Kicking against the Pricks: The SCCC Contradicts the ICCC on VPP
The Singapore Council of Christian Churches (SCCC), which is the national affiliate in Singapore of the International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC), in its Reformation Rally of 2007 passed another statement1 against the Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP) of the Holy Scriptures. This latest statement is clearly not in line with the ICCC resolutions on the Bible made in Amsterdam 1998 and Jerusalem 2000 which the SCCC claims to reaffirm. In the Far Eastern Beacon of Easter 2008, the SCCC quoted the ICCC resolution that "The King James Version in English has been faithfully translated from these God-preserved manuscripts-the Masoretic Text preserving the Old Testament and the Textus Receptus preserving the New Testament."2 This is what VPP affirms-the Hebrew/Aramaic words of the Masoretic Text, and the Greek words of the Textus Receptus are the very inspired and preserved words of God, and the Authorised or King James Version (AV/KJV) is a faithful translation of those divinely inspired and preserved original language words.
It is unfortunate that in the same paper, the SCCC misrepresents VPP by putting the cart before the horse claiming that VPP is KJV3 when VPP is the special providential preservation of the divinely inspired words of the Holy Scriptures in the original languages (i.e., Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words, and not English words or any other foreign language words in Bible translations or versions). It must be underscored that VPP recognises and requires the translation of true and faithful versions of the Bible into other languages that are based upon the God-preserved manuscripts or verbally and plenarily preserved texts, namely, the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus from which the KJV has been faithfully translated as affirmed by the ICCC.4
It ought to be made known that the Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC) has been championing the ICCC resolution on the preservation of Scripture passed at its 16th World Congress in Jerusalem in the year 2000. The ICCC statement #11 affirmed, "Believing the OT has been preserved in the Masoretic text and the NT in the Textus Receptus, combined they gave us the complete Word of God. The King James Version in English has been faithfully translated from these God-preserved manuscripts."5
In the same issue of the Far Eastern Beacon (Easter 2008), the SCCC also republished a 2005 letter by the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (IBPFM) denouncing the doctrine and promotion of VPP which clearly contradicts what the SCCC has reaffirmed in the very same paper to be the ICCC position on Biblical preservation, the KJV and its underlying original language texts. The SCCC paper in the Far Eastern Beacon is inherently inconsistent and contradictory. Wittingly or unwittingly, the SCCC anti-VPPists have undermined the testimony of the ICCC and their own credibility by their very own words and actions.
It is worth noting that Dr Lynn Gray Gordon, former General Secretary of the IBPFM, in his commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith, states unequivocally that "The Holy Scriptures have been miraculously preserved down through the ages."6 This is nothing less than the VPP of the Holy Scriptures by special or extraordinary, supernatural or miraculous providence ("by His singular care and providence") as affirmed in the Westminster Confession of Faith (Chapter 1, Section 8). But the SCCC says that the continuing preservation of the one Holy Scripture, the Bible, is merely "general [i.e. not special, non-miraculous, without direct, extraordinary divine intervention], but not plenary [i.e. not full, complete, 100% to the jot and tittle]."7 Is this Biblically correct, theologically sensible, and logically tenable? Is this the Reformed understanding of the Holy Scriptures and of Sola Scriptura?
How we thank God for the Biblical doctrine of the verbal and plenary preservation and the present infallibility and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures in the original languages (Ps 12:6-7, Matt 5:18, 24:35, John 10:35, 2 Tim 3:16-17)! Insofar as the KJV is concerned, Dr Gordon rightly disclaimed the KJV as an "inspired version" but nonetheless upheld the KJV to be "free from error in thought, fact and doctrine."8 VPP proponents say Amen to this.
The SCCC statement illustrates the fallacy of human logic and the fallibility of the words of men. Man's writings are full of contradictions, discrepancies and errors, but God's words are perfect, infallible, and inerrant, without any contradiction, discrepancy, or mistake to the last letter and syllable. It proves all the more that the words of God are forever infallible and inerrant, and always trustworthy, our sole and supreme authority of faith and practice. The logic of faith is the key to a consistent Bibliology. The logic of unbelief, on the other hand, produces illogical thinking and ungodly deeds. Dr Gordon rightly observed, "Sin is an irrational thing. It makes a man act not only wickedly, but foolishly."9 It baffles the mind to see the SCCC holding a Reformation Rally only to undermine the Reformation Bible, the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus on which the KJV is based by denying and denouncing VPP. Even the Rev K C Quek-former General Secretary of the ICCC-himself testified that he does not "see main contradictions' between the clause 4.2.1 in the existing Constitution of our B-P Churches and the VPP theory."10 Indeed, we see no contradiction whatsoever.
May the SCCC and its member churches retract all their statements against VPP before they do further damage to the testimony and credibility of the ICCC and the legacy of Dr Carl McIntire who believed without question that Psalm 12:6, 7 proves the perfect preservation of the words of God.11
It is indeed truthful that VPP is a blessed doctrine which preserves godly paths to the glory of God alone. How true our Saviour's words, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" (Acts 9:5)!
1 The SCCC had issued an earlier statement, "Inspiration and Translations of the Holy Scriptures," a resolution passed in its 49th AGM on October 29, 2005, and published in the November-December 2005 issue of the Far Eastern Beacon. See also Jeffrey Khoo, "Inspiration, Preservation, and Translations," The Burning Bush 13 (2007): 12-13.
2 "Re-affirming SCCC Stand on the Word of God," "IBPFM Resolution on Bible Inspiration," Far Eastern Beacon 39:1 (Easter 2008): 4.
3 Ibid, 5.
4 Ibid, 4.
5 "ICCC 16th World Congress Statements," Far Eastern Beacon (Christmas 2000): 13.
6 Lynn Gray Gordon, The World's Greatest Truths (Singapore: Far Eastern Bible College Press, 1999), 25.
7 "Re-affirming SCCC Stand on the Word of God," 5. Emphasis in the original, but explanations in parenthesis are mine.
8 Gordon, 26.
9 Ibid, 174.
10 "A Founding Leader of the B-P Movement in Singapore Replies to a Query on the Church Constitution" (http://www.lifebpc.com/ourstand/querycc.htm accessed on June 19, 2008). The B-P Constitution 4.2.1 reads, "We believe in the divine, verbal and plenary inspiration of the Scriptures in the original languages, their consequent inerrancy and infallibility, and as the Word of God, the Supreme and final authority in faith and life."
11 Hear his sermon entitled - "Help, LORD!" (Psalm 12) - preached on January 11, 1992, accessible from www.sermonaudio.com.
Dr Jeffrey Khoo is academic dean of the Far Eastern Bible College, and an advisory council member of the Dean Burgon Society.