The Necessity of Orthodoxy in Textual Criticism

In Preservationist Textual Criticism by Chris Thomas1 Comment

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

One of many of logical contradictions infecting Christendom today is the idea that atheists, papists, liberal theologians, etc., can effectively engage in textual criticism.    You find this sentiment has leavened the vast majority of Christendom from the pew to the pulpit.  I remember when interacting on the PuritanBoard around 2008-2010, that I was told by Lane Keister that there is nothing wrong with atheists, papists, and theological liberals sitting in judgment over what is and what is not God’s word.  I mention him as he is fairly popular in many Presbyterian circles.  He is also a defender of the PIA on the PB.  Which ever since Matthew Winzer left, they have steadily gone downhill in their Bibliology.  Though to be fair, they like many Christians were never very strong in Bibliology.  How can anyone be strong on Bibliology when such heretics as B.B. Warfield, James R. White, Bruce M. Metzger, Daniel B. Wallace, Tommy Wasserman, etc. are promoted to the average Christian as being theologically sound on the textual issue?

But why call it a logical contradiction that it’s wrong to have atheists, papists, & liberal theologians tinkering with the text?  Let’s look at Scripture, the very thing Restorationist Textual Criticism Advocates eschew.  Which in and of itself is enough to condemn RTC Advocates and their wicked practices.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Romans 1:21, 22 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

Ephesians 4:17-20 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:  Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.  But ye have not so learned Christ;

So what do these three short verses tell us?  First, if you are regenerate you will hear Christ’s voice in Scripture.  We can only follow Christ by reading and obeying His word. (This includes godly preaching.)  In light of other verses such as John 14:16; John 14:26; & John 15:26, it is evident that it is solely the Holy Ghost and not ungodly textual critics who determine the correct reading of God’s word in every verse.  And this the Spirit of truth has done continuously throughout the history of the Church.  It is because of the Spirit’s witness throughout history that we know that 1 John 5:7 was in the original autograph regardless of whether or not it is contained in the all/some/none of the CURRENTLY EXTANT MSS.  This necessitates the Providential Preservation of Scripture as taught in WCF/2LBCF 1.8.  A doctrine which RTC Advocates openly reject in favor of the generic preservation that attends all documents of the ancient world as they travel down the corridors of time.  The importance of this cannot be underestimated.

In Romans 1 we see that the unregenerate become fools due to their rejection of the God of Scripture.  Their very ability to reason has been compromised by their sin. In light of Proverbs 1:7 that, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge:  but fools despise window and instruction”, this naturally includes the reasoning ability of RTC Advocates due to their rejection of God’s Word as the beginning of all knowledge including the knowledge of how to evaluate Greek MSS & their variants.  (See Matthew 7:24-27 for further proof of the vanity of ignoring Scripture when it comes to textual criticism.)  They profess themselves wiser than Scripture and Scripture’s God, able to discern between good and evil independent of Scripture in their vain attempts to determine which textual variant is correct.  This sinful type of reasoning, and their continual refusal to repent when confronted with the Orthodox and Biblical doctrine of Providential Preservation and all that it entails, calls into question the salvation of all RTC Advocates.  And yes, this includes the salvation of Popular Internet Apologist James R. White.  For as John 10:27 demonstrates, the saved hear God in His word.  ALL of his Word.  Including the Longer Ending of Mark, the Pericope of John, Acts 8:37, and 1 John 5:7.

In Ephesians 4 Christians are commanded not to walk in the vanity of their mind.  To better understand what is meant, let us look at John Gill’s Commentary on this verse:

that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind;

every natural man walks in a vain show; the mind of man is vain, and whoever walk according to the dictates of it, must walk vainly: the phrase is expressive of the emptiness of the mind; it being naturally destitute of God, of the knowledge, fear, and grace of God; and of Jesus Christ, of the knowledge of him, faith in him, and love to him; and of the Spirit and his graces; and it also points at the instability and changeableness of the human mind, in which sense man at his best estate was altogether vanity; as also the folly, falsehood, and wickedness of it in his fallen state: and the mind discovers its vanity in its thoughts and imaginations, which are vain and foolish; in the happiness it proposes to itself, which lies in vain things, as worldly riches, honours, &c. and in the ways and means it takes to obtain it, and in words and actions; and the Gentiles showed the vanity of their minds in their vain philosophy and curious inquiries into things, and in their polytheism and idolatry: to walk herein, is to act according to the dictates of a vain and carnal mind; and it denotes a continued series of sinning, or a vain conversation maintained, a progress and obstinate persisting therein with pleasure: now God’s elect before conversion walked as others do, but when they are converted their walk and conversation is not, at least it ought not to be, like that of others

When it comes to how we evaluate Greek MSS & their variant readings, we should not evaluate these things by treating the Bible as if it is just another document from the ancient world or as Tommy Wasserman foolishly desires, to treat the textual issue as if God does not exist.  Nor should we approach the Greek MSS & their variants with any other philosophy save for the Biblical Philosophy of Providential Preservation.  And it is this philosophy, along with other such doctrines as the Sufficiency of Scripture and the Perspicuity of Scripture that allow us to know with certainty which reading is correct in every place of variant.

So why do we no longer engage in textual criticism even among the editions of the Textus Receptus as Confessional Text Advocates?  The work is already done.  This is the point that RTC Advocates cannot or will not understand.  The Reformers completed this work with the final winnowing of the Textus Receptus as evident by the textual choices of the translators of the Authorized Version.  Now you can go to the Trinitarian Bible Society and buy a copy of God’s word in Greek and have the logical equivalent of the autographic text.

But what does “logical equivalent” mean?  When you hold up the Greek New Testament sold by TBS, you are holding up a Greek New Testament with every verse and every word that was in the autographic text without loss or addition.  Since Greek orthography has changed over the millennia, because the sentence structure could vary, the possibility of the original authors using nomina sacra, and the inclusion of atticisms by some copyists, one can have the original sentence in Greek today looking a little different than the autographic Greek text and yet it is the same text.  As an aside, the above issues are why the doctrine of inerrancy is a meaningless doctrine.  It was originally formulated by B. B. Warfield to facilitate his rejection of the doctrine of Providential Preservation so he could promote the atheism of Restorationist Textual Criticism.  But we can save the discussion of this heretic for another time.


For those not liking the term “heretic” applied to RTC Advocates such as Tommy Wasserman, Peter Gurry, James R. White, B. B. Warfield, etc., it should be remembered that anyone who advocates for and teaches false doctrine, as all RTC Advocates do, is according to Scripture an heretic.  It is the failure of churches and even of Confessional Text Advocates, when they refuse to justly condemn RTC as an heresy and its promoters as heretics.  This cowardice is how all heresy enters into and destroys churches.  Claiming we should be charitable of gentlemanly to heretics has no biblical warrant.  It also has no precedent among the Reformers who condemned such behavior as sinful compromise.


  1. Mormon in charge of the book of Isaiah, Roman Catholic working on the NT, and the numerous amounts of atheists working on the text is so confusing. Those men are defending working side by side such people are only defending their supposed status in the academic world, they aren’t interested in the Word of God in a Biblical way. A shame that so many people have trouble taking a firmer stance in our language against RTC. I believe that since we are called dangerous and in error based upon atheistic presuppositions, we ought be able to call out the heretics from a Biblical viewpoint. God Bless.

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