Montgomery / Kloha Debate – Information from Dr Montgomery


Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy at Concordia University Wisconsin and Dr. Jeffrey John Kloha, Provost and Professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, will conduct a debate about the philosophies of Biblical textual criticism on Saturday, October 15th, 2016 at Concordia University-Chicago in River Forest, Illinois.

The title of the debate is: “Textual and Literary Judgments on the Biblical Text – What Happens to the Lutheran Commitment to Scriptural Inerrancy?”

Following is Dr. John Montgomery’s materials for the debate:

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Feel free to download it and distribute it widely, or better yet share this post.


Montgomery / Kloha Debate – Information from Dr Montgomery — 10 Comments

  1. Thank you for providing this useful information. It has been sent to our congregation and other interested people as we confess the inspiration and inerrancy of holy scripture that the Holy Spirit has given us in His reliable word.

  2. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I did not expect to see either presenter’s papers prior to the actual debate, but apparently Dr. Montgomery has given his permission to have it widely distributed in this way.

    With that assumption in mind, those of you attending the debate will have an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the program in the Q & A session. I believe only written questions will be accepted, which prevents commentary from the floor. Now that you have Dr. Montgomery’s essay (above) you can prepare your questions to him for the Q & A session in advance and have them written down prior to the debate.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  3. All,

    (and I hope Dr. Montgomery sees this)…

    I have some concerns about recommending that Dr. Kloha “rethink the eclectic position and move in the direction of a more objective textual philosophy, such as that of the Coherence Based Genaalogical Method”

    …at least without some caveats…

    The reasons for these concerns are explicated in a paper my pastor wrote and gave to a pastor’s conference in Minneapolis a few months ago: “Martin Luther’s Sola Scriptura.” I believe that Dr. Kloha has seen my pastor’s paper, and I am not sure if Dr. Montgomery has (the paper is to be published in a volume featuring the conference paper – anyone who is interested in the paper can get it by contacting my pastor at

    Here is a relevant clip:

    The paper’s first section is titled “Scriptura Plastica”. Some of the highlights from this section:

    The idea of establishing an original text of the New Testament (i.e. an “autograph”) was abandoned already in 1979, by critical scholar Kurt Aland, in the 26th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (the critical edition of the Greek New Testament). A new process, called the “local-genealogical method”, or “eclecticism” was adopted instead.

    The contemporary “coherence-based genealogical method” is the newest method whereby scholars endeavor not to discover the original text of the New Testament, but rather the first “witness” in the New Testament tradition.

    According to Strawn, we now have “witness criticism”: “The use of this term ‘witness’ is not insignificant, for it was an important term in the theology of the preeminent Protestant (Reformed) theologian of the 20th century, Karl Barth (1886-1968), allowing him to assert that in Scripture, you don’t necessarily have the Word of God itself, but the fallible ‘witness’ of man to God’s Word.”

    “…the methodology of NA28 [i.e. the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland text noted above] has further implications, specifically that of the authority of Scripture, or in essence, the meaning of sola Scriptura”, and this has prompted some to suggest that traditional approaches towards biblical hermeneutics (that is the art and science of biblical interpretation) need to be reconsidered.

    The final point made in this section:

    “Why did [Martin] Luther take a number of manuscripts, reduce them to a single text, insist that that text was the inerrant Word of God, and also that its simple meaning be pursued? Was is that Luther was simply ignorant? Or could it be that he had a difference understanding of sola Scriptura than what we have today?”


    ps – A full summary of my pastor’s paper can be found by searching for the post at Just and Sinner: “Is Martin Luther’s Sola Scriptura Our Sola Scriptura?” The comments section also reveals some very helpful discussion, I think.

  4. One more thing.

    Dr. Montgomery is wise to focus on objective and external things, to be sure. His paper is very strong in this way.

    That said, note that he does say this:

    “The same point is made in a review of Elliott’s book, Textual Criticism: The Application of Thoroughgoing Principles (2010): The claim that thoroughgoing eclecticism is ‘by no means subjective’ (19) —indicating that decisions are not made on a whim but on the basis of clearly established criteria—overlooks the fact that the very selection of any criteria is a subjective enterprise.”

    … here, of course, we see an admission that the subjective is certainly a factor – one that must be intelligently dealt with in some way and not ignored.


  5. Dr Montgomery has made a change to the document; be sure to get a new one before doing anything with it. Specifically the last sentence of footnote # 4 on page 3.

  6. “The saved thief on the cross knew little theology, but he accepted the facticity of Jesus’ declaration that they would be together in Paradise; not to have accepted that would have precluded his salvation.”

    Sounds like there is a lot of accepting that a sinner must do to be saved…


    “Such an “inerrancy” will be incapable of sustaining Christian faith”

    Is it the inerrancy of the Word that creates and sustains faith or is it the efficacy?

  7. Andrew,

    Faith is acceptance. The most common verb for faith besides believe and trust in the Lutheran Confessions is accept (accipio).

    As to your second point, it is the project of liberal modernists to pit efficacy against inerrancy. You cannot have an efficacious text if you can’t trust its accuracy.

    @Andrew #7

  8. @Elizabeth Peters #8

    An accurate text alone cannot create or sustain faith. A well edited math book can be without error, but what benefit is that to the sinner? Inerrency is the starting point not the end.

    An infant can trust. Can an infant accept? Accept implys a decision.

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