Monday, March 12, 2012

A Question, Some Answers, and an Exhortation

Question: Where did God send His Word when he wanted to preserve it?

But more on that later.

First, Sam Gipp produced a video about the KJV controversy. It is, as others have said, pretty well done. It sets Gipp up as a wise and gracious teacher, taking the time to talk to a student about the Bible.

But there are some problems with it, and James White has produced some excellent responses here (which includes Gipp’s video). White systematically dismantles many of the arguments of Gipp by showing how they are simply not true for a variety of reasons. IMO, teachings such as “KJV-Onlyism” (in its various forms from Ruckman to Gipp to Cloud) thrive only in a culture where teaching the truth is undervalued. There are some legitimate differences and discussions that surround the discussion of Bible texts and translations. But none of those legitimate issues can lead to the dogmatic or certain elevation of one Greek text or one translation above all others.

I bring it up here because I think there are some well-meaning and well-intentioned people who are the victims of teaching that actually appeals to something outside of Scripture.

Here’s some evidence for that: One of the primary contentions in the KJV-Only movement is that “God only wrote one Bible” (or a close approximation).

Yet every argument that identifies that “one Bible” does not use Scripture to identify that “one Bible.”

The best attempt I ever had to root this argument in Scripture was someone who quoted Ecclesiastes 8:4 which says (KJV), “Where the word of the king is, there is power.”

The king, of course, was King James.

It was a laughable attempt to be sure. But give the guy credit for trying.

The fact is that God never identifies the KJV (or any other version) as “the only Word of God” or even “the best translation.” That always arises from outside of Scripture, and is based on the logical conclusions and the philosophies of men. It is not revealed by God. It is, by definition, a different authority.

When Sam Gipp argues that the Bible comes from Antioch, he has asserted a “final authority” that does not come from Scripture, because the Bible never identifies Antioch as the source of good copies of Scriptures, and the Bible never identifies Alexandria as the source of bad ones.

My friend, beware of these slick sounding, dogmatic arguments.

Ask for verses.

And then read them. And notice how the verses do not say what they are being accused of.

And then ask what the final authority is: The Bible? Or Sam Gipp?

Sam Gipp wants you to believe it’s the Bible. And he tries to prove it by asking you to believe him.

I think we should just believe the Bible, and judge Sam Gipp by that. And when we do, we will find that his arguments aren’t nearly as attractive as a slick video.

So where did God send His Word when he wanted to preserve it?


You can read it for yourself in Matthew 2.

Beware of people who tell you you can’t trust your Bible.


Kent Brandenburg said...

Do you believe there is only one Word of God? Or do you believe there are several?

Larry said...


Kent Brandenburg said...

So Sam Gipp and you and I agree on that one. The question then is: does the Bible say anything about the preservation of that one Word of God and how we would identify it (canonicity)?

To me, having Sam Gipp argue this issue is like having Jack Schaap stand in as your guy explaining salvation by grace through faith. You believe in salvation by grace through faith, but you want him to be quiet and take a seat. If you start talking about someone representing a position, you don't assume that he's a representative, just because he can make a high quality video and he even has people who like him (like Schaap does).

Larry said...

Thanks, Kent for commenting.

I don't think Gipp and I agree on this because the point is not that there is one Word of God but about everything that flows from that.

The Bible does teach on preservation, but it does not teach much about canonicity, per se. It teaches very little about textual criticism. The Bible's teaching on these two matters do not identify methods, practices, texts, translations, etc.

I wouldn't say Gipp represents everyone, which is why I made the distinction from Ruckman to Gipp to Cloud.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi again Larry,

I believe that Christians should believe whatever the Bible does say about preservation and canonicity and led that guide us. That's what I read in the historic position of these doctrines, but that trajectory changed in the 19th century.

Gipps argument is a new (50 years old or so) and losing one. However, I understand the making of it. It reminds me of the new emphasis on the Trinity recently with what seems like some evangelical acceptance of modalism. Christians believed one Word of God until modern textual criticism, which came out of a new post-enlightenment worldview.

Doug A said...

I appreciated your comment about Matthew two because the same basic thought occured to me when watching Gipp's video recently. Not only is his hermeneutical theory silly but his application of it is pretty selective.

So thankful that God took the blinders from my eyes about this foolishness.

Larry said...

Kent, I agree that we should believe whatever the Bible says about preservation and canonicity. But it makes me wonder why you don't actually believe it. :) ...

