Monday, October 31, 2022

The Reformation in Light of Baptist History

Our study of and familiarity with Baptist history and doctrine sheds the light of the Word of God on the deeds of the Reformers. We do not ignore the significant contributions made by many of these men, but first, these contributions must be viewed and judged according to their obedience or disobedience to the clear teaching of Scripture.
The Reformation In Light Of Baptist History,” James A. Alter, The Ancient Baptist Journal, Volume VI, Issue III, p. 14

God Gave Only One Reformation

Excerpt from “God Gave Only One Reformation” by Charles Blair

When we hear the word “Reformation,” our minds naturally turn to the great events of 16th Century Europe and such great men as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and their partners. We owe much to the religious thinkers of that dramatic turn in history. Yet it may surprise some to find that the word “reformation” is  also used in Scripture, for a much more important event  in Hebrews 9:10, for the time God himself reformed his system of dealing with us. We read:

​Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

This reformation God gave brought about not only a change in a framework, but a change of God’s holy law (Heb. 7:12)... The “Protestant Reformation” was an attempt to move back to the standard of “sola Scriptura,”  only Scripture, a commendable goal. Surely God allowed that breeze of fresh air to blow through the musty halls of religion to open a new world...And all were better off for it.

But, as has often been noted, Luther’s famed “Here I stand” was a stand “squarely on the fence.”  For Protestant doctrine, claiming “only Scripture,” actually attempted to keep the framework of a state religion, and persecuted those who sought to keep the simple New Testament pattern in local self-governing congregations.  A common “nickname” given such people at that time was “Anabaptist,” a title they largely rejected. Menno Simons said: “We do not ‘rebaptize.’ only properly baptize those who have received a false act.”

In short, the famed Protestant Reformation came only half-way back to the sources, retaining infant “baptism” and a state religion. God allowed it, in part to open the way to the “new world” as explorers newly freed from the medieval yoke broke forth into new horizons. And in the new atmosphere allowing for more individual liberty, true New Testament churches came out of hiding to boldly proclaim the one unchanging gospel, “how that Christ died, and that He was buried, and that He was raised.” Such churches are always in need of renewal and revival, but God gave only one Reformation, and that in the First Century A.D.

R. Charles Blair, of Clinton, Kentucky, September, 2018

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Himself he cannot save

I first learned this hymn many years ago, listening to a cassette tape of a Strict Baptist minister from England preaching on the text of Mark 15:31. In doing so, he included a reading of the first and second stanzas of this hymn by Thomas Kelly, and I fell in love with it. Himself he cannot save – this is his highest praise! Psalm 69:34 – Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein.

Hymn IX, page 8. S.M.
Himself he cannot save. Mat. xxvii. 42.

1. “Himself he cannot save.”
Insulting foe, ’tis true.
The words a gracious meaning have,
Tho’ meant in scorn by you.

2. “Himself he cannot save.”
This is his highest praise. 
Himself for others’ sake he gave, 
And suffers in their place. 

3. It were an easy part 
For him the cross to fly; 
But love to sinners fills his heart, 
And makes him choose to die. 

4. ’Tis love the cause unfolds,
The deep mysterious cause,
Why he, who all the world upholds,
Hang upon yonder cross.

5. Let carnal Jews blaspheme,
And worldly wisdom mock:
The Saviour’s cross shall be my theme,
And Christ himself my Rock.

6. I leave the world for this:
Let others share its toys:
I envy not their fancied bliss;
The cross yields purer joys.

Thomas Kelly (1769–1855) was a Church of Ireland clergyman from his ordination in 1792 to 1803, when he broke with this church. His evangelical views were influenced by Rowland Hill, William Romaine, John Walker, and the Haldane brothers. Kelly was a prolific hymn writer, producing over 700 hymns. Kelly’s hymns were published in A Collection of Psalms and Hymns (1802), Hymns on Various Passages of Scripture (1804), and Hymns of Thomas Kelly, Never Before Published (1815). “Look, ye saints, the sight is glorious” is possibly his best-known and most printed hymn. “Himself he cannot save” appears on page 8 of Hymns on Various Passages of Scripture (Fifth Edition, Thomas Kelly, Dublin: Martin Keene, 1820). It is not often found in our songbooks. A recently copyrighted musical score for this hymn can be found HERE.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

