SOLA AUTOGRAPHA OR SOLA APOGRAPHA?: A CASE FOR THE PRESENT
PERFECTION AND AUTHORITY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
The Issue at Hand
What is the use of having a Bible that was only perfect in the past, but no longer perfect today? Only the autographs (the original God-breathed scripts penned by the very hand of the inspired Apostles and Prophets) may claim infallibility and inerrancy but not the apographs (the copies of the autographs), so it is popularly taught. This paper intends to answer the question: Is the view that the Church no longer has the infallible and inerrant autographs but only fallible and errant apographs a tenable view?
The Sola Autographa view of infallibility and inerrancy is generally held today by so-called evangelicals and fundamentalists. The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), despite its name, is mostly populated by neo-evangelicals who deny the total inerrancy of Scriptures albeit in varying degrees. The recent controversy over Open Theism in the ETS is a case in point.1 The ETS definition of inerrancy is so loose that it allows for all kinds of interpretations with regard to what inerrancy means.2 This is due to the ETS belief that inerrancy lies only in the autographs, “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs.” The consensus among evangelical scholars is that the autographs are no longer in existence.3 As such, an individual who believes that the Bible contains mistakes may subscribe to such a statement because it can be said, “I only believe the Scriptures to be inerrant as originally given; I do not believe that they are inerrant today since we no longer have the autographs, the Scriptures as originally given.” It goes without saying that the theological confusion found in evangelical (or neo-evangelical) Christianity today finds its root-cause in such a denial of Biblical inerrancy in the apographs.
Regrettably, the Sola Autographa view of inerrancy is also held by fundamentalist (or neo-fundamentalist) Bible colleges and seminaries. Two recent books—From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man4 and One Bible Only?5—authored by men from Bob Jones University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth) respectively championed such a position.6 Apart from the pro-Westcott/Hort and pro-modern versions stance that they have taken, they also contend that the Scriptures though verbally and plenarily inspired in the autographs are not verbally and plenarily preserved in the apographs. It is their assumption, that since God did not choose to preserve His inspired words perfectly, there can be no such thing as a perfect Scripture today.7 Or if there exists a perfect Scripture, there is no sure certainty of where it truly is.8
In the years 2002-3, the faculty of the Far Eastern Bible College debated this issue of the present perfection of Scripture which eventually saw the resignation of two of its members who could no longer take the Dean Burgon Oath.9 Having rejected the supernatural jot-and-tittle preservation of the Holy Scriptures, they could only affirm biblical infallibility and inerrancy in the autographs, but not the apographs. Such a false view of Sola Autographa as opposed to Sola Apographa has caused great confusion and hindrance to the evangelistic-fundamentalist cause worldwide.10 It is “Fundamentalism’s Folly” as one Baptist pastor-scholar has so aptly put.11
Definition of Infallibility and Inerrancy
According to the Chamber’s Dictionary, the word “infallibility” means “incapable of error,” and the word “inerrancy” means “freedom from error.”12 As such, “infallibility” may be deemed a stronger term for the perfection of Scripture than the term “inerrancy.” If the Bible by nature is incapable of error, it goes without saying that it must also be totally free from error.
This paper shall use the terms “infallibility” and “inerrancy” in their pure dictionary sense.
Infallibility and Inerrancy of the Apographa
The Scripture when it speaks of its inspiration and preservation and consequent infallibility and inerrancy speaks of them in terms of its apographs. For instance, when Jesus spoke of the jot-and-tittle infallibility (or verbal inerrancy) of the Scriptures in Matthew 5:18, He was referring to the Scriptures that He had in His hands, which were the apographs of the OT Scripture, and not the autographs which had since disappeared. The canonical OT which was completed by the 5th century BC had been preserved exact and intact until the time of Jesus Christ in AD 27. The Apostle Paul when he spoke of the divinely inspired Scriptures in 2 Timothy 3:16 must have thought of them in terms of the Scriptures then used by the church (AD 64), which were the apographs, for the non-existent autographs could hardly have served as a supreme rule of faith and life that is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Some say that the Apostle Paul meant the perfect autographa when he spoke of the God-breathed Scriptures in 2 Timothy 3:16. If that was what Paul meant, then a question may be raised: how can an intangible and non-existent autographa serve as a supreme and final authority? An authority must be existing, present and accessible or else it would be no authority at all. An eye-witness who is already dead and unable to testify is of no use in a court of law.
