The Arrogant Assumptions Of The "Autograph Only"

"How To Reason Yourself Into Unbelief"

By Timothy S. Morton

"Autograph Only"?

Those who follow what we call the "Autograph Only" position concerning the inspiration, preservation, and purity of the Scriptures (those who believe  ONLY the "original autographs of the Bible are inerrant, infallible, and "inspired") would have all Christians believe their "logical conclusions" on the matter are the only conclusions possible. Many of them promote their position in such a "matter of fact" manner and with such a superior attitude that it leaves those who differ with them feeling as if they are thought of as ignorant, "unthinking" or just plain stupid. They often use phrases as, "It is logically and scriptually impossible...," "It is only logical to believe...," "The logical and historical position is...," etc., etc., apparently trying to "brow-beat" the "less knowledgeable" or "less educated" into submission. They claim to know the truth but by their own admission they don't HAVE the truth. In this Taboo Topic we will address the three major assumptions this crowd tries to pass as FACT.

As we go along it will become clear to the reader that the "Autograph Only" camp value their own logic and reasoning (their minds) more than any Bible in any language. Their idolized final authority does not exist (the original autographs) so they without hesitation become their own final authority in its place. Whatever their "logic" dictates out of their puny minds (my mind is puny too, so don't get "bent out of shape") is what they believe. Their own humanistic thoughts guide their ways instead of what God has revealed about His thoughts and ways (Isa. 55). What they can't seem to understand is their beloved logic has caused them to "reason" themselves into unbelief! They have no Bible and worse than that don't believe there can ever be a pure Bible upon the face of the earth!

Below we will examine the fallacy of the position and the fruits of the infidelity of the "Autograph Only." Contrary to what they would have one think with their "scholarly," humanistic "logic," endless rhetorical questions, andpius condescending attitude their position is pitiful, pathetic, and very destructive.

Assumption #1

As much as the "Autograph Only" claim their position is based on facts, logic, and Scripture, the three main tenets of their entire belief system-the basis of every argument they present-is based on nothing but unscriptural, humanistic assumptions andconjecture.Your author has challenged them to PROVE their claims from Scripture, and they usually ignore him as if he didn't ask. And when they do answer it is often with a line of rhetoric void of any Scripture that is designed to avoid the question.

The first and foremost assumption of the "Autograph Only" (and from where they get their "name"), and the first and main tenet of their entire belief system is,

"Only the original autographs can be inerrent, infallible, and thus pure Scripture." or "We believe in the inspiration of the original autographs (only)."

It's as simple as that.  How many of you have read in commentaries, heard in sermons, or seen in doctrinal statements words like, "We believe the Bible to be the perfect word of God and inspired in the original autographs...," "Many copies and translations are "reliable," but inspiration is limited to the autographs...," "God's word is only inerrant and infallible in the original autographs"... (Why do they nearly always say "original autographs" instead of just "autographs"? Why some may "logically conclude" there may be autographs that are NOT "original"?). If I had a quarter for every time I have heard or read statements like that I would buy a 21 inch monitor!

John R. Rice in his book "Our God Breathed Book The Bible" sums the Autograph Only's position up for us in no uncertain terms,

"Inspiration is claimed for original autographs, NOT for translation or copying. When we say that the Bible is inspired, we do not refer to the translations or copies but to the original autographs, written down under God's direction.... But WE DO NOT claim for ANY copy or ANY translation the absolute, divine PERFECTION that was in the original autographs. Inspiration refers to the original autographs."

There it is like a dead skunk in the road,ONLY the "original autographs" CAN BE the perfect word of God.

Statements like the above, it seems, are mindlessly repeated among Fundamentalists with some of them apparently not really knowing what they are saying. Do they realize with these words they are robbing the world of God's pure word and stealing it out of the hearts and minds of those who trust and believe them? Do they understand by insisting all Bibles in all languages have errors and are not pure or perfect they are weakening the faith of many? Some may but many do not. They just go with the flow and are intimidated by the scholarly rhetoric of the "elite." They definitely don't want to be branded as "unscholarly," "unthinking," or "ignorant."