In other words, isms and otherwise

  • bird-dog, verb. To observe or follow closely; monitor.
  • bird dog, noun. One of any of various breeds of dogs trained to find or retrieve birds. (Originally, a dog trained to catch wild birds.)
  • chugalug, verb. To consume (a drink) in large gulps without pausing.
  • credentialism, noun. Belief in or reliance on (often excessive) academic or other formal qualifications as the best measure of a person’s intelligence or ability to do a particular job.
  • etymon, noun. A word or morpheme from which a later word is derived.
  • ignorantism, noun. Belief in or advocacy of the value or benefits of remaining ignorant.
  • millinery, noun. Women’s apparel for the head; the business, trade, or work of a milliner.
  • mulct, verb. To make someone pay money, as a fine, a punishment, or in tax.
  • obsequious, adjective. Characterized by or showing servile obedience and excessive eagerness to please; fawning.
  • perturbation, noun. Worry caused by some event; a small change in something, especially an unusual change.
  • presentism, noun. An attitude toward the past dominated by present-day attitudes and experiences; a partiality towards present-day points of view, especially by those interpreting history.
  • Rachmanism, noun. The exploitation and intimidation of tenants by unscrupulous landlords. (from Perec “Peter” Rachman, a London, England landlord in the 1950s and early 1960s.)
  • Ruckmanism, noun. (most often) A bibliological view that ascribes inspiration to the translators of the King James Version Bible, including correcting errors in the original language manuscripts (from its chief proponent, Peter S. Ruckman).
  • ruckman, noun. A person who plays in the ruck (in Australian rules football).
  • sciolism, noun. Superficial knowledge; superficial show of learning.
  • spreathed, adjective. Of skin: cracked, rough, or sore, as a result of exposure to cold or damp; chapped.
  • syntax, noun. The ways that words can be put together, or are put together, in order to make sentences.

From silence to complexification to capitulation, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Friday, October 28, 2022

The words matter

...according to John MacArthur. And I agree, though I am not sure he now agrees with some of what he said those many years ago. It is not clear when he first preached this sermon, and it seems to appear under a couple of different names, One thing particularly interesting is that MacArthur then used Matthew 24:35 in reference to the Bible – which non-preservationist contrarians now tell us we must not do! Not sure whether John MacArthur has gotten that memo by now.

In John 17:8 Jesus said, “I have given unto them the words which You gave Me and they have received them.” The message was in the words; there is no message apart from the words, there is no inspiration apart from the words. More than 3800 times in the Old Testament we have expressions like “Thus says the Lord,” “The Word of the Lord came,” “God said,” – it’s about the words. There are no such things as wordless concepts anyway…

Bible writers wrote down words they didn’t understand. In First Peter chapter 1 we are told there that the prophets wrote down the words and didn’t understand what they meant. The prophets, verse 10 of I Peter 1, who prophesied of the grace that would come made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. Here they are writing about the sufferings of the coming Messiah, writing about the glory to follow the suffering of the Messiah, and then they’re searching what they wrote. They’re inquiring in the very words which they were inspired to write, to figure out what person and what time is in view. They couldn’t even interpret fully the meaning of the words they were actually writing. God did not give ideas without words but in some cases He gave words without complete ideas…

In Matthew 24:35 the Scripture is very clear, “Heaven and earth shall pass away but My words, My words shall not pass away.” When God speaks, he speaks with words and the Bible are the, is the representation in writing of the words that came from God, the words that God spoke…

It was Jesus who emphasized the importance of every word, every word and every letter when He said, “Not a jot or tittle will ever fail.” He said in Luke 18:31, “All the things that are written through the prophets shall be accomplished.” He even based his interpretation of the Old Testament on a single word – a single word. The words do matter.

John MacArthur, sermon, “The Doctrine of Inspiration Explained,” aka “Understanding the Doctrine of Inspiration.”

John MacArthur’s audio series on “Making a Case for the Bible”:
  • Assorted Attacks on the Bible
  • Why We Believe The Bible Is True
  • Why We Believe While Others Reject
  • The Bible Is God’s Word
  • The Doctrine of Inspiration Explained

Thursday, October 27, 2022

About that Dan Wallace quote

Over at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, Elijah Hixson made an eager post “About that Dan Wallace quote.” This Dan Wallace quote:

We do not have now—in our critical Greek texts or any translations—exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. Even if we did, we would not know it. There are many, many places in which the text of the New Testament is uncertain.

Hixson believes writers have taken this quote out of context in order to misrepresent Wallace’s view of text criticism.[i] (Or, at least has the effect of misrepresenting him, even if unintended.) He provides the entire paragraph for more context in order to try to rehabilitate “the gift that keeps on giving.”

“These two attitudes—radical skepticism and absolute certainty—must be avoided when we examine the New Testament text. We do not have now—in our critical Greek texts or any translations—exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. Even if we did, we would not know it. There are many, many places in which the text of the New Testament is uncertain. But we also do not need to be overly skeptical. Where we should land between these two extremes is what this book addresses.”[ii]

Before proving what Wallace believes by quoting Wallace, Hixson skews the sense of the data by suggesting Dan Wallace believes the same as Edward F. Hills. The Hills who believed this:

“Embracing the common faith, we take our stand upon the Traditional text, the Textus Receptus, and the King James Version and acknowledge these texts to be trustworthy reproductions of the infallibly inspired original text.”

