100 Reasons to Believe the Critical Text Position






























































































*Some of these reasons are not included in our earliest manuscripts*

23, 49, 50, 73, 91, 95, 96

Clear Thinking and Necessary Conclusions

In the textual discussion, much of the disagreement comes down to how each side thinks about the data presented. Much like any debate, the topic is almost never resolved on the establishment of evidence, but rather how that evidence is interpreted. We can look at the debate regarding the age of the Earth as a mainstream example. The ancient philosophers gave us the law of non-contradiction, which tells us that contradictory propositions cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time. This goes hand in hand with the law of the excluded middle, which tells us that a proposition or its negation is true. I can say with a high amount of confidence that the majority of claims made by the critical text violate these logical constructs if the premise assumes the Protestant understanding of Scripture.

This is one of the main reasons I do not spend a great deal of time examining evidence on this blog, because the substance of this discussion can be resolved with using our logical, rational, mental faculties. If it is the case that the Bible is the Word of God, and that the Bible is infallible, preserved, and available, then every argument presented by the critical text fails to hold up to logical consistency. This is due to the fact that the foundational principle of the critical text negates the Protestant claim of purity of the Scriptures. If an argument based on evidence is in violation of these logical principles, then they cannot be used as a valid support for one text or another. In other words, if an evidential proof negates the claim that Scripture is pure, then it is not suitable to support Christian doctrine. If in the process of “proving” a text to be “earliest” one actually proves the Bible to be corrupt, it actually works against the purpose of the argument in the first place.

We can go into the confessional argument for providential preservation, but this has been ineffective at convincing critical text advocates, despite the Scriptures being incredibly clear on the topic. Rather, I’d like to make an argument based on the availability of Scripture, which compliments or perhaps even precedes the argument of providential preservation. Many arguments for the Providential Preservation often exclude the fundamental building block which is the availability of Scripture. This is, in large part, how those in the Critical Text camp claim that their position is orthodox. They often make the claim that “The Bible is preserved,” they just argue for a different model of preservation. In the modern view, Scripture is preserved in the manuscript tradition, whereas the Received Text camp argues that it is preserved in textual traditions that the people of God have used in the ages. While the argument is quite different for preservation between the two groups, both are advocating for a version of it. The substantial difference here is actually availability. The Received Text camp argues that the Bible is preserved and available today, whereas the Critical Text camp argues that the Bible is preserved and not fully available today.

This premise of the Critical Text position gives us clarity on statements which say that “what we have is good enough” or that “we do not have exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote.” In the Critical Text perspective, it is only important that the Scriptures are preserved, not that we actually have access to those preserved Scriptures. This is one of the fundamental flaws in the modern position on Scripture because it does not consider the purpose for the Scriptures. If you subscribe to the Protestant tradition, then you believe that the way God communicates to His people is through the Scriptures. Therefore, in order for God to communicate to His people, His people must have access to the Scriptures. The modern position on the Bible is that Christians only need enough access to God’s Word, all that is required to be saved. This is not the Protestant position. According to the Protestant tradition, the purpose of Scripture is for all matters of faith and practice, not just mere Christianity. This position acknowledges that there is more to the Christian religion than the moment you are saved.

One of the most important debates during the Reformation and Post-Reformation period was that of the purity of religion. It was not enough to simply believe in God, it was imperative that you believed correctly about the nature of God and thus the nature of salvation and religious practice. This debate is still relevant today, though I would argue that it has devolved far beyond what occurred during the Reformation. Nevertheless, Christians all acknowledge that the Scriptures teach us about God and how we are to orient ourselves towards God in our beliefs and practices. This is where the argument of availability must be applied. If it is the case that the Scriptures are preserved, but the full extent of those Scriptures are not available, there is a huge gap in our ability to stand on Christian doctrine. Even more concerning is that this gap cannot be defined in any meaningful way in the modern system.

If we acknowledge that the Bible is preserved but not fully available, then our argument contains a gap. This gap is defined by the number of passages or words that we are not confident are original. The number of passages and words which we are not confident in is indefinable. In other words, if we assume this premise, we not only struggle to define what is not Scripture, but also what is Scripture. Simply put, we have no ability to define what of our text is available. In this model, what we do know is that the totality of Scripture is not available, because that is our claim in the first place. What we say is that while we do not have the original, what we do have is enough. But if it is impossible to define to what degree of Scripture is available, it logically follows that we cannot, under any circumstance, define what “enough” means. In order to do this, we would have to know the percentage of the original we do have. We would need to know what was in the original to understand that what we have is “enough of the original.” And we know that the modern view does not make any claims to define this metric. In fact, the modern position claims that, “even if we did have it [the original], we wouldn’t know it.” So in the first place, it is illogical and impossible to make any claims regarding the “enoughness” of Scripture we have, and in the second place the Protestant claims regarding the nature of Scripture are invalidated outright in this model because the claims of Protestant theology assumes certainty in the text from which they are derived.

If it is the case that we cannot derive what exactly “enough” means, then it follows that all of our claims based on that text are equally as ambiguous. Any assumption of “enoughness” is purely speculative. We assume that what we have is enough without actually knowing what “enough” even means. This is why any speculations or assertions regarding this text or that is categorically unimportant from a critical text perspective. Even if we were able to determine with a high degree of certainty that a text was the earliest text we have in the manuscript tradition, we have no ability to conclude if that text is original, or complete. This is precisely the view of the top textual scholars today as they articulate it in their publications. That means that any Protestant appropriation of modern textual scholarship is purely fideistic. It blindly trusts that what the textual scholars have produced is “enough”, because “enough” has not and cannot be defined. There is no textual mechanism that gets us from “earliest” to “original” and there is no textual mechanism that can even prove “earliest.” Any claim attempting to fit modern textual scholarship into Protestant theology fails the logical constructs that would make it functional.

