Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Canon

Found the below thoughts on scripture from R.C. Sproul to be most interesting and thus thought I’d share.

The Canon of Scripture

We usually think of the Bible as one large book. In reality, it is a small library of sixty-six individual books. Together these books comprise what we call the canon of sacred Scripture. The term canon is derived from a Greek word that means "measuring rod," "standard," or "norm." Historically, the Bible has been the authoritative rule for faith and practice in the church.

With respect to the books included in the New Testament, there is complete agreement between Roman Catholics and Protestants. However, there is strong disagreement between the two groups concerning what should be included in the Old Testament. Roman Catholics consider the books of the Apocrypha as canonical, whereas historic Protestantism does not. (The books of the Apocrypha were written after the Old Testament was completed and before the New Testament was begun.) The debate concerning the Apocrypha focuses on the broader issue of what was considered canonical by the Jewish community. There is strong evidence that the Apocrypha was not included in the Palestinian canon of the Jews. On the other hand, it seems that Jews living in Egypt may have included the Apocrypha (in its Greek translation) in their Alexandrian canon. Recent evidence has surfaced, however, which casts some doubt upon that.

Some critics of the Bible argue that the church didn't have a Bible as such until almost the beginning of the fifth century. But this is a distortion of the whole process of canonical development. The church met in council on several occasions in the early centuries to settle disputes about which books properly belong in the Canon. The first formal canon of the New Testament was created by the heretic Marcion who produced his own expurgated version of the Bible. To combat this heretic, the church found it necessary to declare the exact content of the New Testament.

Although the vast majority of books that are now included in the New Testament clearly functioned with canonical authority from the time they were written, there were a few books whose inclusion in the New Testament canon was disputed. These included Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation.

There were also several books vying for canonical status that were not included. The overwhelming majority of these were spurious works written by second-century Gnostic heretics. These books were never given serious consideration. (This point is missed by critics who allege that over two thousand contenders yielded a list of twenty-seven. Then they ask, "What are the odds that the correct twenty-seven were selected?") In fact, only two or three books that were not included ever had real consideration. These were 1 Clement, The Shepherd of Hermas, and The Didache. These books were not included in the canon of Scripture because they were not written by apostles, and the writers themselves acknowledged that their authority was subordinate to the apostles.

Some Christians are bothered by the fact that there was a historical selection process at all. They are nagged by the question, how do we know that the New Testament canon includes the proper books? Traditional Roman Catholic theology answers this question by appealing to the infallibility of the church. The church is then viewed as "creating" the Canon, thereby having authority equal to Scripture itself. Classical Protestantism denies both that the church is infallible and that the church "created" the Canon. The difference between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism may be summarized as follows:

Roman Catholic view: The Canon is an infallible collection of infallible books.

Classical Protestant view: The Canon is a fallible collection of infallible books.

Liberal Critical view: The Canon is a fallible collection of fallible books.

Though Protestants believe that God gave special providential care to insure that the proper books be included, He did not thereby render the church itself infallible. Protestants also remind Roman Catholics that the church did not "create" the Canon. The church recognized, acknowledged, received, and submitted to the canon of Scripture. The term the church used in Council was recipimus, "We receive."

By what criteria were books evaluated? The so-called marks of canonicity included the following:

They must have apostolic authorship or endorsement. They must be received as authoritative by the early church. They must be in harmony with the books about which there is no doubt. Though at one stage in his life Martin Luther questioned the canonicity of James, he later changed his mind. There is no serious reason to be the least bit doubtful that the books presently included in the New Testament canon are the proper ones.

The term canon is derived from Greek, and it means "norm" or "standard." Canon is used to describe the authoritative list of books that the church acknowledged as sacred Scripture and thus the "rule" for faith and practice. In addition to the sixty-six books of the Bible accepted by Protestants, Roman Catholics also accept the Apocrypha as authoritative Scripture. To combat heresy, the church found it necessary to declare which books had been recognized as authoritative.