Others say that Paul meant the apographa, but argue that the apographa cannot be deemed as perfect or complete. If this be the case, then how can an imperfect and an incomplete apographa serve as an all-sufficient guide for the perfect and complete equipping of the Christian towards godly living? If an eye-witness is not of impeccable character, but a compulsive liar, what good is he? His testimony would be utterly discredited. The same goes for Scripture. If the Church does not have an infallible and an inerrant Scripture, and have it today, then her supreme and final authority of faith and practice is all myth. But it is truthful that the Scripture was, is, and shall be God’s infallible and inerrant Word, and thus supremely authoritative (Ps 12:6-7, Ps 119:89, Matt 24:35, Heb 13:8).
Not only does the testimony of Scripture itself affirm the perfection of its apographs, the Reformers of the 16th century, in their declaration of Sola Scriptura, always thought in terms of the existing infallible and inerrant apographs rather than the autographs. The great Puritan divine—John Owen (1616-83)—believed in “the purity of the present original copies of the Scripture, or rather copies [apographa] in the original languages, which the Church of God doth now and hath for many ages enjoyed as her treasure.”13 Francis Turretin (1623-87)—pastor-theologian of the Church and Academy of Geneva—wrote in his Systematic Theology, “By original texts, we do not mean the autographs written by the hand of Moses, of the prophets and of the apostles, which certainly do not now exist. We mean their apographs which are so called because they set forth to us the word of God in the very words of those who wrote under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”14
The Protestant creeds reflect the Reformation doctrine of the infallibility of the apographa as their Sola Scriptura. It was not enough to affirm the infallibility and inerrancy of the autographa in the days of the Reformation for the Roman Catholic Church challenged Sola Scriptura at the Council of Trent (1545-63) by pointing out the scribal errors, variants and discrepancies in the extant Scriptures. The Reformers met this serious challenge by stating unequivocally that the extant Scriptures were infallible and inerrant by virtue of God’s promise to preserve His words to the last iota. In response to the Council of Trent, the Westminster Confession of Faith (1643-8) produced a most excellent statement on the continuing infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture, “The Old Testament in Hebrew … and the New Testament in Greek … being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them.” (I:8). The biblical proof-text cited was Matthew 5:18, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”15 In the battle for the sole and supreme authority of the Scriptures over against the Roman Catholic dogma of papal and ecclesiastical infallibility, the doctrine of the special providential preservation of Scripture was eventually and necessarily credalised in the days of the Protestant Reformation.16
Although it is admitted that the Westminster Confession did not specifically use the terms “infallible” and “inerrant” to describe the Scriptures, their use of the word “authentic” said just as much. They did not at all believe that the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures that they possessed were in any way imperfect or errant. J S Candlish rightly observed that the word “authentic” did not mean simply that the Scriptures were “historically true,” but that in a literal sense, the existing Scripture “is a correct copy of the author’s work.”17 William F Orr put it more forcefully, “Now this affirms that the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New which was known to the Westminster divines was immediately inspired by God because it was identical with the first text that God has kept pure in all the ages. The idea that there are mistakes in the Hebrew Masoretic texts or in the Textus Receptus of the New Testament was unknown to the authors of the Confession of Faith.”18
In the local and present context, the Constitution of Life Bible-Presbyterian Church (1950), states, “We believe in the divine, verbal and plenary inspiration of the Scriptures in the original languages, their consequent inerrancy and infallibility, and as the Word of God, the supreme and final authority in faith and life.”19 This 20th century statement is in keeping with the ancient Confessions, speaking of the verbal and plenary inspiration, infallibility and inerrancy of “the Scriptures (ie, autographs and apographs) in the original languages (ie, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek),” as opposed to the “original autographs” per se.20
Although the above statement is true to the reformed understanding of Sola Scriptura, the 21st century contention for the present perfection of Scripture requires a clearer and stricter statement. True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church (2004) has risen to the occasion, and offers a more definitive statement in her Constitution, which reads, “We believe in the divine, Verbal Plenary Inspiration (Autographs) and Verbal Plenary Preservation (Apographs) of the Scriptures in the original languages, their consequent inerrancy and infallibility, and as the perfect Word of God, the supreme and final authority in faith and life (2 Tim 3:16, 2 Pet 1:20-21, Ps 12:6-7, Matt 5:18, 24:35).”