In summary, the reason the modern textual methods are not suited for consistent application to Christian faith and practice is because they cannot define the scope of Scripture, and therefore cannot define the scope of “Christian faith and practice.” If the claim is that Scripture is infallible, that it cannot fail to do what God intended it to do, then the text must be defined completely. We have to know what Scripture says in order to claim anything that Scripture says is true. If the text is not defined, then there are no parameters on what “enough” means, and therefore by necessity our definition of what Christian faith and practice is at best incomplete and at worst incorrect. This is how the modern view on Scripture impacts the every day Christian. Christianity is a religion built on exclusive truth claims. These truth claims require that Scripture be fully defined and available. So if we do not claim our text is available, then we have no right to claim that anything is authoritative from that text. We can say, “We have enough to claim authority,” but we haven’t defined what “enough” means. There is no way to consistently make such claims from a text that is not fully defined.

This is not a debate over which Bible version is best, it is a debate over whether or not we can make truth claims from an undefined text. The modern position does not assert that the text is fully defined, nor does it define which words in that text are original. This raises the question, “How can you argue for a text that you have not defined?” The answer is, you can’t. The text the modern position advocates for is not defined, and therefore it cannot be defended. In order to make the claim that we have “enough” of the text, you actually have to define what “enough” means. In short, there is not a Bible that is substantially being argued for, or defended in the modern textual position.

I will let my reader make their own conclusions from this reality. Until the modern textual advocates define what “enough” is, they do not appear to actually be arguing for anything that fits in the theological tradition of Protestant Christianity, because they have no ability to define what Protestant Christianity is without defining the Bible. They must first assume the conclusions of theologians who did assert they had the fullness of the text of Scripture in order to do so. As far as I’m concerned, that is what “enough” means. “We have enough of Scripture to come to the same conclusions as those who believed they had the full text of the Bible.”

Misconceptions Regarding Early Modern English

It my last post, I discussed the idea that has been presented by many critics of the KJV which is the idea that the KJV is too difficult to read. I presented an argument which pushed back at this notion on the grounds that the highest estimated reading level of the KJV is set at the standards for high schoolers in the public school system. I concluded that, this being the case, it is not an absurd proposition to assume that the average English speaking Christian could read at a 12th grade level, and that it is actually more of a condemnation of Christian education than of the KJV to say that the average Christian should not be expected to read at this level.

That being said, I suspect that much of the confusion on this topic is due to many not having a clear understanding of what qualifies as Early Modern English. You and I have often heard the English of the KJV called “Old English.” In Authorized, Mark Ward writes, “What’s the point in using a translation in old English that people can’t understand anymore?” He continues by making the distinction between “old English” as in to say stale or aged English and “Old English” as in the proper noun, which I find to be needlessly confusing for the reader. Nevertheless, it is common for people engaging in this discussion to frequently make the mistake of conflating the categories of stale or aged English and Old English. In order to give my reader a clear picture of why this is problematic, I will give examples of Old, Middle, and Early Modern English.

Here is an excerpt of Old English for reference.

Hwæt. We Gardena in geardagum,þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon. Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,egsode eorlas.


Here is an example of middle English for reference.

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,And bathed every veyne in swich licóur Of which vertú engendred is the flour;

Geoffrey Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales. General Prologue.

Here is an example of Early Modern English for reference.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 1:1-3, KJV

After reviewing these three passages from Old, Middle, and Early Modern English, I hope my reader can see that it is a cheap rhetorical trick to portray Early Modern English as “old English”. What is problematic is that this distinction between “old English” and “Old English” is on its face and apparently deceptive in its use. It conflates the incomprehensible English of Beowulf with the English of Shakespeare and the King James Bible. When people use the term “old English” to describe the English of the KJV, it gives the impression that the KJV is utterly incomprehensible. At the very least, I hope I can dispel the notion that the KJV is “Old English.” If one wishes to argue that the language of the KJV is stale or aged, I suppose that is their prerogative, though even Mark Ward seems to agree that the KJV is a “beautiful translation” (Authorized, p. 27).

The reality is that Early Modern English covers a broad scope of literary evolution, and the most significant changes from this to contemporary English is standardized spelling conventions and vocabulary. The grammar is mostly unchanged, the most notable of these being the use of singular and plural “you” pronouns (thee, thy, thine, thou, ye, etc.), which were retained in the KJV for the purpose of clarity in translating the Greek and Hebrew. In any case, it is intellectually dishonest to make the claim that Early Modern English is fundamentally different than contemporary English, and Christians should be careful not to intentionally conflate the English of Shakespeare with Middle or Old English.

To drive home my point, the online resource called “No Sweat Shakespeare”, which was developed for students reading Shakespeare in classrooms, has this excerpt on the site:

The main thing about Early Modern English is that it was an early version of Modern English and is accessible to all of us. The differences between the two are mainly the loss or change in meaning in Modern English of some words that were common in Early Modern English.


In this article, the author actually makes the point that what we speak today should be called “pre-contemporary” English, because it is not far enough away from Early Modern English to be called “contemporary.” What we can say with a great deal of certainty is that the English of the KJV is something that should be regarded as “accessible to all of us.” It is quite interesting that teachers in the public school system have a higher estimation of primary school students than Christians in the “KJV is too difficult” camp do of the church.

In any case, the myth is dispelled. The KJV is not “Old English” nor is it even Middle English. One could make the case that it is old in the sense of stale or aged, but that is quite subjective and doesn’t exactly provide grounds for not using it. The Apostle’s Creed is old, and many churches read this publicly every Sunday. That is to say that something which is categorically old does not qualify it for retirement on those grounds alone. If the argument is that Early Modern English is old and therefore should be forsaken, it is a weak argument. I imagine that is why people use the rhetorical strategy of conflating “old English” with “Old English,” to give the impression that “old” means incomprehensible.

