a little argument with my kjo friends

I regularly read the blog of my friend Kent Brandenburg. He often posts here so we have a mutual admiration society thing going. However, we do disagree at some key points.

He is blogging lately about “The Erroneous Epistemology of Multiple Version Onlyism”. I usually don’t enter into the debates on this subject as I find the argumentation exceedingly tedious. The same things get said, over and over, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Against my better judgement, however, I do occasionally wade in. Here is my foray on Kent’s latest post. I am arguing against some assertions Kent made, especially the assertion that God’s people are promised to always have God’s word perfectly preserved in every generation. Kent cited Mt 4.4 as proof of this, I object that it says no such thing. I also offer the example of Josiah in 2 Ki 22, where a scroll of the law is discovered in the temple, apparently forgotten and unused and perhaps the only copy of the law in existence at that time (my inference from the reaction of the king and the apparent mystification of the priests about the scroll – see also 2 Chr 34 for more details).

A commenter on Kent’s blog takes me to task for my arguments, I give a smart alecky reply, which Kent takes umbrage at. So there we are.

Well, let me give a little more serious attention to Paul’s arguments (Paul is the commenter).

Paul’s arguments can be summed up this way:

  1. I am accused of ‘idealism’ where, apparently, it only matters that there is an ideal of the Word somewhere and what we have in the world is an approximate copy of the ideal, more or less accurate.
  2. I am asked where the Bible says the Scripture was hidden from Israel, with the implication that if it was, God would be accused of failing to preserve his Word.
  3. Josiah’s reformation is evidence that the Word was known.

Paul the commenter then goes on to add several points that he calls his presuppositions in coming to his argument. Among them are these:

(4) The Bible promises that God would make His Words generally available to every generation of believers (Deut 30:11-14; Isa 34:16; Isa 59:21; Matt 4:4; 2 Pet 3:2; Jude 1:17). (This is general availability, not necessarily to every person on the planet.) Certainly, we are told that for around two millennia in history only one small nation had the true and pure words of God, “He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD” (Ps 147:19, 20 cf. Rom. 2:14).
(5) The Bible promises there will be certainty as to the Words of God (2 Peter 1:19; Luke 1:4; Prov 1:23; Prov 22:20-1; Dan12:9-10; 1 John 2:20).

I’d like to deal with these arguments one by one:

1. My supposed idealism

I would like to see, first of all, how my comment (see link above) posits idealism. It seems to me that the commenter is arguing with someone else and is just using my name to address his post.

I would also like to suggest that the commenter is arguing against a straw man here. I don’t think anyone on the non-KJO side is attempting some kind of Platonic idealism where there is a sure word of God off in heaven or somewhere and that what we have is only a limited, imperfect, and flawed facsimile. [I suppose that perhaps someone somewhere has made such an argument, but I don’t think it is the view of anyone who is dealing with the subject seriously, especially from a fundamentalist perspective.]

So on this point, let me just say that I categorically reject idealism and find the charge laughable. I also am a little amazed that my reaction to the argument (“baloney”) is name-calling, but that the charge of idealism is not. But whatever.

2. Was the Bible ever hidden from Israel and did God fail thereby to preserve his word?

On this point I will concede that I am arguing from inference. Certainly such an argument is weaker than a plain declarative statement from the Lord. However, I urge you to read 2 Ki 22 and 2 Chr 34 and judge for yourself. Did Josiah and his men discover something that had lain dormant and unknown for some time, or was it just an old antique they found and thought Josiah might find it interesting? How does Josiah’s reaction square with that interpretation? I think he was in shock.

Notice also that they had to go searching for a prophet at that time to get an answer from the Lord about what they read. They search and can only come up with a woman, Huldah, who tells them judgement is surely coming but not in the days of Josiah. This is a passage egalitarians seize on, but the fact that we have a prophetess, not a prophet ought to speak volumes about the state of the Word in Israel at the time.

Paul the commenter says that Josiah ‘didn’t bother’ from the beginning of his reign to follow the Mosaic command for the king to read the law personally (Dt 17.18). Uhh… how old was Josiah when he began to reign? … 8 … how old was he when the scroll was found? … 18. Are you wanting to claim that this young man knew the command? Then why the unfamiliarity with the law once it was found?

3. Josiah’s reformation evidence the word was known

On this point, let us say that the Word was not unknown completely, but how well was it known? Perhaps they only had the Westcott-Hort text, since Josiah responds to the specific statements of the newly discovered book of the law with such great surprise. Obviously, someone had left out the judgement bit, since Josiah knew nothing about it. That’s that “longer ending” of Deuteronomy causing trouble again!

Ok, I did say I was going to give a more serious reply, didn’t I? Let me simply say here that we are both making arguments from inference here, not explicit revelation. Very hard to make a sticking point without more data. I think my explanation fits the facts better, however.

(4) The presupposition of God promising to make his word generally available to his people

Let’s look at each passage: Dt 30.11-14 … here the revelation is that God’s blessing will attend those who take God’s word to heart and treasure it – it is not a promise that God’s word will be available to every generation of God’s people.

Isa 34.16 – read the context. Isaiah is prophesying judgement on Judah. He says none of these words of prophecy shall fail, look them out in ‘the book of the Lord’ (presumably the Law). No promise to make the word generally available.

Isa 59.21 – again read the context. This is a prophecy of the coming of the Redeemer to Zion, when the nations will come in like a flood and the Spirit of the Lord will stand up against them. That would be Armageddon, I think. The promise is that the words of this prophecy are established, they will not fail, they stand from generation to generation until it happens.

Mt 4.4 – the passage I complained to Kent about… It has nothing to do with the Word being available to every generation, instead it is the Lord replying to Satan in the temptation that man’s life doesn’t consist in having material needs met, but in the life he gets from the Word of God. There is no promise here of generational preservation, just a promise that the Word is the source of life (I say ‘just’, but it is no light promise!).

2 Pt 3.2 – be sure to read 2 Pt 3.1 also. Peter is stating his reason for writing, that the people might remember the words spoken before. No promise of general availability here. Instead, a bit of concern that the word might be forgotten without this reminder.

Jude  1.17 – this is an admonition to remember the words, not a promise that the words will be generally available.

~~~ I really would like to see a passage that explicitly makes the promise that God’s word will generally be available for God’s people. Do you know that God judges his people when they sin? Do you know that God sometimes might judge them by withholding even his word from them? God will even hide his word from people when they are hearing it spoken or seeing it ‘live’ before their eyes (Isa 6.9-10).

(5) The presupposition that God promises certainty as to the words of God

2 Pt 1.19 – a passage often misunderstood! Peter is admonishing his readers to take heed to the written word, it is a more sure word of prophecy even than Peter’s memory of the mount of transfiguration – the written word is more sure than Peter’s experience, so pay attention to it. Nothing about certainty as to the words of God.

Lk 1.4 – Luke says to Theophilus that his purpose in writing is that Theophilus might know the certainty of those things he has been instructed in, i.e., the gospel record, the preaching of the apostles. This is not a promise about certainty of as to the words of God, but a promise of certainty concerning the kerygma, the gospel preaching. (That is not to say we are not certain about the words!)

Pr 1.23 – not a promise about specific words being preserved into perpetuity, but a promise that if you pay attention to wisdom’s reproof, God will make known his words to you (among other things).

Pr 22.20-21 – the writer has given excellent counsels and wisdom so that the reader might know the certainty of the words given, the reliability and wisdom of their meaning. This is a promise that God’s words are true, not certainty as to the words of God.

Dan 12.9-10 … the words are closed and sealed up… what words? the words of the prophecy that Daniel didn’t understand. Daniel inquired after them and God told him, “It’s not for you to know.” This is no promise of certainty as to the words.

~~~ I feel like Dr P’s famous saying “I speak as a fool”! Do I suggest that God’s words are uncertain or that God hasn’t certainly preserved his words? No! But I suggest that the KJO position here and elsewhere overstates its case by straining at Scriptures, attempting to make them say what they do not say.

