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Jason Harris

Jason loves to communicate God's word both in the local church and at conferences and retreats. Jason has been involved with Worship Music since 1996 and InFocus since 2005. Jason has degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research and is currently a PhD candidate and lecturer in the College of Business, Law, and Governance at James Cook University, Cairns. Jason is also a pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at jason@teaminfocus.com.au.

54 Comments

  1. avatar

    D

    Continue to be grateful to you for the bold truth you are so passionate about and not afraid to raise with intelligence and personal understanding. Thank God for one who will stand.

    Reply
  2. avatar

    Kezia Dennison

    I found this very interesting and enlightening. LIke D, I’m grateful you (and others amongst the InFocus team) choose to take on the difficult or controversial topics that no doubt earn you a lot of backlash in order to spread the truth and challenge people’s thinking. Keep it up… =)

    Reply
  3. avatar

    PJ

    Brother Jason, why do you bother blogging about this? Textual criticism is a hornet’s nest and I doubt anyone is seriously edified by the discussion. (A KJV/TR-only type is probably not going to fall down and repent in sackcloth and ashes after reading your posts on the subject.)

    Sorry mate, but there are more important and edifying subjects you could put your considerable literary talents towards.

    Reply
  4. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @D and Kezia, Thanks for the comments.

    @PJ, I appreciate your comment, and yes, I understand that it is a hornet’s nest. Or, to use the metaphor someone else used for this issue today, a sacred cow.

    I wrote this post with the deliberate intention of exposing and rebuking false teaching and to warn the believers to avoid such teaching. Ruckmanism is not a minor matter. It is a false teaching that mocks God and his word; but more importantly, it is a false teaching that has shattered thousands of lives, homes, and churches with division, confusion, and error.

    If indeed TR-onlyism is only separated from Ruckmanism by a shallow understanding of what TR-only actually implies (and that is my contention in this post), then TR-onlyism is also a dangerous and destructive false teaching.

    My heart breaks to see the staggering destruction that this aberrant teaching has caused in Australian churches and in the lives of Australian friends. My heart breaks to see teenagers who can hardly read have a four hundred year old translation put in front of them when there are recent, careful translations readily available. My heart breaks to hear a preacher make a confusion of a text because the language has obscured God’s word. My heart breaks to see young people whipped into a frenzy about a particular translation, but clueless about the gospel of Jesus Christ. And my heart absolutely breaks to see young men with questions told that they must not ask those questions and they must not pursue the truth on those matters; to see their passion for truth smothered under the satanic blackness of religious party politics; to see their courage emasculated into effete cowardice simply because there are some issues that are off limits.

    Why do I blog about this? There are several answers:

    1) Because, in my experience, very few people actually understand the position they hold to. The sheep will naturally trust the undershepherds, so those undershepherds better get out those books and do some serious thinking because dogmatism mixed with ignorance is bigotry, not Christianity.

    2) Because this is one sacred cow that needs to die. It is time for those who truly hold to the doctrine of separation to rebuke error, to protect the sheep, and to call false teachers to repentance.

    3) Because I know that God loves truth and is at work to purify his church. God is drawing some out of this doctrinal confusion into biblical, historic Christian orthodoxy and that process almost always, in my experience, is linked closely with a process of gaining a new understanding of God’s grace in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I have friends who hold a TR-preferred position, and while I disagree with that position, it is not error by any stretch. It is a legitimate option within Christian theology. But TR-onlyism is not. It is error and it is destructive. I am, to be honest, ashamed about the way I have let the controversial nature of this issue keep me from addressing it this directly before. I erred on the side of caution. And in so doing, I have to some degree tacitly helped this error to fester in the Australian church.

    I realise your comment was made as from a friend and you probably didn’t expect this much response. (!) I do appreciate your sharing the concern and I do and will consider it carefully in regard to future posts. I hope you will see my response as coming from a genuine and deep concern for Christ’s work in Australia.

    Grace to you, brother.

    Reply
  5. avatar

    Jeremy

    I believe the real issue around this topic is ‘source code’. Some in the KJV only movement believe that the 1611 was re-inspired or uniquely preserved from the originals. There is no factual basis for that other – just an innate desire for certainty that can be touched and felt. The TR-only position appears to be less ‘English-centric’ and thus seems to have credibility than the KJV only movement. However, I would be interested to see if ‘TR-onlyism’ exist outside of English speaking countries. This would also help answer the question of if its roots are in ‘Ruckmanism’. We must remember that God is not English or American.

    In regards to PJ’s comment. I agree that KJV/TR-only people are unlikely to change. They have made up their minds. The Bible version issue should only take a small portion of our efforts and what we are on about. If side issues are becoming front and centre of InFocus, please do bring us back to the main game – which Jesus.

    Reply
  6. avatar

    Peter R

    My heart truly breaks for anyone who disagrees with Grand Master Jason. I too have been silent for too long…

    Reply
  7. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Jeremy,

    Unfortunately, I’m aware of TR-onlyism within the Spanish speaking Christian community in South America. Apparently it has been just as divisive there as in the English speaking community. My understanding is that it was exported from the United States by English speaking missionaries.

    I agree that this issue should not be front and centre here at InFocus. Honestly, I don’t recall a single post on the issue in months. I’m pretty sure the last post fully dedicated to the topic was my “NIV and the deity of Christ” post in December 2011.

    @Peter R., What is your real, full name?