We will admit the Autograph Only theory may sound logical and plausible to the natural man and to Christians who neglect their Bible, but place it before an open Bible and it disintegrates. If you want to get on an "Autograph-Only's" bad side and maybe be branded a "troublemaker," "heretic," or even "antichrist" (I have been called all three) ask him to prove their main tenet (only the autographs are inspired) from Scripture. If they feel "generous" and take the time to "answer" you they will nearly always flip through their Bible as say something like, "God revealed His Word to the apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit. God's Word is clear that there can be no inspired works without living apostles or prophets. No believer since the death of John (A. D. 100 or earlier) has had the office of apostle or prophet. Apostles had to have seen Christ and be eyewitnesses of what they testified. No more revelation and inspired Scripture have been given since the death of the Apostle John..." etc. etc. They say all this as if they are telling one something new, but in all the clamor they conveniently avoided the question for they know they cannot prove it.

The Autograph-Only are masters at avoiding questions. They are in the same category as politicians in my book. Ask one a simple question and all you get are "good words and fair speeches" designed to sidetrack if not deceive. If you persist in asking one to PROVE his autograph only claim from Scripture, he will usually, with cleverness and sophistry, steer you away from the Bible towards his old friend "logic," For maximum effect he may even quote a Scripture or two along the way. But be careful, pilgrim, human logic is not Scripture, and secular reasoning is not Bible.

After you challenge one of the Autograph-Only to prove his arrogant claim, and after enduring his monotonous rhetoric you still insist he has he failed, you can confound him more by quickly showing him from the Bible how EVERY reference to "Scripture" in the Bible is to a COPY and not an autograph. He will usually treat this fact as of little consequence to steer you off track, but stick to the facts and insist this is strong Biblical evidence AGAINST his position. Actually, this fact alone undermines their entire theory and shows them as the ones who are "unthinking" or "ignorant."

The simple fact is there is no place in the Bible that even SUGGESTS what the Autograph Only contend about the autographs; no Scripture even hints there claim that only the autographs can be true and pure Scripture. Usually when one of them is asked to produce a verse on "inspiration" they quote 2 Timothy 3:16 ("All scripture is given by inspiration of God...") and go into a lecture about how this verse deals with "original autographs," but this passage says NOTHING about the "original autographs," it refers to "SCRIPTURE." The "Autograph Only" have not only have a word comprehension problem, they have a theological problem, the Bible simply does not support them.

How could they miss 2 Timothy 3:15 while quoting verse 16 unless they did it on purpose. Either they are intentionally deceptive, "blind," illiterate, or just plain stupid. Verse 15 says about Timothy "from a child hast known the holy scriptures..." and verse 16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God. "How could they miss the connection unless they are biased toward a "private interpretation"? A text without a context is a pretext! I know of no one who believes Timothy (or Paul, the Bereans, or even Christ) had the autographs, yet Paul calls the copies he did have "scripture." Clearly Paul would not be found among the "Autograph Only." Their method of pulling this passage out of context and making it say something it doesn't rivals that of any cult.

Think for a minute dear reader, where in the Bible do you find a prophet, apostle, priest or even a Pharisee talking like these people talk? Where does anyone in the Bible including the cursed "Scribes and Pharisees" insist there is no pure Scripture available because they don't have the autographs? Where does anyone, "saint or sinner," use human logic and secular reasoning attempting to reason away the confidence the people have in the Scriptures (copies) they had? Christ read from copies and so did the rest of the Jews and neither He nor they resorted to destructive, humanistic "logic" when dealing with the Scriptures. They all treated the copies they had as inerrant Scripture, not as inferior copies. With their doctrine of assumptions and presumptions the "Autograph Only" spread a poison that even the the most diabolical in the Bible are afraid to attempt.

Assumption #2

The second great doctrinal assumption of the "Autograph Only" (as well as the third) is mainly a rhetorical statement used in a lame attempt to "prove" their first assumption. With this second statement they admit in theory the "possibility" of an "inspired" Bible other than the autographs but place such limitations on it that it is a practical impossibility. They likely developed this statement as a result of being questioned about their first. Their first statement leaves man without an inerrant Bible without any chance of obtaining it, so to appear "Fundamental" and "save face," their second statement more or less gives one of their "logical" reasons why.

