The Doctrine of Preservation

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by John of Japan, Sep 15, 2013.

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Does God preserve his Word?

Poll closed Oct 15, 2013.
  1. God does not preserve the Bible

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. God preserves the Bible miraculously

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  3. God preserves the Bible providentially but not miraculously

    12 vote(s)
    70.6%
  4. I don't know

    1 vote(s)
    5.9%
  5. Other

    1 vote(s)
    5.9%
  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    A mistake sometimes made when dealing with radicals on the Bible translation issues is to ignore or even oppose anything about Biblical preservation. So, I'd like to discuss that doctrine on this thread. The purpose here is to establish that there is a solid Biblical teaching on the subject, a doctrine of Biblical preservation. Please do not let this degenerate into a discussion of various translations. It is not about that. It may be that the discussion will lead us into the area of textual criticism, but I'd rather not discuss versions here.

    First of all, note the following statements of how God preserves His universe and all that is within it:

    I. The Doctrine of Preservation Stated
    A. The sovereign God, who created all things, also preserves all things; the entire universe and everything in it are held together only by His power.
    1. "Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshipeth thee." (Neh. 9:6)
    2. "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or power: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist." (Col. 1:16-17)
    B. One of God's names is "Preserver" (2 Sam 22:3, Job 7:20).

    II. The Objects of His Preservation
    A. The saints--"For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off" (Ps. 37:28). "He that keepeth thee will not slumber" (Ps. 121:3b). He will preserve:
    1. their lives (Gen. 45:5, Deut. 6:24, Ps. 30:3, 33:19-20)
    2. them from trouble and evil (1 Chron. 4:10, Ps. 32:7, 121:7, John 17:15, 2 Thess. 3:3)
    3. them from evil men (Ps. 31:20, 41:2, 97:10, 140:1, 141:9)
    4. their path (Gen. 28:15-22, Ex. 23:20, Josh. 24:17, 2 Sam. 8:6, Ps. 91:10, 121:8, Prov. 2:8)
    5. the fatherless and widows and foreigners (Jer. 49:11, Ps. 146:9)
    6. their spirit, soul and body for Heaven--eternal security (John 17:11-12, 1 Thess. 5:23, 2 Tim. 1:12, 1 Peter 1:5, Jude 1)
    7. them from sin, according to their prayers (1 Sam. 25:39, Ps. 19:13, 141:3, Jude 24)
    8. them from Satan (John 17:15)
    9. them from temptation (1 Cor. 10:13, Rev. 3:10)
    B. Israel (Josh. 24:17, Jer. 31:10)
    C. Jerusalem (Is. 31:5)
    D. The animal kingdom (Ps. 36:6, Matt. 10:29)
    E. His ordained governments (2 Chron. 6:16, Col. 1:16-17, Rom. 13:1)
    F. His own secrets (Matt. 13:35, Rom. 16:25)
    G. The heavens and the earth (2 Peter 3:7)
    H. His own Word, the Bible (Ps. 12:6-7, etc.)
     
  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Virtually all systematic theologies discuss something about the general doctrine of preservation, how God preserves His creation. I have it in Thiessen, Strong, Berkhof and Erickson. I like Thiessen the best, especially as relates to the preservation of Scripture, though he wrote about the general doctrine, not the specific. Note how he puts it in Lectures on Systematic Theology (Eerdman's, 1949).

    First of all, he shows how the Deist view is wrong. In Scripture preservation this would be analogous to the belief that God does not preserve Scripture in any way, shape or form.

    “The Deistic Theory. Deism explains preservation in terms of natural law. It holds that God created the universe and endowed it with powers sufficient to keep itself in existence. The universe is, thus, a great self-sustaining mechanism; and God is a mere spectator of the world and of its operations, exerting no direct efficiency in sustaining it. But this is a false assumption; for where is there a machine that can sustain itself? Do they not all run down and need repairing and rebuilding? Furthermore, there is evidence to show that God has not withdrawn from the universe.” (p. 176)
    Secondly is the theory that corresponds to the view that a translation can be perfect, the continuous creation theory:

    “The Continuous Creation Theory. This theory confounds creation and preservation. The deistic view holds that all is upheld by natural law; this view holds that moment to moment God creates the universe with all that is in it. It is based on the conception that all force is divine will, and that in direct exercise; whereas there is also human will and the indirect exercise of the divine will, namely, in the form of natural law. To this we reply (a) that we are conscious that the regular activity in nature is not the repetition of creation, but the indirect exercise of His power; (b) that the theory destroys all continuity of existence, for if God creates everything every moment out of nothing, then things cease to be the same things and are something new every moment; (c) that it impugns the truth and holiness of God, in that continuous creation merely makes us seem to be the same personalities from moment to moment, when in reality we are not; (d) that it destroys all evidence for the existence of the external world, for what we regard as such, is but inward states of consciousness produced momentarily by the creative agency of God; and (e) that, in making all will God’s will, the theory makes God the author of sin also.” (p. 176)

