Riddle responds to Ward's review of "Why I preach from the Received Text"

Northern Crofter

Puritan Board Freshman
You say that it is enough that it is accepted by "an established church" but it is unclear why a church with which my denomination potentially has no relationship (not even the same language!) has the power to determine what Bible our churches use, but our churches themselves do not. This is fundamentally unPresbyterian. I agree and that was not my meaning - I did not state anything other than my belief that the WCF holds that an established church has authority to accept a text for the part of the Body under its government.
Moreover, the conditions you have laid down whereby other churches might get a "proper" Bible are unfulfillable in the modern world. Perhaps they might become plausible again in some Presbyterian millennium (though it is worth noting how few countries have fulfilled the conditions and for how short a time down through history - in England, it was less than one generation), but in the meantime, people need a Bible. What should those churches do? They can use whatever they like. I don't believe I used the word "proper" - my point was that I believe only a Church court can adopt a text/version/translation. The WCF seems to allow synod and councils such authority.
Why does the wisdom of 17th century English bishops and Scottish presbyters trump the legitimate pastoral oversight of the shepherds of their local flock gathered together as a Presbyery? I have never argued that a lawful Church court cannot change/update their decision. My main point was to state that individuals and denominations have no authority receive a text. I would concede that a Presbytery should be able to do so, but the WCF specifically mentions only synods and councils. I believe much of Rutherford's argumentation in Due Right would support the former, especially if applied to the modern situation of a lack of established churches.
 
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Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
Perhaps - I appreciate much of what Jeri is trying to state, but I do not support it all. I see no connection between the WCF and KJV exclusivity.
Ok to be sure it’s understood- I am not KJV-only and do not support KJV onlyism. I do support the KJV as the currently preferable TR edition for use in the English-speaking churches.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
Interesting Andrew, I also realized a couple of days ago that in these discussions, the differences in mindset and perspective between adherence to the original WCF and the American version (forgive the long run-on wordiness) must surely be coming into play. It seems that Presbyterian denominations that hold to the original WCF also still hold to the texts (and in line with that, the use of the KJV) that prevailed in that time of reformation and church councils. I haven’t thoroughly researched this; does anyone know of a Presbyterian denomination that holds to the original WCF who doesn’t also hold to the TR view? (Via the close reasoning and consequences of it that fall in line with holding that “high view” of church establishment/reformation etc)
Out of the 4 strict subscription WCF Scottish denominations, my understanding is two do not hold to a strict TR position (APC and RPCoS) and two do in some form (FCC and FPCoS).

Interestingly, I spent some time trying to understand how the FCC ended up at the position it did or how official it did several years ago. It was not the dominant view in the original, immediately post-disruption Free Church of Scotland, and I'm not positive the FCC has an official position on the TR. You can see the list of translators of the Revised Version (1881), the first major authorized translation based on the Critical Text. https://www.bible-researcher.com/ervhistory.html The translation committee included 5 faculty members of the Free Church Colleges, including Patrick Fairbairn and David Brown who joined the Free Church at the Disruption of 1843.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Junior
Out of the 4 strict subscription WCF Scottish denominations, my understanding is two do not hold to a strict TR position (APC and RPCoS) and two do in some form (FCC and FPCoS).

