While this post sits without apology within the realm of the version debate, it is not intended to take a side, nor to ignite that debate here. This post is to discuss a logical position as well as common fallacies within this sphere.
First, it should be noted that there are many logical fallacies committed on both sides. Often, these happen innocently, and sometimes they are purposeful. Especially obvious are fallacies such as “Poisoning the Well,” “Questionable Cause,” “Red Herring,” and “Straw Man.” I’m sure there are others. Fallacies are committed when the true argument of the other side is ignored.
It is my belief that the attack on Westcott and Hort (though often fallacious) is not of necessity so. The real attack against W&H is to attack the discarding of the centuries old tradition of the church. The attack is based on the beliefs of W&H (they did not believe in original inspiration). In fact, this belief is so basic that it might be said to be the beginning premise when it comes to the doctrine of Scripture — it is inspired and perfect, or it is not. It is then argued that the church today should not accept their work which derives from their premise. Though often times I have heard them attacked in ways that are fallacious, this argument is not so.
Every logical argument begins with a premise. Let’s look at an analogy that I invented. Suppose that the premise of the firefighters in your area is that their first priority is to save the people in the burning building. They do this best using a system of ladders, hoses, etc. They debate over the size of the trucks, length of the hoses, material of the ladders, etc. The firefighters from the next town over come to your town with a new system: jet packs, and trampolines. They argue that this is in fact a better system. They leave some equipment with a manual. The manual begins “This equipment is to help firefighters. We do not believe that the saving of the people in the burning building is of the highest importance. Indeed, it might not be very important at all.”
It is reasonable to question the equipment and method being proposed now because these men do not believe that saving the life is most important. Without this belief, we would wonder what drove them to produce such an odd system for saving people. Was it money? Was it fame? Was it boredom? What was it? Questioning their belief is not a fallacy because their whole argument on using their system over another has no basis in what qualifies as “best” since they begin with a different value system. “Best” has become relative because they do not prioritize saving life. If they prioritized having fun while on the job, then I’m certain their way is “best.”
This is what W&H are rightly (within the realm of logic) criticized for. W&H state in the beginning of their greek text “Little is gained by speculating as to the precise point at which such corruptions came in. They may have been due to the original writer, or to his amanuensis if he wrote from dictation, or they may be due to one of the earliest transcribers.” As this has been quoted before without being understood, let me clarify as much as possible that if corruptions occur with the original writer, then there is no doctrine of inspiration. If Paul wrote Romans with corruptions, then Romans has never been perfect. This is the whole doctrine of inspiration, and W&H denied this.
To attack their beliefs on anything else is fallacious. In the same way, to attack Erasmus for his beliefs, or the translators of the KJB for other beliefs not in any way applicable to the argument at hand is a pointless character attack. Stating that the translators were of the Anglican church says nothing of their skill or mindset at the work of translating. In fact, that is stated elsewhere.
Good debate can and should be had on this topic. The point dealing with H&W’s belief in inspiration is logical and should not be taken as a leap to which everyone will delve from the argument to attack non-vital (to the argument) beliefs for a few minutes after which it will all be ignored and then the original argument will be resumed.
Note, I have not here stated that the point is in fact correct, but that it is logically valid. That is my point. It is not a fallacy to argue that. Whether the argument wins or not is not discussed here.