I have noticed that a number of people seem to have a faulty understanding of what the meaning and importance of consensus is. When conflicts arise, they are resolved through discussion, debate and collaboration (co-operating in a mutual goal – truth) with the idea of building consensus. Consensus is the aim of any debate that seeks the truth. The goal of any proper debate is not a chaos of different opinions or streams of one-liners pursuing gotcha points while defending personal preference, but rather, an agreement by all parties (consensus) with the truth. Undercutting or avoiding consensus yields nothing but conflict and certainly does not lead to a “unity of the faith”. Even those who profess no qualms about “uncertainty” can only properly enter into debate with the intention of finding certainty. Consensus of born again Spirit filled believers leads to certainty.
Without a consensus of meaning there is no definition of words. In a proper debate no one gets to make up meanings and their preference carries no weight against the weight of a righteously formed consensus. Dictionary definitions require a consensus of usage before being defined. When you appeal to a dictionary for a definition you are appealing to a consensus for authority – consensus of usage.
I note with irony that those on this board appeal to dictionaries and long lists of quotes of respected authors in an attempt to prove their point. When doing so they don’t list conflicting definitions, nor quote conflicting opinions, they cite authors who agree (consensus) with them hoping to form a collective unanimous opinion (consensus) on any given point of doctrine, the more that agree with them the stronger their argument. In other words they appeal to consensus as an authority, hoping that their opponents in the debate will not be able to debunk their argument by proving a lack of consensus through the use of equally qualified authors and definitions.
Consensus is not to be confused with a majority, plurality or popular:
Consensus – agreement reached by a group as a whole, collective unanimous opinion
Majority – a number more than half of the total
Plurality (relative majority) – the larger or greater part
Popular – widely favoured
President Obama has presidential authority by virtue of having received the majority of votes in the last presidential election (53%) he did not receive a consensus of votes. He is, however, recognized by consensus of Americans as the President of the United States. If a person is truly seeking the answer as to who currently has Presidential authority of the U.S.A., preferring John Cain, appealing to the original President, George Washington, or taking a vote in China (opinions of the Chinese can confirm the American consensus, but cannot hinder it) will not help them nor will it change the fact that President Obama is currently the President and only he has presidential authority. Any valid President will have presidential authority recognized by a consensus of Americans. That current presidential authority is recognized, but not determined (caused) by consensus.
Publishers of the NIV receiving 34% of all sales dollars for Bibles sold in 2006 have a relative majority (plurality) of sales, but they do not have a consensus of sales. The Revised Version of 1885 was quite popular when first printed, but it never became the English Bible recognized by a consensus of born again Spirit filled believers. It is a self-evident fact that the English Authorized version has been recognized as “the Bible”, “our Bible” and “our English Bible” by a consensus of born again Spirit filled English speaking Christians.
|Consensus is general agreement, or practical unanimity. A group of 12 might reach literal unanimity but a population of millions cannot in a million years on any of a million subjects. That is why the word “consensus” has developed in common usage. It indicates practical unanimity, a general agreement reached without force. This should be the goal of ALL Bible texts, and all Bible translations. When it is achieved, real practical authority ensues. Bill Kincaid|
• Consensus of born again Spirit filled Christians doesn’t mean that everyone (absolute unanimity) who professes to be a member of the Church of God agrees or that some particular local church won’t disagree.
• When recognizing Scriptural truths only the opinions of born again Spirit filled Christians matter. All other opinion can only help confirm the consensus, it can never hinder the consensus reached by born again Spirit filled Christians. This point is important because the definition of consensus is an agreement reached by a group as a whole. The group must therefore be defined and is defined as the Church of God which is made up of born again Spirit filled Christians. Along these lines I note that many call themselves Evangelical Believers. Why the need to modify the Scriptural term Believer with Evangelical if not to imply that you are a born again Spirit filled member of the Church of God in contrast to those who call themselves believers but have never been born again? Other terms are used as well such as Fundamentalist, Conservative, Baptist, Independent Baptist, etc. which are terms used to distinguish between “born again Spirit filled Christians” and those who “profess to be Christians or profess to be Spirit filled”.
• Many on this board have claimed to be orthodox Christians. The fact that they modify the Biblical term Christian with the secular adjective, orthodox, demonstrates that they understand the reasonableness of consensus. Orthodox by definition is the adherence to commonly excepted standards or a view held as correct by a consensus of people.
• Heresy, as in “Denial of the Canon of the Scriptures is a heresy”, cannot be defined without consensus, for heresy is a theological or religious opinion or doctrine maintained in opposition, or held to be contrary, to the ‘catholic’ (universal in extent, pertaining to the whole) or orthodox (consensus – see above) doctrine of the Church of God which is the pillar and ground of the truth. The doctrine of the Church of God proceeds from the Scriptures given by inspiration of God.
