There is a lot of disagreement about the Bible among those who don't take the same position as TSKT. Is there any final authority to settle disputes about the Bible? As I see it, the wide variety of belief and thinking about the Bible comes because the Bible itself isn't the sole source for belief or knowledge about the Bible. More new manuscripts are found. Another ancient book is uncovered. Another edition of the critical text is published. Teaching about the Bible is in flux.
Two important questions especially guide how we see the world. Can we know? How we know? Can we know God? How we know God? The Mormons rely on the burning in the bosom. Roman Catholics depend on tradition. Charismatics trust in experiences. Shouldn't scripture be the final authority about itself? Shouldn't true believers have as their major premise that what the Bible says about itself is true?
A corollary to the previous paragraph could be some thoughts about source criticism, historical criticism, or biblical criticism. Should we go outside of scripture for the interpretation of scripture? Here's what a passage of scripture says, but the external evidence doesn't match up; therefore, we adapt or conform the teaching of the passage to the external evidence. I read a lot of commentaries and this is a new hot fad among even conservative evangelical commentaries. I've been studying Ecclesiastes a lot recently and the most popular new position on Ecclesiastes is that there are several authors, and that position is mainly buttressed, not by internal evidence, but by the existence of ancient texts that rely on frame narration. Is the Bible sole authority, when its meaning is guided by non-inspired information?
I wish the critics of TSKT would be honest about it. I wish they would take the book at face value and judge the meaning of preservation texts. I wish they would point out their own, already established doctrine of preservation, before they ever dipped into external "evidence." TSKT doesn't present historical theology (that will be a second book), but I wish they would move next to what Christians have believed in history, and not just independent Baptists or individual churches. There is a reason why many Presbyterians, Free Presbyterians, and Reformed men take the same position as TSKT. It really hurts the crazy theory that this doctrine originated from Benjamin Wilkinson and the Seventh Day Adventists---that is just a blatant lie (really among many, many lies that I read about the position we teach---why do they need to resort to these lies?).
Most men today approach their doctrine of preservation, even their doctrine of the Bible, different than they do other doctrine. This is a new, modern or postmodern approach to a doctrine. At one time, men started with what the Bible said about something. They believed that. Their explanation of what happened was guided by that presupposition. When I study historical doctrine, I look to see if that's what someone did. I also expect historical theology. I expect that someone has established already, before believing something, that there is some historic basis for believing it. Those start all off my beliefs. If it is something new, then it must be thoroughly vetted by scripture, coming out of really firm exegesis, not speculation. This is what honors and glorifies God. Faith pleases Him. This doesn't happen in the discussions on preservation, which is why what you read is so all over the map, like a buffet table of various doctrines, taking about anything that they think will stick.
As an example, an article was written in the last month by Mark Ward on his blog, called By Faith We Understand. It should come with a disclaimer on his doctrine of scripture, because he doesn't start with scripture or operate by faith for his doctrine of scripture. He wrote, KJVOism, Fanatacism, and Epistemology. There are so many falsehoods in the article, it's hard to know where to start. When it comes to the Bible, you really can say almost anything you want today, true or not, and it is accepted as long as it comes to an acceptable conclusion to your audience. Ward essentially mocks people who use only the King James Version, and buttresses his scorn with falsehoods. He doesn't start with a doctrine about the preservation of scripture, but he uses a "scriptural argument" in his article. I hate articles like this one, but it must be dealt with.
You can read Ward's article yourself. I've linked to it. In the first paragraph of his section, "KJV-Onylism and Sources of Revelation," he argues something that I have not read in historical theology anywhere ever and I think I'm widely read, that is, that creation and providence are an authority over the meaning of scripture, and, therefore, scripture itself. He doesn't really stop there, because he also says that your own personal experience is necessary for the interpretation of scripture. You can read his argument there. The closest I've seen of this in history is the Petrine theory on papal primacy, which is not putting you in good company. It's easy to see where he's headed with this novel approach. I was the only person that I've read, who even criticized this new doctrine, and that doesn't surprise me, because this is the new nature of theology. You are credited with coming up with new stuff, invented new doctrine. There were two major problems here among many others.
First, the history of sola scriptura includes the analogy of scripture, that is, Holy Scripture is its own interpreter. Scripture is self attesting. Scripture doesn't require outside knowledge to know what it means. In that way, the Bible is truly the final authority. If outside sources were required, then the authority for scripture would shift to those sources, which is what Ward does, and he doesn't understand that by faith. He understands that by his own experience. He makes it up and talks like it is scriptural. It isn't. Don't believe it is, because beliefs come from scripture, and it isn't from scripture.
Scripture is fulfilled in the real world. It applies in the real world, but you don't work in reverse of that, looking to the world to find out what scripture is saying. That is what Ward asserts. Read him yourself. I say that I get what he's doing. He's justifying textual criticism, using this argument, saying that we look out there in the world of manuscripts to allow that to tell us what scripture is. I say he's got it reversed, because you've got to start with understanding what scripture says by faith ("by faith we understand," the name of his blog). He doesn't do that. This is how we have run into all sorts of problems today, because the burning on the bosom is someone's understanding of James 1:5, and why shouldn't that be wrong? Your take on scripture becomes very subjective, when you've got the whole world to call general revelation for purposes of getting your meaning of scripture.
