The Theonomy-L Debate
Dr. Theodore Letisí Unwillingness
 to Deal With the Plain Issues

The following 270K document contains excerpts from a "debate" which took place in June and July of 1995 on the Theonomy-L mailing list. I have taken the time to put this together due to the fact that I have recently been sent a couple of "lectures" by Dr. Theodore Letis in which he makes numerous disparaging, and false, remarks about my book, The King James Only Controversy, and myself. For example, Dr. Letis informed an audience on March 6, 1997, that my book is nothing more than a point-by-point rebuttal of Gail Riplingerís book. Anyone who has read both books has to conclude that either Dr. Letis hasnít bothered to read my book, or he is being dishonest, one or the other. But what is most interesting is that Dr. Letisí comments have come while addressing conservative, fundamentalist groups. As you read the following messages, you will see why this is so very ironic: Dr. Letis refers to such folks as "cultists" and the like. Those he once lampooned he now courts, for whatever reasons.

Approximately 25 pages into the text (click here to skip the context I have provided from the list) you will find the beginning of my attempted interaction with Letis. You will find him complimenting me on my bookósomething he isnít doing anymore, to be sure.

Please note: Dr. Letis mocks such beliefs as inerrancy, and calls KJV Only folks "cultists" (see this note). Some of his language will be offensive to Baptists, "fundamentalists," etc. But, since he is seeking now to gain an audience in the very groups he has publicly denigrated, I believe those who would consider inviting him to speak should hear him "live," so to speak, so that they can make a truly informed decision.

I realize this file is really long, and I have not attempted to re-format these e-mail discussions. You may have some trouble figuring out who is who. But for those really interested in the debate, the following material should be very helpful. Iíve cut it down as much as possible, but it still formats out to 95 pages if printed. Enjoy!


Barry

 

> From: T Letis <ncoast!usenet.INS.CWRU.Edu!festival.ed.ac.uk!tletis>
> Subject: Re: Received Text
> To: dlh (daniel lance herrick) <ncoast.org!dlhpfm!dlh>

> Re: the textual debate, two considerations should be kept in mind: 1)
> The evangelical heresy of "inerrant autographs" has been the driving
> engine that pulls the evangelical agenda for doing text criticism, i.e.
> what I call "the quest for the historical text." 2) What I also call
> "the ideology of harmless engagement" has anaesthetized evangelicals
> from feeling the doctrinal implications of the modern "quest for the
> historical text" namely, its inexorable connection with the "quest for
> the historical Jesus" (i.e. the organic connection between the common goals of
> lower and high criticism), since the days of Bentley and Tregelles. That
> there has _ALWAYS_ been significant christological implications to the
> data of the lower criticism has been forever established by America's
> leading N.T. text critic, Prof. Bart Ehrman in his masterful and most
> important theoretical work on lower criticism in the 20th century (So
> said many at the SBL last year), _The Orthodox Corruption of
> Scripture:The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text
> of the New Testament_ OUP, 1993. That these doctrinal considerations have
> been a major factor in the development of the higher criticism I have
> amply documented in my own Ph.D. dissertation: _From Sacred Text to
> Religious Text: An Intellectual History of the Impact of N.T. Lower
> Criticism on Dogma as a Contribution to the English Enlightenment and
> the Victorian Crisis of Faith_.

I guess he is far enough along to send an abstract! Of course, I do not wish to critique the assertions made here, though without proof I find such a connection (between the search for the historical Jesus and the search for the historical text) a bit specious. Certainly Calvin and other early reformers saw the necessity of a pure text, and were aware of manuscript corruptions.

I assume that Mr. Letis is not suggesting that the autographa were *not* inerrant, but rather that in some way an inerrant text has been preserved, so that the restoration of the autographa is unnecessary, in the same way that it is uneccessary to get behind the canonical texts to discover the "real" Jesus. An intriguing concept, and an argument well worth considering. I will be interested in seeing how he overcomes the problem of the actual phenomenon of manuscript transmission and corruption.

> These are the REAL issues: the heresy of Inerrant autographs and the
> fallaciousness of the ideology of harmless engagement (as well as the
> entanglement of the American ecclesia in the corporate world of bible
> marketing for profit, but I shall not go into this factor here). These

You mean Zondervan, et al., are interested in making a profit? Noooo!

> two factors (three) are all the result of American "Evangelicalism" just
> as the loss of catholic identity because of the entrance of priestesses
> into the Anglican communion was the result of an "Evangelical Archbishop
> in Britain.

Of course, "the idealogy of harmless engagement" has to be defined. I think it might have something to do with the non-neutrality of information and knowledge, and thus the activity of textual criticism. But then again, many activities in this world which began with the wrong sorts of presuppositions nevertheless work very well - it has something to do with the fact that all people are created in God's image, and can never escape that fact.

> These factors must be
> addressed if anyone is at all earnest about getting to the heart of this
> issue. Dealing with the defects in Erasmus's first recension is like
> trying to explain the rise and fall of the Roman Empire by examining the
> quality of the stone used in the construction of Roman roads. To set

Poor example, since in fact a great deal of Roman success can be explained by the judicious use of superior technology, of which the road system was very much a part. However, I believe Metzger's point was that current editions of the Textus Receptus have never corrected the errors in question from the first edition. We may then wish to argue that these errors must be corrected, but then we have in some way set ourselves up as textual critics.

> such an agenda only illustrates how very duped most evangelicals are who
> as Benard Ramm noted a few years back, are frightfully dependent on a
> superfical grasp of issues and evidence (as they are provied by
> _Christianity Astray_ and the Pope of American fundamentalism, Carl Henry)
> and who have no real scholarship of their own because they are usually
> content, in his words, to "piggy-back" the scholarship of others. (I do
> not mean to be needlessly cruel or mean-spirited but to get to the heart
> of these issues quickly these things must be said.).

Quite often the case, alas. Of course, this proves nothing concerning the majority or eclectic text theory. But there is no doubt that we need more, highly educated and articulate leaders who can approach these issues with the same or greater depth than any non-Christian. In fact, we should be the ones setting the pace for scholarship, and instead, we always seem two steps behind...

> To help those interested in evidence supporting these claims please read
> the following, in the following order:
>
> T.P. Letis, "B.B. Warfield, Common-Sense Philosophy and Biblical
> Criticism."_Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society (American
> Presbyterians)_ Vol. 69, No. 3, (fall 1991):175-190.
>
> T.P. Letis "The Protestant Dogmaticians and the Late Princeton School on
> the Status of the Sacred Apographa." _The Scottish Bulletin of
> Evangelical Theology_ Vol. 8, No. 1, (Spring 1990):16-42.
> > T.P. Letis, "The Lutheran/Reformed Dogmaticians and the Language of
> Biblical Authority in Light of Anglo-American Modernist Developments."
> _Christianity and Society_, June, 1995.
>
> T.P. Letis, "The Revival of the Ecclesiastical Text and the Claims of
> the Anabaptists" _Calvinism Today_ (I regret I do not recall the details
> on this one but perhaps Dan can provide them).
>
> On the silly and quite heretical reading our friend refers to at John 1:18
> in the Alexandrian MSS. see T.P. Letis "The Gnostic Influences on the
> Text of the Fourth Gospel: John 1:18 in the Egyptian Manuscripts." _The
> Bulletin of the Institute for Reformation Biblical Studies_ Vol. 1: pp.
> 4-7. Again Dan may be able to help you to get copies of this important
> study. Start reading and escape from Warfieldianism while you may!

That the reading might be silly is quite possible; that it is heretical is another story. Why would anyone have a problem with calling Jesus God, especially in the light of the overall witness to the deity of Christ? I simply offering this as evidence that not every textual change needs to be seen as directly attacking some doctrine.

> Theodore P. Letis
> --------------------------:<------------------------
>
> dan again: I wonder if we could gather these essays together and get
> them into the hands of Jonathan Barlow? His web page seems to have a
> place for them.


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

From: T Letis <ncoast!usenet.INS.CWRU.Edu!festival.ed.ac.uk!tletis>
Subject: Re: Received Text
Date: Sun, 14 May 95 22:24:20 BST

Barry, of course, begs the question as to whether those on the "quest for the historical text" are making corrections or re-introducing Gnostic heresy e.g. the subordination of Christ's divine nature to that of the Father's, such as the NIV and the NASB do at Jn. 1:18. And to compare what Calvin was doing with the Enlightenment quest for the historical text is a monumentally unhelpful distortion.

Also, I fear we are gaining such a dependence on the net that we are becoming lazy about using the library (God forbid!). It really is a bit of a waste of time to carry on this discussion when a proper agenda has not been set, and laymen are arguing with seminary students, who have entirely different points of reference in terms of data and training. I fully expect those on this list who have some theological training to actually _read_ the list of material I took the pains to provide and then enter into a seminar here on this list, one issue at a time, as suggested by the reading material, and let the others lurk and learn until we reach our inevitable impasse (although, I expect some lurkers to be well converted to the ecclesiastical text position as a result of the exchange, while those who have been well propagandized by the Warfield/Westminster approach will be all the more dug-in to their second-hand approach to the subject. Yes, it is a bit cynical but then I have a personal taste and sense of the infinite obstinance of this 20th century, interloping school of thought.

Theodore P. Letis


Dr. Theodore Letis

 


From: T Letis <ncoast!usenet.INS.CWRU.Edu!festival.ed.ac.uk!tletis>
Subject: Re: Ted Letis on textual criticism
Date: Tue, 16 May 95
12:50:49 BST

Bob Jones Univeristy types are just a few degree short of white-supremist, cultists--they do not even rank in my spectrum. When I use the term Fundamentalist I use it as it is universally understood and usually has reference to what cultists at BJU would call "neo-evangelicalism." I.e. somewhat intellectual but bound to Clarkian idolatry (exhalting logic to the third person in the Godhead) and the Warfieldian heresy of "Inerrant autographs."


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

From: T Letis <ncoast!usenet.INS.CWRU.Edu!festival.ed.ac.uk!tletis>
Subject: Re: Received Text
Date: Tue, 16 May 95 13:48:14 BST

Mr. Hofstetter continues to provide us with his rather mild pontificating (mild because he does so in good humor, generosity and the best intentions), while then begging away from grappling with the sources that will provide him with the data and "definitions" he requires. Rather he apologizes that his own interests take him elsewhere--I do not think we can allow you to have it both ways. If you do not prepare for the seminar it is not fair for everyone else to endure your less than informed comments. I _have_ treated Calvin's approach to text critical issues, and that of Beza, in yet another unread essay by you, and I will again assert that Calvin's treatment of these matters bears _no_ resemblance what so ever to what was taking place during the English Enlightenment. Do the words put up or...(sorry, I meant to say, it would be most helpful to all concerned if you would quietly read the material suggested or resist the urge to offer uninformed comment, since by your own forthright admission this is not your field of endeavour :-) ).

Theodore P. Letis


Andrew Sandlin

 

-------------------- I do hope reconstructionists recognize the immense value of the contribution Theodore Letis is making not merely to the revival of catholic Christianity but also, and more specifically, to the task of Christian reconstructionism. Rushdoony and I are so convinced of the inextricability of his ground- breaking work and the task of Christian reconstructionism, in fact, that we have enlisted him as a Chalcedon scholar. His Ph.D. dissertation (sure to be published by a major academic publisher) evinces the ecclesiastical source of modern secularization--lower text criticism employed in the service of antitrinitarians and other heretics.

Warfield, for all his yeomanly labor for the Reformed Faith, slipped badly here; and Westminster Seminary, among other supposed bastions of Reformed orthodoxy, has foolishly abandoned the rich confessional tradition and perpetuated the myth of textual neutrality confuted so succinctly but masterfully by Harvard scholar Edward Hills, Letis's mentor.

I urge reconstructionists to jettison the pervasively facile attitude toward this issue (as though it were ultimately nothing more than a fracas over which translation one prefers) and procure the books and essays-- Letis's especially--that furnish a sound grasp of the issues at stake in the debate. Admittedly, this may require a little more effort away from the repartee of the net (i.e., in the library at the shelves), but the immensity of the issue demands such dedication.

There will be no recrudescence of Christian civilization until there is a recrudescence of full-orbed Biblical authority; and there will be no recrudescence of Biblical authority until there is a recrudescence of the Reformation catholic texts and concomitant vanquishing of the silly old Enlightenment-inspired theory of the neutral objectivity of textual criticism.

Andrew Sandlin, Chalcedon


Tom George

 

Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 11:38:40 -0500
From: Tom George <tgeorge> To: Theonomy-L%dlhpfm NCoast.org
Subject: Ted Letis on Clark, Warfield, BJU

Ted Letis said:

> Bob Jones Univeristy types are just a few degree short of
> white-supremist, cultists--they do not even rank in my spectrum. When I
> use the term Fundamentalist I use it as it is universally understood and
> usually has reference to what cultists at BJU would call

James Curtis commented:

> **Are those at BJU really "Cultists????" Whereas we have many disagreements
> with the BJU people I would say they that are neither cultists nor white
> supremists. They believe in the misconception that the races should not
> intermarry.
> JDC

Continuing with Ted Letis:

> "neo-evangelicalism." I.e. somewhat intellectual but bound to Clarkian
> idolatry (exhalting logic to the third person in the Godhead) and the
> Warfieldian heresy of "Inerrant autographs."

If Clark was an idolator and Warfield a heretic, then I suppose it would not be too far out of line to call BJU people cultists. But IMHO all three characterizations are wrong.


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

From: T Letis <ncoast!usenet.INS.CWRU.Edu!festival.ed.ac.uk!tletis>
Subject: Re: Ted Letis on textual criticism
Date: Fri, 19 May 95 10:38:55 BST

My call for a seminar did not work for me, and may material is actually published, what makes you think anyone would take you seriously. It is apparent to me that this is basically a "blather over the back face" club and not a serious endeavour to exchange thoughtful reflection resulting from reading "books." Moreover, I tossed out my provocative comments to flush out the closet fundamentalists lurking. How remarkable that some actually want to defend BJU. Extraordinary!


Daniel Lance Herrick

 

Date: Fri, 19 May 95 05:01:52 EDT
From: dlh%dlhpfm NCoast.org
Subject: Open Letter to Ted Letis

Ted,

This is being mailed simultaneously to you and to Theonomy-L.

How often have you been able to speak to a crowd of a hundred lay people who

1) Have read some Christian books that are not available in "Christian book stores"?

2) Have read some Christian books that are more than a hundred years old?

3) Perhaps half of whom read Chalcedon Report?

4) Are scattered all over the United States with a smattering from two or three other countries?

5) Includes an outspoken pompous representative of the other side whom you could easily tear gently to shreds in public if you chose?

6) Includes several (three or four) who are looking for the articles on your reading list?

7) Can tell the difference between the posturing of an ass and forthright declaration of truth?

I have given you such an audience, not for a one or two hour formal speech, but for a leisurely question and answer session.

Before I met Andrew Sandlin, I was willing to believe D. A. Carson on the subject. The audiotape of your radio interview settled that issue. Since I have read a couple things you have written.

I have provided you with a much higher quality audience than that radio interviewer did. If you would treat my audience similarly to the way you did his, you would add perhaps 75 tolerably influential, widely scattered, people to your cause.

Your performance thus far has been embarrassing. Anybody can get into a public pissing contest - the net is full of them. You saw some of what Andrew Sandlin did to himself in this forum two years ago. If you don't stop the arrogant stupidity in front of this crowd and treat the issue, you may build a reputation covering the entire English speaking world that you will never be able to live down.

Respectfully,

daniel lance herrick dlh%dlhpfm NCoast.org


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk
Subject: Re: Open Letter to Ted Letis
To: dlh (daniel lance herrick) <dlh%dlhpfm ncoast.org
Date: Sun, 21 May 95 10:48:20 BST

Daniel, One man's bad reputation is another man's good. If you think my public reputiation of fundamentalism injures my reputation I will take all that kind of injury I can get. By the way, I trust you are forwarding everything I send you on to the rest of the list. Daniel, I do not even know you and it seems quite preposterous that you could find so much to anger you when I have said so little (and that in reponse to your BJU boys on a thread that I had no intention of addressing). You see how the agenda can be so seriously marred when there is no structure or format for an exchange. This is best provided by a seminar like arrangement, (which your Westminster contributor now seems to want to take credit for), which demands the reading of texts and then the informed probing of the issues addressed by the reading material, one topic at a time. Anything less than this and you just have the Oprah Winfrey Show--who needs it. Moreover, you cannot speak for all the lurkers on your list. It is my experience that there is always a thoughtful number of people who will take the time to read and reflect on a body of material. And then you have the grandstanders who are out to score points in public and who do not even have the good sense of judgement to know they are out of their debth. I have been at this for twenty years and I simply will not allow some dilettante set the agenda. Read my material, interact with my data and arguments, learn my presuppositions and let's go. Short of that, do carry on with your international destroying of my reputation but do be careful to establish on what grounds it merits disapprobation: 1) I maintain that BJU is just a few degrees short of white-supremacy and is cult-like; 2) fundamentalism is the root cause for the crisis of text criticism; 3) Warfieldian inerrancy in the original autographs theory is heresy. If you make your claims on these points you will be doing me a service. I abhor ad homenin and never tolerate it in myself or anyone else. My criticisms were never directed at any individual but were an analysis of a socio-religious phenomenon (BJU) or a theological paradigm (Warfieldianism).

inform your Westminster friend that if he will not read and interact with my published material why does he think he should have access to a dissertation abstract for which he does not have the full argumentation and data. He will see it when everyone else does--in its published form.


Daniel Lance Herrick

 

Date: Sun, 21 May 95 12:32:25 EDT
From: dlh%dlhpfm NCoast.org
Subject: A Public Apology to Ted Letis

Ted described to me in a message that I did not send to the list the ground rules under which he would appear here. They were sensible ground rules. He repeated some of it in his first message that I did forward to the list.

They were, roughly, that he would state his position and retire without participating in the lightweight extraneous by-play that is a characteristic of the net.

He asked me to send him responses to his article. I sent him everything, which was not really consistent with his initial ground rules. He responded in kind to some of the sniping (violating his own ground rules), without preserving anything of the context to which he was responding. Those responses, appearing at least 24 hours after the articles to which they responded, felt much like indictments of everyone present.

I have gathered all his contributions together in one place and reread them. He did deal with substance in his opening and some of his later messages. I regret my contribution to causing his participation here to create a different impression.

Some of the exchanges between Ted and Barry proposed a graduate level seminar / debate / panel discussion. It is clear that this would not work inside Theonomy-L. I think I see a way to set up the mechanics so it can work and will begin negotiations to try to put it together.

Basicly,

1) Agree in advance on ground rules

2) Agree in advance on topics to cover

3) Set up a mailing list that accepts postings only from the participants, sending that list to the audience as well as to the participants.

4) Have a moderator (in the panel discussion sense, not the net sense) who directs the discussion according to the agreed structure and mediates questions from the audience into the discussion at the agreed times. }

So, Ted, I'm sorry. For things I said and did. I helped you to create an impression that was not really justified; and then took you to task for it, publicly and privately.

More respectfully, dan


Chris Stamper

 

>> Daniel, One man's bad reputation is another man's good. If you think my
>> public reputiation of fundamentalism injures my reputation I will take
>> all that kind of injury I can get.

I hope this guy never has to teach an undergraduate class. He'd spend more time sneering at his students than teaching them.

A few of the American "fundamentalists" he disdains so much are helping fund his studies. I wonder if they would be so generous if they saw this side of Ted Letis. There's no better way to induce humility in a pompous doctoral candidiate than to threaten his purse strings.

Does anybody believe this guy is a credit to Christian scholarship? If I want this kind of snobbery I'll read The Door.

Chris Stamper clstampe mailbox.syr.edu Evangelical spokesman, dynamic speaker, prolific author, radio personality, our next president, survivor of graduate seminars, and all around good guy.


Dr. Theodore Letis [?]

 

> From: "Greg L. Bahnsen"
> pulpit harder!) Notice as well the many inflammatory (and unargued) epithets:
> "modernistic invention," "knee-jerk reaction to baying hounds," "[Warfield]
> polluted Reformation bibliology," "pernicious theory," etc. This is a textbook
> example of the fallacious style of reasoning which should be shunned in any
> serious Christian scholarship.

Like Calvin's?

> No case is strengthened by emotive language and
> name-calling -- especially when the rhetoric is irresponsible and false.

"stream-of-consciousness hermeneutics"?


Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen

 


Date: 31 May 95 18:43:01 EDT From: "Greg L. Bahnsen"
To: "\"C. Paul Ferroni\"" <Paul.Ferroni cle.ab.com>
Subject: Re: Andrew Sandlin comments on IOA

It would appear that on or about May 24 Andrew Sandlin electronically posted an attempt to rebut and condemn a view which is virtually common-sense to any literary scholar and committed Christian. The view is that inerrancy, strictly speaking, applies to the original manuscripts of Scripture and not necessarily to any or all copies thereof. This viewpoint is set forth and defended by me in "The Inerrancy of the Autographa" which is found in the book INERRANCY (ed. Geisler) and is available from Covenant Tape Ministry (800 553-3938). I would strongly urge any who have seen the Sandlin piece to compare my article and draw your own conclusions.

Here are some of my own, offered with humble disapointment in my brother's effort. Sandlin's piece represents not serious analysis (or even accurate discussion) but simply pontification. (When the argument is weak, pound the pulpit harder!) Notice as well the many inflammatory (and unargued) epithets: "modernistic invention," "knee-jerk reaction to baying hounds," "[Warfield] polluted Reformation bibliology," "pernicious theory," etc. This is a textbook example of the fallacious style of reasoning which should be shunned in any serious Christian scholarship. No case is strengthened by emotive language and name-calling -- especially when the rhetoric is irresponsible and false. For instance, Sandlin attributes views to his opponents which they simply do not maintain (e.g., the outrageous suggestion that they say the Bible is inspired if infallible -- or even worse, only if infallible in our human judgment). For his own integrity Sandlin ought to issue a retraction and apology for such misleading red herrings and unfair misrepresentations. To take a crucial example: anyone who consults my article will find that those who restrict inerrancy strictly to the originals DO NOT, as charged by Sandlin, "undermine the extant potency and applicability of the authoritative word of God." And that is precisely because we believe that God's word IS INDEED preserved in all ages among the copies of Scripture -- and that none of the usual text families is so corrupt as to deprive God's people of the life-giving guidance they need. We simply do not hold the rationally untenable view that conflicting texts -- even WITHIN a text family -- can both count as precisely representing the original. How could anyone seriously question that? Well, Sandlin apparently does. Don't let anybody fool you. EVERYBODY has to do textual criticism and reconstruction. The argument is not over this necessity, really, but rather over the methods to utilize in that reconstruction -- although a reader would never pick this relevant fact up from Sandlin's discussion of the "pernicious" error of those who state the obvious (viz., not all manuscripts agree with each other textually, even though we hold firmly that the original was completely without error).

I should also humbly observe in passing, as someone with a bit of background in epistemology, that Sandlin has simply wandered into left field when he tries to make the issue "a rationalist standard of supposed scientific accuracy" to which we are allegedly trying to conform. To think that is the issue is to betray a fundamental misunderstanding of what the debate is about in the first place. It is not just rationalists and modern scientists who say two conflicting texs cannot both be original.

Finally, the repeated attempt to enlist the Reformed "forefathers" to bolster his pontification against those holding the inerrancy of the autographa (such pernicious men as John Murray, Cornelius Van Til, etc.) is not only questionable historically (since Vaticanus and Sinaiticus were not even known in the days of Owen, etc.), but it is ironically a contradiction of the very thing Sandlin presumes to be upholding -- the doctrinal authority of Scripture alone. Our forefathers would be sternly displeased to see their children trying to win arguments about theology and God's holy word by citing fallible human authorities as themselves. Shame on Mr. Sandlin for this unseemly diatribe.

Greg L. Bahnsen May 30, 1995


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

Dr. Bahnsen,

One man's "common-sense,"
is another man's non-sense,
and your Warfieldian revisionist history,
has given the modern confessing church, misery,
I believe this generation will be the one,
to make certain the heresy, of inerrancy, is undone,
you can give it your best shot,
but we done untied the knot,
and the torrent of historical accuracy,
will soon sweep you out to sea...

You recon' there's a record contract out there for me...

Theodore P. Letis, Ph.D.


Andrew Sandlin

 

June 1, 1995 To: Paul Ferroni at Allen-Bradley for T-L
Subject: Surrejoinder to Bahnsen on IOA

We recons have enough trouble with our dispensational and antinomian opponents without arguing loudly with each other. Nonetheless, I'll respond to what I deem the serious flaws of Greg Bahnsen's posting re: the novel "inerrancy of the original autographs" theory I assailed in my earlier posting. Greg's view on one side and mine and Rushdoony's on the other represent a clear division among recons, and we can't cover it up. I recall reading years ago Greg's essay to which he refers and thinking then of the sharp degree to which his notion deviates from historic Reformed bibliology. I do hope the members of this list will procure and read it, for it constitutes a precise articulation of the old Princeton, Warfieldian bibliology bearing the same sort of rationalism in textual criticism that the Reformed evidential apologists (apart from, and often in conscious opposition to, Van Til; Gerstner is a prime example) did in their field.

Greg criticizes what he terms my "unseemly diatribe" in my employment of rhetoric. Yet (suprisingly?), he avers his view "is virtually common-sense to any literary scholar [I believe he actually means textual scholar -- literary scholarship is a separate field] and committed Christian." Does he thereby imply I lack common sense and am no committed Christian? He patronizingly states "Shame on Sandlin" who has "wandered into left field." Apparently, what's rhetorical sauce for the goose is not rhetorical sauce for the gander. In contradistinction to Greg's statements concerning me, I do not question his common sense, commitment as a Christian, or scholarship; I merely question his bibliological orientation on the questions of textual criticism, the preservation of Holy Scripture, and the nature of Biblical dependability. (I should mention that it is a good thing that Luther and Calvin did not hold Greg's attitude toward rhetoric -- a third of their writings would be shaved away!)

