How do we know that the canon is perfect?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by xdisciplex, Jun 27, 2006.

  1. xdisciplex

    xdisciplex
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    Is this true?
    I thought that already at the council of Nicea all the christians agreed on which books were supposed to be in the bible. But if they changed so much and changed their opinion so often then how can we be sure that there isn't a book in the bible which doesn't belong there or that there are not books which are lacking which belong in the bible?
    I think this is somewhat concerning that they changed their opinion about books so often. Actually I thought about this just today. If I had lived back then I don't think I would have been able to say which book is biblical and which isn't and which doctrine is correct and which isn't. For example if you take James 3 which teaches that faith without works is dead then you might actually think that this doesn't fit together with what Romans teaches. My bible extra mentions that there is no contradiction to Romans, but where do they know this? I think if a catholic had told me exactly the same stuff which James 3 says and I had not known that this is in the bible then I would have said that he's wrong and that he's legalistic. Very often I have problems making different statements from different books in the bible fit together and agree with each other. And when I read such things here then I ask myself what if the biblical canon isn't infallible at all and the fact that the bible looks today the way it looks is due to the decisions of some influencial men. :confused:
    And what's also very frustrating is simply the fact that you can impossible know all these things. I'm not a historian and no archaeologist and I don't know much about these things but in order to be able to defend the bible you actually had to be an expert at all these areas and this is simply impossible, this makes me feel really dumb. Even if I read a book about the bible then I still wouldn't know everything and I also wouldn't be able to answer every question and this means you'll always be dependant on what other christian scholars say and these other christian scholars also argue with non-christian scholars an everybody thinks he's right. This makes it so hard to totally trust the bible. How can you totally trust the bible and really rely on it and have a naive,child-like faith when you have to read such things? :(


    Church Texts (0-300 AD):
    Tobit
    Maccabees
    Gospel of Mark
    Gospel of John
    Gospel of Mary Magdalene
    Gospel of Judas...

    Catholic Canon (400+ AD):

    Tobit
    Maccabees
    Gospel of Mark
    Gospel of John
    Gospel of Mary Magdalene (no longer accepted)
    Gospel of Judas (no longer accepted)

    Protestant Bible (1600+ AD):
    Tobit (no longer accepted)
    Maccabees (no longer accepted)
    Gospel of Mark
    Gospel of John
    Gospel of Mary Magdalene (no longer accepted)
    Gospel of Judas (no longer accepted)

    Here is a more detailed version:

    30 a.d. - 160 a.d.

    Summary - The New Testament is not clearly distinguished from other Christian writings.
    Gospels - Generally accepted by 130
    Justin Martyr's "Gospels" contain apocryphal material
    Polycarp was the first to use the four Gospels we have today.
    Pauline Writings - Generally accepted by 130, though quotations from them are rarely introduced as scriptural.
    Acts - Scarcely known or quoted from
    Philippians, 1 Timothy - Rejected as scriptural by Justin Martyr
    2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon - Rejected as scriptural by Polycarp and Justin Martyr :eek:
    Hebrews - Not considered canonical by majority, and expressly rejected as scriptural by Polycarp and Justin Martyr
    James - Not considered canonical, and never quoted from; expressly rejected as scriptural by Polycarp and Justin Martyr
    1 Peter - Not considered canonical

    2 Peter - Not considered canonical and never cited
    1,2,3 John - Not considered canonical and rejected as scriptural by Justin Martyr, and partially rejected by Polycarp
    Jude - Not considered canonical and rejected as scriptural by Polycarp and Justin Martyr
    Revelation - not canonical and rejected as scriptural by Polycarp

    Ignatius of Antioch was unaware of half the Gospels and the majority of the Pauline writings.

    160 a.d.- 250 a.d.
    Summary - Awareness of a Canon begins toward the end of the 2nd century. Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria were the first to use the phrase "New Testament" in the 2nd and 3rd century.
    Gospels - Accepted
    Acts - Gradually accepted
    Pauline Writings - Accepted with certain exceptions
    2 Timothy - Rejected by Clement
    Philemon - Rejected by Irenaeus, Origen, Tertullian, and Clement
    Hebrews - Not considered canonical until the 4th century in the West. Disputed by Origen. First accepted by Clement.
    James - Not canonical. First mentioned and disputed by Origen. Rejected by Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement
    1 Peter - Gradual acceptance. First accepted by Irenaeus and Clement
    2 Peter - Not canonical. First mentioned and disputed by Origen. Rejected by Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement
    1 John - Gradual acceptance. First accepted by Irenaeus, and rejected by Origen.
    2 John - Not canonical. Disputed by Origen and rejected by Tertullian and Clement
    3 John - Not canonical. Disputed by Origen and rejected by Tertullian and Clement
    Jude - Gradual acceptance. Accepted by Clement and rejected by Origen.
    Revelation - Gradual acceptance. First accepted by Clement and rejected by the Barococcio Canon of 206
    Epistle of Barnabas - Accepted by Clement
    Shepherd of Hermas - Accepted by Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and Clement
    The Didache - Accepted by Clement
    The Apocalypse of Peter - accepted by Clement
    The Acts of Paul - Accepted by Clement, and appears in Greek, Latin, Syriac, Armenian, and Arabic translations
    Gospel of Hebrews - Accepted by Clement. Accepted by Muratorian Canon of 190 which excluded Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and included The Apocaplypse of Peter and Wisdom of Solomon.

