I am excited to see how the Lord will use Michael Kruger’s new book, Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Crossway, 2012), to inform and equip the church, strengthening our confidence that we have in our New Testaments what the Lord intended us to have.

You can see from the endorsements—two of which are reproduced below—the significance that others scholars see in this new volume:

“Of all the recent books and articles on the canon of Scripture, this is the one I recommend most. It deals with the critical literature thoroughly and effectively while presenting a cogent alternative grounded in the teaching of Scripture itself. Michael Kruger develops the historic Reformed model of Scripture as self-authenticating and integrates it with a balanced appreciation for the history of the canon and the role of the community in recognizing it. This is the definitive work on the subject for our time.”

—John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida

“Here, finally, is what so many pastors, seminary professors, and students have long been waiting for: a clear, well-informed, and scripturally faithful answer to the question of how Christians should account for the New Testament canon. Perhaps not since Ridderbos’s Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures has there appeared such a valuable single source on the New Testament canon that is both historically responsible and theologically satisfying (and this book improves on Ridderbos in many ways). Michael Kruger’s work will help readers get a handle on what may seem like a myriad of current approaches to canon, whether ecclesiastical or critical. This book will foster clearer thinking on the subject of the New Testament canon and will be a much referenced guide for a long time to come.”

—Charles E. Hill, Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary

You can read 58 pages (!) of the book online for free.

Dr. Kruger is now blogging on canon and related topics. You can also listen to an interview with him from the Reformed Forum. Finally, here’s a clip of him responding to Bart Ehrman’s revisionist understanding of the NT canon:

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Comments:


26 thoughts on “How Do We Know that the Right Books Are in the New Testament Canon?”

  1. Dave Moore says:

    Love the work he is doing.

    One small, yet popular gaffe: irregardless is not a word. He meant to say regardless or irrespective. Yes, the grammar police are alive and well!

    1. Daryl Little says:

      It’s in the dictionary…!

  2. Brandon Vogt says:

    “…a scripturally faithful answer to the question of how Christians should account for the New Testament canon.” – Charles Hill

    How can the account of the canon be “scripturally faithful” when nowhere in Scripture does it specify, or give criteria for, the NT canon?

    And I haven’t read the book yet, so perhaps Dr. Kruger addresses this, but at what specific date in history was the canon authoritatively defined? And who had the authority to do it?

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Brandon, sounds like you’re a good candidate to read the book! :)

      Here’s a blog post where he tips his hand on some of this stuff:

      http://michaeljkruger.com/is-tradition-the-only-way-to-know-which-books-are-in-the-canon/

      1. Brandon Vogt says:

        Thanks for the comment, Justin! And just in case I haven’t reminded you lately, I love your blog. Even as a Catholic I’m a daily reader :)

        I read the article you linked by Dr. Kruger, however, and see three major flaws:

        1. He argues that an inspired “table-of-contents” document would be a 29th document that would again lead to the same question: how do we know *that* document is inspired? But that’s a misconstrual of the Catholic argument. Catholics don’t argue that God inspired another document containing a list of the inspired books of the Bible. They argue that he created an authoritative Church and gave his own authority to its leaders, the successors to the apostles. It’s this living, breathing Magisterium–not a dead table of contents–that continues to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

        God did not leave his Church in blindess to fumble around and give a ‘best-guess’ as to what composes the canon. Instead he continued to guide her and, in the late fourth century, to definitively and authoritatively decide on the canon–New Testament and Old.

        2. He claims that, “the uniform consensus of the church on the books of the NT can help us know which books are from God.” The problem is that there was simply not a uniform consensus. Several Christians (and bishops) believed the Didache, the Shepherd of Hermas, St. Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians, and the Epistles of Barnabas were inspired and belonged in the canon. On the flipside, many early Christians questioned the canonicity of 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Hebrews, James, and Jude.

        For the first four centuries there was hardly a consensus at all, and to propose that is simply inaccurate.

        Yet even if there was, why not apply that criteria to the OT? Most early Christians accepted several Deuterocanonical books that Protestants reject.

        3. Finally, “As far as the protestant reformers were concerned, these books could speak for themselves.” Where and how do they do this? It sounds awfully like the Mormon proposition that “Mormonism is true because its self-attesting. When you pray, you just know that its true.”

        Dr. Kruger closes with this quote from Jesus: “After all, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.” And so where does Jesus speak about the canon? And how can we be sure we’re hearing the right voice? What authoritative measure can we gauge our own perceived canon against?

