Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Problem with Textual Criticism

On the March 25, 2014 episode of The Dividing Line, Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries discussed World Vision's decision to hire openly gay "Christians" (the quotes are mine).  Dr. White correctly disagrees with their decision, because in doing so, they capitulate on the true definition of biblical marriage (one man and one woman).  World Vision claims that they don't endorse same sex marriage and they don't want to debate it.  According to Dr. White, this topic is unavoidable in a Christian organization, and he rightly assesses that World Vision has inevitably entered the debate on the wrong side with their announcement.

Dr. White goes on to quote 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 to support the Christian stand against homosexuality.  He states that the text is very clear and then makes this statement at the 11:15 mark of the show:
"And there aren't any--I'm checking, I just want to double check things here--there really aren't any textual variants that impact the translation of the text at all."
So, does that mean that if there were textual variants, homosexuality would be or could be acceptable for Christians?  What happens if an older manuscript is uncovered that doesn't have 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 in the text?  Should Christians then embrace homosexuality or at least accept it at that point?

Later in the show, Dr. White goes on to bash KJV-onlyism.  I want to reiterate that I don't consider myself part of this movement*.   However, without the conviction that you have the true word of God in your hand (despite any perceived textual variants), you can never say that God's word is definitive.  Because Dr. White seems to trust more in his knowledge of textual criticism, he couldn't unequivocally say that these verses were applicable, until he made sure there were no textual variants.

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God," (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

*I don't believe that the King James Bible is inspired, nor do I agree with the adherents' majority belief in Arminianism and Premillennial Dispensationalism.  However, I do believe that the King James Bible (based on the Textus Receptus) is the preserved word of God.  You can read more about my views on the King James Bible here and here.