There were a few books in the Canon that were a matter of dispute (Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation) and some books that were considered for inclusion that were not admitted to the Canon, including 1 Clement, The Shepherd of Hermas, and The Didache. The church did not create the Canon but merely recognized the books that bore the marks of canonicity and were therefore authoritative within the church.

The marks of canonicity included: (1) apostolic authorship or endorsement, (2) being recognized as authoritative within the early church, and (3) being in harmony with the books that were undoubtedly part of the Canon.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Daddy Longlegs

A friend sent this to me, and I just had to share.

A father watched his young daughter playing in the garden. • He smiled as he reflected on how sweet and pure his little girl was. • Tears formed in his eyes as he thought about her seeing the wonders of nature through such innocent eyes. • Suddenly she just stopped and stared at the ground. • He went over to her to see what work of God had captured her attention.

He noticed she was looking at two spiders mating. • 'Daddy, what are those two spiders doing?' she asked. • 'They're mating,' her father replied. • 'What do you call the spider on top?' she asked. • A Daddy Longlegs,' her father answered. • 'So, the other one is a Mommy Longlegs?' the little girl asked.

• As his heart soared with the joy of such a cute and innocent question he replied, 'No dear. Both of them are Daddy Longlegs.'

• 'The little girl, looking a little puzzled, thought for a moment, then lifted her foot and stomped them flat. • 'Well", she said, "that may be OK in California , but we're not having any of that shit in Texas."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Christian Book List

Over the course of my Christian walk I have had the opportunity to read a large number of books, some classics and some modern offerings, which have impacted my walk. I thought I would provide a list of the ones I have found most helpful, as several of my friends have recently converted to Christ. I pray they and all those who read the below will come to know Him more fully. Many of the titles can be found here.

All of the works of the authors listed below are edifying. I have listed the primary work that has effected me; however, all of the works by C.S. Lewis or John Bunyan for example are worth reading.

1. Mere Christianity -C.S. Lewis

2. The Imitation of Christ -Thomas à Kempis

3. The Pilgrim's Progress -John Bunyan

4. Confessions -St. Augustine

5. The Institutes of the Christian Religion -John Calvin

6. Foxe's Book of Martyrs -John Foxe

7. The Practice of the Presence of God -Brother Lawrence

8. The Athanasian Creed

9. Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God -Jonathan Edwards

10. The Cross of Christ -John Stott

11. Knowing Scripture -R.C. Sproul

12. The Book of Common Prayer 1928 Edition

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Classic

This is a classic.

A Tourist walked into a Chinese curio shop in San Francisco . While looking around at the exotic merchandise, he noticed a very lifelike, life-sized, bronze statue of a rat. It had no price tag, but was so incredibly striking the tourist decided he must have it. He took it to the old shop owner and asked, "How much for the bronze rat ?"

"Ahhh, you have chosen wisely! It is $12 for the rat and $100 for the story," said the wise old Chinaman.

The tourist quickly pulled out twelve dollars. "I'll just take the rat, you can keep the story".

As he walked down the street carrying his bronze rat, the tourist noticed that a few real rats had crawled out of the alleys and sewers and had begun following him down the street. This was a bit disconcerting so he began walking faster.

A couple blocks later he looked behind him and saw to his horror the herd of rats behind him had grown to hundreds, and they began squealing. Sweating now, the tourist began to trot toward San Francisco Bay . Again, after a couple blocks, he looked around only to discover that the rats now numbered in the MILLIONS, and were squealing and coming toward him faster and faster.

Terrified, he ran to the edge of the Bay and threw the bronze rat as far as he could into the Bay.

Amazingly, the millions of rats all jumped into the Bay after the bronze rat and were all drowned. The man walked back to the curio shop in Chinatown .

"Ahhh," said the owner, "You come back for story ?"

"No sir," said the man, "I came back to see if you have a bronze Democrat."