We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Process Theology: Inspiration





PROCESS THEOLOGY:
INSPIRATION

by R.E. Slater
July 16, 2022




They live in a cyberpunk distopia but they look fly while doing it...

- Ashe, WestWorld, Season 3.6





First Observation

I'm a WestWorld Sci-Fi Junkie and just like the TV Series Wheel of Time can't get enough of these Isaac Asimov-like worlds of the future.

When I heard this cyberpunk statement in a video commentary by Collider or HaxDogma I couldn't help but think of BibleWorld - the world I live in, and have lived in, all my life. And as in my past, and now currently, am trying to do a better job of listening to, and understanding, OtherWorlds, from yet another perspective produced by my deep interest in process theology.

In the past I had mistakenly assumed BibleWorld was JesusWorld which includes at its core GodisLoveWorld. But lately, it does not seem this way as BibleWorld has become more like WestWorld in its violence towards others and self-centered attitudes. Though I'm sure SecularWorld has crept into BibleWorld there is also an UsWorld which is secular to it's core; very pagan; very indifferent to God; unloving; and, well, self-centered in everything it does. In contrast, A Jesus-centered Process theology teaches the inherent worth of others and to see life from their perspective. 

But before I go any further let me just say that mankind, as is creation, are infilled with the Image of God. That the Divine Imago Dei is loving, altruistic, selfless, sacrificial, and Other-oriented - and we can be this way too when we want to be. Meaning, we fight this ying-yang within ourselves of good v. evil, or a spiritual lack v. a Spirit infilling of our words and actions. But a fight that fundamentally was won by Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. A fight which is now being waged in the living lives of humanity and creation. A creation which can be more than itself but it takes a resurrected God of redemption to have made this so.

Second Observation

My BibleWorld is being replaced yet again by JesusWorld. Religious tradition like anything else needs refocusing from time to time. But in the BibleWorld of Christianity such as we see in the Biblebelt Churches of America, BibleWorld has conveniently forgotten Jesus' warnings and anti-Temple practices to Love God and not power as he stood against Judaism's current version of legalism over God's grace. Hence, BiblebeltWorld was not infilling its gospel with JesusWorld but  instead with MeWorld or ReligiousWorld. And it has been heartbreaking to watch.

I live in anguish and anger at BibleWorld's destruction of itself and society around it. It's religious rage is harming, destructive, demeaning. It believes itself to be acting like Jesus in righteous anger but has only shown itself to be acting like the religious hypocrites Jesus railed against. And the legalistic, religious Domionists of BibleWorld are also breaking apart a floundering American Democracy wishing to expand its democracies to all citizens and not just to the sectarian nationalists who are claiming their rights and beliefs as supreme over all other rights and beliefs. Whether it was Native Americans, Blacks in slavery, or groups like BLM/LGTBQ/Women, BibleWorld is often oppressive to those around it.

My new world - as I am trying to construct it and live it, albeit with my many flaws - is now becoming JesusWorld = GodisLoveWorld. No longer is BibleWorld at its theological center with all its many socio-political structural flaws, inequalities, racisms, and bigotries of every kind.

I've decided if i) the God I worship isn't Love, and ii) God's Love isn't the center of Jesus' Gospel, than all I've believed and have lived for is but chaff worthy of the fire or like a clanging brassy cymbal with its excessive grinding noise upon my migraine-induced church headache and theological ear.

I've had enough of EvangelicWorldFundamentalWorldJudgementalWorld. Of God'sWrathWorld. I wish to lean into RedLetterChristianWorld not only by word and deed but by doctrine, theology, and try to stay away from theological dogma, rules and laws, and self-righteous idolatry.

Third Observation

At the heart of all of this uproar is how BibleWorld reads it's Bible. I use to think the verbal plenary inspiration of the bible (VPI) was true. The church doctrine of VPI insists that the bible is true in all its words, tenses, and uses of its words (verbal); and is true in everything it describes across all of life, its events, and knowledge (plenary)

Now I find this doctrine deeply unhelpful. I was taught to read the bible literally, grammatically, historically, and contextually. All good except for reading the bible literally. This isn't good. Literalism has been the byproduct of reading the bible unquestioningly in its verbal and plenary forms which then has lead to the errant doctrine of biblical inerrancy which means the bible is error free even in its errors... (I know, a bit of an oxymoron).

The short of it is... the bible is a collection of cultural beliefs... some of which narratives speak of God but mostly speak of ancient religious beliefs about God. Since those days I would like to suggest we have done a lot more thinking of God which are just as worthy of consideration as those in the bible. Heresy! Right? No, process theology has a different take on Divine Inspiration which I'll explain in the addendum further below.

Fourth Observation

Over the years I've searched and searched and can find no helpful hermeneutic of the bible which can save it from the polarizing diatribes of preachers and congregations. My own hermeneutical preference is centered on some hash of Process-based Covenant Reformed Theology because its what I'm familiar with. It's also how I intend to revise Covenant Theology underlaid by Process Philosophy.