If Greg believes there is no relationship between the modernistic theory he holds and the impotence of the church in its application of the Bible to all spheres of life, perhaps he can explain the coincidence of pietistic apostasy and the emergence of just this Enlightenment-bound theory of neutral criticism he champions. Of course, he may charge me here with _post hoc ergo propter hoc_; but Christians have a right to inquire into the theological and ideational causes of the present cultural apostasy and ecclesiastical impotence, and they may suspect that an event as crucial as such a sharp divergence from the historic Reformed bibliology as occurred last century may rival Darwinism and other deviations as causes of the present corruption.

Greg does throw in some red herrings of his own: I never claimed variants _both_ represented the "original," though I would much like to know what Greg means by "original": _autographs_ or _apographs_ ... or something else? I never claimed IOA defenders suspend inspiration on inerrancy (I suggest Greg read my statement more closely). I never claimed we can avoid textual criticism, as Greg implies I did. Members of this list should be aware, however, that the tack to criticism Greg takes is quite different from that of Calvin, Beza, Owen, Turretin, etc. He may contend that the best explanation for this is that they were not privy to Vaticanus and Sinaiticus (as Pinnock does in _Biblical Revelation_, p. 84); but Greg can scarcely depict himself in the Reformed tradition on this issue.

Greg asserts that those who embrace his view are not interested in "a rationalist standard of supposed scientific accuracy." He is wrong. While he himself may not take this approach, one need only read J. W. Montgomery's "Inspiration and Inerrancy: A new Departure" and "Inductive Inerrancy" in his _The Suicide of Christian Theology_; Harold Lindsell's _The Battle for the Bible_; and Gordon Clark, in a number of places, but summarily in "The Bible A Truth" in _God's Hammer_, to observe the extent to which Enlightenment patterns of thought pervade the issue by both defenders and detractors (e.g., Dan Fuller, whose work on this issue Greg knows well) of "inerrancy."

Greg misunderstood my comments regarding accuracy: I was not speaking of "conflicting texts" (e.g., variants), but about the concept of truth and accuracy as it applies to the content of the Bible. We are not abstractionists who come to Scripture with a hellenic notion of accuracy and ask God to conform thereto; rather, we humbly allow the Scripture to delineate and determine for us what is truth. (This is a difference, of course, that we have with the Clarkians.)

It was gratifying that Greg implicitly acknowledged his notion of this issue is at variance with historic Reformed bibliology, for he certainly knows the data at this point are irrefutable. Read, along with Greg's essay, the works I mentioned in the last posting by Muller, Turretin, Weeks, Preus, Owen, and Letis. They constitute a quite significantly different approach to these issues.

Contrary to Greg's charges, then, it is not pontification to assert with reference to documentable data that the modernistic IOA theory deviates from historic Reformed orthodoxy; this is not pontification, but demonstrable _fact_, for all who wish to inquire.

Andrew Sandlin, Chalcedon

P.S. Since neither church history nor textual criticism is my field of academic expertise (nor Greg's, for that matter), it is hoped that Theodore Letis, to whom this thread has been forwarded, will proffer his studied opinion.


Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen

 

To: Paul Ferroni <cpferron cs.hh.ab.com>
Subject: Last comment on Sandlin

For those reading the Sandlin string re: the inerrancy of the autographa on Theonomy-L, I would add the following brief observations on his June 1 reply to me. Because Mr. Sandlin's highly personal, adversarial and rhetorical approach to debatable issues (it is not every day I have the experience of being called downright "pernicious") is the very spirit which has splintered the recon school of thought for years now, I have no intention of perpetuating an occasion for more of the same anamosity (in the place of reasonable scholarship). Mr. Sandlin is welcome to "the last word." The merits of the case (pro and con) are left to the reader and will not be changed by emotive and pontifical denunciations.

1. Yes, I do charge Mr. Sandlin with the fallacy of false cause reasoning. "Coincidence" is not proof of causation (e.g., crowing roosters do not cause the sun to rise). To endorse such thinking ought to be an embarrassment to Mr. Sandlin, but instead he challenges me to give an alternative explanation of the church's impotence. Very well. Everybody can see that the decline of the church is actually coincident with the widespread use of electricity. It is not textual criticism but light bulbs which are at the heart of the modern church's poor performance.

2. Another outrageous fallacy (hasty generalization) is found when Sandlin defends his categorical claim that those who maintian the inerrancy of the autographa are committed to a rationalist standard of scientific accuracy. His defense is that SOME do so, even if Bahnsen does not. Of course, that acknowledgement proves that the position does not logically or even psychologically commit advocates of my position to what he previously categorically charged. Two can play this ridiculous game. Those who hold Sandlin's position are actually Arminians. Why? Such pontification is warranted because SOME who hold his position are indeed Arminian in outlook. Case (mind) closed.

3. What, by the way, is the alleged reference of Sandlin's expression "scientific accuracy"? I do not think he knows what he is talking about here. Ditto for his strange comment about "a Hellenic notion of accuracy" to which I supposedly demand that God's word conform. This is nonsense. Anyone who knows a smidgen of my teaching knows better. God's word sets its own standard of perfection and nothing external to it can gainsay what God has Himself said. The issue -- to pull Mr. Sandlin back from the red herrings he keeps throwing out to deflect criticsm -- is WHAT has God genuinely [originally] said.

4. I suggest that Sandlin re-read his own original statements more closely. They indeed warranted the inferences and criticisms directed at them in response.

5. It is good that Sandlin at this point openly acknowledges the need for textual criticism. In so doing, he also acknowledges that inerrancy pertains to the original text and not every copy (which is why we try to determine *from among the copies* WHICH best represents the original) -- the very position he condemns with rhetorical relish.

6. Sandlin overinterprets my words for his own advantage. I did not "acknowledge" that my viewpoint is at variance with historical Reformed orthodoxy. What I said is that the opinions of Reformed scholars from the past are not RELEVANT as the standard of Reformed orthodoxy (as they themselves would ironically tell Sandlin). It is as unreasonable to grant a priori accuracy on textual issues to men who did not have the advantage of advanced manuscript evidence as it is to grant a priori accuracy on surgical matters to 17th century medical doctors who did not have the advantage of advanced medical insights we enjoy today. Sandlin's attempt to win an argument with ritual traditionalism and veneration for the "forefathers" is misplaced respect.

7. It might be good if Calvin and Luther had shaved away "a third of their writings" [Sandlin's inductive calculation, I suppose] where it dishonored themselves and their Savior by rhetorical excess -- especially when they were dealing with each other and fellow believers.

8. Sandlin wants to portray those who hold my viewpoint on restricting inerrancy strictly to the autographa as those who stand in "conspicuous opposition to Van Til." What rubbish. Van Til himself held the view which I defend -- apparently against himself, if Sandlin were to be believed. (By the way, Rushdoony's recent claim in an interview with Sandlin, that Van Til privately came over to the textus receptus position is pure imagination. I was in communication with Van Til until nearly his death and know better. Rather than exchanging "private" conversations which are beyond public checking at this point, I would encourage everyone simply to read Van Til's *published* comments -- e.g., the comparison of the autographa to a bridge submerged under the swollen stream and thus unseen, yet objectively there to support our crossing to the other side. This is the kind of error which discredits Sandlin and Rushdoony as reliable scholars.)

9. Sandlin and I apparently agree on one thing, though: we hope readers of the list will get hold of a copy of my essay on this subject and read it for themselves. If I am mistaken, I welcome correction in a teachable spirit. But in all humility, pontifical rhetorical and fallacious reasoning will not get critics very far toward changing my mind. That is, I believe, what a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ requires of me -- not a "modernistic, rationalistic" departure from "Biblical dependability," as some have written with regrettable fervor (unkind and cutting claims which are neither demonstrat*ed* nor demonst*able*).

Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen June 1, 1995


Andrew Sandlin

 

To: Paul Ferroni at Allen-Bradley for T-L
Subject: Second response to Bahnsen on IOA

Since Greg has made his last posting on this topic, I'll try to keep this short. I am at a loss at his accusation that my June 1 posting is "highly personal, adversarial, and rhetorical." While he again impugns my scholarship (as well as Rushdoony's), I have never challenged his scholarship (but merely his orientation). To dissent from certain of his bibliological opinions is not tantamount to insistence on a highly adversarial relationship. I concur that the merits should be left with the reader: I pulled out Greg's carefully crafted essay last night and was again struck by the rigor of his logic (rivalled only, in my opinion, by the flaw of his orientation). It is an essay all should read, for he attemptes (valiantly, but, in my opinion, unsuccessfully) to make the case that the Bible itself can be construed to make distinctions between the _autographa_ and _apographa_. He argues that the writers and speakers whose words were recorded in the Bible assumed the accuracy of in-hand original-language copies (and the Septuagint) precisely because they represented a fair facsimile of the autographs. I dispute this point; and, in any case, it is not the position of historic Reformed orthodoxy. That the writers and speakers whose words were recorded in the Bible assumed the accuracy of in-hand original-language copies and that they believed these copies represented a fair facsimile of the autographs is not to be doubted. That they believed the latter secured the former is another matter altogether. It may be more reasonable to assume that they held that the text in their hand (and not merely the autographs) constituted the inspired word of God. Note that in 2 Tim. 3:14-17 it is the Scriptures Timothy know as a child -- and therefore certainly not the autographs -- which Paul depicted as inspired. I cannot do justice to Greg's long essay here, and do not wish in any way to misrepresent his views, but I will cite below an example of the sort of reasoning he uses to buttress his theory:

Because Christ raised no doubts about the adequacy of the
Scriptures as His contemporaries knew them, we can safely
assume that the first-century text of the Old Testament was a
wholly adequate representation of the divine word originally
given. Jesus regarded the extant copies of His day as so
approximate to the originals
[he means the autographs] in their
message that he appealed to those copies as authoritative. The
respect that Jesus and His apostles held for the extant text
is, at base, an expression of their confidence in God's
providential preservation of the copies and translations as
substantially identical with the inspired originals
[basically,
so far, so good]. It is thus fallacious to argue that
inerrancy was not restricted by them to the autographa and to
say that their teaching about inspiration had reference to the
imperfect copies in their possession
(Bahnsen, 161).

I honestly do not understand how the last sentence logically concludes the rest of the paragraph. would it not be more logical to hold that the fact that Jesus and the apostles accorded the in-hand copies status as the very unamendable word of God indicates they did _not_ restrict the properties of inspiration and infallibility (I prefer this historically attested word to inerrancy, of late and of astronomical origin) to the autographs? Does not Greg's last sentence represent a serious _non sequitur_? I believe Greg can arrive at his conclusion about Christ's approach only by imputing to Christ Greg's own assumptions about the text. The data lead elsewhere.

I will address Greg's charges, preserving his numbering for clarity and continuity, though I must be brief.

1. I humbly suggest I am relieved Greg's expertise is theology, philosophy, and logic, since the criterion he establishes for historical causation no historian could meet! In suggesting that the pervasiveness of Darwinism has, among other factors, conduced to the effects of dehumanization, am I guilty of "false cause reasoning"? If so, I ask Greg, what _would_ constitute valid conclusions relating to historical causation? I doubt any macrohistory could be written within Greg's logical strictures. History is not the province of symbolic and formal logic conclusions.

2. Greg argues that since not all of his IOA colleagues hold to a "rationalist" form of scientific accuracy my comments linking the two positions are illogical. Of course, I never claimed that all of them held it. In fact, I claimed many of the errantists also held it. My point is that many on both of those sides (I am on a third "side"!) often hold these Enlightenment presuppositions. Now Greg is the trained logician and I am the trained "literati," but I cannot see how my assertion violates any laws of formal logic.

3. I am glad that Greg holds accuracy must be determined by Scripture -- many of the IOA do not. I could give copious citations.

4. I disagree, of course, that Greg's criticisms of my views are valid.

5. No, to say that textual criticism is necessary is _not_ to say inerrancy [i.e., infallibility] "pertains [only] to the original text." There is a totally different orientation to textual criticism besides Greg's idea of it as the infinite regress to the nth power at recovering the autographa. The other (older) approach is the one Burgon, Hills, and Letis advocate.

6. We must be careful we do not use "standard" in "standard of Reformed orthodoxy" equivocally. Of course, by ultimate standard we mean the Bible. But by its very nature a standard of orthodoxy includes what is _held_ to be orthodox: by this last definition (as well as, in my opinion, by the first), Greg's approach cannot be said to conform to historic Reformed orthodoxy. I again urge the readers of the list to consult the primary documents.

7. Greg wishes Luther and Calvin had jettisoned their hot rhetoric. Well, we all wish they had not dealt with brethren so derisively, but I doubt that carefully dispassionate formal logic would have broken the shackles of Rome...

8. I never said Van Til did not hold Greg's view (although Rushdoony claims that in personal conversation in later life that Van Til did not). I urge the list to re-read my earlier posting. I said that the rationalism among Reformed textual critics rivals the rationalism of some Reformed apologists. I believe Greg just did not read my statement carefully. Greg claims Rushdoony's relating personal conversation "is the kind of error which discredits Sandlin and Rushdoony as reliable scholars." I am mystified as to how my asking Rushdoony about Van Til's views of this issue discredits my scholarship. If so, would Greg's having elicited from Van Til his recollections of conversations with Gordon Clark discredit Greg's scholarship?

9. I do not believe I have uttered "unkind or cutting claims" in this post. I have just re-read it to assure the tone is not "highly personal, adversarial, and rhetorical." Admittedly, I have not questioned Greg's scholarship as he has questioned mine, or characterized his views or arguments as "ridiculous," "nonsense," and "rubbish" as he has mine. The reader may decide for himself whose claims are "unkind or cutting," and whose writing is "highly personal, adversarial, and rhetorical."

Mine is indeed a minority position (one I have held for a number of years). It is not the province of obscurantist boobs. Letis has just finished his dissertation and defense (the dissertation will probably be published by a major academic publisher) proving that it was precisely lower text criticism that undermined orthodoxy in Britain in the 18th century; it will be a bombshell on the field of "neutral, objective" evangelical scholarship.

I intend to address this topic more fully in an upcoming issue of the _Journal of Christian Reconstruction_, as will Letis in the _Chalcedon Report_.

Well, I see with lamentation that I failed to keep this short...

Andrew Sandlin, Chalcedon

P.S. Many thanks to our dear friend Paul Ferroni in his service as (to employ the modern buzz word) "facilitator" in this thread!


Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen

 

To: Paul Ferroni <cpferron cs.hh.ab.com>
Subject: Very Last Comment

It would be the course of wisdom for Andrew Sandlin to withdraw from perpetuating an unnecessary and sharply worded public squabble, and that I why I prayerfully decided to send a "last comment" and leave it to readers to do their homework, granting Andy the last word. Instead he has now sent along TWO missives, both quite lengthy. But even that would be alright with me, were it not for his continuing to misrepresent my view (and to misunderstand the nature of the dispute regarding the autographa). That is why I briefly and with regret re-enter the discussion with a "very last" comment. (I really have other duties I ought to be pursuing.)

In his second June 2 letter, Sandlin falsely attributes to me the notion that infallibility is lost in "the infinite regress of the lost autographa." He has no hesitation: "This search of infinite regress.. is EXACTLY what Greg contends in his essay." Sandlin claims to state my view "PRECISELY" that the "extant Biblical text" does not constitute the inspired word of God.

These MIGHT constitute public lies, except I do NOT for a moment suspect Sandlin of perpetuating falsehoods intentionally here. But the alternative is that he does not understand and/or is not careful to be accurate -- which only exacerbates his cutting pontifications ("pernicious," "rationalism," "devotees of IOA have miserably apostatized," etc.) and logical fallacies (guilt by association, hasty generalization, false cause, etc.). By not wishing to impugn his character, I was indeed forced to impugn his scholarship. He does not have a correct picture of his opponent's position (although insisting he is exact and precise) and presses unreasonable lines of thinking to reach a condemnation even of that.

Let me give but a sample of what I ACTUALLY wrote in my article on the subject before us:

"The permanent need of God's people for the substantial reliability of the extant biblical text is satisfied. We *can* believe our copies of Scripture and be saved WITHOUT HAVING THE AUTOGRAPHIC CODEX [the physical manuscript], for the Bible itself indicates that copies can FAITHFULLY REFLECT THE ORIGINAL TEXT and therefore function authoritatively." That is, we have lost the manuscripts, BUT NOT the original text that appeared on them. Because of variant readings, this original text needs to be reconstructed, but is NOT "lost," as Sandlin would have readers think I maintain.

Resting in the providence of God (who has preserved the original text among hundreds of copies -- but obviously not in EACH and every one, or even NECESSARILY only those available in the English segment of the wider body of Christ in 1611) and having reasonable confidence in textual science, I do not AT ALL fall into any "infinite regress" looking for the inspired text of God's word. I am happy and prepared to defend the book I hold in my hands today. But Sandlin says my view amounts to pernicious rationalism.

In my article I noted that some have ridiculed the textual "identity" of the inspired text with the original text as a position which says present day Bibles are not inspired. I openly repudiated that erroneous line of thought, and wrote "it confuses autographic TEXT (the words) with autographic CODEX (the physical document). Loss of the latter does not automatically entail loss of the former.... the words of these (original) manuscripts ARE STILL WITH US IN GOOD COPIES." I go on to reiterate that my view "does NOT imply that present Bibles, because they are not fully inerrant, fail to be the Word of God."

Hopefully the reader can understand, then, why I question Andrew Sandlin's scholarship. He has pinned on me nearly the opposite of what I actually wrote. I cannot appreciate being publicly and grossly misrepresented (by someone claiming he is "exact" and "precise" in portraying my view), especially as a prelude to publicly condemning it as pernicious apostatizing.

Maybe I am mistaken, but it would appear that Mr. Sandlin and others are trying to "win the argument" for their particular, chosen MANNER of doing textual criticism (taking the Byzantine family as the standard) by running down those who use a DIFFERENT manner of textual reconstruction. They are run down as "modernist innovators" because they believe the available data as well as textual science itself have advanced beyond what was available to the 17th century Puritans. Thus opens the door to a kind of Reformed ritualism which allows Sandlin to castigate those who will not arrest textual studies with the Puritans (and to beg numerous scholarly questions about Sandlin's chosen preference for the textus receptus).

I am grateful that Andrew's last letter diminished the emotive character of the previous ones. This helps. And if his previously "acerbic" words were not directed at me (but just at the general class of teachers of which I am a prominent member), there is *some* personal relief felt.

May the Lord be pleased to make this my "last" posting regarding this squabble -- and grant me the time lost for writing on more helpful and positive subjects! Andrew, I do hope you will be a friend.

Greg L. Bahnsen June 2, 1995


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Subject: RE: Sandlin comments on IOA To: "C. Paul Ferroni" <Paul.Ferroni cle.ab.com>
Cc: tletis festival.ed.ac.uk
Date: Sat, 3 Jun 95 3:05:54 BST

Paul, I must admit that the exchange between my dear friend Andrew and Dr. Bahnsen has just about put me to sleep (although I think it evident to everyone that Andrew is quite right--he has not maligned Mr. Apologist; Mr. Apologist has maligned poor Andrew). But I am most disappointed that no aesthetes have offered an evaluation of "rap-theology." I think I am genuinely hurt. Do we have no lovers of verse and jive out there?

Theodore P. Letis


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

>From tletis festival.ed.ac.uk Sun Jun 4 05:21:40 1995
From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Date: Sat, 3 Jun 95 21:18:57 BST

Tommy, baby, thanks for replying to my bit of silliness. Perhaps you have come in late and do not know that we are structuring a seminar around about six or seven of my published essays on this subject. Ask Paul or Dick to forward the reading list to you. If you can get these (I believe Dick even offered to send out copies to those who _would_ actually take the time to read the required material--required so we will all be on the same plane of discourse). Please do get this material, read it and enter into the discussion. Until we actually commence this process/structure I am refraining from making _any_ remarks to avoid what just happened between Andrew and Bahnsen--numerous rabbit trails, name calling, bad temper (on the part of one of the parties, anyway) and nothing established--nothing resolved; everyone shooting from the hip (lip?).

My "rap-theology" was meant to defuse all the tension and stuffy pretension on the part of those currently outside the seminar, and to lighten up the mood a bit from one where some seem to take themselves much too seriously, particularly for having addressed a subject for which they are rather ill-prepared. I mean the very idea of saying this is all about wanting to legitimize one text-type over "modern developments" is not only rather simplistic, it was his way of redirecting attention away from the murky argument about inerrancy pertaining formally only to the autographa, and yet also pertaining to imperfect copies--not even Clark invoking the second person of his trinity, Logic, could sort that one out.

Theodore P. Letis University of Edinburgh tletis festival.ed.ac.uk


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

>From tletis festival.ed.ac.uk Thu Jun 8 04:49:01 1995
From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 95 9:47:10 BST

Interesting quote from Mr. Richard Simon, Mark, where have I seen that before...Hmmmmmmmm?

This surely is the most damning remark (Bahnsen) I believe I have ever read on this subject--quite remarkable, really. To refer to those who actually defined Protestant orthodoxy--in _just_ the way the Nicene fathers defined Christological orthodoxy in the fourth century--as a mere traditionalism makes my eyes water and my ears tingle with astonishment. This shows one precisely where Warfieldian revisionism leads--to the wholesale repudiation of classic Reformation orthodoxy. This is why I call Warfieldianism the first "Neo-Orthodoxy" in my Brevard Childs essay in the _Churchman_. Certainly if such an orthodox tradition has no relevancy to a modern Westminster-type Presbyterian the caviler dismissal of the same can be the only logical consequence. But how unbelievably revealing! One could carry on by pointing out that for any number of reasons we are in a superior position to make advances on fourth century Nicene Christology--in fact one could read all of modern theology, particularly on this theme, as following just such a project founded on just such a premise (see Alister E. McGrath _The Making of Modern German Chrisyology 1750-1990 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, 1994). Extraordinary!

Theodore P. Letis University of Edinburgh tletis festival.ed.ac.uk


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

>From tletis festival.ed.ac.uk Thu Jun 8 06:18:04 1995
From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 95 11:15:28 BST

Mr. Linn, a very apt analogy, indeed. In fact the position I am advocating is _also_historically varifiable in terms of the church _always_ having as its referent for the "sacred Text" an extant, localized edition. Mr. Bahnsen's advocacy that we enter into a "quest for the _historical_ text" is not only without precedent in the history of the Church (which as an argument seems to have no effect on him--perhaps one result of Westminster having a rather weak place for Church History in its curriculum), but as readers will discover once they have read my "Lutheran and Reformed Dogmatics and the Language of Biblical Authority in Light of Anglo-American Modernist Developments," the further back one goes the hazzier this artificial, scientifically "inerrant" text becomes, rather than the other way round. This also shows how taking a nineteenth century theoretical approach to the task (Warfield's legagy, in short) leaves one well outside of the actual data of the discipline.

Theodore P. Letis University of Edinburgh tletis festival.ed.ac.uk


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

>From tletis festival.ed.ac.uk Thu Jun 8 06:33:13 1995
From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: Received Text
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 95 11:31:28 BST

I fear Mr. Ritchie intrudes too much Warfieldianism into the discussion with little or no critcal reflection on where he has picked up such rhetoric--all this theoretical a-priori stuff about what the "original autographs" _must_ have been like begs the question and assumes the validity of Warfield's paradigm, which is precisely what the counter position I am advocating seeks to questio by a return the catholic voice of Protestatn orthodoxy. I will just say it again, if we could only read the essays designed for the discussion so many of these issues will have been treated and we can get to grips with the new issues raised and the implications of the new data found in this collection of essays. We simply must become historically conscious of where this rhetoric of "inerrant autographs" comes from--the actually historical circumstances and moment that gave birth to it--before we can talk intelligently about it in terms of its departure from an earlier paradigm _and_ its invalidity in light of the actual discipline of text critcism.

Theodore P. Letis tletis festival.ed.ac.uk


James White

 


Date: Wed, 14 Jun 1995 20:11:47 -0400 From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Response to Rev. Sandlin #1

Dear Rev. Sandlin:

I have accepted your invitation to temporarily join you in this forum to discuss the issue of the text of the Scriptures. I would like to begin by commenting on the posts you were kind enough to fax to me. The first is dated June 2nd, and seems to begin with referring to some interchange between yourself and "Greg," which I assume is Dr. Greg Bahnsen. A few thoughts:

You speak of "historic Reformed orthodoxy." I have learned that it is always convenient for someone to claim the term "orthodoxy" for their side in a debate. Yet, I have to wonder how useful such a term is when speaking of textual theories. Surely you would not suggest that the later viewpoint of *some* individuals in high Reformed scholasticism should be taken as the standard of "orthodoxy" so as to make anyone dissenting from that viewpoint "unorthodox," would you? Such hardly seems condusive to the best kinds of conversation.

What is more, would you not agree that this later development, seen in Owen or Turretin, is just that: a later development that was not a part of the original Reformed view? The high view of Scripture that one will find in Calvin, for example, is shared by all in this debate. But I have already encountered instances where the *later* view of *some* is read back into the words of Calvin or other early examples of Reformed theologians. We all know of instances where Calvin, for example, made conjectural emendations, and I would surely hope that no one would claim that the Reformers "chose" one particular "text family" over another. It simply was not the issue for them that it has become *since* then, so trying to drag their authority into this issue seems to me a bit counter-productive.

I have read a lot about how someone who doesn't hold this view is acting as a "rationalist." Yet, I have to wonder, again, at the use of such terms. Normally I've seen it used in setting up the alleged contrast between "rationalism" and "faith." Yet, I find such a charge to be little more than smoke, personally. I've met too many people who have propped up an illogical position by appeal to "faith," when in fact, there was no basis for such a "faith" to begin with. I think the truth is ill-served by the use of such terminology, which can do nothing more than inflame passions and obscure the issues. The same is true when terms like "believing criticism" come into play. I have been told that "believing criticism" results in holding to the TR, while, we are left to surmise, "unbelieving criticism" lies behind everything else. As a believer I reject such an idea, and don't believe it is a proper use of the term at all.

Now, I am encountering a great deal of ambiguity in the terminology that is used in this discussion. For example, you wrote:

"The reformers and their heirs believed that the extant Biblical text, and, in a derivative sense, faithful translations of the Textus Receptus of the NT, constitute the verbalized, propositional, inspired and infallible word of God, warts and all."

