do “return the favor”). In my debate with him JW said Mark 16:9-20 is a spurious unorthodox corruption. I recently heard an OPC pastor say the same of the PA. CB advocates are not alone in maintaining that the question of text has key theological import.

- Both groups refuse to answer the "Which TR?" question. They consistently claim to have a perfectly pure text but just as consistently dodge the questions of which TR is perfect and why.

- Both groups functionally—as you said to Dwayne Green, "practically"—resort to Scrivener's TR. And that TR is the KJV.

Answers to the “Which TR?” question have been given by the TBS (in its statement on the doctrine of Holy Scripture), by myself (on my blog), by Truelove, by Krivda, by Vaughan (“a stratagem of debate”), and by McShaffrey (citing Burgon, “a diversion fallacy…throwing dust into the eyes”). Scrivener’s TR is clearly the Protestant standard in use today. Is it that no one has answered your question, or that you don’t like the answers?

Again, definition is important. KJVO (by strict definition) would not embrace Scrivener’s TR since it is not the KJV. So anyone who suggests the TR is the standard is NOT KJVO by definition.

- Both groups put "the TR" in their church (and other institutional) doctrinal statements but fail to specify which TR they believe to be perfect.

Again, definitions are key. If truly KJVO, a church or institution would not list the TR as a standard but the KJV.

Churches and institutions are free to define the translations and texts that they choose to use. Is it really confusing if a church says they use the traditional text without specifying a certain edition? Does it not, at the least, say they don’t use the modern text?

Do you apply this same standard to churches that embrace modern texts/translations. Do you insist they must specify, for example, which edition of NA they use? Does your church do this?

- Both groups refuse to explain the specific differences between TR editions that I talked about in my paper. Two years on, I still simply do not know how you would handle those specifics. I listed ten passages in which the two TRs I looked at exhibit "Differences in Words That Produce Differences in Meaning." I listed one missing clause (1 John 2:23) and two outright contradictions (Jas 2:18; Rev 11:2) between TR editions. I do not know how you account for these, because you have not explained.

Have you ever considered that there might be problems in some of the premises in your paper? Like, for example, you offer comparisons between one printed edition (the 1550 Stephanus) and Scrivener’s. Why should the minor differences these two editions hold weight when it has already been affirmed that Scrivener’s is the generally accepted standard?

Also: Have CB advocates really “refused” to respond to your objections? Are we obligated to respond to the objections of anyone who disagrees with us? Or, do only your papers, podcasts, etc. hold this special power? Why are we obligated to respond to you?

- Both groups dismiss and ignore my false friends argument. They say, ironically, that people should study to show themselves approved. To my knowledge, not a single KJV defender in either group has publicly or privately acknowledged learning a specific false friend from me. And very, very few (Robert Truelove being a very notable exception, Bryan Ross being another) have acknowledged that there are any false friends in KJV English at all—even though their own TBS Westminster Reference Bible and Defined KJB list numbers of my false friends.

Again, are we required to respond to your arguments? I did address one of your suggested “false friends” (“halt”) in my review of your book and challenged the idea that this term is confusing or incomprehensible.

You said, "Confessional Christians necessarily reject KJV-Onlyism, especially of the Ruckman-Riplinger variety." I don't deny this. But this defines KJV-Onlyism narrowly as Ruckmanite double inspirationism. My IFB church growing up was not Ruckmanite, but we were KJV-Only, and proud of it. And we said almost all the same things you say about the KJV, minus anything about the Westminster Confession, of course!

Again, definition is a big problem. It is you who lumped in those who prefer the KJV with those who hold to Ruckman/Riplinger views. I’m not yet convinced you really understand why a confessional man cannot be called KJVO. WCF 1:8 is key. It is the immediate inspiration of the originals that is central, not translations.