In the past I did a lot of work on biblical themes of promise, community, continuity v discontinuity between the Testaments, Law v Grace, Jesus as the Midpoint of Salvific History, Kingdom, Messianic Christ, as so forth. Now I intend these themes are restate them in process terms hoping to lift up BibleWorld back into JesusWorld and GodisLoveWorlds again.

What I am leaving behind is WesternChurchWorld = JohnCalvinTheologyWorld (determism) = EvangelicalWorld. I began with ArminianWorld (freewill) then lifted it up to include OpenandRelationalTheologyWorld and lastly discovered ProcessWorld easily incorporated the last two ventures into its  own OpenandRelationalProcessWorld. At the last, ProcessWorld seems a much healthier version of GodisLoveWorld = JesusWorld = RedLetterChristianWorld.

In contrast, a Self-Professing Bible built on today's evangelical church beliefs admits to closed, circular arguments of its doctrines and its religious communities circumspection of life. The problem? It cannot disprove itself because its artificial churchy boundaries have been raised so high and are attended to daily. Thus, their ApologeticWorld is more like BlindMindedWorld than it is IlluminatingWorld.

In my own experience, Christian friends have willfully closed their ears, overtalked me in arguments, showed great indifference to the church's movement away from its first love in Jesus, and have either unfriended, abandoned, or consigned me to their version of anathema... even as they have consigned their own faith to anathema by not listening to people like myself, or say, Rachel Held Evans, who have expressed deep concerns, criticisms, and movement in other directions more helpful to the Christian faith. At the last, I can no longer subscribe to the verbal, plenary inspiration and inerrancy of the bible as proper church confessions to my own faith profession. Its results are choking the church with unlove and excluding fellowship and all the while misleading the Church of God down the wayward paths of idolatrous biblicism.
Conclusion

And so, I've left BibleWorld's fortresses and bastions and have headed out across a WestWorld of God's own lands and countries to find another world more like God'sWorld and less like CardboardWorld.

Central in my journeys must be a God of love; a Christ who redeems; the need to advocate for loving redemption; and a healthy suspicion towards those who speak for God when seeing death and destruction coming by their words and deeds of sin and evil. At the last,

We all live in our own cyberpunk distopias but perhaps rather than looking fly about it in appearance to others we might better concentrate on a loving heart honoring God and neighbor.

Peace,

R.E. Slater
July 16, 2022


Verbal, Plenary Inspiration (VPI = VPP preservation)

Definition: We believe that the inspiration of the Bible is plenary (inspiration extends to all parts of the Bible equally), verbal (inspiration extends to the words, letters, tenses and other parts of speech used in Scripture).

A Qualifier to the Idea of Divine Inspiration

A new Process definition of Inerrant VPP is both a delimiting, yet expanded, version of Divine Inspiration from its Classic Version:

In fact, God has been speaking to mankind throughout time immemorial of the homo sapien journey - including its evolving idea of God. Even as God has been speaking to creation since the beginning of time, in everyway possible, and by all means possible - whether through creational evolution or by the socio-political theologies of evolving religions, God has not stopped speaking. It is on us to hear God's heart aright and bring His Words to light by the best possible means.
Moreover, in order for God to speak to creation God must be presently immanent within-and-about creation. No man, or any part of creation, may restrict God's Words to a culturally, temporally, or geographically-limiting location by way of dead documents or religious interpretations holding to an admixture of God's Words with man's errant religious beliefs. God's Words of Love are transportable across time and cultures by loving words and deeds regardless of the religious institution, even that of the Church, which says otherwise. - re slater

Inspiration's Historical Perspective

Presently, when God speaks, God is speaking everywhere and through everyone - especially to those the Church may not deem Christian. Such is the nature of divine inspiration. It is wide open, expansive, unrestraining, and most of the time troubling to behold when understanding the deafness we give to it. The prophets of the bible were especially upset over God's people not loving one another or their neighbors. In effect, Israel doomed itself on its rise to power and prominence but restricting God's loving words and deeds to forms of institutionalization of God's heart via man-made laws and doctrines. They had lost God's speech within their own speech and works.

Further, whenever God speak's into our minds and hearts I don't expect for a minute that God's inspiration comes out "inerrant and error-free, all-knowing or all-fulfilling, or even to be beheld as unquestioning." It simply is coming out through the filters of lives God is speaking to both then and now. How we might hear God's inspiration to us would be different from another of the same message. 

In this case, I can point to the process community I've discovered. At present, we are all speaking of the same God of love in many different ways and forms. It's how the Spirit of God works and is comforting to see as a body "politic" comes together in solidarity to what Christian is and isn't. However, that doesn't mean that this same community cannot be corrupted some time in the future. Especially if it is institutionalized by the Church via doctrine and dogma. Which is why I and others write so vociferously to help guide Process Christians in principle rather than by dogma.