    Reply
  8. avatar

    BPM

    Hi Jason,
    I’m an occasional reader here and find many of the posts to be of good value. I appreciate your heart in this post and while some may not think so, there is great benefit in discussing textual issues. I know the courage it takes to speak on these matters particularly in the current environment of “Independent, Fundamental, Baptist Churches” in Australia. I know because I pastor a small independent Baptist church in WA (a hot bed of KJV/TR-only advocates) and I don’t use the KJV. I’ll leave this at saying rumours & accusations fly. Granted, by talking about it, the convinced aren’t likely to change thier mind or attitudes but congregations need to know the truth about the issues and my real concern is for new believers being sucked into a dangerous world of distraction & well, heresy. Be strong brother, because we need it and the truth is this issue does effect the presentation, clarity & accuracy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    So sorry my first post on your site was so long.
    Brian M

    Reply
  9. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Brian,

    Thanks for your encouragement. Yes, in some corners of Fundamentalism it seems one can sooner get away with preaching a false gospel than with using a recent translation. I’m encouraged to see you swimming against the current in this matter.

    Thanks for reading.

    Reply
  10. avatar

    Steve

    Jason, I am TR-only because you have to believe the word of God was preserved in at least one family of Greek texts. If you are not TR-only, then you are necessarily Majority-only, or Critical text-only. If that is your conviction, that’s fine, my own conviction, after careful thought, study and deliberative prayer, is that God preserved his word through the Textus Receptus.
    You imply that those who hold to this position are ignorant, frenzy-whipping fanatics, which is a straw man argument. When I exegete a passage, I give the benefit of the doubt to the TR reading on disputed words, whereas you would give it to the Majority reading. I don’t see that as being a problem at all.

    Ruckmanism, as I understand it, boils down to the error that the KJV was re-inspired, it has advanced revelation, correctst the Greek, etc. I don’t know anyone who holds a TR-only position that thinks the TR was inspired in 1881.

    Reply
  11. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Steve,

    Thanks for the comment.

    The TR is not a family of Greek texts. It is a particular collation of readings based on the same text family held to by the Majority text collation and used significantly by the Critical text collation as well.

    There is no such thing as a Majority-only position and by it’s very nature, an eclectic position cannot possibly be exclusive. Another way to say the same thing would be that majority text readings can and likely will change over time as can critical text readings. As indeed the TR text has done.

    There is no straw man here. This issue has been off limits in conservative Christianity for decades with only books from one side being given any significant hearing. And while some of those books are credible works such as Hills fifty years ago and Brandenburg et al. and Surrett in the last decade, the vast majority in between have been embarrassingly infantile (Ruckman, Waite, Riplinger, David Otis Fuller, Cloud, etc.). For young preacher boys, ignorance is a virtue in this area. That is the unfortunate truth.

    As far as whipping young people into a frenzy, go to the youth services at the NBF this year and the odds are you’ll see exactly what I’ve suggested. I’ve seen it literally dozens of times. Certainly not everyone is doing that, but it is happening in mainstream venues including some of our Christian colleges.

    Finally, if you believe “the word of God was preserved in at least one family of Greek texts,” which TR edition do you hold to? And do you accept the Majority text which is almost identical to the TR and based on the same manuscript family?

    I know this may come across as fairly confronting, but these are the issues that need to be addressed if the TR-only position is to be credibly defended.

    Reply
  12. avatar

    PJ

    I went to my first (and probably last) NBF last year. I went to all the sessions and didn’t hear anything at all about the textual issue. Are you saying you’ve heard the KJV-only line pushed on dozens of occasions at the NBF meetings? That is serious.

    Reply
  13. avatar

    Steve

    Thanks for the response Jason. My point was that holding to a TR only position does not necessarily lead to doctrinal error, as you imply. On the other hand, holding to a Critical text or Majority text position does not necessarily lead to doctrinal orthodoxy either.
    What I am trying to say is that there are more important issues than what Greek text one uses, such as understanding how to interpret Scripture consistently.
    Also, the question remains, has God preserved his word? Or are parts of it missing and have verses been added post inspiration? Scripture itself states that God’s word would be preserved, and it is logical to think that God would somehow keep his word intact after it was inspired by the original authors.
    Are the last 12 verses of Mark inspired or not? I would say they are, since I hold to a TR only position. My friend who holds to Critical text says they are not. We can’t both be right.

    I personally liked my old Cambridge Stephanus best, which had a nice critical apparatus but unfortunately it was misplaced. So I have a Byzantine text on my computer or I have my J Green interlinear, or my Trinitarian Society NT. They are pretty much the same to me. Instead of whipping young people into a frenzy, I will keep on teaching the Bible expositorially using these tools. My 4 year old daughter will keep on memorising scripture using the AV, it’s not that hard.
    I would accept the Majority text until it differs with the TR. I have reasons for doing that, and none have anything to do with Ruckmanism.

    Reply
  14. avatar

    Elizabeth

    Good post Jason.

    I recently came to the conclusion that those who hold to a KJV/TR only position likely do so because their Pastor and other older men in the congregation do. I have never heard of anyone seriously considering whether the position is legitimate or not, without being attacked. It is almost as if there is a ‘heaping up of teachers’ going on from within the IFB camp on so many issues like this, sadly.

    I am thankful I took ten steps away from this movement and can now see it for what it is.

    Reply
  15. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @PJ,

    Sorry, I didn’t communicate quite clearly. I wasn’t actually referring to seeing it dozens of times at the NBF, but rather in mainstream Fundamentalist events in general (e.g. colleges, camps, conferences, retreats, etc.).

    On reflection though, yes, I have seen the KJV/TR-only line pushed on dozens of occasions at the NBF meetings. Absolutely. Of course I’ve gone to many NBFs over the years.

    @Steve,

    I would argue, Steve, that TR-onlyism IS doctrinal error. It is new. It is error. It has no basis in the Christian Scriptures and no basis in the historic faith. Note that I am NOT suggesting that a preference for the TR is wrong. It’s not. I think it’s mistaken. But it is not false teaching by any stretch of the imagination. It is the rigid exclusivity of TR-onlyism that demonstrates an erroneous view of the doctrines of inspiration and preservation. You’ve highlighted the biblical doctrine of preservation and that doctrine is important. Not only important, but crucial. Which is part of why the TR-only error is so dangerous. It changes and mocks biblical preservation with the new doctrine of verbal, plenary accessibility—something nowhere taught in Scripture.