The KJV translators made reference to even the most "mean" translation being properly referred to as the "Word of God." It is the use of the above terminology that is confusing, however. First, the reformers, to my knowledge, never make refrence to the TR as a text itself. Calvin would have had access to five editions of Erasmus, plus Stephanus. Beza only added to the number. Which TR are you referring to here, or are you using TR as a catch-all for a basically Byzantine text? You refer to "warts." Are you saying the reformers knew about the warts and didn't bother to fix them? What are these "warts"? Would you include readings found in the 1894 Scrivener edition of the TR, the one that most TR advocates utilize, such as Luke 2:22, or Revelation 16:5? If so, does this not require some level of re-interpretation of how inspiration and infallibility apply to fallible texts, or do the errors become inspired as well? And most importantly, who is to decide?

Next I note your comments in a post dated June 7. You wrote,

"The entire point of the historic Reformed view is that since there is no recourse to the autographa we must predicate the qualities of Scripture of the apographa---which is to say, for all practical purposes, THE AUTOGRAPHS DO NOT COME INTO THE PICTURE AT ALL."

I don't know of anyone who would not say that, for example, codex K (017), the 9th century uncial text, does not "contain the Word of God" nor that what one would read there would not be authoritative for the Christian person. But I have to wonder about what is being said here. Since we don't *have* the autographa we do not seek to know what the autographa said? Or do we accept, for solely theological reasons (and I would strongly question the soundness of the theology), a particular *stream* of the manuscript tradition as having some kind of "ecclesiastical authority" (i.e., your citation of Burgon)? And from whence would such an "ecclesiastical authority" be derived? The LXX once had "ecclesiastical authority" due to use over centuries; so did the Vulgate. I doubt too many in this list will argue for either text on that basis. However, I'd suggest that both have equal, if not greater, "theological" pedigrees than the TR.

< continued in next post >


James White

 


Date: Wed, 14 Jun 1995 20:14:49 -0400 From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Response to Rev. Sandlin #2

The apographs do indeed faithfully reflect the autographs, as per Turretin's quote. However, we all know that there is a "spectrum" to this faithfulness. Textual variation exists, even within the texts Erasmus used to begin work on the TR. The Byzantine manuscript tradition splits on various readings. Some of the most "popular" examples of how "corrupt" modern texts are, such as Colossians 1:14, in reality demonstrate errors in the TR, not the other way around. These are simple facts, are they not? The reality is right there before us. The question then becomes, what do we do with these facts? I am concerned that statements such as the one cited in your June 8th epistle might be taken in the wrong way. Here you cite from Owen,

It can, then, with no colour of probability be asserted (which yet I find some learned men too free in granting), namely, that there hath the same fate attended the Scripture in its transcription as hath done other books. Let me say without offence, this imagination, asserted on deliberation, seems to me to border on atheism. . . .

What is this "fate" to which Owen refers? Textual errors, or wholesale corruption? The fact of textual variation is beyond question, so to what is Owen referring, and how do you understand his words?

Back to your June 7th post, you wrote that "The idea is that they constitute the locus of inscripturated revelation, and the scribal warts must be accounted for without recourse to the supposedly inerrant autographs." Obviously you are not questioning the inerrancy of the autographs, right? How, then, do we deal with "scribal warts" *without* reference to what the texts originally said? How can textual criticism be undertaken at all without the goal being the restoration of the original text? You continued, "The point is not that the Scripture is not infallible, for it certainly is; it is that infallibility must be conceived in a context commensurate with the extant copies in usage in the church." Do I detect some kind of belief that the Church is infallible in making such decisions regarding the text? It would seem to me that this is a most dangerous, let alone untenable, argument. It was, as I have noted, the argument used against Erasmus not so long ago. "Usage" is a changing thing, as I documented and discussed in chapter 2 of my book. The LXX once reigned supreme with reference to "usage." It was eventually displaced by what was at first viewed as "novel," that being the Vulgate. But, of course, the Vulgate ended up being the version that could claim the authority of "usage" all the way up to the modern era. And, of course, when Erasmus and the other humanists cried "ad fontes," others cried "the Church has used the Latin text for a thousand years---such is sufficient for any pious person!" Today I hear people pleading the same argument for the TR, though its length of primacy, if such a term is correct, is far shorter than the Vulgate's. Yet if such an argument was invalid in Erasmus' day, or in Jerome's day, is it not invalid in our day as well?

What is more, when we speak of "usage in the church," what are we really saying? Is the church so unified today as to predicate such a usage? Or do we draw the circle quite close so as to give meaning to the phrase? I'd venture to say that many would draw me right out of that circle just to make it work. The primary text being used in scholarship and study today is not the TR, and it hasn't been the TR for quite some time. Could I not, in fairness, use this as an argument from "usage" as well? I wouldn't do that, since I don't believe the argument is valid to begin with, but we need to keep a close eye out on the matter of consistency.

Moving quickly to your post of June 8th, you noted, upon citing Owen, "Moderns, not excluding evangelicals, often smirk patronizingly at the simple faith of this dazzlingly brilliant man, particularly his belief in the inspiration (and perforce preservation) of the Hebrew vowel pointing." I noted in an earlier fax to you my own questions regarding such a stance. I can understand the desires that give rise to such a belief, but I have to question the validity of the belief itself. The vowel-pointing of the Hebrew text was a post-Christian innovation. The men who incorporated these items into the text were not Christian men. Do we really have a solid basis for asserting either a mechanical inspiration of the vowel pointing, or an inspired and infallible enlightenment of the scribes so as to provide an infallible interpretation of the grammar and syntax of the consonantal text? I don't believe so. Owen may have felt it necessary for whatever reasons, but one thing I hope we can all agree on is this: no matter how great the reputation of a particular scholar or theologian of the past, his views are subject to scrutiny and, if necessary, rejection. We dare not become stilted in a position that cannot allow for examination and growth unless we view ourselves as having "arrived" already.

Finally, a question regarding what you are calling the "net seminar." Please fill me in on what this seminar will involve. Thank you!

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

> From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
> Subject: Re: SL on RTs and IOAs (forwarded from Theonomy-l)
>
> Mr. Linn's observations are true in themselves--surely it is a classic
> model that anyone who has been exposed to the basics of Biblical
> Introduction has appreciated: Incarnation/inscripturalization. I fear,
> however, that he has it in revearse in this case. Warfieldian
> inerrantists are the one's who ascribe what they "think" to be a
> comprehensively divine attribute of Scripture (i.e. "inerrancy" in the
> autographs), while those who wish to remain in the historic Protestant
> orthodox tradition are forced to accept the all too human element in
> Scripture because for them ONLY the apographa (i.e. extant copies)
> constitute the written word of God--warts and all. If seen this way Mr.
> Linn's model is of some considerable weight.
>
> Theodore P. Letis
> University of Edinburgh
> tletis festival.ed.ac.uk

(Beginning of Interaction)


Dr. Theodore Letis

 


Date: Thu, 15 Jun 95 20:54:42 BST From: tletis festival.ed.ac.uk
Subject: reply to White

Mr. White, It seems Andrew has also asked me to jump in on this so here we go...

May I begin by congratulating you for for writing a book addressing the KJV only cult (it is nothing less). I myself have written a work addressing this (which you no doubt mention in your own good work): _The Revival of the Ecclesiastical Text and the Claims of the Anabaptists_. If it is a reponsible work it will do a world of good, I am sure. I now begin my criticism proper.

Some of us have agreed to create a separate list to conduct a seminar on the subject of text criticism and classic Reformation orthodoxy as opposed to the modern innovative evangelical doctrine of "Inerrant autographs." Consequently, much that you have said will provide a nice preliminary example of what we will be dismantling, so nicely typical is your articulation. If at the end of the seminar enough information will have come to light to cause all the earnest participants to cringe every time they hear the words "inerrant autographs," my job will have been well done indeed.

When you ask Andrew, surely he must believe in the inerrancy of the autographs, it is like asking someone if they have stopped beating their wife. Not only is it the wrong question, but it reveals how terminally damaging these highly charged code words can be: before one can even raise the question as to its validity as a paradigm everyone is conditioned to suspect anyone raising the issue of either its formal or historical validity. For now I will say for the record that it is a modern heresy, which will put the discussion where I believe it belongs by putting the advocates of this Warfieldianism in need of addressing the issue outside of the comfort of the modern evangelical institutional status quo. Now to move on to more substantial issues.

I am not at all suprised to learn that you have no use for the Protestant dogmaticians--there weren't a Baptist among 'em. You don't find any of _your_ kinsmen in their number because there weren't no Baptist dogmatic tradition to parallel what the Protestants were constructing in response to 17th century Tridentine attacks (those in the seminar will have read by now my essay treating the dogmaticians). So how dare you be so dismissive of this tradition. Are you as dismissive of Nicene christology as "some kind of orthodoxy" as well, or are you content to piggy-back this non-Baptist tradition? (I do not mean to be harsh, but certainly provocative.)

As for the TR as an entity and the Protestant dogmaticians, one short quote from one whose memory as a fellow Lutheran historian and text critic I honour, will serve me well: "...it is undisputed that from the 16th century to the 18th century orthodoxy's doctrine of verbal inspiration assumed... [the] Textus Receptus. It was the only Greek text they knew, and they regarded it as the 'original' text." (Kurt Aland, "The Text of the church?" Trinity journal 8 (1987), p. 131.

You dismiss the Protestant dogmaticians and you dimiss the final defining of what it _meant_ (means!) to be catholic and Protestant. But then these categories play no real role in your own ecclesiastical self-definition.

Theodore P. Letis, Ph.D. Director The Institute for Reformation Biblical Studies tletis festival.ed.ac.uk


Andrew Sandlin

 


Date: Thu, 15 Jun 1995 16:11:42 -0400
From: Paul.Ferroni cle.ab.com
Subject: From Andrew Sandlin: re: James White (IOA) Another in the IOA series, from Andrew Sandlin.

To: Paul Ferroni at Allen-Bradley for T-L
Subject: A Rejoinder to White on IOA

I appreciate James White's long, irenic response to my various postings re: IOA. Preparing for a much needed (if not much-deserved) vacation, I won't be able to answer with the extensiveness of his posting, but hope that in due time I can address his comments and objections or that my dear friend Theodore Letis, the genuine "aficionado" of this issue, will do so. In any case, comments such as these will furnish excellent grist for the imminent seminar.

I wish to focus on one comment of James's that constitutes the heart of the issue; he states:

> Do I detect some kind of belief that the Church is infallible
> in making such decisions regarding text? It would seem to me
> that this is a most dangerous, let alone untenable, argument.
> It was as I have noted, the argument used against Erasmus not
> so long ago.

This really is the rub, isn't it? Superficially, the only alternatives are an infallible church speaking _ex cathedra_ re: the selection among variants, and the invention of a seperate classification of Scripture, "original autographs" (shades of the Platonic "Forms," a comparison, I believe, first used by Theodore Letis) toward which we are forever striving and never reaching, a locus forever just out of our grasp. It is necessary for James and others to understand that the Orthodox Protestant approach (no less Lutheran then Reformed), completely antedating the Enlightenment displays a completely different _orientation_ to the Bible than that of modern evangelicalism. The whole categories of thought are different. For example, the Protestants did not think of comparing the apographs with the mythically conceived inerrant autographs not merely because such a venture is impossible in the first place, but because they did not share the modern evangelical propensity to posit infallibility in such a fashion as to require the autographic "Forms." Thus, despite Greg Bahnsen's no doubt sincere assertions to the contrary, he does, in my opinion, adduce an inclination to set an extrabiblical standard of Biblical reliability, as do all advocates of IOA -- no matter what they may say and truly believe they hold, their textual views give them away. I am saying that it is _precisely_ the desire to uphold a certain Enlightenment- shaped form of the trustworthiness of Scripture that requires _a priori_ the retreat to the IOA theory.

The dogmaticians had a higher view of the inscripturated word of God. Good catholics that they were, they repudiated ecclesiastical consensus in textual issues no more than they did in Trinitarian and Christological issues -- and I would submit respectfully that the same reasoning James employs questioning the consensus text may be, and has been, employed by Clark Pinnock and theological modernists to overturn that "excessively 'Greek-oriented' and static view of God" enshrined in our catholic creeds.

I regret I cannot at the moment say more; I hope Dr. Letis will respond at his convenience.

Thank you, again, Mr. White for your extensive response.

Andrew Sandlin, Chalcedon


Dr. Theodore Letis

 


Date: Thu, 15 Jun 1995 16:36:12 -0400
From: Paul.Ferroni cle.ab.com
Subject: from TLetis: AUTOGRAPHS
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 95 21:06:03 BST

Mark, Re the LXX you reveal that you have been reading some of the KJV "cult" literature. Please read my _The Revival of the Ecclesiastical Text and the claims of the anabaptists_. The N.T. authors certainly DID quote from the LXX and may no one be deceived on this point.

Theodore P. Letis


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

> Greetings,
>
> Ted Letis writes:
>
> Mr. Linn, I fear you are a wee bit "anologycentric." While I paid you a
> compliment the rest of what I said was meant to add support to the truth
> that you analogy [i.e. no longer _you_, or your _analogy_], but the
>_truth_ your analogy was intended to communicate, i.e. the Church's emphasis
> on an extant text rather than some supposed "inerrant" archetype.
>
> You missed the point of my analogy. I was not criticizing
> either side.

Mr. Linn I missed nothing. I assumed the validity of your analogy and then went beyond it. You were out of the picture; you and your analogy. Do _you_ get _my_ point? because of this antagonism perhaps it would be better for us to choose not to exchange comments, commencing now...

Theodore P. Letis


James White

 


Date: Thu, 15 Jun 1995 17:11:00 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: MANUSCRIPTS, ARGUMENT

<
>The problem I have with these arguments is that none of them actually
>prove anything. Providence can be used to argue for either position.

Providence cannot be used to argue either position, because the Bible teaches Providential Preservation.>

Greetings, Mark. Here's hoping a change of venue, sans certain exacerbating elements, will be of assistance in making our conversation more in-line with Christian brothers.

The phrase "providential preservation" obviously means something very specific to you. You'll have to admit others would use the same phrase with a different meaning, right? To what would you attribute this difference of opinion?

< It is directly taught in the Scriptures themselves:>

It is a tall claim to say that a particular, definitive, and very specific, textual theory is taught "directly" in the Scriptures. Let's see if this is, in fact, the case: "The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations." Psalm 33:11

Yes, the counsel of the LORD stands forever. I see nothing in the language or context that would lead me to believe this passage is in the slightest bit relevant, however, to the issue of textual theories.

<"For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations." Psalm 100:5>

God's truth is enduring and everlasting, it does not change. This again, however, has nothing to do with textual theories, textual variation, etc. In point of fact, Mark, might I not urge such a passage against those who would say that the best we can do is to use a text that has "warts" and is based not upon inerrant autographs but upon a text that allegedly has "ecclesiastical authority" behind it? I wouldn't do such a thing, but I can't see how it would be wrong, in light of your own use of the passage.

<"The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness." Psalm 111:7-8>

All well and good, of course, but I fail to see how this directly, let alone indirectly, teaches a particular, definitive theory regarding the text of the Bible and the transmission thereof.

<"O Praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD." Psalm 117>

Praise Him indeed, but to equate God's truth with a particular textual theory is, again, unwarranted at best.

<"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. ... Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth. Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever. ... Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever." Psalm 119:89,151-152,160>

Hopefully we are not limiting God's word, His commandments, and the like, to a particular textual theory or form. The truth of the unshakeable quality of the God's Word is not determined (and this seems key to me) by appeal to a particular text as the "be all and end all" of all things, and that due to some "ecclesiastical decision." I'd invite you to do what I've invited others to do: does your argument hold water when moved to another time frame? Can it be used consistently *against* your own position?

<"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever." Isaiah 40:8>

Printed in the front of every NASB, as I recall, demonstrating that the text does not "directly" present any particular theory of textual transmission.

<"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Isaiah 55:11>

Even less applicable, if that's possible, in light of the fact that the context is speaking, primarily, of the prophetic promises and only secondarily and by extension to the specific written Word.

<"As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever." Isaiah 59:21>

One might actually urge such a passage against your position (oral transmission through the use of the term "mouth"), but again, I think we can all see that there is no particular textual theory being "directly" presented here.

<"For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Matthew 5:18>

Surely the most commonly used passage, I am discovering. Yet, again, are we to say the Lord Jesus is here speaking of textual issues? Is this the context? Something tells me we would find most Reformed commentators would not be seeing that as the context. I just glanced at Calvin's Commentary (p. 278) and he exegetes the passage in what would have to be called a "non-textual theory" way. In fact, when he speaks of the specific phrase you focus upon, he writes:

But what does it mean, that every part of the law shall be fulfilled down to the smallest *point*? for we see, that even those, who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God, are very far from keeping the law of God in a perfect manner. I answer, the expression, shall not pass away, must be viewed as referring, not to the life of men, but to the perfect truth of the doctrine.

Calvin makes no comment here about the letters of the text. But let's grant your argument for a moment. What does this do with the idea that there are, in fact, "warts" in *any* textual tradition? The same comments could be made regarding the rest of your NT citations. I don't think we need to repeat them, since they all fall into the same category.

<And it is presumed by the Scripture writers: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." Gal 3:16. Paul's line of argumentation here presupposes every word and letter of the OT was exactly preseved from when it was first written.>

It assumes that the Scriptures are truthworthy, but to extend that assumption into your textual theory doesn't follow. What do you do with the apostolic example of citing the LXX? "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Tim 3:14-17

<Notice that no distinction is made between the apographs Timothy knew from his childhood (v. 14-5), and the autographs (v. 16). In fact, you will notice this pattern throughout Scripture, that copies of copies are called "Scripture," the "Word of God," and the "lively Oracles of God.">

No argument at all, though again, that has nothing to do with a particular textual theory that would, for example, defend the TR reading of Colossians 1:14 as being authoritative.

<Paul says Timothy has has known the "holy scriptures" since childhood, and can here only be refering to copies of copies of the Hebrew Old Testament. He then goes on to say that "All scripture is given by inspiration" presumably including copies that Timothy.>

That seems like a leap there, Mark, but let me ask you: since Paul referred to the LXX as "Scripture," would you follow your own logic to the point of inspiring the LXX, too?

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


James White

 


Date: Thu, 15 Jun 1995 17:14:01 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: AUTOGRAPHS

>Why has noone brought up the Septuagint. This was the translation used
>by the apostles. It contains, sometimes, widely variant readings from
>the hebrew of the Masoretic text. Did the apostles follow the WCF
>chapter 1 on this point? Why not?

<I think it is oversimplification to say the Apsotles used the LXX. It is true that New Testament quotes of the Old Testament sometimes seem to agree with the LXX more than the Hebrew Originals,>

"Sometimes seem" Mark? The Apostolic use of a second-language translation as their source of choice in citation of the OT has created all sorts of interesting interpretations. The KJV Only folks like Ruckman and Gipp have an easy way out: there was no LXX. It was all a figment of Origen's imagination, they say. The vast majority of Christian scholarship has recognized the important role the LXX played, not only in the writing of the NT, but in the early propogation of the Gospel. In fact, someone might actually point to God's providence in this matter, in light of the usefulness the LXX had to the spreading of the Christian message.

<but this circumstance admits several possible explanations: 1) The Apostles sometimes quoted the LXX.>

I don't think I'm over-stating the case to say, "the majority of the time."

<2) The Apostle's allusions to the Old Testament sometimes accidentally agree with the LXX.>

An amazing position I hope no one would take.

<3) In some places where the NT seems to agree with the LXX actually agree with the Hebrew Original at another place.>

Huh?

<3) When the LXX was standardized by Origen, he sometimes made the Greek agree with the New Testament quotation.>

Sounds like a modified Ruckman/Gipp concept. What evidence is there to back up such an idea?

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


James White

 


Date: Fri, 16 Jun 1995 13:26:42 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Textual Issues

<May I begin by congratulating you for for writing a book addressing the KJV only cult (it is nothing less). I myself have written a work addressing this (which you no doubt mention in your own good work): _The Revival of the Ecclesiastical Text and the Claims of the Anabaptists_. If it is a reponsible work it will do a world of good, I am sure.>

I hesitate to use the word "cult," though Ruckmanism often qualifies for the use of such a strong, and normally pejorative, term. The positive response has been frankly overwhelming, for which I am grateful to the Lord. It seems the book definitely "scratches an itch," so to speak.

<Some of us have agreed to create a separate list to conduct a seminar on the subject of text criticism and classic Reformation orthodoxy as opposed to the modern innovative evangelical doctrine of "Inerrant autographs.">

And when might we know how one could subscribe to such a list?

I'd like to note something right up front. It is my intention to do my best, recognizing I will, undoubtedly, fail, to avoid unnecessarily provocative terms in this discussion. I believe such terminology is unfitting for Christian scholars especially in light of the importance of the topic. What is more, I wish to make it clear that I do not wish to drag denominational issues into this topic, again, no matter how tempting that might be. You later mentioned my Reformed Baptist stance in such a way that was, as you yourself admitted, provocative, and I will simply allow such "shots" to pass. I wish to focus upon the issues at hand, and make a promise to the list-readers to do my best to keep things focused. I readily admit I may well fail at times: I make no claims to perfection. But I would hope that others would join me in attempting to make this dialogue as useful as possible.

<Consequently, much that you have said will provide a nice preliminary example of what we will be dismantling, so nicely typical is your articulation.>

I will take that as a compliment, as it might be rephrased, "Much that you have said will provide a nice preliminary example of what we will be attacking, so typical of the vast majority of Christian scholarship is your articulation." The fact that the book itself is heartily endorsed by men such as Metzger, Carson, Archer, Geisler, MacArthur, Packer, Barker and Blomberg, proves that the work has the support of a very wide, and very deep, spectrum of Christian scholarship. I admit I find it strange to be in the majority for once: all of my previous works represented a distinct minority in the sense that the theology espoused and the topics addressed were not "main stream."

<If at the end of the seminar enough information will have come to light to cause all the earnest participants to cringe every time they hear the words "inerrant autographs," my job will have been well done indeed.>

A very interesting goal, if I might say so myself. My goal is to make sure everyone who invests the time to follow the conversation will have a very good idea of what the issues are, what the facts are, and how the arguments play out against one another. I don't seek to have anyone cringing, ducking, or engaging in any other unusual bodily movements.

<When you ask Andrew, surely he must believe in the inerrancy of the autographs, it is like asking someone if they have stopped beating their wife. Not only is it the wrong question, but it reveals how terminally damaging these highly charged code words can be: before one can even raise the question as to its validity as a paradigm everyone is conditioned to suspect anyone raising the issue of either its formal or historical validity.>

Possibly for someone so deeply involved in your particular perspective it is a "bad" question; however, the need for close definition of terminology is especially clear in this conversation, and when one "puts down" the phrase "inspired, inerrant autographs," it is a natural question to ask about a person's view on the subject. Hence, how it can be the "wrong" question is hard to see.

<For now I will say for the record that it is a modern heresy, which will put the discussion where I believe it belongs by putting the advocates of this Warfieldianism in need of addressing the issue outside of the comfort of the modern evangelical institutional status quo. Now to move on to more substantial issues.>

My goodness, that seems a rather cavalier way of putting it! Most scholars I know would say it is the historical position of the Church, in point of fact, and not a "modern heresy." I guess I will have to ask, do you really consider Warfield, or someone such as myself, a "heretic" for not following your particular textual perspective?

<I am not at all suprised to learn that you have no use for the Protestant dogmaticians--there weren't a Baptist among 'em.>

I have great use and respect for "the Protestant dogmaticians," including men like Gill for that matter. I simply do not believe that every theologian is equally well equipped to address every aspect of Christian truth. Most of us, I'm afraid, are tempted to over-step the natural boundaries God has placed upon us by His gifts. I guess it might be a "Baptist" thing to emphasize the necessity of my being a responsible exegete, and hence to question the conclusions of any theologian through reference to inspired Scripture, but I think such a stance is quite safe, as it is quite biblical.

<You don't find any of _your_ kinsmen in their number because there weren't no Baptist dogmatic tradition to parallel what the Protestants were constructing in response to 17th century Tridentine attacks (those in the seminar will have read by now my essay treating the dogmaticians). So how dare you be so dismissive of this tradition.>

A few years ago I debated Gerry Matatics on the subject of sola scriptura in Long Beach, California. The debate was well attended, with the audience filled with priests and nuns. Mr. Matatics came out swinging, doing all in his power to make me look like a Jack Chick clone. My own pastor indicated that my work was surely something he was not gifted for, as he would have punched Mr. Matatics in the mouth for his constant slams, insults, etc. But I have engaged in that type of activity so often over the years that I long ago learned that emotionally-charged words, bravado, and the like, may sway those liable to such tactics, but for those concerned about the *truth,* such things are not only meaningless, but detrimental. The debate did not go well for Mr. Matatics, because I simply absorbed his shots and stayed focused upon the issue at hand.

You over-react. Dr. Letis. I "dare" only to question the traditions of this tradition, so to speak. If there are solid answers to my questions, I would like to hear them. But I am not one to refrain from asking meaningful questions due to some fealty to an ecclesiastical tradition.

<Are you as dismissive of Nicene christology as "some kind of orthodoxy" as well, or are you content to piggy-back this non-Baptist tradition? (I do not mean to be harsh, but certainly provocative.)>

I'd say you are both harsh as well as provocative, and that, I'd submit, without any reason. There is no logical parallel, of course, to Nicene Christology and a modern-era theory of textual transmission. The one is plainly expressed in Scripture, the other is not. One is ancient, the other modern. I can answer questions directed against Nicene christology without reference to special pleading or "ecclesiastical usage." Can you answer questions directed against your textual theories in the same way?

