Reformed Scholastics did not use Empirical Methodology

Rev. Matthew Winzer:

Reformed scholastic views of the text did not operate according to modern empirical methodology. 1 John 5:7 is regularly used as if it were the Achilles heel of the TR. Whatever one thinks of the text, its wholesale acceptance demonstrates that the reformed church believed in the preservation of the Word without requiring the type of inductive, evidential methodology which is the trademark of modern textual criticism. It did not matter that it was not found in the majority of Greek mss. or how old the mss. were. Their doctrine of preservation was not dependent on the number or age of the mss.

Source:, Comment 9

Driven by Secular Naturalistic Presupposition

JM explains the weakness of modern textual criticism:

Those who prefer to use a rational approach in defining the New Testament text have to admit that scripture is selected by the text critic. In the office of a scholar many manuscripts are studied. The assumption is often stated that “only the originals are inspired.” The scholar must conduct examinations of the many manuscripts to determine which verse is more likely to be inspired and therefore authentic. But what kind of method does he use? What is his rule to determine what is, might be or is not scripture? The Bible critic or critics, whatever the case maybe, must choose and whatever kind of rule chosen, becomes their guiding principle. It is not driven by the logic of faith the Reformers used but a secular naturalistic presupposition. This presupposition denies the God who acts in history and intervenes in our daily lives. It denies what scriptures reveals about itself.

Read more:

The “Treasure” is the Word

“The modern love for manuscripts was no part of the history [of Christianity down through the ages]. Mss. were not the object of devotion. Mss. were not looked upon as “treasure,” “blessing to the church,” etc. This is the language of modern empiricism. When one hears this language come from a speaker one should immediately recognise a departure from true Protestantism.

The text underlying the AV is the reformation text. The translators did not consult “mss.” in the sense the word is used of Sinaiticus. The “treasure” is the Word; the revelation of God’s will and its preservation is the “blessing to the church.” Protestants recognised that this treasure and blessing was to be found uncorrupted in the text which had passed down to them.”

– Rev. Matthew Winzer
Australian Free Church,
Victoria, Australia


The Regard Of The Company We Stand In Suffices Us

Jerusalem Blade from the Puritan Board:

We, the professing church of Jesus Christ in the late 19th, the 20th, and early 21st centuries, have institutionalized and conferred legitimacy upon a system—and an attendant industry—predicated on disbelief in God’s providential working to preserve a particular text for His people and approved as such by them, instead depending on man’s science and skill to determine a somewhat preserved text, and that not in the confines of the believing church but in the academy amidst both regenerate and unregenerate scholars.

Those who hold to the faith of their Reformation forebears in the 16th through mid-19th centuries that God provided for His true church a particular preserved text—then forged by their vigorous faith and godly wisdom into an invincible weapon against the proud boastings and bloody aggressions of the Romish monster—the spiritual progeny of these Reformation stalwarts in this matter of their Holy Bibles, are presently demeaned as ignorant and retrograde by those considering themselves the more intelligent and intellectually advanced members of the modern faith community.

Nonetheless, the regard of the company we stand in suffices us.

Source:, Comment #40 (the latter part of Comment #39 also eloquently states the case)

105 Critical Greek Text Verses With No Manuscript Support

Minuscule 569 (GA)

A compilation of verses sent by Dr. Maurice Robinson to Pastor Robert Truelove of Christ Reformed Church documenting the lack of manuscript support for many of the verses included in the critical Greek text:

From a Puritan Board discussion on Dr. Robinson’s approach to textual transmission:

Rich comments:

“Originally Posted by MW

Originally Posted by Semper Fidelis

In other words, if the Byzantine tradition is trustworthy due to its regular Church use then readings that cannot be found in the byzantine manuscript family then the argument for Vulgate readings seem to fundamentally undermine the stability of the Byzantine argument.

Yes, very perceptive. The theory claims an empirical basis but fails to establish itself by means of an impartial empirical observation of the manuscripts; it also requires a “providential” interpretation of the manuscripts which simply guesses that the Byzantine stream must be the most pure. At the same time I can appreciate that the Byzantine approach is giving this stream of mss. the attention it deserves and shows that there is a stable transmission history behind the so-called “majority” readings.

I’m glad someone sees my point.

If Dr. Robinson’s textual critical approach is correct then we have a Greek manuscript tradition and do not need to appeal to readings found outside that manuscript tradition to find “lost readings” that survived in the Vulgate to reconstruct a pure text. This would clearly mean the loss of the Comma regardless of how much Ecclesiastical tradition surrounds that text.”

In other words, Dr. Robinsons’s approach is fatal to the TR position and vice versa.”

Source:, Comment #19

MW further comments:

“Originally Posted by Robert Truelove

Finally, Dr. Robinson’s comment about not being able to get at absolute certainty of ALL readings…this is a technical statement and in no way means we are left in the dark as to the essential text of the New Testament. The same problem exists with the Textus Receptus

I think this requires one to put faith in Dr. Robinson’s theory to lead to a New Testament text, but this will prove as disappointing as the eclectic methods and the Alexandrian priority theory. The genealogical theory was shown to be inadequate from the beginning, going back to the early 19th century.

The same problems are indeed associated with the Textus Receptus so far as empirical observation is concerned. Empirically I could give as good account of a great diversity of readings which are to be found in the mss. The reason is, that the mind of man is finite, the evidence is quite limited, the categories for understanding the evidence are always conjectural, and man is always motivated by reasons which are not even always clear to himself.”

Source:, Comment #38

It’s Not An Argument Between Scholarship and Non-Scholarship

Theodore Letis, The Majority Text: Essays And Reviews In The Continuing Debate, from the essay, “In Reply to D.A. Carson’s ‘The King James Version Debate‘ ” :

La dispute“If D.A. Carson’s book illustrates nothing else it shows there are two schools of thought. Both schools interpret the data of NT textual criticism and modern translations differently, and both groups fill in the gaps in the data with assumptions which favor their given position. I hope some are beginning to see that this is not an argument between scholarship (the established school represented by Carson) and non-scholarship (the challenging school which has traditionally been treated as non-scholarly and completely uncritical). To the contrary, the best representatives of both schools display genuine scholarship. Why is it, then, that these two schools co-exist on this all-important issue of the very wording of the NT text? And is this a recent or a long-standing debate? It is these questions that we hope to broach—and answer—in this essay. . .”

Source:, Comment #14

Presuppositional versus Evidential Approaches to Identifying the Word of God

“Diverting to the question of the text, there is one main difference between the presuppositional and evidential approaches, and this difference has a strong influence on the outcome. A presuppositional approach begins with the conviction that the word of God is in possession while the evidential approach begins with the conviction that the word of God must yet be found. The presuppositional approach, then, will naturally incline towards a text which is already established and accepted as self-attesting, whereas the evidential approach will naturally incline towards a text which requires the accumulation of evidence and a process of reasoning to prove it. The “approach” is fundamental to the “findings,” and already inclines one way or another before any variant reading comes to be handled.”

Comment #58, Rev. Matthew Winzer, Australian Free Church, Victoria, Australia