    For instance, in Mark, the fact is we don’t know. That is the honest answer. There are strong arguments on both sides. And we simply don’t know. The critical position generally argues that it was not part of the original autographs. Still, by it’s very nature, the critical text acknowledges that it could be, and therefore includes it in/with footnotes indicating the uncertainty. In a situation like Mark where the evidence simply is not clear, either side would be wrong to demand universal agreement as a test of doctrinal fidelity and fellowship. The CT position does not. The TR-only position does.

    TR-onlyism is the classic example of the proper use of the term “heresy.” It is new and aberrant teaching which is inherently schismatic and divisive by nature of its rigid exclusivity.

    You’ve listed three different editions of the TR (I’m not sure which edition you mean by the “Byzantine text” since that is a manuscript family, not a collation). And you’d be correct that they are “pretty much the same.” But they are not exactly the same. So what is the difference between you using three texts that differ and the CT position using texts that differ? Additionally, your use of three TRs begs the question, when they differ, which is correct?

    Your comment about the Majority text is intriguing because ALL the texts are almost identical and differ only in a very small number of instances. The whole debate is about what we do in those few instances.

    @Elizabeth,

    Unfortunately, my experience coalesces with yours far too closely. Thanks for the comment.

    Reply
  16. avatar

    PJ

    @Jason – thanks for the clarification. I am surprised. Seriously.

    Part of me wants to ask you to substantiate the claim – you are suggesting there has been a widespread sustained push for the KJV/TR-only position at the major national meeting of independent baptists. I’m assuming that when you talk about “dozens of occasions” you’ve heard 20 to 30 messages/lectures at NBF meetings where the textual issue was raised.

    I was aware that this view was popular in some sections of the “movement” but not on this scale. Wow.

    PS. Enjoying the to-and-fro with Steve.

    Reply
  17. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @PJ, Yeah, I suppose it’d be difficult to substantiate, but yeah, to be honest 30 times is low-balling it. Of course it all depends on who’s speaking. It is more likely to happen with the local speakers I think. And the intensity and length varies.

    Reply
  18. avatar

    Steve

    Jason, when the texts I use differ, I go with the one that makes most sense in the passage I am studying, which may be a little subjective but it works for me. I am not sure which category that places me in, whether TR only or preferred, I’m not sure it makes much difference.

    I think whether it is heresy depends on the attitude of the person holding that position. I do not believe I hold a heretical view, I am happy for other churches to preach from whatever text they want to, even if I personally disagree with their choice of word in a verse. That is why I like being in an independent church, I have liberty to hold to my conviction, and others have the same liberty in whatever church they are in.

    A person may, I think, have a heretical Critical text only view, if they try to force that view on others, and say that those who differ from CT only are outside orthodox doctrine. Or they may be more subtle and look down their noses at those who use the TR.
    I think whatever view one holds, it ought to be held charitably and graciously, when it lacks these things, attitudes need to be checked.

    Reply
  19. avatar

    Stan

    Jason said:

    “This is Ruckmanism, pure and simple. TR-onlyism is rooted in Ruckmanism…”
    “Ruckmanism is not a minor matter. It is a false teaching that mocks God and his word; but more importantly, it is a false teaching that has shattered thousands of lives, homes, and churches with division, confusion, and error”.
    “My heart breaks to see the staggering destruction that this aberrant teaching has caused in Australian churches and in the lives of Australian friends”

    These are very bold and emotive statements!

    Are you REALLY suggesting that THOUSANDS of lives, homes and churches have been shattered in AUSTRALIA because of the belief that “All scripture IS given by inspiration of God…” (2 Tim 3:16-aka’RUCKMANISM’?

    Perhaps you would be kind enough to supply us with the names of the people (& churches) whose lives have been shattered, divided and confused by the heresy of 2 Tim 3:16-aka ‘RUCKMANISM’?

    Reply
  20. avatar

    PJ

    @Jason – thanks for your insight. I hadn’t realised how many “heretics” there were at NBF meetings.

    (TR-onlyism is the classic example of the proper use of the term “heresy.”)

    Reply
  21. avatar

    Stan

    Jason said:

    “ My heart breaks to see teenagers who can hardly read have a four hundred year old translation put in front of them when there are recent, careful translations readily available”

    Does your heart also break for the teenagers scattered across the British Empire (including your native USA) who had to endure the oh so outdated English KJB of 1611 until 1885 (Revised Version) and 1901 (American Standard Version)?

    I wonder how Wesley, Whitfield, Spurgeon, Moody etc reached THOUSANDS of young folk and there was such great revival across the BRITISH EMPIRE? It’s just amazing how they could possibly have understood John 3:16 or Eph 2:8-9 without the advantage of “recent, CAREFUL translations”?

    Reply
  22. avatar

    Stan

    Jason said:

    “My heart breaks to hear a preacher make a confusion of a text because the language has obscured God’s word”

    Perhaps you have been listening to the wrong preachers!

    Reply
  23. avatar

    Stan

    Jason said:

    “My heart breaks to see young people whipped into a frenzy about a particular translation, but clueless about the gospel of Jesus Christ”.

    EVIDENCE PLEASE! Who are these young people and which churches are you referring to?

    Jason said:

    “And my heart absolutely breaks to see young men with questions told that they must not ask those questions and they must not pursue the truth on those matters; to see their passion for truth smothered under the satanic blackness of religious party politics; to see their courage emasculated into effete cowardice simply because there are some issues that are off limits.”

    Again, all very emotive and heartfelt sentiments bordering on hysteria.