<As for the TR as an entity and the Protestant dogmaticians, one short quote from one whose memory as a fellow Lutheran historian and text critic I honour, will serve me well: "...it is undisputed that from the 16th century to the 18th century orthodoxy's doctrine of verbal inspiration assumed... [the] Textus Receptus. It was the only Greek text they knew, and they regarded it as the 'original' text." (Kurt Aland, "The Text of the church?" Trinity journal 8 (1987), p. 131.>

It seems Dr. Aland is plain on the same point I have made in the past: that this was not a direct choice on the part of these theologians, i.e., they were not pitting one "text-type" versus another "text-type." But I have to ask again the question I have asked of Rev. Sandlin: what *specific* text are you referring to? Are you referring to a general "text-type," which would include Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza, and maybe even the final decisions of the KJV translators, or can you point to a specific text that is obtainable today?

<You dismiss the Protestant dogmaticians and you dimiss the final defining of what it _meant_ (means!) to be catholic and Protestant. But then these categories play no real role in your own ecclesiastical self-definition.>

< chuckle > I will allow your prejudice to speak for itself, Dr. Letis. As anyone can see, there is a vast difference between "dismissing" these men and disagreeing with their textual theories. Surely you do not paint *everything* in such black and white colors, do you? I surely hope that you can focus more directly upon the *issues* rather than the *personalities* in our future discussions, Dr. Letis. I think all involved would be helped by that.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


James White

 


Date: Fri, 16 Jun 1995 13:26:48 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: From Andrew Sandlin: re: ...

<I appreciate James White's long, irenic response to my various postings re: IOA. Preparing for a much needed (if not much-deserved) vacation, I won't be able to answer with the extensiveness of his posting, but hope that in due time I can address his comments and objections or that my dear friend Theodore Letis, the genuine "aficionado" of this issue, will do so. In any case, comments such as these will furnish excellent grist for the imminent seminar.>

I hope you enjoy your vacation. I am still hoping to get my family on its first vacation this fall (my oldest is now 9, so it's about time), but since our faithful car of six years died this week (engine melt-down, easily accomplished when living in Phoenix), it's hard to say. My wife and I are getting away this weekend, in fact, for a 160 mile bicycle ride over two days (indeed, how restful!).

<I wish to focus on one comment of James's that constitutes the heart of the issue; he states:

Do I detect some kind of belief that the Church is infallible
in making such decisions regarding text? It would seem to me
that this is a most dangerous, let alone untenable, argument.
It was as I have noted, the argument used against Erasmus not so long ago.

This really is the rub, isn't it?>

If one makes the Church into an infallible source of textual information, yes, that definitely creates a "rub," for many reasons. I don't see where the bible invests such an infallible ability in the church, and also, what "church" does one refer to? How would this argument, for example, play with our friend Patrick Madrid?

<Superficially, the only alternatives are an infallible church speaking _ex cathedra_ re: the selection among variants, and the invention of a seperate classification of Scripture, "original autographs" (shades of the Platonic "Forms," a comparison, I believe, first used by Theodore Letis) toward which we are forever striving and never reaching, a locus forever just out of our grasp.>

I find it historically noteworthy that Rome has really only once tried to provide that very kind of textual certainty, and she very quickly dropped the idea like a hot potato. The example of Sixtus' "infallible Vulgate" remains an embarrassing mark in Roman history.

<It is necessary for James and others to understand that the Orthodox Protestant approach (no less Lutheran then Reformed), completely antedating the Enlightenment displays a completely different _orientation_ to the Bible than that of modern evangelicalism.>

We might wish to keep in mind, Rev. Sandlin, that the very *existence* of this "Orthodox Protestant approach" in the form that it is being alleged is open to question.

<The whole categories of thought are different. For example, the Protestants did not think of comparing the apographs with the mythically conceived inerrant autographs not merely because such a venture is impossible in the first place, but because they did not share the modern evangelical propensity to posit infallibility in such a fashion as to require the autographic "Forms.">

How would you respond, sir, to the challenge that this kind of reasoning is anachronistic?

<Thus, despite Greg Bahnsen's no doubt sincere assertions to the contrary, he does, in my opinion, adduce an inclination to set an extrabiblical standard of Biblical reliability, as do all advocates of IOA -- no matter what they may say and truly believe they hold, their textual views give them away.>

It is very difficult for me to understand how this reasoning follows, either from the facts or from the theology. What is more, it seems to me, and please correct me here, that you are having, and eating, your cake, so to speak. You quote Burgon regarding ecclesiastical authority being necessary to the determination of the text, and yet you say Dr. Bahnsen is the one with an extra-biblical standard of Biblical reliability. Can you put these ideas together for me?

<I am saying that it is _precisely_ the desire to uphold a certain Enlightenment- shaped form of the trustworthiness of Scripture that requires _a priori_ the retreat to the IOA theory.>

Could you explain, please, how such Enlightenment concepts were part and parcel of the concerns of the early Fathers of the church, and that long before the Enlightenment? I mean, the early Fathers made reference to the transcriptional errors, variations, and the like, that existed in manuscripts of the Scriptures in their day. Men like Origen and Jerome recognized the problem and engaged the task of determining not merely an "apographic concensus," so to speak, but they sought to get closer to the originals (note Jerome's use of Hebrew), which seems to me to reflect a common-sense desire to examine variation and come to conclusions regarding the *original* reading. If this is an "Enlightenment" concept, we need to re-date the beginning of the Enlightenment. :)

<The dogmaticians had a higher view of the inscripturated word of God.>

A different view of the transmission of the text and the way of identifying it today. I reject the idea, and would hope list-readers would join me in asking that such terminology not be used, that the view proposed should be described as one that maintains a "higher view of the inscripturated word of God." It would be quite easy for me, Rev. Sandlin, to throw such terminology about and speak of my personal *feelings* about what your position *might* mean, but I would hope that you would realize that my view of the word of God is no lower than your own.

<Good catholics that they were, they repudiated ecclesiastical consensus in textual issues no more than they did in Trinitarian and Christological issues -- >

Excuse me? Could you show this to me, please, from Calvin, as an example? And could you draw out the logical connection between Trinitarian and Christological issues and your particular textual viewpoint?

<and I would submit respectfully that the same reasoning James employs questioning the consensus text may be, and has been, employed by Clark Pinnock and theological modernists to overturn that "excessively 'Greek-oriented' and static view of God" enshrined in our catholic creeds.>

I appreciate the terms in which you couch your accusation, but I can only say that there is not the slightest logical connection between my rejection of what you *call* the "consensus text" (the term is meaningless) and Pinnock's dive into process theology. What we have here, it seems, is the assertion that if one recognizes the historical reality of the genesis of the TR, and the reasons for the rise and predominance in history of the Byzantine text type, one is using reasoning that is just as rebellious as that used by someone who denies God's omniscience, omnipotence, or immutability. I think such an assertion is false on its face, and I have to only ask that we consider why such an assertion would have to be made if in fact this textual theory is so compelling and clear.

<Thank you, again, Mr. White for your extensive response.>

Thank you for writing, and I hope your vacation is enjoyable.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


James White

 


Date: Fri, 16 Jun 1995 13:26:53 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: MANUSCRIPTS, ARGUMENT

> Greetings, Mark. Here's hoping a change of venue, sans certain exacerbating
> elements, will be of assistance in making our conversation more in-line with
> Christian brothers.

<Yes, pooh poohing the opposition without bothering to understand what they are saying is very brotherly.>

Hello, Dan. I'm sorry you misunderstood my posts.

> The phrase "providential preservation" obviously means something very
> specific to you. You'll have to admit others would use the same phrase with
> a different meaning, right? To what would you attribute this difference of
> opinion?

<There has been enough foundation laid in the thread you jumped into the middle of to tie that language to Chapter I Section 8 of the Westminster Confession of Faith.>

Yes, the allegation has been made that there is a connection, but I don't see the connection nor any compelling or necessary reason to concede the connection.

> < It is directly taught in the Scriptures themselves:>
>
> It is a tall claim to say that a particular, definitive, and very specific,
> textual theory is taught "directly" in the Scriptures. Let's see if this is,
> in fact, the case:

<You ignored the relevance of every passage you commented on.>

If I might suggest a different way of phrasing it: I did not accept the idea that there was any relevance to the particular textual theory that Mr. Johnson is proposing. It is not a matter of "ignoring" anything.

> <"For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth
> to all generations." Psalm 100:5>
>
> God's truth is enduring and everlasting, it does not change. This again,
> however, has nothing to do with textual theories, textual variation, etc. In
> point of fact, Mark, might I not urge such a passage against those who would
> say that the best we can do is to use a text that has "warts" and is based
> not upon inerrant autographs but upon a text that allegedly has
> "ecclesiastical authority" behind it? I wouldn't do such a thing, but I
> can't see how it would be wrong, in light of your own use of the passage.

<Mark is talking about the *doctrine* of providential preservation laid out in the Confession, he is not talking about *textual*theories*.>

Unfortunately, a doctrine without content and application is not much of a doctrine. You might be helped by the knowledge that Mr. Johnson and I are not new to this discussion: we have encountered one another in other venues, and hence I am not simply speaking with him for the first time. Mr. Johnson well knows I believe in "providential preservation" too---we simply disagree, greatly, on the hows and the results.

<The Psalmist declares that every generation will have the word of God.>

The Psalmist declares that God's truth will endure to every generation.

<Those who prate of *textual*theories* have the arrogant belief that the Church did without the word of God for a thousand years until 19th century scholars came along to find it again for her.>

I've not met anyone who believed that way, and I certainly don't, either. To whom, then do you refer?

<My church is engaged in a search for a pastor. We wrote a letter describing the man we are looking for. The first point in the description (which we labeled non-negotiable) was that he must be "confessionally reformed". We actually received one response from someone who was offering himself as a candidate who started by saying, "I don't know what 'confessionally reformed' means, but...." Your interaction with Mark's article is on the same level: "I don't know what 'providential preservation' means but obviously all these scriptures have nothing to do with this other topic that I think is important.">

Again, I'm sorry you feel that way, but I see little reason for taking your comments seriously. They seem borne more of emotion than serious reflection.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

> I hesitate to use the word "cult," though Ruckmanism often qualifies for the
> use of such a strong, and normally pejorative, term. The positive response
> has been frankly overwhelming, for which I am grateful to the Lord. It seems
> the book definitely "scratches an itch," so to speak.

Anyone who ascribes the inspired characteristics of the Hebrew Bible or the greek N.T. to an English Bible and anathematizes everyone who does not agree with them is a cult. These tend to be--as I have shown in my work referred to earlier--highly separatistic and unlearned Baptists (no reflection on present company). TPL

> <Some of us have agreed to create a separate list to conduct a seminar on
> the subject of text criticism and classic Reformation orthodoxy as
> opposed to the modern innovative evangelical doctrine of "Inerrant
> autographs.">
>
> And when might we know how one could subscribe to such a list?

Will someone help Mr. White on this point (Dick?) TPL.

> I'd like to note something right up front. It is my intention to do my best,
> recognizing I will, undoubtedly, fail, to avoid unnecessarily provocative
> terms in this discussion. I believe such terminology is unfitting for
> Christian scholars especially in light of the importance of the topic. What
> is more, I wish to make it clear that I do not wish to drag denominational
> issues into this topic, again, no matter how tempting that might be. You
> later mentioned my Reformed Baptist stance in such a way that was, as you
> yourself admitted, provocative, and I will simply allow such "shots" to pass.
> I wish to focus upon the issues at hand, and make a promise to the
> list-readers to do my best to keep things focused. I readily admit I may
> well fail at times: I make no claims to perfection. But I would hope that
> others would join me in attempting to make this dialogue as useful as
> possible.

I was not addressing your common humanly shared characteristic of fallibility, but rather your ecclesiology, which has everything to do with your historiography. This, Mr. White, is a rather substantial _issue_, which well explains how you can refer to the consensus of the Protestant dogmaticians on Scripture as "some kind of orthodoxy." This is precisely how antitrinitarians refer to Nicene Christology, and for confessional Protestants the level of importance of these _two_ eras of orthodox self-definition are co-equal. TPL

> <Consequently, much that you have said will provide a nice
> preliminary example of what we will be dismantling, so nicely typical is
> your articulation.> >
> I will take that as a compliment, as it might be rephrased, "Much that you
> have said will provide a nice preliminary example of what we will be
> attacking

No, I said "dismantling." Why "attack" it when you can calmly dismantle it with the illumination of historical consensus? TPL

>> so typical of the vast majority of Christian scholarship
>> of the 20th century is your articulation."

> The fact that the book itself is heartily endorsed by men
> such as Metzger, Carson, Archer, Geisler, MacArthur, Packer, Barker and
> Blomberg, proves that the work has the support of a very wide, and very deep,
> spectrum of Christian scholarship. I admit I find it strange to be in the
> majority for once: all of my previous works represented a distinct minority
> in the sense that the theology espoused and the topics addressed were not
> "main stream."

Historically speaking, you are still quite in the minority. Lord deliver us from the tyranny of the present (thank you andrew for that phrase). TPL

>
> <If at the end of the seminar enough information will
> have come to light to cause all the earnest participants to cringe every
> time they hear the words "inerrant autographs," my job will have been
> well done indeed.>
>
> A very interesting goal, if I might say so myself. My goal is to make sure
> everyone who invests the time to follow the conversation will have a very
> good idea of what the issues are, what the facts are, and how the arguments
> play out against one another. I don't seek to have anyone cringing, ducking,
> or engaging in any other unusual bodily movements.

If one defines the issues clearly enough, with enough facts and folks realize they have been taken for a ride I would be very surprised if they did not cringe. TPL

> <When you ask Andrew, surely he must believe in the inerrancy of the
> autographs, it is like asking someone if they have stopped beating their
> wife. Not only is it the wrong question, but it reveals how terminally
> damaging these highly charged code words can be: before one can even
> raise the question as to its validity as a paradigm everyone is
> conditioned to suspect anyone raising the issue of either its formal or
> historical validity.>
>
> Possibly for someone so deeply involved in your particular perspective it is
> a "bad" question; however, the need for close definition of terminology is
> especially clear in this conversation, and when one "puts down" the phrase
> "inspired, inerrant autographs," it is a natural question to ask about a
> person's view on the subject. Hence, how it can be the "wrong" question is
> hard to see.

How can it be a wrong question? Mr. White, have you stopped beating your wife? TPL

> <For now I will say for the record that it is a
> modern heresy, which will put the discussion where I believe it belongs
> by putting the advocates of this Warfieldianism in need of addressing
> the issue outside of the comfort of the modern evangelical institutional
> status quo. Now to move on to more substantial issues.>
>
> My goodness, that seems a rather cavalier way of putting it! Most scholars I
> know would say it is the historical position of the Church,

My goodness, that seems a rather blatant eqivocation! You want to invoke the "historical position of the Church" and when one shows it to you because you do not recognize a family resemblance it is then dismissed as "some kind of orthodoxy." Most of the dogmaticians I have read (from the 17th era of Protestant orthodoxy) would be scandalized by what they would regard as the minority position of "most scholars" you know. TPL

> and not a "modern heresy." I guess I will have to ask, do you reall consider
> Warfield, or someone such as myself, a "heretic" for not following your
> particular textual perspective?

non causa pro causa. No one has said anything about a "particular textual perspective," but rather about a revisionist history that would blind us from discovering what the authorial intent of the Westminster Confession of Faith actually taught about the subject of Biblical authority in response to Tridentine Romanism and early modern rationalism. Warfield reinterpreted the WCF to legitimize "the quest for the historical text" and since the WCF is the standard of orthodoxy for confessional Calvinists (mostly Presbyterians), what Warfield had on offer was a deviation from this orthodoxy. How do _you_ spell h-e-r-e-s-y? TPL

> <I am not at all suprised to learn that you have no use for the
> Protestant dogmaticians--there weren't a Baptist among 'em.>
>
> I have great use and respect for "the Protestant dogmaticians," including men
> like Gill for that matter. I simply do not believe that every theologian is
> equally well equipped to address every aspect of Christian truth.

In the words of President Reagan, "here we go again." You want to pay lip service to the dogmaticians but you neither find their theological formulations compelling nor do you regard their confessional literature as norma normata (for the sake of our lurkers see R. Muller's _Dictionary of Latin and greek Theological Terms_ as well as his two volume _Post-reformation Reformed dogmatics_ and that of Preus as well). TPL

> Most of
> us, I'm afraid, are tempted to over-step the natural boundaries God has
> placed upon us by His gifts. I guess it might be a "Baptist" thing to
> emphasize the necessity of my being a responsible exegete,

It seems to me you flatter yourself a bit here. If I am not mistaken it was the Lutheran, Reformed and Anglican communities that set the mold for the proper historico-grammatical approach. I would rather not bring up what the Anabaptists were doing at the time... (yes, you are right, that was a cheap shot--guilty :-(. TPL

> and hence to
> question the conclusions of any theologian through reference to inspired
> Scripture, but I think such a stance is quite safe, as it is quite biblical.
>
> <You don't
> find any of _your_ kinsmen in their number because there weren't no
> Baptist dogmatic tradition to parallel what the Protestants were
> constructing in response to 17th century Tridentine attacks (those in
> the seminar will have read by now my essay treating the dogmaticians).
> So how dare you be so dismissive of this tradition.

I have already dealt with this point and I would hope that everyone on this list can appreciate what I have said.TPL

> A few years ago I debated Gerry Matatics on the subject of sola scriptura in
> Long Beach, California. The debate was well attended, with the audience
> filled with priests and nuns. Mr. Matatics came out swinging, doing all in
> his power to make me look like a Jack Chick clone. My own pastor indicated
> that my work was surely something he was not gifted for, as he would have
> punched Mr. Matatics in the mouth for his constant slams, insults, etc. But
> I have engaged in that type of activity so often over the years that I long
> ago learned that emotionally-charged words, bravado, and the like, may sway
> those liable to such tactics, but for those concerned about the *truth,* such
> things are not only meaningless, but detrimental. The debate did not go well
> for Mr. Matatics, because I simply absorbed his shots and stayed focused upon
> the issue at hand.

Certainly no "bravado" on my part, just a genuine sense of indignity. TPL

> You over-react. Dr. Letis. I "dare" only to question the traditions of this
> tradition, so to speak. If there are solid answers to my questions, I would
> like to hear them. But I am not one to refrain from asking meaningful
> questions due to some fealty to an ecclesiastical tradition.

How very interesting that you have no "fealty to an ecclesiastical tradition." My point exactly. TPL

> <Are you as dismissive of Nicene christology as "some kind of orthodoxy" as well,
> or are you content to piggy-back this non-Baptist tradition? (I do not mean to be harsh,
> but certainly provocative.)>
>
> I'd say you are both harsh as well as provocative, and that, I'd submit,
> without any reason. There is no logical parallel, of course, to Nicene
> Christology and a modern-era theory of textual transmission. The one is
> plainly expressed in Scripture, the other is not. One is ancient, the other
> modern. I can answer questions directed against Nicene christology without
> reference to special pleading or "ecclesiastical usage." Can you answer
> questions directed against your textual theories in the same way?

Did I miss something here are have you succeeded in avoiding the question? TPL

> <As for the TR as an entity and the Protestant dogmaticians, one short
> quote from one whose memory as a fellow Lutheran historian and text
> critic I honour, will serve me well: "...it is undisputed that from the 16th
> century to the 18th century orthodoxy's doctrine of verbal inspiration
> assumed... [the] Textus Receptus. It was the only Greek text they knew,
> and they regarded it as the 'original' text." (Kurt Aland, "The Text of
> the church?" Trinity journal 8 (1987), p. 131.>
>
> It seems Dr. Aland is plain on the same point I have made in the past: that
> this was not a direct choice on the part of these theologians, i.e., they
> were not pitting one "text-type" versus another "text-type." But I have to
> ask again the question I have asked of Rev. Sandlin: what *specific* text are
> you referring to? Are you referring to a general "text-type," which would
> include Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza, and maybe even the final decisions of the
> KJV translators, or can you point to a specific text that is obtainable
> today?

I answer your question with a question: What did Professor Aland have in mind? TPL

> <You dismiss the Protestant dogmaticians and you dimiss the final
> defining of what it _meant_ (means!) to be catholic and Protestant.
> But then these categories play no real role in your own ecclesiastical
> self-definition.>
>
> < chuckle > I will allow your prejudice to speak for itself, Dr. Letis. As
> anyone can see, there is a vast difference between "dismissing" these men and
> disagreeing with their textual theories. Surely you do not paint
> *everything* in such black and white colors, do you? I surely hope that you
> can focus more directly upon the *issues* rather than the *personalities* in
> our future discussions, Dr. Letis. I think all involved would be helped by
> that.

You continue to treat Protestant orthodoxy as some kind of "textual theory"--this is a rather serious confusion of categories. I suppose a nervous, self-conscious chuckle on your part is appropriate at this point...TPL


James White

 

Date: Mon, 19 Jun 1995 20:22:25 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: LXX

<James White, You reject any ecclesiatical authority and historic orthodoxy, and in their place appeal to "The vast majority of Christian scholarship." I suppose we all follow our own traditions, don't we?>

Well, Mark, I had *hoped* that a little change of venue might prompt a bit more civility, but alas, I fear my hopes may have been a bit premature.

To reject the particular viewpoint of particular theologians in a particular tradition is not to "reject any ecclesiastical authority and historic orthodoxy." If you will not consider the ramifications of such a statement, I hope others will: do you really wish to hang so much upon a viewpoint that, in reality, despite the oft-repeated assertion to the contrary, is in fact a historical minority over the course of history? I mean, I happily admit to being in the minority, if you simply count noses over time, on a whole bunch of issues, such as predestinating grace to sola fide. But since I do not base *either* of these beliefs upon some alleged "ecclesiastical consensus" I do not have to be overly concerned about my minority standing. But if you are going to "hang your hat" on the historical argument, you need to make sure the peg isn't going to fall off the wall.

The simple fact of the matter is, Mark, that it is unfair, and untrue, to state that I reject "any ecclesiatical authority and historic orthodoxy," and to make such a sweeping statement upon the basis of a debate over textual critical theories seems to me to be most unwise.

<You assume what you need to prove, namely that the Apostles used the LXX for their Old Testament citations, then challenge me to prove that the LXX was assimilated to Old Testament quotations.>

I wasn't aware that the fact was in dispute, Mark. Even Dr. Letis indicated you had been reading some kind of KJV Only stuff (I can't imitate his ability to turn a phrase, but his description was much more colorful than mine) and warned you away from it. The use of the LXX is so firmly established that it seems incredible that anyone would attempt to say otherwise.

<You will admit that neither view is strictly provable without some simplifying assumptions, will you not?>

No sir, I will not.

<All we know with certainty is that the New Testament citations of the Old Testament sometimes appear to agree more with the current reconstruction of the LXX than the Hebrew Originals.>

The "current reconstruction of the LXX"?

<As often as you invoke harmonization, with little or no proof, to explain readings in the Received Text, why is it so hard to believe here that the LXX was harmonized to the Koine New Testament?>

Any number of reasons should suggest themselves to you, Mark. The pre-existence of the LXX is a rather thorny problem (which is why Ruckman simply does away with it). But for most folks, who do not approach the issue with an over-riding theory to prove, the relationship seems rather obvious. Might your theories be forcing you to close your eyes to what most others see so easily?

<"In the epistle to the Hebrews there are three Old Testament quotations which have been the subject of much discussion. The first of these is Heb. 1:6, "and let all the angels of God worship Him." This clause is found in Manuscript B of the Septuagint as an addition to Deut. 32:43. On this basis, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews has often been accused of citing as Scripture a verse not found in the Hebrew Bible.>

[ Just a side note: notice the use of the term "accused." ]

<The text of the Septuagint, however, is not certain at this point. Manuscript A reads, "and let all the angels of God give them (Him) strength," and this is the reading adopted by Rahlfs (1935) one of the most recent editors of the Septuagint. If the reading of A is correct, then the text of B must have been changed at this point to agree with Heb. 1:6, and the author of the epistle to the Hebrews could not be quoting it.>

"Must have"? Sorry, that does not even begin to follow. Far more likely B contains a traditional reading familiar to the author of Hebrews which was amenable to his uses.

<He may have had Deut. 32:43 in mind, but the passage which he was actually citing was Psalm 97:7, which is found in both the Hebrew Old Testament and in the Septuagint and which reads (in the Septuagint), "worship Him all ye His angels." -- Edward F. Hills, _The King James Version Defended_, pp. 94-5

Clearly, Hebrews 1:6 does not quote the Septuagint additions to Deut.32:43, despite clear resemblances.>

And the remaining quotations of the LXX in the NT, Mark?


James White

 

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


Date: Mon, 19 Jun 1995 20:22:31 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: Received Text

<Your claims concerning the usage of the Church catholic of the Latin Vulgate and LXX are simply beside the point.>

I think they are right *on* the point, which is why, to a large extent, they are ignored.

<Unlike the modern Ruckmanites who make the KJV verbally inspired, or the older Roman Schoolmen who do the same for the Latin Vulgate, or Origen who defended the LXX Apocrypha as canonical, the Protestant Dogmaticians understood that ultimately, only the Hebrew and Greek are authentical, because they have been immediately inspired and kept pure in all ages:>

But you are missing the point, Mark. An argument that is invalid in one time period is very likely to be invalid in another. The argument of "ecclesiastical usage" can be used by anyone at almost any time. It simply doesn't hold water. The same arguments that demonstrated the error of endowing the Vulgate with some kind of divine certainty due to ecclesiastical usage works just as well against those who would wish to enshrine Erasmus' work. BTW, Erasmus' opponents did not, generally, do what Ruckmanites do---they were far more scholarly, in the main, than the Blusterer from Pensacola. They could hardly ignore variations in the Vulgate text ("warts", perhaps?), and hence engaged in a little more meaningful defense that modern KJV Only advocates. However, the argument of determing text on the basis of "usage" was just as bad then, in my opinion, as it is today.

 

"The Old Testament in Hebrew, (which was the native language of the people of God of old,) and the New Testament in Greek, (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations,) being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto and interest in the scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation into which they come, that the word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the scriptures, may have hope." WCF 1:8

And, as it has surely been pointed out, one is forced to read *back* into this article, from later sources, the very theory you propose to find *in it.* I can subscribe to everything in the above article. There is nothing in the language that forces one to the conclusions that your position is presenting, Mark.