    Finally, we have the correct view:
    “The Theory of Concursus. This we accept as the true theory. It holds that God concurs in all operations, both of matter and of mind. Though God’s will is not the only force in the universe, yet without His concurrence no force or person can continue to exist or to act (1 Cor. 12:6, Acts 17:28). His power interpenetrates that of man without destroying or absorbing it. Men retain their natural powers and exercise them. But it is evident that, although God preserves mind and body in their working, He concurs with the evil acts of His creatures only as they are natural acts, and not as they are evil” (176-177).
     
  3. Benjamin

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    Wow John! On another site I’ve been arguing that both, free will and eternal security true against a rather notable opponent. He says if a “true believer” has free will then he can fall away and there is no real preservation – meaning security. I think he’s unavoidably heading into a works based salvation according to his doctrines. I've raised an issue about a comparison to that we need Prevenient grace among other things...

    So…, anyway, to make a long story short he recently said I sound like a soft determinist into compatibilism!! :eek: Yes me!! :( Hate when that happens~! :smilewinkgrin: On a side not and back to the point, I’ve told him I could match his scriptures about falling away with scriptures they say we are preserved, therefore I contend that both: free will –and- preservation/security must be true. I’ve said my theory of both being true is logically workable, but his theory is that one (a true believer) can be both eternally saved and not saved/able to fall away,…well, that can never be logical. This goes on and on…but all this is just to explain why I was happy to see your post here.

    Because... if he calls me on presenting that scripture on preservation you have just saved me a lot here buddy! Thanks!! :laugh::
     
  4. Benjamin

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    BTW, I couldn't decide on a vote because I lean toward believing God preserves the Bible providentially, but in Him doing so it is a rather miraculous feat. ;)
     
  5. John of Japan

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    You're welcome. :wavey:

    In light of all the above Scriptures about how God preserves the saints not just in salvation, it's hard to understand the position that He makes jus try to preserve our own salvation. He's our Father, right? What father would watch his child walk into mortal danger without preserving that child's life?
     
  6. John of Japan

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    I've come to believe that this is a crucial issue for the doctrine of Scripture preservation. Remember the difference in meaning between providence and miracle.

    Here is providence from a good source: "Providence is that continuous agency of God b which he makes all the events of the physical and moral universe fulfill the original design with which he created it" (Strong's Systematic Theology, p. 419).

    On the other hand, "A miracle is an event palpable to the senses, produced for a religious purpose by the immediate agency of God; an event therefore which, though not contravening any law of nature, the laws of nature, if fully known, would not without this agency of God be competent to explain" (ibid, 117). In other words, a miracle cannot happen according to nature. God reaches down and performs something which cannot be possible according to the laws of nature.

    Let's apply this to Scriptural preservation with a couple of illustrations. First of all, after Adoniram Judson had finished his draft of the Burmese Bible, he was arrested as a foreigner during the war with England. He took his manuscript into prison with him in the form of a pillow, and kept it all through his prison experience, with God providentially keeping it from destruction, though Judson was ill treated. No miracles happened. No guard was struck with leprosy, no voice came from Heaven telling the guards not to touch Judson's pillow, etc. But it was preserved.

    On the other hand, concerning the translators of the LXX it was said that they were miraculously helped in the translation so that the result was perfect. Now if this actually happened it would have been a miracle. However, the LXX is quite different from the Hebrew OT in many ways. For example, Job is 1/6th shorter in the LXX (The Text of the Greek Bible, Frederic Kenyon, p. 29). So there was no miracle in that case. Producing a perfect translation would definitely be a miracle, unless it was done by the perfect Christ.

    The clear conclusion is that for those who claim a perfect translation, to prove their position they must come up with "sign" miracles, which point to the miraculous hand of God in the process of translation, overcoming the human imperfections of the translators. Otherwise, the translation process is providential and not miraculous, and thus the human translators may make mistakes, though God is concursive in their work.
     
    #6 John of Japan, Sep 16, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2013
  7. Deacon

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    No argument - just a comment

    God preserves
    1. their lives – and yet allows some to die
    2. them from trouble and evil – and yet they are all around and even with us
    3. them from evil men – still evil men plaque believers
    4. their path – and yet we stumble
    5. the fatherless and widows and foreigners – but not all

    7. them from sin, according to their prayers – despite this, some succumb to sin

    9. them from temptation – yet temptations abound and some fall

    D. The animal kingdom – but most individuals fall to the red tooth of predation

    Comment - we need to look beyond our temporal view.
    How does God preserve - we've mad a good start here.