    Give us some documented evidence-please.

    Reply
  24. avatar

    Stan

    Jason said:

    “…this is one sacred cow that needs to DIE” (referring to the belief that the KJB is perfect, infallible and inerrant?)

    That is a very scary statement Jason. Are you advocating KJB believers be placed in labour camps and be put to death?

    I believe Hitler and Stalin made similar statements about the Jews and Poles!

    Reply
  25. avatar

    Jeremy Crooks

    I am not sure I would use the term ‘heretic’ to refer to those who hold a TR-only position. I think of heretics as those who deny the deity of Christ. This is a long way from that.

    Reply
  26. avatar

    PJ

    @Jeremy – interesting point. Jason is right about the meaning of the term as used in the NT – it refers to a schismatic, one who divides into sects. “The individual doing and teaching what he chose, independent of the teaching and practice of the Church.” (Andrew Faussett)

    I was merely pointing that by Bro Jason’s definition and his experience, there must lots of ‘heretics’ among our independent baptist brethren. He has very clearly called the KJV or TR-only position heresy.

    I struggle with this because I think very highly of many of those who pastor and worship in independent baptist churches and who also actively participate at the NBF. It seems a bit harsh to accuse them of heresy. I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that.

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Jeremy Crooks

      I understand the strict definition of heresy to be the promotion of teaching which runs counter to church orthodoxy. But whose orthodoxy is right?

      I have been in a church meeting where an a-mil Anglican minister called pre-mil doctrine a heresy. According to his application of the definition, I am a heretic.

      My parents are TR only (ie they believe Gods inspired word was preserved through the TR) I would not call them heretics.

      I believe the term heresy/heretic has strong emotional and spiritual implications. My feeling is most laymen understand heretics to be non-believers.

  27. avatar

    Jonathan

    “it (Ruckmanism) is a false teaching that has shattered thousands of lives, homes, and churches with division, confusion, and error.”

    It hasn’t shattered my life or home.

    Reply
  28. avatar

    Steve

    I agree with the above definitions of heresy, and that it is a big call to begin to label people as heretics. The TR-only position, as I understand it, is more of a conviction than a doctrine. When those who hold to a TR-only position begin to talk about a re-inspiration, I think that it could deviate from orthodoxy, since it denies the doctrines of revelation/inspiration. New revelation is, in my view, a mark of heresy. Joseph Smith and other cult leaders are heretics because of this very thing.

    Reply
  29. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Steve,

    What you describe (“when the texts I use differ, I go with the one that makes most sense in the passage I am studying”) is simply a casual form of textual criticism. You make a choice between differing readings. The only difference between this and what the editors of the Nestle-Aland Text (for instance) have done is that they take every available piece of information and evidence (including context) into account.

    I agree that your position is not heresy. I say that because I don’t think what you describe is really TR-onlyism. It just sounds like a strong preference for the text family underlying the TR and a strong inclination (perhaps even a commitment) to side with the editors of the TR in matters of textual criticism (to the extent that those editors agree with each others). None of which is remotely heretical or false doctrine. I think it is very much mistaken. But that is a vastly different scenario than heresy or false teaching.

    I completely agree with your comments about those on all sides needing to give grace for others to differ on non-fundamentals. For someone to move from TR-onlyism to an exclusive commitment to another text and a dogmatic insistence that others must hold to that text is not really progress in my view. That said, I would argue vigorously that there is no such thing as “CT-onlyism.” For several reasons. First, TR-onlyism is a self-identified movement clearly and proudly represented in the public discourse (i.e. doctrinal statements, conferences, churches, colleges, books, articles, etc.). There is no parallel movement among those who prefer the CT. Second, by it’s very nature, eclecticism is not committed to a particular collation, but to the principles under-girding the collation of texts. Someone who holds to an eclectic position has various collations to choose from (NA, UBS, W-H, TR, MT, etc.) In other words, two people who both hold to an eclectic position may have a preference for two completely different texts (unusual as this would be at this point) and this would present no problems to the consistency of the position.

    Reply
  30. avatar

    Jason Harris

    CLARIFICATION: I’ve obviously been unclear in my comments on heresy. Allow me to say what I was trying to say more carefully.

    My comment was that “TR-onlyism is the classic example of the proper use of the term ‘heresy.’ It is new and aberrant teaching which is inherently schismatic and divisive by nature of its rigid exclusivity.”

    Several points of clarification:

    1) When I say “heresy,” I intend it strictly in it’s biblical sense which is, as PJ has pointed out, schism, and I would argue that the basis of that schism is matters of interpretation which are not fundamental to the faith. I do NOT intend it in the historical Roman Catholic sense of someone who holds to theological heterodoxy of a severe nature. I almost never use the term because of the strong historical connotations the word carries. Perhaps I should have followed that policy here.

    2) I do NOT believe that everyone who says they hold to TR-onlyism is a heretic. I think the vast majority (as with any position) are sincere but have a fairly limited understanding of the issues involved and the implications of the position. I personally was saved and discipled in a TR-only context. I accepted the position as taught to me as young believers naturally do. Eventually as I learned more, my understanding adjusted. But I was not belligerent or aggressively divisive. I think most TR-only people are in a similar position.

    3) Just as there is a vast difference between false teaching and a false teacher, there is a big difference between heresy and a heretic. Relatively few of those who are caught up in false teaching or heresy are false teachers or heretics.

    4) When I say TR-onlyism, I am not referring to those who only use the TR or translations from the TR. Nor am I referring to those who believe the TR is the best collation based on the best manuscript family. When I say “TR-only,” I refer to the position that a particular edition of the TR contains, in every single instance, the exact words (Brandenburg et al. go further: “vowels and consonants, words, and order of letters and words”) found in the original autographs and this edition of the TR is therefore the only text which is acceptable for use. TR-onlyism therefore holds that the exclusive use of the TR is a doctrinal essential.