It is historically quite clear that the Reformation slogan of Sola Scriptura involved a belief in an existing Hebrew OT and Greek NT in their respective apographs that were not only fully inspired but also entirely preserved to their last jot and tittle, and hence absolutely infallible and totally inerrant. The infallible and inerrant apographs could legitimately serve as the Protestant Church’s supreme and final authority in all matters of faith and life. It ought to be noted that the 19th–20th century idea of infallibility and inerrancy as residing only in the autographs was utterly foreign to the minds of the 16th–17th century Reformation saints and scholars.21
Perfect Autographs, Errant Apographs, and Textual Criticism
The current evangelical view of “inerrant autographs” is a relatively new one that began in the 19th century in conjunction with the introduction of rationalistic textual criticism. Conservative theologians have long identified textual criticism (or lower criticism) as a threat to the biblical doctrine of verbal inspiration.22
Textual Criticism as introduced by Westcott and Hort treated the Scriptures like any ordinary literature, and sought by human reasoning and subjective analysis to judge which part of Scripture is inspired and which part is not.23 They touted the highly corrupted Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus as the new standard text, and rejected the traditional Textus Receptus as the providentially preserved text.24 Their revision of the providentially preserved Textus Receptus saw them cutting out a total of 9,970 Greek words from it in their newly edited Greek text of 1881. The Westcott and Hort text deleted such divinely preserved and time-honoured passages as the Pericope de adultera (John 7:53-8:11), the last 12 verses of Mark (Mark 16:9-20), and the Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7).25 Their denial of verbal inspiration as seen in their rendering of 2 Timothy 3:16 was soundly castigated by Southern Presbyterian theologian—Robert Dabney—as the work of a Socinian and a rationalist.26
The tragedy in reformed scholarship was in B B Warfield’s adoption of the Westcott and Hort textual critical theory and his redefinition of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy to make it apply only to the autographs. Warfield’s novel concept of Sola Autographa unfortunately caught on, and became the new paradigm in the textual critical exercise of reconstructing (or rather deconstructing) the inspired text. The new paradigm of older, harder, shorter readings as the inspired reading is based on false rules.27 Based on such false rules, “A textual critic engaged upon his business is not at all like Newton investigating the motions of the planets: he is much more like a dog hunting for fleas.”28 Indeed!
The uncritical acceptance of Westcott and Hort’s false textual-critical theory by Princeton Seminary, and later evangelical and fundamental seminaries resulted in the Textus Receptus being replaced by the United Bible Societies and the Nestle-Aland Critical Texts as the “commonly received” text in NT studies and modern translations.29 Over a hundred modern English versions have been birthed by this mutilated and corrupted text causing much confusion over the infallibility, inerrancy and authority of the Scriptures. Where is the Bible? Do modern textual critics have the answer? They are agnostic!
Who are the textual critics that determine which text is the inspired text that Christians should use? They are the editors of the current Critical texts, viz, Aland and Metzger among others who are modernists.30 Can we expect them to make spirit-guided decisions with regard to the text? “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart” (Ps 24:3-4). Can the Spirit of Truth be pleased to use men devoid of the Spirit to guide them into all truth concerning His Word of Truth (John 16:13)? Georg Luck of Johns Hopkins University has rightly said, “our critical texts are no better than our textual critics.”31 Jesus said it well, “Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?” (Luke 6:39). Non-spiritual men have produced a non-spiritual text that formed the basis of a plethora of liberal, ecumenical and feminist versions that demote the deity of Christ and deny the veracity of the Scriptures. Is it no wonder that the mainline denominational churches today are in such a pathetic state, plagued by rampant apostasy and immorality?