• Heretic, as in “Avery is a heretic” or “KJVO are heretics”, cannot be defined without consensus, for a heretic is a person who maintains theological or religious opinions at variance with the ‘catholic’ or orthodox doctrine of the Church of God which is the pillar and ground of the truth. Again, for the gainsayers, the doctrine of the Church of God proceeds from the Scriptures given by inspiration of God.
• The use of the words “standard” and “valid” by those who argue against the authority of consensus is revealing, for the word “standard”, as in “American Standard Version” or “New Revised Standard Version”, is defined as an authority recognized by consensus or general consent.
• Our Canon cannot be defined without a consensus of agreement in the Church of God which is made up of individual born again Spirit filled believers. Without a consensus there is no Canon. That is to say, no Canon can be established (shown to be true, valid; proven) without consensus. No one is allowed to pick their preferred version of the Canon despite the freedom of “Freedom Readers”. The idea that “any book is just as valid and sufficient as the next” is hooey. Those who reject the recognized Canon (66 Books of the Old and New Testaments) are rightly called heretics despite their freedom. Soul liberty does not allow nor justify heresy or heretics.
• The terms, “the Scriptures” or “the Bible”, cannot be defined without consensus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God is not a reference to a chaos of scattered writings, everything that was ever written or to the various writings preferred by scholars, Mormons, or Islamist, etc. The Scriptures are a reference to the anthology of Canonical Books recognized by Spirit filled believers as the very word of God in written form true in all its parts (books, chapters, verses and words). The opinions of skeptics, Mormons, Islamist or unbelievers can help confirm this consensus, but their opinions can in no wise hinder it.
• Consensus cannot make something that is false become true, nor can it make something that is true become false. Consensus can rightfully be used to recognize that which is true and that which is error. Putting “Standard” on the cover of a book doesn’t make it the Standard.
• Free, genuine agreement establishes authority and when agreement reaches consensus the authority is final as in “beyond dispute”.
• Where all versions agree (consensus) doubt is removed and authority is established (shown to be true, valid; proven).
Oxford English Dictionary (electronic edition)
1. Phys. General agreement or concord of different parts or organs of the body in effecting a given purpose; sympathy.
2. a. Agreement in opinion; the collective unanimous opinion of a number of persons.
• The principles of consensus are valid in any generation and are not limited by language (e.g. Greek, Hebrew, English, etc.) or time period. They apply before and after 1611, and before and after the completion of the New Testament.
• If your opinion as a born again Spirit filled Christian has merit, then the opinion of a consensus of born again Spirit filled Christians has even more merit. The likelihood that an individual being wrong on a given point is higher than the likelihood that the consensus of Church of God would be wrong on any given point and especially the identity of the Scriptures.
• The fact that some Textual Critics, Scholars and Skeptics deny consensus ever really existed with the AV proves to me that they recognize the authority it would grant. Their objection to the Authorized Version of the Holy Scriptures being recognized by consensus of born again Spirit filled believers for 375+ years as “Our Bible”, “Our English Bible”, “The English Scriptures”, “THE Bible”, etc. as “supposed”, “without proof”, “mere assertion”, etc. betrays them. Hence they pretend two things, first, that some English version in the past had the same consensus as the AV and secondly, that one of their preferred versions currently has consensus, neither are true.
• Consensus, not chaos and disagreement, is the underlying goal even among scholars. Of the 5000 plus extant Greek manuscripts of all or part of the New Testament, no two agree exactly in all particulars (lack of consensus). Confronted by a mass of conflicting readings genuine textual scholars lament the chaos and disagreements in the extant original language manuscripts. Good men spend a lifetime endeavoring to reach consensus over the reading of the original. The goal of consensus was the reason why scholars stamped “Standard” on their Bibles and the reason that “Freedom Readers” on this board appeal to only “valid versions”.
• The original text is unknown and will never be known according to genuine scholars. Only where there is a consensus of reading is there any hint of “knowing the original”, but even that, according to the axioms of the Neutral Textual Theory can be overthrown with a new find of “older and better manuscripts”.
The average man on the street, the common man, isn’t bothered by the dilemmas of the scholar for he is persuaded that his Standard Bible is indeed the very word of God in written form, in the form that God wants him to have. The scholar, of course, scoffs as such simple faith, yet, that is the faith that God expects of all believers – to believe every word of the Standard Bible.
• Defining the Standard version in a given language is not without its difficulties, but as Bill Kincaid so apply said,
|Amazing complexity for scholars equals remarkable simplicity for believers. Yes, it is true, that defining a standard has its difficulties. That doesn’t mean it is impossible, or even hard to define. In the classes I have taught I ask students to define off the top of their heads the difference between a lake and a river. You might be surprised at how difficult that is. Is a lake “fatter” than a river? Is it deeper? Is its water standing still? No, no and no. At what point does a river become a lake? One definition will surely differ from another. Nevertheless, we all know the difference, and some lakes we immediately recognizewhen we see them.By the same token, an authoritative Standard Bible is not easy to define, but is immediately recognizable. If it is not recognizable, it simple doesn’t qualify (assuming the attempting recognizer accepts the concept of a standard in the first place). The difficulties presented in the other thread concerning different languages are well made, and well taken, but even in these cases it isn’t impossible to come to a firm conclusion. However, understand a field is not achieved by studying its most confusing concepts, but rather by mastering its simple ones. You don’t explain to a small child what a lake is by pointing out the technical difficulties in defining it.