The second assumption the "Autograph Only" contend to be fact is,

"Any copy of Scripture must be verbally and plenarily IDENTICAL to the original autograph to be inerrant, infallible Scripture."

"Verbal" means word for word" and "plenary" means "completely and totally, "thus, according to this statement, if a copy is not an identical, verbatim copy of the autograph in language, letters, and possibly even layout, it is not "inspired" and not true and pure Scripture. Like with their first assumption above, however, when asked to PROVE this statement from Scripture they appeal to their ally human logic to defend them instead. They know the Scriptures do not place such a limitation upon themselves and resort to their own minds to save them.

If this "verbal," "plenary" assumption were true then not only would no one have a pure Bible since the autographs are gone, but no one could trust any copy of Scripture because they cannot prove it is an exact duplicate of the autograph. If we take this one step farther, even if a copy was verbatim to the autographs, no one could have access to a pure Bible unless they were fluent in ancient Hebrew and Kione Greek! (It always amused your author how someone who has two or three years of "Greek" in "Bible School" speaks like he is an expert on the subject from the pulpit or from his books. Many will readily criticize the King James Bible while spouting a few high-sounding Greek words to impress their audience when in reality they know practically nothing about what they are saying and are only quoting someone else. There are very few in the world who truly know these now dead languages. The rest speak with feigned authority and would be practically useless if ALL they had were the "original autographs." It is ironic that most who promote the "Autograph Only" positioncouldn't read one sentence of their idolized autographs!)

Translations, of course, are out of the question in the verbal, plenary world of the "Autograph Only" since it is "impossible" for any translation to be "verbally" and "plenarily" identical to the autographs. See how these blind guides have reasoned themselves into unbelief? They have used their brand of "logic" and "reason" to convince themselves and others it is impossible for anyone in any language to have an inerrant Bible. To them the "logic" is sound and their "reasoning" flawless, but it leaves man in a pitiful condition if it were true.

In this argument also the Autograph Only like to pretend the Bible supports them in their unbelief, but, again, when challenged for Scriptural proof they return to their comrade "logic." I have had them vehemently insist, "Logic dictates translations by their very nature and definition cannot be as accurate or pure as their source or basis because something is always lost in translating...," "A translation can never be equal to the original..." etc., etc., the only problem is they have not been able to produce ONE Scripture that even IMPLIES this! They reason as if God is not of the picture! The Bible says no such thing. God is fully capable of giving His people His pure word in the manner He wants them to have it without worrying about them being "verbally" and "plenarily" identical to the autograph. "Logical" concepts the Autograph Only hold dear are no hindrance to the Lord's distribution of His word.

Along these same lines, no where in the Bible does it say a translation must be inferior to the original. Giving His pure, inerrant word in another language is no problem for God even though it goes against the Autograph Only's "logic." God is not limited by man's perception of limitation.

Furthermore, where in the Bible does it stipulate that Scripture must be verbally and plenarily identical to the autograph to be true and pure Scripture? This notion is a humanistic (if not Satanic) contrivance by the Autograph Only. Check our book, "Which Translation Should You Trust," for references where the Bible honors translations as nothing less than the pure word of God (and indicates how they can be even superior to the original),  how there can be multiple "original autographs," and how the Bible places no emphasis on the autographs.

It's true one cannot prove the KJB (or the text behind it) is identical to the autographs, but no one has to. God has forsaken and abandoned the "Original Authogaphs"-He has no use for them-thus anyone who tries to dig them up or idolize them in another matter is similarly motivated as those who worshipped the God forsaken brazen serpent. If God has no more use for anything and has forsaken it, why should any Christian seek after it? Christians should honor, trust, and believe the Scriptures God has provided them (KJB) instead of seeking for something God has no use for. Even if some of the Autograph Only found an autograph, how could they prove it was genuine? Some of them would likely correct it as well with their opinion.

