Monday, July 11, 2022

Textual Confidence


The day before the CSNTM conference in Dallas back in May, I sat down with some good friends and we filmed seven videos on why we think we can have confidence in the Scriptures without having to fall into textual skepticism (Bart Ehrman being one of its more well-known voices) or what we call textual absolutism (which these days most often manifests itself as a strong rejection of modern textual criticism and advocacy for the King James Version or the Textus Receptus, though there are some nuances there).

The first of seven videos is now up. Watch/read more here.


  1. Loved the first video! Appreciated hearing your stories. Looking forward to the rest. May God bless you as you serve and follow Him.

  2. Looking forward to watching them. One question I'll be watching for is to what end is this confidence? What do we do, theologically and otherwise, with this confidence?
    Protestants have always had a tendency to over-elevate the scriptures. You can see that even in the old Catholic taunts about the "protestant trinity: the father, son, and holy book" ! It's common to find evangelicals, as the proud heirs of that tradition, equating the scriptures with the Word of God - if not in theology than at least in practice.

    Even Bart Ehrman still suffers from that assumption. I remember a debate between him, marcus borg, and a few others at SBL one year. Ehrman gave his standard testimony about how that one little mistake in Mark's gospel led him to realise that we could not have confidence in the words of God, and since we could not have the words of God then neither could we have the Word of God! And it was Borg - who many evangelicals would not even regard as a believer - who stood up and corrected his erroneous equation, saying something like "in all of church history Christianity has never equated the words of God with the Word of God. The Word of God is Jesus Christ!"

    I don't think Ehrman accepted the correction, but the rest of us still can. I would hope therefore that the goal of "textual confidence" isn't just to repeat Ehrman's error in a positive way, I.e. to proclaim that since we do have the words of God therefore we can have confidence in the Word of God.

    The Word of God is eternal, having neither beginning nor end. The scriptures, while inspired, have both. The scriptures can lead us to the Word of God, but they cannot be it, nor be the basis of our confidence in it.

  3. Textual criticism is not a threat to people who are very religious or very anti-religious because they are not even going to consider any possible answers that go against their beliefs to begin with. People can only consider ideas that fit their beliefs. Maybe instead of textual criticism, it should be called "limited textual criticism" because many ideas are off-limits. Actually, if they do consider ideas that don't fit their beliefs, they will simply find a very easy answer to just reject those ideas.