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Besides this logical error, there are other problems within a sola scriptura framework with claiming as a criterion for canonicity that we accept those texts that received widespread acceptance by the early Church. Yet it is absolutely incorrect historically to imagine that the process of selecting certain writings and of rejecting others took place automatically without argument and debate and so bears visibly the mark of a divine work. It is an undeniable fact, for example, that James, Hebrews, and 2 Peter could not acquire general recognition until the fourth century, that until the sixth century the Syrian church rejected Revelation and of the Catholic Epistles accepted only James, 1 Peter and 1 John, at the same time giving an apocryphal third epistle to the Corinthians a fixed place in the ecclesiastical canon.

There simply was no single corpus of texts universally accepted by the Christians of the early Church. That is, like Ridderbos, Bruce believes that the Protestant canon as it stands should be accepted as an a priori. But he is also willing to make use of any other evidence that will support the act of faith by which one initially recognizes the Protestant books as belonging to the canon.

Luther answers the Canon Question by looking internally at the teachings of candidate books themselves. If so, they were canonical. Luther spoke boldly against the value and even reliability of certain books that all Protestants treat as canonical. Notice also that Jerome, while excluding 2 Maccabees, did accept Esther as fit for establishing doctrine.

Even if there were such a standard, it would be extra-biblical and, from the perspective of sola scriptura , effectively superior to the canon. That is because this procedural mechanism has the power, through its narrowness or broadness, to control what will and what will not be in the canon.

The Lutheran theologian W. For this theory to work, we first have to know Christ from some other source besides the Scriptures in order to determine the canon. Hence comes the need for special revelation of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the individual considering whether a given text preaches Christ. As Ridderbos says of the canon-within-a-canon view:. The final decision as to what the church deems to be holy and unimpeachable does not reside in the biblical canon itself.

Human judgment about what is essential and central for Christian faith is the final court of appeal. Scripture is relegated to a position secondary to human judgment. In our quest to determine how we know which texts are divinely revealed, we have found no answer to the Canon Question that does not itself violate sola scriptura by using some criterion external to Scripture to establish which books belong to Scripture. But even if one of the considered criteria could objectively yield a canon without resorting to extra-biblical evidence, the Protestant position suffers a deeper deficiency.

As I shall argue, the advocate of sola scriptura , by the terms of his own doctrine, lacks the authority even to give an answer the Canon Question. Power over the canon is power over Scripture itself because it is the power to eradicate a necessary part of the canon or to add a spurious part to Scripture.

Canon questioning Episode 1 - Is Tartarus secure?

So the Reformed position is not any more compatible with the Church or other human judgment being placed over the canon than it is compatible with their placement over Scripture itself. But the very act of answering the Canon Question inherently involves an extra-Biblical fallible human judgment, unless one is preserved from error by the Holy Spirit. This fallible human judgment, by defining the criterion of canon, exercises power over the canon itself. And as I just noted, power over the canon is power over Scripture. Since Protestants see the former as violating sola scriptura , there is no principled reason not to see the latter as a violation of sola scriptura.

If I propose a test for determining the canon of Scripture, I must have some basis for the claim that my test is objectively true. And that measure had to have some foundation before it could be accepted. Indeed, this foundation for measuring whether a person was actually the Messiah was established through the revelation of prophets, who themselves had to be tested for reliability and accuracy.

The Catholic or Orthodox Christian will point to the work of the Holy Spirit in the visible Church as the basis for his articulation of the canon, which work is seen in sacred tradition. Sproul has recognized this rationale. He famously has stated that the classical Protestant position does not see the Church as having infallibly defined the canon. If it is possible that wrong books were included in the canon, then it is also possible that right books could have been omitted.

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In other words, we can have no more confidence in the infallibility of the content included than we have in the process by which it was included. But in the Protestant scheme, because the process which yielded the canon is fallible, Protestantism cannot have complete confidence in the content of its canon. I learned that my old DVD player sends out something like pixels. Just as my pixel DVD player cannot yield a pixel image on my TV, so too my fallible collection of Bible books cannot yield infallible assurance. Again, the text of Scripture can be no more binding than is our conclusion of which texts are to be included.