God can do whatever he wants to do. I am not arguing against the doctrine of preservation. I wholeheartedly embrace it. I just think the KJO understanding of it over reaches by trying to prove too much. The Scriptures themselves to not make the case they are making.

The KJO position is no doubt presuppositional. But it’s presuppositions are not based in revelation, but based in unprovable assumptions the KJO crowd makes. The opposite view is likewise based on presuppositions. What we have here is a case of dueling presuppositions. Let’s let the Scriptures speak truly and plainly in all our argumentation about this. Let’s not press more meaning on the passages than they contain.

If you can make the KJO argument from the statements of Scripture, have at it. So far it hasn’t been done.

Anything else… any other kind of argument… making Scriptures say what they do not say… IS BALONEY!

don_sig2

Comments

  1. Don,

    I appreciate you putting the time in to answering Paul. Obviously availability is the doctrine you are confronting. You are saying that scripture DOES NOT teach availability of God’s Words. Of course, this isn’t a surprise, that is, that you are not KJVO. However, I believe you drink the koolaid on this. I see it as sad but I would be more hopeful that you would consider more than others.

    I recognize you don’t want to argue, because you think these things have been argued so many times before. You and I have never argued and I probably comment on your blog more than anyone. Have you ever read my book, Thou Shalt Keep Them? You may think it not worth reading, but I believe that the exegesis is sound. I’ve shown on my blog how that men preach these passage differently when they preach them then when they begin looking at them for doctrine about Scripture. Suddenly they mean something different when doctrine is being relied upon.

    Your overall argument seems to be—not one of these make an explicit statement about availability and they have other purposes in mind than teaching availability, so they don’t teach availability. I’ll bullet point a response, because I have school every day and drive in the fifth busiest traffic in America every morning on hwy 80 heading in.

    1. God’s Word in Our Hands does make “Word” an ideal—that is standard MVO argumentation. They don’t argue for Words, but Word. Paul hits the nail on the head. And it is platonic. Have you read that book?
    2. Those passages do teach availability—it shows a widespread doctrine, the assumption that we have the Words or God wouldn’t be expecting us to keep them or live them or be judged by them. I do believe that MVO guys devalue the veracity of God with this.
    3. Your passage, I believe, shows the faithfulness of God in preserving His Word. You take it as not preservation, when it is obvious that God makes sure it is available to whom? To those who want it, that believe.

    I gotta go. I still believe “baloney” does nothing. I’m tempted with words about your position, but something inside won’t allow it. I think it is the words “carnal weaponry.”

    • Hi Kent,

      It is not that these passages don’t teach anything explicit about availability, they don’t teaach anything about availability. They aren’t talking about general availability at all. If the doctrine is true, surely there is a way to argue it from the passages cited. Just saying that they teach it doesn’t make it so. You say that the passages teach availability, I don’t see how they do. I have explained why, context and the meaning of the words are the reasons I don’t see it. It would seem that the burden is on you (or someone making your argument) to show exegetically how the passages teach what you say they teach.

      I haven’t read your book, not from lack of interest but from lack of time. I have read enough on this issue in the past and haven’t desired to read more. There is only so much time, many other issues to deal with.

      I have read God’s Word in our Hands, at least portions of it. I’ll have to look at it again to see if it indeed teaches a platonic idealism. My point here, however, is that Paul wasn’t dealing with what I said at all, just projecting his perception of what I believe into his response. That isn’t a legitimate form of argumentation, which does elicit scornful responses.

      You say:

      Those passages do teach availability—it shows a widespread doctrine, the assumption that we have the Words or God wouldn’t be expecting us to keep them or live them or be judged by them. I do believe that MVO guys devalue the veracity of God with this.

      Really? What about Romans 1? Is God obligated to give us the Words of God before requiring us to obey his Law? See also Rom 3.10-20. Every mouth is stopped and the whole world is become guilty before God’s law, whether they have the specific utterance or not. Do you think those without the Word are going to be judged on a different standard than those with the Word? Not according to Romans.

      On your third point, I am not sure what passage you are referring to. I do believe God faithfully preserves His Word and it isn’t something that I particularly worry about. The sources of compromise in the church are not the multiplicity of translations. In some cases, the multiple translations are examples of compromise (Good News, The Message, etc.). But the source of compromise is something else. There were liberals and apostates who used the KJV long before any of the new versions came on the scene.

      In the end, I am arguing that the way KJO advocates are attempting to argue from Scripture here isn’t legitimate. They take passages entirely out of context and often just cite references as if the multiplicity of references prove something when in fact the references themselves have nothing whatever to do with preservation. If it could be shown that the passages mean what is claimed, I would be wholehearted in embracing the position. Until someone does show that, I remain unconvinced.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  2. All excellent points (although your Huldah comment seems to have its own presuppositions).
    I’m not sure I understand why the KJO people consider the TR to be the “preserved” copy of the text since it is a compilation and doesn’t match exactly with any manuscripts we have. So, if the TR is supposed to be exactly the same as the original, we must have had a great span between the original and the TR in which the one and only true Word of God was “unavailable.”

  3. Paul S Ferguson says:

    Hi Don

    Thank you for taking the time to reply to my entry. I have appreciated your consistent stand on other entries on issues such as biblical separation. Personally, I was not insulted by your “baloney” jibe, although I was concerned that it was trivializing a vital subject. I am glad you had the integrity to now reply Biblically. I would hope we will not descend to the Sharper Iron mentality of ridiculing those who disagree with us on important issues such as the certainty of the Words of God.

    My charge of idealism was not ad hominen but a genuine attempt to find a label that described best a view that argued for your perpetual uncertainty position. From your extended answer, I see no reason to withdraw the term.

    I am glad you acknowledge that your interpretation of the “lost Bible” in Josiah’s reign is not a fixed position. Personally, I interpret the incident in line with the perfect preservation and availability passages and that is how I came to my conclusion. What is undisputed is that God told the nation to place a copy in the temple and for the king to be guided by that copy. When Josiah sought God’s Will in the nation he was providentially led to the very place where God promised the perfect Word would be and it was therefore available to his generation. To me this is entirely consistent with the Biblical promises. Even today, if I don’t seek out God’s Words where He said they would be I fail to see that God at fault for “losing them.”

    In general, your position is inconsistent with the general purpose of Scripture as revealed in the Bible. Save for the Josiah incident, which you are not even certain about, there is not a single passage of Scripture that would lead you to suggest that there would be more than 1800 years (and still counting) when we would not have available and be sure of what the Words of God are. In fact, God revealed the Scriptures so men could know His will both in the Old and New Testaments and in the future. Has not “His divine power…given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness?” (2 Peter 1:3) Indeed these Words were to control, creates and define the true Church, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (I Peter 1:23). Logically, if all the Scriptures were “written,” for the purpose of instructing New Testament saints (2 Tim 3:16) that purpose for the inspired writings must invariably demands their perfect preservation. If God promised to preserve all of His Words, He will not alter His course because of mankind, Satan, or anything in all of creation. A Sovereign God controls history precisely just as He has always planned and ordained and nothing can thwart His perfect will (Dan 4:35; Eph 1:11).

    As you have rejected my exegesis of the many passages on Scripture that I believe presuppositionally lead us to all of the Words of God, there is little point in me arguing further about these. I think that the clear and obvious meaning from them and the whole purpose of Scripture would drive the objective believer who has never heard of textual criticism and Westcott and Hort to naturally come to the same conclusions. I do not believe it is primarily exegetical considerations which moves you to your conclusions but by going first to history and then to Scripture to attempt to explain away passages on preservation and availability. Ultimately, this position begins with textual criticism which restricts the doctrinal view from hindering the “evidence” to lead us into the “truth” concerning the Words.