        These are all questions I think Dr. Kruger either ignores or fails to answer.

        1. Justin B. says:

          “As far as the protestant reformers were concerned, these books could speak for themselves.”

          I imagine that this is in reference to John Calvin’s belief that the Scriptures are self-authenticating to people who have the Spirit.

          1. Brandon Vogt says:

            But that’s an ad hoc claim with no basis in Scripture.

            Instead of appealing to Scripture or some objective, extra-Biblical authority, Calvin basically makes the same argument as Mormons: “If you don’t agree with me, then you haven’t prayed enough or you don’t have the Holy Spirit.”

            1. Justin B. says:

              You asked where they do this. That was the only part of your post that I felt confident enough to answer. :)

              1. Brandon Vogt says:

                :) In that case, I think you’re right. The “self-authenticating” claim was popularized by Calvin. But it still doesn’t explain where Calvin got this belief. Where does Scripture say that Scripture is self-authenticating? The answer is nowhere.

  3. Devin Rose says:

    Very interested in reading this book. Brandon Vogt above brings up some key difficulties that Protestants have in answering the canon question, while remaining consistent with their own foundational beliefs and avoiding ad hoc judgments.

    If the books of Scripture were self-authenticating, then one has to wonder why Luther, the champion of the Protestant Reformation, wanted to remove James, Jude, Hebrews, and Revelation.

  4. Doug B says:

    In bringing up the criteria of an inspired table of contents for the Bible, Kruger seems to be confusing what Roman Catholics think Protestants would need in order to make sense of Sola Scriptura with what Roman Catholics don’t think exists.

  5. Justin B. says:

    Justin Taylor,

    Is there another volume that deals with the canon of the Old Testament?

    1. Brandon Vogt says:

      The best out there is “Where We Got the Bible” by Henry Graham. It contains a good primer on the OT canon in Chapter 2. The book is written from a Catholic perspective, yet it’s honest and historically accurate. Find it on Amazon or read the whole thing for free here:

      http://www.catholicapologetics.info/apologetics/protestantism/wbible.htm

  6. Brock says:

    Kruger’s idea that Scripture was self-authenticating is an idea that is easily dismantled by looking at the confusion that took place regarding the canon in the first four centuries of the early church. There were all kinds of competing lists…of which Brandon Vogt already listed some of the books in question…and it is easily seen that there was no uniformity in this area.

    The whole point of Pope Damasus I calling for a universal canon at the Council of Rome in 382 bears this out.

  7. Justin Taylor says:

    Guys, I’d encourage you to read the book. Kruger might be wrong, but it’s 350+ pages of very careful academic work, and it can’t be dismissed in a sentence of two of a blog comment. Furthermore, it’s not a polemic against the Catholicism per se.

    1. Justin B. says:

      I don’t think anyone was suggesting it was a polemic against Catholicism or writing off the book. Brandon, for example, was responding to the article you linked to.

      That said, I am hoping to get my hands on a copy of this. Looking forward to seeing what he has to say.

    2. Devin Rose says:

      Justin,

      With respect, it might be possible to demonstrate in a very short space that Protestantism cannot answer the canon question while remaining consistent with its founding principles and avoiding ad hoc claims.

      Your brief comment here actually (unintentionally) implies that in Protestantism we look to the Academy to know things like, for example, the canon of Scripture. 350 pages of very careful academic work doesn’t change the fact (admitted by Kruger) that the canon was discerned over the course of at least 300 years in the early Church. Further that Church is not trusted by Protestants as having been guided by God in her other teachings, so there is not principled reason for believing God guided her discernment on the canon.

      God bless,
      Devin

      1. Brock says:

        This is exactly right, Devin. Furthermore, without the Church, how is it that you, Justin, know which books of the Hebrew Scriptures and which books of the Christian Scriptures are to be in what we refer to as the canon?