So it seems that when we sift through all the rhetoric, the basic two arguments against the English of the KJV are that it is old, and that some of its vocabulary is old. The grammatical structure and spelling of the Early Modern English of the KJV is standard to what we speak and write today. I have always been perplexed that people who consider themselves “language nerds” would be so adamant against others reading the most beautiful and engaging form of Modern English. It’s almost as if they are saying, “I’m a language nerd but you shouldn’t be.” I, of course, am of the opinion that we should all be so called “language nerds” and should encourage each other towards that end. Reading is one of the most enriching and empowering practices you can commit yourself to today. In summary, go forth and love language, and don’t let people get away with calling Early Modern English “Old English”.

Produce Better Readers, Not Easier Bibles

Christians, especially those in the Reformed circles, have been, historically, most inclined to pursue knowledge and truth over and above movements driven by spiritualism and emotionalism. Over the last several years, there has been a trend away from this path at every level of our society, and inevitably this has impacted the church. As our society becomes less Christian, it follows that people are less concerned with truth and the pursuit of knowledge. This is why many of us homeschool our kids or enroll them in trusted private institutions. Despite the precedent being set for higher educational aspirations, more and more frequently I have seen Christians advocate for Bibles that are easier to read on the grounds that “The Bible should be written in the easiest possible English”. This, I imagine, comes from the well-intentioned desire that people with all levels of education can have access to the Scriptures. This is a great desire, though I’m afraid the approach we have taken as a church is not actually beneficial.

Many Christians are quick to criticize public schools when they teach to the “lowest common denominator” and argue correctly that it inhibits children from exceeding expectations. I find it reasonable to apply this to the Christian church as it pertains to Bible comprehension. It follows that if we expect less of Christians, we will receive less. Many contributors in this space have said that the KJV is written at a 5th grade reading level, while others place it closer to 12th grade. For reference, most middle school and high school curriculum include in part or in whole, writings from Shakespeare. If we take the more conservative estimation and assign the KJV a 12th grade reading level, we should also assume that this is well within the reach of the vast majority of English speaking Christians, right? It doesn’t seem overestimating to assume that the average Christian can read at a 12th grade level.

Despite this assumption being relatively innocuous, it seems to be a controversial take in the last several years. Many advocates of modern translations have, I suppose indirectly, made the case that a 12th grade reading level is too high a bar to set for Christians in modernity. If the KJV is said to be too difficult to read, then what is inadvertently communicated is that Christians should not be expected to read at a high school level. This is the level, by the way, that is expected of a 17 year old graduating public high school. And that is assuming the highest level of difficulty for the KJV.

One solution that I have not seen entertained by the “KJV is too difficult” crowd is increasing the reading comprehension of the church. If it is the case that the average Christian does not read at the level of a nearly graduated high schooler, we do not have a KJV problem, we have an education problem. The assumption that the average Christian will find the KJV incomprehensible also comes with it the assumption that these people are comprehending language below the level of a high schooler. If this is truly the case, this is shocking, and something should be done about it, because the KJV is not going to be the only thing on the list of “works Christians cannot read.”

Perhaps the “KJV is too difficult” crowd is correct, and this is the canary in the coal mine for where the Christian church is at right now. If it is the case that Christians do not have the mental capacity to take on the English KJV, it is also the case that there are many, many works that they also do not have access to. Hidden in the assumption that the average Christian cannot read the KJV is also the assumption that the average Christian is effectively reading at a lower level than a publicly educated high schooler. This, to me, is deeply concerning if it is true.

I tend to be far more optimistic, and have far more faith in the Christian church. I have found the men and women in churches to be more studious and concerned with not only educating themselves, but educating their children than what has been presented by the “KJV is too difficult” crowd. Rather than assuming Christians simply do not have the mental capabilities to read the KJV, I believe they are able, especially in reformed circles. So rather than advocating for easier Bibles, perhaps it is more productive, and more beneficial to advocate for better readers.

Essay from Received Text Anthology Under Fire

Recently the Pacific Coast Presbytery (RPCNA) issued an “accusation of sin” to a minister based on an essay published in Why I Preach from the Received Text and an accompanying sermon, which were made public on the presbytery’s Facebook page. According to the clerk, “The main issue was the apparent connection of trusted English translations of the Bible to what the accused termed “Satan’s Bible”. He continues, “The presbytery gave a formal rebuke to the accused, laid out a path of repentance it wants to see, and assigned a three man committee to work with our brother.” I reached out to the minister in question for comment and the matter is still ongoing. I have decided to omit names and other information as the church deals with the matter internally. I’m sure my reader can easily track down the involved parties if they so desire, but I will not be commenting on the politics of the church. I will be commenting on this issue first from the substance of the argument and second from the implications that this has on the larger Received Text movement.

First, let’s take a look at what the author set forward in his essay. The work in question presents the reader with two Bibles, one which was produced by non-orthodox Christians which the author identifies as “Satan’s Bible”, and one which was “received and preserved”. The basic form of the argument is that there is one preserved text, and thus any divergent text must then be something else, in the case of the modern text, “Satanic.” I hope my reader can agree that the issue here is not the use of “Satanic,” but whether or not such language is appropriate in describing texts which are divergent to what the Protestant tradition has identified as “pure in all ages.” Let us consider the argument now.

If it is the case that modern texts diverge from the traditional text to such a degree that meaning is changed, it is reasonable to entertain the discussion of the progeny or origin of such divergent texts. If such corruptions were intentionally introduced to the Biblical text, we should inquire as to why. It is important to note that I am not discussing spelling mistakes or other accidental scribal errors here, but rather intentional omissions which are evident in modern texts (e.g. Mark 16:9-20; 1 John 5:7; John 7:53-8:11) typically represented by two codices (Aleph, B). The argument presented in the essay at hand is that false biblical texts were being circulated during Paul’s time, and that those texts came to be, in part or in whole, represented in the textual basis for modern texts. What might one call a text produced by false professors? The author argues that these texts are “Satanic” as they were produced by agents of Satan. “There has always been a synagogue of Satan and a synagogue of Christ, a Bible of Satan and a Bible of Christ. This can be traced throughout Scripture” (p. 162). If it is the case that enemies of the faith have meddled with the historical texts, then it follows that such texts, are at the very least in part, products of enemies of the faith. So what would my reader call a text that was produced by such parties?