    In confirming the canon we have been moved and induced by the testimony of the church, and therefore we are bound to recognize the same testimony for confirming (not creating) the text of Scripture. It is therefore, inconsistent and unbiblical to distinguish between higher and lower criticism and go about to confirm the text of Scripture on a different basis as we would discover the canon of Scripture. It is especially this presuppositional point where TR adherents are met with ridicule and hostility from modern text critical advocates. This opposition is based on a failure to honestly confess that they have changed presuppositional approaches by adamantly insisting on a “neutral” evaluation of the textual evidence while essentially ignores the testimony of the church. Text critical advocates basic premise is that the church has historically erred somewhere, but the scientific textual evidence has the ability to correct this, notwithstanding the fact that the textual evidence of the extant manuscripts is hopelessly partial, contradictory and fragmentary.

    A textual position that rejects the a priori presupposition that “The Bible is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice” is surely to be rejected. A Biblicist derives his ontology and epistemology from biblical theology rather than his own experience filtered through his own reason. It is an insult to God to argue that the only infallible written revelation of Himself so lacks clarity that man has to step in to determine the process. However, let me posit some questions to test the consistency of your position:

    (1) Do you believe that the Scriptures are sufficient to provide a framework to guide us to all the Words of God today? If so, could you at least briefly explain this?

    (2) You state “I am not arguing against the doctrine of preservation. I wholeheartedly embrace it.” – Can you define what Scriptural presuppositions guide you to adopt this fidelistic position also?

    (3) Do you believe in a 66 Book Canon? What Scriptural presuppositions guide you to be certain about your view on this? If Canonicity was recognized by the true Church (not Rome) then the corollary of this must be that the Canonized Words must be recognized by the true Church and not Rome’s texts or apostate textual critics such as Westcott, Hort, Aland, Metzger etc (1 Cor 2:12).

    Blessings
    Paul

    • Paul, until you deal with the passages properly, I have no interest in continuing the conversation. You claim the passages you cite support your view. They do not. Until you can demonstrate how they support your view, I have no interest in further discussion.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  4. Let’s go Matthew 4:4 first, Don. You say it says NOTHING about availability of God’s Word. I’ve preached through Matthew and the same place in Luke too. It’s a quote of Deuteronomy 8:3. There’s no question that Jesus could make bread—He made enough bread and enough fish to feed several thousands of people—the issue here was that He was being tempted to take it on Himself to decide when and how the food would come, so the temptation was to distrust God’s love.

    Deuteronomy is a reiteration of the law God gave Moses, describing how the people were to live. In Deut 8:1, God reminds them that they need to be careful to obey everything that God said, and if they did, they would live and get great blessing—so the living of everything God said was the key to their lives and futures. How do we know what God said, Don? Is it concepts or ideas? In v. 2 of Deuteronomy 8, God reminds them that they had been tested in the wilderness for 40 years as to whether they could trust Divine care for them, believing that God would take care of them. We know that while in the wilderness that they distrusted God and murmured and complained, despite the fact that God was supplying them with manna food, and so they died in the wilderness. The key for them being able to live, to be protected and preserved by God, was by obeying what He said. What did they need to obey, Don? Every word. Every word was important to live, not concepts or ideas. What does that assume? That assumes that they would have every Word. Of course it does, which, by the way, in Deuteronomy 30:11-14, they didn’t have an excuse by saying that it wasn’t available. They had it in their mouth. And yes, “word” is used there in that text, but He is referring to all the Words even as seen in the greater context of Deuteronomy 30.

    It wasn’t enough that they had manna and the things that God provided for them, so they were forty years in the wilderness and they were tested and they failed the test, so that they all died in the wilderness—now He says you’re going to go into the land and you just saw what happened to people who don’t trust Me, who don’t trust God’s love and provision. So if you are going to live, it’s not going to be by bread alone, but by obedience to every Word. The way to live is to obey God’s Word and then trust God for the bread (this is what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6). You do not live because you eat but because God is determined to give you life and provide your meal—as soon as God determines you’re not going to live anymore, you’re not going to live anymore.

    The fact that it was said in Deuteronomy 8:3 and then repeated in Matthew 4:4 says that this is timeless. We will live by the Words that God gives us. What is inspiration but Words proceeding out of the mouth of God. Every Word. Not Concepts or Ideas.

    This is exactly what it is about in Matthew 4:4, Don. Exactly. So your “They do not,” really doesn’t work. What you wrote above in your “exegesis” was the equivalent of “nuh-uh” or “does not.” It didn’t develop anything, which is why it misses it.

    So to make application, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, what are relied upon by textual critics and your Nestles-Aland text, either because those two manuscripts were rejected or because they were ignored, weren’t available, we know, from 1500 to 1800 after the printing press was invented. They were not the text received by the churches.

    • sigh…

      Well, Kent, you are making the text bear a lot of weight it just doesn’t bear. I’ll try to give a detailed exposition of Mt 4.4 and Dt 8.3 later.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  5. Paul S Ferguson says:

    Dan Salter,

    You first point I agree with. The second that holding to the perfect preservation and availability of all of God’s Words means that we search for the word “TR” and “KJV” in the Bible is a straw man. God did not promise to preserve a text, translation, parchment, ink but HIS WORDS! You claim that there is a large gap between the TR and the originals. That is not exactly a stunning revelation to any of us. The TR compilers did not compile the printed editions from a vacuum. The WORDS were obviously there throughout the centuries and generally available in God’s true Church. These WORDS were the ones handed down and settled on by the people of God soon after the advent of the printing press. There is no other alternative in respect of fulfilling the Biblical presuppositions.

    Now, I have set forth the Biblical presuppositional paradigm that guides us to HIS WORDS. Don says (correctly) on his Church Articles of Faith that “The Bible is the only rule for faith and practice. It is the absolute standard of life and as such is to be obeyed by all men.” He also adds John 12:48 as a proof text warning all readers that in the Second Coming we will all be judged by EVERY WORD (not just message). I am assuming he believes this and so posited the very reasonable request that he should show how we are guided to all the WORDS of God today especially those we will be judged by.

    Don,

    I believe these passages do believe the perfect preservation and availability. You do not so we are at an impasse. They make no sense without it as I have shown with regard to John 12:48.

    Let me choose two passages.

    (a) In your reply you say concerning Proverbs 22.20-21 that “the writer has given excellent counsels and wisdom so that the reader might know the certainty of the words given, the reliability and wisdom of their meaning” yet paradoxically you conclude, “This is a promise that God’s words are true, not certainty as to the words of God.” I find it hard to discuss the passage with someone who says the passage was given so the reader may have certainty but the reader does not have certainty. It is a bit like arguing 2 Tim 3:16 was given to teach us that every word was inspired but in reality it was not inspired!

    (b) With respect to Prov 1.23, you say it is “not a promise about specific words being preserved into perpetuity, but a promise that if you pay attention to wisdom’s reproof, God will make known his words to you.” I am assuming the “you” here is referring to believers in 2009 so if you say these “words” are known unto us today then it follows that this promise implies (at the very least) perfect preservation and availability of these WORDS for those who pay attention to God’s wisdom.

    You have made certain statements on your website and in your reply that I would be grateful if you would answer:

    (1) You said “Do I suggest that God’s words are uncertain or that God hasn’t certainly preserved his words? No!” – what Biblical presuppositions guided you to make this statement or is it just an opinion?

    (2) In light of you citing John 12:48 and “The Bible is the only rule for faith and practice. It is the absolute standard of life and as such is to be obeyed by all men” – can you state clearly what Biblical presuppositions guided you to make this statement or is it just an opinion? Can I rely on the Bible to guide me to all of the Words of God today? Simple yes or no.