        Kindest Regards,

        Brock

  8. Brock says:

    I look forward to it, Justin, thanks. :)

    I am also interested to see reviews by other scholars who are not of the Reformed tradition…pun intended :)

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Here are some non-Reformed (so far as I know):

      “Michael Kruger has written the book on the canon of Scripture that has been much needed for a long time. His focus is not on the process, but on the vitally important question of how Christians can know that they have the right books in their canon of Scripture. The question is an excellent one and needs to be addressed honestly and competently. Kruger does just that. This excellent book goes a long way toward clearing up confusion and misguided theories. I highly recommend it.”
      - Craig Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College and Acadia University

      “Michael Kruger has written an important and comprehensive treatment of the New Testament canon. As an advocate of the self-authenticating view, he goes to great lengths to argue his case, but he also delves deeply into the variety of historical and community-based positions. He provides an insightful treatment of epistemological grounds for belief, and debates the positions in a rigorous way not often found in such discussions. I am sure friend and foe alike will learn from this valuable volume.”
      - Stanley E. Porter, President, Dean, and Professor of New Testament, McMaster Divinity College; author, Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament

      “Canon Revisited is a well-written, carefully documented, and helpful examination of the many historical approaches that have been written to explain when and how the books of the New Testament were canonized. The author’s interest, however, is to move beyond the historical to the theological, concluding that the concepts of a self-authenticating canon and its corporate reception by the church are ultimately how we know that these twenty-seven books belong in the New Testament.”
      - Arthur G. Patzia, Senior Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary; author, The Making of the New Testament

  9. Carlton Wynne says:

    Brock, Devon, and especially Brandon,

    Thanks for spurring the discussion with helpful clarifications and good questions. Here are a few brief thoughts in response (in order of Brandon’s above):

    (1) A Reformed view of canon doesn’t discount that God created an authoritative Church or that He left her to fumble in the darkness regarding His holy text. But it does hold that such authority is only a derived authority, grounded in the once-for-all deposit of interpretation and witness of the grand deeds of redemption in Christ delivered through the foundation of the apostolic matrix (Eph 2:20). Since that apostolic witness ended with the last apostle, all subsequent ecclesial judgments carry weight ony insofar as they accord with the content of the Bible. In other words, a Reformed view sees the idea of infallible (however qualified) apostolic successors as intrinsically in conflict with the content of the documents they are said to have authoritatively established for the Church. What the Spirit did and does is enable the Church to recognize the inherent clarity, inspiration, and authority of Scripture, itself, not inspire the Church to determine the canon or inerrantly interpret its content. The key distinction inherent in this position leads me to your second question.

    (2) I think we must distinguish between, one the one hand, what Kruger calls a “uniform consensus” regarding the scope of the canon and, on the other, the intrinsic authority of the canonical books themselves *regardless of whether or to what extent they are received as such*. As I read the article, Kruger is not resting his case on a consensus, but saying that to the extent one exists, a consensus merely confirms what is, in fact, the case (i.e., these books were delivered by God to define and regulate the Church’s life and beliefs–including bringing the Church into being). He doesn’t say a consensus was absolute, only that the core of the canon (4 gospels and Pauline epistles) was recognized very early on and by many. Beyond that, yes, historical debate played a role, but only as regards recognition, not textual authority, and always subject to God’s providential rule.

    (3) I think self-attestation is qualitatively different from the Mormon’s attempt to base the authority of his fallible text on a prayer or experience. A Reformed view of canon points to the kind of God revealed in that canon, rooting Scripture’s intrinsic authority in the more basic self-attesting authority of God Himself. In my view, that is about as far away as possible from saying the Bible is true because I feel it to be so.

    Hope this helps and thanks again.

    (3)

  10. Brandon Vogt says:

    Carlton,

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply! Maybe I’m just thick-headed but I’m still confused by some of your comments:

    “But it does hold that such authority is only a derived authority, grounded in the once-for-all deposit of interpretation and witness of the grand deeds of redemption in Christ delivered through the foundation of the apostolic matrix (Eph 2:20). Since that apostolic witness ended with the last apostle, all subsequent ecclesial judgments carry weight ony insofar as they accord with the content of the Bible.”

    That first sentence is a bit confusing for me. Can you flesh it out some more?

    But regarding the second, where in the Bible does it say this? Where does it say that, “beginning with the death of the last apostle, Christ’s authority shifted from the leadership of his Church to the promptings of these 66 texts.”

    It doesn’t say that in the Bible, but the bigger problem is that you have huge historical problems. At the death of the last apostle, the whole Bible was centuries away from being definitively compiled. So if you’re a second century Christian, where do you turn for authoritative Christian truth? To the Bible? You can’t; it doesn’t exist. You turn to the Church and her ordained leaders who are charged and protected by the Holy Spirit to safeguard the deposit of faith handed down from the apostles–just as Christ promised.

    “In other words, a Reformed view sees the idea of infallible (however qualified) apostolic successors as intrinsically in conflict with the content of the documents they are said to have authoritatively established for the Church.”