If there are two competing texts or groups of texts wherein the differences between these texts are significant, are such texts ordained by God, accidents of history, or malicious interventions? In the first category we must assume that “no doctrines are affected” and that all bibles are equally the Bible. This is more or less the view of the modern critical text proponents. In the second category the assumption is that the Bible is just a natural phenomenon produced by humans which necessarily will contain errors because humans were exclusively responsible for transmitting it. This is also the view of some modern critical text proponents. The third category presents the idea that if God truly preserved His word down to every “jot and tittle,” any intentional omissions to the text may be reasonably viewed as a malicious device of enemies of the church and thus such texts would be viewed in a similar manner to other religious texts. The major difference between the modern text and other texts is that the text in question is almost the same as the historic Protestant text. This adds a layer of complexity to the conversation. If a text is not the original, inspired, text, is it the Bible? How many differences between the Divine Original and the text one has in their hand would it take to say, “This is not the Bible?” And if a text is not the Bible, what is it, exactly?

So how did the author get from, “This is not the Bible” to “This is a Satanic text?” If it is the case that these divergent texts were malicious devices of enemies of the faith, it can be argued that such texts are in fact, Satanic, regardless of how closely they resemble the traditionally accepted text. The author builds his argument on top of the theological premise that “every jot and tittle” is preserved, not that “all major doctrines are preserved.” If it were the case that these divergent texts were not mere mistakes of history, it is follows that such texts might be labeled as malicious devices. If these texts are not accidents of history, it follows that there must be some other explanation. The explanation provided in this case is malice rather than human error. I might conclude, along with my reader, that it is not beyond reason to imagine that Satan would meddle with God’s word. So we can at the very least see how the author came to such conclusions, whether my reader agrees with them or not.

The crux of this issue almost always comes down to one’s theology of Scripture. It is understandable that many have recoiled at having their bible called “satanic”. If it is the case that material differences to various texts do not change meaning, the term “satanic” is indeed shocking. Yet, if it is the case that such material changes do indeed change the meaning and form of the Bible, it should be within the Christian’s prerogative to ask, “What then are these divergent texts?” At the center of this controversy is the claim that such divergent texts are not accidents of history, but intentional corruptions introduced to deceive well intentioned, God fearing Christians. This seems to be a major contention on this topic. Are the multitude of differences between the modern text and historic text accidents of history and human error, or are they malicious devices intended to deceive the people of God? And if such changes are indeed the product of malicious meddling, what do we conclude about the product of such meddling?

There is something that seems to have been missed in this whole argument. The author is not motivated by the intention to smear fellow Christians, but rather to warn them away from deception. Just like any well meaning rebuke, the intent is to restore and build up. The problem is that most Christians who view this claim will perceive this as an attack on their faith, not as a warning to bring them away from malicious devices and towards the truth, which is the author’s intention. If the author is correct, he has an obligation to sound the alarm.

Proponents of multiple modern bibles make such arguments frequently as it pertains to so called “KJV Onlyists.” Prominent authors, pastors, and apologists in recent history have labeled “KJV Onlyists” and “TR Onlyists” as being a part of a cult. Is it too far a stretch to say that cults are satanic, or are their good, decent, well meaning Christian cults? I dare say that it would be somewhat naïve to assume that the implications of this discussion are not apparent to all. The modern bible advocates say that “no doctrines are affected” and that “we do not have the original”, and the Received Text advocates say, “we have the Bible, and it’s this one”. Let’s not pretend that there aren’t significant implications to both claims to the core of Evangelical and Protestant theology and praxis. Many people wish to say that this issue is secondary, or not important, while at the same time arguing that we do not have the original Bible in any of our texts or translations. The point is, if we put aside personalities and denominations and examine the actual claims made by each perspective, the necessary conclusion is that one is correct, and the other is not. It is my opinion that the church must graduate from the notion that this is a purely academic contention when it clearly is theological.

Regardless of where my reader lands on the controversy, I believe it reasonable to believe the best of the author, who as far as I can tell, made this claim without malice, with the intention to pull people away from danger. My goal with this article was to analyze the claim and walk my reader through the argument. Now that I have discussed the argument at some length, it is important to recognize that this controversy may have wider implications on the use of the Received Text in modern Reformed churches. We have already seen pastor(s) from the PCA pile on to the controversy, and it will be interesting to see if contributors to the anthology, some of which are members of the OPC, Confessional Baptist churches, and other denominations react to these events. Will representatives of these other organizations be subjected to similar criticism and discipline because of their participation in this work? Will the OPC or PCA bring charges to pastors for participating in the anthology? This may be a defining moment in the modern church’s development of the doctrine of Scripture.

What’s Wrong with One Translation?


Recently I saw a meme circulating which was quite representative of the Textual Discussion as it is represented on the Critical Text side. Please excuse the grammar of our dear author, it is a meme after all. The post went as follows:

Christians: It’s amazing that the Lord preserved His Scripture throughout History

KJV-Onlyer: Well yes, but actually no

The author of the meme added commentary which said,

When you say “the KJV is the only true translation. Every other one is a perversion.” What you are really saying is “I believe Satan has done more to spread Scripture and Gods word through countless translations than God did with His one”. KJV Onlyism is idolatry.


