It’s a question you hear often. And it’s one that I wrestled with for a time. “Who decided what books would be in the Bible and what would not? How did they decide? When?”
I surrendered to Christ later in life. It was a radical shift in everything I had ever studied and believed up through my university years. Up until that time, I never gave the Bible a serious thought. But God changed that. One big question I had pertained to the biblical canon. Why these 66 books? What about “all the other books”? The Apocrypha? Pseudepigrapha? The Gospels of Thomas, Peter, and Judas? Why didn’t they make it in? Says who? People told me things like, “Yeah, a bunch of guys in the fourth century got together and decided what to include and exclude from the Bible. You can’t really trust it.” I didn’t know what to think.
Recently we began a series addressing fundamental questions surrounding the Bible. These questions concern the topic of bibliology. First, we studied the topic of revelation, answering the question, “What is the Bible?” From there, we looked at inspiration, answering the question, “Where did the Bible come from?” Then, we observed the logical conclusion, namely, that the 66 books of the Bible are the inerrant and infallible words of God. Today’s post will address the canonicity of the Bible.
The question of canonicity addresses what documents belong in the Bible and why. The “canon” refers to the books that are contained within the Bible; those which are the word of God. How do we know which books belong in the Bible? How do we know that these 66 books are the correct ones? How do we know we’re not missing something? And who decided what would be included in the Bible and what would not?
Some have called the issue of canonicity the “Achilles heel” of Christianity. It’s often the point of attack from unbelievers. At some point, most Christians will be challenged here. Related, Roman Catholic proponents take issue with canonicity. They propose that holding to the canonicity of the 66 books of Scripture alone is “blind faith,” irrational, opposed to evidence, and arbitrary. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, an honest study of biblical canonicity will only build one’s necessary faith in the integrity of the God-breathed 66-books of the Bible.
A popular myth needs correction from the outset. No men, church council, or spiritual leaders ever gathered to collectively determine what would and would not be included in the Bible. No council decided which books to keep and toss. No human being defined the list of biblical books. And that does not make the biblical canon less reliable, but more.
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Source: The Cripplegate | Eric Davis