Demythologizing Skeptics, Scholars, & Absolute Eschatological Systems

Papyri 115 one the most ancient examples of John's Apocalypse

Papyri 115 one the most ancient examples of John’s Apocalypse

“It seems like through out time, almost everyone has thought the end was near, what makes you think now is the time?” a famous radio host asked me.

First, I believe God has wanted every Christian in every era to believe it’s possible. In juxtaposition, I believe the devil has had a “man of lawlessness” ready in the wings, in every generation. It’s not a doctrine but I’m rather prone to it.  That said, there are unique things that characterize our current time that no other era could claim.

I was bit bewildered by the question because I had just explained that at no time in history-ever-could one man control the commerce of everyone, everywhere… But doesn’t the Bible imply as much?

“…and that no one was able to buy or to sell except the one who had the mark—the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom: the one who has understanding, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number, and his number is six hundred sixty-six.(Revelation 13:17-18,LEB)

Seriously, do preterists expect me to buy this applies to Nero? He had no hope of such control — sure he probably tried and it’s likely the convinced preterist has an example of a tax to present — but the text seems global -every nation and tongue- and it doesn’t seem to mention he is a miserable failure. I think it is forecasting this period we are now in… Moore’s law, the technological singularity, Noogenesis, Nirvana, Oneism, Coexist, perhaps even Together 2016? But such a control grid is about to be possible and my money is on OneWeb. I think they are a wise investment choice. I believe in them from a computer science technical perspective.

I’m not demonizing them, they want everyone to access ONE webeducation, OneWeb is amoral – it is a category error to demonize technology. People can study wicca or they can attend online seminary if they like. They have new options, including the Gospel. So does the international banking community. I’m saying it makes an idea that seemed absurd when John wrote it down around AD 90, quite plausible in a few short years. Yes, I argue it is a “technology statement” as Chuck Missler points out.

If you want to dig deeper in the biblical text, learn ancient languages. You need a minimum of a year in Hebrew and Greek to even understand the issues and questions being posed in academic journals of biblical studies. There’s a wealth of bible commentary and, my favorite, bible backgrounds  commentary, i.e. advanced historical research available to the average student. At no other time in history, could you have a seminary library at your fingertips like today.  I use Logos but there FREE versions  and online 1; online 2; online 3; too. Technology can be wonderful and God honoring!

…and it is also terrifying.

This imagery from Hiroshima framed my childhood and, thus,the apocalyptic is no mere pipe dream. Now when we get to biblical prophecies and the end times, it can get tense between saved believers. Great scholars disagree. RC Sproul is a preterist. I purchased his philosophy course. I purchased his church history course. I quote him often. I respect him deeply. He has good reasons for what he thinks. I don’t agree with him. I quote Dr. Peter Jones—a Presbyterian no less–and promote his ministry TruthXchange. Chris Rosebrough —- a dreaded Lutheran — helped me prepare to debate Russ Hocus Pocus on the Trinity. How can I partner with people who differ with my eschatology? Its not as important as false teachers, sin, relativism, same sex marriage and abortion but mainly ONE thing: we all believe the Bible, we just disagree on the exegesis. But those guys have at least done the work in Greek and Hebrew,, Even so, (I’m in trouble now) their view of the Bible is not really the final test. There are hills to stand and die on. One is the Gospel. I work wit hose fellows because they are experts, but mainly because of ONE reason:

We are still in lock step on the Gospel —all are sinful and justified by faith through grace alone – the gift of God, so no man should boast. — non negotiable.

No one has the absolute answer to the end times, I have never claimed so much.  If you want to understand the real issues — I recommend this:

It’s quite different when a naturalistic scholar demands Daniel was written “after the fact” – because the book internally claims to be by one Daniel. If they are correct, it is a farce. If they are incorrect, may God convict them, Dr Bruce Waltke has tried.

I am a premillennial dispensationalist because I feel like its basic premise is the closest to God’s intent, but I’m not married to it, nor inclined toward rapture date setting theories and debates. If you’re correct, we’ll talk in the sky, OK? I learn from people with various ideas about eschatology, especially those I disagree with.

Don’t tell me you are SURE about the end times scenario. No one is but God. I write in a genre I call speculative eschatology. I am NOT a prophet.

I believe the meaning of scripture is determined by the intent of the original author, the one God inspired, to his original readers (i.e. what was Paul telling the Thessalonians, not me in the 20th century). That said, Paul’s intent for them certainly informs how I view current events.

