Ecclesiastical Text

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The term The Ecclesiastical Text is misrepresented by James White.

White makes out as if the position is akin to popish traditions and associates the position by asserting that the Latin Vulgate was the ecclesiastical text for a long time. By doing this he totally misrepresents the position which clearly refutes that claim.

According to the Westminster Confession of Faith (1:8), the Ecclesiastical Text position is that the text has always been preserved in its original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The position is not claiming that specific translations are somehow infallible.

Many modern textual critics claim that Scripture is only inerrant in it the original autographs. This concepts totally destroys the entire concept of the preservation of scripture. Modern critics such as James White don't have an infallible bible anywhere, in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, or any language, but are still attempting to piece it together.

The words of God are infallible in those faithful copies in the original languages that the Church has passed down to us today. Otherwise, the Scriptures would not be “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) nor would they be able to function as the final court of appeal for the Church, such as in the Westminster Confession of Faith.

The confessional view concerning the authentic, received text is not that the Church determines what is Scripture, but rather, that the Church is the instrumental cause of the preservation of Scripture such that “as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them (Isa 8:20; John 5:39, 46; Acts 15:15)” (WCF 1:8).

The Scripture itself is the objective cause of our knowledge about what books and what passages are truly Scripture, and the Holy Spirit is the efficient cause “bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts (Isa 59:21; John 16:13-14; 1 Cor 2:10-12; 1 John 2:20, 27)” (WCF 1:5). Here’s a great sermon explaining these three distinctions (objective, efficient, and instrumental causes) with regard to the text of Scripture: Westminster Larger Catechism 4 – What causes us to believe the Scriptures?

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