Kent Brandenburg has written some presumptuous comments on the White-Ehrman debate. He has made unsubstantiated claims about Dr. White’s apologetics and the debate specifically. (Brandenburg is a King James Only advocate to give you some background of his presuppositions.)
“James White hasn’t done much to defend the Bible against the skeptic [Ehrman]. He’s mainly attempted to give more uncertainty to people without a doubt in Scripture.”
He says that White has not defended the Bible against the skeptic Ehrman, but how does he know this since he admits himself that he has not listened to any of the rebuttals or cross-examination: “I listened to the introduction and Ehrman’s opening statement. I’m interested in listening to all of it as I make the time.“
Then he says that James White gives more doubt to the reliability of Scripture to believers. One is truly left speechless at Brandenburg’s assertion. But let me be brutally honest of where this is coming from: Brandenburg’s deep commitment to his King James Onlyism requires him to reject discourse on the historical and textual evidence of the manuscript tradition. Brandenburg’s bold claim that White induces uncertainty in God’s people is an expression of King James Onlyism. I challenge Kent Brandenburg to call into the Dividing Line show Thursday and explain to us all how Dr. White engenders “uncertainty in believers.” Here is the time and phone number: Thursday 4:00 MST 1-877-753-3341 (Toll Free)
Related to this point is an interesting observation that myself and others (such as Wallace) have noticed about the most fundamental criticism that KJVO advocates make against modern textual criticism. They incessantly denounce that modern critics use “rational principles” in the utilization of determining better readings from inferior readings. And yet this is clearly a double standard given that the most fundamental principle that govern KJVO thinking is a rational principle. That is, in the mind of KJVO advocates is the deep-seated rational conviction: “This is the way that God must have preserved his Word.” Notice that this is not a Biblical, historical, or textual argument—it is a rational argument. Somehow they believe that they are privy to God’s mind and can see this rational reason. So what KJVO advocates criticize the most is what they are essentially guilty of themselves. And to be sure, there is nothing wrong with rational thinking—I would hope that we do not approach God’s Word with irrational thinking. The question should be: is this or that rational principle applicable and warranted in this or that context?
Moving on, he writes this laconic statement,
“White reads Metzger to get his position”
Does Brandenburg honestly believe that White thinks that if Metzger says it, that’s gospel—Metzger has spoken. So if Metzger makes a good argument about the “tenacity” of the original readings, White cannot utilize his argumentation? It does not matter who said it, if it is true, it is true. If Brandenburg disagrees with this then he should engage the principle–not the person.
Next, Brandenburg invokes Joel McDurmon’s critique of White’s approach to the debate. I find this sloppy and irresponsible of Brandenburg to review a review of a debate he has not yet heard.
“Whenever I listen to White talk on this subject, and I haven’t listened to the debate all the way through yet, he sounds like an evidentialist to me too. I say that if he is a presuppositionalist, he should debate like it. I believe I know why he doesn’t on this subject at least. He isn’t a presuppositionalist on this issue. He didn’t prepare for a presuppositional presentation on his side of the debate, so he didn’t present one.”
First, Brandenburg fails to cite any examples. Second, he is not being accurate. White’s purpose was in fact presuppositional. White comments on the debate that his purpose was to:
“Expose the presuppositional nature of Ehrman’s insistence that we must possess the originals for inspiration to be true. This would include making sure it is clear that when Ehrman says “We don’t know what the NT said” he means “We do not have photographic reproductions of the originals.” I desired to make sure the listener would see that the NT manuscript tradition is more than sufficient to provide the original readings, even in the toughest of variants.”
Also, for KJVO advocates their view of preservation is that God preserved his Word in a 1611 Anglican translation. White explains that another purpose of the debate was to explain the correct understanding of God’s providential mechanism of preservation,
“Present a strong case for the providential preservation of the text through the explosion of early manuscripts and the lack of editorial “control” in contrast with the Islamic theory of preservation. Given that the majority of attacks upon the NT today come from those alleging some kind of controlled editing of the text, this element is vital.”
You can read more of Dr. White’s purposes for the debate here:
Continuing, Brandenburg writes,
“What White does, according to McDurmon, and I’ve yet to hear it (but will), is argue the exact same way that Ehrman does. Ironic, huh?”
First, what is ironic is that Kent Brandenburg would agree wholeheartedly with the agnostic, skeptic Bart Ehrman who both agree together that there cannot be any inspired, preserved text if there exists variants in a text. For Bart that text was not preserved; and for Kent that text was preserved in a 17th century Anglican translation (aka KJV 1611). Second, White and Ehrman have the same textual facts in front of them (as does Brandenburg) but they explicitly argue differently to reach their respective conclusions. How Brandenburg or McDurmon think they argue the “exact same way” is simply absurd.
“McDurmon comes across as very objective”
How can Brandenburg say that McDurmon is objective if he has not compared his statements with the debate audio — that is not being very objective!
“White goes to his speculation about the text to say that there’s enough evidence in the manuscripts to support Christian beliefs and enough confidence in Scripture.”
Not speculation, but facts. Is there a Christian doctrine that White affirms that cannot be found in the manuscript tradition?
“White says that the best thing that comes out of this debate is that Ehrman is exposed as the skeptic that he is. Well, did anyone really doubt the skepticism of Ehrman?”
Yes, Mr. Brandenburg, many people do doubt that Ehrman is a skeptic (except in your myopic fundamentalist orbit). I encounter folks all the time who do not perceive Ehrman as you do. Many benighted unbelievers think he represents reasonable scholarship. Apparently, Brandenburg does not get out too often and have discourse with those outside his fundamentalist circle. Ehrman has had a great impact on individuals who are not aware of his skepticism and spin. Second, “exposing Ehrman as a skeptic” was one aspect of the whole purpose for the debate.
In this last statement, Brandenburg’s arrogance shines the brightest,
“I’m thinking that the best material that I’ll get out of this debate will be the content in opposition to White. I already knew that Ehrman was a fraud, having read two of his books. Now we’ll see about White.”
Notice that Brandenburg has not even listened to the debate and he is already saying that the best material that he will get out of the debate is the apostate Ehrman’s radical skepticism. Here, he is claiming that the facts and argumentation that White has adduced in the debate to support the reliability of the New Testament is useless. What could possibly motivate someone to say such a thing?
I found Kent Brandenburg’s article desperately biased and indicative of KJVO’s vacuous presuppositions. Throughout his article (about four or five times) he kept saying, “I have not yet heard the debate” just after he would make bold claims about the debate itself. Brandenburg has proven himself to be discredited, biased, and inaccurate in the arena of Biblical discourse.