Conclusion

So forgive me if I read the bible as a collection of imperfect documents sharing the narratives of men and women who, like us, were trying to figure out what a God of love meant to them in their lives, their tribes, their heritage, traditions, folklores, believes, and relationships with those around them.

If God is a God of Love then that Love must be judicially restorative, generative, renewing, valuative, and conjoining. If it is just all blood and guts, legalisms, stonings, and genocides than no, those bible people got it wrong back then just like today's Church of bible people have gotten it wrong again in inspiration's hit-and-miss history.

R.E. Slater
July 17-18, 2022









Verbal plenary preservation

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In Protestant theologyverbal plenary preservation (VPP) is a doctrine concerning the nature of the Bible. While verbal plenary inspiration ("VPI") applies only to the original autographs of the Bible manuscript, VPP views that, "the whole of Scripture with all its words even to the jot and tittle is perfectly preserved by God in the apographs[1][2] without any loss of the original words, prophecies, promises, commandments, doctrines, and truths, not only in the words of salvation, but also the words of history, geography and science; and every book, every chapter, every verse, every word, every syllable, every letter is infallibly preserved by the Lord Himself to the last iota so that the Bible is not only infallible and inerrant in the past (in the autographs), but also infallible and inerrant today (in the apographs)."[3]

Basis

The doctrine of VPP is founded on God's promise in the Scripture to perfectly preserve his words and this is affirmed in the historical confessional statements of the Christian faith.[4][5][6]

Scripture

God's inspired words once given will be forever preserved: "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever" (Psalm 12:6-7). Those who deny that the Bible teaches preservation say that verse 7 here refers to the preservation of God's people, not His words.[7][8]

The late Carl McIntire, the founding pastor of the historic Bible Presbyterian Church, understood verse 7 to mean preservation of the divinely inspired words of God as he had preached in 1992 a sermon entitled "Help, Lord!", from Psalm 12, saying:[9]

"Now come verse 6, ‘The words of the LORD are pure words,’ not one of them is mistaken, ‘as silver tried in the furnace of earth, purified seven times.’ All the dregs are out. Here is a marvelous affirmation and vindication that God's Word is perfect. ... Now, ‘The words of the LORD are pure words.’ And then verse 7, how I love this: ‘Thou shalt keep them O LORD,’ that is, keep His words; ‘thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.’ No matter what happens, one generation come and another passes away, God is going to preserve His words ... from one generation to another. The words of God will be preserved throughout all the generations.

Other Bible verses quoted to support divine preservation being verbal (words) and plenary (all, full, entire or complete) include the following:[10][3][11][12]

  • Psalm 105:8: "He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations."
  • Ecclesiastes 3:14: "l know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him."
  • Matthew 4:4: "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (See also Luke 4:4 for similar verse.)
  • Matthew 5:18: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
  • Matthew 24:35: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (See also Mark 13:31 and Luke 21:33 for similar verses.)
  • John 10:35: "If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken."
  • 1 Peter 1:25: "But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."

Confessional statements

The confessional statements supporting VPP include the following:[13][11][14]

Westminster Confession of Faith ("WCF") (1643–1648)

The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them (Chapter 1:8)

The 1658 Savoy Declaration of Faith and Order, the 1677/1689 London Confession of Faith and the 1742 Philadelphia Confession of Faith all follow WCF 1:8.[15][16]

Helvetic Consensus (1675)

God, the supreme Judge, not only took care to have His Word, which is the ‘power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth’ (Rom 1:16), committed to writing by Moses, the prophets, and the apostles, but has also watched and cherished it with paternal care ever since it was written up to the present time, so that it could not be corrupted by craft of Satan or fraud of man. Therefore, the church justly ascribes it to His singular grace and goodness that she has, and will have to the end of the world, a ‘sure word of prophecy’ (2 Pet 1:19) and ‘holy Scriptures’ (2 Tim 3:15), from which, though heaven and earth perish, ‘one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass’ (Matt 5:18). (Canon I)

Like the Helvetic Consensus Formula, the Westminster Confession of Faith cites Matthew 5:18 as proof text of the special providential preservation of the divinely inspired Holy Scripture.[17][11][18] The late Rev Dr Carl McIntire also understood Chapter 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith to be teaching the special providential preservation of God's words when continuing from what was quoted above in his 1992 sermon entitled "Help, Lord!", from Psalm 12, he said with regard to verses 6 and 7:[19]

Now I am very happy that in the great Confessions of the Christian world, our Confession—the Westminster Confession—has its Chapter 1 on the Word of God. ... Now the Lord says, "I am going to keep my Word—it is like silver that has been tried. I am going to keep that to all generations, all generations." That means that no matter what the conditions are, God is going to have on this earth some churches and some pastors until the last generation were taken away who will maintain this Word like we are doing here and like we are seeking to do throughout the whole Christian world.