    5) TR-onlyism, as defined above, typically looks quite innocuous from a distance, but is sometimes very divisive/schismatic in practice. For instance, doctrinal statements are changed to include adherence to only the TR right next to adherence to inspiration, inerrancy, and preservation. Typically, churches separate from non-TR-only churches. Missionaries know well that the use of any other text will result in loss of support. Young men who differ are treated as if they are in open disobedience and cut off. Jobs are lost. Church discipline is invoked. Friends are divided. People are preached against. Etc. Etc. While I’ve seen all of this and more in Australian Christianity, I recognise that this doesn’t always happen. I would argue that the more consistently understood and held the position, the more these things will and should happen. This is clearly schismatic behaviour and to the extent that it exists, is heresy as the term is used in Scripture.

    Hopefully that clarifies my statement without creating any additional confusion.

    Reply
  31. avatar

    PJ

    @Jason – thanks for your very careful and well-considered clarification. Although I have my own views on the textual issue I have no problem with people holding different views, and I appreciate a respectful gracious exchange of ideas.

    However, what really irks me about this discussion is that you can say publicly in your posts things like this…

    “My heart breaks to see the staggering destruction that this aberrant teaching has caused in Australian churches…”

    And this…

    “…go to the youth services at the NBF this year and the odds are you’ll see exactly what I’ve suggested. I’ve seen it literally dozens of times…it is happening in mainstream venues including some of our Christian colleges.”

    And this…

    “…Young men who differ are treated as if they are in open disobedience and cut off. Jobs are lost. Church discipline is invoked. Friends are divided. People are preached against. Etc. Etc. While I’ve seen all of this and more in Australian Christianity…”

    Without any substantiation. We simply have to take your word for it when you say you’ve seen/experienced these things. When pressed for evidence to substantiate your claims you can conveniently hide behind the need to maintain people’s privacy, how it would be unethical to publicly name names and so forth.

    It seems to me that you sail very close to slandering brothers and sister in Christ, who, 9 times out of 10, are trying to do their very best for the Kingdom of God.

    (But perhaps I don’t understand the rules in the blogosphere!)

    Reply
  32. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @PJ,

    Just to respond specifically to two things, I would call very few people heretics. To me, there’s a big difference between a heretic and someone who holds to a position which is heresy (as noted in point #3 above).

    Also, I too think very highly of many who lead and worship in the IB movement. I long to see understanding grow and bridges built. Unity must be built on truth. The further the movement drifts from the historic confession of faith regarding bibliology, the less viable unity is. Some of my closest friends are TR-preferred and we’ve had several TR-preferred people on the InFocus writing team. I rejoice in such unity based, not on total agreement, but on affirmation of the historic confession of the faith.

    Reply
  33. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @PJ,

    Your comments give me pause… I don’t want to slander.

    I recognise the dilemma such testimony raises. To be honest, I considered very few of the things you cited to be controversial or contested. I’m honestly glad to know that others have not experienced these things, but I really didn’t think of them as secrets or accusations. Let me address them briefly:

    “My heart breaks to see the staggering destruction that this aberrant teaching has caused in Australian churches…”

    Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide each have a circle of churches that used to be IB or close to IBs but are now distanced from the IBs. For many of these churches/individuals, the text issue was one of the dividing lines. In Sydney, the AFBC crowd have their own college (SIBS) because of the breach with the IB’s SBBC. In Melbourne the two groups have had an uneasy relationship trying to cooperate to keep the camp going. New churches are started, but NBF attendance declines. All of this is public information. It is understandable that the public story represents hundreds of private, but no less real, stories.

    “…go to the youth services at the NBF this year and the odds are you’ll see exactly what I’ve suggested. I’ve seen it literally dozens of times…it is happening in mainstream venues including some of our Christian colleges.”

    There would have been hundreds of witnesses to these public events. I suspect recordings of many of these sessions would be available for someone who wanted verification.

    “…Young men who differ are treated as if they are in open disobedience and cut off. Jobs are lost. Church discipline is invoked. Friends are divided. People are preached against. Etc. Etc. While I’ve seen all of this and more in Australian Christianity…”

    This stuff does get difficult to substantiate for those who haven’t seen it. If you haven’t seen this stuff, I’m really, really glad. Since I can’t appropriately offer public, specific substantiation, I’ll just highlight the testimony already given earlier in this thread: “I know the courage it takes to speak on these matters particularly in the current environment of ‘Independent, Fundamental, Baptist Churches’ in Australia. I know because I pastor a small independent Baptist church in WA (a hot bed of KJV/TR-only advocates) and I don’t use the KJV. I’ll leave this at saying rumours & accusations fly.” I’ve heard this story so many times…

    Thanks again for your comments so far. This would not be the first time you’ve pulled me up and forced me to think and speak more carefully. I really do appreciate that.

    Reply
  34. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Stan,

    I didn’t say thousands in Australia. Just thousands. Nor did I say because of 2 Timothy 3:16. Clearly I affirm 2 Timothy 3:16 as absolutely authoritative and have spent many hours seeking to understand it precisely.

    When a man such as H. Richard Hester (a man not given to issues and hobby horses, and a man for whom I have the deepest love and respect) feels the need to publish a tract against Ruckmanism (which he did), you know that it’s an issue that has created division in Australia. Indeed, the very fact that you feel that I don’t believe 2 Timothy 3:16 is evidence of the damage of Ruckmanism.

    I am saddened whenever I see religious politics obscuring God’s word. If a faithful translation is available that is more accessible to a particular needs group, I want to see it used.

    If you’ve read much unedited Spurgeon, you know that the language has changed drastically since his day. Additionally, both Spurgeon and Moody did use other translations.

