Dane K. Jöhannsson
Lead Pastor, Agros Reformed Baptist Church
Dear brothers and sisters,
I would like to commend to you the work and ministry of Dr. Jeff Riddle, lead pastor of Christ Reformed Baptist Church of Louisa, Virginia. Dr. Riddle has been a prominent and influential voice for a minority Reformed view of Scripture which has come to be known as the "Confessional Text Position" (sometimes referred to by others as the 'Traditional Text Position', the 'Canonical Text Position' and the 'Ecclesiastical Text Position').
Dr. Riddle has helped propagate and defend this view through his published journal articles, blog-posts, conference papers, podcasts and sermons. It was through listening to his "Word Magazine" podcast episodes and reading his papers that I was won over to a confessional view of the preserved Hebrew and Greek texts of the Scriptures. It was a slow 2 year process, but what really helped convince me was Dr. Riddles honest engagement with the variant readings in the apparatus of the Nestle Aland 28th edition of the Greek New Testament.
I thought that in order to hold to a confessional view of the scripture (especially in the Greek New Testament) one was to play ignorant and believe that the Trinitarian Bible Society's Scrivener Textus Receptus floated down from heaven, printed and bound by Jongbloed in smooth ironed calfskin, into the hands of the King James Version translators. One was to ignore the variant readings and be anti-intellectual in their study of the text of the Bible, utilizing "tradition" over "honest scholarship" while defending their position. Happily, I couldn't have been more wrong.
My presuppositions concerning the text of the Scripture (given to me by Bruce Metzger, Kurt Aland, Dan Wallace and James White) were deeply ingrained in my worldview. The Greek text of the New Testament has been severely corrupted and needed to be restored, and truth be told, we will not really know when this process has ended. But we must soldier on in the face of uncertainty, continuing to "examine the evidence" and make the necessary alterations to the New Testament text every few years. Dr. White speculated on his Feb. 25th 2019 "Dividing Line" that when the "Coherence Based Genealogical Method" has finished giving us the German Bible Society's "Editio Critica Maior" of the Greek New Testament in 2030 that there will only be, at most, 100 or so alterations to the text that will in any way effect translation.
This may not shock or concern most English-speaking Evangelical Christians who are used to major translations coming out with revisions of their text every couple of years For example: the English Standard Version (itself merely a light revision of the Revised Standard Version, which had its own editions in 1952, 1957, 1962, 1965-66, 1971, 1973, 1977, 1982 and 2006) came out in 2001 and has already had revisions published in 2007, 2011, and 2016. Does the English language really evolve so much that it necessitates the "Standard" English Bible to be revised on an average of once every 5 years?
But the fact of the matter is that it should shock and deeply concern English-speaking Christians that we will be without a correct Greek New Testament until 2030 at the earliest, and that we will have to wait even longer to see those alterations reflected in our English bibles.
Dr. Riddle is not ignorant of these problems and addresses them frequently in an honest and scholarly fashion in his work. The presupposition of the modern critical text position is that the conclusions made concerning the text of the Greek New Testament are without contestation and that all the evidence lies on its side alone. These presuppositions are tackled head-on (as they must be) by Dr. Riddle. Part of what won me over was Dr. Riddle's willingness to say, "Okay, so Mark 16:9-20 is omitted by the modern critical Greek text because they say the evidence against its authenticity is overwhelming. Let's take a look at the evidence and see if this is really the case." In every text which he has examined thus far he has demonstrated that there is no good reason for throwing out the reading as it stands in the confessional-era text of the Textus Receptus.
On his podcast (which has been so influential for myself and Pastor Taylor) Dr. Riddle was gracious enough to offer some kind words about our writing and podcasts on this subject as well as feature the entirety of the audio from our 8th Agros Church Podcast in "WM #118".
The reason I titled this post "Dr. Jeff Riddle: A Small Part of a Bigger Picture" is because in WM #118 he says that he has been blessed to have been able to play a small part in this movement away from the re-constructionist view of Scripture towards a Confessional view of Scripture. He states that the work of Taylor and Myself could possibly be a harbinger to a kind of "Reformation" in the Reformed/Calvinistic movement. As it stands, in the words of Dr. Riddle, the so-called "Young, Restless and Reformed" movement, could easily be deemed the "Young, Text-less and Reformed" movement due to the widespread acceptance of the Critical Text within its ranks.
Please avail yourself of the resources Dr. Riddle has put out over the years on his podcast as well as his blog "Stylos". The bigger picture is a return to an embrace of God's preserved word and faithful men like Jeff Riddle are by God's grace getting to play a small part in this. I pray to God that we may be permitted to play a part as well, even if it pales in comparison to Dr. Riddle's part.
Dane K. Jöhannsson
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