Fundamentalism’s love affair with Westcott and Hort, the modern versions, and textual criticism is truly a classic case of the unequal yoke (2 Cor 6:14–7:1). The KJV and its underlying inspired and preserved Hebrew and Greek texts ought to be the Text of Biblical Fundamentalism.32 But today, certain fundamentalists are speaking with a forked tongue: they pay lip service to the KJV as the “very” (100%) Word of God, but undermine its very source—the underlying Hebrew Masoretic Text and Greek Textus Receptus—saying that it is not 100% (with much deference to Westcott and Hort).33 It goes without saying that this partnership of the KJV with the Westcott and Hort Text in the classrooms of fundamental theological colleges and seminaries is a marriage made in hell. Is it no wonder that fundamentalism today is dying?
The Verbal Plenary Preservation of the Holy Scriptures
There is a vital need today for true biblical fundamentalists to resuscitate the indispensable doctrine of the verbal and plenary preservation (VPP) of the Holy Scriptures, and by so doing, recapture the Reformation battle-cry of Sola Scriptura as found in the infallible and inerrant apographa of the traditional Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus on which the venerable KJV is based.
The 19th century Warfieldian concept of the inerrant autographa as reflected in contemporary evangelicalism ought to be expanded to include the inerrant apographa. According to Richard Muller of Calvin Theological Seminary, “The Protestant scholastics do not press the point made by their nineteenth-century followers that the infallibility of Scripture and the freedom of Scripture from error reside absolutely in the autographa, and only in the derivative sense in the apographa; rather, the scholastics argue positively that the apographa preserve intact the true words of the prophets and the apostles and that the God-breathed (theopneustos) character of Scripture is manifest in the apographa as well as in the autographa. In other words, the issue primarily addressed by the seventeenth-century orthodox in their discussion of the autographa is the continuity of the extant copies in Hebrew and in Greek with the originals both quoad res, with respect to the thing or subject of the text, and quoad verba, with respect to the words of the text.” 34 It is quite clear that the Reformation scholars believed in the 100% inspiration and 100% preservation of the very words of Scripture that God has breathed out, and not simply the doctrines (2 Tim 3:16, Ps 12:6-7, Matt 5:18, 24:35). Without the words, where the doctrines? It must be pointed out that the current neo-evangelical and neo-fundamental view of (1) verbal inspiration and total inerrancy in the autographs alone, and (2) conceptual inspiredness and limited inerrancy in the apographs, contradicts reformed and fundamental dogmatics.
Myron Houghton of Faith Baptist Seminary was precisely right when he wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” [2 Timothy 3:16]. Another way of saying this would be, ‘all Scripture is God-breathed,’ or ‘all Scripture comes from the mouth of God.’ This means God is directly responsible for causing the Bible writers to put down everything that He wanted written without error and without omission. But what of the Bible I hold in my hand? Is it God’s Word? Can it be trusted? The answer is yes! Both truths—the inspiration and inerrancy of the original manuscripts and the trustworthiness of the Bible in my hand—must be acknowledged. To affirm the inspiration and inerrancy of the original writings while casting doubt on the authority of the Bible that is available to us is just plain silly. Can you really imagine someone seriously saying, ‘I have good news and I have bad news: the good news is that God wanted to give us a message and therefore caused a book to be written; the bad news is that He didn’t possess the power to preserve it and therefore we don’t know what it said!’ A view of inspiration without a corresponding view of preservation is of no value.”35
Ian Paisley, renowned leader of the World Congress of Fundamentalists and President of the European Institute of Protestant Studies, wrote likewise, “The verbal Inspiration of the Scriptures demands the verbal Preservation of the Scriptures. Those who would deny the need for verbal Preservation cannot be accepted as being really committed to verbal Inspiration. If there is no preserved Word of God today then the work of Divine Revelation and Divine Inspiration has perished.”36
In the battle for the Bible today, there is a need for Bible-believing and Bible-defending churches and seminaries to produce statements of faith that affirm the Scriptures to be verbally and plenarily preserved in the apographs; that all the Hebrew and Greek words of the Masoretic Text and the Textus Receptus underlying the Reformation Bibles as represented by the Authorised Version are the verbally and plenarily inspired words of God, and therefore absolutely infallible, totally inerrant and supremely authoritative.37
There is also a need to be specific in the identification of the preserved text. In his discussion on “How to Combat Modernism—Follow the Logic of Faith,”38 Edward F Hills warned against a false view of preservation that says (1) the doctrines are preserved, but not the words (contra Matt 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33), or (2) the true reading is preserved somewhere out there in the whole body of extant manuscripts. Such a general and uncertain view would imply that God was somehow careless in preserving His inspired words. Hills rightly advised, “It is not sufficient merely to say that you believe in the doctrine of the special, providential preservation of the holy Scriptures. You must really believe this doctrine and allow it to guide your thinking. You must begin with Christ and the Gospel and proceed according to the logic of faith. This will lead you to the Traditional text, the Textus Receptus, and the King James Version.”39
It is by this same logic of faith applied consistently that D A Waite concluded that “the WORDS of the Received Greek and Masoretic Hebrew texts that underlie the KING JAMES BIBLE are the very WORDS which God has PRESERVED down through the centuries, being the exact WORDS of the ORIGINALS themselves.”40 (Note that Waite is speaking of the Hebrew and Greek words underlying the KJV, and not the English words, nor the KJV per se.)
