Textual Criticism: Fact and Fiction (3/4)
Page 3/4: Preservation
Section Two - Preservation
The doctrine of preservation is one that is receiving much attention today, and has become as controversial as the doctrine of inspiration was fifty years ago, and will, in all probability have the same effect on Christendom. In the near future, the lines of demarcation will be more boldly drawn, and a new separatism will develop around the proper understanding of the doctrine of Bible preservation. Those who decide on a preserved Scripture and believe that the local "church of the living God [is] the pillar and ground of the truth" will be the fundamentalists of tomorrow, and those who continue to hold to the idea of a higher "critical" text, and the authority of so-called "scholars" to determine what is, and what is not the Word of God, will go the way of Liberal and Modernistic Christendom, into decline and eclipse. We are already seeing a tendency toward this decline in many of the Christian Colleges that were great preacher training schools in the past, but are now turning out more accountants or other professionals then they are preachers.
We must first ask ourselves, does the Bible teach that God has promised to preserve His word? I contend that it does, and does so quite emphatically! I believe when God promises something, He keeps and performs that promise. In Psalm 12:6-7 God says: "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." Here is a plain and simple statement concerning the doctrine of Bible preservation. Notice that God has not just promised to preserve His word, but has promised to preserve it from "this generation (the time of David) for ever." God has promised that every generation from the time of David until the end of eternity will have a preserved authoritative Bible. In Psalm 78:5-7 God states that he has established His testimony and appointed His law for the purpose of teaching each succeeding generation. Every generation has the promise of a preserved Bible, that they "not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments." "Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven," says the psalmist in Psalm 119:89. God's word has been settled, kept pure, preserved, according to this verse. Some have argued that it is settled in heaven, but not on earth! How foolish! God's word is a revelation from God to man. It is man that needs God's word, mankind right here on earth, not God, or the already redeemed in heaven. God has promised to preserve His word from generation to generation. Those generations are generated right here on earth, not in heaven! In Matthew 4:4, when Jesus was tempted by the Devil, He replied, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." How can a man live by the Word of God, if he doesn't have it? In order for men and women to live by the Word of God, it must be available to them, God must have preserved it! By the way, I don't want to get too technical with you, but the word "written" is in the perfect tense, meaning that it was written in the past, and has continued right down to the time of Christ, and of course down to this present time also. In other words, God has preserved it!
Let's stick to the truth! There have been many strange statements made of late by both sides of this debate that need to be addressed. The proponents of the Critical Text often assert that the Traditional Text originated with the cleric Erasmus. There is a fundamental dishonesty inherent in that statement. The Traditional Text of the Greek New Testament existed in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts back to at least 450 A. D., and Traditional readings existed in the below mentioned versions and lectionaries back to at least 150 A. D. It must also be noted that the adherents to the Traditional Text sometimes attribute the Critical Text to Westcott and Hort, knowing full well that examples of this text existed at about 350 A. D. Both sides ought to be very careful concerning such statements. If we believe that our respective position is so weak that it cannot be supported by the facts, resorting to such deceitful tactics will do nothing to advance either position, and certainly will not honor and glorify God, which ought to be our ultimate goal! The Traditional Text of the New Testament, sometimes called the Textus Receptus, or Byzantine Text, or Syrian Text, is incontestably admitted to have existed virtually unchanged from about 450 A. D. and reigned spreme, without serious challenge, until about 1850 when a copy of the Alexandrian text was discovered in St. Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai (another had previously been found in the basement of the Vatican library in Rome in about 1450.) Since 1880 the Alexandrian text has enjoyed a rapid rise to ascendancy in the English speaking Christian world. The Alexandrian, Caesarean, and Western Greek texts were virtually unknown for the fourteen centuries between 450 and 1850. If God promised to preserve His word unto all generations (Psalm 12), those generations between 450 and 1850 must be included in that promise. The argument of some that the Latin Vulgate (which primarily follows the Alexandrian text) was much more widely published and circulated during these fourteen centuries and therefore represents the "preserved text", begs the question: Does God preserve His Words, or the Words of a translator? The Latin Version was a translation done by men, and not the original language words inspired and preserved by God. If these men can claim preservation for a Latin translation, then they have no grounds for objection when others claim preservation for an English translation. The question is not "which language", the question is "which text." The only Greek text that has been in continuous use from the early second century to the present was, and is, the Traditional Text! The Traditional readings found in the Syriac Version, the Old Latin versions, and the Greek lectionaries provide strong evidence to the open minded and honest researcher as to the existence of the Traditional Text clear back to the mid-second century, or to about 150 A. D. It is quite clear then to the honest, open minded researcher that the Traditional Text is the only text that has been in constant, uninterrupted usage from the first century until the present time, and therefore is the only text that qualifies for the term "preserved."