Views

Timothy Tow (Singapore)

On VPI and VPP the late Rev Dr Timothy Tow, founding pastor of the Bible-Presbyterian Church and founding principal of Far Eastern Bible College ("FEBC"), wrote: "We believe the preservation of Holy Scripture and its Divine inspiration stand in the same position as providence and creation. If Deism teaches a Creator who goes to sleep after creating the world is absurd, to hold to the doctrine of inspiration without preservation is equally illogical. ... Without preservation, all the inspiration, God-breathing into the Scriptures, would be lost. But we have a Bible so pure and powerful in every word and it is so because God has preserved it down through the ages."[20]

Ian Paisley (Northern Ireland)

On the same twin doctrines the late Rev Dr Ian Paisley, moderator of the Ulster Free Presbyterian Church for more than 57 years,[21] said: "The verbal Inspiration of the Scriptures demands the verbal Preservation of the Scriptures. Those who would deny the need for verbal Preservation cannot be accepted as committed to verbal Inspiration. If there is no preserved Word of God today then the work of Divine Revelation and Divine Inspiration has perished."[10]

Edward F. Hills (U.S.)

The late Dr Edward F. Hills also penned: "If the doctrine of divine inspiration of the Old and New Testament Scriptures is a true doctrine, the doctrine of the providential preservation of these Scriptures must also be a true doctrine. It must be that down through the centuries God has exercised a special, providential control over the copying of the Scriptures and the preservation and use of the copies, so that trustworthy representatives of the original text have been available to God's people in every age. God must have done this, for if He gave the Scriptures to His Church by inspiration as the perfect and final revelation of His will, then it is obvious that He would not allow this revelation to disappear or undergo any alteration of its fundamental character."[22]

William Aberhart (Canada)

William Eberhart (1878-1943), pastor, high school principal, Bible school dean, radio Bible teacher and Premier of Alberta from 1935-43, wrote in 1925: "I can still believe the Lord Jesus Christ, when he said: ‘For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled’ (Matt. 5:18). ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away’ (Matt. 24:35). If these words mean anything, they inform us that the Lord Jesus intended to see to it that the Bible, His Word, would be preserved for us in a perfect, infallible state."[23]

Others

More views upholding the doctrine of perfect preservation or VPP can be found quoted in "The Historic Views of the Church Concerning Preservation" by Rev (Dr) P. S. Ferguson. These views include those of English puritan Thomas Cartwright (1535–1603), Professor William Whitaker (1548–1595), Bishop and Divine John Jewel (1522–1571), Cambridge-educated puritan preacher Nicholas Gibbens, German Lutheran dogmatician Johannes Andreas Quenstedt (1617–1688), English Presbyterian clergyman John Flavel (1627–1691), English puritan and theologian Edward Leigh (1602–1671), Puritan Thomas Watson (1620–1686), Puritan John Owen (1616–1683), first regent and first principal of the University of Edinburgh Robert Rollock (1555–1599), Swiss-Italian Reformed scholastic theologian Francis Turretin (1623–1687), Westminster divine Richard Capel (1586–1656), original member of the Westminster assembly John Lightfoot (1602–1675), Pastor Dr Jack Moorman, Professor Albert J. Hembd and the Rev N. Pffeifer.[24]

Identification of the Preserved Text

Garnet Howard Milne (New Zealand)

Garnet Howard Milne, who has served as pastor of two Reformed churches in Wainuiomata and Wanganui in New Zealand,[25] in Has the Bible been kept pure? The Westminster Confession of Faith and the providential preservation of Scripture (2017) writes that Presbyterian William Jenkyn (1613-1685), who succeeded the distinguished Westminster divine William Gouge (1575–1653) at West Friars London, believed with Augustine and Whitaker that the “inspired words had been preserved and could be identified and that if they could not, they could have no assurance that they have the Word of God at all”.[26]

Milne in the same book, after quoting Professor Whitaker (1548-1595) at p. 328 Disputation on Holy Scripture (Cambridge: The University Press, 1849), says “the canon of Scriptures was confirmed and received individually throughout the centuries ever since God had dictated those Scriptures for the church” and this means “the common or received Greek text of the New Testament and the Masoretic text of the Old” which Whitaker sees as “the authentic texts of Scripture” and such a view precludes the possibility of discovering any ancient codex in the future that would recalibrate the Word of God with a fundamentally different text than the one “endorsed by the Holy Spirit in the multitude of believers”. Quoting pp. 165 & 117 Disputation on Holy Scripture, Milne says that Whitaker also believes in the very words of the text, and not merely the sense, to be important and “the church possessed the very words, and all the words of the Holy Spirit in the extant originals in his day”, i.e. the Hebrew and Greek texts or the apographa which “so closely reflected the autographs that ‘in one sense’ could be called ‘originals’”.[27]

