Kevin Johnson writes,
There are those who actually advocate that textual criticism is an essential thing for people to understand in practicing and exercising the faith.
I don’t need to advocate this, given that it is believers themselves who want to learn such matters when they ask “Where did we get our Bible?” and “Is the Bible we have today, the same as the one used in the early church?”
The fact is that what is essential in our churches is the gospel.
A false dichotomy. If you love the gospel as much as you profess, why not have that same zeal to defend it? If you are witnessing to someone and they claim that the Bible is unreliable because it is corrupted by errant MSS, are you not going to respond to their textual critical concern?
Is it good for some to dabble in the area of textual criticism to better understand how we got our Bible…I suppose so.
This arrogance translates into: “We can allow some laypeople to dabble in this subject, but that should be the extent of them learning the history of the Bible.”
Saying that textual criticism is important to the point of being essential is really rather odd when for centuries whole sectors of laypeople in the Church never even turned a page of the Bible to read!
So you admit there was a Bible during those centuries. And that Bible did not drop from the heavens, correct? Explain to me, where did priests obtain their Bibles? That’s right…through the textual work of scribes. I’ll let you finish this basic logic.
The idea also that every layperson on the planet must have detailed knowledge of these things and be responsible to answer those who would question the text of Scripture is just absolutely ridiculous as well.
Detailed knowledge? Apparently Johnson did not read too far into my article. I said, “To be sure, one does not have to be a TC scholar to answer such objections. It is not either/or (that is, ignore TC all together by convincing yourself it is not vital; or, become a TC scholar and be able to answer every question and objection). A basic knowledge of TC will allow the Christian to answer most of the superficial objections to the history of the transmission of the Bible.“
…and not your average layperson who hasn’t even been trained in the Greek language and can’t even grasp most of the concepts of textual criticism without undertaking the equivalent of a college level course in manuscript science.
There you have Johnson’s view of the average layperson’s aptitude in all its glory. The Academy can now rest knowing it can continue to only communicate to themselves. Dr. White, you can now expunge all of your textual criticism work over the years on your website and Dividing Line shows. Evidently, Johnson believes that hoi polloi is inept to comprehend such matters. How did an average guy like me read The King James Only Controversy back in 1996 with no knowledge of Greek, yet I understood the basic TC concepts? Simple, it did not come down to aptitude but that little thing called…desire to know my faith and my source for my faith more deeply.
Kevin Johnson will be forced to spend eternity with someone he agrees with.
Additional Comment from James White:
Kevin Johnson suffers from LOS (Liturgical Ostrich Syndrome). It is the almost comical attitude of the incessantly wanna-be “Catholic” (without the temerity to get out of the Tiber on the other side) to stick his head in the nice, warm earth of “the Church” (definition changes regularly) so as to ignore the reality of the world around us. We saw just a few weeks ago when Johnson proposed “the mind of the Church” as the matrix of exegesis, though, of course, when challenged, he could not provide an exegesis of Romans 5:1 from “the mind of the Church.” No one could. Last week, when I announced that I am going to set all my other projects aside to write From Toronto to Emmaus Johnson noted that Benedict XVI hasn’t bothered worrying about the tomb story (then again, he doesn’t seem to worry about the gross compromise of truth inherent in modern Roman doctrine regarding Islam adoring the one true God with Christians, either, but that’s another issue). He said we should let “the Church” handle such things. If I was good with Photoshop I would try to put Kevin’s face on one of the many prelates who sat quietly by during the Reformation, fully aware of the corruption of Rome and its theology, but, like him, suffering from a fatal case of LOS. And now when Alan rightly notes the functional necessity of knowing the history of the Bible in our ever-more anti-Christian society and in light of incessant attacks from all angles (Islamic, secular, cultic) on the text of Scripture, Johnson cannot help but pop a cork. Those who stick their heads in the sand cannot help but be upset with those who refuse to join them in the darkness of inactivity. Johnson has nothing to say to Islam. He cannot speak to Ehrman, or any of the other attacks upon the faith, let alone the current tomb controversy. He has abandoned obedience to 1 Peter 3:15, and I guess, when asked, will just say, “I don’t know. Ask the Church.”