<To these all translations, traditional and otherwise, are to be conformed: "But, in particular, the Hebrew Original of the Old Testament, which we have received and to this day do retain as handed down by the Jewish Church, unto whom formerly "were committed the oracles of God" (Rom. iii. 2), is, not only in its consonants, but in its vowels - either the vowel points themselves, or at least the power of the points not only in its matter, but in its words, inspired of God, thus forming, together with the Original of the New Testament, the sole and complete rule of our faith and life; and to its standard, as to a Lydian stone, all extant versions, oriental and occidental, ought to be applied, and wherever they differ, be conformed." HCF, Canon II>

And I repeat, Mark, my question of before: why should I invest infallibility to the Massoretes? Can you tell me why I should do that?

<You claim that the argument from providential church usage is "dangerous" and "untenable" when it comes to the text, but you yourself are forced to use just this kind of argument for the canon:>

It is dangerous and untenable when it refuses to provide direct support of its contention, and begins to call everyone who does not agree with its conclusions "heretics." And you are incorrect about my argument about the canon. "When we look at how God led His people to recognize the canon of Scripture, the listing of the books that were inspired over against those which were not, we note that God did not engage in any celestial fireworks in the process. No angel showed up with golden tablets marked "Divine Index." Instead, God worked with His people over time, leading them to recognize what He had already done through the act of inspiration. It took time, and some might wish for a more "spectacular" method, but God did it in His way, in His time." James White, _The King James Only Controversy_, p. 47.

<Why is this argument form dangerous and untenable when used against your position, but fine when you want or need to use it?>

There is, of course, a vast difference between saying "The canon of the Scriptures was determined by the inspiration process itself, and over time developed in the consciousness of the Church" and saying, "The particular usage of a particular version of the text of the NT by a particular branch of the Church is to be taken as divine approval of that particular text." We can examine the process whereby the TR came into existence; we can read Erasmus' own words about how he chose readings, imported entire verses from the Vulgate, etc. and etc. We have no such recourse to the subject of the *canon,* because the canon deals with what is *authoritative writings,* over against our current concern, that being the *content* and *exact textual reading* of those writings.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


James White

 


Date: Mon, 19 Jun 1995 20:22:38 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: Received Text

<Surely claims about historical orthodoxy can and have been widely misused, but certainly this is an argument for careful and accurate historical arguments, rather than their abandonment.>

And it might help us to realize that the use of such arguments, especially when they are immediately, and quickly, joined with what I would call "verbal excess," should be considered less than compelling by any person committed to biblical beliefs.

<Historic Reformed orthodoxy is very relevant when discussing textual criticism because it directly addresses the providential preservation of scripture.>

And phrases like "historic Reformed orthodoxy" are quite useful in drawing a very small circle so that anyone who disagrees with you on theory "X" can be determined a "modern, non-Reformed, unorthodox" person. As I have said before, the very idea that a person's standing as being Reformed and orthodox can be determined by agreement with a very small, very narrow, very limited textual theory is, well, slightly more than disturbing.

<The Protestant Dogmaticians used this doctrine to defend the current authoritative copies in ecclesiastical use from Romish charges of corruption and claims of an earlier, uncorrupted text base underlying the Latin Vulgate.>

Let's say this is the case. Are you saying Protestant Dogmaticians never erred in any of the arguments they used against Rome? Is their simple *use* of the argument divine proof of the validity thereof? As I have said, I've never had a Roman Catholic even broach the issue, let alone build a case upon it.

<While it is true that the Protestant Dogmaticians set forth providential preservation with greater force and clarity than the Reformers,>

Ah, the first time I've seen that admission in print. Thank you. Such is, I think, a tacit admission that the Reformers themselves did not find this issue to be nearly as central as you seem to find it, right, Mark?

< the doctrine was by no means absent from the teachings of the Reformers. I will deal with Calvin in a seperate post, but suffice it to say here that your assertions concerning him are simply incorrect or misleading.>

We shall see if you can provide this basis, Mark.

<I understand why you would object to the label "rationalistic," but the label does accurately describe modern textual criticism.>

Only given your presuppositions, Mark. I could come up with all sorts of "labels" for your position, but I do not feel compelled to do so.

<Modernistic textual criticism starts by denying or ignoring the special character of God's word, the special circumstances surrounding its creation and transmission.>

This is not true, of course. Or, more accurately, it is not *necessarily* true. I will simply assert at this point, given that you are merely providing claims without evidence, that there is nothing intrinsically inconsistent with believing faith to approach a textual variant in the Scriptures from a literary standpoint, seeking only to determine as best as you can the original reading (just as, of course, all those involved in forming the TR did themselves). To import one's theology into the alleged *source* of one's theology is not an intrinsically "spiritual" thing to do.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


James White

 


Date: Mon, 19 Jun 1995 20:22:40 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com

<I have limited my rejoinder to one verse, Matthew 5:18, because I believe your response there is illustrative of the spirit behind your entire reply, and displays some highly interesting editorial choices.>

And what "spirit" might that be, Mr. Johnson?

 

"For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Matthew 5:18

>Surely the most commonly used passage, I am discovering. Yet, again,
>are we to say the Lord Jesus is here speaking of textual issues? Is
>this the context? Something tells me we would find most Reformed
>commentators would not be seeing that as the context. I just glanced
>at Calvin's Commentary (p. 278) and he exegetes the passage in what
>would have to be called a "non-textual theory" way. In fact, when he
>speaks of the specific phrase you focus upon, he writes:
> But what does it mean, that every part of the law shall be
> fulfilled down to the smallest *point*? for we see, that even
> those, who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God, are very
> far from keeping the law of God in a perfect manner. I answer,
> the expression, shall not pass away, must be viewed as
> referring, not to the life of men, but to the perfect truth of
> the doctrine.
>Calvin makes no comment here about the letters of the text.

<If you include the very next sentence, that explains the doctrine, you would see he does comment about the letters of the text: "There is nothing in the law that is unimportant, nothing that was put there at random; and so it is impossible that a single letter shall perish.">

I read the same sentence, but again, Mark, you have to engage in some pretty gross anachronistic reading to read back into this sentence the thoughts you are trying to present. Calvin is NOT talking about the specific letters, as he himself explains in the very passage that is now even more fully cited! When he addresses what the term "smallest point" means, he says it "must be viewed as referring, not to the life of men, but to the perfect truth of the doctrine." How much more plainly can he speak, Mark?

In context, it reads:

 

But what does it mean, that every part of the law shall be fulfilled down to the smallest *point*? for we see, that even those, who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God, are very far from keeping the law of God in a perfect manner. I answer, the expression, *shall not pass away*, must be viewed as referring, not to the life of men, but to the perfect truth of the doctrine. There is nothing in the law that is unimportant, nothing that was put there at random; and so it is impossible that a single letter shall perish.

Clearly, some of the most Reformed commentators have applied this verse the same way I have, including John Calvin, John Owen, Francis Turretin, and the Westminster Assembly"

Excuse me, Mark, but I must have missed something. You've misrepresented Calvin; I see nothing about the TR in Westminster. Why can't you admit your viewpoint in its full expression, and most importantly, in the points where it differs from mine, was not either expressly or necessarily contained in either Calvin or Westminster?

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


James White

 


Date: Mon, 19 Jun 1995 20:22:49 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: No Subject

<Close, but not exact. The usual story is that Erasmus lacked Rev. 22:16-21 in his manuscript base. His fourth edition contains some corrections (?from the Complutensian polyglot?). The only material difference that remains is his use of "book" for "tree" in Revelation 22:19.

FWIW, Hoskier disputed the claim that Erasmus solely translated from the Latin back to the Greek, based on ms. 141. [H.C. Hoskier, _Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse_, London: 1929, cited in Dr. E.F. Hills, p. 202] Also, FYI, I have not been able to figure out what ms 141 is, as it is not referenced in UBS2. Perhaps James White or Ted Letis could shed some light on that for us both.>

I discussed this issue in my book, and noted Hoskier's claims, but provided reason for accepting the prevailing opinion as correct.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


James White

 


Date: Mon, 19 Jun 1995 20:23:03 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Back to Dr. Letis

>I'd like to note something right up front. It is my intention to do my best,
>recognizing I will, undoubtedly, fail, to avoid unnecessarily provocative
>terms in this discussion. I believe such terminology is unfitting for
>Christian scholars especially in light of the importance of the topic. What
>is more, I wish to make it clear that I do not wish to drag denominational
>issues into this topic, again, no matter how tempting that might be. You
>later mentioned my Reformed Baptist stance in such a way that was, as you
>yourself admitted, provocative, and I will simply allow such "shots" to pass.
>I wish to focus upon the issues at hand, and make a promise to the
>list-readers to do my best to keep things focused. I readily admit I may
>well fail at times: I make no claims to perfection. But I would hope that
>others would join me in attempting to make this dialogue as useful as
>possible.

<I was not addressing your common humanly shared characteristic of fallibility, but rather your ecclesiology, which has everything to do with your historiography.>

While one's ecclesiology may impact one's historiography, and one's textual choices as well, I hope that most folks will realize that the more one is able to separate such things, the more clearly one will be able to see "the forest for the trees" so to speak. History is filled with those who ended all rational conversation due to an over-riding attachment to a particular theory or belief, and such would hardly fit our endeavor in this discussion. What is more, my ecclesiology is not the subject of debate here: your theory of the textual primacy of the TR is. You wouldn't be suggesting that your theory cannot be discussed outside of a critique of Baptist ecclesiology, would you?

<This, Mr. White, is a rather substantial _issue_, which well explains how you can refer to the consensus of the Protestant dogmaticians on Scripture as "some kind of orthodoxy.">

The very existence of such a consensus must first be established; then, the weight to be attached to such a consensus must be determined as well; and finally, the issue of whether such a consensus has a basis in simple fact must be addressed openly and honestly. What is more, we cannot substitute "of the Protestant dogmaticians on Scripture" (general term = Scripture) for the more specific claims being made by yourself and others, "of the Protestant dogmaticians on the textual issues relating to Scripture."

<This is precisely how antitrinitarians refer to Nicene Christology, and for confessional Protestants the level of importance of these _two_ eras of orthodox self-definition are co-equal. TPL>

Again, Dr. Letis, the connection of the Trinitarian confessions of the early church with a particular textual theory relating to the primacy of a particular text-type or even a particular eclectic text (surely you would not deny this is an accurate term in describing the TR) involves such a long reach as to stretch the credibility of the one offering it. What is more, the object of these confessions is quite different, as is the manner of the affirmation. The Trinity is a doctrine provable from Scripture itself--the very history of the post-Nicene years shows that the weight of the creed was borne by Scriptural argumentation, not by ecclesiastical authority. The primacy of the TR is, of course, of necessity a very different animal. What is more, the textual choices of Owens or other such "dogmaticians" do not equate into a general confessional statement of the Church as a whole.

><Consequently, much that you have said will provide a nice
>preliminary example of what we will be dismantling, so nicely typical is
>your articulation.>

>I will take that as a compliment, as it might be rephrased, "Much that you
>have said will provide a nice preliminary example of what we will be
>attacking

<No, I said "dismantling." Why "attack" it when you can calmly dismantle it with the illumination of historical consensus? TPL>

If you wish to proclaim yourself the winner by fiat, sir, I can't stop you, but I was surely hoping for a little more interaction before the debate was considered over.

>so typical of the vast majority of Christian scholarship
>of the 20th century is your articulation."

>The fact that the book itself is heartily endorsed by men
>such as Metzger, Carson, Archer, Geisler, MacArthur, Packer, Barker and
>Blomberg, proves that the work has the support of a very wide, and very deep,
>spectrum of Christian scholarship. I admit I find it strange to be in the
>majority for once: all of my previous works represented a distinct minority
>in the sense that the theology espoused and the topics addressed were not
>"main stream."

<Historically speaking, you are still quite in the minority. Lord deliver us from the tyranny of the present (thank you andrew for that phrase). TPL>

I disagree, of course, and hope that you will provide more than just the claim to being in the majority to overthrow the majority who today say you are not. :)

<When you ask Andrew, surely he must believe in the inerrancy of the
>autographs, it is like asking someone if they have stopped beating their
>wife. Not only is it the wrong question, but it reveals how terminally
>damaging these highly charged code words can be: before one can even
>raise the question as to its validity as a paradigm everyone is
>conditioned to suspect anyone raising the issue of either its formal or
>historical validity.>

>Possibly for someone so deeply involved in your particular perspective it is
>a "bad" question; however, the need for close definition of terminology is
>especially clear in this conversation, and when one "puts down" the phrase
>"inspired, inerrant autographs," it is a natural question to ask about a
>person's view on the subject. Hence, how it can be the "wrong" question is
>hard to see.

<How can it be a wrong question? Mr. White, have you stopped beating your wife? TPL>

Again, I can only confess to a bit of disappointment at the level of such a response. It is very tempting to ignore such things, but it seems this is central to your thinking. I have never beaten my wife, hence the question is irrelevant. There were inerrant autographs, given by the direct inspiration of God, and we have thousands of copies of them to this day. To say that these autographs are "irrelevant" prompts, in many minds (my own included) the question I asked of Rev. Sandlin regarding his view of them. As anyone can see, there is a vast logical gulf separating my question of Rev. Sandlin and your question of me. Perhaps you would like to provide a little more full reply, Dr. Letis?

<For now I will say for the record that it is a modern heresy, which will put
>the discussion where I believe it belongs by putting the advocates of this
>Warfieldianism in need of addressing the issue outside of the comfort of the
>modern evangelical institutional status quo. Now to move on to more
>substantial issues.>

> My goodness, that seems a rather cavalier way of putting it! Most scholars I
> know would say it is the historical position of the Church,

<My goodness, that seems a rather blatant eqivocation! You want to invoke the "historical position of the Church" and when one shows it to you because you do not recognize a family resemblance it is then dismissed as "some kind of orthodoxy.">

You err in your statement, sir. I did not seek to "invoke" anything at all. I simply pointed out that your statement above was rather sweeping and, as I said, cavalier. You *assume* you have "shown" me the historical position of the Church, but I'm afraid most folks would not fault me for as yet being rather less than convinced. I wasn't aware that Owen and Turretin defined orthodoxy for the Church as a whole on every subject they addressed and discussed. Might you wish to suggest to us some reasons why we should think they did?

<Most of the dogmaticians I have read (from the 17th era of Protestant orthodoxy) would be scandalized by what they would regard as the minority position of "most scholars" you know. TPL>

Am I to assume that this is a sufficient reason for you to reject whatever they would find scandalous? What specifically is there about the 17th century that would lead you to believe that it was the high-water mark of Christian orthodoxy? I mean, Christians were still murdering other Christians under the guise of protecting "orthodoxy" at the time, and I personally find that a rather "scandalous" thing as well. I just have trouble with Protestants who enshrine Protestant theologians as infallible guides---didn't we get rid of that concept when Luther threw Exsurge Domine in the fire?

>and not a "modern heresy." I guess I will have to ask, do you reall consider
> Warfield, or someone such as myself, a "heretic" for not following your
> particular textual perspective?

<non causa pro causa. No one has said anything about a "particular textual perspective," but rather about a revisionist history that would blind us from discovering what the authorial intent of the Westminster Confession of Faith actually taught about the subject of Biblical authority in response to Tridentine Romanism and early modern rationalism.>

My, that's a very long way of expressing it, but are you not arguing in circles, Dr. Letis? What if it is you, not I, who is wearing the blinders, and are therefore reading back into earlier documents beliefs that, in fact, were not present? How can you be sure you are not engaging in anachronistic interpretation? Surely you recognize how easily Roman Catholics, for example, fall into this trap when trying to use patristic sources to their benefit. Should we not be as careful about our own activities, even when we are "at home" in our own camp (I recognize that you may not truthfully see me as in your camp at all)? You may have proven to your own satisfaction that *your* history is the "true" history, and everyone else's is a "revisionist" history. But I thought dialogue and debate was to establish the facts of the case, not just the opinions of those involved. Tridentine Romanism I know---sola scriptura I have defended many times. And yet, I have no reason to believe that I must, or should, embrace the TR as having any particular authority, historically, ecclesiastically, or textually. And the rather ironic thing is, Erasmus would surely have agreed.

<Warfield reinterpreted the WCF to legitimize "the quest for the historical text" and since the WCF is the standard of orthodoxy for confessional Calvinists (mostly Presbyterians), what Warfield had on offer was a deviation from this orthodoxy. How do _you_ spell h-e-r-e-s-y? TPL>

I obviously spell it far more carefully and far less frequently than you do, that seems certain.

<I am not at all suprised to learn that you have no use for the
>Protestant dogmaticians--there weren't a Baptist among 'em.>

>I have great use and respect for "the Protestant dogmaticians," including men
>like Gill for that matter. I simply do not believe that every theologian is
> equally well equipped to address every aspect of Christian truth.

<In the words of President Reagan, "here we go again." You want to pay lip service to the dogmaticians but you neither find their theological formulations compelling nor do you regard their confessional literature as norma normata (for the sake of our lurkers see R. Muller's _Dictionary of Latin and greek Theological Terms_ as well as his two volume _Post-reformation Reformed dogmatics_ and that of Preus as well). TPL>

If you mean I retain my responsibilities before God for knowing His Scriptures and believing His truth without abandoning those responsibilities to theologians, dogmaticians, linguists, bishops, cardinals, or Popes, yes sir, you are exactly right. I *thought* for some strange reason that that was one of the issues of the Reformation. Was I in error? Now, if you mean that since I disagree with Owen and Turretin on Hebrew vowel pointing and the TR, and hence must therefore throw everything *else* they said out the window, well, I think everyone can see that does not follow at all. Surely you have to admit, sir, that a person can admire and benefit from a particular person's ministry/writing/teaching without embracing *everything* that person said or believed on *every* possible topic, correct?

> Most of us, I'm afraid, are tempted to over-step the natural boundaries God
> has placed upon us by His gifts. I guess it might be a "Baptist" thing to
> emphasize the necessity of my being a responsible exegete,

<It seems to me you flatter yourself a bit here. If I am not mistaken it was the Lutheran, Reformed and Anglican communities that set the mold for the proper historico-grammatical approach. I would rather not bring up what the Anabaptists were doing at the time... (yes, you are right, that was a cheap shot--guilty :-(. TPL>

It was, but it was also irrelevant. Let's say I get my exegetical bent from those communities---so? Should that not lead you, who claim adherence to those very communities, to be all that more resistant to any kind of authoritarian claim that violates that sacred responsibility before God?

<You don't find any of _your_ kinsmen in their number because there weren't
>no Baptist dogmatic tradition to parallel what the Protestants were
>constructing in response to 17th century Tridentine attacks (those in
>the seminar will have read by now my essay treating the dogmaticians).
>So how dare you be so dismissive of this tradition.>

<I have already dealt with this point and I would hope that everyone on this list can appreciate what I have said.TPL>

Whoever is typing up your messages for you confused things---what have you dealt with, and how should I know what you have dealt with in the past?

>A few years ago I debated Gerry Matatics on the subject of sola scriptura in
>Long Beach, California. The debate was well attended, with the audience
>filled with priests and nuns. Mr. Matatics came out swinging, doing all in
>his power to make me look like a Jack Chick clone. My own pastor indicated
>that my work was surely something he was not gifted for, as he would have
>punched Mr. Matatics in the mouth for his constant slams, insults, etc. But
>I have engaged in that type of activity so often over the years that I long
>ago learned that emotionally-charged words, bravado, and the like, may sway
>those liable to such tactics, but for those concerned about the *truth,* such
>things are not only meaningless, but detrimental. The debate did not go well
>for Mr. Matatics, because I simply absorbed his shots and stayed focused upon
>the issue at hand.

<Certainly no "bravado" on my part, just a genuine sense of indignity. TPL>

It is often hard to tell the two apart. Surely you must realize that I feel "indignity" at many of your statements, and, if I did not exercise self-control, we would never have even the beginning of a scholarly interchange.

>You over-react. Dr. Letis. I "dare" only to question the traditions of this
>tradition, so to speak. If there are solid answers to my questions, I would
>like to hear them. But I am not one to refrain from asking meaningful
>questions due to some fealty to an ecclesiastical tradition.

<How very interesting that you have no "fealty to an ecclesiastical tradition." My point exactly. TPL>

You seem so intent upon making your point you'll even make it up, if necessary. Where did I say that I have no fealty to an ecclesiastical tradition? I didn't. You read that in, no doubt helped by a seemingly rather huge dose of the "them Baptists are nothing but a bunch of Munsterites acting as if they are actually calm, but we know better!" attitude. I do indeed have fealty to an ecclesiastical tradition, and part of that tradition is to always test one's fealty by the ultimate dedication to the truth.

>Are you as dismissive of Nicene christology as "some kind of orthodoxy" as
>well, or are you content to piggy-back this non-Baptist tradition? (I do not mean
>to be harsh, but certainly provocative.)>

>I'd say you are both harsh as well as provocative, and that, I'd submit,
>without any reason. There is no logical parallel, of course, to Nicene
>Christology and a modern-era theory of textual transmission. The one is
>plainly expressed in Scripture, the other is not. One is ancient, the other
>modern. I can answer questions directed against Nicene christology without
>reference to special pleading or "ecclesiastical usage." Can you answer
>questions directed against your textual theories in the same way?

<Did I miss something here are have you succeeded in avoiding the question? TPL>

You must have missed something, because I answered the question and pointed out the error made in phrasing it.

>As for the TR as an entity and the Protestant dogmaticians, one short
>quote from one whose memory as a fellow Lutheran historian and text
>critic I honour, will serve me well: "...it is undisputed that from the 16th
>century to the 18th century orthodoxy's doctrine of verbal inspiration
>assumed... [the] Textus Receptus. It was the only Greek text they knew,
>and they regarded it as the 'original' text." (Kurt Aland, "The Text of
>the church?" Trinity journal 8 (1987), p. 131.>

>It seems Dr. Aland is plain on the same point I have made in the past: that
>this was not a direct choice on the part of these theologians, i.e., they
>were not pitting one "text-type" versus another "text-type." But I have to
>ask again the question I have asked of Rev. Sandlin: what *specific* text are
>you referring to? Are you referring to a general "text-type," which would
>include Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza, and maybe even the final decisions of the
>KJV translators, or can you point to a specific text that is obtainable
>today?

<I answer your question with a question: What did Professor Aland have in mind? TPL>

Since you are championing your position, I'm hoping for a little more substantive reply from you on the topic, Dr. Letis. Do you have any further response both to my statement regarding Aland's note as well as my question regarding the specifics of the text?

>You dismiss the Protestant dogmaticians and you dimiss the final
>defining of what it _meant_ (means!) to be catholic and Protestant.
>But then these categories play no real role in your own ecclesiastical
>self-definition.>

> < chuckle > I will allow your prejudice to speak for itself, Dr. Letis. As
> anyone can see, there is a vast difference between "dismissing" these men and
> disagreeing with their textual theories. Surely you do not paint
> *everything* in such black and white colors, do you? I surely hope that you
> can focus more directly upon the *issues* rather than the *personalities* in
> our future discussions, Dr. Letis. I think all involved would be helped by
> that.

<You continue to treat Protestant orthodoxy as some kind of "textual theory"--this is a rather serious confusion of categories.>

Indeed, if I confused Protestant orthodoxy with a particular textual theory, such as the one you are proposing, I would indeed be committing quite an error. But, in fact, Dr. Letis, isn't that what YOU are doing? Is Protestant orthodoxy such a narrow thing that it can be defined by adherence to the TR and Hebrew vowel pointing?

<I suppose a nervous, self-conscious chuckle on your part is appropriate at this point...TPL >

Misinterpreting e-mail messages is a common malady, Dr. Letis. The chuckle was anything but nervous, I can assure you; neither was it self-conscious. It was my way of ignoring, with a bit of humor, your gratuitous, and false, attack upon my ecclesiology.

As this exchange seems to be rather quickly degenerating at some points, might I suggest some specifics might be of assistance? Theories can be made to sound wonderfully grand, but facts tend to mess up even the prettiest of theories. I'd like to ask if you could apply your position to some specific passages of Scripture so that we can see how this all "works out in the wash" so to speak. Let's look at three passages of Scripture that are often discussed when texts, versions, etc., are on the table. I would be referring to Luke 2:22, Colossians 1:14, and John 1:18. What does your view of "Protestant orthodoxy" tell us about these passages and the variant readings found in the manuscripts?

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

Date: Tue, 20 Jun 95 18:18:07 BST
From: tletis festival.ed.ac.uk
Subject: Re: Received Text

Mr. White, You are simply historically deficient on the subject of the Protestant dogmaticians when you claim Providential preservation is being read back into the WCF--in fact, your comments on this point are particularly damning in light of Muller's research (simply the most well recognized authority on that period) as well as the quote I gave you from Aland. What you are doing is taking what Warfield actually did (this I have proven in two different essays) and are attempting to ascribe this to contemporary confessional Protestants. I suggest you change tact.

Thedoore P. Letis


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

Date: Tue, 20 Jun 95 19:08:36 BST
From: tletis festival.ed.ac.uk
Subject: 3rd reply to White

Mr. White, In that you continue to beg for evidence that the 17th century is, in fact, the highwater mark for classic Protestant orthodoxy, I can only conclude you are _not_ aware of the works of Muller and Preus. Hence, you lack the basic equipment to understand the place of confessions within historic Protestantism. Moreover, this leads you to continue to commit the error (which nevertheless serves your purpose by allowing you to control the categories of dicussion) of leaving the impression that what is being advocating is a "theory" rather than a well defined matter of Protestant theological confession. Even a cursory reading of Preus and Muller would cure you of this but short of you coming to grips with an authentic understanding of this tradition--not my personal perspective or arguments, READ these historians so you know what you are dealing with--there is little hope that you will accept our premises. Your debating tactics will not work here because you must work within the frame-work of our theological tradition, which IS equal in importance--the Protestant confessions--to Nicene orthodoxy. A cursory reading of the Protestant confessions would reveal this to you. Hence, because you do not understand my premises you cannot come to grips with arguments.