You said, "There are those who affirm the Confessional Text position who do not make primary or exclusive use of the King James Version." I acknowledge this. After years of searching, I know two such people, and both of them go to the same church. And one of them has said to me that he is privately frustrated with the rest of Confessional Bibliology for being basically KJV-Only.

Your anecdotal experiences are not the standard. There are more than two examples of persons who embrace the traditional text but who do not make exclusive use of the KJV (and they’re not all in the same church!). You also have not yet addressed the TBS doing translations into other languages based on the traditional Reformation text. What about my German friend Andrej?  Is he KJVO?

Dr. Riddle, the best way to get me to stop using the label "KJV-Onlyism" for your view is to provide an answer to the substance of my argument in that Detroit paper. How do you handle differences among classic, mature, Protestant editions of the TR? If they exhibit the same kinds of variants as do the TR and the CT, why are those variants "corruptions" for my text but not for yours?

Whether or not I respond to your article, I have the feeling you will still try to lump in CB as KJVO. Smiles. I’ve already addressed this issue in my 2019 blog article responding to Dirk Jongkind.

I may get around to responding to your 2020 article at some point. To be straight, I see some major logical problems with your argument, which makes responding a challenge. One of those logical problems is the emphasis you give at the end of your article to the supposed significance of differences in printed editions of the TR and differences between the TR and the modern critical text. To me, this comparison seems illogical. Perhaps I’ll have time to explain why at some point.

You are a gifted man. I have heard from a reliable source that you are an excellent preacher. I don't like having this disagreement with you. I am frustrated, brother, that you will not answer what I take to be simple questions that, before the Lord, I asked in good faith.

You’re right that this is not a personal disagreement. I really don’t know you personally. It is an intellectual and theological disagreement. I’m sorry you feel frustrated. If it is any consolation, you can be sure that many in the CB camp find your perspective on these matters (and especially your insistence on labelling of the CB position as KJVO) to be frustrating as well.

With respect to this podcast, your comments here do not really answer the three main objections put forward in this episode to your claim that CB is the “same” as KJVO:

1.     You fail to define what KJVO is, and then you use the term too broadly. Our suspicion is that you do so for rhetorical reasons.

2.     You do not explain how a CB advocate could hold to WCF 1:8 and its insistence on the immediate inspiration of the Bible only in the original Hebrew and Greek and still be reasonably and fairly described as KJVO.

3.     You do not explain how one could hold to CB but not make exclusive use of the KJV (and even be someone who does not speak English but who prefers the traditional Hebrew and Greek text of the Reformation and translations made from it in their own language) and still be reasonably and fairly described as KJVO.

Regards, JTR


Mark Ward said...

Dr. Riddle, I appreciate the time you took to offer some answers. We do come from such different perspectives that I do not believe we are ever going to come to agreement. I also will not demand that you engage further, though I am willing and hoping for this to occur.

I do simply wish to request clarity on one thing before proceeding in this discussion. CB proponents do always, in my long experience, claim that there is a perfectly pure, preserved text of the New Testament—and yet they just as commonly (in my long experience!) do not speak clearly when they are asked the very natural and honest follow-up questions, 1) "Which TR is the perfect one?" and 2) "Why that one instead of a different TR?"

Do I take it that you are now answering that first question with clarity? Are you saying indeed that Scrivener's TR is the perfect TR? And am I correct in interpreting you to mean that a) every jot and tittle God inspired in the autographs is present in Scrivener's TR, b) none is missing or added, and c) all are in the right order? This is all I can take "perfect" preservation to mean. My New Oxford American Dictionary defines perfect as "free from any flaw or defect in condition or quality; faultless"; it also gives "precisely accurate; exact." Is that what "perfect" means to you?

I simply cannot see how these could be considered "gotcha" questions. I truly do not understand your view even after long listening, and I wish to represent you accurately. Do I? Have I stated your view as you would state it?

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Dr. Ward, I agree with R. L. Vaughan that your repeated asking of the so-called “Which TR?” question is hard to take as genuine but appears to be a “stratagem of debate.”

