Richard Muller's PRRD as a defense for TR-Onlyism

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate

I suppose what could be said of you is that you are truly eclectic! And I do appreciate your highly nuanced and thought-through views, presented irenically (how hard it often turns out to be irenic when discussing these matters so close to our hearts and lives!).

When you said of our various views, “positions are on a continuum, not in hermetically sealed camps about which there is no overlap whatsoever”, I think your phraseology is slightly wanting — for “hermetically sealed” means airtight, and analogous to our discussion would seem to indicate “sealed against light and all knowledge differing from ours”, whereas the TR view I hold is quite open to light and contrary knowledge, and often informed and edified by such, yet my convictions are firm. Like the Borg I assimilate attacks to enhance my weaponry. The Borg could not survive long if they were “hermetically sealed”! (Not that I am a Borg!)

Could one say of my view of the deity of Christ and the triunity of God that I am “hermetically sealed” against the errors of the Arians, Universalists, and unbelieving Jews? I don’t think even there I am “hermetically sealed”, as I study the views of those who err that I might win them to the truth.

Though if by the phrase you simply mean of such firm conviction that one will not change, okay, I can accept that. But even then the phrase is not perfectly apt.

But thank you for so transparently and winsomely presenting your view. It helps me to understand you — in matters textual — better.
Last edited:


Staff member
Steve, all I meant by the phrase "hermetically sealed" was the idea that some people have that various views of textual criticism fall into camps that are mutually exclusive at all points with no overlap at all. My view is that there is a continuum of viewpoints, shades of meaning, greater or lesser similarity. I don't mean "not open to light" by the phrase. For what it's worth, there are just as many CT guys who believe there is no overlap of their view and the TR view.

I would argue the every paragraph of Chapter 1 of the Confession presupposes providential preservation extending only to texts in use and custody of the churches, and NOT to texts buried in the desert for hundreds or thousands of years. You can’t appeal to a non-existent authority. As soon as you allow some “new discovery” (I.e. with no history of use throughout the ages) to replace what has been commonly received and used, there’s in theory no foundation to reject a radically altered text of Romans or a gospel according to Bartholomew when dug up tomorrow and is “ancient and reliable”.

Now, I’m not a purist in terms of taking Scrivener’s 1881 or Stephen’s 1550 etc. as THE word of God over against others in the TR tradition, and think there is still a place for textual criticism but within the bounds of the received texts. Since the Printing Press and the reformation and the textual work of our orthodox church forefathers in that era, the locus of textual examination largely shifted from mss to printed editions, because that’s what church then used and propagated. I think one could hold an MT position within a “received” framework as well (not just an evidentialist approach of counting noses, and also must account for the printed editions and not reverting solely to mss).

I’m also not KJV only, and recognize the authority and authenticity of other translations within the reformed tradition, like Tyndale, Geneva, etc. Neither do I think Bibles outside the TR lack all authority, but at the points of discrepancy the true word is to be found in the TR. We use the NLT a lot in our family devotions, particularly through the OT and the gospels.

@greenbaggins , I love your last paragraph in #14!
There are no commentators on the WCF I know of who argue that the phrase "kept pure in all ages" means only texts in use. The phrase must be interpreted in the light of the Roman Catholic claim that the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts were corrupt and only the Latin Vulgate is the pure authentic version (see William Whitaker's Disputations for the best dismantling of the RCC position). The phrase, in other words, is not actually a text-critical phrase, but an expression about versions versus the original.

As to your argument about the non-existent authority, what do you do about the hundreds of Byzantine manuscripts that have been discovered? Do they have equally zero authority alongside Vaticanus and Sinaiticus? Your argument is weak. God's providence extends to whatsoever comes to pass, not to certain events over against other events. How do you know that God could not possibly have hidden manuscripts until the printing press was invented so that their readings would be better preserved? How can you biblically limit God's providence in this way? Furthermore, the manuscripts are not non-existent. They existed. They still exist. Just because we don't know about them at some point in history doesn't mean they are non-existent. You also use the pejorative word "replace." Sinaiticus and Vaticanus agree with the TR in the vast majority of the NT. They don't replace the Byzantine manuscripts. They complement them and together with all the rest of the manuscripts constitute the evidence we have for various readings.


Puritan Board Freshman
I think the grammar is important too. They did not say "kept purely" as an adverb describing the keeping, though that would be more fitting for a reference to the process of transmission (e.g. TR position). "Kept pure" means that the Scriptures in the original languages are pure. Taken with what Lane said above concerning the RCC debate, this seems to be, in my opinion, the better way of understanding the Confession.

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Lane, thanks for the correction and clarification re the phrase “hermetically sealed”.

You said (in post #33), “God’s providence extends to whatsoever comes to pass, not to certain events over against other events. How do you know that God could not possibly have hidden manuscripts until the printing press was invented so that their readings would be better preserved?”

I don’t know what “hidden manuscripts” you are referring to. Vaticanus? Sinaiticus? Or later discoveries? Certain readings were removed from the Byzantine text, and were brought back in God’s providence to keep His word intact. These were those made ready for the printing presses of the Reformation.

In post #10 you said, “the wording of the confession ‘kept pure in all ages’ does not have to mean one particular manuscript or a group of them. It means that the original reading is in the manuscripts.” You add, “It may not always be obvious in every case which is the original reading.” That’s quite a caveat! In other words, as “experts” from all camps disagree with one another, in the end what we have concerning a sure Bible is a crapshoot (i.e., a situation whose outcome is uncertain or unpredictable). Every man decides for himself what is the true Bible.

When the WCF at 1.8 says of the Scriptures, they were “…by his singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, [and] are therefore authentical”, the Westminster divines spoke of the Scriptures they had in hand at the time they wrote this, and we can tell by the proof texts they added what those basically were.

It is perplexing to me how that this solid statement of what the church actually confessed can be so diluted to mean ever so many things—some of which things contradict each other. You may argue winsomely for your view—winsome at least to those in the modern textual situation—but the plain sense of the church’s confession at the time of the Reformation, and the Hebrew/Greek Bible it used, and its major English translations, is clear.

When the personal eclectic text you defend varies from the Greek texts used by the Reformers, adhering to Vaticanus’ (or its offsprings’) readings instead, it is not that the WCF 1.8 had in mind.

I am not saying you are not confessional—as we have agreed here on PB to allow the Warfieldian view legitimacy as regards conscience (for the sake of unity and peace among us)—but that you are wrong in identifying your eclectic text with that of WCF 1.8. Nevertheless, Lane, I do hold with you that in the main all our Bibles are God’s preserved word. It is in minutiae I disagree.

I realize we have discussed this repeatedly, with minor variations, for over a decade. I do not want to have another endless discussion—always fraught with danger of transgression—but speak up just to make the record clear that there are other confessionally sound and scholarly understandings of WCF 1.8 represented here on this board; that is, I speak up so as to support those believers who hold they have a Bible God preserved intact canonically and verbally, notwithstanding variant readings to the contrary.

To that end, very shortly I will again be posting an updated reference to many of the textual discussions I have had here on PB as an educational resource for whomever will. In the old compilation the change of website settings and operating systems at PB made most of the links to become “dead”, so I’m renewing them. I’ll be doing the same for discussions on eschatology, and have them available in my signature (the ones there now are mostly defunct).
Last edited:


Puritan Board Freshman