    (3) Do you believe in a 66 Book Canon? What Scriptural presuppositions guide you to be certain about your view on this? You have written a paper on it I see for your Church. You even claim that one of the test for a canonical book was the universality of its reception but you do not give us any Scriptural presuppositions so I can only reasonably infer you believe in an open canon or that there are some doctrines you hold to that have no Scriptural support. In this paper you say, “Even if a letter of one of the apostles should be found today, it wouldn’t be included in the canon.” What Scriptural presuppositions guide you to make this a definitive doctrine? You also cite “The words Jesus wrote in the dust when the woman caught in adultery was led to him were not inspired — i.e., ‘breathed out’ by God as Scripture — even though they were true, miraculous, and very convicting to those who read them.” What Scriptural presuppositions guide you to recognizing this passage as part of the true WORDS of GOD?

    • Paul,

      I am approving this post, but if you continue in this line of posting, it will be the last one. I don’t have time or the interest in answering an epistle every time.

      On this post, you are putting words in Dan’s mouth (or keyboard!). Dan didn’t say we need to go looking for ‘TR’ or ‘KJV’ in the Bible or any such thing.

      But as you go on, you amazingly make a pretty good argument for the word preserved in the totality of the manuscripts, up until the TR. Then, all of a sudden, there can be no deviation, eh? What miracle took place then, can you tell me?

      You also use this term regularly: “Biblical presupposition”. You seem very in love with the term presupposition, but if it is a presupposition, it can’t strictly be Biblical, can it? If it is Biblical, it is revelation. Presuppositions are things we bring to the Bible. We have a presupposition that the Bible is the word of God. So we believe what it says. Perhaps you are saying that if the Bible also affirms our presupposition, it is a Biblical presupposition, eh?

      Quite frankly, I am not convinced that exclusive presuppositionalism is the way to go. I doubt there is anyone who really thinks that way, even if they claim otherwise.

      As for the rest of your questions, I am not going to bother with them. If you keep asking them, I’ll just delete them or not approve your post. I am not going to be drawn further into this argument.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  6. I’ll look forward to that, Don. I thought you might say, “That’s worth thinking about. After all, I want to believe that the Bible teaches its own preservation and availability. If it’s in there, I’d be glad to see it.” The children of Israel had manna in the wilderness and yet they didn’t survive with just bread. They needed more than manna, but obedience to God’s Words as well. Of course, we do too. Every word. That’s how we live. The just shall live by faith. What does faith come by?

  7. Paul S Ferguson says:

    Don,

    This is my last posting, as like you, I have many other duties to attend to. I took your offer at face value to discuss this subject and posited a number of simple questions that you appear to have side stepped twice. It is not that we do not understand your exegesis. We do understand, we just do not agree. That is why rather than have a perpetual mud wrestling contest on these passages I asked what I believe is a straightforward set of questions to an affirmed Biblicist who says that the Bible is the supreme authority in faith and practice for his life.

    I realize these questions cannot be answered by the multi-version advocates. Despite repeated challenges and copious pages written they have not produced a straight answer. For simplicity I will reduce my request to one:

    (1) Can you simply outline the basic Biblical presuppositions (axioms/revelatory principles if you do not like the other term) that guide you in 2009 to all of the Words of God today?

    • 2 Tim 3.16; 2 Pt 1.21, 1 Cor 2.13 – those are my guides.

      Paul, you didn’t take my offer up at all. I asked you to show how the passages you cite in support of your doctrine actually prove your doctrine. You head off instead into a tortured explanation based on presuppositionalism as you see it. You didn’t deal with the passages at all. Kent at least made an attempt. I understand his reasoning, but he is saying more than the passage says. He is missing the point of the passage.

      If you care to actually talk about the passages and show how they say what you say they do, that would be welcome. Instead, you are attempting to trap me with foolish questions. They are irrelevant to the point I am making and I won’t be derailed from it beyond the brief answer I give to begin this comment.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  8. Christian Markle says:

    I have not finished reading all of Brother Johnsons OP or the meta, but I have a question about the quote from Deuteronomy: Are there any words that have proceeded from the mouth of God that have not been written down? IOW does God speak absent from scripture. Now I am not suggesting extra verbal revelation, I am just asking whether we have limited the statement of Deuteronomy and Matthew to written words when that is not precisely what has been said.

    I have some additional thoughts, but I will await answers to my first question.

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

    • Not sure what the others might think, Christian, but I would say that in the day when God was giving revelation quite clearly he spoke words that were not recorded for all time. I don’t think anyone commenting here from either side would say God is doing anything like that today.

      I should also add that I don’t oppose the doctrine of preservation. I actually believe it. I believe that God has perfectly preserved His Word as He intended it. Where the disagreement with the KJO crowd is over how God did that and where (in what manuscripts) God did that.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  9. Christian Markle says:

    Brother Johnson,

    I have to agree that many of the passages being used are weak in their support of generational preservation. I have leaned more on Psalm 33:11 and 100:5 (along with Isaiah 59:12), but even then I seek to be clear that these are clues to the preservation process. I have to admit that dogmatism on the details of preservation are misplaced — unless there is a clearer passage that both argues the position while still remaining true to its context). I personally would welcome such.

    Brother Brandenburg,

    I applaud your efforts on this subject. . . I however, am afraid that your desire to be dogmatic leads to a wresting of scripture instead of a rightly dividing it.

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

  10. Christian Markle says:

    I may not have been as clear as I would have liked. Let me say it a different way. Are all of God’s words recorded? I guess we might unanimously say , “no.” Is there any more written revelation for us today. I would again assume that all in the discussion at the moment would say, “no.” However, I will follow this and ask is God really silent? Does God speak in heaven? For instance, will he not likely “give the order” for the last trump? I would have to say yes. God is still speaking — not necessarily for human ears, but he is certainly not issued himself a gag order — he has indeed finished speaking to man (the canon is closed).

    Now I need to get to my real point: With passages like Hebrews 1:3 indicating that Christ upholds “all things by the word of His power”, is it not all too narrow a view to think that God Father only sustains man by the “limited” words of scripture. I believe God speaks outside of scripture (until this day), but not necessarily to man. The clincher for me is that Jesus quotes Dueteronomy using the unversal word “every.” We do not actually have a record of every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Are we not stretching things to assume that Matthew 4:4 is speaking only of direct revelation (biblical words). It seems to limit how many words God has said and gags God not just in revelation to man, but almost literally. This seems presumptous. If I am correct then this passage is not talking only about biblical truth it is talking about a combination of obedience to God’s revealed commands as well as dependence on God decisions (communicated through his unheard words in his provident care of man). This seems to fit the context of Deuteronomy 8:3 much better.

    Conclusion: I am hard pressed to see this passage as a support for availability of every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Frankly, I am not sure we should expect any such command for this seems to take us outside of the scope of revelation to a much broader level — every word of God every spoken at any time (possibly limited to the subject of man’s care, but not limited to scripture).

    I hope that something of this lengthly ramble is profitable. . . and that although I might be taking an odd view of this passage, I am not communicating any unintentional false doctrine.

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

  11. Christian,

    Do you know how serious it is to say that I “wrest” the scriptures in light of that section in 2 Peter 3 and who Peter is talking about? Do you want to maintain that accusation?

    Christian, regarding the unrecorded, never available words theory, what are the words that we are to live by? What words would God tie up our life with?

  12. Christian Markle says:

    Do you know how serious it is to say that I “wrest” the scriptures in light of that section in 2 Peter 3 and who Peter is talking about? Do you want to maintain that accusation?

    Alright, I will back off some on the word “wrest”. I do think you are attempting to stretch the intent of the passage, but whether that enviably ends you up at all that 2 Peter 3 says would be a stretch on my part to assert.

    Christian, regarding the unrecorded, never available words theory, what are the words that we are to live by? What words would God tie up our life with?

    I am not sure I know what you mean by “tie up our life.” We are alive because of the sustanence of God. This seems to be the reason given in Deuteronomy 8:3. Verses 1-3 all have conditions/commands and a purpose. Verse 1 is obey so that you may live. Verse 2 is remember how God sustained you, humbled you, and proved you so that your heart would be revealed. verse 3 is He humbled, suffered you to hunger and provided for you so that you would know that I am the one that provides (man shall not live by. . . ).