In fact, you yourself clearly answered the question in your 2020 article when you wrote that Scrivener’s TR is “used today by basically all who prefer the TR” (53), adding, “The edition that is universally used is that provided by the Trinitarian Bible Society” (53, n. 9).

I have clearly stated that my views are in line with the TBS’s statement on the doctrine of Holy Scripture, that, in the NT, I make practical use of Scrivener’s TR, that any individual passages where there are questions about Scrivener’s TR should be examined on a case-by-case basis, and I have even provided some principles for how such cases might be addressed.

I’d suggest that rather than trying to restate my view in your own words that you just use my words themselves to define my position.

I am sorry if you do not think this response is adequate, or that it is inconsistent with my belief that the Bible has been “kept pure in all ages.”

Now, since I have answered your questions, would you please answer a few of mine?

1. Would you respond to the three problems I raised in WM 240 regarding your conflation of CB with KJVO? Given these problems, do you still think that CB can reasonably and fairly be categorized as a variety of KJVO?
2. Do you believe that God’s Word is perfect and that it has been “kept pure in all ages”?
3. Which modern critical text do you believe is the Word of God (or the best approximation of it)?
4. Do you agree or disagree with Daniel Wallace’s recent statement: “We do not now have—in our critical Greek texts or any translations—exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. Even if we did, we would not know it” (Myths and Mistakes, xii).
5. Do you agree with James White that any verse in the Bible could possibly be changed based on new manuscript discoveries?
6. With reference to your preferred modern critical text of the NT, what percentage of the that edition do you believe is accurate and what percentage is questionable? Can you give specific examples of each?
7. Do you believe that Mark 16:9-20 is a spurious and uninspired corruption and should be removed from the Bible?
8. Do you believe that John 7:53—8:11 is also a spurious and uninspired corruption that should be removed from the Bible?
9. Do you believe that the modern text/translation rendering of John 1:18 is theologically accurate?
10. Do you accept the reading of 2 Peter 3:10 in the NA28 edition?

I look forward to your responses to these important questions.

Regards, JTR

Mark Ward said...

1/2 It is offensive, Dr. Riddle, to be told constantly by various KJV/TR defenders that I am disingenuous. I deny that stratagems of debate are perforce dishonest. You have repeatedly questioned my honesty, as have Kent Brandenburg, Peter Van Kleeck Jr, and other leading CB advocates (minus Robert Truelove, Pooyan Mehrshahi, Dane, and several others I could name who have not done this); you have sinned against me in this matter.

Can you not see any potential inconsistency between two categories of things Confessional Bibliologists commonly say? I am working very hard to represent your view in terms leading proponents of the viewpoint use.

1. On the one hand, proponents of Confessional Bibliology consistently use the following adjectives (which I took down from De Soto and J√∂hannson's comments to Peter Gurry at Phoenix Seminary a little while back) to describe the TR: “pure,” “perfect,” “certain,” “absolute,” “stable,” “settled,” “not changing,” “completed,” “agreed upon.” De Soto/J√∂hannson said, “There’s not a single place where we don’t know what the text says.” They said (though I didn’t catch the exact words here) that if there is uncertainty anywhere, there is uncertainty everywhere. You said the same to Dwayne Greene on YouTube recently: "If [God] has not preserved his word down to the jot and tittle, we have absolutely no epistemic foundation for Christianity."
2. On the other hand, proponents of Confessional Bibliology acknowledge that there are differences among TR editions. I read carefully, multiple times, your longest answer to the "Which TR?" question. I have read carefully, multiple times, the TBS statement on TR differences that you affirm. Both of you acknowledge differences among TR editions. Even "classic, mature, Protestant" editions of the TR—Beza and Stephanus prominent among them—differ in more than spelling and word order from Scrivener, and from each other. I collated just two TRs for my Detroit paper. To pick just one example of difference, Rev 11:2 has John measuring the court either "inside" (Stephanus) or "outside" (Scrivener/KJV) the temple.