Milne goes on to say that the believing church has always taught God’s Word is locatable in the Masoretic text of the OT and the Greek common or majority text of the NT, which have not been hidden, and, where there are variants in the manuscripts, the church has not found it an onerous task to collate the texts and arrive at the authentic autographic text, the Holy Spirit confirming the divine authority of God’s Word in the hearts of His people down through the ages, while the lack of spiritual insight is possibly why those who are not or are less spiritually awakened have adopted without much thought or consideration translations based upon the critical texts and eclectic texts of Westcott and Hort and other modern textual critics.[28]

Samuel Joseph (Singapore)

Samuel Joseph in The Preservation of God’s Inspired Words in the Holy Scriptures says that if God has promised to preserve His Word, and has in fact preserved it down to every jot and tittle according to His promise, the crucial question is whether He has told us where to find His Word today as there would be little point in saying that the preserved words of God are “somewhere out there,” if we did not know where and had no way to find out; he goes on to say that the application of the principles codified into seven “biblical axioms” by Dr Jeffrey Khoo (The Burning Bush, July 2011, pp. 74-95) leads unmistakeably to the Hebrew Masoretic text of the Old Testament and the Greek Textus Receptus of the New Testament being the Preserved Text.[29]

Bible Presbyterian Church and School in Collingswood, NJ

The Bible Presbyterian Church of Collingswood, NJ, U.S. – pastored previously by McIntire and currently by Christian S. Spencer – state at 4. Bible Translations: “We believe that God literally and verbally inspired the text of the Bible in the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts (including certain passages in Daniel and elsewhere, in Aramaic). We also believe that God has faithfully and accurately preserved this original text in the Masoretic Text (Old Testament) and the ‘Textus Receptus’ (New Testament), the ‘majority text’ manuscripts used to translate the King James Version of the Bible”.[30]

The Faith Christian School, also in Collingswood NJ, U.S., leaves no room for doubt about the school’s belief in VPI and VPP and where the autographic text can be found today in the school’s Statement of Faith at Inspiration: “We believe that ... the 66 canonical books of the Bible are alone the inspired, "God breathed", Word of God ... We believe that the inspiration of the Bible is plenary (inspiration extends to all parts of the Bible equally), verbal (inspiration extends to the words, letters, tenses and other parts of speech used in Scripture), ... inerrant (contains no factual error), infallible (never teaches error as truth although it records the sins and folly of man and reveals it as such), authoritative (is the final authority for the believer in all areas of faith and practice) and preserved today in the Hebrew and Greek Texts underlying the King James Version of the Bible, not merely in the original manuscripts.”[31]

Thomas Ross and Kent Brandenburg / Bethel Baptist Church, CA

Thomas Ross[32] and Kent Brandenburg,[33] both of Bethel Baptist Church in CA in the U.S., subscribe to VPI and VPP and identify where all of the inspired words can be found; they believe that “the Bible’s very words, and all of its words, are inspired, and that those very words, and all of those words, are perfectly and providentially preserved (that is, verbal, plenary inspiration and verbal, plenary preservation) in the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus (Received Text) that underlies the Authorized or King James Version of the Bible”.[34][35]

Other persons and churches in the U.S. and the U.K.

Among the many persons and organisations cited by Paul Ferguson as pro-KJV and VPP – i.e., they accept that the perfectly preserved words of God in the Holy Scripture are the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus underlying the KJV – are (a) Clarence Sexton, Founder and President of Crown College of the Bible and Pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Powell, TN; (b) Lloyd Streeter, co-pastor (until his resignation) of Campus Church (click The Bible) of Pensacola Christian College; (c) the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland; and (d) Ian Paisley, Founder of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. In respect of (d), Ferguson says it is clear, from Paisley’s quoted words in pp. 102-3 and 106 of My Plea for the Old Sword: the English Authorised Version (KJV) (Belfast: Ambassador, 1997), that the “‘true Scriptures’ were only preserved in a ‘full, complete, perfect’ manner in the ‘true copies of the originals... at hand’”: Tyndale’s translation of God's Holy Word into English and the KJV were translated from the ‘Preserved Word of God’, not the ‘Perverted Word of God’, in the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus.[36]

Trinitarian Bible Society ("TBS") England

The TBS in England “maintains that the providentially preserved true and authentic text is to be found in the Masoretic Hebrew and the Greek Received Texts” (bold and italic added) and in so doing, the society “follows the historic, orthodox Protestant position of acknowledging as Holy Scripture the Hebrew and Greek texts consistently accessible to and preserved among the people of God in all ages” (bold and italic added), these being the texts “in common use in different parts of the world for more than fifteen centuries” which “faithfully represent the texts used in New Testament times”. The society views that the doctrine of providential preservation teaches that the Church is - and always has been - in possession of the true text of Scripture; it rejects the Majority Text of Zane C. Hodges and Arthur L. Farstad (1982) which allows for the discovery of further manuscripts that could change minority readings to majority readings, or vice versa.[15]

The International Council of Christian Churches ("ICCC")