    I will readily admit that I have not spent much time on this, but the plain sense of the passage seems to make sense. Possibly tomorrow I will take time to read through all that has been said about this and possibly it will change my mind. Even if I am wrong on my take here, I am not sure it is wise to use this passage to prove preservation — it seems like a construct rather than a clear declaration regarding preservation.

  13. Christian,

    There are many passages that show preservation and availability. If every Word is available, does that assume preservation of every Word? If God expects us to live by every Word, should we assume we will have every Word available?

    Here is a logical syllogism to show that this is reasonable.

    Major Premise: God’s own live by every Word of His.

    Minor Premise: God’s own must have every Word of His available to live

    Conclusion: Therefore, God will always have every Word of His available for His own.

    Here’s another one:

    Major Premise: God wants His own to live.

    Minor Premise: God’s own must have every Word of His available to live.

    Conclusion: Therefore, God’s own will have every Word of His available.

    Those two syllogisms cover both ideas of live. I believe the passage fits syllogism number one, but in both cases, every Word of God will be available.

    I don’t believe context supports syllogism number 2. The children of Israel had manna, but they still died in the wilderness. Why? They didn’t take every Word of God seriously. The ones that they faithlessly disobeyed resulted in their death.

    • Kent, this is still human reasoning, it is not Bible. Your logic may be impeccable. But it is still human logic (we are assuming you are still human!!), not Bible. The Bible doesn’t say we must have every word of God in order to live, and it certainly doesn’t reveal your conclusion.

      That is what I mean by overreaching. Even if your logic is true (but I don’t think it is), it is still logic, not Bible.

      There are several reasons why I don’t think it is true, one of them being that there can be other logical positions taken from what is revealed as stated in your syllogism #1, major premise. That statement is revealed. We could argue that your major premise in #2 isn’t revealed since it is clear that God doesn’t always want his own to live, even if they have obeyed every word they had. Joseph died, for example. Abraham died. etc.

      Ok, enough for now. My point is that you are relying on logic rather than revelation and that is an overreach.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  14. Christian Markle says:

    Kent,

    No amount of logic can negate what the Text says. Deuteronomy 8:3 God says that He did a series of things to the Children of Isreal so that they would know something.
    God Humbled the them – This put them in their place of dependence.
    God Suffered them to hunger – This was a specific way they sensed their dependence. They needed food, but none was available.
    God provided manna to satisfy their hunger. This manna is specifically labeled as unknown to them and their fathers. They had no expectation or anticipation of this form of provision.

    All of this was done that they might know that their very survival was in the hand of God. It was not their ability to provide for themselves nor their anticipation/expectation of earthly (normal, known) provision that would ultimately provide their survival; it was God’s word (I would say by obedience to his commands for how to gather and use manna, but also dependence on his providence.) Again, “every word that proceeds from teh mouth of God” is not scriptural revelation — only some of them are scripture some of them are “providential words”. This is a critical point for me.

    This is the logic of the verse in question. Again, I say no amount of human logical construction (absent from the immediate context of the verse) should be accepted as Truth when God has clearly told us “His reasoning”. His reasoning is laid out in the very verse. I think we would do well to allow His logic to stand not our won.

    Now to your general claims about preservation: I do not deny preservation, I do not deny preservation “for/to every generation.” I think passages such as Psalm 33:11; 100:5 and Isaiah 59:12 offer scriptural warrant for this method of preservation. I further believe that these verses offer us “clues” that help us determine which text family to depend on and which to see as merely confirmation of an amazing preservation work without altering any “new readings.” What I do not desire is to offer a list of verses or an explanation of any verse that misconstrues God’s meaning/intent for that verse only to further support my conclusions about preservation. I am not so dependent on my conclusion that I need to have Matthew 4:4 and Deuteronomy 8:3 say what you want them to say.

    Let me try to sum this up: My fear is not your conclusion (about God’s promised method of preservation), for I believe we are almost in full agreement on this general point. My concern is about this one passage; I do not see how it supports your conclusion.

    One other thing I am not yet on board with you on, but will await your explanation on your blog: I have not yet been able to historically narrow the scope of “generational preservation” to only the TR — the broader realm of the Byzantine Family seems a safer conclusion for me at this point. But that is for another time.

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

  15. Don,

    I don’t believe syllogism #2, but if someone is going to take that position, like Christian seems to be, it is still logical that every Word of God’s is required to live. One reason that I stated that I don’t believe #2 is because it doesn’t make sense to say “every” Word if we’re talking about actual physical life coming out of a declaration of God. Every Word wouldn’t matter, only the Words found in the declaration that caused life to continue, almost like the declaration of God that results in justification. I can’t see how that it is teaching that.

    We do get our theology in part from logical deductions from the text. Let me give you a simple example. John 3:36.

    Major Premise: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.

    Minor Premise: I believe on the Son.

    Conclusion: Therefore, I have everlasting life.

    My thinking, my logic, is necessary to come to that conclusion. We love God with our mind. We must strive to enter into the narrow gate—how do we strive? In part with our mind.

    Scripture doesn’t say that Kent Brandenburg has everlasting life. It makes a promise from which I come to a logical conclusion. It isn’t my logic. It is his logic. The Bible actually validates the logic by calling God’s will His logical worship (“reasonable service”—”reasonable” is the Greek word logikos). Using logic does not assume that we are not relying on revelation.

    One thing that is ironic here is that someone who relies on textual criticism has a problem with logic.

    • Yes, Kent, we do use logic. But note this:

      Everything in this syllogism from Jn 3.36 is derived from the Scripture, whereas your syllogism about Mt 4.4 is not. Just lay the syllogisms out side by side and compare them. You add the concept of ‘availability’ to the minor premise of your syllogism. It isn’t derived from the text, whereas your response of faith in the Son is directly derived and related to the meaning of the text.

      I think that says there is something wrong with your syllogism about Mt 4.4. You are probably missing some steps between Major and Minor premise and (it appears to me) reading into the syllogism the concept of availability from some other source. Thus, you are taking a leap away from the plain meaning of Scripture to what you want it to mean.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  16. Christian,

    You may have been writing yours when I was writing mine to Don. Therefore, I didn’t comment on yours. I’m with anyone on not replacing God’s Word itself with logic, but I’ve illustrated how that God expects logic. It is the deductive reasoning from Scriptural premises that historically Christians have relied upon. I’ve finished my third installment on epistemology over at my blog that deals with this.

    I believe that your idea of “live” suffers out of both internal and near context. Near in the word “every” and near in the use of the word “live” in v. 1. They are the same Hebrew word and those hearing this would assume the same usage, since the same word is being used. “Every” is awkward and out of place if speaking about certain non-scriptural words that God uses to sustain life of those eating manna. I don’t doubt that God’s words have life-giving power (Heb 4:12; John 6), but even in those parallel verses, I believe it is tied to the Word we possess and live. We are begotten by the Word of Truth (James 1:18)—life coming from written Words.

    I think that, Don and Christian, both of you rely upon inductive logic, the post-enlightenment kind, to come to the positions you take (more so, Don, but also Christian based upon things I’ve read, including here). I want to assume that you don’t do this purposefully.

    Don,

    I’m reposting syllogism #1 again to look at:

    Major Premise: God’s own live by every Word of His. (Deut 8:1)

    Minor Premise: God’s own must have every Word of His available to live (Deut 8:3)

    Conclusion: Therefore, God will always have every Word of His available for His own.

    You say I add available. I only do that to make the point clear. “Have” as a verb would be good enough. Regarding everything in John 3:36 being scriptural—what about the word “I.” “I,” as I said, “Kent Brandenburg,” isn’t in the verse. It’s still a conclusion I make.

    [Edited to correct typos per Kent's instructions. He also commented: "I’ll hopefully proofread next time." To which I reply, "Proofread? What's that?"]