This meme demonstrates the reality that the average Christian who has perhaps watched the Dividing Line or has read The King James Only Controversy knows very little regarding the Textual Discussion. This is true, or perhaps the author is employing the leftist strategy of “accusing your enemy of that which you’re guilty of yourself.” I have seen both in conversation regarding this topic. The reality is that most Christians today do not defend the statement that “the Lord preserved His Scripture throughout History.” The Critical Text position and its advocates explicitly advocate against this theological premise in their literature and polemics. They often make such statements, but do not communicate any meaningful definition of “preservation.” What they advocate for is maintenance, not preservation. In order to support a claim such as, “The Lord preserved His Scripture throughout history”, the defenders of the Critical Text must make qualifying statements such as, “The Lord preserved His Scripture with great accuracy throughout history.” Which is to effectively say that the Lord did not preserve the Scriptures, He maintained them to some degree of precision. There is a huge difference between providential preservation and providential maintenance.

Providential Maintenance

What this message communicates is that the concept of “one true translation” is an idolatrous position, and those that believe such are thus idolaters. I’ll return to that momentarily, but first I want to highlight the fact that those in the Critical Text position do not believe that there are any Bibles which can be considered “true”. We read such theological positions stated by Dirk Jongkind, Mark Ward, Richard Brash, Daniel Wallace, and Andrew Naselli. According to the top scholars of the Critical Text, every translation and text has errors, and therefore none are “true” in the sense that they convey what the original said. This is why the author writes that all other texts must be Satanic, according to “KJV Onlyers.”

This is a hyper-polemic framing of the discussion. A translation can have errors and not be Satanic. We do not accuse our brethren of being “Satanic” when they make a mistake or err. What might be considered Satanic is when we confront our brothers in their sin and they persist in their sin without intention to repent. This is why the heart of the discussion is the theological root. Ultimately, the conversation is not in essence about a particular translation or text. The truly Satanic idea is that God has not spoken clearly. At the heart of this debate is the theological question, Yea, hath God said?”. It is the same line of reasoning made by the Serpent in Eden. The Serpent first misquotes God, and then Eve adds to God’s Word. When somebody articulates the position that God has not preserved His Word, He has merely maintained it, they are implying that God has not spoken clearly. If Scripture is not settled and known, then neither is God’s voice to His people. And if God’s voice is changing and unknown, so is God. And if God is mutable, He is not God. The so called “KJV Onlyer” is actually the one with any justification to call those that reject the notion of a perfect text an “Idolater,” because these people seemingly worship a god who can change. Thus we see the rhetorical strategy of “accuse your enemy of that which you’re guilty of yourself” in full swing.

Yet if we back up momentarily, there is no need for immediate accusations of idolatry. Many men in the Christian church simply believe the Critical Text paradigm in their ignorance. Conversely, some in the so called “KJV Only” crowd also have error. Do we call them all idolaters? I suggest that we avoid such blanket accusations. First, it is wise to characterize opposing opinions accurately, which unfortunately, the author of this meme has not taken care to do. There are many in the Critical Text camp who still believe that Textual Criticism is the “effort of lower criticism to use the collection of extant manuscripts to create the original as it was penned.” We know that this is not the case, as the effort is actually to “describe the transmission history of the New Testament according to the extant manuscripts.” The Textual Scholars do not claim to know what the original said, nor do they claim that their methods can ascertain such a text. In order to ensure that they are not misconstrued, they further state that even if the original were in their hands, they would not know it. There is absolutely zero doubt when it comes to the scholars’ belief that they cannot find the Divine Original, though they may desire such an end goal in their hearts, as many do.

Now I will return to the concept of a “true translation.”

A True Translation

The concept of a “true translation” should not be associated with evil, as we see here from our author. Every Christian should desire such a Bible. If our Bibles be not true, then how can we make any claims from them? In the last decade, we have seen many calls for the retirement of such a theology. Yet all of our claims as Christians rely on such a standard. If it is the case that our Bibles are not “true translations,” then what are the value of our truth claims? Christianity devolves into a sort of subjective mysticism. It is no surprise that this is more or less the actual state of the modern Christian. They are more akin to subjectivist mystics than historical, orthodox, believers. If it is the case that Christianity is the true religion, then it must be the case that this religion has some sort of claim to that authoritative truth. This is why Christians do in fact claim that “the Lord preserved His Scripture throughout History.” In fact, this claim must be true in order for Christianity to be true. Yet we observed above that this is not the claim of the Critical Text. Their claim is that “The Lord has maintained His text with great accuracy throughout History.”

This in mind, I suspect my reader can understand why Christians need the theological concept of a “true translation” (or text) in order to support anything they believe. Notice that I have not made a claim regarding which translation is true? The fact stands that Christians need at least one “true translation.” This theological principle is outright rejected by the Critical Text advocate. Something that is preserved can be consumed while something that is maintained is admittedly deteriorated and is deteriorating. Once an object falls into the state of maintenance, it is only a matter of time before that thing must be decommissioned. An interesting note here is that the Critical Text paradigm places the Scriptures in the state of man – fallen, requiring salvation and maintenance. The Scriptures are said to have fallen and require reconstruction. They must be made new again. The historical orthodox position places the Scriptures in the category of God – never changing, perfect, accessible.

So is it truly idolatry to believe that there are “true translations”? The answer is clear. Not only is it not idolatry, it is actually a necessary precondition for Christianity itself. Nobody alive today saw the resurrection or witnessed the events of the Scriptures. Without the Scriptures, Christians have no progeny, no doctrine, no nothing. It is a first principle of the Christian faith. This does not mean that only one “true translation” can or does exist, it simply means that at least one must exist.