Interestingly, I spent some time trying to understand how the FCC ended up at the position it did or how official it did several years ago. It was not the dominant view in the original, immediately post-disruption Free Church of Scotland, and I'm not positive the FCC has an official position on the TR. You can see the list of translators of the Revised Version (1881), the first major authorized translation based on the Critical Text. https://www.bible-researcher.com/ervhistory.html The translation committee included 5 faculty members of the Free Church Colleges, including Patrick Fairbairn and David Brown who joined the Free Church at the Disruption of 1843.
Jake,
Just a word of caution. The Free Church Colleges had a pretty steep decline in Biblical orthodoxy in the 50 years after the disruption in 1843, so while we might assume that someone teaching at the Free Church College was a conservative, that isn't the case. Looking at the list you reference, I see W. Robertson Smith and A.B. Davidson, neither of whom inspire a great deal of confidence. In the late 1870's Robertson Smith was tried for his views on the Bible and eventually removed from his position at the Free Church College in Aberdeen. A.B. Davidson was much less outspoken, but not particularly conservative.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
Jake,
Just a word of caution. The Free Church Colleges had a pretty steep decline in Biblical orthodoxy in the 50 years after the disruption in 1843, so while we might assume that someone teaching at the Free Church College was a conservative, that isn't the case. Looking at the list you reference, I see W. Robertson Smith and A.B. Davidson, neither of whom inspire a great deal of confidence. In the late 1870's Robertson Smith was tried for his views on the Bible and eventually removed from his position at the Free Church College in Aberdeen. A.B. Davidson was much less outspoken, but not particularly conservative.
Yes, I understand there was a quick period of decline in the Free Church leading to the 1900 split, but that's why I also included there were men from the Disruption involved. Fairbairn was certainly a bonafide conservative, though I'm not sure what he overall thought of the RV effort (and his focus was in OT). Thank you for the caution though. I've found myself shocked at how quickly decline can slip into a church, as there were some strange views that emerged by the end of the 19th century in the Free Church (just as there were in the CoS long before 1843).

My best guess is that the TR position became the de facto view after the split of the Continuing group in 2000, but I never actually put all the pieces together.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Junior
Sending your brightest and best students off to do further study in Germany had mixed results. On the one hand it sharpened the skills and focus of men like Vos and Machen, while on the other it led to shipwreck in a number of cases. I was sobered by reading John Rogerson's The Bible and Criticism in Victorian Britain before I went to Cambridge to do my own PhD. We should pray for those whose vocation is academic scholarship: the present generation has its own shipwrecks to lament.
 

Northern Crofter

Puritan Board Freshman
I've never heard anyone espouse Andrew's view before
I don't view my view as particularly novel. The WCF recognizes the Biblical teaching that the Church courts alone hold the final authority to determine matters of doctrine, purity, and controversy for the Church (individual matters of conscience withstanding). Determining what, if any, text, textual family, or translation should be received by a particular church seems to be a fundamental decision since all other decisions are founded upon the Word. I am perpetually surprised that more do not work through the issues and arrive at a determination. Even a split view ("we accept/adopt/receive these translations for use in public worship etc") would seem to be preferable to none from my perspective.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland
Evangelical Presbyterian Church of England and Wales
Free Church of Scotland

I don't think any of these make any subtractions to the the Confession of Faith.

Do they actually conform their doctrine, practice and piety to the Confession though?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Are English-speaking Dutch Reformed ministers bound to use the KJV based on the fact that the KJV was established by the English branch of the Reformation? Are they bound to accept the TR?
 

Northern Crofter

Puritan Board Freshman
Are English-speaking Dutch Reformed ministers bound to use the KJV based on the fact that the KJV was established by the English branch of the Reformation? Are they bound to accept the TR?
They should not be bound to use anything unless the Church court whose authority they are under adopts a particular text. If their particular church has made not such decision, they can use whatever they choose.
 

ntk

Puritan Board Freshman
Are English-speaking Dutch Reformed ministers bound to use the KJV based on the fact that the KJV was established by the English branch of the Reformation? Are they bound to accept the TR?
I agree with Northern Crofter‘s response: however what is the premise of your second question? Surely not the TR being peculiar to the reformation in Britain. The Statenvertaling (1637), the state Bible of the Dutch Republic via the Synod of Dort, was a TR translation. As was the Luther Bible (NT 1522) and many of the various other Bibles of the continental Reformation. If anything the TR has more imprimatur in the Continental Reformation than in Britain.
 