    • Hi Kent

      I see Christian has given you a lengthy reply, so seeing that is a lot to chew on I’ll try to be very brief.

      In your syllogism from Jn 3.36, I recognize that you are adding yourself into the syllogism. But you are still dependent on revelation in making the minor premise and the conclusion.

      In the Mt 8.4 syllogism, you would be doing the same thing if it went this way:

      1. God’s own live by every Word of His.
      2. I am one of God’s own
      3. I live (or ‘I must live’) by every Word of His.

      You have added in the concept “must have every Word of His available to live” from some other source, not from Mt 4.4 or from Dt 8.3 – that statement isn’t made by the texts. What the texts say is that man must live by Every Word, they do not say man must have every word.

      I hope that helps add some clarity to what we are arguing about.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  17. Christian Markle says:

    You may have been writing yours when I was writing mine to Don. Therefore, I didn’t comment on yours. I’m with anyone on not replacing God’s Word itself with logic, but I’ve illustrated how that God expects logic. It is the deductive reasoning from Scriptural premises that historically Christians have relied upon. I’ve finished my third installment on epistemology over at my blog that deals with this.

    . . .

    I think that, Don and Christian, both of you rely upon inductive logic, the post-enlightenment kind, to come to the positions you take (more so, Don, but also Christian based upon things I’ve read, including here). I want to assume that you don’t do this purposefully.

    Brother Brandenburg,

    I would readily admit to an inductive approach to this subject. I would define inductive as looking at the details of the Text through observation and then attempting to assemble an accurate interpretation from those observations. I guess I am supposed to be concerned that this form of inductive reasoning is faulty if is “post-Enlightenment”. I am not really sure how to assess whether that is so. Certainly I was chronologically born after the Enlightenment so I guess my reasoning would then be forced to be post (after) the Enlightenment :). Seriously, despite the fact that I assume I have been insulted the whole designation does not really disturb me. I am more concerned that any defense I might attempt would only further distract us from the Text.

    I have made certain observations from the Text, yeah the very verse in question, but my dear Brother Brandenburg would have us distracted by a similar word two verses earlier. If it will help I would be more than willing to agree that if the phrase we are discussing “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD” were found in vs 1, we would have a very different discussion on our hands. However, not only is this not the case, but Jesus did not quote vs 1 in Matthew 3, he specifically quoted from vs 3. This leaves us concerned both with what the LORD said in vs 3 and what Jesus was intending to communicate in quoting from vs 3. We will fail to interpret properly if we attempt to add to or take away from what our LORD and Jesus have said.

    Logic has the ability to aid us or hinder us based solely on the carefulness with which we use it. If our Lord has given us warrant to use logic (and I believe He has), then we must seek to use it well. I would assert that you have not used it well; for you have failed to make full use of the information in the verse to come to your conclusion. You have indeed used deductive reasoning; which I would define as choosing a hypothesis (general truth) and attempting to prove it form the Text. I would suggest that this is not wrong, but one must be ready to release his grip on his reliance on a particular text if the text does not support the hypothesis proposed. One fails if he attempt to force his hypothesis on the Text. Remember I happen to agree with the hypothesis proposed regarding preservation; I am just not will to do violence to this text to prove it especially when I think there are plenty of others that work much better.

    Back to the Text:
    “Every word” is a comprehensive statement that appears to be almost without boundaries. The only boundary to these words given in the text is that these words proceed from the very mouth of God. This must indeed include more than Revelation; it must include every word written AND every word uttered but unwritten. If I am wrong in my interpretation (and I could be), then this problem must be resolved satisfactorily.

    The subject of sustenance comes from the immediate context (the very verse Jesus quoted from). Not coincidentally the subject of physical sustenance is also directly in the immediate context of this first temptation of our Lord. The challenge I would like to make to Brother Brandenburg is to explain what biblical word from God was Jesus obeying in not turning the stones to bread? I would suggest that no command exists. Then what biblical quote was Jesus living by? If one would assert that our Lord in quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 gives us the answer, then we have no command (as the argument from Deuteronomy 8:1 would expect); we have a truth claim – man lives by God’s Word. But in what way does this truth claim help Jesus? I suggest by dependence not obedience. Upon what must he depend — that God would sustain him without the stones being turned into bread. As I have said there is no command that prohibits the turning of stones to bread, but there is a truth claim to be believed — that God would sustain him by His words without the use of “stone-bread.”

    No matter how you slice it there are problems with the theory that either of these passages is dealing only with the revealed words of God. God has spoken more than He has revealed, therefore, every spoken word must be accounted for; and the immediate context of both of these quotes are about dependence on God not obedience to God.

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

  18. As we talk more, I see more of what the issue is. I think it is a slightly different issue for both of you. I recognize that we are arguing about one verse and its parameters, not excluding in so doing the doctrine of availability, so to make it easier, I could just defer to your position and move on. The problem is that I still believe that Matthew 4:4 implies preservation and availability.

    I don’t think that, Don and Christian, you are taking the same position. Don is taking, I believe, the position that Jesus is obeying unrecorded, therefore unavailable, Words. Christian is saying that Jesus is getting His sustenance to live by unrecorded Words that God has said. You tell me if I’m wrong.

    I don’t think we’re done here, that is, reached an impasse, because I think that we’re still missing some aspects of this. First though, I wasn’t attempting to insult you, Christian or Don, with the induction charge. I do believe I should have left it unsaid. It was in my head and I typed it and once you push send here, it’s gone. I think it is more obvious why I believe Don takes that position in light of my third epistemology post. However, for you Christian, I took that from your statement that you believe the Words are in the Byzantine manuscripts, which is essentially the majority text position. It is not a pre-enlightenment position based on historic and biblical presuppositions. That’s a long discussion, however, so I apologize in that I should have left that can of worms closed. By the way, pre-enlightenment as a term does not refer to chronology, but philosophy and theology. Of course, we are all living post-enlightenment. Maybe that was tongue in cheek from you, Christian. Does this matter? Yes, our positions should be historic.

    OK relative to what you see as my reading into the text, the discussion relates mainly to a two things if I meld it down correctly. One, why are the Words recorded Words? Two, why does the verse say that those Words are available? Three, is “live” talking about the result of sustaining words or the consequence of obeying words?

    I think that one comes first in logical order, but I’d like to deal with the second first, because it is Don’s blog. Don says that I’m adding “have” and “available” both to what the verse actually says. I say, “No.” Why?

    Let me rephrase the syllogism.

    Major Premise: God’s own must obey the Words He expects them to obey in order to live.

    Minor Premise: God expects His own to obey every one of His Words in order to live.

    Conclusion: His own have every one of His Words.

    Man cannot obey Words He does not have. God is a good God and just. He wants men to live. He will not leave unavailable Words that He expects men to obey in order to live. He expects men to obey every Word. Since the completion of Scripture, those Words have been all the Words inspired in every Book of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. God does not expect us, so neither are we responsible, in order to live, to obey Words that He said that are not in Genesis to Revelation (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Alright Don, you can start looking for the holes again.

    Regarding number three, which is Christian’s point, which is that the Words are Words to sustain, not Words to obey, I believe that we should look at the context, which Christian says is not significant in the argument. Let me add something else that relates to the incarnation of Christ. How did Christ live for forty days without food in the wilderness? This is a human impossibility. I believe that your position on the incarnation, on His hypostatic union, makes a difference here. There are two positions to explain how Christ did what He did. First, He did them as God. Second, He did them empowered by the Spirit. If you study through the gospels, and in conjunction with Philippians 2:5-8, you will see that the second explanation is correct. John 3:34 comes in here: “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” Jesus operated in the power of the Spirit, having given up the independent exercise of His attributes.