If it is the case that Christianity requires a preserved, settled, available text, and it is, then it follows that the pursuit of Christians should be to get their hands on such a text and avail themselves of it. Unfortunately, the modern effort seems to be the opposite of such a pursuit. The scholars carry on about how the text does not exist, and how Christians should be happy with what is available. The text was not preserved, it was maintained, and we are lucky to have what we do have. Anybody who claims that there is a “true translation” is an idolater and implicitly accuses the brethren of Satanic influence. Despite this reality, the author of the meme does get something correct, that Christians believe “that the Lord preserved His Scripture throughout History.” All Christians advocate this position because it must be true in order to have one thing called “Christianity.” If the alternative is true, and we have a maintained text, than what we’re left with are a number of “christianities,” none more correct than the other. That is why the author believes that “Satan has done more to spread Scripture and Gods word through countless translations than God did with His one.” The necessary conclusion of the author is that all translations must be true. Such a claim is absurd. There are unfaithful translations, and there are faithful translations. There are true translations, and translations that are not true to the original. If the author wishes to extrapolate the meaning that Satan has done more to influence the world than God, that is on him. Such a meaning mitigates the power of God in history through His Word prior to the 20th century when modern versions were created. Let me remind my reader that this “textual problem” is not new to the church, but the church has not sided with Marcion or the Pope historically like we see today. This battle has always existed, though I would argue that for the first time the church has sided incorrectly. Does that make the modern church “Satanic” or “Idolaters?” I’m sure my reader can agree that much of what we see in the modern church falls into those categories, though unlike our meme author, I will not cast a blanket net over the whole of those who read modern bibles. The modern church has a plethora of serious issues, lack of belief in the Scriptures being high on that list.

I will leave my reader with a concluding thought to consider. Are Christians sinful, in error, or idolatrous for attempting to identify a bible as “The Bible?” Does the existence of a “true translation” nullify the existence of other “true translations” past and present? I suspect your answers to such questions will reveal the foolishness of the meme in question.

“Show Me Which TR!”


In a previous article I had mentioned how one of the failures of the TR camp in the last two years was acquiescing to the “Which TR?” objection. That’s what it is, an objection. It is not a genuine question because it assumes that the TR position requires one, distinct, printed text to be consistent. It imposes a premise upon our argument. Therefore, in responding to this question, we assume this false premise and give the argument over to the Critical Text advocate who is arguing in bad faith. Many TR advocates, including myself, will answer this question with the Scrivener TR. We do so, not because of the Scrivener TR, but because we claim it represents a text form that is original. So what the Critical Text advocate is looking for is for the TR advocate to identify a text so that they can “prove” that it is not the Bible. This is very revealing, that a so called “Christian” would engage in such behavior as “disproving” the Bible, but I digress. In order to even get to the discussion of “Which TR?” we must first agree that the Bible exists today.

What the TR position advocates for is that God inspired His Word, and that Word was providentially preserved in all ages such that we have that very original available to us today. This is the necessary criteria for Christians today to make the claim that “The Bible is the inspired Word of God.” Without the doctrine of providential preservation, we have no Bible. The conclusion then is that the Christian church does not have any authority for the doctrines she espouses, if not for providential preservation. If Dan Wallace & Co. are correct, that we do not have the original today, and that we wouldn’t know it if we did, then there is not a single doctrine that can be said to be original. The Muslims know this, which is why they keep debating James White. They love to see Christians slander their own text. The “Which TR?” question has its place among believers that actually believe The Bible exists, but not outside of that.

Which TR? Which Christianity?

In order to answer the “Which TR?” question, one first has to adopt the premise that God preserved his word in a printed Greek text. This is what the question is trying to do. It corners one into a false premise. This is not the premise of the TR position. It is a premise that Critical Text advocates have imposed upon the argument in order to win debates, and people that defend the historic protestant position on Scripture have given up ground in the discussion by entertaining this question to people that do not believe an original text exists. That is why they will ask questions like, “Did the Bible exist before the TR?” They have a fundamental misunderstanding of the position. We know this is a loaded question because TR advocates argue that the Bible existed prior to the printing press, “in all ages.”

This is why providential preservation is the crux of the TR position. A proper understanding of the Theology of the text is critical to actually understanding this discussion. The Critical Text position boasts that it is “not theological,” and thus do not attempt to understand the discussion outside of their paradigm. The missing component to this discussion is that printed texts are representative. They point to a text. That is why it is nonsensical to ask the question, “Do you think the Bible existed before the TR?” It assumes that the TR position believes that the Bible came into existence over a thousand years after it was penned, which we do not. I will use Kruger’s terminology here when I say that the “ontological” text existed the second the canon was closed. The Bible existed in its entirety when John finished his last stroke scribing Revelation.

This is the difference between the Critical Text position and the TR position. The Critical Text position does not claim that any existing text is representative of the original. They will only state that printed texts are “greatly accurate,” or “good enough” – whatever that means. They will not define what exactly “greatly accurate” means, but they will posit that every text, every translation, and every manuscript is not representative of the original. This is shocking, yet Christians defend this theological statement as orthodox. It is not.

So there are two opposing worldviews in the textual discussion. One states that the Bible was inspired, preserved, and is available now. So if both sides of the discussion can agree that the Bible is available, “Which one?” is appropriate because it is a genuine question of inquiry. The other says that the Bible was inspired but not preserved, and we do not have that original now. Further, they claim that even if one of our texts or translations were original, we would not have the ability to know it due to gaps in their methodology. This is the crux of the discussion. One side believes we have The Bible, the other believes that we have many bibles which essentially say the same thing as each other (even though they do not). My point is that there is no value in discussing the question, “Which Bible?” with somebody that does not believe “The Bible” exists today.


My question is this: why do we entertain the loaded questions from people who do not believe that The Bible exists? Even more, why do we let them force false premises upon us? Should we not, like the forefathers of our faith, be on the offense towards men that reject the Scriptures, rather than be defensive? I do not say that the Critical Text advocates “reject Scripture” as an insult. They quite literally argue that the original Bible, the Scriptures, do not exist today. This is their entire premise and justification for the continued effort of textual scholarship. These men do not have any true authority, because they reject the premise that an absolute authority exists today, only parts of it. And they will not, to my knowledge, identify which parts of Scripture are authoritative. They will only say that “The important parts” are preserved. But what parts of Scripture are important, and which are not? The Scriptures say that “all Scripture” is authoritative, not “just the parts pertaining to salvation.”