Wallace’s statement is hard to press into an idea of possessing texts that are “trustworthy reproductions of the infallibly inspired original text.” However, what does Wallace himself say? Hixson provides two contextless quotes (though if you have the desire and the time, you can listen to the entire context, just as you can if you have the desire and the time to read Myths and Mistakes). Hixson provides Wallace’s concluding statement of a lecture at South Dakota State University.

“The New Testament Text in all essentials and in the vast majority of particulars is absolutely certain.”[iii]

Not sure of that context? Welp, I checked. Wallace concludes his talk with this, in which he says that he agrees with Bart Ehrman, “Essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament” (Misquoting Jesus, p. 252). How much confidence does that exude to the average Christian, now knowing that evangelical text critic Dan Wallace agrees with agnostic text critic Bart Ehrman on the essentials of the manuscript tradition? (For other comparisons, see “We do not know.”)

The second leg of support for Wallace is from the “Theology in the Raw” YouTube broadcast. Interviewing Wallace, the host holds up a UBS-4 that he says he used to use, and asks whether any recent discoveries would change how some of its verses are rendered. Wallace replies:

“There’s a few passages I could talk about, but understand that scholars have known what is in Greek … original Greek New Testament for well over 150 years, because we have it above the line or below the line. It’s not ... like um if you have a multiple choice it’s either Text A, Text B, or Text C—it’s never Text D—‘none of the above.’ Never.” [iv]

This leg of support seems on its face contradictory of the original quote Hixson is defending.[v] In the one, Wallace says that we do not have exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. In the other, Wallace says that scholars have known what is in the original Greek New Testament for over 150 years. Do we know it? Have we known it? Or do we not have it? Have we not known it? Might we peasants be excused for thinking that this sounds like someone talking out of both sides of his mouth?

Expressly, the two attitudes—based on more of the context Hixson does not explicitly reveal—are the “unreflective beliefs” of the “Dan Browns and Kurt Eichenwalds of our world” who “can liken, with a straight face, the scribal copying of Scripture to the parlor game of Telephone” contrasted with apologists who “speak of (nearly) absolute certainty when it comes to the wording in the New Testament” and the laity who “routinely think of their Bible as the Word of God in every detail.”[vi]

This chasm of context between the two extremes—that the scribal copying of Scripture is the textual equivalent of the parlor game of Telephone and a belief in absolute or near absolute certainty when it comes to the wording of Scripture—is deep and wide. Some pretty flaming liberals could fall between those cracks! I am not proposing that Dan Wallace is a flaming liberal. Neither do I think his view comes close to rubbing shoulders with the view of E. F. Hills, as Elijah Hixson seems to submit.

The context or lack thereof is likely not the main problem. Dan paints his picture in dark and grim shades. “A normal Christian” reads Wallace’s claim “and reacts understandably.” Notice how majority text advocate Maurice Robinson reframed Wallace’s statement in a much more positive light:

“For the vast bulk of the New Testament we already have – in our critical Greek texts and translations – exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. The relatively few variant units in the New Testament where the text is relatively uncertain (i.e. a choice between one or a few possible alternatives) pales by comparison to the general integrity of the text as a whole.”

Now you, my dear Reader, may not exactly agree with what Robinson wrote either. Nevertheless, if Wallace had cautiously framed his ideas similarly, he would never have given his critics—critics of modern text critics—the gift that keeps on giving.[vii] I have no problem considering more of what Dan Wallace says (I have, at times, e.g., 2012 and 2022). Eventually, though, I do not think that such looks will extricate him from the jam into which he and his peers have gotten themselves.

