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
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
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"
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):
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.