Can you acknowledge some level of inconsistency and difficulty here? Is the TR perfectly pure or not? How is it that your own comment—"If [God] has not preserved his word down to the jot and tittle, we have absolutely no epistemic foundation for Christianity"—does not apply to your view? I simply cannot understand your view. What am I missing?

Mark Ward said...

2/2 I must, for my part, see an inconsistency that is fatal to your view. What can "pure" and "perfect" mean if not that you have every jot and tittle, none missing or added, and all in the right order? I refuse to call you dishonest; I will not return railing for railing. I don't know your heart. Perhaps, then, it is human finiteness and not fallenness that has led you to be unable to see the inconsistency in your bibliology.

Some of your followers have seen it, however. One commenter on Dwayne's channel wrote:

> I was convinced by the Confessional text position as Jeff likes to call it moving to it from a critical text position but I’ve recently moved to a KJV priority position. It really just boils down to where is my authority. I have to put it somewhere and the fact that there is not a single perfect TR is a problem. I do believe that the Bible teaches perfect preservation and affirms that preservation is maintained even through translation so I see the only thing I have to do is identify the text. The King James is the most widely received Bible in human history. It’s the best option I can see.

This brother saw the inconsistency I named and solved it by moving into Ruckmanism: the KJV itself is perfect. You are, to your credit, not a Ruckmanite. And this is why you reject the label "KJV-Only." I understand this. But you must understand what I have explained repeatedly to your followers: most of KJV-Onlyism is not Ruckmanite. I grew up in that non-Ruckmanite mainstream; I should know. So by "KJV-Only" I do not meant to say that you are Ruckmanite. I believe I am open to backing off of my claim that you are "KJV-Only," if only perhaps because it offends you, the leading CB proponent. I am open to continuing that discussion. I will also offer answers to other questions you've asked here. But I have repeatedly made my own view on many of these matters clear. Where I'd really like to make progress is in the central point of this comment: will you acknowledge why your opponents persist in seeing the significant inconsistency I have named in the CB/TBS (and mainstream IFB KJVO) viewpoint?

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

MW, again this is not about a personal disagreement between you and me. It is an intellectual and theological disagreement.

Also again, we cannot base our conclusions on anecdotal evidence (like the guy who posted to Dwayne's website. BTW, saying that he gives priority to the KJV is not necessarily Ruckmanite). There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that the modern critical view had led to apostasy (Ehrman), while the CB position has led to edification (like the comment by the fellow Andrej from Germany).

I am glad to hear you are open to retracting your claim that CB is KJVO, but you should not do so because it "offends" me. Again, this is not a personal disagreement. You should only do so if you acknowledge such a position is neither reasonable nor just.

At this point, No, I do not think it is inconsistent to hold to the CB position and to confess that God's Word has been "kept pure in all ages."

I look forward to getting your answers to the questions I posed.


Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Mark,

I wasn't using the term disingenuous lightly under your youtube video, which is a nice word, not quite as harsh as dishonest. I've said the word, I think, the one time. But I've got numerous specific, unambiguous examples coming from you of disingenuousness. Your Collective called everyone dishonest except for yourselves in your first video, so something about casting the first stone, a passage in the received text. What's the point of the KJVO label anyway? Really. Maybe you can explain how that helps along with understanding of the issue. This is the strategem of debate he talks about, or gamesmanship.

It's interesting you're talking about the text and not just the intelligibility issue as you swore (literally) that you would never do that. I missed the announcement that you were now moving to that. I'm fine with it, but you've been very clear on numerous occasions you wouldn't do that.

Mark Ward said...

Kent: "I will not discuss textual criticism with people who insist on the exclusive use of the KJV." This was my vow. To my knowledge, I have not broken that vow.

I will not answer your other charges. I am content for others to listen to my words and to yours and to come to their own conclusions.