Verbal plenary preservation

In Protestant theology, verbal plenary preservation (VPP) is a doctrine concerning the nature of the Bible. While verbal plenary inspiration ("VPI") applies only to the original autographs of the Bible manuscript, VPP views that, "the whole of Scripture with all its words even to the jot and tittle is perfectly preserved by God in the apographs[1][2] without any loss of the original words, prophecies, promises, commandments, doctrines, and truths, not only in the words of salvation, but also the words of history, geography and science; and every book, every chapter, every verse, every word, every syllable, every letter is infallibly preserved by the Lord Himself to the last iota so that the Bible is not only infallible and inerrant in the past (in the autographs), but also infallible and inerrant today (in the apographs)."[3]

BasisEdit

The doctrine of VPP is founded on God's promise in the Scripture to perfectly preserve His words and this is affirmed in the historical confessional statements of the Christian faith.[4][5][6]

ScriptureEdit

God's inspired words once given will be forever preserved: "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever" (Psalm 12:6-7). Those who deny that the Bible teaches preservation say that verse 7 here refers to the preservation of God's people, not His words.[7][8]

The late Dr Carl McIntire, the founding pastor of the historic Bible Presbyterian Church, understood verse 7 to mean preservation of the divinely inspired words of God as he had preached in 1992 a sermon entitled "Help, Lord!", from Psalm 12, saying:[9]

"Now come verse 6, ‘The words of the LORD are pure words,’ not one of them is mistaken, ‘as silver tried in the furnace of earth, purified seven times.’ All the dregs are out. Here is a marvelous affirmation and vindication that God's Word is perfect. … Now, ‘The words of the LORD are pure words.’ And then verse 7, how I love this: ‘Thou shalt keep them O LORD,’ that is, keep His words; ‘thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.’ No matter what happens, one generation come and another passes away, God is going to preserve His words … from one generation to another. The words of God will be preserved throughout all the generations.

Other Bible verses quoted to support divine preservation being verbal (words) and plenary (all, full, entire or complete) include the following:[10][11][12][13]

  • Psalm 105:8: "He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations."
  • Ecclesiastes 3:14: "l know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him."
  • Matthew 4:4: "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (See also Luke 4:4 for similar verse.)
  • Matthew 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.
  • Matthew 24:35: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (See also Mark 13:31 and Luke 21:33 for similar verses.)
  • John 10:35: "If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken."
  • 1 Peter 1:25: "But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."

Confessional statementsEdit

The confessional statements supporting VPP include the following:[14][15][16]

Westminster Confession of Faith (1643–1648)Edit

The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them (Chapter 1:8)

Helvetic Consensus (1675)Edit

God, the supreme Judge, not only took care to have His Word, which is the ‘power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth’ (Rom 1:16), committed to writing by Moses, the prophets, and the apostles, but has also watched and cherished it with paternal care ever since it was written up to the present time, so that it could not be corrupted by craft of Satan or fraud of man. Therefore, the church justly ascribes it to His singular grace and goodness that she has, and will have to the end of the world, a ‘sure word of prophecy’ (2 Pet 1:19) and ‘holy Scriptures’ (2 Tim 3:15), from which, though heaven and earth perish, ‘one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass’ (Matt 5:18). (Canon I)

Like the Helvetic Consensus Formula, the Westminster Confession of Faith cites Matthew 5:18 as proof text of the special providential preservation of the divinely inspired Holy Scripture.[17][18][19] The late Rev Dr Carl McIntire also understood Chapter 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith to be teaching the special providential preservation of God's words when continuing from what was quoted above in his 1992 sermon entitled "Help, Lord!", from Psalm 12, he said with regard to verses 6 and 7:[20]

Now I am very happy that in the great Confessions of the Christian world, our Confession—the Westminster Confession—has its Chapter 1 on the Word of God. … Now the Lord says, "I am going to keep my Word—it is like silver that has been tried. I am going to keep that to all generations, all generations." That means that no matter what the conditions are, God is going to have on this earth some churches and some pastors until the last generation were taken away who will maintain this Word like we are doing here and like we are seeking to do throughout the whole Christian world.

ViewsEdit

On VPI and VPP the late Rev Dr Timothy Tow, founding pastor of the Bible-Presbyterian Church and founding principal of Far Eastern Bible College ("FEBC"), wrote: "We believe the preservation of Holy Scripture and its Divine inspiration stand in the same position as providence and creation. If Deism teaches a Creator who goes to sleep after creating the world is absurd, to hold to the doctrine of inspiration without preservation is equally illogical. … Without preservation, all the inspiration, God-breathing into the Scriptures, would be lost. But we have a Bible so pure and powerful in every word and it is so because God has preserved it down through the ages."[21]

On the same twin doctrines the late Rev Dr Ian Paisley, moderator of the Ulster Free Presbyterian Church for more than 57 years,[22] said: "The verbal Inspiration of the Scriptures demands the verbal Preservation of the Scriptures. Those who would deny the need for verbal Preservation cannot be accepted as committed to verbal Inspiration. If there is no preserved Word of God today then the work of Divine Revelation and Divine Inspiration has perished."[23]