    Jesus was sent to do the Father’s will and it was the Father’s will that He operate in the power of the Spirit not freely exercising His own attributes. See how many times He comes to do the Father’s will. Jesus knew that it was the Father’s will not to turn stones into bread. That’s why He quoted Deut 8:3 to Satan. If Jesus had turned the stones into bread, He would have been disobeying the Father’s will. The children of Israel disobeyed the Father’s will in the wilderness and died. That is a mini-explanation, but it rounds out what we’re talking about. I’m preaching very slowly through Luke right now and I am teaching seminary level Christology to two fine college graduates I’m training to be pastors, and this is something I have taught.

    As far as number one is concerned, I would have seemed to have defeated my point, because the Words that Jesus obeyed were not recorded. The Father told those to Him perhaps in a private conversation either in prayer or during His time in the wilderness alone. I have no problem with that. However, we cannot depend on unrecorded Words to live. We must depend on recorded ones alone. Those are the Words He expects us to live. So when Jesus quoted that, yes, they were unrecorded Words to Him, but they are always recorded ones for us. Therefore, the ones available to us are recorded ones.

    • Kent, I appreciate your latest. I think in the main we are in agreement. Of course the differences matter!

      On this one, I am going to save your comment and think about it through the day and give you a more thorough reply tonight.

      Just this one thought, however:

      Do you really want to make the following statement?

      Minor Premise: God expects His own to obey every one of His Words in order to live.

      Even that, I think, is not exactly what the text says. And it sure sounds like salvation by works, doesn’t it?

      Please note, I know you don’t believe in salvation by works! But that statement doesn’t sound quite right to me!

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

      PS: I keep checking back periodically to see if anyone else comments and your last post, Kent, keeps showing up as needing approval. Weird. I keep approving it, but… let’s see if it “sticks” this time.

  19. My view of Deuteronomy is that God’s people agree to keep every one of His Words with their hearts.

    That agreement does relate to physically living in the blessing and cursings of 30-32.

    Belief includes our affections, that is, we love Him and that means we do what He says. As far as He’s concerned, we’ve already done what He says in Christ, but that will come out in conforming. I’m sorry if I confused on salvation by works, but I’m looking at the text.

    • Hi Kent

      I am going to give a response to your latest post in more detail. I’ll try to quote the relavent portions of your post and then give my response below.

      “Don is taking, I believe, the position that Jesus is obeying unrecorded, therefore unavailable, Words.”

      That isn’t exactly what I am saying. Jesus may not even have had any specific word at all, other than “Go to the wilderness until I send for you.” We don’t know what specific words (if any) that the Spirit used to drive Jesus into the wilderness. What we do know is that the Spirit did drive Jesus into the wilderness and that he was completely walking by faith in the Father’s direction both by direct communication and Spirit leading.

      I am also saying that Jesus isn’t necessarily referring to any specific words when he quotes Moses. He is quoting Moses as an authority whom he is depending upon to trust the Father in the wilderness testing. He is showing by divine authority why he need not yield to the temptation to pursue his own agenda rather than the Father’s.

      BTW, have you ever noticed that Jesus uses the future tense, ‘shall live’, rather than exactly quoting the Hebrew Qal imperfect? He is following the LXX here. My understanding from my Hebrew grammars is that the Qal imperfect is more or less similar to our present tense. The NET Bible notes say that the future in Mt 4.4 can be either “taken as a command (also known as an imperatival future) or as a statement of reality (predictive future)”. I’m not sure if that’s significant, I am not that good in Hebrew. But there is clearly a difference. (And… “things that are different are not the same” … sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

      I still have a problem with this part of your last post:

      Major Premise: God’s own must obey the Words He expects them to obey in order to live.

      Minor Premise: God expects His own to obey every one of His Words in order to live.

      Conclusion: His own have every one of His Words.

      Man cannot obey Words He does not have. God is a good God and just. He wants men to live. He will not leave unavailable Words that He expects men to obey in order to live. He expects men to obey every Word. Since the completion of Scripture, those Words have been all the Words inspired in every Book of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. God does not expect us, so neither are we responsible, in order to live, to obey Words that He said that are not in Genesis to Revelation (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Alright Don, you can start looking for the holes again.

      Let’s just lay up the actual passage here by way of comparison…

      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.

      Your whole syllogism isn’t anywhere close to what the verse is saying. I find it quite amazing.

      BTW, with respect to logic and post-enlightenment rationalism and all… I find it ironic that you are touting logic as if it is opposed to rationalism. To quote Spock, “That is not logical, Dr. McCoy.”

      I’ll close this comment with a quote from BibSac, Jul-Sep 1994:

      The impact of Satan’s temptation is that Jesus, like Adam first and Israel later, had a justifiable grievance against God and therefore ought to voice His complaint by “murmuring” (Exod 16; Num 11) and ought to provide for Himself the basic necessity of life, namely, bread. Satan, in other words, sought to make Jesus groundlessly anxious about His physical needs and thus to provoke Him to demand the food He craved (cf. Ps 78:18). In short, the devil’s aim was to persuade Jesus to repeat the apostasy of Adam and Israel. Satan wanted to break Jesus’ perfect trust in His Father’s good care and thereby to alter the course of salvation-history.

      Jesus rejoined with the words of Deuteronomy 8:3b, “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” The context of 8:1–10 must be taken into account, particularly verse 2 , which, as related earlier, includes the three elements underlying the temptation narratives as a whole: the number 40, the wilderness, and testing. In addition, verse 3a mentions hunger, and verse 5 refers to Israel’s sonship. In His own Person, then, Jesus recapitulated Israel. He remembered all the way Yahweh had led (v. 2 ) and that He had provided all His people’s needs as indisputable proof of His care (v. 4 ). Jesus was thus content to live by “every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God,” that is, by God’s interpretation of reality, as opposed to that of Satan (Matt 4:4). ((Don B. Garlington, “Jesus, the Unique Son of God: Tested and Faithful” Bibliotheca Sacra (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1994; 2002) Volume 151:297-298.))

      That’s all for now.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  20. Anvil says:

    Rest assured there are other interested readers. However, Don, you and Christian are “keeping the British end up” very well, and I doubt there would be anything I could really offer to this conversation.

  21. Christian Markle says:

    As we talk more, I see more of what the issue is. I think it is a slightly different issue for both of you.

    . . .

    I don’t think that, Don and Christian, you are taking the same position. Don is taking, I believe, the position that Jesus is obeying unrecorded, therefore unavailable, Words. Christian is saying that Jesus is getting His sustenance to live by unrecorded Words that God has said. You tell me if I’m wrong.

    Yes, I believe you are correct. Brother Johnson and I are not necessarily allies who are in agreement with each other on the meaning of this text. We just happen to both disagree with you. Sorry to be ganging up on you :), but I believe we are all “truth seekers”. . . willing to go wherever the text takes us not just seeking to defend a position. {I realize that I may have to swallow those words some day :-)}

    , I could just defer to your position and move on. The problem is that I still believe that Matthew 4:4 implies preservation and availability.

    And I could possibly just defer to your position and move on, but the concern I have is that we must be careful not to import our ideas into a text and force it to fit even if the truth we are seeking to defend is verified elsewhere.

    However, for you Christian, I took that from your statement that you believe the Words are in the Byzantine manuscripts, which is essentially the majority text position. It is not a pre-enlightenment position based on historic and biblical presuppositions. That’s a long discussion, however, so I apologize in that I should have left that can of worms closed.

    You are most certainly forgiven for opening “the can of worms”! Someday I may “enlighten” you as to why I am only willing to narrow preservation to the Byzantine family. BTW I purposefully avoid using phrase “Majority Text family” because I think it obscures the reasons for my position. HINT: Its not because “more is better”.

    I believe that we should look at the context, which Christian says is not significant in the argument.

