"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Canonization of Scripture

Last notes from The Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi.  I know many will disagree, but this is the author's view of the canonization of Scripture.  It's kind of a follow-up to yesterday's post "...God is love. Love includes communication."

I wanted to share this perspective and hear your thoughts if you want your chance to be heard!  :)

I thought this might be interesting to those who claim Jesus didn't write or leave a book before he returned to heaven. 

Long before any church council met, Christ's original companions and followers in Jerusalem accepted the apostles' words as the Word of God....  How could the apostle John say to his readers that they already knew the truth and did not need anyone (not even a church council) to determine for them the word of God?  The first- and second-century church already knew which books had genuine apostolic authority behind  them.  They did not recognize canonization of the apostles' writings by a church council to begin laying down their lives for the Word of God. They had been affirming their faith in these writings, by choosing martyrdom, for more than two hundred years before Constantine.

The Old Testament canon existed before Jesus' time. Canonization of the New Testament became necessary only because spurious books began to appear claiming to have been written by the original apostles.  Canonization did not turn Paul's epistles into God's word.  The purpose of canonization was to refute the spurious works as inauthentic. ...

It is important to note that only one book in the New Testament, the Revelation (to John), claims to have been received supernaturally in visions, and this book met with the toughest scrutiny before being included in the canon.  A book with a similar title, The Revelation of Peter, was rejected. Why? Because Christianity is about public truth, not about private, subjective, unverifiable, secret, inner, "religious" experience.  Private intuition may indeed be from God, but it has to be publicly authenticated before the public can follow it. The Revelation of John was included in the canon precisely because it is not a "fax from heaven."  John "saw," "looked," and "heard" certain things and then wrote down his eyewitness account - exactly as he did in the gospel of John.  The church canonized books with known apostolic authority to undercut the deception of power-hungry "religious" prophets, apostles, and mystics. ...

The point is this: the church does not believe the Scriptures because the Council of Nicaea canonized some books.  ... The Council of Nicaea did not create the Bible.  The process of canonization of the New Testament began with a heretic, Marcion (AD 90-160), who identified a widely accepted canon in order to challenge it.  In response to such attempts, the church affirmed the New Testament canon in order to repudiate heresies.

Inclusion in the canon was not dependent on unverifiable "divine inspiration" but on verifiable matters.  The first was apostolic authority, including implied apostolic authority as in the case of the books of Mark, Luke, Acts, and the epistle to Hebrews. Equally important was theological harmony with the Old Testament canon that Jesus confirmed as the Word of God. The Gnostic forgeries did claim apostolic authorship, but they did not and could not claim harmony with the Old Testament. For example, John's Revelation is a very deliberate unpacking of the book of Daniel.  In Revelation 5, for example, the Lamb of God receives the title deed of the earth that had been promised to the Messiah in Psalm 2 and Psalm 110.  The chapters that follow become the key to explaining how Jesus was the Messiah prophesied by the Old Testament.

quotes from pg. 398-9


Anonymous said...

If I was the son of God, I would learn from the mistakes of past sons of God, and write my own book.

Susanne said...


Maybe Jesus was too busy setting us an example to write a book. But others wrote down his teachings and life story for us, thankfully!

Thanks for your feedback.

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Amber said...

But Susanne...Jesus *didn't* write or leave a book. He left the Church. He left us the Apostles, who were the leaders of the Church. They wrote (or dictated) the letters and the Gospels, which were later canonized by their successors into the Bible that we have today. Their inclusion in the canon did not make them holy scripture, no. They were that before. But the canon was, as is mentioned in the article, codified so that people would be better able to tell the true writings of the Church from the false ones.

Susanne said...

Amber, yes, yes! Sorry! I can see how you were confused. I was meaning that the article agreed with "those people" who believe Jesus didn't write a book.

I don't think he left a book either! The Gospels are accounts about his life written by others. Not what Jesus penned and left for us to read.

So sorry for the confusion. I reread that statement on my post after your comment and can see why you were confused. Ooops!

Suroor said...

Very interesting post, thanks for sharing!

Susanne said...

Thanks for reading, Suroor! I've missed your feedback since Blogger went crazy and ate some of your comments before they were posted. :(