The late Dr Edward F. Hills also penned: "If the doctrine of divine inspiration of the Old and New Testament Scriptures is a true doctrine, the doctrine of the providential preservation of these Scriptures must also be a true doctrine. It must be that down through the centuries God has exercised a special, providential control over the copying of the Scriptures and the preservation and use of the original text have been available to God's people in every age. God must have done this, for if He gave the Scriptures to His Church by inspiration as the perfect and final revelation of His will, then it is obvious that He would not allow this revelation to disappear or undergo any alteration of its fundamental character."[24]

More views upholding the doctrine of perfect preservation or VPP can be found quoted in "The Historic Views of the Church Concerning Preservation" by Rev (Dr) P. S. Ferguson. These views include those of English puritan Thomas Cartwright (1535–1603), Professor William Whitaker (1548–1595), Bishop and Divine John Jewel (1522–1571), Cambridge-educated puritan preacher Nicholas Gibbens, German Lutheran dogmatician Johannes Andreas Quenstedt (1617–1688), English Presbyterian clergyman John Flavel (1627–1691), English puritan and theologian Edward Leigh (1602–1671), Puritan Thomas Watson (1620–1686), Puritan John Owen (1616–1683), first regent and first principal of the University of Edinburgh Robert Rollock (1555–1599), Swiss-Italian Reformed scholastic theologian Francis Turretin (1623–1687), Westminster divine Richard Capel (1586–1656), original member of the Westminster assembly John Lightfoot (1602–1675), Pastor Dr Jack Moorman, Professor Albert J. Hembd and the Rev N. Pffeifer.[25]

Dispute between Life BPC and FEBC over VPPEdit

FEBC, which embraces the VPP doctrine based on the Westminster Confession of Faith which at Article 8 of Chapter 1 states that the inspired OT and NT Scriptures in the original languages are "by His [God's] singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages", teaches that God has supernaturally preserved each and every one of His inspired Hebrew/Aramaic OT words and Greek NT words to the last jot and tittle so that God's people will always have in their possession His infallible and inerrant Word kept intact without the loss of any word, and that the infallible and inerrant words of Scripture are found in the faithfully preserved Traditional/Byzantine/Majority manuscripts and fully represented in the Printed and Received Text (or Textus Receptus) that underlie the Reformation Bibles best represented by the KJV, and NOT in the corrupted and rejected texts of Westcott and Hort that underlie the many modern versions of the English Bible like the NIV, NASV, ESV, RSV, TEV, CEV, TLB, etc.[26] The Board of Elders of Life BPC disagreed.[27]

The Bible-Presbyterian churches (Singapore), which had their Synod dissolved in 1988 because of disagreements, were again split with one group aligned with the founding pastor Timothy Tow embracing VPP, and another group not aligned with him taking the non- or anti-VPP position.[28]

The church and the college had shared premises at 9, 9A and 10 Gilstead Road (the "Premises"). In 2008, due to the disagreement on VPP, the church sued the college's directors, including Timothy Tow (the church's founding pastor), in Suit 648 in the High Court over allegedly "deviant Bible teachings" in an attempt to force FEBC to leave the Premises.[29] However the church failed as the Court of Appeal of Singapore, the apex court in Singapore's legal system, held, inter alia, on 26 April 2011 that:[30]

  1. "the VPP doctrine is actually closely related to the VPI doctrine which both parties [i.e., the College and the Church] adhere to,” (rejecting the Church's contention in [59] of the Court of Appeal Judgement that it is “an entirely different creature from the VPI doctrine)";”
  2. "the College, in adopting the VPP doctrine, has not deviated from the fundamental principles which guide and inform the work of the College right from its inception, and as expressed in the Westminster Confession;"
  3. "[i]t is not inconsistent for a Christian who believes fully in the principles contained within the Westminster Confession (and the VPI doctrine) to also subscribe to the VPP doctrine;" and
  4. "[i]n the absence of anything in the Westminster Confession that deals with the status of the apographs, we [the Court] hesitate to find that the VPP doctrine is a deviation from the principles contained within the Westminster Confession."

