The Canon is the official standard list of books that make up the Bible. People ask all the time, “why are those books in the Bible? Why aren’t other books in there as well?” Many who are unfamiliar with Scripture are often critical of it without doing any research about where it came from or how reliable it is. They dismiss the Canon or take shots at it without really knowing why scholars and theologians rely on it so much.
If you are curious about where the best selling book in history came from, here are some facts about the Canon [under] Fire. How did the Bible Get to be the Bible? Read these with an unbiased mind, and decide for yourself if they have merit:
Perspired or Inspired?
First of all, the Bible stakes its claim as being the inspired Word of God. [The Lord said to Moses] “You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth. I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him.” (Exodus 4:15-16, NIV)
One of the great questions regarding Scripture is, “Who wrote it, and therefore whose words is it speaking to us? According to Moses, who was reluctant to even represent God or to speak on His behalf, God was literally going to put the words into His mouth.
This type of process was reiterated by David in 2 Samuel 23:2 (who said, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.”).
God repeated this process in Isaiah 59:21 (“my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips”), and in Jeremiah 1:9. Jeremiah said “Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth”. Paul told Timothy (2 Timothy 3:16) that Scripture is God’s word, literally “God-breathed” into His selected authors. When you consider that over 40 different authors combined to publish a cohesive revelation over 30 centuries’ span, it does make one pause and reflect…
How Was the Canon Established?
This process of spiritual authorship and inspiration has come under fire within modern academia, and lots of people are skeptical about the Bible. They question its reliability, and whether or not the right books were included in its present form. Here are a few things to think about:
1. The current books of the Bible are known as the Canon, which literally means “a standard or measure”.
2. The OT canon was complete by 424 BC. That’s BC, folks. Jesus accepted its authenticity and its format, so I would be inclined to agree with Him.
3. The Hebrew People were fanatical about preserving their book without any variation or error. The Scribes were a professional group dedicated to copying Scriptures verbatim and preserving them for all time. That’s all they did. All the time.
Old or New?
4. So, what about the New Testament? Isn’t is just put together from a bunch of sayings and fragments? How do we know it’s really what Jesus said? Consider this. Few scholars would dispute the integrity or textual purity of Caesar’s “Gallic Wars”, which is validated by 10 extant originals, plus fragments. The NT is based on over 4,000 originals, with over 10,000 more partial copies or fragments. Why would anyone accept Caesar’s book, but question the New Testament?
5. The primary list of books in the NT was essentially completed by early church Fathers around 170 AD (within a generation of authorship, which is EARLY). There was still debate and discussion about the final Biblical list until around 380 AD when the Gelasian Decree was published.
It is interesting to note: “Besides the personal writings of the Church Fathers from the early second to the mid-third century, there are no fewer than ten ancient catalogues of the New Testament books in existence. Of these ten, six are completely in accord with our present canon, while three of them omit only the book of Revelation, and one the book of Hebrews.” (from McClintock and Strong, Cyclopedia, s.v . “Canon,” IV, 2.)
Why Recognize the Canon?
It is important to recognize the Bible as canon because it demands that it be treated as a whole, as one book. (In fact, it’s AMAZING that such a collection of ancient writings is actually cohesive enough to BE one book!) It proclaims the authority of Scripture and its usefulness to Christians. Furthermore, “the process of canonization would be described, not as an arbitrary act of decision or political imposition, but as a Spirit-directed process of discernment and judgment.” (John Webster, Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, “Canon”, page 99).
For my money, when you consider authorship, content, cohesion, the method, and the message it presents, the Bible is true. It’s an authentic revelation form God! It’s a LOT more difficult for someone to prove that the Bible is not the authentic Word of God than for me to maintain that it IS. Canon fire shoots both ways. If you want to argue that the Bible isn’t true, what evidence can you offer to say it’s not? Have you really investigated the Bible as a unique work of literature that has highly unusual qualifications?
The Canon provides a foundation for the Bible as Scripture, as a book compiled by over 40 different authors over a period of 2000 years that tells one story and points to events that changed history. It’s worth your time to investigate that story before you reject it. (https://christianheritagefellowship.com/canonization-of-the-bible/#top)
Don’t Fire the Canon
Doubters say the Bible couldn’t be a holy book,
When most of them have never given it a deeper look.
There are many facts that speak to Scripture’s authenticity,
And validate its authorship, its source and historicity.
Its Books are criticized and doubted more than dinosaurs,
Yet it has more proof of life than Caesar’s “Gaelic Wars”!
The Canon was created with the greatest of intentions,
And has more facts supporting it than I have room to mention!
Those who shoot the canon with a critic’s fiery blaze
Would do well to remember that the Canon shoots both ways.
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