[i] When I referenced this quote in September, I pointed out the context, without directly quoting it: “Wallace recommends avoiding the extremes of ‘radical skepticism’ and ‘absolute certainty’ in order to ‘land between these two extremes.’”
[ii] For the source and context, see Daniel B. Wallace in “Foreword,” Myths & Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism, Elijah Hixson & Peter Gurry, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019, p. xii. If this statement is considered from Wallace’s own perspective of reasoned eclecticism, his statement is true. That is, if the reasoned eclecticism approach to recreating the original Bible is the valid one, then Wallace is right. “We do not have…exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote” and “even if we did, we would not know it.” There is no cause for any hand wringing about what Wallace said. Just own it.
[iii] “How Badly Was the New Testament Corrupted?” The comment starts at about 1:13:35.
[iv] “How Reliable Are Our New Testament Manuscripts?” The comment starts at about 0:20:05.
[v] Surely we cannot be faulted for being confused by comments coming out of the critical camps. On the one hand, some say “We do not have in our critical Greek texts exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote” and on the other hand, some say “we have everything the apostles wrote, either in the text or the apparatus.” Which is it? Do you have what they wrote or not have it? To be fair, no doubt some of our statements may seem confusing to the opposing side. “God has preserved his word down to the jots and tittles in the TR” and “There are differences in the various editions of the TR.” I cannot speak for others, but the difference for me is that I take God’s promises in his word on faith as the truth, and admit that I do not have an explanation for all the particulars. (Same as I do in church history, which is my wheelhouse.) However, I cannot see how modern textual critics can make that claim, seeing how they base all their assertions on the manuscript evidence without any theological or biblical a priori.
[vi] Some more context – written before that paragraph: “On the other hand, some apologists for the Christian faith speak of (nearly) absolute certainty when it comes to the wording in the New Testament. And laypeople routinely think of their Bible as the Word of God in every detail. They are blissfully unaware that Bible translations change—because language evolves, interpretations that affect translation become better informed (and all translation is interpretation), and the text that is being translated gets tweaked. Biblical scholarship is not idle. Yet even the publisher of the ESV translation, extremely popular among evangelicals, contributed to this fictive certitude when it declared in August 2016 that ‘the text of the ESV Bible will remain unchanged in all future editions printed and published by Crossway.’ The next month it admitted, ‘This decision was a mistake.’ When a publishing house tries to canonize its Bible translation, what does this say to the millions of readers who know nothing of Greek, Hebrew, of Aramaic?” Some more context – written after that paragraph: “The new generation of evangelical scholars is far more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty than previous generations. They know the difference between core beliefs and those that are more peripheral. They recognize that even if we embrace the concept of absolute truth, absolute certainty about it is different matter.”
[vii] Elijah, the author of “About that Dan Wallace quote,” concedes that Robinson’s reframing is better, making the right point and “does so in a way that is much less likely to bring about unnecessary doubt in regular Christians” – even suggesting a change to a statement more like Robinson’s “if they let us do a second edition.” That is quite an admission, context or not, implying the criticisms are not as wide of the mark as the blog post alleges.

Poking The Bear

The well-known internet apologist Dr. James R. White has unwittingly given a fine recommendation for Then He Poked The Bear. In his debate with Peter Van Kleeck, White said that the book Then He Poked The Bear was “The most skeptical attack upon any critical approach to the New Testament I’ve ever seen in my life, ever.” I am skeptical of the critical approach to the New Testament that tells us we cannot be sure whether the New Testament (or even the Old Testament) has been providentially preserved down to us and that we have all the words of God today. So any approach that is most skeptical of that approach sounds good to me! With this “glowing endorsement” James White gave for the book, I couldn’t help but order it. You should too.

The book is available on Kindle and is now also in print. Scroll down till you see Then He Poked The Bear: A Dozen or So Arguments Against Modern Textual Criticism and Its Fruits by Peter Van Kleeck Jr.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Bible Classification issues and problems

I look at Bible Version Beliefs Classification as something that tries to sort out various views about the Bible, at various levels (and keeps narrowing so as to demonstrate both concordance and discordance). If I believe (and I do) that my translation or text of the Bible is definitely the word of God, then I share in common an idea – in a very broad way – with everyone else who believes their translation or text of the Bible is definitely the word of God.

Then we consider the next level. Do we both believe that the same translation or text of the Bible is definitely the word of God? If not, then we are separated at that point. If so, then we consider the next level. Do we both believe that the same translation or text of the Bible is definitely the word of God in the same way? If not, then we are separated at that point. If so, we ask another question. And so on. So, for example, I agree with Peter Ruckman that the King James Bible is the word of God, but as we narrow the parameters, we demonstrate we do not hold the same view about the King James Bible.

We do this in all sorts of other areas or beliefs. I am a Baptist. Here in the United States, we have some Baptists who are rank heretics. Unfortunately, I am broadly in the same category with them. If we change and look at Bible views, I can be (generally, with perhaps minor differences) in the same category with a Presbyterian like Christian McShaffrey and very far away from the rank heretical Baptists who deny the word of God! However, if we change and are classifying churches according to denominations, Brother McShaffrey and I will end up in different categories. I do not think the principle is overly complex once we understand what we are doing in trying to classify or categorize various views about Bible versions.

I know what I believe. I don’t need a classification to understand that. On the other hand, where I am classed might help someone else get a general idea of what I believe. If they want to know exactly what I believe, they will need to ask.

Sometimes there is an issue of someone is using classification as a tool of debate rather than as a tool of instruction. This can bring about a different take on things (e.g., an association fallacy).

I hope this might demonstrate a bit of how I approach the categorization of Bible views.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Two Old Paths

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.


In many of our like faith churches, when we begin to speak of “the old paths,” our minds often run immediately to church truth, local & visible congregations, immersion is baptism, strict communion, etc. And rightly so. However, in the 21st century, we find ourselves in a quandary where we must go back to the beginning, to two “old paths” that are older than (before) the rest: (1) The doctrine of God, and (2) The doctrine of Scripture.