Finally, for your consideration: you continue to want US to be biblicists (i.e., Anabaptist primitivists). Our hermenuetic demands that we approach Scripture through the norma normata of the confessions. Your ecclesiology does not allow you to understand--nor to approave this hermenuetic. In fact, the confessions were designed just so the magesterial Reformation could be differentiated from the left-wing, or the so-called radical Reformation. Hence, it is no wonder that we have reached an impasse so quickly. It seems the confessions continue to do their work, even in this exceedingly modern age. Perhaps this is the one lesson we can all go away with from this otherwise rather unfruitful excersize. I would say, however, if you showed even the slightest awareness of the works of Muller and Preus we could have gotten to first base. Instead, when you should see classic Protestant orthodoxy as explicated by them--not me!--all you can see is "a textual theory." And there is will remain...

Theodore P. Letis


James White

 


Date: Tue, 20 Jun 1995 19:39:44 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com

Dr Letis wrote:

<Mr. White, In that you continue to beg for evidence that the 17th century is, in fact, the highwater mark for classic Protestant orthodoxy, I can only conclude you are _not_ aware of the works of Muller and Preus.>

Excuse me, Dr. Letis, but perhaps the fact that you are not actually reading the specific electronic mail, but getting things second-hand, is why you are misrepresenting me? I sure hope so. Allow me to quote from my previous post:

<Most of the dogmaticians I have read (from the 17th era of Protestant orthodoxy) would be scandalized by what they would regard as the minority position of "most scholars" you know. TPL>

Am I to assume that this is a sufficient reason for you to reject whatever they would find scandalous? What specifically is there about the 17th century that would lead you to believe that it was the high-water mark of Christian orthodoxy? I mean, Christians were still murdering other Christians under the guise of protecting "orthodoxy" at the time, and I personally find that a rather "scandalous" thing as well. I just have trouble with Protestants who enshrine Protestant theologians as infallible guides---didn't we get rid of that concept when Luther threw Exsurge Domine in the fire?

***********************

 

Now, we will note that you took my words, "What specifically is there about the 17th century that would lead you to believe that it was the high-water mark of Christian orthodoxy?" and turned that into "Mr. White, In that you continue to beg for evidence that the 17th century is, in fact, the highwater mark for classic Protestant orthodoxy." The context, furthermore, was much broader than you seemingly would like us to believe, since, as you will recall (it would be most helpful if you could possibly quote from the post you are responding to), you had raised the issue of Nicene Christology, remember?

Now, to refocus our attention, I was invited here to discuss the textual issues relating to the Scriptures in light of my having recently authored a rather full work on the subject. I am still more than interested in engaging that very discussion. However, it seems that you are intent not upon discussing that topic, but upon discussing my ecclesiology or my alleged ignorance of Protestant dogmatics. I really don't believe Rev. Sandlin intended to ask me to discuss anything more than the textual issue, and, since I have received a number of messages from readers who *are* interested in the textual issue, I'd like to ask if you could possibly exercise some restraint and assist me in keeping this discussion on track.

< Hence, you lack the basic equipment to understand the place of confessions within historic Protestantism. Moreover, this leads you to continue to commit the error (which nevertheless serves your purpose by allowing you to control the categories of dicussion) of leaving the impression that what is being advocating is a "theory" rather than a well defined matter of Protestant theological confession.>

Yes, the idea that Hebrew vowel pointing is inspired and inerrant and that the TR is the text of the Church and should remain so is a theory. I see nothing in Scripture that forces me to accept such concepts, nor do I find anything outside of the isolated opinions of particular divines as a basis for accepting such a concept. Beyond this, I am aware of many Christian theologians who reject such a concept, and they do so for very good, very logical, very factual reasons. It seems that in some ways I am far more Protestant than you are, Dr. Letis, for it is hard to avoid noting a certain element of "traditional authority" in your stance, and Protestants, if they are honest about their own heritage, are not quick to bow to such claims of authority.

One other thing, Dr. Letis. Don't assume that because your opponent chooses to stay on the topic of the conversation that he is not able to follow you right down your own rabbit trail. That might just be a bad assumption.

<Even a cursory reading of Preus and Muller would cure you of this but short of you coming to grips with an authentic understanding of this tradition--not my personal perspective or arguments, READ these historians so you know what you are dealing with--there is little hope that you will accept our premises.>

Is this an admission, Dr. Letis, that you cannot discuss the textual issues of the NT without everyone embracing your particular set of presuppositions, and your particular view of the history of Protestantism?

<Your debating tactics will not work here because you must work within the frame-work of our theological tradition, which IS equal in importance--the Protestant confessions--to Nicene orthodoxy. A cursory reading of the Protestant confessions would reveal this to you. Hence, because you do not understand my premises you cannot come to grips with arguments.>

I have yet to see any arguments, Dr. Letis, so it is indeed hard to come to grips with them. Again, assuming ignorance on my part seems to be central to your whole position here. That hardly speaks highly of the validity of it. Be that as it may, am I to assume that this is as far as you will go in responding to my point that there is a vast difference between the Trinity and your textual perspectives?

<Finally, for your consideration: you continue to want US to be biblicists (i.e., Anabaptist primitivists).>

My, I've never thought of the term "biblicist" in that way. Is that how you view the term? I've always found the term quite important, and when used of me, a compliment.

<Our hermenuetic demands that we approach Scripture through the norma normata of the confessions.>

Really? You don't approach your confessions from Scripture? That's a most interesting position to take, especially as I see it reflected in the Roman Catholics that I debate on a regular basis. I would think that setting up an extra-biblical source of authority that determines how one interprets Scripture would be something that would naturally cause a good Protestant to put on the brakes and take a long, hard look at where he/she is going.

<Your ecclesiology does not allow you to understand--nor to approave this hermenuetic.>

While I have yet to even discuss my ecclesiology (you've assumed a particular view from the start), one thing I know: the Reformers did not invest in their "creeds" the same kind of interpretational authority that Rome does to "Tradition." Yet, I'm having a real tough time making a functional distinction in your own statements between what I see in Rome and what you are doing. Perhaps if you would take the time to do something more than dwell upon how uninformed I am? You might want to realize that there may well be others reading these posts who are "uninformed," i.e., are not experts on your particular take on things. Shouldn't you wish to "bring them along" too?

<In fact, the confessions were designed just so the magesterial Reformation could be differentiated from the left-wing, or the so-called radical Reformation. Hence, it is no wonder that we have reached an impasse so quickly.>

An impasse already? Without even engaging a single textual example? My goodness, if your position cannot even communicate itself to a Reformed Baptist scholar, author, lecturer, and minister, how in the world can it be communicated to anyone outside the seemingly very narrow spectrum of those *you* decide are "orthodox"? I'll tell you one thing, Dr. Letis: when my theology does no one any good outside of my little circle of friends, my theology has become useless. Theologians are no good to the Church when they can't communicate their treasures to the people in the pew.

< It seems the confessions continue to do their work, even in this exceedingly modern age. Perhaps this is the one lesson we can all go away with from this otherwise rather unfruitful excersize. I would say, however, if you showed even the slightest awareness of the works of Muller and Preus we could have gotten to first base. Instead, when you should see classic Protestant orthodoxy as explicated by them--not me!--all you can see is "a textual theory." And there is will remain...>

If the conversation ends, Dr. Letis, it does so at your doorstep, not mine. It is quite simply a lame excuse to avoid the textual issues by drawing the issues off into other areas, assuming, without evidence, that I am unequipped to engage you in *those* areas, and then saying there can be nothing more said. I'm sorry, but if I replied to the many, many individuals who have written to me about the subjects of the books I have written with the attitude you have displayed in a *very* short period of time, I'd be of very little help to those inquirers.

Finally, most of what I wrote in my last message was ignored by you in your response. If you do not wish to engage specific textual examples, I will see if there is anyone else willing to wallow around down here in the dirt with the rest of us. I, for one, am willing to deal with such mundane things without demanding that everyone embrace my particular understandings of Protestant theology and history. And as long as I continue in that stance, I will be able to communicate with, and edify, an entire world that, seemingly, will be very much closed to you.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


James White

 


Date: Tue, 20 Jun 1995 19:42:27 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com

> Indeed, if I confused Protestant orthodoxy with a particular textual theory,
> such as the one you are proposing, I would indeed be committing quite an
> error. But, in fact, Dr. Letis, isn't that what YOU are doing? Is
> Protestant orthodoxy such a narrow thing that it can be defined by adherence
> to the TR and Hebrew vowel pointing?

<Dr. White,

I assume you are a doctor... is that correct?>

No, I'm a mere professor, scholar in residence, and doctoral wanna-be. :)

<Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I've enjoyed your contributions to Theonomy-l (as well as your temperance).>

Thank you. As a good Baptist, I don't even drink coffee. < just kidding >

<Work and a new wife are keeping me from actively involving myself in many of the discussions currently raging, but I did have a quick question. What is 'Hebrew vowel pointing'? I know some Greek, but not one bit of Hebrew.>

We do assume a lot when we get into "debate mode," don't we? (Oh, congratulations on your marriage. Blessings to you both.) Hebrew vowel pointing refers to the marks, added centuries after Christ by Jewish scribes, that indicate Hebrew vowels. The Hebrew text is consonantal, and was till well after the time of Christ. There were a few letters that functioned as vowels, but by and large it was assumed the person would "provide" the proper vowels based upon context, etc. In fact, modern Hebrew does not (in most cases) use vowel pointing. However, whenever you leave something to "interpretation," as Hebrew did for thousands of years, you do not have the level of absolute certainty that many would like. Hence, during the thousand years after Christ, the Massoretes inserted the vowel points into the text to clarify the meaning. Of course, the issue then becomes, do we believe that these men were, in some way, shape, or form, guided providentially so as to provide an infallible interpretation of the text and hence inspired or inerrant vowel pointing? I see no reason to believe that way, and lots and lots of reasons *not to.* Hence the discussion, since some later Reformed theologians decided that the vowel pointing had been divinely given.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


James White

 


Date: Tue, 20 Jun 1995 19:42:32 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: Received Text (from theon...

Dr. Letis wrote:

<Mr. White, You are simply historically deficient on the subject of the Protestant dogmaticians when you claim Providential preservation is being read back into the WCF--in fact, your comments on this point are particularly damning in light of Muller's research (simply the most well recognized authority on that period) as well as the quote I gave you from Aland. What you are doing is taking what Warfield actually did (this I have proven in two different essays) and are attempting to ascribe this to contemporary confessional Protestants. I suggest you change tact.>

I've always labored under the idea, Dr. Letis, that scholarly interchange was based not upon divine fiat but upon competent presentation of cogent facts. As I've yet to be given any particularly good reason to abandon that seemingly novel idea, I have to point out that 1) as the champion of your position it seems to me that it would be up to you to demonstrate the validity of questioned and questionable claims on your part, and that 2) merely citing someone in a vague and non-specific way is hardly considered to be overwhelming evidence.

Now, it would be easy for me to reply, "Oh, Dr. Letis? I happen to know a Ph.D. candidate at Westminster Seminary who has an entire chapter in his thesis on Warfield debunking YOUR position, so I suggest you change YOUR tact." And while that happens to be true, I wouldn't use it as a cogent argument. I am left somewhat less than overwhelmed by your assertions, especially since Aland's quote has to be stretched into the next county to come up with it being supportive of the claim that the Westminster Confession's position is "TR Only" and "Inspired Hebrew Vowel Pointing" as well.

I'll be quite honest with you, Dr. Letis. I've had a number of people tell me in just the past few days that I should expect to receive a near pontifical attitude in our exchange, and should I prove recalcitrant and unwilling to merely accept your ipse dixit, I can expect to need to wear asbestos gloves when opening my e-mail. I really do hope you prove such predictions wrong.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


James White

 


Date: Wed, 21 Jun 1995 17:59:41 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: LETIS VS WHITE

<James White, following B.B.Warfield, reinterprets Providential Preservation as Providential *restoration*, affirming that for over fifteen hundred years the regnant Greek text in the church was corrupted, and had to be restored with the recovery of several ancient lost MSS in the late nineteenth century.>

Please don't put words in my mouth, Mark, as it often leads to misrepresentation. Could you, or *somebody* please show me what you call "the regnant Greek text"? It's awfully hard to examine, much less discuss, something that no one seems to be able to point to and present to us. If you are saying that I believe the Word of God was lost, you are wrong. If you are saying that I believe Aleph and B to be inspired and inerrant, you are wrong. If you are saying that I believe we should use everything God has given us to work through the textual variants that exist in ALL Greek manuscripts, no matter WHAT their textual orientation, you are right.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


James White

 

Date: Sat, 24 Jun 1995 21:38:33 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com

List Participants:

I was invited to participate in this forum primarily because I have written a book entitled _The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations?_ (Bethany House, 1995). Rev. Andrew Sandlin contacted me and asked for a review copy of the book for himself, and another for Dr. Letis. That began our fax-correspondence, that eventually led to my participation here.

I think anyone who observed the very brief interaction between myself and Dr. Letis will testify that I *tried*, anyway, to do what I was asked to do with reference to discussing the textual issues. I was eventually informed, if I might paraphrase, that due to my being a Baptist biblicist, and alleged ignorance of *real* Protestant theology, there was little to be said to me. Now, as it stands, I am aware of exactly two people on this list who have actually read my book. I don't believe Dr. Letis has done so. It is quite possible, of course, that I have written nothing but a silly, meandering reply to KJV Only "cultists" (to use Dr. Letis' term). But I think, out of fairness, I should be allowed to enter "into the record," so to speak, a few witnesses on my own side:

Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, Professor Emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary, says:

_The King James Only Controversy_ is scholarly and accurate, and its evaluation of opposing viewpoints fair. Anyone troubled by criticisms of English translations will find White trustworthy. I hope his book will be widely circulated. It will do much good.

Dr. Gleason Archer of the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School says:

James White has thoroughly researched the background and sources of the Bible as we have it today, and he points out the serious weaknesses of the KJV Only position, a view seemingly based more on faulty, unprovable assumptions than on solid evidence. I have deep appreciation for White's scholarship and wholehearted concurrence with his handling of the data. His treatment is to be commended and granted close attention by evangelicals."

Dr. John MacArthur says:

James White has given us a valuable resource that is understandable, thorough, and dependable. Best of all, the book is spiritually edifying.

That is especially refreshing in the midst of this controversy, because so much that has been written on the subject is anything but "edifying."

Dr. D.A. Carson, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, says:

I heartily applaud the work of James White. It is refreshing to read a work that simultaneously reflects unswerving commitment to devout orthodoxy and a sane exposition of the facts. This book should be read by all who are embroiled in the controversy.

Dr. Norman Geisler, Southern Evangelical Seminary, says:

This book is the best work in print on the King James Only controversy. It is both biblical and balanced. White brings scholarship and common sense to bear on a topic too often riddled with emotion and ignorance. He lays to rest factually and firmly many of the myths about modern versions denying essential doctrines of the Christian Faith. It is a must for anyone who really wants to have a clear understanding of the current controversy over the general doctrinal trustworthiness of modern Bible translations.

Dr. Craig Blomberg, Denver Seminary, says:

One of the saddest signs of legalistic Christianity is the tenacious defense of the KJV as the only legitimate English-language translation. Almost as sad is that countless hours of scholars's and pastors's time must be diverted from the larger priorities of God's kingdom to point out the numerous historical, logical, and factual errors of KJV Onlyism--even though these errors have been repeatedly exposed in the past. Nevertheless, the job must be done, and James White does it masterfully in this book."

Dr. Kenneth Barker, Executive Director of the NIV Translation Center, says:

This is by far the best and most balanced treatment of all the more important issues involved in the controversy over KJV Onlyism. Kudos to James White and Bethany House!"

Dr. J.I. Packer, Regent College, says:

Sober, scholarly, courteous and convincing.

Hank Hanegraaff, President of the Christian Research Institute, says:

A clear, compelling, and conclusive case contradicting the claims of "KJV-only" advocates. Your confidence in God's preservation of Scripture through credible translations such as the NIV and NASB will be solidified James White is to be applauded for a job well done.

E. Calvin Beisner, Covenant College, says:

In _The King James Only Controversy_ James White displays the same attention to detail, patient explanation, and logical and evidential rigor that have made his other apologetic works so valuable. He graciously but persistently rebuts those who brand as conspirators the honest, capable, orthodox Bible scholars who have provided us with fine Hebrew and Greek texts and English translations. He makes textual and translational scholarship clear and accessible even to non-specialists.

Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon say:

In an era of rampant misinformation regarding the origin, text, transmission and translation of the Bible, James White has written a most timely and important book. We recommend it highly to anyone confused over the issue of the King James Version and modern translations.

It would be rather easy for me to use such a wide variety of endorsements as a cover to simply deflect any "hard" questions, but that is not why I wrote the book, nor why I have taken the time to participate here. Nor do I think it is right for someone else to say, "You are simply ignorant of the facts, hence, there is no reason to try to continue the discussion."

In the next post I wish to simply ask a direct question of our TR supporters, in the hopes that some *meaningful* and useful dialogue may result.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: 3rd repply to White (from theonomy-l

Well, Mr. White, the many Van Tilians on _this_ list fully understand the indispensable role played by "presuppositions" in _any_ discussion. So do not fear that I stand alone on this point. Moreover, in any discipline there are the prolegomena, without which one merely wonders about re-creating the wheel over and over again. The most cogent remark in the entire reply to my third response was your damning admission that "I am having a real tough time making a functional distinction in your own statements between what I see in Rome and what you are doing." My point exactly! You cannot make such a distinction because you are not sufficiently read on the subject. If you were in a seminar with me I would at this point inform you to either read those texts that will allow you to enter the discussion or find some courtyard to thrill the masses with your prowess at the art of _argumentum ad populum_. I repeat it will not work here because those on this list understand that one cannot address the specifics of even the argument for the existence of God without first assuming that God is and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him. I understand your frustration at not being able to parade some sincere but perhaps simply-minded advocate out into the arena to grapple with specific textual variants. This helps your debating road show and therefore your _vox populi_ ratings. But if you want to understand the how and why of the historic Protestant orthodox approach to text criticism you must either read Preus and Muller (at the very least) or find someone else to act as your debating foil. You seem to lack a degree of seriousness in terms of attempting to understanding an alien system and when one attempts to set you right you become rather defensive because they will not play by your rules. You begin to acknowledge some first hand understanding of what Muller and Preus define as classic Protestant orthodoxy and we will then carry on. Otherwise it is a bit of a waste of bandwidth. Theoodre P. Letis


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

> Date: Wed, 21 Jun 95 06:31:20 PDT
> From: dmcourtn nps.navy.mil
> Subject: Re: 3rd reply to White -Reply
>
> Dr. Letis,
>
> Please address the issue with Mr White so that those of us interested in
> hearing both sides can. So far I have seen a bunch of _ad hominem_ arguments
> but no substance. Where's the beef?
>
> In the Lamb, Dale

Dale, Mr. White has just had published a book which no doubt reveals in an effective manner the ignorance and profound stupidity of a group of his own kinsmen (fundamentalist baptists) who venture into text criticism with little or no knowledge of the discipline and have deceived a great number of people with their inflamatory and ill-informed rhetoric. Mr. White now fancies himself an authority on such obscurantism and wants to add to his trophy case the position held by learned, confessional Reformational credalists who hold to the Ecclesiastical text. This he has failed to do because he is incapable of even coming in our front door much less offering criticism of our decor. If you would like to know more about the Orthodox Protestant approach to textual matters would you please contact Dick Bacon and ask him to send you a packet of essays on the subject. While the Net is a useful tool it is no format for _real_ academic endevour and tends to be the domain for those who want to grandstand or who want quick, uncomplicated answers to complex and demanding subjects. If it is used to point folk to good "hard-copy" literature such material can then be discussed and clarified on the net to everyone's benefit! Theodore P. Letis



James White

 


Date: Tue, 27 Jun 1995 18:27:42 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com

<1) Can you point to any specific text today that is inspired and inerrant? Failing that, can you point to any specific text today that is authoritative? If so, from whence is this authority, if not inerrant inspiration?>

First, inspiration has to do with the process whereby revelation was recorded---it is the *Scriptures* which are theopneustos. Secondly, inerrancy as well applies to that which is theopneustos. The (possible) error of your question is that you are seeking a single text, over against any text which varies, as the locus of inspiration and inerrancy. I believe the TR is the Word of God just as I believe the NA27 is the Word of God. The issue is one of how faithful to the originals these texts are. Both are authoritative as they both present the truth of God. Again, the issue is one of faithfulness to the apostolic witness.

Questions such as yours are often used to attempt to substantiate the allegation that if you don't grab onto *one* text, and invest that *one* text with infallible authority and inspiration, you can't confess a belief in the authority of Scripture *at all.* I think Dr. Bahnsen was attempting to point out the error of this procedure earlier this month. The mere fact that you hold to one particular text does not relieve you from the examination of that text and the question, "Why *this* particular text over against any other?" If your answer forces you to import some other source of authority, such as "ecclesiastical usage," you enter into a wilderness of problems from which, I assert, there is no return. Merely being "certain" of "this one text" does not make that text, of course, any more accurate than any other. The issue still comes down to *why* one makes that decision.

<2) Also, you maintain that scribes weren't kept from error when copying MSS. What made the personal scribes or amanuensises of the Apostles any different? Were they inspired also?>

The fact that scribes were not kept from making errors is a fact that is indisputable, Mark. The very existence of textual variation in *all* manuscripts is sufficient to demonstrate this. As to the Apostles, remember yet again, Mark: inspiration is predicated of the *Scriptures* not the *writers.* It is the graphe that are described as theopneustos, not the writers of Scripture.

<3) Has any of scripture been lost? How do you know?>

No, I do not believe any Scripture has been lost, for God has a purpose in the giving of Scripture, and God is more than able to accomplish that purpose.

<4) Lastly, touching on a point brought up between you and Dr. Sandlin,>

I thought it was Rev. Sandlin. Was I incorrect?

<how do you identify the correct canon? How can you be sure that exactly the right canon is in use today, only the right books and all the right books?>

While discussing canon issues might be something I would find interesting at some future point, I have yet to even begin to accomplish my desired purpose in posting here, as I have yet to have anyone show a willingness to discuss the textual issue. Seemingly you don't see a difference between canon and text, I most certainly do. BTW, you aren't "asking" that question, you have already attacked me on the canon in other venues, and you have some of my books wherein I discuss the issue, so why act as if you are asking me about this when you already know the answer? I've directed you to sources on the topic that, to date, you have not dealt with.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 95 10:06:43 BST
From: tletis festival.ed.ac.uk
Subject: last to white

Mr. White, I put to you a statement by one of the world's most respected N.T. text critics and historians, Kurt Aland, regarding your demand to know what form of the Ecclesiastical text is under discussion. I will put it to you again to read that statement from Aland and you tell _me_ what _he_ had in mind since his language is one with ours, otherwise drop the point. for the record the quote follows

Theodore P. Letis

"...it is undisputed that from the 16th to the 18th century orthodoxy's doctrine of verbal inspiration assumed... [the] Textus Receptus [PLEASE NOTE: NOT THE ORIGINAL AUTOGRAPHS]. It was the only Greek text they knew, and they regarded it as the 'original' text."
_The Text of the Church? _Trinity Journal 8 (Fall 1987): 131.

(I do not agree with all of Aland's other judgments in this excellent essay and have offered a reply to it in the _Bulletin of the Institute for Reformation Biblical Studies_ for those interested.


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 95 10:18:10 BST
From: tletis festival.ed.ac.uk
Subject: seminar status

Ned, I know debate is the preferred mode of exchange on the net (purely for entertainment, I would think) but I sure ain't spent the last twenty years of my life in academic preparation to entertain some net nurds who want some meaning for their life (all company on _this_ list, obviously excluded). Seminars by their nature are small and intimate--they are meant to get at the heart of a matter by means of dialogue and thoughtful reflection on a series of texts read by the creative and active participants. In this case we can have numerous lurkers who if they wish can put questions from the smallest clarification to asking foundational/presuppositional types of questions, so long as they are somewhat informed questions and bear the marks of genuine inquiry and not an attempt to grandstand or score points which is what Mr. White seems to have carved out as his career with no obvious serious academic specialization but for "public wrangling."

Theodore P. Letis


Dr. Theodore Letis

 


Date: Wed, 28 Jun 95 10:41:46 BST
From: tletis festival.ed.ac.uk
Subject: [assessment) ---- Start of forwarded text ----
From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: LETIS VS WHITE (from theonomy-l)
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 95 10:33:18 BST

Can I just say what everyone must be thinking: Mr. White, what follows reveals that you are little more than a hack. "Denominationalism" (the word did not even exist in the 16th century, the period where I treat the historic anabaptist movement) "infallible Church" (the Protestant dogmaticians were specificly fighting against Tridentine Romanism). Please leave off before you lose additional credibility and it begins to hurt your book sales.


Dr. Theodore Letis

 


Date: Wed, 28 Jun 95 10:58:01 BST
From: tletis festival.ed.ac.uk
Subject: [I think I'll just block that punt] ---- Start of forwarded text ----
From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: Let's Back up 10 and Punt (from theonomy-l)
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 95 10:53:24 BST

We now know why he appeared on this list--to push his no doubt important book. But to do so by attempting to tar _us_ with the same brush was opportunist and will not soon be forgotten. Frankly, from what follows I am certain it has all gone to his head a bit. Moreover, I believe the graphics alone in my _The Revival of the Ecclesiastic Text and the Claims of the Anabaptists_ gives it front runner status (IMHO, others will have to judge) and it certainly reveals that the anabaptist spirit can manifest in many directions...


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 95 11:23:37 BST
From: tletis festival.ed.ac.uk
Subject: [Dale's confussion]

For the record, WE ARE OPPOSED TO THE KJV ONLY CULT, which because of Mr. White's unhelpful contributions seems now not to be very clear. Please consult my essy: "The Revival of the Ecclesiastical text and the claims of the anabaptists" for a comprehensive historical critique of this serious error. My booklet came out a few years before Mr. White's and is a much more serious work.

Theodore P. Letis


Dale

 


Date: Tue, 4 Jul 95 07:06:58 PDT
From: dmcourtn nps.navy.mil

>Dale, your question about "is this based on the confession alone"
>reveals you do not know the place of confessions in a confessional
>system. Can I please ask you to read a rather simply work by Gerald
>Bray, titled: _Creeds, Councils and Christ_ IVP, 1984 and you will not
>have to ask such broad and foundational information.

