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If Scripture is to be our sole authority, on what authority do we know which books belong in the Bible - since the Bible does not state which books should be in the Bible? This is a very important ...
Michael gave a very good and complete answer to a very important question. His answer covered the historical and foundational aspects of how that question was resolved. I want to share with you how it was resolved for me. I once read a publication called "The lost books of the Bible". This made me ask the same question. I asked myself "How can I be sure that those who made the decision as to which books belong and which did not, chose correctly?" After discussing this question with others who had been Christians much longer than me, I came to the conclusion that I just had to trust God. My reasoning was "Couldn't He who created all things control the outcome of this question?" The answer is of course He could. However, something happened which made me doubt my conviction. A friend of mine who was a non believer planted doubt in me when he questioned the validity of the book of Jonah. He said something like "Come on now, do you really believe a man was swallowed by some big Ole fish and lived 3 days in the fishes belly? He would have been digested by then." The enemy sends these type of individuals to new Christians, I believe, to rob our Faith. Well, God is stronger than the enemy! Here is what happened. I begin to pray and I was sincere and persistent. "God, why did you allow the book of Jonah in the Bible. You know, God, that man would have been crushed. You know I believe the rest of the Bible, God, but why did you allow that book in God, don't you know that allowing mistakes in bring the whole thing into doubt? " Now I know this sounds presumptuous even blasphemous for me to be talking to God like that, but remember I was a new Christian. And I was sincere and determined. I prayed almost continuously about this for about three weeks. God heard and answered my prayers. In 3 different ways, He showed me conclusively that not only is the book of Jonah true and belong in the Bible, the whole thing is. It would take much more space than I have here to tell you everything that He showed me but I will suffice to say that He convinced me completely. And if you are sincere and want to believe but have some doubts about something in the Bible, just ask Him, He knows what it takes to convince you too!
According to history, there were three main qualities used by the early Church to decide which books belonged in the Bible: apostolicity, catholicity, and orthodoxy. Did an apostle write the book or did it have apostolic authority backing it? Was it used in the majority of the churches founded by apostles? And did it conform to the traditions faithfully passed on by the apostles? The criteria of apostolic tradition was the determining factor. The Council of Carthage, on 28 August 397 issued a canon of the Bible quoted as, "Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, 4 books of Kingdoms, 2 books of Chronicles, Job, the Davidic Psalter, 5 books of Solomon, 12 books of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobias, Judith, Esther, 2 books of Ezra, 2 books of Maccabees, and in the New Testament: 4 books of Gospels, 1 book of Acts of the Apostles, 13 letters of the Apostle Paul, 1 letter of his to the Hebrews, 2 of Peter, 3 of John, 1 of James, 1 of Jude, and one book of the Apocalypse of John."
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