Our church statement of faith lays out two foundational truths, from which all our church doctrines grow: We believe that God is, and that he has revealed himself in the sixty-six books we call the Holy Bible.

  1. God is eternally self-existent. Genesis 1:1; Exodus 3:14; Hebrews 11:6.
  2. The Bible is inspired by God. Psalm 119:160; Proverbs 30:5; 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

The doctrine of God

God is the Creator.

a. The Bible begins on that note, in Genesis 1:1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. It does not stop there, but continues to reiterate the message. Isaiah 40:28

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

b. His creation is to and for his own ends or purpose.

Proverbs 16:4 The Lord hath made all things for himself:

c. He sustains and upholds the world by the power of his might

Hebrews 1:3 who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power

God is Sovereign.

a. He does whatsoever he pleases in heaven and earth Psalm 115:3 But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. Psalm 135:6 Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.

b. Who can say anything against him? Romans 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

c. God is true; he is truth alone. Romans 3:4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar

Nebuchaddnezzar recognized the sovereign God. Daniel 2:47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.

God is our Saviour.

a. There is one God. Isaiah 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

b. There is one Saviour. 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

c. Neither is there any other. Acts 4:12  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

We must reject the unknown God of the Athenians, the unknowable God of the Deists, the “no” God of atheists and agnostics, and return to the God of the Bible, the God of our fathers, the God who sees and knows all things, who does all things as he pleases and does them all well!

The doctrine of Scripture

God revealed himself to Moses from a burning bush, and to us from a burning Bible. Jeremiah 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire?

Scripture is inspired.

a. God gave the word (Psalm 68:11); God breathed the word. 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

b. The Holy Ghost moved the prophetic speakers and writers. 2 Peter 1:20-21 knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Scripture is preserved.

a. God gave his word as he wanted, without addition or subtraction. Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure… Add thou not unto his words

b. His purpose in giving his words stands in his purpose to preserve his words. Psalm 33:11 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. Psalm 12:6-7 The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

c. God stands by and watches over his word; it will not return void; it will stand; it will not pass away. Ezekiel 12:25 For I am the Lord: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass… Isaiah 55:11; Matthew 24:35; 1 Peter 1:24-25

d. We will be judged by his forever words. Revelation 20:12 and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books…  John 12:48

Scripture presents the Saviour.

a. The holy scriptures make one wise unto salvation 2 Timothy 3:15 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. When Eve saw the tree in the midst of the garden was a tree to be desired to make one wise (Genesis 3:6), she partook of it. Rather than making she and Adam wise, it made them dead in trespasses and sin.

b. The holy scriptures testify that eternal life is in Jesus Christ. John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard? (Isaiah 40:28) Yes, we have heard and we know because we have the inspired preserved Scriptures which testify of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Why I Preach from the Received Text, Tanner Dikin wrote, “If the reliability of the holy Scripture is in question, we have no solid ground for our faith.” I agree, and would add, “If we cannot trust that God has kept his word, which says he keeps our souls, how can we trust that he keeps our souls?” Where is the end of rejecting the inspired preserved word of God? Despair. What is the answer to despair? Jesus. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.


Psalm 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? Perhaps we at times have been like a man defending his roof and walls, blissfully unaware of the attack on the very foundation itself. We must return to these two old paths and aggressively contend for this part of the faith once delivered to the saints.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Van Kleeck-White debate results

One month ago, September 24, 2022, Iron Sharpens Iron Radio along with the Historical Bible Society sponsored a debate on the topic “The Textus Receptus is equal to NT Autographs.” The Church of the Living Christ in Loysville, Pennsylvania hosted the debate. Peter Van Kleeck affirmed. James White denied.

In the month since the debate, many have agitated, agreed, analyzed, argued, pontificated, propounded, and sneered concerning it. Traditional text supporters Kent Brandenburg and Jeff Riddle have expressed their thoughts on the contest, as well as the debaters themselves weighing in with their afterthoughts.

The various comments of these and many more got me thinking about the idea of “winning” a debate (i.e., how do we determine a winner). Religious debates were once very popular among our people but were on the wane by the time I was growing up. About the only folks with any “debate” left in them were Baptists and Church of Christ. These debates tended to be about salvation, baptism, and the church. If Baptists debated one another, it was usually dissenting from one another over missionary boards, associations, conventions, and such like. If the debaters were competent and representative men, usually each side went away believing their debater won. (It appears that religious debates are regaining at least some measure of interest.)

I believe there can be at least four perspectives that we can and do use to judge debates. Consider these in regard to the Van Kleeck-White debate.

From a competitive debate perspective. Judges look at such things as content, strategy, presentation, etc. From this perspective Peter Van Kleeck won. Certainly, this was his first debate and he should & will learn to adjust things that he can do better in the future. Additionally, this does not imply that Van Kleeck gets an A+ and White gets an F–. However, in the affirmative, Peter Van Kleeck presented a positive case that, in my opinion, was never really directly addressed (and certainly neither well-addressed nor negated) by James White. It is in that sense that Van Kleeck won.