The ICCC – a worldwide fellowship of fundamental churches opposed to liberalism, ecumenism, charismatism and neo-evangelicalism – passed a resolution at Jerusalem in 2000, when McIntire was President, affirming the council's belief that the King James Version in English has been faithfully translated from the God-preserved Masoretic text for the O.T. and the Textus Receptus for the N.T., which texts combined gave the complete Word of God, the Holy Scripture, the originals fully inspired and without errors preserved in all ages for all eternity as the Westminster Confession of Faith standard says – “the O.T. in Hebrew and the N.T. in Greek... being immediately inspired by God and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages are therefore authentical ....”[37]

Neutral Arbiter of VPP

Although VPP is embraced in many countries in the world, the VPP issue was litigated for the first time before a neutral secular arbiter in Singapore.[38][39]

FEBC on VPP

FEBC embraces the VPP doctrine based on WCF 1:8 (see Westminster Confession of Faith (1643-1648) above) and teaches that God has supernaturally preserved each and every one of His inspired Hebrew/Aramaic OT words and Greek NT words to the last jot and tittle so that God's people will always have in their possession His infallible and inerrant Word kept intact without the loss of any word, and that the infallible and inerrant words of Scripture are found in the faithfully preserved Traditional/Byzantine/Majority manuscripts and fully represented in the Printed and Received Text (or Textus Receptus) that underlie the Reformation Bibles best represented by the KJV, and NOT in the corrupted and rejected texts of Westcott and Hort that underlie the many modern versions of the English Bible like the NIVNASVESVRSVTEVCEVTLB, etc.[3]

Disagreement of Life Bible-Presbyterian Church (“Life BPC”) with FEBC on VPP

The Board of Elders (“BOE”) of Life BPC disagreed with FEBC and called VPP a “theory”.[40] FEBC responded by asserting that VPP is a biblical doctrine.[41]

The BOE of Life BPC issued in January 2008 their paper headed Mark Them Which Cause Divisions to declare the church’s non-VPP position and to require the FEBC to give a written unconditional undertaking that the college would not promote the VPP doctrine in its night classes or it would not be allowed to use the premises from that month onwards as the BOE viewed VPP to be a heresy because it is ‘new’, ‘infectious’ and ‘dangerous’.[42] FEBC rebutted with Jeffrey Khoo’s response headed Making the Word of God of None Effect which argued that without a presently infallible and inerrant Word of God to the jot and tittle (Matt 5:18), the elders of Life BPC had no basis to condemn VPP as a heresy and VPP proponents as heretics.[43]

Paul Ferguson[44] chimed in with his paper entitled also Mark Them Which Cause Divisions to criticise Life BPC for misusing the word “heresy”, maligning godly men as “heretics”, displaying inconsistency and muddled up thinking on the VPP issue, totally misrepresenting the VPP position as a "new" concept, and showing poor scholarship and research in plagiarising the views of anti-KJV and anti-Preservation writers.[36]

Brutus Balan (now retired from pastoring Faith Baptist Church in Hobart, Tasmania) wrote a letter dated 30 January 2008 addressed to Charles Seet and the BOE of Life BPC with a plea to them to avoid carrying out their legal threat to evict the college from the Gilstead Road premises and remarking that Seet and the elders had the most inconsistent and contradictory position over the matter – saying the original writings (autographs) were ‘inerrant, infallible’ in the past and the ‘providentially preserved’ copies (apographs) today have errors and then claiming to hold to an ‘inerrant and infallible Bible and the full preservation of God’s holy Word’ with the use of ‘full’ being questionable for ‘not full’ preservation – but yet accused the FEBC of heresy.[45] Balan’s plea and admonition failed to stop Life BPC from commencing Suit 648 in the High Court less than eight months later.

Court of Appeal's Judgment on VPP

On 15 September 2008, the church sued the college's directors, including Timothy Tow (the church's founding pastor), over allegedly "deviant Bible teachings" to evict FEBC from the Gilstead Road premises shared by both parties.[46][47] However, the church failed as the Court of Appeal, the apex court in Singapore's legal system (coram: Chao Hick TinAndrew Phang Boon Leong and V.K. Rajah JJ.A), ruled unanimously on 26 April 2011 – after examining WCF 1:8 – that:[48]

  1. "the VPP doctrine is actually closely related to the VPI doctrine which both parties [i.e., the College and the Church] adhere to,” (rejecting the Church's contention in [59] of the Court of Appeal Judgement that it is “an entirely different creature from the VPI doctrine)";”
  2. "the College, in adopting the VPP doctrine, has not deviated from the fundamental principles which guide and inform the work of the College right from its inception, and as expressed in the Westminster Confession;"
  3. "[i]t is not inconsistent for a Christian who believes fully in the principles contained within the Westminster Confession (and the VPI doctrine) to also subscribe to the VPP doctrine;" and
  4. "[i]n the absence of anything in the Westminster Confession that deals with the status of the apographs, we [the Court] hesitate to find that the VPP doctrine is a deviation from the principles contained within the Westminster Confession."