    250 a.d. – 325 a.d.
    Summary - The “Catholic epistles” and Revelation are still being disputed
    The “Catholic,” or general, epistles are the terms sometimes used for the letters written by James, Peter, John, and Jude. They are so called because they are addressed to Christians in general, not to any church or person in particular such as the epistles to the Corinthians, Thessalonians etc. The word "catholic" originated from Greek and then Latin words which simply meant “throughout the whole.”
    Gospels, Acts, Pauline Writings - Accepted
    Hebrews - Accepted in the East. Disputed and rejected in the West.
    James - Disputed and rejected in the East, and rejected in the West.
    1 Peter - Fairly well accepted
    2 Peter - Still disputed
    1 John - Fairly well accepted
    2, 3 John, Jude - Still disputed
    Revelation - Disputed, especially in the East. Rejected by Dionysius

    Council of Nicaea (325 a.d.)
    Questions canonicity of James, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude

    From 325 a.d. to Council of Carthage (397 a.d.)
    Summary - St. Athanasius first lists our present 27 New Testament books as such in 367 a.d. Disputes still persist concerning several books, almost right up until 397, when Canon is authoritatively closed.
    Gospels, Acts, Pauline Writings, 1 Peter, 1 John - Accepted
    Hebrews - Eventually accepted in West
    James - Slow acceptance. Not even quoted in the West until around 350 a.d.!
    2 Peter - Eventually accepted
    2, 3 John, Jude - Eventually accepted
    Revelation - Eventually accepted. Rejected by Cyril, John Chrysostom, Gregory Nazianzen
    Epistle of Barnabas - Accepted by Codex Sinaiticus in late 4th century
    Shepherd of Hermas - Accepted by Codex Sinaiticus in late 4th century. Used as a textbook for catechumens (those studying to become Christian).
    1 Clement, 2 Clement - Accepted by Codex Alexandrinus in late 5th century!
     
    #1 xdisciplex, Jun 27, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 27, 2006
  2. Marcia

    Marcia
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    The canon wasn't decided by anyone - it was discovered by men who confirmed the scripture with the apostolic authority.

    What the early church used and apostolic authority determined the canon. I think by 300 something, every NT book had been quoted by one of the early church fathers, except maybe one or two.

    A good book on this would be Norman Geisler's General Introduction to Bibliology.
     
  3. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    Short answer to the OP: we don't. It's a faith position - you either believe it or you don't.

    PS: it wasn't Nicaea which decided/ discovered the Canon of the NT - it was the Councils of Carthage and Hippo at the end of the 4th century.
     
  4. Joseph M. Smith

    Joseph M. Smith
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    Part of living by faith is that we must often live with questions and with partial rather than complete answers. If we "walk by faith and not by sight" then it is not entirely crucial for us to have an immutable and certain text of the Bible. Nor is it crucial for each Biblical writer to agree in toto with each other. We can allow for differing perspectives, but can cling to Christ Himself as the canon that ultimately judges the written word.

    That said, however, contemporary Christians can trust the canon as ultimately decided, because the process of decision was not just political, but was scholarly. The Fathers determined what was canonical partly on the basis of whether a giving writing was apostolic (i.e., was authored by an eye-witness to the incarnation and/or the apostolic era) and whether it had received widespread if not universal acceptance in the early church. In other words, in a measure, the church decided on its own standards, but not in a legalistic fashion. They assessed whether a given writing had resonated with the spirits of those who were in Christ, and took on those materials which built disciples. Solipsistic? Yes, to a degree; but everything depends on whether one believes that the Holy Spirit continued to operate in the church after the end of the Book of Acts.
     
  5. Magnetic Poles

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    Then you have problematic text, like the drinking poison and handling poisonous snakes thing, that appears to be a later addition.
     
  6. Dave

    Dave
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    Gnostic Gospels used by Early Church?

    Where did you get your information on what was accepted as scripture by the early church?

    My understanding is that the Gospel of Judas (for example) wasn't even written until sometime in the 2nd or 3rd century! This is a Gnostic Gospel which would have been immediately rejected by the church fathers and is, I believe, referred to negatively by some of them.

    The early Christian writer Irenaeus of Lyons, whose writings were almost all directed against Gnosticism, mentions The Gospel of Judas in Book 1 Chapter 31 of Refutation of Gnosticism calling it a "fictitious history".

    The Gospel of Mary Magdelene is also closely related to other Gnostic inventions.

    Please cite your source.

    Dave
     
  7. genesis12

    genesis12
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    The Holy Spirit who inspired it also protected it.
     
  8. xdisciplex

    xdisciplex
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    The problem is that when you hear all these arguments and cannot say anything against them because you simply don't have the knowledge to then this affects your faith. If it was sooo easy to just walk in faith then we did not need any answers as christians. Then we could simply "walk in faith" no matter what happens. Then we didn't need anything. No apologetics, no answers, no research, zilch. And we could simply have this blind faith and walk in faith and the world would laugh at us cause all we can say is "The bible says so"....

    And another problem is that I feel like some christian pastors cannot even be trusted. I have heard so often that the christians already knew at the end of the first century which books were supposed to be canonical and which not. But if they knew it then what about this stuff? If this stuff is really correct then they didn't even know it after the council of Nicea in 325 ad.
    The problem is simply that it really sucks when you hear from pastors that it was so and so and you rely on it and then you find out it's wrong.
     
  9. billwald

    billwald
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    >The Holy Spirit who inspired it also protected it.

    Then the HS forgot the law of unintended consequences because if the canon is closed then God can't give us any additional information.
     
  10. genesis12

    genesis12
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    The Council of Nicea did not decide which books go into the Bible. That was not one of the topics discussed. That's the kind of disinformation that one finds in works like the Da Vinci Code. :flower:
     

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