I must also now address the reluctance on the part of many fundamentalists to refer to the English Bible as "inspired." Many today insist that the term inspired applies only to the original languages, and that referring to the King James Bible as inspired, is to be a "Ruckmanite" or to believe in "double inspiration." (By the way, I have never met Dr. Ruckman, never listened to one of his tapes, never read one of his books. I came to my present position by studying the Bible, not Dr. Ruckman or his writings.) God did not inspire the Bible twice. He didn't have to, He did it right the first time! The theological term for the inspiration of the English Bible is "derivative inspiration." This simply means the English Bible is inspired because the Hebrew and Greek texts from which it is derived are inspired. Things that are equal to the same thing, are equal to each other. The verbal and formal translation technique provides for the English words to be equal to the Hebrew and Greek in meaning and form. If the Hebrew and Greek are inspired, and the English equals the Hebrew and Greek in form and meaning, the English is also inspired. The only alternative to an inspired Bible is an expired Bible. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that expired means dead! Those who refuse to call the English Bible inspired, are admitting they preach and teach from a dead book! This will be dealt with more completely in the next section, Translation.
Now let's look at the position that is taken by others that there are deliberate deceptions in the Authorized King James Bible. These men state in part, "...When the King James translators came to the Greek word baptizo, they did not translate the word. Rather, they transliterated the word. If they had translated the word, they would have had to translate it to 'dip', or to 'immerse.' However, the Church of England at that time taught sprinkling for baptism. If the translators had translated the word 'immerse,' they would have been in trouble with the Church of England. So in order to avoid the trouble and to hide the true meaning of Baptizo, they transliterated the word. To claim that God inspired the translators in that deception borders on blasphemy. If someone wishes to accuse God of that kind of deception, that is his business. But that is not a position that we at 'The Sword Of The Lord' wish to take." I realize that I have already dealt with this kind of statement from another source, but it is so common I believe it needs to be restated before we go on. This sort of statement is an exact illustration of the main problem in fundamentalism today. Far too many preachers are ignorant of the simple truths of Bible inspiration and preservation. God did not inspire men, he inspired His Word, and those inspired words we call Scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16 tell us that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God," if the King James Bible is Scripture, then it must be inspired, or God is a liar! Furthermore, we are not accusing God of deception, we are accusing these foolish men of deception through ignorance. As far as their criticism of the word Baptism is concerned, let me again point out a few facts, not opinions. First, our English word baptism was not transliterated from the Greek word baptizo (baptizo), by the King James translators, but was an English word in common usage since five hundred years before the King James translators began their work. The word did not come into the language as a transliteration of the Greek, but from the French "Baptiste", at the time of the Norman conquest in 1066! The French got it from the Romans (Latin) as the Romans moved north into Gaul (present day France). It was the Romans who got it from the Greek, and carried it throughout their empire, where it has lived on in French, Italian, Spanish, English, and other languages, even after the death of the Latin language. Second, it is ridiculous to say that the translators "would have had to translate the word to 'dip' or to 'immerse'. Any competent researcher can see from a quick look into the standard reference book on the origin and usage of the English language, "The Oxford English Dictionary", (any good library will have one) that "immerse" did not appear in English until 1605, the year after the King James translators started their work, and even then, did not have the same meaning as it does today. The word "immerse" originally meant to "merge with", and only came to mean "submerge in" in 1613, two years after the King James Bible was published. As far as "dip" is concerned, the word is used ten times in the King James Bible, and never once is it used to describe Christian Baptism. It is used nine times in the Old Testament, and only once in the New Testament to describe what the rich man in hell requested Abraham to have Lazarus do with his finger because of his terrible thirst. Third, great ignorance and inconsistency is shown by criticizing the word baptism, while calling yourself a Baptist, which comes from the same word! If we are to remove the word baptism from our King James Bibles, we must also remove "angel," "apostasy," "apostle," "blaspheme," "blasphemous," "blasphemy," "paradise," "psalm," "prophecy," and "prophet!" In fact, you are going to have to remove about seventy percent of the English language, for it is just about that much that has come from foreign sources.
One thing we as Christians must never forget is that God the Holy Spirit has the same power to preserve His Word as He had to inspire it. If God could inspire His Word, but has not been able to preserve it for us, intact, then He is not the Omnipotent God of Creation, but a mere imposter, posing and posturing in cheap imitation of the Almighty. That does not describe my great God and Savior! My God is able to do all that He has promised, without exception!