Let me make an appeal to my brethren who disagree with those of us who
insist on keeping the traditional text of the Bible. Please give us a
little more room! I am well aware that some voices from the Authorized
Version/Traditional Text camp have been pretty hard on the other side,
but I also know that some on the new version/revised text side have a
tough time letting us handle this as a doctrinal issue! There are real
and serious differences between us on how to determine the right wording
of God's Word, but some cannot accept the idea that we see these
basically as differences over Bible doctrine. If good Christians can
disagree over baptism, security, polity, or election, and maintain some
degree of civility, why can we not disagree over Biblical preservation
and still respect each other?
A representative spokesman for the hysteria over handling text issues as
doctrinal disputes is Dr. Kevin Bauder of Central Baptist Seminary. In
article he was asked to write in reply to arguments from Pensacola
Theological Seminary against Central's position, Dr. Bauder said that he
had "no contention with those who believe that the King James [Version]
is the superior English translation, or that the Textus Receptus is the
best Greek New Testament" as long as they "hold such matters to be
questions of academic debate," but he has a "quarrel . . . with those
transmute those textual and translation questions into a doctrinal
issue." He calls upon them "to repent of their error."
Is there any sin in seeing the text debate as fundamentally a doctrinal
dispute rather than just an academic disagreement? Of course not. There
is no wickedness in believing that the determination of the Bible's text
should be directed or at least affected by one's understanding of the
doctrine of scriptural preservation, as long as the taking of this
position is sincere. Let me make a comparison to prove this point. Many
fundamentalists who fuss with "King James" men over the text issue are
also men who fight with the CCM crowd over the style of church music.
What if an advocate of the new music were to say, "We don't mind if they
disagree with us over what is the appropriate style for Christian music
as long as they regard this as an academic discussion. When they start
talking as if there are Biblical principles at stake, they have gone way
too far!" Would traditional style music people comply with such a claim?
Would they agree that no disagreement over the teachings of scripture is
really involved in the music debate? Would Dr. Harding, Dr. Doran, Dr.
Minnick, or Dr. Bauder be willing to argue about the new trends in
music on a strictly academic level? Will they concede that the Bible
actually has nothing to say that touches the question of music style? Of
course they would not. These men could quickly give you scripture
passages that should guide us in our church music choices. I have no
argument with them over the fact that music involves doctrinal issues,
but I must insist that the Bible text issue involves a doctrinal issue,
Although many use academic arguments to contend for the traditional
virtually all such debaters hold to their point of view because of what
they think the Bible promises about its own preservation. Wilbur
Pickering in his book The Identity of the New Testament Text debates for
the traditional text with academic arguments, but in an appendix at the
back of the book he confesses his faith in the doctrine of preservation.
It was obviously John Burgon's understanding of this doctrine that was
behind his textual approach, and Edward Hills clearly was directed by
doctrinal convictions to defend the Textus Receptus. How can anyone
reasonably insist that this issue never be handled as a matter of
doctrine? It is the doctrinal difference that has created the debate!
Another comparison clarifies this question for me. Fundamentalists
the theory of evolution for reasons of Bible doctrine. Is that not true?
It was not the empirical evidence primarily that drove us to be
creationists. It was the opening chapters of the Bible, and our faith
that the Bible is the Word of God, that required our rejection of
evolution. A correct understanding of what the written Word of God
teaches about origins dictates our interpretation of the empirical
evidence. It's exactly the same with Christians who receive the
traditional (handed-down) text of the Bible as correct. We see in Psalm
78:1-7, Psalm 119:89-96 and 160, Isaiah 40:8 and 59:21, Matthew 5:18 and
24:35, Luke 16:17, and I Peter 1:23-25 that God has promised to preserve
His Word throughout the ages. Therefore we contend that the holy
scriptures are not in need of restoration. Corrupt readings exist in
manuscripts, but the right readings have prevailed. The Word as we
received it is the Word as it was given. This we accept by faith in what
the Bible says about itself. Our handling of the manuscripts and our
selection of readings will be directed by this faith. Those who hold to
revised text disagree with our understanding of the doctrine of
preservation, and that is the basic difference between us.
You see, it is a doctrinal issue. Some will want to push forward what
they think is compelling empirical evidence that our view is wrong,
actually calling upon us to alter or abandon what we see as clear
scriptural doctrine in the light of what they consider to be scientific
evidence. However, if you do the same thing about evolution, you may
to abandon creation! Of course, the empirical evidence does not disprove
the doctrine of creation. It is interpreting evidence apart from Bible
truth that produces a way of thinking prone to reject revealed doctrine.
And the empirical evidence does not disprove the providential
preservation of the traditional text. It is interpreting the evidence
apart from Bible truth that produces a rationalistic mind that is prone
to reject the doctrine of preservation. Our approach to the subject of
the text (with its necessary pre-suppositions) ultimately determines our
conclusions about the subject. And our approach is determined by our
understanding of Bible doctrine.
So let us allow this to be a doctrinal issue. Let us bring the Bible
the debate and let our opponents do so, too. Let us have thick enough
hides not to get our feelings hurt, and let us have big enough hearts
to judge our brethren's motives and hearts. Let's talk doctrine when we
talk about the text.
by Dr. Rick Flanders
currently Pastor of
Juniata Baptist Church
Juniata Baptist Church|
5656 Washburn Road
Vassar, MI 48768
Dr. Rick Flanders Biographical Data
Converted in 1963 through a radio ministry.
Earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from Bob Jones University.
Honorary D.D. from Pensacola Christian College.
Pastor at Juniata Baptist Church since 1973.
On BCPM Board, (Baptist Church Planting Ministry)
and also MACS. (Michigan Association of Christian School)
- Articles published in the;
- Sword of the Lord
- Baptist Preacher,
- Christian View of the News,
- Pulpit Helps,
- Maranatha Watchman
- Church Bus News,
- and other national periodicals.