I can already hear it---"that's not what he's saying!" That's why I keep saying, read it yourself. Ward's article itself is an example of why you don't want to do what he says to do. You can make up things, like he is making up things, when you start with something so subjective.
Do you know what the answer to what I'm writing here is? Brandenburg is a Baptist brider! I'm not. I don't even believe the bride is the church. I've written about that here, but people just say it anyway, because it will stick as a smear. It's a lie. Or they say he's a borderline Baptist brider, like someone is a borderline serial killer, as a means of deniability. Like some of the comments I'm reading about me on SharperIron right now, "I didn't say you 'were' that, just that you might be." I'm not. I didn't. It's not true. Remove it. It still stays. Why? It contributes to the approved view, which is not "a" view, but not a certain view, that is the unacceptable view, almost anything else is tolerable, as seen in some of the theories thrown out without justification from scripture or history. It's like watching CNN right now, or MSNBC.
Second for Ward, he is espousing a false, unscriptural, and anti-historic, modernistic view of general revelation to defend his point. He turns general revelation to general in its content. General revelation is general in its audience. In other words, it is "general" in that everyone sees it, like Romans 1 explains. Everyone knows it. Ward elevates his own observations to general revelation. This is a view that you will read all over in evangelicalism today. Just read what Ward writes.
Ward notices that men are not computers. He sees that men make copyist errors. He observes that there are textual variants. Guess what? Christians have been doing that for centuries. But that is not general revelation. It might be providential, but it isn't revealing any new doctrine that contradicts scripture. It isn't providing an adjustment to what scripture already teaches. What we observe isn't doctrine and there are a number of good reasons to deny that, the greatest being something related to copyist errors, and that is the depravity of man. There are so many reasons to question many's observation. He gets it wrong.
Mark Ward in his article repeatedly misrepresents the biblical and historical view of preservation. He won't let me comment on his blog to correct his errors. There are so many of them that it would seem to be purposeful, he's fibbing on purpose. I am going to reject that and just say that he's ignorant and deceived. He's accustomed to operating that way, so he can't help it, sort of like a copyist error. Like a good writer would, he should provide any quotes or examples of his particular made-up fictional observations, but he doesn't.
Either Ward doesn't understand providence or he is just twisting it for this article. He doesn't represent what believers mean by providential preservation. He should read more to get what it does mean. I know he doesn't understand it, because the first time I talked to him in the last year, he had never heard the historic and biblical view. It was all new to him. He was already against it, because it differed from what he already thought, but he hadn't heard it. Because it was new to him, he assumed that it must be off or weird, when actually his position is the novel one in history and especially the Bible. He had not heard it, because he didn't learn that way and doesn't think that way. He's not thinking the right way. There's a mocking tone throughout, but also when he writes:
The KJV-Onlyites look at providence, too, and they say that the text used by the greatest number for the greatest time must be the right one; it’s blessed.People who take the biblical and historical position on the preservation of scripture don't start with providence and then look at the Bible. That's Ward. So we don't do it too. Providence starts with scripture and then looks to see how God works. This is reading Daniel and then expecting the fulfillment of the prophecies. It starts with a biblical model and then looks for its fulfillment. Men see the promise of preservation and then they observe how that looks through history.
In John 16:13, Jesus said:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
All the verses surrounding this promise talk about it. The Father gives it to the Son and gives it to the Spirit, the Son gives it to the Spirit, and then it is given to them and we know from later also to us. So we expect that. We look for that. We have a Bible. That is not general revelation. It is providence, but it does not start with observations about what happened and apply that to what Jesus said. It starts with what Jesus said. God made a covenant with Israel, teased out in Esther. This is how providence works, but it starts with the covenant, not with the events fulfilling the covenant.
The error of Ward I'm describing is serious, very serious. Men should be concerned, but what I've read is in essence and repeatedly, "Good job, Mark." Good job? He's wrong. He opens a can of worms that you want closed. You don't want that can opened up. It should stay closed.
Ward is saying that we get our bibliology from this false idea of general revelation and even providence. He misses it on the analogia scriptura, misses it on general revelation, and he misses it again on providence. Strike three. He fans with this article, but he is treated like he hit a home run.
Bibliology starts and stops with scripture. It originates only from scripture. It's source is scripture. Bibliology comes from scripture. That's what we did in TSKT. That was the point of the book. What people don't like about TSKT, I've noticed, is that it doesn't delve enough to them about manuscript evidence and historical application. It doesn't answer from their perspective the crucial question, Which TR? It was never intended to do that. Doctrine about scripture is the place where men see experience and observation to be priority number one in authority. Attack on scripture is the first attack in the Bible itself. It continues to be.