    I should clarify my thoughts about the context of Deuteronomy 8:3. I would suggest that the context of a phrase includes the very verse where the phrase is found. Yeah, I would assert that the most immediate context of the phrase (ie verse where the phrase is found) is much more important than looking two verses before the verse. I may have missed Brother Brandenburg’s explanation of the whole verse (vs 3), but for me the context of the phrase holds priority over the context of the verse/chapter. Furthermore, the semantic range of the word “live” is flexible enough to be used in 2 distinctly different ways within a small context. I offer Deuteronomy 5:26 and 33 as an example.

    Let me add something else that relates to the incarnation of Christ. How did Christ live for forty days without food in the wilderness? This is a human impossibility.

    Impossible? Really what about Exodus 34:28? How did Moses do it? I would suggest that God sustained him — which seems to make my point.

    As far as number one is concerned, I would have seemed to have defeated my point, because the Words that Jesus obeyed were not recorded. The Father told those to Him perhaps in a private conversation either in prayer or during His time in the wilderness alone. I have no problem with that. However, we cannot depend on unrecorded Words to live.

    It does appears you have in fact defeated your point. You have practically admitted that Christ was acting on words that are not within the canon (written). If one takes your position, then Christ was speaking of obedience to the words of God the Father that are not recorded in Scripture. These words, the very words Christ was speaking about, are not only not revelation and therefore not preserved but they are not available to us. This means this passage cannot be used to support your thesis–the universal availability of all the words of revelation; for Jesus was not talking about words of revelation, he apparently was talking specifically about unrecorded words. To use this passage as support for your thesis and then claim that we cannot depend on unrecorded words seems to ignore that was apparently what Jesus was talking about — unrecorded (and thereby unavailable to us) words by which he was living (whether by obedience or dependence).

    So when Jesus quoted that, yes, they were unrecorded Words to Him, but they are always recorded ones for us. Therefore, the ones available to us are recorded ones.

    My dear brother, you appear to have painted yourself into a very difficult corner. Which I will allow you to attempt to unravel. I will leave you with only one question.

    Does man live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God or does he live only by the written words of God? The text seems clear, but your explanation of the text seems to miss this.

    For His glory,
    Christian Markle

  22. Hi Don and Christian,

    You can tell me if I’m wrong, but we seem to be coming to the end of our discussion on Mt 4:4 for awhile. And I would understand if you didn’t want to take it all the way through every “availability” text I believe. I wouldn’t necessarily say that Mt 4:4 is the best availability text. I think it is good, but I think there are many other places that teach it. Christian has referred to some other good ones. Availability does strike a stake through the heart of the critical text and eclecticism, however, which is why I believe it is argued so heavily against by critical text guys. If those texts were taken at face value with no other motive, they would be read as saying all God’s Words are available. I’ve read numbers of messages by people saying that they teach availability when the preservation issue wasn’t in view.

    OK, I want to keep my comments to things somewhat new and not retread old material, already stated. I want to start with the bibsac quote. Is that your position, Don? Because I don’t see—”that is, by God’s interpretation of reality, as opposed to that of Satan”—at all. Words = God’s interpretation of reality. That seems to be a stretch. Why? I believe it would have been stated in a different way if it wasn’t referring to actual words. I don’t think it is your position though. You just quoted a guy that disagreed with me.

    Regarding the LXX thing. As you know, I don’t believe that Jesus quoted from the LXX. If he did, the LXX people have a problem too. I’ve dealt with that many times though elsewhere, so I won’t repeat it here. That is a huge subject though. I understand the point that is made though, that is, that Jesus quoted from a corrupt translation, justifying the use of a corrupt translation.

    Don, I don’t think you and I are actually that far off, and I’m not saying that to stay in good with you. I figure I’m still in good. We both say that Jesus lived by Words of God, actual Words. I think we are both saying that.

    And I believe this will dovetail with Christian’s criticism. He says that I paint myself in the corner. I explained how I don’t. And this also shows how that my syllogism is OK. By the way, I didn’t say my syllogism came from the one verse. It comes from the truths in Deut 8 and really all the rest of scripture. As long as it all fits into scripture, I believe, it fits.

    Moses said what he said to Israel. Jesus said what He said to Satan. What’s the point? We will live by God’s Words, not just by eating manna or bread. The children of Israel ate manna and didn’t survive. They went wrong in that they didn’t obey God’s Words. Life for Jesus was less concerned with eating bread to satisfy hunger than it was to obey the Words spoken to Him by the Father. Jesus always obeyed the Father’s will. Jesus obeyed every one of the Father’s Words.

    This is where it’s at guys. These words apply to us. They applied to Israel. What words are we responsible to keep, to live by? We are required to live by every one of them. Which ones are those? Those are the ones God inspired. That’s how that text applies to us. It is saying that we too live by every Word. Every Word to us is not the same as every Word to Jesus. We don’t get non-inspired Words, however. So we must depend on the inspired ones, which this verse assumes or implies that we will have. I believe it is clear.

    • Hi Kent.

      I am happy to leave it there.

      I include the BibSac quote more for the points he makes about context rather than necessarily endorsing all his conclusions, although I am not sure that he is off on his conclusion. His term “God’s view of reality” is a little odd, I’ll admit. God’s view is reality.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  23. Christian Markle says:

    I too am willing to leave it where it is. I am not sure that we came to agreement, but we certainly spent much time and energy explaining ourselves. Hopefully somewhere in the far reaches of the universe this discussion will be profitable for someone. 1 Timothy 2:14

    for His glory,
    Christian Markle

  24. Todd Jones says:

    How might Amos 8:11-12 fit into this discussion?

    “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:
    And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.”

    • Hi Todd

      Thank you for your comment. Our discussion has pretty well died out, but I think that verse would support my contention that God isn’t under obligation to make his words available at all times.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  25. I won’t enter into the whole preservation or availability debate here, but wanted to comment on some things that came to mind while reading this thread.

    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.

    The Greek word for “word” used here is “rhema”, which means a particular saying (or portion of God’s Word), rather than the word “logos”, which is typically used to refer to the whole word of God.

    Spiritually, we overcome the Devil (and the world, our flesh, doubts, etc.) by quoting those portions of Scripture that are directly relevant to the temptation we are facing at a particular time. This is the same word used in the verse below:

    Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

    We use particular portions of the Word of God as a weapon to fight our spiritual battles. When faced with doubts about our salvation (for example), we must remember and use those passages that deal specifically with that issue (such as 1 John 5:13; John 3:16, and related passages). It would do no good to quote Genesis 1:1 at that point in time. Another example, if we are struggling with doubts about having our daily needs met in our walk with the Lord, then it is beneficial to remember passages such as Matthew 6 (especially verse 33), Philippians 4:19, Malachi 3:8-10, etc.

    In order for me to be victorious and live day to day in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord, I need to study and use the Word of God – both the whole Word (logos – that is quick and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword) and particular portions (rhema) of it. That certainly implies availability of the written Word of God.

    P.S. It doesn’t make sense to me for man to live by unwritten/uninspired words of God – as they are not available nor promised to us (also, is there anywhere that God refers to unwritten/unrecorded instructions as His Word?).

    • Hi Jerry,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I can’t quibble with anything you have said in this post. I want to make it clear that I am not arguing with what you say here at all.

      I am arguing with using Mt 4.4 (and Dt 8.3) as a promise of availability and of preservation. It is possible that there are some passages that do so, but I have yet to see them cited by my KJO friends. Instead, to prove this doctrine, they cite passages like Mt 4.4 and the others I ran through in the initial proof. None of them really say what they want them to say.

      So to sum up, my argument here is that if you are going to use Scripture to support your position, please use it accurately. You actually only lose credibility for your position if you try to force the passages beyond their actual meaning.

      I think there are legitimate arguments for the KJO position. The problem I have with it is that the arguments are based on faulty assumptions (my opinion). There are certain things we don’t know, and can’t know, about the early manuscripts. I think we should have the charity to recognize that the Lord has not seen fit to give us a definitive Scriptural basis for answering the questions and thus be willing to fellowship regardless of our conclusions concerning versions and texts.

      FWIW!

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

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