Throw Out Plane and Passengers

David Burchard Quotable Quotes Leave a Comment

“Now I quite agree that higher critics can appear to be much more high-handed than advocates of lower criticism. But it is important to note that words from God can go down the sink either way.

For example, the famous pericope that recounts the story of the woman caught in adultery contains, in the ESV, 222 words, along with a warning that the “earliest manuscripts do not include 7: 53-8: 11.” The last twelve verses of Mark contain 263 words, and a note that “some of the earliest manuscripts do not include” these words.

My point here is not to contend (at least directly) for the inclusion of these portions of Scripture— although I do want to include them. Rather it is to point out that we do not have a word count distinction between higher criticism and lower criticism firmly fixed in our minds, at least when it comes to results. Any man seeking to be ordained in a conservative evangelical denomination would be shot down in fiery blazes if he maintained that 3 John should not be in the canon (302 words). So apparently there is a very important threshold somewhere between 263 words and 302 words. Is it 275? How many inspired words do we get to deny before the ordination examination committee should notice and care?

Think of it this way. Do we really want a rule for ordination exams that says that “a candidate cannot deny the veracity and inspiration of more than 200 words, unless the words being denied are part of a larger book such that the portion to be deleted constitutes less than 5% of the entire book. If the proposed deletion is itself one of the books of the canon, then the suggestion is impertinent.”

In liberal circles, denying the authenticity of entire books is not rare. But why should we listen to unbelieving scholars when it comes to the woman caught in adultery, and refuse to listen to them when it comes to the Petrine authorship of 2 Peter? If each book of the Bible were an airplane, and each of the passengers a word, this is like saying it is unorthodox to crash a plane, but not unorthodox to throw particular passengers out of the plane.”

Wilson, Douglas; Wilson, Douglas; White, James . Debating the Text of the Word of God (pp. 24-25). Simposio LLC. Kindle Edition.

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