However, even after the Court of Appeal of Singapore had ruled that the VPP doctrine is not deviant, Life BPC continues to regard VPP as heresy since the paper "Mark Them Which Cause Divisions" issued by its Pastor and Elders dated January 2008[31]—rebutted by the Rev Dr Jeffrey Khoo in "Making the Word of God of None Effect"[32][33]—is still on its website more than five years after the apex court's ruling.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Definition of apograph". Harper Collins Publishers Limited. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  2. ^ apograph, an exact copy Ian Brookes, Editor-in-chief (2006). Chambers Dictionary, 10th Edition, p. 65. Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2006. ISBN 978-0550-103116.
  3. ^ "The Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP) of the Sacred Scriptures". Far Eastern Bible College. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  4. ^ Jeffrey Khoo (July 2011). "Seven Biblical Axioms In Ascertaining The Authentic and Authoritative Texts of the Holy Scriptures" (PDF). The Burning Bush. Far Eastern Bible College. 17 (2): 75–76, Epangelical Axiom. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  5. ^ Carol Lee (July 2005). "A Child of God Looks at the Doctrine of Verbal Plenary Preservation" (PDF). The Burning Bush. Far Eastern Bible College. 11 (2): 69–81. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  6. ^ Rev (Dr) P.S. Ferguson. "The Historic Views of the Church Concerning Preservation" (PDF). confessionalbibliology.com. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  7. ^ Jeffrey Khoo (July 2011). "Seven Biblical Axioms In Ascertaining The Authentic and Authoritative Texts of the Holy Scriptures" (PDF). The Burning Bush. Far Eastern Bible College. 17 (2): 75, Epangelical Axiom. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  8. ^ Quek Suan Yew (July 2004). "Did God Promise To Preserve His Words? Interpreting Psalm 12:6-7" (PDF). The Burning Bush. Far Eastern Bible College. 10 (2): 96–98. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  9. ^ Dr Carl McIntire. Help, Lord! Psalm 12. sermonAudio.com. Event occurs at 11:58-12:34 mins. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  10. ^ Dr. Ian K.R. Paisley. "The history of the English Authorised Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible is unsurpassably pre-eminent, having preserved for centuries the Word of God for the English speaking peoples of the whole world, and those evangelised by them". www.ianpaisley.org. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  11. ^ "The Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP) of the Sacred Scriptures". Far Eastern Bible College. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  12. ^ Carol Lee. "A Child of God Looks at the Doctrine of Verbal Plenary Preservation". Far Eastern Bible College. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  13. ^ Timothy Tow (July 2005). ""My Glory Will I Not Give To Another" (Isaiah 42:8)" (PDF). The Burning Bush. Far Eastern Bible College. 11 (2): 67–68. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  14. ^ Rev (Dr) P.S. Ferguson. "The Historic Views of the Church Concerning Preservation" (PDF). confessionalbibliology.com. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  15. ^ Carol Lee. "A Child of God Looks at the Doctrine of Verbal Plenary Preservation". Far Eastern Bible College. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  16. ^ Jeffrey Khoo (July 2011). "Seven Biblical Axioms In Ascertaining The Authentic and Authoritative Texts of the Holy Scriptures" (PDF). The Burning Bush. Far Eastern Bible College. 17 (2): 76, Epangelical Axiom. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  17. ^ "Westminster Confession of Faith with Scripture proofs" (PDF). www.pcaac.org. Presbyterian Church in America Administrative Committee. p. 7. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  18. ^ Carol Lee. "A Child of God Looks at the Doctrine of Verbal Plenary Preservation". Far Eastern Bible College. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  19. ^ Jeffrey Khoo (July 2011). "Seven Biblical Axioms In Ascertaining The Authentic and Authoritative Texts of the Holy Scriptures" (PDF). The Burning Bush. Far Eastern Bible College. 17 (2): 75–76, Epangelical Axiom. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  20. ^ Dr Carl McIntire. Help, Lord! Psalm 12. sermonAudio.com. Event occurs at 12:35-13:46 mins. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  21. ^ Timothy Tow and Jeffrey Khoo. A Theology for Every Christian: Knowing God and His Word (PDF). Far Eastern Bible College Press, 1998, p. 47. ISBN 981-04-0076-4. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  22. ^ "Church elects new moderator". BBC News. 19 January 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  23. ^ Dr. Ian K.R. Paisley. "The history of the English Authorised Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible is unsurpassably pre-eminent, having preserved for centuries the Word of God for the English speaking peoples of the whole world, and those evangelised by them". www.ianpaisley.org. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  24. ^ Edward F. Hills, p. 2. The King James Version Defended (PDF). Christian Research Press, 1984. ISBN 978-0915923007. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  25. ^ Rev (Dr) P.S. Ferguson. "The Historic Views of the Church Concerning Preservation" (PDF). confessionalbibliology.com. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  26. ^ "The Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP) of the Sacred Scriptures". Far Eastern Bible College. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  27. ^ "A Statement on the Theory of Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP)". Life Bible-Presbyterian Church. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  28. ^ "Khoo Jeffrey and others v Life Bible-Presbyterian Church and others". www.singaporelaw.sg, para 36, dissolution of the senate [Synod]; and paras 103-104, names of Bible-Presbyterian churches supporting and rejecting VPP. Archived from the original on 10 January 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  29. ^ John, Arul (18 December 2008). "Church sues Bible college directors". The New Paper. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  30. ^ "Khoo Jeffrey and others v Life Bible-Presbyterian Church and others". www.singaporelaw.sg, paras 94,95 and 98. Archived from the original on 10 January 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  31. ^ "Mark Them Which Cause Divisions" (PDF). Life Bible-Presbyterian Church. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  32. ^ Jeffrey Khoo. "Making the Word of God of None Effect". Far Eastern Bible College. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  33. ^ Jeffrey Khoo (ed.). To Magnify His Word: Golden Jubilee Yearbook of Far Eastern Bible College (1962–2012) (PDF). Far Eastern Bible College (2012), "Chronology of Events," p. 248, events 13 January 2008 and 17 February 2008. ISBN 978-981-07-3148-9. Retrieved 24 September 2016.

Further readingEdit