The Biblical Text

The American Presbyterian Church holds to the historic position of the Reformed Churches with respect to the Biblical text. That is, we hold to the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Scriptures and the Textus Receptus, or “Received Text” of the Greek Scriptures. In this we depart from the position of most Presbyterian and Reformed denominations who have accepted more modern theories with respect to the Biblical text. We reject the rationalistic textual criticism of such men as Griesbach, Tregelles, and Tishendorf, etc., as popularized and institutionalized by the work of Westcott and Hort, and as reflected in a host of modern translations based on entirely different “critical” Greek texts of the New Testament.

This plethora of current English translations of the Scriptures (RV, RSV, ASV, TEV, NIV, etc., etc.), can only contribute to the undermining of the authority of God’s written revelation and to subverting any confidence in its integrity. Bibles filled with critical notes questioning the integrity of hundreds of words, verses, and even whole passages, can only be destructive of a solid faith in the word of God. Every few years a new and revised critical text of the Greek New Testament is trotted out as reflecting the latest in the science of textual criticism. And every few years a new English translation is announced as the most accurate and faithful translation to date while its marginal notes announce that it is in a state of confused flux. And all this has left the churches and the Lord’s people seemingly at the mercy of a new high-priesthood of rationalistic textual critics who sit in judgment on God’s word and presume to instruct us in what is and what is not the word of God.

That all of this is manifestly contrary to any meaningful notions of inspiration, inerrancy, and preservation of God’s word as taught in the Scriptures themselves, and as reflected in Reformed creeds such as the Westminster Confession of Faith, is obvious to any sober thinking person. The issue is not the translation, or whether tradition should prevail over reluctance to use antiquated language. The real issue is do we have the word of God? Do we have the actual Greek New Testament, as given by God to his church, or just some kind of reasonable facsimile thereof? Historically, Reformed Churches believed that we had the very word of God, providentially preserved through the ages, and therefore authoritative, inerrant, and inspired. The American Presbyterian Church still believes that and offers the following articles, etc. in defense of that conviction.