Again, the Autograph Only's position has been destroyed by the Scriptures.

Assumption #3

Once the Autograph Only are shown to be unscriptural in the first two tenets of their religion they will usually resort to a last ditch effort of desperation attempting to rejuvenate their precarious position. With cleverness and sophistry they will attempt to link a well established doctrine of man to their pitiful, lethargic doctrine in an effort to give it credibility. They will state dogmatically and with certainty, as much as their feeble constitutions will allow,

"The Bible unequivocally states man is a fallen creature, depraved and fallible, and all copies and translations of Scripture came through man, therefore (see them enter their friend "logic") , all copies and translations of Scripture contain error."

That people who brag about logic and reason would make such a presumptuousstatement is both laughable and pathetic.

Of course, it is correct to say man is fallible and capable of error, every Christian knows this, but it is another thing to say God is incapable of providing man His pure word because of it! Their "logic" has caused these rascals to conclude the depravity of man is greater than the promises and ability of God! They reason as if God doesn't exist or is at least not interested in His word and promises. Of course, they won't admit to this in these words, but when they deny the possibility of an inerrant Bible because of the three assumptions above, that is what they are saying.

These "blind guides" seem to forgetGod used fallible humans to give His word in the first place. As soon as one reminds them of this, however, they will undoubtedly insist, "Yes, but the men God used to author His word were inspired, copyists and translators are not inspired." Assumption, assumptions, and more assumptions. Where in the Bible does it say the men who authored the Scriptures were "inspired"? The Bible says, "All Scripture is GIVEN by inspiration of GOD...."  Who is inspired here, God and His word or men? Let's let Job tell us, "But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding" (Job  32:8). It is God and His word that are inspired, not men; however, God gives His "God-breathed" words to men by the breath and Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost (2 Pet.1:21). The Autograph Only assume men are what is "inspired."

In relation to this, clinging to their inspiration assumption, the Autograph Only will continue to insist for a copy or translation to be pure and perfect the copyist or translators must be "inspired." And from this they invent the "straw man" doctrine called "double inspiration" which they pin on anyone who claims to have a pure Bible. I have had them ignorantly charge me with teaching "double inspiration" when I don't even believe the original writers were "inspired" to start with. (Though some Bible believers may teach the King James translators were "inspired," we don't hold to that belief. We teach God and His WORDS are what is inspired, not any man.) God does not have to "inspire" any man to copy or translate His already inspired words! God's words are, "...spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63), when did they die that they need to be "reinspired"?

God can use copyists and translators, without "inspiring" them, to preserve His word in the manner He wishes to preserve it. The trumped up "logical" problems of the Autograph Only don't hinder Him at all. If God wants Wycliff's Bible to be the word of God in English during the 14th century that's His business. If He wants Tyndale's New Testament to be His word in the 16th century, again, that's His business, and if He wants the King James Version to be His word from the 17th century on, who will contend with Him? He is the One who promised to preserve His word, and He can use whatever means He wishes to accomplish His task without consulting the "Autograph Only."

In Conclusion

As we said, the three assumptions listed above are the entire basis of the position of the Autograph Only. Their entire belief system and every argument they present stands or falls on the validity and Scriptural integrity of these claims, but try as they may, they cannot prove one of them from Scripture. They are in a desperate and pitiful position and have no escape except to forsake their vain assumptions and turn to the truth. Some who have been caught up in their doctrine and then come to the knowledge of the truth (like your author) do forsake it, but most of those who have openly identified themselves with the Autograph Only position never leave. They are yoked with it till death. We hope the above information will help some who read this realize the fallacy of their arrogant, assumptive position.

For the
Since you contend God revealed His word by the Holy Spirit to only the apostles and prophets and only "inspired" them to transmit it to man, how can you PROVE the "uninspired" scribes who penned many of these words did not make a mistake in their transcription? Furthermore, Tertius, Paul's scribe, was the author of Romans 16:22 andnot Paul. Is that verse Scripture since Tertius is neither prophet or apostle and thus "uninspired"?