This is not a new view, but a restatement of an old truth. By believing in the verbally and plenarily preserved apographs, we are affirming or reaffirming good old Protestant and Reformation Theology. It is heartening to note that God’s people, filled and guided by the Spirit, are recognising this vital truth of the verbal and plenary preservation of the Scriptures, and not a few theological institutions have already taken a declared position for it.41
One such institution is the International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC). In its 16th World Congress in Jerusalem, 2000, a statement, “On the Word of God Forever Inerrant and Infallible,” was passed: “The first historic doctrine of the Christian Church presented in the doctrinal statement of this Council of churches is its belief in the inerrancy and infallibility of the entire Bible … God’s Word has been given to us directly from heaven by the Holy Spirit and Jesus, while He was here, said that the Father had sent Him and had given Him the words which He had delivered to man. Jesus was explicit when He said, ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away.’ The penalty pronounced on adding to or taking from the Scriptures was severe judgement from God Himself. … It is this Bible that has brought into existence the ICCC. It is through this Bible that the Holy Spirit has given the faith to the leaders who have established this Council and has helped them maintain a sure and clear witness to the Bible’s full truthfulness. It is this Bible and its record of past prophecies that have been seen to be fulfilled in the smallest level, and every Word of God is true. … Nothing that the archaeologists have discovered and will discover will contradict this Book. … This Holy Book is the work of our righteous God in making possible the only salvation that exists and in bringing men and women through the preaching of the Word in all its ‘foolishness’ into God’s everlasting kingdom. The ICCC reaffirms all the statements carefully and prayerfully worked out …, all of which are based squarely on this holy and perfect record which came from heaven, of which God is the Author and that indeed is why it is called the Word of God.”42
The Far Eastern Bible College, in a necessary effort to preserve her original reformed and fundamentalist ethos, has issued a statement on the Holy Scriptures that was unanimously passed by her Board of Directors on December 29, 2003. Article 4 of the College Constitution reads,
The Statement of Faith of the College shall be in accordance with that system commonly called “the Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Confession of Faith as set forth by the historic Westminster Assembly together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
In abbreviated form, the chief tenets of the doctrine of the College, apart from the Doctrinal Position Statement of the College, shall be as follows:
We believe in the divine, Verbal Plenary Inspiration (Autographs) and Verbal Plenary Preservation (Apographs) of the Scriptures in the original languages, their consequent inerrancy and infallibility, and as the perfect Word of God, the supreme and final authority in faith and life (2 Tim 3:16, 2 Pet 1:20-21, Ps 12:6-7, Matt 5:18, 24:35).
We believe the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament underlying the Authorised (King James) Version to be the very Word of God, infallible and inerrant.
We uphold the Authorised (King James) Version to be the Word of God—the best, most faithful, most accurate, most beautiful translation of the Bible in the English language, and do employ it alone as our primary scriptural text in the public reading, preaching, and teaching of the English Bible.