    Which documents are you referring to here? The Biblical texts? The conciliar pronouncements? The apostolic successors didn’t establish the Biblical documents–they only safeguard and authentically interpret them for each age, just as the Supreme Court didn’t create the Constitution; it only protects it and applies it to each age. But whatever you mean, can you provide specific examples of this “intrinsic conflict”?

    “As I read the article, Kruger is not resting his case on a consensus, but saying that to the extent one exists, a consensus merely confirms what is, in fact, the case.”

    If this is truly Kruger’s argument, it’s flaws. He’s essentially beginning with a theory and embraces consensus where it agrees, but rejects it where it doesn’t. You either trust consensus or you don’t but either way, as I mentioned above, there was no early consensus as to the books of the NT (or the OT). That’s a historical fact. And without that, Kruger’s case falls apart.

    “These books were delivered by God to define and regulate the Church’s life and beliefs–including bringing the Church into being.”

    The Bible didn’t establish the Church–Christ established the Church (Mt. 16:13-19). And the Church was flourishing for centuries before the Bible was officially compiled.

    “He doesn’t say a consensus was absolute, only that the core of the canon (4 gospels and Pauline epistles) was recognized very early on and by many.”

    Consensus, by definition, requires complete or whole agreement. I it’s only partial or relative, that’s not a consensus. Also, even if the Gospels and Pauline epistles were uniformly recognized by all early Christians as inspired (which isn’t completely true), what about the other NT books? How can you explain them being added to the canon when there was clearly no consensus? Who had this authority and why, and when were they officially added?

    “A Reformed view of canon points to the kind of God revealed in that canon, rooting Scripture’s intrinsic authority in the more basic self-attesting authority of God Himself.”

    The problem with that idea is that to know “the kind of God revealed in that canon”, you need to begin with the canon. But you can’t solidify the canon until you know “the kind of God revealed in that canon.” It’s a circular argument.

    One more question for you that ties all of this together: at what date–and by whom–was the official canon of Scripture defined?

    I’m eagerly looking forward to your responses and clarifications. Grace and peace!

  11. Brock says:

    Carlton,

    Thanks for your response. I echo Brandon’s statements so I hope doesn’t seem redundant.

    You said, “A Reformed view of canon doesn’t discount that God created an authoritative Church or that He left her to fumble in the darkness regarding His holy text. But it does hold that such authority is only a derived authority, grounded in the once-for-all deposit of interpretation and witness of the grand deeds of redemption in Christ delivered through the foundation of the apostolic matrix (Eph 2:20).”

    Do you really believe this? Where did the Church get her authority? Was it not from Jesus? How do we know what THE interpretation is based off the deposit of faith passed down from the Apostles? As Brandon said above, the Church came before the Bible. This is a historical fact. The Church began on Pentecost and was running long before the first page of the New Testament was even written. Indeed, it had been established some 40-60 years before all of the books of the New Testament were written. What did these first century Christians do without the Bible as their final authority?

    “Since that apostolic witness ended with the last apostle, all subsequent ecclesial judgments carry weight ony insofar as they accord with the content of the Bible.”

    I agree that revelation ended with the death of the last apostle, but on what basis do you derive this belief? I draw this belief through the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church. How about you? Where do you get this belief? Scripture? If so, please give me chapter and verse where the Bible teaches such a thing. It is my contention that you rely just as much on the Tradition of the Catholic Church as I do regarding both this teaching as well as the canon of Scripture, the Trinity, the Hypostatic Union, etc. Also, where does Scripture say that everything must be in tested against Scripture? Better yet, where does Scripture say that we should test all beliefs against Scripture alone?

    Finally, how is it that you, Carlton, know that the 27 books of the New Testament are the inspired Word of God? Can you tell me how you, personally, derived at this “consensus” among the plethora of first century writings? What criteria was used in determining the canon of Scripture? I mean, it is clearly obvious that there was no consensus among the 27 books of the New Testament. Please answer these questions when you get a second.

    God Bless,

    Brock

  12. Carlton says:

    Brandon and Brock,

    You guys have brought up quite a bit of issues! I’m afraid I can’t answer them all here (nor would I want to), but I’ll try to isolate where I think you both overlap and strike at what I think are the core issues at hand.

    You both seem to want to argue that the “leadership of the Church” is the divinely sanctioned (infallible) interpreter of the NT canon’s scope and content, in part, because Church leaders (i.e., apostles and their “successors”) existed prior to a “definitively compiled” canon.