    Not even going to address the preaching comment. That’s a whole ‘nother can of worms…

    Your request for evidence has been addressed several times throughout the thread.

    Re: the sacred cow… now that’s just ridiculous… the cow is a metaphor for an idea that cannot be questioned or challenged. To kill the metaphorical cow means to openly question and/or challenge the idea. Nothing Stalinesque intended. =)

    Reply
  35. avatar

    Steve

    Jason, I have enjoyed this discussion and learnt a thing or two in the process. I actually Googled “Verbal plenary accessability” and it came up with a few things which I didn’t know about the whole issue.

    I can see that it can and often does go hand in hand with Ruckmanism, which is gross error in my view, and when it does it tends to be divisive.

    Do you know what the Trinitarian Bible Society’s view on this is? I know they do not believe the KJV is inspired but do they believe the 1881 TR is word for word a perfect copy of the original manuscript?

    Reply
  36. avatar

    Steve

    Don’t worry, I just looked up the TBS website and they do not seem to state dogmatically that the 1881 Scrivener TR is word perfect with the originals.
    They do however make a very good case for the TR. I also found it interesting that they quote the Westminster Confession on divine preservation, “inspired by God and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical”. It seems then, that Verbal plenary accesability/preservation, is perhaps not new after all.

    Reply
  37. avatar

    Kent Brandenburg

    Hi Jason,

    Will Dudding mentioned your book to me, and I didn’t know who he was talking about, so I googled and then understood we had gone back and forth a little a few years ago. He said that your book would essentially devastate what I believed on preservation. I think all we talked about was epistemology and you hadn’t really landed at that point at what you believed about how we know what we know.

    I came to this blog to find what you had written on preservation, since we had never even talked about it, that I knew of. I found this article as your most recent.

    I know very well what I believe on this. I have written a lot on this in the past — not for awhile. And I can say that you do not represent the position. You strawman the position. I would understand that you would have a hard time believing it. There are many factual errors in what you have written. I would rather not point them out as have you just read what I’ve written. I’ll read your book with an open mind.

    In the meantime, one error that I noticed you repeating at the one other post that I read, speaking as though you were an expert on this. You said that no two manuscripts are alike. You know that based on one of two reasons: (1) You looked at all of them, and (2) You’re just reporting what someone else said without saying that you are repeating what someone else said. In your business research, did they allow you to operate that way? I wouldn’t think so, so it’s curious to me. My son is just finishing up an engineering degree and I know engineering doesn’t get to do that.

    Anyway, take a look at the following. I would hope that you could have an open mind. I’m not sure you can with certain statements you have made, but love does hope all things. So I’ll hope.

    http://faithsaves.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/NoMSSexactlythesamemyth.pdf

    A lot of people have written books on your side, so I am sort of interested what you think you’re bringing to the table that hasn’t already been said.

    Reply
  38. avatar

    Jason Harris

    Hello Kent,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I’m glad to hear you plan to read the book as I’ve interacted with the book you edited on the topic quite extensively. I worked very hard to try to present the opposing view accurately and will do my best to either defend or correct any instances of misrepresentation or inaccuracy that are brought to my attention.

    As far as our previous discussion on epistemology, your comment “you hadn’t really landed at that point at what you believed about how we know what we know” must be a misrecollection. I had at that time developed a fairly firm and settled epistemology which I defended forcefully and which remains available on this site.

    You state that there are factual errors and straw men in the above post. By all means, please point them out. I’ve given very clear definitions of the positions I’m arguing against. If that’s not you, then I have not misrepresented you.

    As far as the “no two manuscripts” comment, without knowing what post you’re referring to, I can’t really defend it. I suspect you read it in a comment thread somewhere—a context in which, you’ll no doubt agree, source citation requirements are understandably more lax than in published essays/papers.

    Of course I, like you, must rely on the work of many others in my research. In the book, I cite multiple sources for my comments on the matter. Regarding the source you cited, it’s a one page pdf which gives no author and which seems to be hosted on a church website on which I cannot find any pastor’s name and which includes material by the likes of David Cloud.

    If that weren’t enough to raise concerns, most of the page is a quotation from another paper which is not properly cited and is so sliced and diced as to be almost unintelligibly disjointed. After hunting down the source paper, it seems that the author is attempting to trace the exemplars of various MSS. If so, his use of quotation marks around the word “perfect” and his comment about the “presumed” profile suggest that his research does not actually say what the paper you linked to says it says. Again, all of that is from a rather brief exploration. If I felt that there was grounds to suspect this was an implication of his research (which he does not seem to argue in his “implications” section), I would no doubt make further time for consideration of his research.

    My book’s unique contribution to the discussion is argued in the introduction.

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Kent Brandenburg

      Hey Jason,

      The pdf was from Thomas Ross’s website, the man who posts on Fridays on my website. He is both a Greek and Hebrew scholar who has read through the entire Bible in Greek and Hebrew, and teaches both. If you were intellectually curious (I’m not saying your not, just that I thought you would be), I would think that you would notice it was from Wilbur Pickering’s, who wrote The Identity of the New Testament Text. If you don’t know Wilbur Pickering, then you obviously don’t know the literature on the subject. Your Ruckman trajectory as you claim applies to us is wrong, which is the bright flashing light of a strawman, but there are many other errors. I’ve never read one book of Ruckman and Ruckman hates our position. That would be good for readers to know. Using Ruckman’s name is just a propaganda-like technique. It would be the equivalent of my saying you are close to Bart Ehrman, which I think you’re closer to than I am Ruckman. I don’t mind going through your one post here, but it would seem more apt to read your book if that is the best situation for me.