Even so, God used that author’s context (in this case Paul), worldview, language, and even more importantly vocabulary.  If you do not understand his perspective —a supernatural worldview informed by a divine council Deuteronomy 32:8 worldview— you often miss the point. I mean entirely. Understanding the vocabulary, means the first century meaning, the one the inspired author had in mind, because the Holy Spirit inspired the author and his words. Usually, scribes add to the text to “help” readers over time.

That’s how textual critics find the apostle’s words, they shave it down by comparing ancient papyri and determining the most likely original wording. It is established by facts that scribes tend to add, attempting to clarify—asserting their own meaning—and, as a result, the manuscripts tend to get wordier over time. With the best of intentions, monks changed the Bible.  Then, after the reformation began, it became the KJV when a Catholic Scribe Erasmus created a Greek New testament based on a handful of Greek manuscripts from the 8-9th century of the Eastern Byzantine tradition. It became Texts Receipts after the 1611 KJV Anglicans used it as their primary text along with the Latin Vulgate and Tyndale Bibles. It was great fro its time but pre- archeology.

Since then we have found 20,000 or so Greek papyri centuries older…. Archeology is now a discipline with peer review.

It means modern Bibles are very accurate and we have a great deal of certainty about the Gospel and many essential doctrines. The evidence Jesus rose from the dead is now MORE compelling—and that lends credence to the rest of biblical theology-—we stand at the first time in history when the supernatural events of Revelation have a high probability of coming to pass, WHY?

The “Chardinian Noosphere” or “AI Singularity” is about to make it possible for one man to control all who may buy and sell, I mean everyone.. even in rural India or subsaharan Africa. How can I say that — get ready (link to company website):


Reply to Chris Pinto on Tares Amongst the Wheat

By Cris Putnam
TaresIn reply to Chris Pinto:

I would like to thank Chris Pinto for his civility in engaging my questions and concerns. My difficulty with the alleged conspiracy is the lack of a discernible pay off for the conspirator. Pinto clarified that the purpose of the conspiracy was simply to undermine Sola Scriptura, the reformation doctrine that “scripture alone” as the standard for Christian faith and practice by way of calling biblical inerrancy into question and, as a result, to promote the ecumenical movement toward a one world religion. First he clarified that the film is centered on German scholar, Constantine von Tischendorf and his discovery of Codex Sinaiticus and then he connects this to Rome’s agenda to undermine inerrancy. Pinto writes:

Second, the purpose of Rome (as we understand it) was not to promote Catholic theology, but rather to destabilize the foundation of the Biblical record by shattering the concept of Biblical inerrancy.  Her reason for doing this was to open the door to ecumenical compromise and the promotion of a one world religious movement.  This is why the film ends showing the Parliament of World Religions in 1893.  This was the beginning of the modern day ecumenical movement, the promotion of the idea that there are many paths to finding God, and that Christianity should be seen as just one religion among many.

I do not understand how a manuscript copy can possibly shatter the concept of biblical inerrancy. Accordingly, I am concerned that Pinto’s definition of inerrancy is too fragile. Protestant theologians widely agree that inerrancy applies exclusively to the original autographs by the first century writers like Paul and John. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was formulated in October 1978 by more than two hundred evangelical leaders at a conference sponsored by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI), held in Chicago. Article X states:

     We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.
We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.[1]

Thus, a later copy like Codex Sinaiticus could not really affect the doctrine of inerrancy as it reflects mistakes by later copyists rather than the original inspired authors. In the nineteenth century when Tares claims this conspiracy was being perpetrated there is evidence to the contrary.

In his encyclical Providentissimus Deus (On the Study of Holy Scripture), Pope Leo XIII emphasized that the Bible in all its parts was inspired:

Because the Holy Ghost employed men as His instruments, we cannot therefore say that it was these inspired instruments who, perchance, have fallen into error, and not the primary author. For, by supernatural power, He so moved and impelled them to write-He was so present to them-that the things which He ordered, and those only, they, first, rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth. [2]

Why would the Pope write this if there was a long term plan to undermine the Bible?  This encyclical, dated November 18, 1893, was written to specifically refute what Pinto claims Rome was promoting.  Seeing the threat of Darwinism, Pope Leo XIII wrote that true science cannot contradict scripture when it is properly explained and that what seems to be proved by science can turn out to be wrong. The idea that Rome had an organized agenda to discredit the Bible and promote Darwinism at this point in history is not supported by the evidence albeit that developed later in twentieth century as documented in Exo-Vaticana.  Of course Rome has now fully embraced the Darwinian ideas that Leo XIII was standing against, an inconsistency that counts against the notion of an infallible papacy and teaching magisterium.