The Board of Directors and Faculty shall affirm their allegiance to the Word of God by taking the Dean Burgon Oath at every annual convocation: I swear in the Name of the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit that I believe “the Bible is none other than the voice of Him that sitteth upon the throne. Every book of it, every chapter of it, every verse of it, every word of it, every syllable of it, every letter of it, is direct utterance of the Most High. The Bible is none other than the Word of God, not some part of it more, some part of it less, but all alike the utterance of Him that sitteth upon the throne, faultless, unerring, supreme.”
The Burning Bush will continue to publish articles to defend the present perfection of the original language Scriptures on which the Authorised Version is based. Bible-believing and Bible-defending pastors and scholars do not hide from alleged “discrepancies” in the Bible. In future issues, we shall endeavour to glorify God and edify His saints by explaining these difficult passages according to a faith-based, thoroughly reformed, theological-presuppositional approach to the Scriptures—the apographa we possess today contain no mistakes whatsoever!
It is enough just now to close with the words of Dean Burgon: “I hear some one say,—It seems to trouble you very much that inspired writers should be thought capable of making mistakes; but it does not trouble me.—Very likely not. It does not trouble you, perhaps, to see stone after stone, buttress after buttress, foundation after foundation, removed from the walls of Zion, until the whole structure trembles and totters, and is pronounced insecure. Your boasted unconcern is very little to the purpose, unless we may also know how dear to you the safety of Zion is. But if you make indignant answer,—(as would heaven you may!)—that your care for GOD’s honour, your jealousy for GOD’s oracles, is every whit as great as our own,—then we tell you that, on your wretched promises, men more logical than yourself will make shipwreck of their peace, and endanger their very souls. There is no stopping,—no knowing where to stop,—in this downward course. Once admit the principle of fallibility into the inspired Word, and the whole becomes a bruised and rotten reed. If St. Paul a little, why not St. Paul much? If Moses in some places, why not in many? You will doubt our LORD’s infallibility next! … It might not trouble you, to find your own familiar friend telling you a lie, every now and then: but I trust this whole congregation will share the preacher’s infirmity, while he confesses that it would trouble him so exceedingly that after one established falsehood, he would feel unable ever to trust that friend implicitly again.
“… But I believe that the Bible IS the Word of GOD—and I believe that GOD’s Word must be absolutely infallible. I shall therefore believe the Bible to be absolutely infallible,—until I am convinced to the contrary.” 43
“No, Sirs! The Bible (be persuaded) is the very utterance of the Eternal;—as much GOD’s Word, as if high Heaven were open, and we heard GOD speaking to us with human voice … [T]he Bible, from the Alpha to the Omega of it, is filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit of GOD: the Books of it, and the sentences of it, and the words of it, and the syllables of it,—aye, and the very letters of it.”44 Amen and Amen!
“Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us? For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him. The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted” (Ps 12).
“Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar” (Rom 3:4). Soli Deo Gloria!
1 Go to http://www.etsjets.org/ for information on the 2003 ETS Membership Challenge on Open Theism.
2 The interpretive nature of the term “inerrancy” has led former ETS President, Millard J Erickson, to describe “inerrancy” as “a reference to the variously interpreted doctrine that the Bible is free from error” (emphasis mine) in his Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology, sv “Inerrancy.”
3 Modern textual critics assume that “the autographs (originals) of the NT books are a hypothetical source only, since none are extant.” J Harold Greenlee, Introduction to New Testament Criticism (Grand Rapids MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1964), 33.
4 James B Williams, ed, From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man (Greenville SC: Ambassador-Emerald, 1999), 25-26.
5 Roy E Beacham and Kevin T Bauder, eds, One Bible Only? (Grand Rapids MI: Kregel, 2001), 102-103.
6 For a comprehensive review of both books, see my articles, “Bob Jones University and the KJV: A Critique of From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man,” The Burning Bush (2001): 1-34; and “The Emergence of Neo-Fundamentalism: One Bible Only? Or ‘Yea Hath God Said?’,” The Burning Bush (2004): 2-47. See also “The Leaven of Fundamentalism: A History of the Bible Text Issue in Fundamentalism,” videocassette tape 3, Pensacola Christian College, 1998.