    Rob
     
  8. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    And this illustrates the theory of concursus preservation. He is "The God Who is There" as Schaeffer said, but He gives no guarantees that all will be perfect in our lives. Yet even though all is not humanly perfect, He is still there for us, never leaving or forsaking us.

    In the same way, He is there in the preservation of Scripture, but it is not miraculous, which is what it would take for perfect preservation. And "miracle" in the Scriptures is most often a "sign" (with that Greek word appearing in 69 verses). So for perfect preservation, how are we to know it is miraculous if there is no "sign" (not just a perceived possible miracle, but a sign)?
     
  9. robycop3

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    This is as the difference between inspiration and influence. God INSPIRED the writers of Scripture, causing each one to write exactly what He wanted, word-for-word, or speaking to some directly so they quoted Him word-for-word.
    But He INFLUENCED the makers of translations, giving certain people the ability to read the Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew mss. in which He had preserved His word, and placing the will in their minds to make translations of His word into a current language. However, He left the nutz-n boltz of making the translations to the men themselves. Thus, we have differing translations by different translators.

    And while Sinaiticus and Vaticanus remain two of the most-maligned ancient Scriptural mss. of all, their preservations have the mark of God's hand all over them. No need to repeat the stories of their preservation, but the facts are clear, and by ordinary courses of events, they shouldn'ta survived.

    And it's clear that, as ancient hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek faded from use, that GOD has influenced certain men to make translations of His word in a then-current language. True, not all people on earth received God's word in their languages, nor did ALL users of a given language in which translations were made see any translation, but they were in existence.

    Today, the end of the age is close, and more people than ever now have access to God's word in their own languages. Remember, it's prophesied that the Gospel will be spread worldwide, and indeed there are many missionaries trying to reach the most-remote peoples on earth. According to prophecy, these peoples WILL be reached.

    Now, Satan has fought against God's word from the time God first spoke to man. In his guise of Sneaky Snake, he told Eve God had lied about the 'forbidden fruit', and his lies have continued since, in both violent forms(the RCC Inquisitions, etc.) and guileful non-violent forms.(The KJVO myth, the "bibles" of the pseudo/quasi-Christian cults, etc.) But GOD HAS ALWAYS WON, and always will. The RCC made a very determined and concerted effort to prevent Bibles from being made and distributed in the languages of Europe and Asia, but that effort failed and God's will prevailed as usual.

    Yes, God will continue to preserve His word during this age, and into the next world. Now, I have no idea if He will add to it or alter it in the next world, but I do know we can communicate with Him directly then. But meanwhile, let us continue to use what He has preserved and provided for us, and be Freedom Readers, free of man-made myths about God's word.
     
  10. Van

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    Doctrine of Perservation

    1) The idea of Neh. 9:6 is that God "keeps alive" the living things created in the heavens, earth and seas. No promise of eternal life is given, so what it says is God is the cause of sustaining life, but individuals and groups, i.e. species, do die.

    2) Colossians 1:16-17 says all things are held together or sustained in Him or by Him. Again no promise is presented to never allow anything being held together to be degraded or destroyed.

    3) 2 Sam. 22:3 says God is the strength, refuge, shield, and Savior of mankind. The name of "Preserver" applied in general to all things is not found in many translations.

    4) Job 7:20 refers to God as "Watcher" of men. This conveys the idea of a lookout, a person who protects, who provides warning of danger.

    In summary, the actual doctrine supported by these verses is God sustains all things, but makes no promise in these verses, to keep His revelation from being degraded or lost.
     
  11. Mexdeaf

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    JOJ,

    No comments except thanks for this. I enjoy the opportunity to learn.
     
  12. Van

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    Translations vary but the consensus view is the preserving is applied to people rather than His revelation.

    This is not to say the doctrine of providential preservation of His words is not sound, just to say the aforementioned verses do not teach it.
     
  13. Van

    Van
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    As a Minimalist, I look at verses and ask, "What is the least that God could be saying?" If we look at Romans 15:4 we see that at least the intended message had been preserved from when it was written to when it provided its encouragement in the 1st century. We cannot draw the conclusion it was preserved perfectly, but only sufficiently for God's purpose. This does not rule out inerrancy in the original autographs, or providential preservation. It simply acknowledges the truth clearly taught by Paul.

    Similarly in 2 Timothy 3:16 we see Paul teaching that the OT scriptures were trustworthy and reliable, hence preserved adequately, for instruction, and reproof. Now more can be read into it, but less cannot be claimed without loss of integrity.
     
