Logic, Reason, and the Scriptures

On his site, What Is Truth?, a KJV Only pundit presented a rather lopsided perspective on the King James Only position being “the only logical position to take on the English Bible today.” He made it very plain that any other position is inferior to his own. He continues, “Yes. Any other position is illogical.”

Since I have commented on his site but never had a comment approved (largely because he has been banned from this site for insulting other commenters as well as the authors), I thought it might be worthwhile to answer his logic here. I will provide his syllogism and then present the logical fallacies.

Here is his central thesis: One set of words in one set order is the Bible.

(Because he takes such great care to submit this exact word order, I must assume that he intended to write it this way even though it produces a syntactically odd phrasing.)

Without addressing any of the syllogisms he develops from the thesis, let’s ask some questions about this idea.

Is one set of words in one set order the Bible?

We must acknowledge that in order for this statement to be true, it must be ubiquitous. There must be one definitive, absolute order for the set of words. There can be no variation, no alternate readings.

There must be an absolute authority setting down the one set of words in one set order, and that would include the ways the books are put together into an anthology as well as which books to include and which not to include. It requires that someone make a definitive declaration about the one set of words in one set order.

This is not what we see in church history. It took quite a while for the churches to come to a consensus on the books of the New Testament. What’s more, for most of its history, the church relied on a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Septuagint) as its primary text rather than the original Hebrew. There are significant variations between this Greek version and the Hebrew originals. Which is the one set of words in one set order for the church?

Where is the one set of words in one set order?

Moreover, how does the English translation known as the King James Version represent this one set of words in one set order? Does the King James Version restore the one set of words in one set order? If so, then who knew the one set of words in one set order prior to the King James Version?

If it is not the KJV – if this one set of words in one set order is the Textus Receptus and the Masoretic text, then how did one know the order prior to the publishing of Erasmus and the other TR editions? The manuscripts they have include a number of variants (which are easily sorted for the most part), but there is not a single manuscript that IS the Textus Receptus. The Textus Receptus is a term for the printed editions composed from the manuscripts available.

Is the one set of words in one set order comprehensible?

Finally, if there is truly one set of words in one set order then it stands to reason that there must be one, absolute standard of understanding these words. The word set, which must be therefore divine and eternal, must be knowable in all ages. There must always be a set of knowledge for the words themselves.

But we find this is not true. The King James translators struggled with many of the words in Hebrew and Aramaic. The languages were dead for all intents and purposes, and the knowledge of the meaning of words was often difficult to decipher. Comparative studies and archaeology have helped us in the intervening centuries, but there are still many words in the original texts that we are not certain how to translate. Any translators will say this – even TR-only translators.

Conclusion

It simply does not make logical sense that God would preserve one set of words in one set order but then allow the meaning of those words to be lost.

It does not make logical sense that one set of words in one set order had to wait for the publication of the Textus Receptus or the restoration of the Hebrew Old Testament in order to be known.

It does not make logical sense that this one set of words in one set order exists in human experience.

What we have is transmitted, miraculously aligned manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament. We have many translations in other languages, and multiple editions of those that appear in the original languages. We have a beautiful tapestry of manuscript tradition, woven by several millennia’s worth of believers who reverenced the Word of God. We have good manuscripts and bad ones; and we should reverence them all.

As you can see, logic relies heavily on the thesis. When you begin with a statement and take it as axiomatic, you can represent any position as if it is absolute. The core thesis presented can be demonstrated to be false, but when one does a deductive reasoning from the thesis without questioning it, the thesis appears to be true. As I hope I have demonstrated, this particular thesis is not nearly as absolute as it might first appear.

I don’t fault this pundit for his article or his logic. I believe his central thesis is faulty – but not because he is a bad person or wishes to mislead people. He has the core human right to believe as he does, and I understand that means he will be biased against those who do not accept his logic and ideals.

True objectivity is not as possible as our modernist fore-bearers believed it was.Logic is often faulty and biased because it is developed by humans. It is relative to the experience and beliefs we bring to it. It is a human tool which is used by humans for humans, and as such it falls short of the divine.

And that is only logical.