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Like Sproul, Ridderbos rejects the Catholic view that the Church has the authority to define the canon. He attempts to maintain the fallibility of the Church without admitting to the fallibility of the canon as Sproul did. But what he admits with the one hand, he seems to take away with the other. If a mother explains to a child that he is to obey his father as head of the household, the mother has not thereby usurped her husband.

Returning now to the solution the Protestant must seek out, he must put forward an objective canon criterion having an authority above man as its foundation. The problem for Reformed theology with accepting that recognition of the canon rests on the authority of the Church flows from its preceding rejection of apostolic succession.

As Ridderbos puts it:. The Roman Catholic idea is really that apostolic authority has been transmitted to the church and that the church is empowered by its head to make pronouncements about the canon, as well as tradition, that are themselves apostolic and canonical pronouncements. This notion we hold to be again in direct opposition to the history of redemption, in which apostolic power is entirely unique in character and is not capable of repetition or succession. But this claim that apostolic power is incapable of repetition is unsubstantiated. The original Apostles shared the characteristics of having been instructed by Christ personally, and having been sent, or commissioned, by Christ.

It is true that the group of people who personally were instructed by Christ cannot increase in size today. That this distinct apostolic power can be handed down is thoroughly supported by Scripture and the writings of the early Church Fathers, as shall be discussed here in great detail in subsequent articles. The canon did not fall from the sky as one collection, of course. As I argued in section II, under sola scriptura , the canon could not be the product of criteria that rely upon evidence external to Scripture, for such evidence would thereby be placed over the canon.

And even if the Reformed system could articulate a canon criterion that did not rely upon extra-Biblical evidence, the very process of articulating a canon criterion would violate sola scriptura by subordinating Scripture to an extra-Biblical criterion. The fundamental problem, then, for the sola scriptura position is that it is left without any way of determining the canon that is faithful to its own paradigm of authority.

In spite of partially relying on a supposedly objective element—the self-attesting quality of true Scripture—the classical Reformed answer to the Canon Question ultimately depends upon the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit in the heart of each believer to resolve disputes where the objective measure does not produce agreement.

Sips & Stanzas Presents Questioning the Canon: A Discussion on Interpreting...

But since any two Christians who enjoy the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit, and who are new to Scripture, might not agree that a given text is canonical, this test is too subjective to be reliable. And because the inner-testimony criterion of Scripture is not reliable, it cannot be our final guide to determining the canon of Scripture. In this article, I have considered a variety of proposals for reformulating the classical Reformed position to be more objective.

But this critique would apply with equal force to any criterion that measures Scripture by extra-Biblical means. Finally, the very process of answering the Canon Question violates sola scriptura. This judgment is extra-Biblical, and is placed over Scripture because it defines the canon. Therefore, every criterion available to Reformed theology to answer the Canon Question will either be of dubious reliability or in violation of sola scriptura and hence not available to Reformed theology. I finish with a challenge, and one I offer with a heart longing for Christian unity. Approach your pastor, or the most knowledgeable Reformed teacher or theologian you know, and ask him how he is certain that the Protestant canon is correct.

Ask him which answer to the Canon Question he follows, and why he chose that theory over the others. Wrestle together with him until you have found an answer that both yields the book Protestant canon, and does not rely on subjective bosom-burning or extra-Biblical canon criteria. Let us pray to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit from the depth of our hearts for Christian unity.

But it did seem to me that those who reject Tradition, under the idea of attaining greater certainty, did, indeed, increase the uncertainty; not only by destroying a part of the law itself, but by attacking the credibility of the only proper and reliable witness to the inspiration and authenticity of the entire canon of Scripture. Share: […]. Thanks for all the work you put into this article, Tom. You pretty much countered every argument I read. I am trying to understand how the Catholic position is better than the Protestant position.