On the Text-type Argument

It seems inconsistent for him to quote scholars like Bruce Metzger to dispute the text type argument because textual scholars agree that Codex Sinaiticus is authentic. The only experts in Tares are KJVonlyists. So if he is willing to use the authority of Metzger to dispute the existence of text types, why not accept it for Sinaiticus? Metzger wrote that Sinaitics is an ancient, handwritten unical copy of the Greek Bible.[2a] Furthermore, Metzger expressed technical arguments over text types, which he thought to be an oversimplification, it doesn’t dismiss my previous point. Sinaiticus matches so many known ancient sources it renders the forgery claim implausible. Even so, it is widely accepted in general terms that there are three basic manuscript families. I am concerned that neither of us is qualified to accurately discuss the issues involved in textual criticism. Here is in excerpt from Dr. David Allen Black and Thomas D. Lea’s seminary level textbook The New Testament: it’s background and Message:

The Practice of Textual Criticism

Textual scholars have developed rules for carrying out their studies to arrive at the best reading. Of course, these principles cannot be applied unthinkingly, nor do all apply in each instance of textual variation. These principles are based either upon the external evidence or the internal evidence.

External evidence seeks to determine which reading is supported by the most reliable witnesses (i.e., the Greek manuscripts, versions, and Church Fathers). These witnesses have been divided into three basic families or “texttypes”: the Alexandrian, the Western, and the Byzantine. Most modern scholars believe the Alexandrian text most closely approximates the original text of the New Testament. Other scholars prefer the Byzantine text.

The basic principles of external evidence include the following: (1) prefer the reading attested by the oldest manuscripts; (2) prefer the reading that is the most widespread geographically; and (3) prefer the reading supported by the most number of texttypes.

The basic principle of internal evidence is that the reading from which the other readings could most easily have arisen is probably original. This principle has several corollaries: (1) prefer the shorter reading; (2) prefer the more difficult reading; (3) prefer the reading that best fits the author’s style and diction; and (4) prefer the reading that best fits the context.

As we have said, the application of these principles is not a merely mechanical process. Skill and judgment are demanded in assessing the evidence and in determining the most probable reading.

We can be grateful that the materials for the practice of New Testament textual criticism are quite numerous. By contrast, the materials for determining the text of the writings of Plato or the Roman poet Virgil are few in number and are separated from the originals by as much as fourteen hundred years. New Testament textual criticism has assisted us by providing access to substantially the same text which the first-century writers produced.[3]

The goal of text criticism is to get back to the original autographs and because archeologists have discovered thousands more ancient sources since the reformation period, today’s scholars are in a much better position to make these determinations than a Roman Catholic monk like Erasmus working with only six late copies and the Latin Vulgate. I want to put the best defense forward in arguing for the veracity of scripture and modern conservative scholarship is our strongest ally. Pinto’s movie calls it all into question.

Playing Into the Hands of Bible Skeptics

As someone with training in apologetics, I have familiarized myself with the basics in order to address the claims popularized by Dr. Bart Ehrman, author of books like: Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them); Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why; Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. As one can readily see from the titles, Ehrman has made a career out of attacking the veracity of scripture.  Scholars like David Allen Black and Daniel Wallace are evangelical champions of Biblical inerrancy and are uniquely qualified to address the likes of Ehrman.  I highly recommend the following video:

Unfortunately, it seems that often skeptics have a better grasp on text-critical issues than the average believer. Often Ehrman’s arguments are used to destroy the uninformed believer’s faith.  I am concerned that Pinto’s film Tares Amongst the Wheat plays right into the hands of these skeptics by promoting widely discredited scholarship from Textus Receptus advocates. Without going into specifics here, a modicum of open-minded research should dispel the notion that Textus Receptus is superior.[4] Textus Receptus was compiled by Erasmus, a Roman Catholic scholar, using only six very late manuscripts and even back translation from the Latin Vulgate when he was missing a Greek source.[5] Doesn’t it seem inconsistent that Protestant scholars like Daniel Wallace and James White are disputed in order to exalt the work of the Catholic monk Erasmus?

Putnam asked: Where’s the payoff for Rome?

