Was the canonization of the Holy Bible necessary? And how do we know which books are authentic?


Clarify Share Report Asked January 13 2014 Mini Anonymous

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David 2011 David Robinson Army 1SG, firefighter, consultant (CFPS) - retired from all!
Every believer should seek satisfactory answers for these reasonable questions, both for the strength of their own faith and to be able to offer a reasoned defense for the hope within us to doubters and unbelievers. In answering the first question, I'm not sure that "necessary" is the best word for describing the canonization of scripture. God certainly could reign over His church and ensure doctrinal purity as it relates to the essentials of the faith without canonization. He did so for the first three (+) centuries after Christ. I would say, however, that having a canonized (standardized) scripture is very beneficial to Christians in that it helps us focus on the truth God has revealed to us through the Holy Spirit inspired writings of His authorized agents while avoiding the distractions and errors contained in non-inspired literature.

This does not in any way suggest that all un-inspired writing is without value. The Books of the Apocrypha, for example, are very useful for studying the history of the intertestamental period, etc. Extra-biblical writings do not, however, rise to the level of being the infallible and inerrant rule for faith and lifestyle.

If the church, through the faithful work of church fathers (Origen, Irenaeus, etc.) and several church councils (Nicaea in 325 AD and Carthage in 397 and 419), has identified for us which writings are authentic, it is no longer necessary for each believer to personally endure the arduous process of canonization and accept the inevitable risk of error that would arise from so many individual efforts. It is similar to the way we approach physics, medicine, math and other complex disciplines in that we don't consider it necessary to develop our own theories and formulae or to conduct our own experiments for verification. We can simply trust the work that's been done by the experts who have gone before us, use it, and build upon it.

Our trust in the established canon of scripture is based on at least two things: first, the power and will of Almighty God to preserve His word for His people (Matt 24:35); second, the historical evidence that confirms that the process used by the above mentioned agents of the church was logical and open to outside scrutiny and the criteria to which the available writings were universally subjected was reasonable and fairly applied. It was not a popularity contest, or a negotiation based on preferences ("you vote for mine and I'll vote for yours"). The councils were conducted by the greatest Christian thinkers of the day, sincere scholars who applied universally agreed upon standards to all submitted literature and eventually reached consensus on which books met the standard (canon).

Actually, most of the work was done by the nascent church before the councils were even convened. For example, what we now refer to as the Old Testament is the same text Jews had been using as scripture for centuries. The gospels and letters we now call the New Testament had been widely circulated, used in teaching and worship, and given the full status of inspired scripture since the days of the apostles. The doctors of the church at these councils merely applied scientific method to verify and confirm the scriptures that the early church was already using.

There are many lies and half-truths currently being circulated on this subject. I was recently (mis)informed that the books of the bible were chosen solely by the Emperor Constantine who actually wrote some of them himself! We should not be surprised by such nonsense; Satan is the Father of lies and his children are his megaphones. I would suggest that you do some basic research on this subject from several sources, both Christian and secular. I think you will see that we can reasonably have full faith and confidence that the bible that has been passed down through the centuries and preserved by God Himself is authentic and totally reliable.

January 14 2014 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

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