The Court of Appeal at [94] of its judgment noted that adherents of the VPP doctrine believe that the KJV is the most accurate English translation of the Bible. Although Life BPC under Charles Seet as Pastor does not subscribe to the VPP doctrine, the Court of Appeal at [99] of its judgment noted that Seet had admitted during cross-examination (in the High Court) that Life BPC has always subscribed to the view that the KJV is the best English translation of the Bible because of its textual superiority [in the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus underlying the KJV].[49] (Life BPC’s use of the KJV has been entrenched as when Life BPC started as the English service of Say Mia Tng in 1950 with Timothy Tow as its founding pastor, he wanted the service that he founded and pastored to be a distinct Bible-believing church and to also stick to the KJV.[50])

See also

References

  1. ^ "Definition of apograph". Harper Collins Publishers Limited. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  2. ^ apograph, an exact copy Ian Brookes, Editor-in-chief (2006). Chambers Dictionary, 10th Edition, p. 65. Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2006. ISBN 978-0550-103116. {{cite book}}|author= has generic name (help)
  3. Jump up to:a b c "The Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP) of the Sacred Scriptures"Far Eastern Bible College. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  4. ^ Jeffrey Khoo (July 2011). "Seven Biblical Axioms In Ascertaining The Authentic and Authoritative Texts of the Holy Scriptures" (PDF)The Burning BushFar Eastern Bible College17 (2): 75–76, Epangelical Axiom. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  5. ^ Carol Lee (July 2005). "A Child of God Looks at the Doctrine of Verbal Plenary Preservation" (PDF)The Burning BushFar Eastern Bible College11 (2): 69–81. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  6. ^ Rev (Dr) P.S. Ferguson. "The Historic Views of the Church Concerning Preservation" (PDF)confessionalbibliology.com. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  7. ^ Jeffrey Khoo (July 2011). "Seven Biblical Axioms In Ascertaining The Authentic and Authoritative Texts of the Holy Scriptures" (PDF)The Burning BushFar Eastern Bible College17 (2): 75, Epangelical Axiom. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  8. ^ Quek Suan Yew (July 2004). "Did God Promise To Preserve His Words? Interpreting Psalm 12:6-7" (PDF)The Burning BushFar Eastern Bible College10 (2): 96–98. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  9. ^ Dr Carl McIntireHelp, Lord! Psalm 12sermonAudio.com. Event occurs at 11:58-12:34 mins.
  10. Jump up to:a b Dr. Ian K.R. Paisley"The history of the English Authorised Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible is unsurpassably pre-eminent, having preserved for centuries the Word of God for the English speaking peoples of the whole world, and those evangelised by them". European Institute of Protestant Studies. Archived from the original on 2016-09-14. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  11. Jump up to:a b c Carol Lee. "A Child of God Looks at the Doctrine of Verbal Plenary Preservation"Far Eastern Bible College. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  12. ^ Timothy Tow (July 2005). ""My Glory Will I Not Give To Another" (Isaiah 42:8)" (PDF)The Burning BushFar Eastern Bible College11 (2): 67–68. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  13. ^ Rev (Dr) P.S. Ferguson. "The Historic Views of the Church Concerning Preservation" (PDF)confessionalbibliology.com. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  14. ^ Jeffrey Khoo (July 2011). "Seven Biblical Axioms In Ascertaining The Authentic and Authoritative Texts of the Holy Scriptures" (PDF)The Burning BushFar Eastern Bible College17 (2): 76, Epangelical Axiom. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  15. Jump up to:a b "Statement of Doctrine of Holy Scripture". Trinitarian Bible Society. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  16. ^ "A Tabular Comparison of the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith, the 1658 Savoy Declaration of Faith, the 1677/1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith and the 1742 Philadelphia Confession of Faith". www.proginosko.com. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  17. ^ "Westminster Confession of Faith (Adapted)" (PDF). Calvary Pandan Bible-Presbyterian Church. p. 246 (ref 17). Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  18. ^ Jeffrey Khoo (July 2011). "Seven Biblical Axioms In Ascertaining The Authentic and Authoritative Texts of the Holy Scriptures" (PDF)The Burning BushFar Eastern Bible College17 (2): 75–76, Epangelical Axiom. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  19. ^ Dr Carl McIntireHelp, Lord! Psalm 12sermonAudio.com. Event occurs at 12:35-13:46 mins.
  20. ^ Timothy Tow and Jeffrey Khoo (1998). A Theology for Every Christian: Knowing God and His Word (PDF). Far Eastern Bible College Press, 1998, p. 47. ISBN 981-04-0076-4. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  21. ^ "Church elects new moderator"BBC News. 19 January 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  22. ^ Edward F. Hills (1984). The King James Version Defended. Christian Research Press, p. 2 (from Introduction). ISBN 978-0915923007. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  23. ^ "Testimonies of KJV Defenders - William Aberhart (updated 28 July 2004)". www.wayoflife.org. 26 August 1999. Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  24. ^ Rev (Dr) P.S. Ferguson. "The Historic Views of the Church Concerning Preservation" (PDF)confessionalbibliology.com. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  25. ^ Milne, Garnet Howard (December 2007). The Westminster Confession of Faith and the Cessation of Special RevelationISBN 978-1556358050.