The TR position does not claim that the Bible must be a single, authoritative, printed text. If this was the premise, then we would then have to say that the Bible did not exist until the printing press. Yet we do not make this claim, therefore to answer this question without clarification of theology would require that we adopt a false premise. What the TR position does claim is that the original text exists because God has preserved it. In this age, we argue that this text is represented by the TR. The ontological text has always existed in every age, first in manuscripts, then in printed texts. We have that text reflected in the TR. There may be some room for nuance once we accept this theological premise, but not before. If one does not accept that the Bible has been preserved, there is no room for nuance, and that is what the TR camp has failed to understand. When somebody makes the claim that Jesus existed, but somebody then argues that the picture we have of him is not accurate, we do not then entertain the nuances of that conversation. We evangelically proclaim that Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world to save sinners. There is no room for nuance there, or Jesus quickly becomes “a wise teacher, a prophet, but not God”. This is effectively the claim of the Critical Text. “The Bible is good and sufficient, but not perfect. It’s good for what it’s good for, but should not be exalted as perfect.” To do so has been called “Bibliolotry” by those in the Critical Text camp.

We must first demand that our Critical Text opponents demonstrate their orthodoxy before engaging in a nuanced conversation. Otherwise the conversation is not about “Which Bible?”, it is a debate over whether The Bible exists at all. There is indeed a nuanced conversation to be had among those that actually believe the Bible exists today and can be held in our hands. Until we agree on that point, we must be evangelical, not academic. This may be considered a “hot take,” but it is true. If somebody does not believe the Bible is the Word of God (original), that is where we have to start. The reason we must do this is because we will never gain any ground with somebody who does not believe the Bible has been preserved, just like we will never gain any ground with somebody who does not believe Jesus is perfect. In the last two years I have seen the TR camp lose ground because we are not willing to push back on the claim that the Bible does not exist. Instead we entertain “irenic” discussions with people who do not believe we have the Bible as though that is not a severe error. Of course we maintain our Christian character and composure in these discussions, but we do not surrender ground to those that deny a pillar of the faith we proclaim. Without a preserved, original, Bible, we do not have any grounds for authoritative truth claims, which is the foundational premise for our evangelism, preaching, and ministry. We claim to have absolute truth, and therefore the authority from which we get our truth must be absolute. If the Bible is only “greatly accurate,” then Christianity is only “greatly accurate.” There is not one Bible, there is not one Christianity, there are just lost scriptures and lost gospels.

The Substance of the Traditional Position on Scripture


I have written in the past that I believe that focusing on textual variations, “which TR?”, and manuscripts misses the point of the Textual Discussion. My basic argument is based on the premise that the position who affirms the Critical Text fundamentally rejects any methodology which would make such discussions meaningful. The methodological gap, which points to a 200 + year gap in the manuscript data prevents any certain conclusions on a genealogical text such as the CBGM. There is no direct evidential pathway back to a complete original text, which explains the uncertainty of the scholars as it pertains to the Divine Original. The reason textual scholars do not make conclusions regarding the text is due to the fact that it would be inconsistent and unscientific to do so. This results in the academic consensus being something akin to, “What we have is accurate enough.”

What my reader needs to understand is that the Biblical standard is not “accurate enough,” it is “every jot and title” (Mat. 5:18). When we engage with Critical Text advocates, understand that we are talking about two distinct things. The scholars are referring to a general text that dates back to the 3rd or 4th century, not the Divine Original. The scope of Textual Scholarship is limited by its methodology to the history of transmission, not ascertaining what was delivered from the authorial pen. It is important here to point out that the limitation is one of methodological nature, not scholarly intent. There are many textual scholars who desire to obtain the original. This desire is in conflict with the actual methodology. Despite a scholar’s good intentions, these religious feelings can never overcome the evidential limitations of the methodology itself.

This being the case, the methodology of the Critical Text cannot make claims regarding textual variations or manuscripts that have anything to do with the Divine Original. So if the claim made by Critical Text advocates is that their method is able to determine the original, and it cannot do that, it has no value to the Christian church. It is a mere scholarly exercise. This is why the substance of the Traditional apologetic for Scripture is distinctly theological. We must reason from Scripture outwards and apply Biblical truths. The critical flaw in the Critical Text is that it reasons from evidence and applies its conclusions to the Scriptures. This method of thinking is notably a secular pattern, not a Christian one.

The Largest Flaw in the TR Position is Recognizing Secular Thinking as Valid

The largest flaw in the TR position right now is that TR advocates validate the methodologies of the Critical Text by recognizing the methods, questions, and conclusions as logical or founded. I have seen TR advocates entertain debates over textual variants with people who do not believe a conclusion can be made one way or the other. Instead of pointing to the logical contradiction of their opponent, they allow the Critical Text advocate to debate evidence as if they believe that evidence says anything about the original. “1 John 5:7 is not original” is a claim that cannot be substantiated by any evidential reasoning because of the methodological gap. TR advocates allow their opponents to apply their standards to the debate, despite their standards not having anything meaningful to say about the original text. This is exemplified in the “Which TR?” question, which is a loaded question that only demonstrates one’s misunderstanding of the position entirely. In answering such questions, or debating such topics as textual variants, the TR advocate surrenders ground to the Critical Text advocate and recognizes their thinking as valid, which it is not.

