A common question that arises from those who support the unbiblical practice of textual criticism is, “Well what methodology do you use?” or, “Your methodology can’t produce a text!” and other such nonsensical statements. Most of these type of comments are usually from people who get their arguments from James White. In a previous post, Presuppositions of Textual Criticism Examined, I dealt with the presuppositions of textual criticism from a Biblical perspective. When we accept the fact that textual criticism is unbiblical, then the above style of questioning must be answered following the method given in Proverbs 26:4, 5:
4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
In verse 4 we are warned about assuming that the presupposition of such questions, as noted above, is valid. The Reformers did not use Restorationist Textual Criticism. They believed what Scripture taught about its own preservation. Providential Preservation is a rejection of the text critical view that Scripture has been corrupted over time. The Reformers methodology was to compile the apographic Greek texts into one printed edition, the Textus Receptus. There is no assumption of textual corruption, no assumption of weighing Greek manuscripts, no view that the shorter or harder reading is to be preferred. Their work assumed God kept his word in Scripture and that the Greek manuscripts in common usage were authentic. And the textual work is finished. There is nothing left to do. To answer the questions about methodology given above without exposing the underlying unbiblical assumptions in such a line of questioning is to reject the finished work of the Reformers and affirm that some form of Restorationist Textual Criticism must be performed today and in the future.
In verse 5, we are to answer the foolish questions about methodology in such a way to as to expose their foolishness. Which Greek mss today are authoritative? Why? Where is that standard for judging them found in Scripture? How are variants to be dealt with in RTC? What biblical foundation is given for the canons of RTC? How can the text be settled if future mss discoveries can change what the text will say? In the end, the methodology put forth in favor of RTC must be analyzed by asking if it is being arbitrary (mere opinion, unargued bias, relativistic, ignorant conjecture) or inconsistent (an informal fallacy, presuppositional tensions, reductio ad absurdum, or actions speak louder than words). One must push the antithesis between Providential Preservation and atheistic RTC. For they are different not only in authority, but in method.