  26. ^ Garnet Howard Milne (7 August 2017). Has the Bible been kept pure? The Westminster Confession of Faith and the providential preservation of Scripture. pp. 91, 215, 221 & 223. ISBN 9781522039150.
  27. ^ Garnet Howard Milne (7 August 2017). Has the Bible been kept pure? The Westminster Confession of Faith and the providential preservation of Scripture. pp. 89–92. ISBN 9781522039150.
  28. ^ Garnet Howard Milne (7 August 2017). Has the Bible been kept pure? The Westminster Confession of Faith and the providential preservation of Scripture. pp. 299–302. ISBN 9781522039150.
  29. ^ Samuel Joseph (July 2019). "The Preservation of God's Inspired Words in the Holy Scriptures" (PDF)The Burning BushFar Eastern Bible College25 (2): 82–86. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  30. ^ "What We Believe – A Summary". Bible Presbyterian Church of Collingswood. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  31. ^ "Statement of Faith". Faith Christian School of Collingswood, N.J. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  32. ^ "Thomas Ross: My Background". Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  33. ^ "Meet the Pastors". Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  34. ^ "The Biblical Doctrines of Inspiration and Preservation: A Video". Faith Saves. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  35. ^ "Verbal, Plenary Inspiration and Preservation of Scripture: A Video". Kent Brandenburg. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  36. Jump up to:a b Paul Ferguson. "Mark Them Which Cause Divisions". The Dean Burgon Society. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  37. ^ Paul Ferguson (January 2009). "The Resolutions of the ICCC and SCCC on Bible Versions" (PDF)The Burning Bush15 (1): 1-40 [34-38]. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  38. ^ "Singapore Court of Appeal explores issues concerning breach of charitable purpose trust"Legal Bulletin. Allen & Gledhill. pp. 31–34. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  39. ^ "FEBC IS SAFE! TO GOD BE THE GLORY GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE" (PDF)The Burning BushFar Eastern Bible College17 (2): 66–67. July 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2021Dr D A Waite (President, Dean Burgon Society, USA): Interesting that the three appeal judges could see that the Westminster Confession allowed for both VPI and VPP. Truth has prevailed in FEBC in Singapore in the vital doctrine of Bibliology. Would that God would permit this truth to prevail in the fundamentalist schools in our United States of America as it has in Singapore. Rev Michael Koech (Principal, Bomet Bible Institute, Kenya): I read all the 55 pages of the judgement. Their argument about VPP was particularly interesting because it came from an independent observer.
  40. ^ "A Statement on the Theory of Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP)" (PDF)Life Bible-Presbyterian Church. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  41. ^ Jeffrey Khoo. "Inspiration, Preservation, And Translations: in Search of the Biblical Identity of the Bible-Presbyterian Church"Far Eastern Bible College. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  42. ^ "Mark Them Which Cause Divisions" (PDF)Life Bible-Presbyterian Church. January 2008. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  43. ^ Jeffrey Khoo. "Making the Word of God of None Effect"Far Eastern Bible College. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  44. ^ "Our Leaders". Cornerstone Church. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  45. ^ "Clarification of Confession Re: Preservation of God's Word"Far Eastern Bible College. Retrieved 9 June 2021Brutus Balan: Note your quote, “...we hold to an inerrant and infallible Bible and the full preservation of God’s holy Word.” What is “full preservation”? Does full means not full? Deceptive words are not of the Holy Spirit!
  46. ^ Jeffrey Khoo, ed. (2012). To Magnify His Word: Golden Jubilee Yearbook of Far Eastern Bible College (1962–2012) (PDF). Far Eastern Bible College (2012), "Chronology of Events", p. 250. ISBN 978-981-07-3148-9. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  47. ^ John, Arul (18 December 2008). "Church sues Bible college directors"The New Paper. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  48. ^ "Khoo Jeffrey and others v Life Bible-Presbyterian Church and others"www.singaporelaw.sg, paras 91,94,95 and 98. Archived from the original on 10 January 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  49. ^ "Khoo Jeffrey and others v Life Bible-Presbyterian Church and others [2011] SGCA 18" (PDF). Singapore Law Watch, para 99. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  50. ^ Chua Choon Lan (General Editor); Editors: Quek Swee Hwa, David Wong and Daniel Chua (2018). Heritage & Legacy of the Bible-Presbyterian Church in Singapore. Finishing Well Ministries. p. 172. ISBN 978-981-48-0725-8. {{cite book}}|author1= has generic name (help)

Further reading