Presenting the marginal difficulties in first generation translations into non-commercial languages is misleading, much like the pro-abortion tactic of focusing on cases of rape, incest and conflicting health of mother and child, in order to justify abortion ON DEMAND. Yes, there are difficult situations, but not irresolvable ones. First, however, we have to address the high-order problems, and work our way to the peripheral ones.
• Any claim that the principle of consensus or that the word “consensus” is not found in the Scriptures is vacuous. Even principles that are not expressly stated in the Scriptures are not necessarily unscriptural. With the risk of derailing this thread, I’ll mention that the word “Trinity” is not found in the Scriptures, yet the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught in the Scriptures even if the particulars of that doctrine can be murky, unclear or technically difficult to explain.
The Scriptures most certainly command all Christians to “dwell together in unity” Ps 133:1, “come to the unity of faith” Eph 4:13, “to be likeminded” Php 2:2, “to be of one mind” Rom 15:6, and “Can two walk together except they be agreed” Am 3:3 all of which imply consensus. Note the definitions:
o Agreed – come to one and the same opinion, united
o Likeminded – having a similar or identical opinion
o One mind – to agree in judgment, purpose, or opinion; to be unanimous.
o Unity – oneness, negates individuality(!), singleness of aim, purpose, or action, absence of diversity or variety;
• God’s intent was for all men, especially the household of God, to be in unity, like-minded, of one mind and agreed upon the identity of the Scriptures. His intent was not for men to be in a chaos of doubt, disagreement or uncertainty concerning the identity of the Scriptures. If we as a people of God cannot be agreed (consensus), like-minded (consensus), of one mind (consensus) and in unity (consensus) as to which writings are the Scriptures (which books, which chapters, which verses, which words) then we will never come to agreement in meaning of the Scriptures which is our desired goal and will of God.
There was a time when a consensus of English speaking believers accepted the Scriptures at face value as both true and authoritative in all its parts, during that time there was a consensus about the character of God (good), the identity of the Scriptures (good) and believers were working towards a consensus of meaning of the Scriptures (good); the modern erosion of this accepted authority (since the mid 1850’s) has resulted in a reversal of this order. There is now disagreement of meaning (bad), disagreement of the identity of the Scriptures (bad) moving towards a disagreement over the character of God (really bad). That is to say that among believers there was certainty about the character of God, the identity of the Scriptures and a steady working towards certainty of the meaning of the Scriptures, but now things have changed.
Faith and confidence in the Authorized Version of the Holy Scriptures has been labeled as both fideistic and superstitious by skeptics of all feathers. This modern erosion of faith (that erosion of faith that didn’t exist previously among a consensus of believers) came about with the advent of four things,
3. Individualism (to each his own)
4. The Neutral theory of Textual Criticism
Darwinism casts doubt on the creative acts of God and makes it a “natural process” instead of a supernatural act of God. Darwinism calls into question the Scriptures, especially in the Book of Genesis, creation and other Divine acts of God.
Rationalism is the doctrine that human reason alone, unaided by divine revelation, is the source of knowledge and is an adequate or the sole guide to all attainable religious truth. Rationalism rejects the idea that Scriptures are the sole guide for “religious truth”.
Individualism (to each his own) is the doctrine that teaches that all actions are determined by, or at least take place for, the benefit of the individual, not of society as a whole (e.g. the Church of God). It is the pursuit of individual rather than common or collective interests. It is in sum – egoism. This eroded the faith in the common Scriptures by allowing each individual to have “their own preferred Bible” instead of submitting to that which the Church as a whole (consensus) has recognized as Scripture.
The Neutral Theory of Textual Criticism is a new doctrine that teaches (in brief) that “the oldest is best” (basically Vaticanus and Sinaiticus) and therefore “the common text is corrupted” (Received Text – receive by all – consensus). That is the transmission of the text of the Scriptures can be traced just as any natural book with no thought of what God actually used in His Church through the ages. Specifically, the Text used by the Reformers was in error! This Neutral Theory did indeed erode the faith in the common Scriptures (in every language including Greek) so much so that those who have absolutely no experience in Textual Criticism have become experts who call the common Scriptures in error – and that with egotistical certainty.
Believing the Bible means that you believe ALL that it says – every word. There was a time when people took their Bible to be true in all its parts. But today, all Bibles are questioned in words, phrases and verses and especially the AV.