For instance, I am confused about the difference between Trent and the earlier councils of Hippo and Carthage. How was and how is a council determined to be infallible? How do we know what the declarations of the infallible councils really were? Are the teachings of the Magisterium considered perspicuous, unlike scripture? Exsurge Domine may not be considered infallible, so that may be a bad example.

Thanks for reading, and for the comment. Bearing that in mind, a primary difference between the positions, and a reason why the Catholic position is able to answer the Canon Question where the Reformed position is not, is that the Catholic Church can answer the Canon Question within its own framework.

The Catholic Church does exist in a doctrinal environment which rejects as a source of infallible authority anything but Scripture. Therefore, the Catholic Church can articulate the scope of the canon without resting on fallible human determinations. Rather, it can make the bold claim that the Holy Spirit has actively guided the Church to a determination of the canon without admixture of error. The Reformed can make this claim too, and some do as I noted in section II.

D, but this claim is ad hoc in that it denies the possibility that the Church was preserved from error in any other regard. How is it that the Catholic avoids the same position of building a claim of infallible truth i. Because the Catholic Church believes that certain determinations of the Magisterium are preserved from error. And unlike the Reformed system, this teaching authority can itself articulate which teachings are infallible and which are not.

It is a question i. It is similar to the issue of authority in a political context, which has even to this day has not been definitively resolved to the satisfaction of many. The reference looks like Could you tell us where you get this reference? Thanks for pointing that typographical error out and getting to the bottom of it. They take effort, but make a world of difference in the final product. Jeff, thank you for the kind note.

I agree that this is a pivotal issue, and I hope that our Reformed readers will take note. Tom, I was trained at a Nazarene university and came to the same conclusions you have here. This issue, among others, led me from Protestantism to Anglicanism. I have not yet made the leap to the Catholicism — a few nagging issues keep me from it. Excellent article. Every self consciously reformed Christian needs to read this. Yes I am wondering if a tu quoque argument is in order.

Another way of saying it — I am trying to understand why the Catholic belief is less ad hoc. Why is it only the pope who makes infallible statements, and not just any bishop of the Church? Are not all these boundaries ad hoc? How did the Church come to the conclusion that these boundaries of certainty were correct, without Christ establishing the boundaries in the first place?

Or did He? I imply this through a qualification I made in a few places, including this preface:. The assumption to which I referred is seen in various places in the article, for example, in the quotation accompanying footnote I am speaking of an assumption made by the Reformed that does not exist within Catholicism. In this way, there is no need to make a distinction between the Catholic and Reformed views about which you were asking.

This is because the Catholic Church sees herself as having cooperated with the Holy Spirit in articulating the canon. Please see the text accompanying footnotes 21 — 23 for more on this.

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As she sees herself cooperating with the Holy Spirit, being guided into truth, the Catholic Church does not have the power to add or subtract from the canon, because to do so would exceed her power. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. But are really only saying that the Reformed view, while as plausible as the Catholic one, suffers from a silly inconsistency? If the Reformed view suffers from inconsistency then it is not as plausible as the Catholic view because the Catholic view is consistent.

OK, but if we sheepishly acknowledge our inconsistency, are we good? Reformed guy becoming Catholic here. For the sake of clarifying what is the issue here, Tom, is your charge that the Reformed accusation against Catholics—that Catholics put something external over the Scripture in determining the canon—is inconsistent, since they replace the Magisterium with internal testimony of the Holy Spirit? Or is it that the Reformed position on the canon—i. Thanks for engaging in the conversation.

My reply to Jason involved the first of the two arguments you noted, though both appear though in slightly different form and wording in my article. You said the following in reply to my comment that the Reformed position is either internally inconsistent or ad hoc :. I have argued that if consistent and not ad hoc , the Reformed system would also need to reject whatever methods it has used to articulate the content of the canon of Scripture, because these methods would similarly usurp Scripture.