The answer to his question is the ecumenical movement.  The answer could be seen in the ecumenical activities of Billy Graham in the 20th century, joining with Catholic priests and nuns in his crusades, or in the 1994 document Evangelicals and Catholics Together.  With this, it could also be seen in Assisi, Italy in 1986 when Pope John Paul II met with religious leaders from all over the world, with Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, American Indian Shamans, etc.  As he joined hands with them in prayer he told them, “We are all praying to the same God.”  An inerrant Bible that is taken too literally would be destructive of unity between the various “Christian” groups, and the differing religions of the world.  Destroying the concept of Biblical inerrancy opens the door to compromise and apostasy through ecumenism

Pinto argues that modern biblical scholarship undermined inerrancy and this led to the ecumenical movement. However, he failed to show any evidence for this connection. It seems to me that the rise of Darwinian evolution did the damage rather than biblical scholarship. It also seems like the Roman Catholic Church is in decline. If they are really going to lead a global religion then a non-linear event of transcendent proportion will need to occur (this is the reasoning behind Exo-Vaticana). Although I do not agree with Evangelicals and Catholics Together (along with John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul who I quoted in Petrus Romanus ), correlation does not equate to causation. Even so, most of those who did sign it like Billy Graham and Charles Colson also affirm biblical inerrancy. So the argument is a non sequitur—it just doesn’t follow. My original criticism stands, Tares Amongst the Wheat is a conspiracy theory without an actual conspiracy and, unfortunately, I am more concerned that it undermines conservative evangelical biblical scholarship which is our best line of defense in an increasingly anti-Christian culture.


[1] The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy: (accessed September 18, 2013).

[2]  Pope Leo XIII “On the Study of Holy Scripture”, (accessed September 18, 2013).

[2a]  Bruce Metzger & Bart D. Ehrman  The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, (New York – Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005)  62.

[3]Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black, The New Testament: Its Background and Message, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 77–78.

[4] Douglas S. Chinn and  Robert C. Newman, “Demystifying the Controversy Over the Textus Receptus and The King James Version of the Bible”, (accessed September 18, 2013).

[5] Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, pp. 99–100; Kurt Aland – Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament. An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism,Translated by Erroll F. Rhodes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989, 4.

Tares Amongst the Wheat A Conspiracy Without a Goal

by Cris Putnam
TaresThis is my review of Chris Pinto’s film, Tares Amongst the Wheat. Personally, I like Chris Pinto having met him and spent some time talking in the hospitality suite at the first Future Congress. I’ve also enjoyed his past films and even quoted him in my own published work. I also share his zeal in opposing Rome. In Petrus Romanus I discussed a lot of same issues regarding papal authority and the undermining of scripture that are presented in Tares. I wrote an entire chapter centered on “The Donation of Constantine” a Vatican forgery used to undergird papal authority for hundreds of years.

Thus, I am well aware that Rome has a record of altering history and forging documents. I am not predisposed to doubt Pinto’s thesis but I do.

The film is centered on the idea that Codex Sinaticus or “Sinai Bible” was actually created as part of a Vatican conspiracy to undermine biblical inerrancy. I agree with Pinto and others that the Vatican has a vested interest in undermining Sola Scriptura and have argued vigorously that the Bible contradicts Rome’s theological traditions. So the idea is that Rome conspired to forge a Bible that differs significantly from the reformation efforts is plausible. However, Pinto’s conspiracy has huge gaping hole that seems fatal.

After watching the film and hearing Greek New Testament scholar Dan Wallace’s response, I am unconvinced that Codex Sinaticus is a forgery because the conspiracy is fundamentally incoherent. There’s no discernible pay off for the conspirators. The movie did not present any evidence that modern Bibles help Catholic theology in any meaningful way or undermine inerrancy. In fact, I think the opposite is true.  The problem for the Tares Amongst the Wheat thesis is that Codex Sinaticus is just as caustic to Rome’s traditions as the King James Version.  You would think that if Rome were going to concoct a forgery they might include something about Mary or purgatory but this is not the case. Where’s the payoff for Rome?

Why does Dr. James White, who argues vigorously against Catholic apologists in defense of reformation theology, find the conspiracy to be ridiculous?  He comments here.  It is because he is aware of the textual critical issues that Pinto is not… the conspiracy is not even possible once you realize what it would necessarily entail. If one bothers to look into textual criticism, you will quickly see that Sinaticus undergirds an entire text type.