From a reception of the audience perspective. Regarding the audience at the physical location of the debate, this would be decidedly in White’s favor. They were friends and partisans of White. Overall, I would think that, as alluded to above, supporters of each side (including the vast online audience) thought that their representative made the best case. It has been said, though some people disagree, regarding the Kennedy-Nixon presidential debate in 1960 that folks watching the debate on television thought Kennedy won, while folks listening to the debate on the radio thought Nixon won. This illustrates how various factors from confirmation bias to manner of listening can affect the perspective of the audience. It is a real and decided reaction, but hardly a good way to adjudicate the truth.

From a results perspective. I remember reading about a debate in the 1800s (most of the details now forgotten) in which a Baptist preacher debated an infidel. The Baptist so thoroughly routed him that the infidel skipped out of the debate before it was over. Quite a few people were converted. Clearly the results of that debate told who “won.” I am not aware that the presentations of either debater in the Van Kleeck-White debate persuaded listeners toward any major changes in their views about the TR.

From a truth perspective. It is always a success (a “win”) to present the truth of the word of God. This is not done in vain (regardless of the results; 1 Cor. 15:58; Phil. 2:16) and the word will not return void but rather “it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). In this sense, Peter Van Kleeck won the debate – since he was on the side of truth. (I realize some readers may think White was on the side of truth, but I can only speak what I believe.)

I suspect numbers 2 and 3 perspectives are a “wash,” i.e. not so much of a “win” for either side. Generally, TR supporters think Van Kleeck won and CT supporters think White won. (That conclusion is probably found at about 98%, in the responses I have read.) There are many more CT supporters in the world than TR supporters. So, a majority online posting statements of support for and agreement with James White might make it look like he won, from an audience and/or results perspective.. However, if he did not change the minds of TR supporters, he did not really make any headway. I am not aware of earth-shattering shifts of opinion resulting from this debate (neither did I expect such results, at least in any immediate sense).

Regarding both numbers 1 and 4, I believe Peter Van Kleeck comes out ahead. (1). Van Kleeck presented his affirmative case (whether or not you agree with it) and James White even admitted on Dividing Line that he did not try to answer it.[i] (4). Van Kleeck holds that God has providentially preserved his word, and that word is accessible and knowable to the people of God today. This agrees with the Bible’s teaching about itself.

[i] In speaking of not answering Van Kleeck’s three arguments, White laughs, “The arguments were absurd, that’s why.” His negative stance in the debate, however, depends on answering rather than avoiding the arguments. If the arguments were absurd, then demonstrate during the date they are absurd – rather than laugh it off later. The lead up to this statement starts about 44:00 in Road Trip DL from Virginia. Note: I personally think it is inadvisable to declare oneself the winner of a debate in the debate – leave it to the listeners to do that. Interestingly though, James White complains that Peter Van Kleeck declared himself the winner in his closing argument, but White himself declares himself the winner over and over on the Dividing Line, without doing it in those exact words. Kind of a spinoff of the “we are the nice guys” argument. Obviously White is the “nice guy” because he will not say, “I won the debate,” but instead just talks on and on indicating that he won the debate.

Untill all Truth was delivered to the Saints

Hanserd Knollys (ca. 1598–1691) in The Shining of a Flaming-fire in Zion, p. 15, concerning the Bible, stresses a closed canon and no new revelation. (This pamphlet is a response to a pamphlet by John Saltmarsh.)

“The fulnesse of time is already come...There were indeed severall Seasons for the givings out of Truth before, untill all Truth was delivered to the Saints: But there is not the like Reason now, because the whole Counsell of God is fully made known: And we are not to expect a Revelation of new Truth, but a clearer Manifestation of those Mysteries, which have been once delivered to the Saints, and are left recorded in the Scripture of Truth for our learning.”

Knollys was a prominent and battle-scarred English Baptist preacher, who subscribed to both the First and Second London Baptist Confessions.

Hanserd Knollys

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Great God, how infinite art Thou

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) wrote this hymn, which was printed in his Hymns and Spiritual Songs. It is Hymn LXVII (67) in Book 2, with the heading “God’s Eternal Dominion” (page 190 in the Seventh Edition of 1720). The hymn has six stanzas, with the sixth stanza being a repetition of the first. It often appears printed in only four stanzas, without this sixth or the third. This common meter hymn has been paired with many tunes, with perhaps Dundee and Windsor being the more common pairings.

The hymn is related to the text of Psalm 102:17-27, emphasizing the eternity and immutability of God, along with the brevity and frailty of man. He hears our feeble prayers, and we ought to pay our praise to him!

