“Sola Scriptura”, the Canon, and Roman Catholicism

Dr. James White and Dr. Michael Kruger, President and Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC, discuss the issues of the NT Canon, Sola Scriptura, and Roman Catholicism.

I don’t know why it starts where it does; so please rewind to the beginning after clicking on it.

Anyone commenting by way of seeking to refute the Protestant position on Sola Scriptura or the Canon as oppossed to the Roman Catholic view, needs to demonstrate that they have listened to the whole thing first. 

I especially encourage Muslims to listen to this carefully and take notes. It will help you understand why liberal critical scholarship is wrong about the canon of Scripture, and why the popular “Da Vinci Code” type argumentation by Dan Brown is wrong. Also, it will help to understand why the common mis-conception that the council of Nicea in 325 AD had anything to do with the canon of Scripture, is wrong. For more on the Council of Nicea of 325 AD, see here.  Also, you should invest in 3 of Michael Kruger’s books, in order to properly understand the truth of these issues:  

1.  Canon Revisted

2.  The Heresy of Orthodoxy, with Andreas Kostenberger

3.  The Question of Canon

see his 3 books at his excellent website here; and also see his past series on the canon.  

and here.

Also, see my earlier post on 2 of his books and website.

The English word “canon”, comes from the Greek word, “canon” ( κανων ) which came from Hebrew קנה ( QaNeh ), which originally meant a “measuring rod”, “a reed”, and came to mean “standard” (in Arabic and Farsi = معیار ،”criterion” (Furqan) فرقان , “rule”, “law” قانون , “principle” قاعده. It is related to the Arabic word, Qanoon (قانون ), which is another for “law”, “rule”, besides Sharia/Shariat شریعت / شریعه.  

“Canon” eventually came to mean the list of books that Christians believed were “God-breathed”/inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) and inspired. (2 Peter 1:20-21) They were only “canon”/ “standard” because they were already “God-breathed”/inspired. As R. C. Sproul has written, “the Bible was canon as soon as it was written”. (p. 82, Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible, Don Kistler, editor, Soli Deo Gloria, 1995) The books of the Bible were God-breathed and therefore canon, the minute they were written and the ink dried, for the NT, in the first century, for the OT when they were written. Because the 27 books of the NT were God-breathed at the time they were written, from around 48 AD to 96 AD, they were already canon because they already existed as God-breathed, inspired books. (same principle applies to the OT canon – they were inspired / God-breathed at the time of writing.) That is what Dr. White means by “canon is an artifact of inspiration”; “a book is canon, because it was already “God-breathed” when written.

That it took some time for the early church to discover all the books was because:
1. When they were originally written from 48-96 AD, they were individual scrolls written to different areas, communities, churches, by various people. So churches in certain areas did not even have all the books or letters yet, because others were written to other areas.
2. The codex form of a “book” was not even used much until the middle of the second century.
3. Many scholars believe it was the Christians of the early centuries that made the codex form popular and eventually evolved into our modern “book” form with a binding.
4. The Romans burnt many of the Scriptures during the first 3 centuries.
5. The persecution of Christians and difficulty of travel and communication contributed to the time it took to gather them all together under “book cover”, so to speak.

Also: Other Significant points to keep in mind:
1. The earliest list of all the 27 books together is by Origen around 250 AD.
(see here) at Dr. Kruger’s site

and

here. at Triablogue by Jason Engwer

2. The most well known list is Athanasius in 367 AD with his Festal letter 39. After listing the 27 NT books, Athanasius writes, “in these alone is the teaching of godliness” – notice the word “alone”. “sola” in Latin, Mono in Greek. It is a piece of historical evidence for “Sola Scriptura” in the early church.

3. But, both Irenaeus and Tertullian use most of the NT books (all four gospels and all of Paul’s letters except for they are silent on Philemon, a very small book. And they use Hebrews, 1 John and 1 Peter, Jude, and Revelation), these are either quoted as Scripture, alluded to, or named as authentic and written by an apostle or student of an apostle, by Irenaeus (writings – 180-200 AD); and Tertullian (writings -190-225 AD). They are silent on Philemon, James, 2 Peter, and 2 and 3 John. But Clement of Rome, in 96 AD, earlier, uses 2 Peter! Before Irenaeus and Tertullian, we don’t have earlier writings that are large. The letters and writings of Clement of Rome (96 AD), Ignatius (110 AD), Justin Martyr (165 AD), Polycarp (155 AD), the Didache(70-120 AD), The epistle of Mathetes to Diognetes (130-190 AD ?), pseudo-epistle of Barnabas (70-131 AD) (NOTE – this is not the late 16th Century forgery “The gospel of Barnabas”), the Shepherd of Hermas (140-155 AD) – these earlier writings are very small compared to the volumes that Tertullian and Irenaeus wrote.

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About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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