    In response, I think this way of putting things (a) presupposes a continuity of (infallible) authority between apostles and the magisterium (an assumption I do not share, nor do I think is justified, either by an appeal to Scripture [since then Scripture's authority would then be decisive for the Church's identity and authority, not vice versa] or the history of the RC Church itself [as the late Middle Ages alone would undermine, in my view]) without explanation. The post-apostolic Church’s authority is derived from the once-for-all revelation of Christ and His apostles (Eph 2:20). They were Christians, yes, and therefore members of the “Church” in that sense, but it was upon their unique authority as Christ’s mouthpieces, and the books they wrote, that laid the foundation for the future identity of the Church. In that sense, the “theological order”, so to speak, is canon then church, not vice versa.

    I think your description of the role of the post-apostolic Church viz-a-viz canon also (b) tends to obscure the distinction between the “existence” of canonical books (grounded in their own self-attesting authority) and the later (at least for the few historically disputed books) “recognition” of those books by the Christian church. I.e., the question is not when an ecclesiastical list of a definitive canon was delivered to a particular community, but when the canonical books were treated as infallible Scripture (i.e., early on, for most of the NT; e.g., 2 Pet 3:16) and why (i.e., on the grounds of their own perspicuous divine authority).

    In short, I think the canon of Scripture arises from the intrinsic witness of the NT itself as inspired of God and testifying to the once-for-all redemptive deeds of God in history. Once those decisive historical deeds ended (all the while recognizing that Christ’s redemption is applied across the ages to individuals), so too did the canonical witness and office of the apostles, and therefore their canon of inspired writings. Their successors were charged with safeguarding that witness (Jude 1:3), announcing its own clear testimony to Christ to future Christians and pointing to the canon’s intrinsic authority as God’s Word (1 Thess 2:13).

    One final point. The idea of self-attestation may be circular, but not viciously so. In fact, self-attestation, by definition, precludes all appeals to external authority. The question is whether such self-attesting, infallible witness of divine authority belongs to the Scriptures or the Church. I think the former option is the one that best with the teaching of the Bible, the one recovered in response to the disarray of the RCC prior to the Reformation, and the one which inevitably tends to recede into the background anytime “papa dixit” (the pope has spoken) becomes the watch-word for the meaning of Scripture.

    Thanks for the discussion and all the best to you both! I hope you get a chance to check out Kruger’s book–I think it will be a good read even if you disagree with aspects of it.

    Carlton

    1. Brock says:

      Carlton,

      “In response, I think this way of putting things (a) presupposes a continuity of (infallible) authority between apostles and the magisterium (an assumption I do not share, nor do I think is justified, either by an appeal to Scripture [since then Scripture's authority would then be decisive for the Church's identity and authority, not vice versa] or the history of the RC Church itself [as the late Middle Ages alone would undermine, in my view]) without explanation.”

      The Church, my friend, held authority long before we compiled the Bible. So, how is it that you think the Scriptures give the Church authority and identity? How would a 1st century Christian used this line of reasoning?

      Also, could you clarify how the “late Middle Ages alone would undermine” the Catholic Church?

      “The post-apostolic Church’s authority is derived from the once-for-all revelation of Christ and His apostles (Eph 2:20).”

      Which is what? The Bible? Tell me, as a sola scriptura kind of chap, where does Scripture teach such a thing? When we look at the early church, this idea you are putting forth was not possible since A)there was no canon of Scripture set in stone, B)not all of the different city-churches had all of the books that make up our Bible, C)the overwhelming majority of people were illiterate and there was no printing press to get them a copy, and finally D)the early Christians simply did not adhere to sola scriptura, but rather to a living and organic Church. This Church which spoke with the voice of Christ, had leaders who when you listened to them…you could know the spirit of truth from the spirit of error, and who settled disputes. Nowhere in the first 15 centuries do we see a hint of the idea of sola scriptura. :)

      “They were Christians, yes, and therefore members of the “Church” in that sense, but it was upon their unique authority as Christ’s mouthpieces, and the books they wrote, that laid the foundation for the future identity of the Church. In that sense, the “theological order”, so to speak, is canon then church, not vice versa.”

      So that is what the Apostles and their successors were to you: “mouthpieces”? Not all of the Apostles wrote letters. They laid the foundations down by appointing bishops and priests…a hierarchy…to govern the church. So much so, that by the end of the 1st century, there is clear evidence of monarchial bishops governing their local city-churches, and giving preeminent authority to the church in Rome. This is clear from Clement, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus.