Dr. Letis, your implicit and explicit ad hominem arguments are tiring and not worthy of a "scholar" that you claim to be. All arguments that you have made on this board for the TR has been based on a reading of the confession; that was my question, as opposed to the historical understanding of the confessions as being doctrinal standards subordianate to the Word of God and therefore amendable. I will back out of this discussion until I have read your works and see if in them you actually produce in them anything edifying regarding the TR; it sure hasn't happened on-line.

In the Lamb, Dale



James White

 


Date: Tue, 4 Jul 1995 15:32:32 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Dr. Letis and Ad-Hominem Sender: Theonomy-L-relay dlh.com

Dear Theonomy-L Readers:

Imagine my surprise this morning when the floodgates opened on Theonomy-L. I had come in just to grab some mail and do some more reading in preparation for this weekend's six-part debate on the KJV Only issue on the Ankerberg Show (for those interested I will be joining Daniel Wallace, Kenneth Barker, Don Wilkins, and Art Farstad in debating Strause, Gipp, and at least one other KJV Only advocate) when I discovered that not only had Theonomy-L been resurrected, but the good Dr. Letis had made his mark as well. But my surprise turned to real disappointment when I discovered that Dr. Letis has decided to take the "I'm right, you are wrong simply because I say it, and you are too dumb to say otherwise" approach. "You just don't understand, you're too dumb, your motives are all wrong, you just ain't smart enough to follow," etc. and etc. I had, of course, carefully differentiated between the KJV Only crowd and the position Dr. Letis takes, but it seems that when the rubber meets the road, the methodology pretty much becomes the same: if you don't accept the "party line," you are simply dismissed as a dim-wit "hack," to use Dr. Letis' term.

I culled the following gems from the mail that came in today, all from the keyboard of the good Dr. Letis. I ask the readers who have followed our brief conversation to determine if I have said or done anything that in the slightest way would give ground for such behavior on Letis' part:

> ...so long as they are
> somewhat informed questions and bear the marks of genuine inquiry and
> not an attempt to grandstand or score points which is what Mr. White
> seems to have carved out as his career with no obvious serious academic
> specialization but for "public wrangling."

> Mr. White now fancies himself an authority on
> such obscurantism and wants to add to his trophy case the position held
> by learned, confessional Reformational credalists who hold to the
> Ecclesiastical text. This he has failed to do because he is incapable
> of even coming in our front door much less offering criticism of our
> decor.

> May I suggest that we thank Mr. White for offering to come on the list
> but that we recognize that his unwillingness to accept the public
> definitions of historic Protestant orthodoxy as carefully detailed in the
> works of Muller and Preus means that he is not interested in serious
> debate but in wanting to carricature our position by lifting various
> statements or propositions out of there overall framework and in so
> doing tar us with the same brush he uses on his Anabaptist brethren. The
> more heat he can generate this way the more his book will be thrust to
> the fore. I may be cynical in this but I do not think it benefits us to
> assist him in this project.

> We are all gonna learn somethin'
> and hence the confrontative antagonism nor blatant
> carricature and guilt by association which Mr. White (who may not find a
> classroom desk as comfortable as a soapbox) eventaully lapsed into in a
> rather substantial way, ain't _even_ welcomed.

> Can I just say what everyone must be thinking: Mr. White, what follows
> reveals that you are little more than a hack.

> For the record, WE ARE OPPOSED TO THE KJV ONLY CULT, which because of
> Mr. White's unhelpful contributions seems now not to be very clear.
> Please consult my essy: "The Revival of the Ecclesiastical text and the
> claims of the anabaptists" for a comprehensive historical critique of
> this serious error. My booklet came out a few years before Mr. White's
> and is a much more serious work.

> We now know why he appeared on this list--to push his no doubt important
> book. But to do so by attempting to tar _us_ with the same brush was
> opportunist and will not soon be forgotten. Frankly, from what follows I
> am certain it has all gone to his head a bit.

> You cannot make such a distinction because you are not
> sufficiently read on the subject. If you were in a seminar with me I
> would at this point inform you to either read those texts that will allow
> you to enter the discussion or find some courtyard to thrill the masses
> with your prowess at the art of _argumentum ad populum_.

I hope the readers of this list will take the time to go back and read what Dr. Letis' is allegedly responding to. One will search in vain for any reason for such bluster and simple ad-hominem argumentation. It is impossible not to realize that Dr. Letis does not take criticism very well, and responds with mere insults, not with substantival rebuttal.

A brief couple of responses: First, it is somewhat amusing to note Dr. Letis' views of his own work. He says his is a much more "serious" work than my own. If he means he was aiming at a different audience, that is true. I was aiming at the every-day Christian who needed information on this important topic. But if he means something other than that, I simply invite the reader to read his work, which excluding pictures and blank pages, is a grand total of 41 pages in length. Then do the same with my book, which, excluding the four indices, comes in at 284 pages. A note to readers: do be careful with Dr. Letis' book. My copy fell into about ten different sections halfway through the first reading. Everyone else I know who has read it has had the same problem.

Secondly, I believe that what Dr. Letis refers to as "argumentum ad populum" is more properly understood in light of the fact that I can explain my position, defend my position, and apply my position, in the only world where it really matters: in the pew. Dr. Letis' position is meaningful only for a handful of individuals who follow his peculiar lines of reasoning (and don't mind being told what to believe on the force of his mere ipse dixit). If I'm too dull to follow his brilliant reasoning (I confess I haven't found too much brilliant reasoning to even misunderstand as of yet), what of the person in the pew, the person that, I thought, theologians are supposed to be ministering to?

Next, I hope as well that everyone will recall that I have asked, many times, for the supporters of this position to engage a serious discussion of *particulars* regarding textual variations. To this point I have not received a single reply. Seemingly, Dr. Letis would like to avoid that task by simply stating that I'm too stupid and unlearned to follow such a discussion anyway. I will allow the readers to decide that issue. Till then, those looking for a meaningful discussion of the topic will have to look elsewhere.

And finally, I have to admit to a great sense of irony about this whole situation. Less than a week ago this unprofessional hack who is simply too slow to follow the arguments of Dr. Letis was asked to speak at Westminster Seminary in Escondido on-----yes, you guessed it, textual critical issues. Hopefully we can all get a chuckle out of that.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


Dr. Theodore Letis

 


Date: Tue, 4 Jul 95 20:36:33 BST
From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Subject: LETIS VS WHITE

---- Start of forwarded text ----
Mr. Phillip Johnson, your's is a natural enough question. To begin with, i am an historian so part of what i am doing is setting the record straight as to just what the WCF teaches as opposed to what Warfield said it taught on scripture (and what White accepts rather uncritcally, i might add). Secondly, as a confessional Protestant I share as part of my religious heritage the same stance as historic confessional Calvinists, although our creeds do differ on major points. In this, discussion, however, wonderfully, both traditions are in complete agreement (also on issues such as justification, the errors of papalism etc.). On this please see my "The Protestant Dogmaticians and the Late Princeton School on the status of the Sacred Apographa" found in the Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology. Dick Bacon can provifde a copy of this for you. Theodore P. Letis



James White

 

Date: Wed, 5 Jul 1995 12:52:47 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: [More 4th reply]

Dr Letis said to Dale:

> Dale, Mr. White has just had published a book which no doubt reveals in
> an effective manner the ignorance and profound stupidity of a group of
> his own kinsmen (fundamentalist baptists) who venture into text
> criticism with little or no knowledge of the discipline and have
> deceived a great number of people with their inflamatory and
> ill-informed rhetoric.

I pause only long enough to note that if *I* used that kind of language in describing KJV Only advocates (I do not), Rev. Bacon would be on my back in a picosecond. He has written message after message about how unfortunate it is that I even *use* the phrase "KJV Only" in Fidonet's Open_Bible echo, and yet I have yet to find a single word of remonstrance here in Theonomy-L on Rev. Bacon's part for the continued vehemence shown by Dr. Letis toward the very people Rev. Bacon has defended in the past. I am not completely surprised by this, however. Just this past week Rev. Bacon came down on me for using *Calvin's* denial of the distinction of latria and dulia by Roman Catholics (so as to allow for the "veneration" of saints). As long as a person is not in "the TR camp" even such topics as the worship of Mary and the saints is of secondary importance.

> Mr. White now fancies himself an authority on
> such obscurantism and wants to add to his trophy case the position held
> by learned, confessional Reformational credalists who hold to the
> Ecclesiastical text.

Or, Mr. White, and the vast majority of Christian scholars who study the topic, disagree with Dr. Letis' rather narrow viewpoint. Mr. White was invited to participate in this list by a supporter of Dr. Letis, and thus far has received next to no substantive response to any of his textual inquiries, and has instead received nothing but self-congratulatory self-citation by "learned credalists." I have encountered all sorts of "learned credalists" before: I remind Dr. Letis that to my knowledge there is no one in the United States (which may be the problem) who has engaged in more scholarly, formal debates against the leading Roman Catholic apologists than I have over the past five years. I am up to my eyeballs in "learned credalists." If to be Reformed is to bow to "learned credalists" then indeed, I guess I'm not Reformed. For some strange reason I thought to be Reformed was to believe sola scriptura, not sola learned credalists. Indeed, as a friend mentioned to me in a netmail:

 

"...while Holy Scripture as the deciding norm (norma decisionis) is absolutely necessary, the Confessions as the distinguishing norm of the church (norma discretionis) are only relatively necessary. The former decides which doctrines are true or false; the latter, whether a person has clearly understood the true doctrines of Scripture."

(J.T.Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, St.Louis, (1934) p.129.)

For some strange reason I find it highly unlikely that the Reformers would have found the *Roman* use of "learned credalists" particularly compelling. In the same way, to turn the Reformers themselves into a source of production of "learned credalists" seems to me to be far removed from their goal and intention.

Now before someone jumps back into the "Oh, you don't even agree with Nicene Christology" argument, I simply ask the readers to consider the question, "Are the doctrines of the deity of Christ, monotheism, and the existence of Three Persons on a par with the assertion that an eclectic Greek text, taken primarily from the work of Desiderius Erasmus, a Roman Catholic priest and scholar, inclusive of the work of such men as Stephanus and Beza, is to be given ecclesiastical authority and obedience?" If you can answer "yes" to that question, I don't see that we can have much of a meaningful conversation. If you recognize that the one is quite different than the other, then we can move on from there.

> This he has failed to do because he is incapable of even coming in our
> front door much less offering criticism of our decor.

Is that a baptismal font in your frontroom, Dr. Letis? You speak much of WCF, yet, I have to ask, since you speak of my inability to even enter the front door, how comfortable you are in the vestibule marked "Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXVIII--Of Baptism"? And what of the room next door, the one in which discussion of the Lord's Supper is taking place? Are we allowed to pick and choose which rooms we as "learned credalists" will obey and which we will not? I would love to enter into the front door, but alas, the sign says, "Learned Credalists Only---Biblicists Not Allowed." I do wonder what Luther would say if you spoke to him in such terms while he awaited the Emperor's hearing at Worms?

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com



James White

 


Date: Wed, 5 Jul 1995 12:53:02 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com

<Mr. White, as a matter of fact, your book has nothing whatsoever to do with the orthodox Protestant view of Biblical authority, historically understood (my name appears nowhere in this work though surely you could have mentioned my Anabaptist essay since it helps your cause).>

I truly have to wonder, Dr. Letis, if some of your tart replies have not been prompted by a sense of being "snubbed" in that way. I would certainly hope not. Your small work was interesting, but not particularly relevant to the goal of my work, and hence was limited to the bibliography.

As to it having nothing to do with the orthodox Protestant view of biblical authority, well, that's the question now, isn't it? You seem to believe that you can self-define that phrase, copyright it, and make it your own, and then use it to bludgeon anyone who disagrees with you to cyberspace death. Yet, those who truly believe that "words mean something" might find reason for disagreeing with you. Indeed, having to turn Warfield into a heretic might cause most folks just a few pangs of concern.

<Well in advance of your commercial venture I produced an historical overview of the roots of the KJV only cult and revealed that it is a continuation of the radical and irresponsible impulse of the Anabaptist "reformation.">

That was your allegation. As to whether your argumentation was sufficient to bear that weight is another concern.

<Perhaps this is one reason you were so keen to write a book putting distance between yourself and these kinsmen. As for Warfield, I fear as an alternative it is just as vacuous an option, with perhaps less integrity still as those who have read my "B.B. Warfield, Common-sense Philosophy and Biblical Criticism" and "Lutheran and Reformed Dogmatics and the Language of Biblical Authorty" well understand.>

"As long as you've read my articles, you will be enlightened." My goodness, Dr. Letis, do you not know how that sounds?

< I wish you great success for your book, coming from a fellow Baptist it will have much more of an effect than my little treatise.>

Thank you, I think. :)

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com



James White

 

Date: Wed, 5 Jul 1995 19:06:21 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: final reply to White

<May I suggest that we thank Mr. White for offering to come on the list but that we recognize that his unwillingness to accept the public definitions of historic Protestant orthodoxy as carefully detailed in the works of Muller and Preus means that he is not interested in serious debate but in wanting to carricature our position by lifting various statements or propositions out of there overall framework and in so doing tar us with the same brush he uses on his Anabaptist brethren.>

Might I suggest, Dr. Letis, that this is, to use a rather common phrase, a cop-out? It is not a matter of a refusal to accept anything, it is a disagreement regarding specifics and conclusions that causes the problem here. There has been no attempt to caricature your position---how could there be since, as everyone is witness, you have steadfastly refused to do anything more than refer people to your articles?

The issue that most folks would like to understand can be summarized as follows: Is there anything in Scripture, or even, indeed, in the creedal formulations of the Protestant faith, that forces one to embrace one particular text, whether that be TR, "Majority Text," or eclectic text, *over every other text,* as the final authority in all matters religious? Is the TR the "Ecclesiastical Text," and if so, why? Are there good reasons for giving it such a title? Did those who used the text do so *on purpose* over against, for example, exemplars that would provide a Western, or Alexandrian, text-type? And what of the fact that for the past 100 years we have seen a change in the "ecclesiastical usage," so that, quite simply, the TR is no longer the "ecclesiastical text," if indeed current usage is in the least bit relevant? Will the 20th century be the "high-water mark of Protestant orthodoxy" from the perspective of the 24th century? And would it matter in the least bit if a particular text was used more often now? Is this how we determine the form of the Scriptures? All of these questions are quite cogent, and if you do not choose to address them, or merely point people to this article or that, fine---that's your choice. But please don't falsely accuse me of bad motivations simply because *you* are unwilling to engage the conversation in such a manner as to enlighten *all* the list-readers.

<The more heat he can generate this way the more his book will be thrust to the fore. I may be cynical in this but I do not think it benefits us to assist him in this project. You may well disagree but I think we should let him get on with his next pressing "debate" on baptism and let us get back to our seminar.>

That debate, and a second on predestination, are now behind me. A marathon debate on the textual issue awaits me this weekend. But through it all, I have steadfastly maintained the course here, and hope to continue to do so as long as there is any hope of seeing good come of it.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com



James White

 

Date: Wed, 5 Jul 1995 19:06:26 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: [assessment) Sender: Theonomy-L-relay dlh.com

Dr. Letis replied to the following statements:

>> Given the title of one of the "assigned readings" for this
>> discussion, it seems to be a *major* part of Dr. Letis'
>> position. _...and the Claims of the Anabaptists_ seems
>> to lump opponents together on a denominational basis.
>> For Letis' position to be valid, it seems there must be
>> a church of the sort that can infallibly preserve the
>> text of scripture.
>
> I read that work last year, and included it in the bibliography in my book on
> the topic. I didn't get an overwhelming sense, upon initially reading the
> work, that Dr. Letis would "lump" everyone together quite so willy-nilly, but
> I would imagine if I re-read the work today, I'd feel somewhat differently,
> given events here in Theonomy-L.
>
> It does give one reason to wonder: is the text of the Bible dependent upon
> one's tradition and denomination?

Please note that I was replying to someone else's statements, wherein they used the terms "denominational" and "a church of the sort that can infallibly preserve" (first paragraph---I wrote the second and third). Ignoring this, Dr. Letis launches into more personal flaming:

<Can I just say what everyone must be thinking: Mr. White, what follows reveals that you are little more than a hack.>

Do be careful in making "everyone" guilty of your insults, Dr. Letis. I happen to know there are folks in this mailing list with manners that would keep them from even *thinking* that kind of thing, let alone saying it and having the guts to claim they are speaking for everyone else!

<"Denominationalism" (the word did not even exist in the 16th century, the period where I treat the historic anabaptist movement) "infallible Church" (the Protestant dogmaticians were specificly fighting against Tridentine Romanism). Please leave off before you lose additional credibility and it begins to hurt your book sales.>

A wonderfully irrelevant reply, Dr. Letis. Perhaps you were just overwhelmed with all the mail and just dashed off a few sentences without really thinking about what others had written? It would seem so.

I really don't care about book sales in this discussion, Dr. Letis. And as to credibility, you might wish to consider the fact that many folks have a strange idea about scholarly credibility. A scholar who can't control his tongue and who lashes out at everyone who disagrees with him through the use of insults and slams, no matter how great his intellect and how vast his knowledge, will not impact the Christian public 1/10th as much as a much less gifted intellect that has learned the truth of what James told us so long ago: control your tongue.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com



James White

 

Date: Wed, 5 Jul 1995 19:06:29 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: [Dale's confusion]

<For the record, WE ARE OPPOSED TO THE KJV ONLY CULT, which because of Mr. White's unhelpful contributions seems now not to be very clear.>

Would you mind, Dr. Letis, since you have accused me of so doing, documenting where I have used guilt by association, or in any way indicated that you share the viewpoint of someone such as Peter Ruckman or D.A. Waite? You do, indeed, use the same kind of invective as they, at times, but your position is quite, quite different. In point of fact, I'd have to withdraw part of that last sentence: I don't believe I know of an instance where D.A. Waite has referred to people as "hacks."

<Please consult my essy: "The Revival of the Ecclesiastical text and the claims of the anabaptists" for a comprehensive historical critique of this serious error. My booklet came out a few years before Mr. White's and is a much more serious work.>

That is, your 41-page (not including pictures and blank pages), 92-footnote, non-indexed booklet is a much more serious work than my 284+ page, 312-endnote, fully indexed work. I hope everyone will take your word, buy your booklet, borrow my own, if they don't want to spend the money to get it, and see how much more "serious" it really is, Dr. Letis.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com



James White

 

Date: Wed, 5 Jul 1995 19:06:33 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: [I think I'll just block ...

> We now know why he appeared on this list--to push his no doubt important
> book. But to do so by attempting to tar _us_ with the same brush was
> opportunist and will not soon be forgotten.

I did not appear on this list to push my book, Dr. Letis. I appeared on this list because a very kind man by the name of Andrew Sandlin invited me to do so, period. He indicated that you would be better able to engage the issues he and I were discussing. He was, however, wrong about that. Furthermore, I have not attempted to "tar" anyone with any brushes at all. That is a false accusation, one you have no way of substantiating, and I'd thank you to drop it.

> Frankly, from what follows I am certain it has all gone to his head a bit.
> Moreover, I believe the graphics alone in my _The Revival of the Ecclesiastic
> Text and the Claims of the Anabaptists_ gives it front runner status (IMHO, others
> will have to judge) and it certainly reveals that the anabaptist spirit
> can manifest in many directions...

I uploaded the endorsements of the book, Dr. Letis, due to your continued deprication of the scholarship of, seemingly, everyone who disagrees with you. The endorsements indicate one thing: the viewpoint I presented gained the wide acceptance of today's scholarship, and hence, from one perspective, today's ecclesia, which, if you were the least bit consistent, would carry weight with you. Can you upload a similar listing of endorsements for *your* work on this topic, Dr. Letis? Since you yourself raised the issue of scholarship, etc., I'm sure you will see that such an inquiry is quite relevant.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

Date: Fri, 7 Jul 95 12:02:03 BST
From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: Letis & ad homenim?

Brian, Thanks for the note. I shall be sending you a copy of a reply I sent another on this list which puts Mr. White's accusations of _ad homemin_ into perspective. There simply has been no personal attack. I do not know where you are doing your academic work but I know an evangelical seminary can be quite different from a secular university, particularly a British institution where I have spent the last six years or so. There are quite different criteria for academic discourse. In a seminary one is treated almost pastorally to bring them along and make them good pastors. In secular universities, partuclarly at the graduate level, the criteria is very different: if one does not know what they are talking about this is pointed out to them in rather firm terms, partuclarly if they are making a point with some vigor. Once one reaches the level of supposing to have mastered a subject if it is evident they have not this is perceived to be a degree of pretense and charlatanism and is only tolerated for a _very_ short time.

You see, this is because once you leave such an institution you carry that institution's reputation in your academic writing and speaking--you make a major cock-up and on more than one occasion you do a world of harm to that institution's reputation. Hence, those who do not do the required reading and use faulty research or arguing techniques to compensate are found out early on and asked to find some other pursuit. Not only is the institution's reputation endangered but once a man is qualified with higher degrees others tend to "trust" what they say--so many of us have to, we simply cannot go over the same ground that a supposed authority has. And if this person is found to have cheated and does not really know what they are talking about others get burned who may well have "trusted" certain erroneous statements from this less than reliable "scholar."

Mr. White fits this profile I have now taken a good bit of bandwidth to discuss. His final appeal "to the man in the pew" was his accepting that he cannot discuss the issue at the highest level and that from his perspective this is not even important--it is influencing uninformed folk who cannot make a proper judgement about his statements or his evidence. Hence, he was angry with me because I have pointed this out to him. It was not "personal" in any way. If he were in any graduate seminar in nearly any university in the world he would have been told the same thing, perhaps in even harsher terms--put up or shut up and stop wasting the time of others who want to learn and want to become experts by listening to other experts. Mr. White is a phony and I found him out. He attempted to bait me to come down to his level so he could use his fallacious techniques of guilt by association, _argumentum ad populum_ and equivication. Any one of these fallacies would be enough to disqualify him from a formal debate. Since it never even reached an actual engagement (because he did not understand our premises and showed not the slightest desire to do so, carracture serving him well enough) nothing more could be done but to point this out to him. He then reintrenched himself further in the fallacy of _argumentum ad populum_ transforming this vice (a logical fallacy) into a virtue. In this he stands self-indicted.

Thanks again for your comments.

Theodore P. Letis


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

From tletis festival.ed.ac.uk Thu Jul 6 12:44:31 1995
From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: Dr. Letis and Ad-Hominem (from theonomy-l) Date: Thu, 6 Jul 95 17:43:05 BST

What follows is in response to that wonderful collection of remarks by me kindly compiled by Mr. White, all of which translate _not_ as _ad homenin_ at all but as sheer exasperation at his not wanting to to engage the texts that offer just the most essential definitions of the classic orthodox Protestant tradition which emerged in the 17th century. This is like trying to debate the short-comings of Islam without being bothered to read the history of that religious tradition. While those who disagree with Islam may well be happy that you can do a hatchet job on this tradition, you will win no respect from those you choose to engage from within the tradition, nor among those academics who are specialists in the field. You will be perceived as just what you are--a popular circuit-riding professional "debater." That you have been asked to address seminary students at Westminster West says more about them than about you.

Theodore P. Letis


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

From tletis festival.ed.ac.uk Thu Jul 6 13:09:50 1995
From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: Surfin' USA and Scotland (from theonomy-l) Date: Thu, 6 Jul 95 18:03:19 BST

Ned, you are one metaphorizing freak (I say that in the most endearing, 60's sense). Mr. White shows no familararity with classic 17th century Protestant orthodoxy, nor any inclination to enlarge his point of reference by reading the texts that could help him here. Because of this he reveals to me no serious desire to actually get at our position in its integrity because it is easier to group us by way of guilt by association with his own unlearned anabaptist KJV worshippers. Hence, he simply has not earned the right to discuss the issue since all he is capable of--because of the afore mentioned short-coming--is unhelpful and inacurate carracture. When I tell him this in the plainest, but not harsh, terms he is insulted and glories in his identity as a "working class hero" to borrow a line from a poignant Lennon lyric. Why would any body in his right mind want to publicly submit their precious time-honoured beliefs to a public distortion at the hands of such a hack (not a derogatory abuse, though it sounds like it, but a useful and discriptive term). He is upset that I will not let him into my living room and so he stands at the front window making faces at me. One must earn the right to enter my living room (mind you, the criteria are not _that_ demanding).

The debate served a very useful purpose in revealing to everyone his calibur and the need to take seriously confessionalism, the creeds and presuppositions.

Theodore P. Letis


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

> Date: Fri, 7 Jul 1995 14:14:37 -0400 (EDT)
> From: Chris Stamper <clstampe mailbox.syr.edu>
> Subject: Re: Oh Really? (from Letis)
>
> Ted Letis balks at my comparison of the "Reformation" anti-inerrantist
> postition to the the Rogers-McKim hypothesis.
> What a simplistic analysis that follows: One must either be a silly
> Warfieldian or a chic Barthian. My friend, I ain't either.
> For one thing, you misquote me. I didn't say you were a Barthian and I
> certainly would never accuse Richard Bacon (!) of being one.
> Look. Lots of people use Rogers-McKim. It seems to be the pet textual
> theory of the PC(USA).
> Were the autographs inerrant or not? Whether or not this is the Right
> Question, answer it anyway.
>
> Chris Stamper

Chris, Just answer my question--"yes," or "no." Have you stopped beating your wife?

Theodore P. Letis


Phil Johnson [?]

 

Greetings, Chris Stamper writes:

> T Letis ducks my question:
>
> Were the autographs inerrant or not? Whether or not this is the Right
> Question, answer it anyway.
>
> Chris, Just answer my question--"yes," or "no." Have you stopped beating
> your wife?
>
> I'm not posing a false dichotomy.