7 Beacham and Bauder, One Bible Only?, 121.
8 Williams, From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man, 182.
9 At every annual convocation, the FEBC Board of Directors and faculty swear to uphold the perfection of Scriptures, that “the Bible is none other than the voice of Him that sitteth upon the throne. Every book of it, every chapter of it, every verse of it, every word of it, every syllable of it, every letter of it, is direct utterance of the Most High. The Bible is none other than the Word of God, not some part of it more, some part of it less, but all alike, the utterance of Him that sitteth upon the throne, faultless, unerring, supreme.” Adapted from J W Burgon, Inspiration and Interpretation (Collingswood NJ: Dean Burgon Society, 1999 reprint), 89.
10 On the infallibility of the apographs, listen to David Allen’s lecture, “The Special Providential Preservation of the Word of God,” delivered to the Scottish Reformation Society, February 2, 2004 at http://www.bible-sermons.org.uk/audio-sermons/767-special-providential-preservation-of-the-word-of-god. In a letter to this author dated April 2, 2004, Allen clarified that his lecture was meant “to show that the current ‘Reformed’ position was not a view shared by the Reformers.” The current “Reformed” position is the “inerrant autographs” position originally espoused by B B Warfield of Princeton Seminary. It is however unfortunate that Allen in his message on “The Faithful Keeping and Copying of the Word of God,” at Life Bible-Presbyterian Church, Singapore, on June 22, 2004, undermined the very doctrine of preservation he tried so hard to present when he (1) dogmatically asserted that Psalm 12:6-7 does not mean the preservation of God’s words whatsoever, (2) opened the possibility of “scribal errors” in the preserved Hebrew text in places where there are none (eg, 2 Chron 22:2), and then (3) introduced a fallacious hermeneutical rule that Scripture “corrects” Scripture (implying that the Scriptures contain mistakes).
11 Peter W Van Kleeck, Fundamentalism’s Folly? (Grand Rapids MI: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998), see especially pages 20-27 on “Dogmatic Disjunction.” Van Kleeck offers a historical survey of the interpretation of Psalm 12:6-7 in the days of the reformers (15-19). For an exegetical defence of the verbal plenary preservation of the words of Scripture in Psalm 12:6-7, see Thomas M Strouse, “The Permanent Preservation of God’s Words, Psalm 12:6,7,” in Thou Shalt Keep Them, ed Kent Brandenburg (El Sobrante CA: Pillar & Ground, 2003), 29-34.
12 Chamber’s Twentieth Century Dictionary, comp Rev Thomas Davidson, sv “Infallible,” “Inerrable.”
13 Quoted by Theodore P Letis, The Ecclesiastical Text (Philadelphia PA: Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies, 1997), 43.
14 Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol 1 (Philipsburg NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992), 106. Emphasis mine.
15 The Westminster Standards: An Original Facsimile (Audubon NJ: Old Paths, 1997).
16 Other Protestant creeds followed suit: The Confession of the Waldenses (1655), The Savoy Declaration (1658), The Baptist Confession (1688), Methodist Articles of Religion (1784), The New Hampshire Baptist Confession (1833), Confession of the Evangelical Free Church of Geneva (1848), The Reformed Episcopal Articles of Religion (1875). In none of them was the term “autographa” used. See Philip Schaff, ed, The Creeds of Christendom, vol 3 (Grand Rapids MI: Baker, 1931).
17 J. S Candlish, “The Doctrine of the Westminster Confession on Scripture,” as cited in Theodore Letis, ed, The Majority Text (Philadelphia PA: Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies, 1987), 174. Emphasis mine.
18 William F Orr, “The Authority of the Bible as Reflected in the proposed Confession of 1967,” as quoted by Letis, The Majority Text, 174. Emphasis mine.
19 Fifty Years Building His Kingdom, Life Bible-Presbyterian Church Golden Jubilee Magazine, 1950-2000, Singapore, 51.
20 This historic church in Singapore suffered a split in 2003 due to a non-reformed interpretation of the constitution which applied the terms “inerrancy” and “infallibility” only to the autographs and not apographs, employing anti-preservationist arguments from anti-reformed dispensational Baptists of One Bible Only? (op cit) notoriety. Re: “Preserving Our Godly Path,” Life B-P Church Sunday School, December 1, 2002 (firstname.lastname@example.org), and this author’s critique of it (email@example.com).
