Sunday, July 09, 2006

Can Verbal Plenary Inspiration Do Without Verbal Plenary Preservation?

Jeffrey Khoo, Can Verbal Plenary Inspiration Do Without Verbal Plenary Preservation? (

"The case of Alexander [Archibald Alexander, Princeton University] shows that a rejection of verbal preservation in favour of conceptual preservation could lead ultimately to a denial of verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures. This was clearly what happened to Bart Ehrman (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) who had Bruce Metzger—Princeton’s George L Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Emeritus, but known also as “Bible Butcher”5—for his mentor. In his book Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman testified how a Bible filled with scribal errors today became a problem for him:

'If one wants to insist that God inspired the very words of scripture, what would be the point if we don’t have the very words of scripture? … It’s a bit hard to know what the words of the Bible mean if we don’t even know what the words are!

This became a problem for my view of inspiration, for I came to realize that it would have been no more difficult for God to preserve the words of scripture than it would have been for him to inspire them in the first place. If he wanted his people to have his words, surely he would have given to them (and possibly even given them the words in a language they could understand, rather than Greek and Hebrew). The fact that we don’t have the words surely must show, I reasoned, that he did not preserve them for us. And if he didn’t perform that miracle, there seemed to be no reason to think that he performed the earlier miracle of inspiring those words.'(Bart D Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), 11.)

It is significant to note that Ehrman began as a fundamentalist in Moody Bible Institute, but eventually succumbed to the “dark side” when he went to Princeton where he came under the mentorship of textual-critical Vader—Bruce Metzger—whom he calls his “Doctor-Father.” (Ibid, “Acknowledgments.” Ehrman dedicated his book to Metzger.)

Edward F Hills had long warned that a denial or even a low view of the special providential preservation of the Scriptures would logically and ultimately lead one to a denial of the verbal and plenary inspiration of the same Scriptures.

Conservative scholars ... say that they believe in the special, providential preservation of the New Testament text. Most of them really don’t though, because, as soon as they say this, they immediately reduce this special providential preservation to the vanishing point in order to make room for the naturalistic theories of Westcott and Hort. As we have seen, some say that the providential preservation of the New Testament means merely that the same “substance of doctrine” is found in all the New Testament documents. Others say that it means that the true reading is always present in at least one of the thousands of extant New Testament manuscripts. And still other scholars say that to them the special, providential preservation of the Scriptures means that the true New Testament text was providentially discovered in the mid-19th century by Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Westcott and Hort after having been lost for 1,500 years.

If you adopt one of these false views of the providential preservation of Scriptures, then you are logically on your way toward the denial of the infallible inspiration of the Scriptures. For if God has preserved the Scriptures so carelessly, why would he have infallibly inspired them in the first place? It is not sufficient therefore merely to say that you believe in the doctrine of the special, providential preservation of 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, in other words, to the common faith."(E. F. Hills, Believing Bible Study (Des Moines: Christian Research Press, 1977), 216-20.)

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