      So far though, with your reaction to Pickering’s material, acting like it is a quote from some unknown as you did, it’s not looking as hopeful as I would have thought. If we really do want to know the truth, and you are actually a mixture of evidentialism, then Pickering’s actual looking at manuscripts and finding them identical should be informing your position. But your first instinct is to deny. Why? That seems presuppositional, however, with the wrong presupposition.

      Anyway, I’m not your enemy Jason. I want the truth. I want to honor God by faith.

  39. avatar

    Jason Harris

    Thanks for the response Kent.

    The fact that he was quoting Pickering notwithstanding, each of the concerns I raised with your source stand. I think if you’ll reread my comment carefully, you’ll see that your suggestion that I was “acting like it is a quote from some unknown” is unfounded.

    I think if you’ll have another look at my thesis statement, you’ll note that I specifically clarify that TR-only proponents repudiate Ruckmanism and that I refrain from calling TR-onlyism Ruckmanism. Nor do I suggest that TR-onlyism is on a Ruckmanist trajectory. In other words, the connection is logical/theological, not chronological/existential.

    “It is my intention in this post to explain why I believe it is impossible to build a reasonable TR-only position without rooting it in 1611. In other words, I want to show why you cannot distance yourself from Ruckmanism if you hold to the TR-only position.”

    There is no straw man here and there is no misrepresentation here. I present the opposing view carefully and accurately including a definition of exactly what view I’m referring to and what views I’m not referring to. I believe this is my obligation to God and to my brothers in Christ.

    I did not use Ruckman’s name as a propaganda technique. Rather, I gave a precisely defined, carefully measured, logically coherent, and factually detailed argument as to why I believe my thesis stands.

    Again, my first instinct, as stated above, was to spend quite some time following your source to the original source and considering that source carefully, albeit briefly in the broad scheme of things. My conclusion is already stated.

    I agree. You are not my enemy. And I accept that you want the truth. I appreciate your contribution to the discussion because you engaged it at the right level… exegesis of the text and a systematic approach to the theology at stake.

    I pray that God will be honoured in the discussion.

    Reply
  40. avatar

    Kent Brandenburg

    Jason,

    I’ve got one more thing to say on Pickering. Pickering examined manuscripts and found them to be identical. That means you’ve got manuscripts that are alike. You’ve been telling people the opposite of that as a basis for your position.

    Actually one more thing, Bob Hayton, who wrote your forward and who was a short-time member of our church, wrote that it was good that you presented some kind of scriptural basis in your book. Perhaps we come back to epistemological differences here again, because shouldn’t scripture precede our position. If we get a position, as some have on origins through “science,” and then start looking through scripture, this isn’t walking by faith, so it doesn’t please God. Weren’t we created for His pleasure?

    Reply
  41. avatar

    Kent Brandenburg

    Jason,

    And so it is one more thing. I’ve read enough to know that other men have made the no two identical manuscript claim without proof. The only proof for not two identical manuscripts is not revealing any identical manuscripts. Now, to make that statement, every manuscript would have needed to have been collated, which they have in fact never been, not all of them (that ought to be a concern to an evidentialist). And there would only be trouble coming from someone, who looked at manuscripts never before collated by the claimant, and found identical manuscripts. If you are an evidentialist, you are ambivalent toward new evidence. That’s what you allow you to bring you to the truth. You will be neither happy nor unhappy, because you’ve got no skin in the game, so to speak. But when you show a lack of curiosity about identical manuscripts, it sort of looks like a lack of curiosity in what happened in Benghazi — we aren’t wanting to find out or reveal what happened there — because it would only serve to disprove our presuppositions.

    Reply
  42. avatar

    Jason Harris

    Hello Kent,

    Again, that was neither the point nor one of the stated implications of Pickering’s work from what I could see. If he has indeed argued this point, please direct me to where. If that is a conclusion you’ve drawn from Pickering’s work, I’d be interested in seeing a careful explanation as to why you feel that is a necessary implication of his work.

    It would be ideal to have a read of the book first and then let me know your thoughts on how Scripture is handled in it. I can assure you that science is not the basis of my system of thought by any stretch of the imagination. If that is the impression you have, perhaps a reread of our earlier discussions might bring clarity.

    Again, until you direct me to what it is that you believe I’ve said about “no two identical manuscripts,” I can’t really defend what I’m supposed to have said. Context is key of course. And of course you’re correct that such a thesis would be inductive in nature… which is why it would be so important to know what it is *exactly* that I said.

    Reply
  43. avatar

    Kent Brandenburg

    Hi,

    You wrote this:

    “Mark,

    Do you realise that no two of those “original” manuscripts (which are actually copies of copies of copies) are alike? Did you know that every single one of them has variant readings, typically at a rate of many per page?”

    And this: “You’ve forgotten that of the thousands of manuscript portions extant, no two agree. In fact, most differ many times per page.”

    Here: http://teaminfocus.com.au/what-kind-of-error-is-kjv-only/comment-page-1/

    Reply
  44. avatar

    Jason Harris

    Thanks for the link on that. The context is relevant. Additionally, I’m sure you can appreciate that a comment on someone else’s blog post isn’t going to be as carefully documented or qualified as something set for publication.

    I would offer several qualifications to those comments. First, since it is inductive by nature, it would be important to acknowledge that this is based only on the extant manuscripts and the scholarly analysis conducted to date. Second, that I have not personally compared them all (indeed, no human has) and therefore can only take the word of others on the matter (multiple sources are cited in my book). Third, it is of course possible that two identical manuscripts will be found at some point, or even that they are currently available but that they have yet to be demonstrated to be identical.

    I would of course be interested in an attempt to demonstrate that this is an implication of Dr. Pickering’s work. Pickering has not, to my knowledge, made this argument.