    #13 Van, Sep 16, 2013
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  14. Yeshua1

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    I see God perserving the word of God to us in 3 differing ways/fashions!

    1) the primary way was through divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as he used his people to record acred texts to us, originals were inerrant, totally error/mistake free, as he had it correct to even the very words used!
    was a miracle, direct act of God

    2) Providence keeping of all of the various copies of the origals, preserving for us in the toal amount of those manuscripts when complied and sorted out, essentially the word of God as the original were/Infallible original languages texts

    3) the various translations made off the second group, which being done off infallible texts, resulted in englsih versions to be considered as infallible also!
     
  15. Van

    Van
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    In the Opening Poll, two words ( providence and miracle) were used by not defined. My understanding is "providence" refers to God "providing" for us in various ways. He established natural law and to the extent nature provides for our needs, i.e. abundant fish in the sea for food, we can thank God for His providence. But the second way God provides is by His altering or not, the unfixed future such that His purpose is fulfilled, thus needed rain may come from number 1 or number 2, but either way, we are to be thankful.

    The third way God provides for us is through creative miracles, where He intervenes and causes events that had nature run its course, would not have occurred. Jesus walking on water, or arising from the dead were sign and wonder miracles to demonstrate God was the cause, rather than happenstance.
     
  16. Van

    Van
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    1) Here is the NASB version of 1 Cor. 12:6, "There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all." Two views of this verse are put forth, (1) the ESV translates it to say " and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone" which supports the doctrine of Divine concurrence. But the other view (2) as in HCSB, has it "And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. Thus only the effects or workings gifted by the Holy Spirit are in view, and God empowers all these in everyone. As a minimalist, I think number 2 (the HCSB version) presents Paul's actual message, i.e. the least he could have been teaching. The majority view sticks with the idea in the ESV view.

    2) In Acts 17:28 says in Him we live and move and exist, thus God sustains us. To take this further and say He exercises control (i.e. concurs with what He allows) over our thoughts and actions at all times is without merit. God allows us to originate sinful thoughts, but certainly does not concur with them.

    In summary, God causes or allows whatsoever comes to pass, otherwise it would not come to pass. So His purpose requires our ability to originate thoughts and plans that deviate from God's perfect will, and thus He allows them; but His purpose also requires our ability to hear His revelation, and thus His providence has preserved His revelation to this day.
     
    #16 Van, Sep 16, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2013
  17. John of Japan

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    All in all a good post, but I'd like to comment on this specific paragraph. I wondered if someone would bring this up!

    My question would be, what is the purpose of God's preservation of Sinaiticus (Aleph) and Vaticanus (B)? There is a continuous stream of preservation of the Byzantine text family down through the ages, but the Alexandrian has great gaps in its preservation.

    It may be that God preserved Aleph and B for research proving the Byzantine is closest to the originals. As proof I submit the well-known multitude of marginal corrections in Aleph and B. If one were doing textual criticism on Shakespeare, such a copy would be quite suspect, considering that the corrections are not in the original hand. (If they were it might be considered an original of Shakespeare.)
     
  18. John of Japan

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    Yes, thank you for bolstering my point. God's providence does not guarantee perfection.

    If God is our refuge and shield, He certainly is our Preserver.


    The Hebrew natsar in this verse is defined in BDB:
    ר
    nâtsar
    BDB Definition:
    1) to guard, watch, watch over, keep
    1a) (Qal)
    1a1) to watch, guard, keep
    1a2) to preserve, guard from dangers
    1a3) to keep, observe, guard with fidelity
    1a4) to guard, keep secret
    1a5) to be kept close, be blockaded
    1a6) watchman (participle)
    Part of Speech: verb
    A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive root

    I fail to see how, according to this, God is not our Preserver.


    I think God's revelation is promised to be preserved in:

    Matt. 5:18--For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
    Luke 16:17--And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

    This does not mean that we on earth will know precisely which ms has a certain jot or tittle, but it is nevertheless preserved.
     
  19. John of Japan

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    Thank you for your definitions, but I did define these words in post #6.
     
  20. John of Japan

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    Hard to see how that is a correct interpretation, since Ps. 12:6 is talking so clearly to the Word of God. Context is all important.

    Kyle and Delitzsch in e-sword on v. 7:
    "In Psa 12:7 the announcement of Jahve is followed by its echo in the heart of the seer: the words (אִמֲרֹות instead of אִמְרֹות by changing the Shebâ which closes the syllable into an audible one, as e.g., in אַֽשְׁרֵי) of Jahve are pure words, i.e., intended, and to be fulfilled, absolutely as they run without any admixture whatever of untruthfulness."
     

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