We must be willing to reject the very premises of the questions offered by the Critical Text advocate. They have nothing to say about the original, so we need to focus on that. We need to reason from Scripture outward and demonstrate that these scholars and laymen do not believe that Scripture exists today. They only believe that parts of Scripture likely exist today, and what we have might be Scripture. The only thing they do claim with certainty is that the core message of the Bible has been preserved, yet they do so without any grounds. If any one part of Scripture can be said to have fallen away, there is zero guarantee that any part of it is original. This is demonstrated by the claims of the scholars themselves and the continued changes to their own text. They do not believe the Critical Text or translations made from it are original. At the core of their belief is the notion that the meaning of the text cannot change, despite material changes to the text itself. This is a suspension of reality and logic. Critical Text scholars make the claim that a high percentage of textual variants are due to a slip of the pen, spelling errors, or copyist errors, but the debate is not over whether or not these kinds of errors exist or if they are meaningful. Everybody recognizes these insignificant errors. The debate is over the large number of material changes that do make a difference. Even if the scholars were to claim that the Bible is 95% accurate, 5% of 500,000+ textual variants is substantial and significant.

That is why I want my reader to understand what “greatly accurate” or “good enough” actually means. If the Bible is 95% accurate, there are still a huge number of places that are inaccurate. If the scholars say that they can guarantee the text to a 95% degree of accuracy (which they don’t), there are still hundreds, if not thousands of places that are not simple slip of the pen errors, which are undetermined. Do not let the scholars use this kind of language to downplay the severity of their methodological gap. When we recognize their claims, we recognize their methods, and we validate their position. We must demonstrate the foolishness of the whole machine by focusing on the fact that they cannot make the claims they do. There is no way to uphold that the Bible is reliable while also claiming it to be “greatly accurate,” because “greatly accurate” still means that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of significant indeterminate variations or missing portions of the text.


The state of Textual Criticism is the same as it has been for decades. There is nothing substantial that has been discovered. There are no new methodologies that have radically changed the game. No, not even the CBGM. The only thing that has changed is how comfortable scholars are with denying the historical, orthodox position on Scripture and the church’s willingness to believe their claims. I would challenge any Critical Text pastor to follow up the Scripture reading every Sunday with this going forward, “This is the Bible, which is greatly accurate, but not original.” Bring your academic exercise into the pulpit and see how it goes for you. And to my TR readers, we must resist letting Critical Text advocates get away with calling the Word of God incomplete. We cannot entertain foolish questions and claims. We must reason from the Scriptures out, and lay God’s Word on our opponents, and pray that the Lord changes their hearts and minds.

The Scholarly Scramble


In a manner of what I hope is familiar to my reader, I intend to comment on the scholar types in the Christian church, and demonstrate that the issues of yesterday are the very same that rear their ugly head today and will yet again come out tomorrow to do more of the same work. What I have observed in my study of history and the present is that the work of the scholar, while presented as “scientific” and objective, almost never attempts to hold itself to such standards. When a layperson attempts to provide basic critiques of the conclusions of the scholar class, they are derided and set aside as “cultish” or something similar. Yet the “simpleton” knows that something of scientific nature should not be so fragile and delicate that it cannot withstand the objections of such a simple minded person. So let it be said, that if one follows a pattern of thinking which is called “scientific” that cannot withstand the critiques from the class of the unlearned, it is likely the case that whatever is being paraded around as “science” is nothing more than a superstition.

The Superstition of the Scholar-Adjacent

Recently, in an article posted on the Evangelical Text Criticism Blog, Richard Brash states that “The biblical evidence thus suggests that accurate copies of Scripture are to be distinguished from inaccurate ones.” He also states that, “…it is unwise to tether our doctrine of providential preservation to particular “approved” manuscript or manuscript tradition. The Bible does not give the church today the authority to do this.” In other words, the Bible ‘states ‘suggests’ that accurate copies of Scripture can be distinguished, but God has not given the church authority to do so. Well, that leaves the people of God in quite the predicament, does it not? The Bible is preserved, but not specifically. He concludes by stating, “In conclusion, God has preserved his written word by his singular care and providence, with great accuracy and in great purity. Despite its complexities, preservation by ordinary providence in both special and general modes seems to be the best theological account of providential preservation based on the biblical data.”

After reading Brash’s pamphlet along with this article, I am no closer to arriving at any particular truth than I was at the outset. Since God, according to the author, has not bestowed any authority on the people of God with an ability to distinguish which manuscripts (or more accurately readings) are original, it surprises me that any scholar would dare pick up any particular version of the Scriptures. See, if we do not have such authority, it would seem to be stepping over a line to give such a vote of confidence to a Bible such that we would read it and assume that the pages we read are indeed original. Such would be an exercise of pride and a demonstration of our own vanity!


We find ourselves yet again at the scholarly conclusion of uncertainty. What we have is “good enough” and so on. Yet, the scholar class betrays themselves by writing such articles and hosting such blogs. If what we have is something of “great accuracy and in great purity,” what exactly is the purpose of such endeavors? It appears contradictory to invest such time and effort in providing such nuanced analysis of texts that are perfectly adequate! If it is the case that the church has no authority to decide upon texts, then how can we justify our esteemed departments of textual studies at our beloved seminaries? Or does this only apply to those that disagree with our author? Forgive me, a simpleton, for asking such questions.

If I dare venture into the realm of speculation, I suspect I could conclude with great accuracy and in great purity that the cohort of authors supporting this blog do see the necessity of making conclusions on the text of Scripture. It is perhaps why they have spent so much time and effort pointing people in the other direction. If the simpletons in the pew were to conclude that that the Bible requires a stable text, well, that would be tragic to the field of textual studies and textual criticism. This is the inescapable conclusion of the whole matter, as I see it. The entire discipline in question serves to produce texts that are translated and distributed to the masses. If it were the case that the available texts were as “pure” as these authors say, it seems that they are engaged in an exercise of futility at best. Yet we do not see these scholar types behaving as men who have a greatly accurate, pure text. What can be seen with a common eye is a class of men who produce new editions and translations year after year, each differing from the previous editions. This effort is an apparent contradiction, if it is the case that a) God has not given the authority to men to do this and b) if the texts were of such quality as stated in the article and other similar places. In summary, the scholars have said nothing new.