(608) 524-5856 [email protected]

God’s preservation of the New Testament text was not miraculous but providential

The scribes and printers who produced the copies of the New Testament Scriptures and the true believers who read and cherished them were not inspired but God-guided.

Hence there are some New Testament passages in which the true reading cannot be determined with absolute certainty.

There are some readings, for example, on which the manuscripts are almost equally divided, making it difficult to determine which reading belongs to the Traditional Text.

Also in some of the cases in which the Textus Receptus disagrees with the Traditional Text it is hard to decide which text to follow. Also, as we have seen, sometimes the several editions of the Textus Receptus differ from each other and from the King James Version. 

And, as we have just observed, the case is the same with the Old Testament text. Here it is hard at times to decide between the kethibh and the keri and between the Hebrew text and the Septuagint and Latin Vulgate versions. Also there has been a controversy concerning the headings of the Psalms.

In other words, God does not reveal every truth with equal clarity. In biblical textual criticism, as in every other department of knowledge, there are still some details in regard to which we must be content to remain uncertain. But the special providence of God has kept these uncertainties down to a minimum

Hence if we believe in the special providential preservation of the Scriptures and make this the leading principle of our biblical textual criticism, we obtain maximum certainty, all the certainty that any mere man can obtain, all the certainty that we need.

For we are led by the logic of faith to the Masoretic Hebrew text, to the New Testament Textus Receptus, and to the King James Version.

But what if we ignore the providential preservation of the Scriptures and deal with the text of the holy Bible in the same way in which we deal with the texts of other ancient books? 

If we do this, we are following the logic of unbelief, which leads to maximum uncertainty. 

When we handle the text of the holy Bible in this way, we are behaving as unbelievers behave. We are either denying that the providential preservation of the Scriptures is a fact, or else we are saying that it is not an important fact not important enough to be considered when dealing with the text of the holy Bible. 

But if the providential preservation of the Scriptures is not important, why is the infallible inspiration of the original Scriptures important? If God has not preserved the Scriptures by His special providence, why would He have infallibly inspired them in the first place? 

And if it is not important that the Scriptures be regarded as infallibly inspired, why is it important to insist that Gospel is completely true? And if this is not important, why is it important to believe that Jesus is the divine Son of God?

In short, unless we follow the logic of faith, we can be certain of nothing concerning the Bible and its text. 

Excerpt from “The King James Version Defended” by Edward F. Hills, pp. 292-3 [italics added for emphasis]