I'm beginning to believe that Ted has no more texts than Chris has wives (unless things have changed recently for Chris). John White has often asked where he can find a copy of the Received Text. Possibly I missed a positive response to this question, but I don't think there is an answer because there is no more a Received Text than there was a Wizard in Oz. Ted valiantly trys to hold back the curtain, but the truth is out, it's just smoke and mirrors.

The problem with the concept of Providential Preservation is that, at best, there is only Substantial Providential Preservation for there ARE NO TWO TEXTS WHICH AGREE. They may *mostly* agree, but there are discrepancies between each and all. There is therefore still a requirement to determine between all the variant readings which one we will treat as the Word of God. Now, I am still not convinced that the Higher Critics have developed a science that can accurately track the Original Autographs back to their lair, and I can swallow a gnat with a camel chaser easier than I can swallow the idea that Aleph and B are the long lost keys to the Bible, but neither am I convinced that the Providential Preservationists have more to offer me than a vague mysticism. It is no wonder that Ted's raw nerve is Barth.


Phil Johnson

 


Date: Sat, 8 Jul 1995 15:12:05 -800
From: "Phil Johnson" <phillipj smartdocs.com>
Subject: More flatus from Letis

Naturally, I was mesmerized by Dr. Theodore Letis's explanation of how things work in _reeeeal_ universities. Silly me; having never studied outside the US I had no idea how cruelly one could expect to be abused for getting one's facts wrong in genyooine academic dialogue. Surely this explains why, on a recent visit to Cambridge, I saw so many students whose eyeglasses were held together by adhesive tape.

Well, anyway, this morning I checked my e-mail to find that someone had posted Dr. Letis's review of Gordon Clark's _Logical Criticisms of Textual Criticism_. Lo and behold, Dr. Letis opens with this sentence:

> Gordon Clark is well known as one of the last to advocate in
> the late twentieth century the old Scottish Common-Sense
> approach to epistemology as practised at Princeton seminary
> in the nineteenth century against post-Enlightenment
> scepticism.

After mopping up the coffee I had spewed all over my keyboard, I checked the header again. Yes, this seems to have been written by THE Dr. Theodore Letis, academic genius--the same guy who argues that insult and abuse are the _only_ fitting rewards for sloppy academic work.

My first inclination was to suggest that Dr. Letis be pilloried and subjected to three days of public abuse for what he had written. But then I read the rest of the paragraph and realized that it is filled with gaffes _so_ egregious that--by Dr. Letis's own standards--one could make a fairly good argument for having him drawn and quartered.

In point of fact, Gordon Clark is well known for his utter contempt of Scottish Common-Sense epistemology and all other forms of empiricism. Clark also _rejected_ the Princetonian evidential approach to apologetics Letis charges him with trying to perpetuate. Far from being made a "fossil" by the vaunted Van Tillian "advances" in epistemology, Clark developed a presuppositionalism of his own that is, if anything, more internally consistent--and certainly more philosophically advanced--than Van Til's. But Letis obviously has no concept of what Clark actually stood for, so his entire opening paragraph is just more of his trademark _ad hominem_ effluvium. (I also note that these comments about Clark are entirely irrelevant to the "book review" Letis purports to be writing. If this meets highbrow European academic standards, perhaps the American seminaries are not so bad after all.)

One troubling thing that comes through loud and clear in Letis's review is his own aversion to logic. I do not understand this, but it speaks volumes--and explains a lot about some of Letis's ideas, too.

Getting into the "review," we hear Letis sneer:

> Faulty judgements and erroneous statements are found here, as
> one might expect (Burgon a "bishop"!).

Is this not the iron dutch oven calling the ceramic-coated teakettle black? Which error is more damaging to its author's intellectual credibility--Clark's mislabeling of Dean Burgon, or Letis's utter misrepresentation of Clark's philosophy?

In the noble tradition of Luther, there may be only one appropriate way to respond:

Phbbbt!

And in the words of a famous frenchman, "Now go away before I taunt you a second time."

Phillip (not the _Darwin on Trial_ guy) Johnson


Phil Johnson

 


Date: Sun, 9 Jul 1995 01:44:42 -800
From: "Phil Johnson" <phillipj smartdocs.com>
Subject: A Latin lesson for Letis

Has everyone noticed Dr. Letis's favorite Latin signature? He put it at the end of his infamous Clark review, and also at the end of one of his posts to Chris:

_Sile et philosophus esto._

 

For all of you poor, American-seminary-trained illiterates out there who didn't get to study at a _reeeeal_ University somewhere in Europe, I thought I'd translate that phrase for you. It's ironic, really. It means "Be thou silent and a philosopher thou shalt be"--or to put it in the vernacular: "Shut up, and you'll be a _reeeeal_ scholar."

All day I just couldn't get this off my mind. I kept thinking how apropos that Latin proverb is for someone like Letis. Since I'm determined not to let the sun go down on my wrath, I need to say this before I can go to bed tonight:

Dear Dr. Letis,

Having pondered your favorite Latin saying, then read your work, I remembered another Latin phrase:

_Facile dictu, difficile factu._

 

(which translated means, "Easily a saying; not so easily a deed.")

 

At first, several weeks ago, I was merely nonplused by the tone of arrogance in your interaction with James White. But, as you may have gathered, I was totally put off by the astonishing effrontery of your saucy little comments about life in the _reeeeal_ academic world. I'll get over it--but I sincerely hope _you'll_ get over it, too. Hubris is unbecoming--even when it is accompanied by an earned Doctorate from Edinburgh. Who knows? You might even have something worthwhile to contribute if you didn't treat all your readers with such snobbish condescension. As it is, we can hardly hear what you're saying over the noise your academic ego makes.

You may scoff all you want that the Internet is an unworthy forum for the magnificent kind of erudition you possess, but I frankly suspect that what really bothers you is this: The Internet is not the kind of classroom where adoring students dutifully soak up your every word as if _they_ think you are as profound as _you_ think you are. We are not like classroom pupils, obligated to laugh in all the right places as if we deeply appreciate your sardonic humor. Here on the Internet an illiterate guy like me (having never attended even one of those pathetic little American seminaries, much less a big, prestigious European University) might just get up out of his seat and poke his finger in your eye.

Especially if you deserve it.

_Veni, vidi, vomui_

 

"I came, I saw, I was not impressed."

 

Hope your seminar goes well, though.

Phillip (not the _Darwin on Trial_ guy) Johnson


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 95 11:21:34 BST
From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: Letis & ad homenim?

Look, I don't know you from Adam and the fact that you want to refer to yourself as my best friend gives me considerable concern. Since you did, however, begin this quite meaningless exchange (your are right, I just _don't_ get it) I suggest that you do, indeed, drop it. There is simply no way to point out to populists like White that that is what they are and therefore they do the subject no merit, without upsetting him. Your personal problem--for this is surely what it is--is now between you and whom ever you want to next take it up with, for surely you will. One more reason why I am now convince having such exchanges on an unmanagable list like this probably does far more harm than good--every malecontent lurking "finds" the moral crusade they personally want to pursue whether its there or not. It is little more than an excercise in self-abuse to scatter one's thoughts out to an impersonal indiscriminate collection of folk who most of the time have not a real clue where you are coming from, what you are up to, nor where you are going. I leave this choas and will return to our seminar.

Theodore P. Letis


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

From tletis festival.ed.ac.uk Sat Jul 8 09:06:08 1995
From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Date: Sat, 8 Jul 95 14:05:46 BST

Dick, I must say I had considered putting some of those endorsements up but then I reconsidered realizing that Mr. White is hardly worth me granting to him that I have to do so. What you did without my prompting was a wonderful compromise. Your final comments to him were sheer genius. Many, many thanks for doing that.

Ted


Dr. Theodore Letis

 

Date: Tue, 11 Jul 95 11:42:15 BST
From: T Letis <tletis festival.ed.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: LETIS VS WHITE (from theonomy-l)

> Date: Mon, 10 Jul 95 14:01 BST
> From: R.BARNS lse.ac.uk
> Subject: Re: LETIS VS WHITE
>
> I must have waded through hundreds of messages on the TR/IOA debate over the
> past weeks, but it seems to have been largely a waste of time. I am profoundly
> disappointed with the arrogant and insulting replies that Dr Letis has made to
> James White (who was I believe invited onto this list by Andrew Sandlin in
> order to debate with Letis). As Letis refuses to enter into meaningful debate
> I hope that some other advocate of the TR can engage in a structured debate
> with Mr White so that those of us who want to weigh up the positions will be
> able to evaluate their relative strengths and weaknesses.
>
> Perhaps it would be possible for someone to organise a tightly structured
> debate between two contestants. Fixed length presentations and replies and
> hopefully some cross-examination, but no audience participation until question
> time.
>
> Any support for this?
>
> Richard Barns

Can I translate this so Mr. White's "man in the pew" can understand it: Since Letis does not think Mr. White knows enough about the classic Protestant view of biblical authority as defined by the 17th century Protestant dogmaticians and as explicated by Muller and Preus, to actually enter into a meaningful exchange (to do so with one of his track record as a professional circuit riding "debater" would be to hold one's own position up for carracture and distortion), perhaps some less informed and over-eager advocate can be baited to jump into the fray and accomodate Mr. White's demand for a road show--without a lackey, no one will come under the big top. Is there no Rush Limbaugh (sp?) program you could tune into to satify your lust for bluggeoning, beligerant and bellicose rhetoric that might substitute for this grade B alternative?

TPL


Joseph L Bell

 

Date: Tue, 11 Jul 1995 19:02:19 -0700 (PDT)
From: Joseph L Bell <recon cyberspace.com>
Subject: LETIS VS LETIS

If Letis thinks Mr. White doesn't know enough about the classic (17th century) Protestant view of biblical authority, Letis should just demonstrate *where* Mr. White is ignorant and why it matters. Instead of scholarship, Letis posts a condescending cop-out.

I've been reading the papers for the 'seminar' and find much that is factually correct in what Letis writes. (Even with his gross ignorance about Gordon Clark. It shows that Letis has limitations, but does not overthrow his thesis.)

Unfortunately, Letis has conducted himself shamefully in this forum. When careful arguments are called for, too often Letis gave us 'bluggeoning, beligerant and bellicose rhetoric' that Rush Limbaugh would not use. At least Limbaugh makes his points with humor, unlike the arrogant, vicious, and evasive remarks by Letis. (Then there is the endless stream of 'me, too' posts from Letis that merely agree with the comments of others. Imagine what an idiot a student in a class would look like if the vast majority of their comments were of this type. It gives the appearance that Letis has no other knowledge to add to the discussion. Granted, Mr. White picks on a bunch of lightweights in his book, and ignores a stronger position, but at least Mr. White SHOWS that the lightweights are lightweights.)

Instead of being a great defended of the providentially preserved text, Letis seems to be a judgment from God ob that view. Is there another person to defend the RT position? Letis has made such an ass of himself that many conclude he does not deserve to be heard. In spite of(and because of) my sympathy to the RT view, I think Letis should be rejected, per Titus 3:10-11, as Brian Abshire pointed out.

Sincerely, Joseph L. Bell



James White

 

Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 13:37:29 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Reply to Andrew Sandlin

Rev. Sandlin wrote:

<4. Mr White has equated the historic, confessionally Protestant view with that of the anabaptist KJV devotees ("when the rubber meets the road, the methodology pretty much becomes the same"). This truly is a logical fallacy--guilt by association--and I could readily turn the tables on James by saying that his "neutral" textual methodology is tantamount to and simply a reduced version of the German Higher criticism that subverted orthodoxy last century. The chasm between the historic Protestant view and that of the anabaptists is as great as that between covenant theologians and dispensationalists.>

Of course, I've made no such connection, and Dr. Letis and Rev. Sandlin can't provide a scintilla of documentation to say that I have. It seems Rev. Sandlin is simply accepting Dr. Letis' smokescreen at face value, and repeating what his mentor has said without examining the validity of the allegation. The only thing I can think of that Dr. Letis and Rev. Sandlin could be mistakenly referring to is the fact that I have pointed out that the KJV Only folks cannot allow for in-depth examination of their position, and it is obvious Dr. Letis will not allow his position to be placed in the same crucible of examination, either. The fact that Dr. Letis has consistently refused to engage any meaningful discussion of actual textual variants, preferring simply to yell louder about how allegedly ignorant I am of this or that, proves that such an observation on my part is nothing less than factual and true.

<5. That anyone could question the dictum that the Reformed read the Scriptures through the lens of the confessions indicates he simply is not aware of what it means to be Reformed.>

And how does this differ in the slightest from Rome's claims, Rev. Sandlin? The Reformed were quick to differentiate the role played by a confession and the role played the Rome's magisterial authority. It is that differentiation that seems to be on the verge of being sacrificed here, and many, quite rightly, have balked at jumping into the Tiber for the sake of some alleged ecclesiastical authority. The confessions draw their life and their breath from the Scriptures; the Scriptures must be always the lens through which all else is seen. If the confessions become the lens through which the Scriptures are viewed, they (the confessions) become the first source of interpretation, the first source of information. The Scriptures become the confessional playground, just as it is in Rome. It hardly seems coincidental that the *original* Reformers were accused of the very thing I am accused of: biblicism. Why else would Rome cry, as she did at Trent, that the Church and the Church alone can interpret the Scriptures authoritatively? They rejected the incorrect parts of that accusation---i.e., a complete rejection of history, patristic interpretation and the like---but they embraced the true portions of the accusation, those portions that gave Scripture the ultimate and final authority, over all creeds, confessions, and traditions of men. As Calvin wrote:

 

"But a most pernicious error widely prevails that Scripture has only so much weight as is condeded to it by the consent of the church. As if the eternal and inviolable truth of God depended upon the decision of men! For they mock the Holy Spirit when they ask: Who can convince us that these writings came from God? Who can assure us that Scripture has come down whole and intact even to our very day? [Note this well!] Who can persuade us to receive one book in reverence but to exclude another, unless the church prescribe a sure rule for all these matters? What reverence is due Scripture and what books ought to be reckoned within its canon depend, they say, upon the determination of the church. Thus these sacrilegious men, wishing to impose an unbridled tyranny under the cover of the church, do not care with what absurdities they ensnare themselves and others...." [Inst. I:VII:1]

Rev. Sandlin:

<Every confession is a strike against bare biblicism, and since everyone embraces a confession, written or unwritten, unreflectively or self-consciously, there is no such thing as a genuine, practicing bare biblicist.>

Of course not, but here we see you engaging in the very activity you say I have been engaging in: misrepresentation and guilt by association. Who has suggested "bare biblicism" in the first place? Who has said that we should have no confessions? To object to the assertion that one *approaches* Scripture through the norma normata of the confessions is not to say that confessions are not useful, proper, and correct! To make sure that all see and understand that the confession stands solely in the light of its faithfulness to Scripture and that it has no authority in and of itself *separate* from Scripture is far removed from practicing "bare biblicism."

<One need not be steeped in Kantian epistemology to recognize the inescapability of the sort of human mediation (not to mention Scripture) requiring confessionalism, and therefore, its role as a hermeneutical axis--only naive evangelicals could think otherwise.>

My, we wouldn't want to be a naive evangelical! Perish the thought! Whatever could God do with the simple? He needs the wise, the confessional, the learned man! We need graduate seminars, and doctoral degrees! We wouldn't want to be accused of being foolish by the wise, would we?

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com



James White

 


Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 13:47:01 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: Letis/White--Lets Send in...

<Since Letis and White seem unwillng to unilaterally disarm, perhaps we could send in Jimmy Carter to restore the tranquility of our humble list so that we can get on to the discussion.

Or, better yet, since Sandlin brought them both here, perhaps he could negotiate a truce. After all, he managed the North/Rudshdoony detente.>

I'm sorry anyone could think I've been engaging in the same kind of warfare as the good Dr. Letis. I haven't referred to anyone as a "hack," nor as a "circuiting-riding debater," either.

James>>>



James White

 

Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 17:38:59 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: The Comma and Turretin

Dr. Letis:

I wanted to ask you a direct question, if I might. While perusing some materials from Turretin I noted his comments on the Comma Johanneum:

 

"Not 1 Jn. 5:7, for although some formerly called it into question and heretics now do, yet all the Greek copies have it, as Sixtus Senensis asknowledges: "they have been the words of never-doubted truth, and contained in all the Greek copies from the very times of the apostles" (Bibliotheca sancta [1575], 2:298)." (_Institutes of Elenctic Theology_, Vol. 1, p. 115)

Could you please comment on this, Dr. Letis? Turretin is obviously in error, as we well know the Greek copies do *not* contain the Comma from the time of the apostles in any way, shape, or form. Even Burgon quoted Greisbach approvingly in his rejection of this passage. While all can agree that the words themselves speak the truth, it is also just as obvious that they were not the words of the Apostle John. Erasmus was right to reject the Comma in the first and second editions of his text.

In light of your claims regarding the "ecclesiastical text," could you please tell us all if the Comma Johanneum should be included in the NT?

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com



James White

 

Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 17:39:01 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Ad-Hominem Argumentation

Dr. Letis wrote:

<Can I translate this so Mr. White's "man in the pew" can understand it:>

Oh my!

<Since Letis does not think Mr. White knows enough about the classic Protestant view of biblical authority as defined by the 17th century Protestant dogmaticians and as explicated by Muller and Preus, to actually enter into a meaningful exchange (to do so with one of his track record as a professional circuit riding "debater" would be to hold one's own position up for carracture and distortion),>

An assumption that you've made from the start, Dr. Letis, but, I have to ask, with what factual basis? Do beware---I know one of the main sources of your "inside" information, and he's hardly trustworthy, for his bias is too great.

<perhaps some less informed and over-eager advocate can be baited to jump into the fray and accomodate Mr. White's demand for a road show--without a lackey, no one will come under the big top. Is there no Rush Limbaugh (sp?) program you could tune into to satify your lust for bluggeoning, beligerant and bellicose rhetoric that might substitute for this grade B alternative?>

< chuckle > My goodness, what a wonderful attitude you display toward everyone else, Dr. Letis!

I thought you might wish to recall your own words, Dr. Letis, from your book, _The Revival of the Ecclesiastical Text and the Claims of the Anabaptists_, p. 46:

 

"Another talk found in the collection already referred to earlier celebrates the technique that gives oxygen to this group--the use of ad hominem. The platform of this organization is that anyone who differs from them religiously, qualifies for criticism on that basis if they also choose not to hold to the old Anglican Bible as perfect. Greek scholars are particularly held up for scorn. . . .Here we have someone who blatantly traffics in using an opponent's political or theological beliefs as a means of undermining the authority of their theory of textual criticism and then celebrates the act as a virtue."

Remember writing those words, Dr. Letis? I think most folks will realize that, in point of fact, they describe your own actions of late quite plainly. Instead of criticizing the members of the Dean Burgon Society, we find you using my Baptist heritage, my "biblicism," that is, my "theological beliefs as a means of undermining the authority of [my] theory of textual criticism."

I should note that on page 47 you write, again criticizing a Dean Burgon article, "This technique of guilty before tried is pursued throughout." Indeed, Dr. Letis, one would have to think that if you can see the error of following that course in KJV Only material, you might be a little slower to use the technique yourself. I have been tried, and found guilty of ignorance and Anabaptism, without the benefit of a jury, or even an opening statement. You have functioned as judge, jury, and executioner (well, Dick Bacon may have helped out as the bailiff or something like that).

Amazing how we can see things so clearly in others, isn't it, Dr. Letis? We all do it to some extent. Some of us do it to a very GREAT extent, in multiple copies of the same posts, internationally, even.

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com



James White

 

Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 18:17:33 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Back to Rev. Sandlin

In a message dated 95-07-13 14:07:37 EDT, Andrew Sandlin wrote:

>1. White states I "can't provide a scintilla of documentation that he
>has classified the historically Reformed with Anabaptists" and in the
>same paragraph classifies the historically Reformed with Anabaptists.

Rev. Sandlin, we seem to have a classification problem here. If I say, "Dr. Letis has responded much like Dr. Ruckman when challenged," it does not logically follow that Dr. Letis and Dr. Ruckman believe the same things---it only suggests that they have a common behavioral problem. I have not confused the position you have presented with the position of KJV Only "Anabaptists" (what a wonderfully useless term). Dr. Letis has said I have; you have repeated his charge. Would you care to demonstrate how I have connected the POSITION (not BEHAVIOR) of Dr. Letis or yourself with the POSITION of KJV Only folks like Ruckman, Riplinger, Gipp, or even Waite?

>2. How anyone could equate the historically Reformed conception of
>confessionalism with Rome's creedal orientation escapes me. This
>certainly demonstrates the inroads papal propaganda has made in the
>evangelical and fundamentalistic communities.

Indeed, how could someone equate such things? I surely didn't, of course, so to what are you referring? What I wrote was this:

<5. That anyone could question the dictum that the Reformed read the Scriptures through the lens of the confessions indicates he simply is not aware of what it means to be Reformed.>

>And how does this differ in the slightest from Rome's claims, Rev. Sandlin?

You repeated Dr. Letis' "approach the Scriptures through the norma normata of the confessions" line, and I asked you to please differentiate for us the difference between *this* view (which I deny is accurately described as Reformed) and the view presented by our common antagonist Patrick Madrid. Could you do that for us, Rev. Sandlin? Looking back upon what I wrote I provided a fairly lengthy discussion of the topic, and it seems rather strange that when *I* provide such information, including citations from Reformed sources, they are ignored. Perhaps there is some aversion to seeing a Baptist citing such sources? I haven't figured it out as yet.

>3. Why White claims I accused him of embracing bare biblicism when my
>posting making a general observation about evangelicalism said nothing
>of the kind is perplexing. I never claimed White holds confessions are
>unnecessary--I claimed it is an evangelical propensity to deny the
>richly attested Reformed penchant for reading Holy Scripture through
>the lens of the confessions.

The words were your own, Rev. Sandlin. You wrote:

<Every confession is a strike against bare biblicism, and since everyone embraces a confession, written or unwritten, unreflectively or self-consciously, there is no such thing as a genuine, practicing bare biblicist.>

What is more, could you show me this "richly attested Reformed penchant" from the writings of Calvin, please? I'd like to see this. Or maybe the Westminster Confession itself? Where did any of these sources say, "Approach the Scriptures through the confessions." The usefulness and propriety of confessions is not in question here: the assertion that to be Reformed is to place the confessions as spectacles upon the nose, a filter that is placed between one and the inspired Scriptures, is.

>4. Mr. White depicts my general assertions re: the inescapability of
>epistemological mediation as some sort of intellectually elitist
>proposition (White, satirically: "[God] needs the wise, the
>confessional, the learned men!").

It was hard not be satirical in light of what you had said, Rev. Sandlin. I repeat the words so that I might be judged more leniently:

<One need not be steeped in Kantian epistemology to recognize the inescapability of the sort of human mediation (not to mention Scripture) requiring confessionalism, and therefore, its role as a hermeneutical axis--only naive evangelicals could think otherwise.>

The phrase "naive evangelicals" called forth my satirical response. I probably should have resisted the temptation, but alas, I gave in. It is hard for me to see so many Reformed folks wrapping their Pharisaical robes of intellectual righteousness around themselves and peering down upon the mass of the unwashed "naive evangelicals." My goodness, no wonder we have such a hard time communicating the truths of God's sovereignty and man's depravity to such "naive" people. Doesn't anyone else realize that we (the Reformed) are our own worst enemies here? Who is going to believe our preaching when we, by our actions, deny our own words? Sorry, started to preach there a moment....

> No, God doesn't need anybody, but he
>has chosen in some cases to employ them to the benefit of the church.
>In my opinion, the regnant antiintellectualism (is Mr. White defending
>this phenomenon? I'm not sure) is one of the main factors selling the
>church into the hands of the pagans.

I bemoaned anti-intellectualism in my book, Rev. Sandlin (have you read it as yet?). It would be rather strange for a person to function as scholar in residence in a university and yet harbor anti-intellectualism, would it not? But as in most of life, there is another extreme to anti-intellectualism, and that would be intellectual snobbery. Balance is the key, and when Dr. Letis speaks of people having to *earn* the "right" to speak with him and learn at his feet, well, it's hard not to point out that the balance has been lost. What is more, speaking historically, we can see that Rome certainly developed the same kind of attitude. The laypeople were considered too "unlearned" to "understand" the truth of God, and hence they were kept from the very life-giving Word itself. Hence my reminder that God has not chosen many wise, many strong. It is a reminder we all need to ponder on a regular basis. How much a blessing a scholarly intellect is might be a good topic of discussion.

>Certainly, not all are called to
>a life of scholarship, and the gospel is as good for the scrub woman as
>is it is for the intellectual; but to love the Lord with all one's mind
>cannot mean less for the intellectually gifted than loving Him with all
>one's strength does for the farmer and insurance salesman.

We can say these words together, Rev. Sandlin, but I have to ask you: how consistent are these words with your view of "naive evangelicals"?

Finally, do you know of *anyone* from your perspective who is willing to engage the textual examples I have cited of late? Or is there no willingness whatsoever to discuss this topic in a specific manner?

James>>> Orthopodeo aol.com



James White

 

Date: Mon, 24 Jul 1995 15:32:37 -0400
From: Orthopodeo aol.com
Subject: Re: Received Text

In a message dated 95-07-23 09:21:15 EDT, you write:

>>Has the Church at all times and in every place had immediate access to this >>"Traditional Text?"
>>
>>--
>>Tom Albrecht

>Out of all the manuscripts floating around, did anyone know which was
>the divinely approved ecclesiastical text before Erasmus made his pick
>and published it?

Of course, the specific text Erasmus created in 1516 (amended in the following editions) had not existed in that particular form---ever, at any time, period. Hence, to call it the "ecclesiastical text" begs the issues and the means by which Erasmus arrived at his readings. The best one can do with such an ambiguous term is to attach it to a *text type,* i.e., Byzantine, and hope for the best from there. And, one cannot help but note that the response of the "ecclesia" of Erasmus' day to his work on the NT was not wild applause and acceptance. Well, we've all seen the term "ecclesia" used to support all sorts of different views, haven't we?

James>>>

END of TRANSCRIPT

Postscript:

 

Dr. Letis did not re-appear on Theonomy-L to my knowledge. I was told by others in private mail that he was asked to leave the discussion by his own supporters due to his behavior.