Sinaticus is in general agreement with Codex Vaticanus and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, following the Alexandrian text-type. The Alexandrian text-type is the form of the Greek New Testament that is seen in the earliest surviving documents, as well as the text-type used in Egyptian Coptic manuscripts. It seems to reflect the oldest tradition and hence the original documents. In later manuscripts (from the 9th century on), the Byzantine text-type became far more common and remains as the standard text in the Greek Orthodox church and also underlies most Protestant translations of the Reformation era. There are more of them but most scholars put quality over quantity. The KJV and its reverse engineered Greek parallel Textus Receptus are of the Byzantine type. But even so, not a very ancient strain.

The problem with Textus Receptus is it is based on Erasmus’ edition which is based on only six very late Greek manuscripts (10th century) and the Latin Vulgate. Erasmus was a Roman Catholic humanist, so its rather odd that he gets a pass from Pinto. Even worse, the last few verses of Revelation are actually transcribed directly from the Latin Vulgate back into Greek because Erasmus did not have the Greek for the last section. In fact, in over twenty passages, Erasmus’ Greek text are not supported by any known Greek manuscript.[1] This disturbing fact makes TR much more of Roman Catholic origin than Pinto seems to realize.

The problem is that the Alexandrian text type has a huge number of papyri fragments that support it.  This is taken from Wikipedia and is based on David Allen Black’s New Testament Textual Criticism:

Uncials: Codex Coislinianus, Porphyrianus (except Acts, Rev), Dublinensis, Sangallensis (only in Mark), Zacynthius, Athous Lavrensis (in Mark and Cath. epistles), Vaticanus 2061, 059, 068, 071, 073, 076, 077, 081, 083, 085, 087, 088, 089, 091, 093 (except Acts), 094, 096, 098, 0101, 0102, 0108, 0111, 0114, 0129, 0142, 0155, 0156, 0162, 0167, 0172, 0173, 0175, 0181, 0183, 0184, 0185, 0189, 0201, 0204, 0205, 0207, 0223, 0225, 0232, 0234, 0240, 0243, 0244, 0245, 0247, 0254, 0270, 0271, 0274.

Minuscules: 20, 94, 104 (Epistles), 157, 164, 215, 241, 254, 322, 323, 326, 376, 383, 442, 579 (except Matthew), 614, 718, 850, 1006, 1175, 1241 (except Acts), 1243, 1292 (Cath.), 1342 (Mark), 1506 (Paul), 1611, 1739, 1841, 1852, 1908, 2040, 2053, 2062, 2298, 2344 (CE, Rev), 2351, 2427, 2464.  [2]

That’s not all of them either. So for Pinto’s conspiracy to work not only is Codex Sinaiticus a forgery, it means that all of these papyri which share the same text type were similarly forged and planted in archeological sites around Egypt and middle east. It starts to get prohibitively absurd when you consider the amount of effort and the number of conspirators that would be required. Even for the Jesuits…

However even if we allow for the sake of argument that all of this is a huge Vatican conspiracy, it just doesn’t compel because you can debunk Peter as pope, the mass as a sacrifice, indulgences, and prayers to Mary and the Saints with an NIV.  As far as undermining inerrancy, I find the long ending of Mark from Textus Receptus to be much more problematic.  “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mk 16:18. KJV)  In contrast, the oldest manuscripts of the Alexandrian text type do not have this passage and modern scholars believe it to be a late edition. Unless you are willing to drink a glass of poison to prove your point, it seems to me that the modern scholars have done inerrancy a huge favor.

[1] Doug Kutilek, “Erasmus, His Greek Text And His Theology,” accessed September 10, 2013


[2] David Alan Black, New Testament Textual Criticism, Baker Books, 2006, p. 64.

First Century Gospel of Mark Discovered!

Why is this so important? It has great potential to promote the Gospel! Why? Because skeptics claim that the accounts of Jesus of Nazareth are the product of legendary development. In other words they allow that He was a wise man and a good teacher but argue that the early evangelists exaggerated his life and ministry manufacturing miracles and prophetic predictions from whole cloth. The Gospel of Mark claims that Jesus was able to raise the dead (Mk 5:41) and that he predicted future events:

And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”(Mk 13:2)

While we must rely on the word of the witnesses for the raising of Jarius’ daughter, there is plenty of external evidence confirming that Jesus’ prophecy about the destruction of the temple came to pass. What we lack is proof that it was written down prior to AD 70 when it came to pass. Thus, if a manuscript of Mark is convincingly dated prior to AD 70 then we have a major authentication of Jesus’ supernatural ability. Accordingly, I expect a lot of push back on the dating of the manuscript. I pray the Lord will mercifully bless the skeptical world with more evidence as the time of His return draws near.

Dr. Wallace: Earliest Manuscript of the New Testament Discovered?