21 Cf Richard A Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy, ca 1520 to ca 1725, vol 2, Holy Scripture, 2d ed (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 300-7.
22 Letis, The Ecclesiastical Text, 1.
23 See B F Westcott and F J A Hort, Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek (Peabody MA: Hendricksen, 1998 reprint) for the man-made rules of anti-fedeistic textual criticism.
24 Read J W Burgon, The Revision Revised (Collingswood NJ: Dean Burgon Society, 2000 reprint) for a refutation of the Westcott and Hort’s false Greek text and theory.
25 For a defence of the authenticity of these precious passages, see E F Hills, The King James Version Defended (Des Moines IA: Christian Research Press, 1984), 150-68; J W Burgon, The Last Twelve Verses of Mark (Collingswood NJ: Dean Burgon Society, 1871); and Michael Maynard, A History of the Debate Over 1 John 5:7-8 (Tempe AZ: Comma Publications, 1995); Jeffrey Khoo, “A Preliminary Examination of the Antiquity and Authenticity of the Johannine Comma (1 Jn 5:7f),” Foundation, May June 2000, 34-5.
26 Cited in Jeffrey Khoo, “Bob Jones University and the KJV,” The Burning Bush (2001): 10-11.
27 It is no wonder that scholars today are re-evaluating the textual critical canons of Westcott and Hort. See David Alan Black, ed, Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism (Grand Rapids MI: Baker, 2002), 27, 31.
28 A E Houseman, “The Application of Thought to Textual Criticism,” in Selected Prose, ed J Carter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961), 131-2.
29 Edward F Hills, “A History of My Defence of the King James Version,” The Burning Bush (1998): 99-105; Theodore Letis, “B B Warfield, Common-Sense Philosophy and Biblical Criticism,” in The Ecclesiastical Text, 1-29; Jeffrey Khoo, Kept Pure in All Ages: Recapturing the Authorised Version and the Doctrine of Providential Preservation (Singapore: FEBC Press, 2001), 117-120.
30 David Cloud, For Love of the Bible (Oak Harbor WA: Way of Life Literature, 1995), 37-44.
31 Cited in Black, Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism, 50.
32 “For fundamentalist society as a whole the Authorized Version functioned as the direct and immediate expression or transcript of divine revelation … The virtual use of only one English version, and it is one originating within very traditional early seventeenth-century Christianity, thus indirectly but very powerfully supported the alienation of the fundamentalist public from, and its opposition to, the positions, interests and methods from which all biblical criticism grew and on which it depended.” James Barr, Fundamentalism (Philadelphia PA: Westminster, 1978), 210-1.
33 Cf Thomas M Strouse, “Fundamentalism and the Authorized Version,” a paper presented to the National Leadership Conference, Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary, Lansdale PA, February 29, 1996.
34 Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, s v “autographa.”
35 Myron J Houghton, “The Preservation of Scripture,” Faith Pulpit (August 1999): 1-2. Stuart Lease, former president of Lancaster Bible College, likewise said, “Now I believe that God so superintended both the writing and the preservation of Scripture, not only the words, but the very letters.”
36 Ian R K Paisley, My Plea for the Old Sword (Belfast: Ambassador, 1997), 103.
37 See Jeffrey Khoo, “A Plea for a Perfect Bible,” The Burning Bush (2003): 1-15.
38 Edward F Hills, Believing Bible Study (Des Moines IA: Christian Research Press, 1977), 219.
39 Ibid, 220.
40 D A Waite, Defending the King James Bible: A Four-fold Superiority (Collingswood NJ: Bible For Today, 1996), 48.
41 See list in Jeffrey Khoo, KJV Q&A (Singapore: Bible Witness Literature Ministry, 2003), 18-19; Cloud, For Love of the Bible, 269-414.
42 “ICCC 16th World Congress Statements,” Far Eastern Beacon 32 (December 2000): 9. Emphasis mine.
43 Burgon, Inspiration and Interpretation, 73-4.
44 Ibid, 76.
Dr Jeffrey Khoo is the academic dean of Far Eastern Bible College. The paper above was read to University and Polytechnic students of the Fundamental Christian Ministry at its combined meeting, August 27, 2004, Calvary Pandan Bible-Presbyterian Church, Singapore.