1. Great God! how infinite art Thou!
What worthless Worms are we!
Let the whole Race of Creatures bow,
And pay their Praise to Thee.

2. Thy Throne Eternal Ages stood,
Ere Seas or Stars were made;
Thou art the Ever-living God,
Were all the Nations dead.

3. Nature and Time quite naked lie
To thine immense Survey,
From the Formation of the Sky,
To the great Burning-Day.
4. Eternity, with all its Years,
Stands present in thy View;
To Thee there’s nothing Old appears;
Great God, there’s nothing New.

5. Our Lives through various Scenes are drawn,
And vexed with trifling Cares,
While thine Eternal Thought moves on
Thine undisturbed Affairs.

6. Great God! how infinite art Thou!
What worthless Worms are we!
Let the whole Race of Creatures bow,
And pay their Praise to Thee.

Watts was something of a child prodigy. He began the study of Latin at age four. He also learned French, Greek, and Hebrew early in life. He wrote good verse while still a child. Watts is often considered the “Father of English Hymnody” due to his bountiful influence on English hymns and the writing thereof.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

As luck would have it, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify if possible.)

“As luck would have it, providence kicked in.” -- Unknown. Referenced by Jeff Riddle at the Kept Pure in All Ages Conference

“How often hath Persecution opened her Mouth from Age to Age, and swallowed up Millions of Men and Books, while the Bible by the over-ruling Hand of Heaven has been still continued.” -- Edmund Calamy (1671-1732)

“When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it’s a sure sign you’re getting old.” -- Mark Twain

“We have no head of the Church but the Lord Jesus.” -- Thomas Chalmers

“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” -- Aesop

“Seminaries not only ‘frequently refuse to do the work of the church’; they also tend to undo it.” -- John M. Frame

“A true shepherd will guard the flock against wolves, not bring the wolves into the sheepfold.” -- Jimmy (last name unknown)

“Scripture is self-attesting, self-authenticating, and self-interpreting, possessing authority over all other criteria and authorities because it is the Word of God.” -- Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

“The Bible is reliable for revival. You read the Bible to be wise, and believe the Bible to be secure. Practice to be holy and share to be happy. Then you will be too blessed to be depressed.” -- Wrightly C. Salling

“Divorce is a ‘bullet’ which the church cannot dodge.” -- Clay Sterrett

A Tabular Comparison, A Texas barbecue chain, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Sermon Series, sort of

The links below contain a series of posts on sermons from 2013, plus several other random posts on the subject. I think the first six constitute the series.

Friday, October 21, 2022

KJVO classification at

At the forum in a thread titled “What is King James Bible Only?” the BibleProtector (who is probably Matthew Verschuur) set forth the following spectrum “to broadly classify views of the King James Bible” which he emphasized as “a rough guideline only.” In creating this classification he considers the views on the following eleven elements:

  • History
  • Inspiration
  • Preservation
  • The KJB text
  • The text in English
  • The KJB translation
  • The KJB language/style
  • The perfection of the KJB
  • Other versions
  • Other languages
  • The future of the KJB

I notice this here as part of my ongoing interest in classifying Bible version beliefs, and how others have made such classifications. The BibleProtector’s assessment leads him to the following four categories or classes of King James Only beliefs. Please follow the link “What is King James Bible Only?” to see the details.

  • Class One: King James Bible Favoured/Preferred
  • Class Two: King James Bible Defended (TR Only)
  • Class Three: King James Bible Purist (English Preservationist)
  • Class Four: King James Bible Extremist

In the thread, a guest using the moniker Truth4Today (post # 7) made the following observations:

I can say two main things. 1.) There does exist variation within the King James Only Camp; 2.) There does exist certain parameters that define one as King James Only.

The Variations

  • A. TR is generally accurate, but could use some revision
  • B. TR is absolutely perfect, and needs no revision
  • C. The KJB is generally accurate, but could use some minor revising
  • D. The KJB is absolutely perfect, and needs no revision

The parameters that define KJVO

  • 1. All agree that God’s Authoritative Word exists today.
  • 2. All emphasize the Bible doctrine of preservation
  • 3. All reject the Westscott/Hort textual theory
  • 4. All reject the Westscott/Hort Greek Text
  • 5. All believe that the Modern English Versions are founded on bad and corrupt manuscripts
  • 6. All believe that the King James Authorized Bible is the only link, in English, as to what God actually and originally said.

    Thursday, October 20, 2022

    Book Review: The Landmark Edition of the New Testament

    Mark Fenison, Larry Killion, Robert Myers, Jeff Short, Paul Stepp, and Jim Turner, editors. The Landmark Edition of the New Testament (KJV Study Bible). Bloomington, IL: Xlibris, 2013. 872 pp., $22.42, Softcover (9781493102952). Also available in Hardcover (9781493102969), and eBook (9781493102976).