That is the rub. What does it actually teach? The answer is, Not much specifically. You have constructed a whole position based on what you think the ramifications are of what it says. And I think you are wrong, at least as much as I have read. I don't think you have a legitimate leg to stand on. And you think I am wrong.

But our difference is not about whether or not God inspired his word, whether or not it is inerrant, or whether or not it is preserved. It is the manner of preservation, and to that, God has not spoken explicitly.

To me, at some point we have to say that what the Bible says matters to us. And we can't just ignore that in favor of pet theories. And I think that distinction (what the Bible says vs. what we think ramifications of that are) gets often overlooked in the haste to make our point. And I reject that.

But this gets to the point you deny about essential and non-essential truths. I would say it's not okay to believe what you believe. But it isn't essential to being a Christian. For us, it would be essential to ministry fellowship/partnership probably. But not to dinner fellowship. I would gladly have dinner with you though I wouldn't be able to participate in church planting with you.

It's not going to keep you or I out of heaven. It is, therefore, non-essential, by definition. That does not mean "untrue" or "unimportant for some things."

Kent Brandenburg said...


There is a historic position on preservation and much has been written on it, and the Bible actually has more to say about it than it does on inspiration. And I'm not asking you to believe me. You can read the historic position in Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics vol. 2 by Richard Muller is foremost in history of theology. Christians had a clear belief about this. You write: "You have constructed a whole position." No. I am only reporting. Your position is the new one, invented from no scripture. It's only in the last about 15 years that I have heard anyone attempt to try to find anything in the Bible to support your position. That should be tell tale. And I say this calmly like we would if we were going to dinner together.

Warfield created a new history when he read textual criticism into the WCF.

There is a position on this in the WCF and several other confessions. Baptists never challenged what the WCF said about the Bible. They accepted it.

It's something I think you should consider, Larry.

Regarding what is essential. All truth is essential, because there is one God and, therefore, one Truth. The denial of one Truth is the denial of Him. I see this new gradation of truth influenced by Hegelian dialectics. The Bible doesn't deal with truth this way. It's the post-enlightenment view of the world.

Larry, you and I are in a group of 5% of Americans that see the world the closest, so in that sense, a huge majority of the time, I'm going to defend you, but I also see where we differ to be important.

Jon Gleason said...

Hi, Larry. You should have read the rest of the chapter. Egypt was only temporary and quickly became obsolete. The Word was later sent by God for preservation in a much more complete revelation to a place to the North and East of Egypt -- in fact, north of Jerusalem.

I fear that even your exegetical approach to this topic doesn't lead to the conclusions you made. Context, my friend, context. :)

Larry said...


Thanks for commenting again. I don't understand any claim that the Bible has much more to say about the method and location of preservation than inspiration. I am not aware of anything in the WCF or any other standard confession that would contradict what I believe. But I would note that you are, in part, proving my point, not by arguing from Scripture but from the WCF.

Regarding truth, I do not deny there is one truth. I think there is. And I think on some things you are outside of it. I think the point of the essential/non-essential debate is not about there being more than one truth, but about the ramifications of denying the truth. Don't we have to admit that the Bible is not explicitly clear on some things, and some brothers come to different conclusions while still being brothers? Their differences do not lead to eternal damnation, but not because they are right, but because the truth is not essential to salvation, or the level of fellowship.

Larry said...


Thanks for reading and commenting. My comment about Egypt was mostly a joke. Some are found of everything Egypt being bad and sinful. It's not.

The KJV types would have a much greater chance of success if they would abandon that line of "Egypt bad/Alexandria good." It's not a biblical argument.

Jon Gleason said...

Larry, I got the joke. :)

I have reasons for not thinking highly of the Egyptian mss, but it isn't because of Egypt itself. But that would be somewhat off-topic, I suppose.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I've been preaching through books of the Bible since I started 25 years ago, and preservation is all over. That doesn't make me think inspiration is a lesser doctrine. It's just that it is found in less places than preservation. I'm not saying that as someone who thinks needs it to prove his point. If I had two verses on preservation, I would believe it just the same.

Scripture does have method of preservation. And again, it has a lot about that. As far as "location" goes, there is no city or nation mentioned or particular manuscript, but it has these two concepts: the Words (that is the location of preservation) and then Israel and the church. Those two combined provide a lot of information. And you see this kind of thought all over the historic information, which I don't read mentioned by CT guys. What I read from them is, let the evidence take you to the truth. And evidence is scientific. Again, I'm just reporting.