      “In that sense, the “theological order”, so to speak, is canon then church, not vice versa.”

      This is a non sequitur. In other words, Carlton, it does not follow at all. It is clear that the Church began on Pentecost. This is long before the first page of the NT was written. So you are wrong, brother, in saying that the “theological order, so to speak, is canon then church” because this simply was not the case. Even strident anti-Catholics, such as James White, have openly admitted this in his debate with Gerry Matatics.

      “I think your description of the role of the post-apostolic Church viz-a-viz canon also (b) tends to obscure the distinction between the “existence” of canonical books (grounded in their own self-attesting authority…”

      Really? Please tell me how the Bible is self-attesting? In other words, we agree that the Bible is God’s written word. How do you know this? Who wrote the Gospel of Mark? How do you know who wrote Mark? Does the Bible tell us? No, it doesn’t. Let’s try this again. The letter to the Hebrews…who wrote it? Was it Paul? Luke? Who? Do you believe the Bible is what it says it is simply because it claims to be the word of God? Do you believe the Koran is the word of God because it says it is too? Of course not! Have you read Clements letter to the Corinthians? What is it about this letter that leaves you believing this was not inspired by God? What makes you say that Obediah is the word of God? Or 3 John?

      “the question is not when an ecclesiastical list of a definitive canon was delivered to a particular community, but when the canonical books were treated as infallible Scripture…”

      :) The question that you need to answer is when was the Church viewed as an infallible Church who determined the canon for all of Christendom? When did the Church receive her authority? Was it not from Jesus?

      “In short, I think the canon of Scripture arises from the intrinsic witness of the NT itself as inspired of God and testifying to the once-for-all redemptive deeds of God in history.”

      Oh, how is that? :) Let’s take Mark again. Where does Scripture say that Mark is inspired Scripture? Philemon? 2 John? How do you know these books are apart of the Christian Scriptures, Carlton? Better yet, how does the Bible give an “intrinsic witness” to these books?

      “Once those decisive historical deeds ended (all the while recognizing that Christ’s redemption is applied across the ages to individuals), so too did the canonical witness and office of the apostles, and therefore their canon of inspired writings.”

      Where do you get such ideas, Carlton? Scripture nowhere states such a thing nor does the evidence of Christian history support this. This is the making of Carlton…not of truth. If you disagree, then I will need you to provide me with the chapter and verse that says what you say here. Can you provide me with these verses? I don’t think you can, my friend :)

      “Their successors were charged with safeguarding that witness (Jude 1:3), announcing its own clear testimony to Christ to future Christians and pointing to the canon’s intrinsic authority as God’s Word (1 Thess 2:13).”

      Okay, it is obvious that you “assume” that when the Scripture says “word” or “witness”…you assume that means the Bible. This is not true. Yes, the “Word” does refer to the written word, but it also refers to the Oral Word (2Thess 2:15). In fact, the traditions that the Apostles passed down were seen as God’s Word as well (1Thess 2:13) and Christians were encouraged to adhere to the oral Word as well as commended for doing so (1Cor 11:1-2). As the Apostles appointed successors, they commanded them to teach other faithful men who will then in turn teach others also what had been passed down to them (2Tim 2:2). As for Jude 1:3, it does not say or even imply anything regarding Scripture but the deposit of the Christian faith which again was passed on both orally and through letter. 2 Thess 2:13, Amen! 1Thess 2:13 speaks of the Word which they “HEARD”, not read. This passage, again, says nothing at all about the Bible or the canon of Scripture. So the two verses you used here say nothing about which you claim they say.

      I appreciate your willingness to dialogue and please do not assume any negative tone from me. I like to be direct out of respect for both your time and mine. I will pray for you and your journey, and I wish the very best, Carlton.

      God Bless,

      Brock

  13. Robert Beohm says:

    The core of the NT may have been decided but by whom? Obviously there were many other gospels being circulated early on. The gospel of Thomas and obviously forged gospels were widely popular, so why would an earlier compilation confirm the validity of the four gospels as an all-inclusive account, simply because someone decided early on that that they were the only gospels worthy of inclusion in a list of canonized books. Sounds pretty elitist to me to assume that just because someone presumes to make a list, that somehow that list represents the popular consensus regarding first century reading predilections. It only proves that certain proto-Christians had already decided dogmatically what books they deemed we’re divinely inspired.

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Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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