    This is a brief review to give my initial takeaways on this Bible edition. I have only perused the edition and have not viewed all of the Bible text and footnotes.

    This New Testament Study Bible, as the name suggests, presents a Landmark Baptist view of ecclesiology. Six ordained elders of Landmark Baptist churches (one, Larry Killion, is now deceased) edited, compiled, and prepared the work. It begins with a “General Introduction,” including remarks on Landmarkism and the King James Bible (pp. 7-12). An essay on “The Value of Inspiration” follows (pp. 15-19). The editors are committed to divine inspiration and the infallibility of the Scriptures. They see “two primary lines of textual transmission,” and prefer the traditional text to the critical text (for example, see the comment on 1 John 5:7).[i] However, they conclude that the “contextual pattern for self-definition has not been ‘broken’ or destroyed in either line of transmission.” [ii]

    After the introductory material, the text of the New Testament follows (pp. 23-872), with commentary by Mark Fenison (11 books), Larry Killion (10 books), Jeff Short (1 book), and Paul Stepp (3 books). Jim Turner is credited with the initial idea for this work, and Robert Myers for technical work and other suggestions (p. 7).

    Each book of the New Testament begins with an outline and an introduction. Some helpful maps are provided. This Study Bible introduces several changes – most notably (and the primary impulse for its existence) translating the words “baptism” as immersion and “church” as congregation. Overall, the King James translation remains intact, except for those two modifications – as well as the word “with” sometimes changed to “in” (e.g. Mark 1:8 “baptized you with water” becomes “immersed you in water”). The edition also updates archaic words and standardizes Old Testament names to match the Old Testament spellings. The edition does not remove “archaic words.” Rather, the updated word is placed in brackets beside the original KJV word, as a sort of definition or commentary.[iii]

    “Due to theological bias and due to rules imposed upon the KJV translators, they chose to use two ecclesiastical words that did not properly translate two Greek terms” [i.e., ekklesia and baptizo, rlv] (pp. 18-19). I take issue with the idea that the words “church” and “baptism” are not “properly translated.” As best I can tell (not having read 100% of the comments), the editors are careful not to claim that the King James translators created or transliterated these words – as some who are less informed or more careless do.[iv] However, they do not seem to acknowledge that these two words have long standing in the English language prior to 1611, and that they do possess the meanings “congregation” and “immersion” – even if they have a broader semantic range.[v]

    This editorial decision may lead to clarification for one reader and confusion for another. On its face, it contradicts our long-standing Baptist contention that baptism is immersion and that church is congregation or called-out assembly. That this must be fixed suggests we were wrong. The change is almost complete capitulation to the counter claims of the opposition!

    I find the practice of the editors to a degree inconsistent. These editors ask us to believe the issue is so important that they must change the words “baptize” and “church” in the Bible. Yet they continue to use “Baptist” and “Church” in the names of their immersionist congregations! The back cover uses congregation instead of church, but as far as I can tell that was only an accommodation in print. When I find their churches on the internet, each is a Baptist Church.[vi] That, to me, seems sort of “believe what I say and not what I do.”

    I have this formatting complaint. On each page, the header prints the Bible book’s name but not the book’s chapter number. This makes searches for chapter and verse initially somewhat difficult.

    The editors are Landmark in ecclesiology and Sovereign Grace in soteriology. The notes clearly reflect those positions. Those who are Landmark will generally find agreement with the ecclesiological comments. Those who are Calvinistic will generally find agreement with the soteriological comments. I think the commentary in this work can be helpful. Yet it is a large and rather expensive purchase in comparison to the amount of commentary provided. I give it a cautious recommendation to an informed reader.

    [i] “This verse is the litmus test for all Bible versions. Many modern versions leave it out. Any Bible version that does not have this great Trinitarian verse was translated from a text that was corrupted...” (p. 803). Nevertheless, they write “even if the Trinitarian words in this verse were omitted, it would not in the least way diminish the scriptural truth regarding the doctrine of the Triune God of the Bible.”
    [ii] They believe there is “a self-defining contextual pattern” that allows the interpreter to overcome textual and translational errors – though they also think that the critical text requires far more work to come to the right conclusion.
    [iii] In this is performs something like a “Defined King James Bible.”
    [iv] For example, as seen here: “A majority of translations, in both English and foreign versions, prefer to transliterate the word ‘baptism,’...” Surely words that have long since been transliterated and have been an integral part of the English language for a thousand years have gained status and meaning. It is no longer necessary or proper to keep referring to them as if some recent transliteration has occurred.
    [v] Both words were established in the English language by the time of John Wycliffe’s Bible translation in the 1300s.
    [vi] With the exception of Charleston Baptist using “congregation” instead of church in their name. Charleston Baptist Congregation, Harmony Missionary Baptist Church, Indore Baptist Church, The Lord’s Baptist Church, Victory Baptist Church.