    Ultimately, the point is moot since even if a few MSS are identical, the substance of the claim remains… that there are thousands of variants; that variants occur often in the record; that the Byzantine text-type is nothing resembling homogeneous; that textual criticism is modus operandi for ALL collators (including Erasmus); that variants are a reality of text transmission, not something unique to a few Alexandrian MSS; etc.

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Kent Brandenburg

      Jason,

      What you wrote is either true or not. This isn’t as hard as you are making it. There are either no two manuscripts alike or there are two alike. Pickering examined two that were alike. Actually more than one.

      The context has nothing to do with what you wrote. As much as you might think, I’m out to get you, I’m not. I’m interested in what’s true. I picked one simple thing that wasn’t true and I wanted to see how you would deal with it when confronted, especially for, I believe, a self-professing evidentialist. Your audience is left to judge your defense in the comment.

      According to Amazon, your book is coming. I was able to look at a lot of it, about half on the Amazon site. An analysis will be forthcoming.

  45. avatar

    Jason Harris

    Kent,

    First, I have only ever identified myself as a presuppositional evidentialist.

    Second, since the statement is inductive, you’ve but to give one example to prove it wrong. You have not done so. Pickering compares a particular group of MSS a fraction of which seem to agree in 1 and/or 2 Thessalonians. But I did not say “in any given book.” I said “no two MSS.” Given the brevity of the letters to the Thessalonians (two pages in my Bible), the finding isn’t all that significant unless the relevant MSS only contain those letters. All it proves is that in some passages, a few portions of manuscripts match exactly. I have never contested this point. The fact is, you’re arguing this point firmly, but even if you were right, the substance of the point remains. Even Pickering does not say “perfect transmission” but “incredibly careful transmission.” Again, I have no arguments with that. It is true. But “incredibly careful transmission” doesn’t change the fact that there are variants. Lots of them. Pickering has an “implications” section and in it he says nothing about this. If someone wants to try to argue that this is an implication of his work, they need to do the homework. But merely copying/pasting a long, chopped up quote from his work does not demonstrate anything except a lack of understanding.

    Third, you’re right. It is either true or not true. But the fact is, since it’s inductive, neither you nor I can ever know which it is. We can only ever present the data we have and seek to draw careful, well-qualified conclusions from it.

    Reply
  46. avatar

    Jason Harris

    I’m not going to read 28 pages of detailed research looking for what he does not claim to be arguing. I’ve read significant portions of what you linked to and he is not arguing what you’re saying. At all. His thesis (“incredibly careful transmission”) confirms the substance of my point and undermines the substance of yours.

    Kent, if this is fair dinkum, then you’re the ideal person to argue that. But please do so. Please don’t ask me to argue your point. I’ve invested the time to defend my point, but I don’t have time to argue yours for you.

    Reply
  47. avatar

    Kent Brandenburg

    Wow Jason,

    Not at all. When he says incredibly careful transmission, he’s not saying that there are not two manuscripts that are alike (as you say), so it doesn’t argue for you. And that is clear from what he writes. When he says incredibly careful transmission, he’s talking about all of the manuscripts that he collated. It was incredible, even considering all of them. However, it’s easy to see that there were several manuscripts that were in fact alike, which contradicts what you say.

    I put the link, because your problem before was that you were given one page with a lot of elipsis. Since you complained about that, as if there was some conspiracy going on, leaving out so-called pertinent materials, I guess, I provided the link to the entire document. And now that I provide the entire document, you say you’re not going to read 28 pages, because it’s too much. I can’t win if you can’t be satisfied with a summary or the whole thing. Some of the manuscripts he collated were identical. Again and again some are identical. Some had variants, but that’s not what I had to prove. The NT was copied book by book and there are several identical manuscripts. So, there we go.

    We’re really just talking about one point you made that there are no identical manuscripts. Manuscripts were not copies of the entire NT. There are very, very few of those. You haven’t really invested any time that I know of to prove the one point we’re talking about here until you’ve collated manuscripts. Pickering has done that. If we care about the truth, we would be able to admit that. Now, if you want to look at them yourself, that’s fine, but until you do, it would seem that you could at least suspend that one statement, since it’s not based upon anything you know. But, if you want to dig in your heels. Fine. We can be done here.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  48. avatar

    Jason Harris

    Kent, I went to the original source the very first day you put up the very first link. I looked at Pickering’s original article before my first response. I did that because I wanted the truth even though the info you linked to at first lacked credibility or clarity.

    When Pickering says “incredibly careful transmission,” he means it’s incredibly careful. My statement doesn’t suggest otherwise. He and I agree completely that there are many, many variants in the text and that is the substance of my point.

    You continue to say he says he’s found at least two manuscripts that are identical, but he has not said that. It is possible that some additional research might be able to draw that implication from his work, but he has neither demonstrated the point nor tried to demonstrate the point. If you do that research and find that it does seem to argue your point, I’d be quite happy to have a look at it. Until then, you’re putting words in Pickering’s mouth in suggesting that he’s arguing against me, but he isn’t. For that matter, drop him a note and ask him if that implication follows from his work. Perhaps he will be willing to make such an argument. If so, he will have been the first person to ever demonstrate the point to my knowledge (and that of Bauder, Tagliapietra, Schneider, Surrett, etc. [I believe these are the key citations in the book from memory]) and would no doubt be making a valuable contribution to the field of textual criticism.

    You said “Manuscripts were not copies of the entire NT. There are very, very few of those.” MSS vary. If you can prove that the particular MSS he’s dealing with are portions that contain only the single epistle he compared, you may be able to make an argument for your position. But until you’ve done that, you can’t argue that his work contradicts my statement.

    Since my statement is a side comment intended to demonstrate the point Pickering, you, and I agree on—that the text contains a multitude of variants—the substance of my point remains whether or not you succeed in arguing your case.

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Jeremy Crooks

      Kent is an interesting person. I am sure he is lots of fun at dinner parties.

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