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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I agree with Northern Crofter‘s response: however what is the premise of your second question? Surely not the TR being peculiar to the reformation in Britain. The Statenvertaling (1637), the state Bible of the Dutch Republic via the Synod of Dort, was a TR translation. As was the Luther Bible (NT 1522) and many of the various other Bibles of the continental Reformation. If anything the TR has more imprimatur in the Continental Reformation than in Britain.
The TR as compiled by Scrivener was based upon textual critical decisions made by the translators of the KJV. Did the Dutch translators err in their interpretations where they made differing textual critical decisions based on the manuscripts available? We keep hearing "Establishment" arguments used as the basis for the acceptance of a translation. This then gets merged with the arguments (by some TR proponents) that we must have 100% confidence in the underlying Greek (zero variants) but the problem is that one standard competes with the others. One could argue that a Dutch scholar could have compiled his own version of Scrivener's TR. Would this have the same standing as the TR?
 

Northern Crofter

Puritan Board Freshman
The TR as compiled by Scrivener was based upon textual critical decisions made by the translators of the KJV. Did the Dutch translators err in their interpretations where they made differing textual critical decisions based on the manuscripts available? We keep hearing "Establishment" arguments used as the basis for the acceptance of a translation. This then gets merged with the arguments (by some TR proponents) that we must have 100% confidence in the underlying Greek (zero variants) but the problem is that one standard competes with the others. One could argue that a Dutch scholar could have compiled his own version of Scrivener's TR. Would this have the same standing as the TR?
You also seem to be merging the arguments - the adoption of a text by a Church court does not mean they must have 100% confidence in the underlying Greek. Whether the Dutch Church adopts a text by a Dutch scholar, 100 Dutch scholars, 1000 Romanian scholars, or an international group of scholars is irrelevant - it won't have any more or less standing than the TR or CT. It would simply have the same standing in the Dutch Church as the Geneva did in the Scottish Kirk when the latter adopted it for its particular church. I realize this invites an eschatalogical presupposition, but shouldn't we be working towards establishing unified faithful churches and synods in every nation and then bringing them together in ecumenical councils? My hope would be that each particular church would one day bring forth what it believes to be the most faithful text and decide the issue in such a council. But the first step is to establish particular churches to establish their texts. This is the work of the Church, not scholars, however Godly they may be, with the caveat that this does not preclude scholars from continuing their work - rather the work of such (especially those who are Godly) should be encouraged to provide the churches with texts for them to consider.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
This is the work of the Church, not scholars, however Godly they may be, with the caveat that this does not preclude scholars from continuing their work - rather the work of such (especially those who are Godly) should be encouraged to provide the churches with texts for them to consider.
Something to think about. Scholars could be the church (the invisible). We aren't papists. We want the invisible church doing the translation work. The people that are part of the invisible church (truly saved) will be part of a visible church. Many visible/established church bodies are apostate. I don't think many of us would accept translations from several bodies that call themselves the church today, including the Anglican church who originally did the KJV (much of which openly accepts homosexuality and other perversions today).
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
The TR as compiled by Scrivener was based upon textual critical decisions made by the translators of the KJV. Did the Dutch translators err in their interpretations where they made differing textual critical decisions based on the manuscripts available? We keep hearing "Establishment" arguments used as the basis for the acceptance of a translation. This then gets merged with the arguments (by some TR proponents) that we must have 100% confidence in the underlying Greek (zero variants) but the problem is that one standard competes with the others. One could argue that a Dutch scholar could have compiled his own version of Scrivener's TR. Would this have the same standing as the TR?

It's fine for those who are comfortable with saying anything within the Textus Receptus tradition is appropriate to use today and to respect the variants within it. Of course, that means not having the Johannine Comma may be an acceptable positoin since TR Bibles like the Luther Bible (NT 1522) and some early Dutch TR-based Bibles don't include it. I think a lot of folks are okay with using various versions of the TR and allowing variation within versions of the TR, at least between Erasmus' 3rd edition and Scriviner's 1881. I'm not sure if Erasmus's 2nd edition is acceptable since it lacks the Comma.
 
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