Without a measure or determinant of the canon there can be no known corpus of Scripture, and without a known corpus of Scripture, there can be no sola scriptura. Without sola scriptura , once one has rejected sacramental ecclesial authority, one is left with no ecclesial authority at all.

That is why I do not see it as a silly inconsistency, but as a critical one. A tu quoque response is not in order because the Catholic position is not internally inconsistent or ad hoc with regard to the determination of the canon, whereas the Reformed position is internally inconsistent or ad hoc. If we assume for the sake of discussion that out of these two possibilities the Reformed position is ad hoc , then let me reiterate in what way it would be ad hoc.

Contrariwise, the Catholic Church is not ad hoc in its method of determining the canon. The Catholic Church believes that she was aided by the Holy Spirit in deliberating upon those texts that were claimed to be divinely inspired, and in selecting the correct ones from that set. She believes that her bishops have authority from Christ to reach such theological conclusions. Note here that it is not the fallibility of the Reformed method that makes it subject to the inconsistency-or-ad-hoc criticism, so any supposed fallibility within the Catholic position would not thereby make it ad hoc.

You did ask about infallibility, though, so let me touch on that here. When the boundaries of infallibility are determined, they are determined by the Catholic Church. The boundaries are not always clearly defined, and in many areas of theology are still open to debate. Recall my discussion in section II. The faithful can look to their bishop, and trust in his absolution of sin, for their assurance of being in a state of grace.

This is their concern, not formulaic accession to infallible teaching. For more on the subject of infallible teachings and the Catholic Church, I know at least one good reference: Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. The pope is not the only agent of the Magisterium who can teach infallibly — the Bishops when speaking in a General Council can also do so.

In either case, this only occurs when addressing immediately revealed truths, as Ott addresses in much greater detail. Note that their articulation of such Truth is not necessarily an infallible and perspicuous articulation — it could possibly be said better, but is truth nonetheless. These teachings on the teaching of Truth are not themselves ad hoc because their articulation is within the teaching authority that the Catholic Church understands herself to have been given by Christ.

To be ad hoc , the Catholic Church would need to believe that she only had authority to teach in a way that binds consciences on theological subjects A, B, and C, but then also to teach in a binding way on her own teaching authority. Because their episcopal successors can act in persona Christi in leading the Church, the Church is not ad hoc when it does the likes of defining the canon, or defining what is infallible revelation, binding dogma, common teaching of the faith, mere theological opinion, etc.

I hope this has been a helpful start at cracking the surface of this topic. A separate post may be in order, and certainly I hope that we will tend to these matters in more depth in a future article. You have raised lots of issues in your lengthy essay, but for now let me just address this one. You seem to be understanding us to say that the internal evidences are all that should be used to determine canonicity outside the context of the Church.

But we do believe that it was the Church who made just these sorts of judgments. When the Church received the canon she did not flip coins to determine which books were in and which were out. The books that were received by the Church really did have the stamp of Apostolicity and the Church saw this and received them. The exact books of the canon are not defined in Scripture but this does not obviate the general principle of sola scriptura. As an analogy take the US Constitution. We thus believe in sola-constitution so as to speak.

Now if someone were to ask me how the elements of the constitution were determined I would appeal to the process by which the Founding Fathers defined the Constitution. But I would not use the Constitution to determine the elements of the Constitution, would I? But the fact that I in some sense appeal to something outside of the Constitution does not obviate my principle of sola constitution. The Constitution is still the final bar of authority even though I do not appeal to the Constitution when determining the elements of the Constitution. OK so far?

All right, then the same basic idea holds for the Bible. I believe in sola scriptura. Your Calvin quotes should not be taken as an all encompassing apologetic. If you are going to look for a specific apologetic against Catholicism I would go to someone whose purpose this was. I think you would better off quoting someone like Mathieson as Bryan did in the last big essay. From my standpoint both Protestant and Catholic appeal to the Church as the vehicle God used to form the canon.

Four conceptual possibilities here are: 1 An infallible God worked through an infallible Church to produce the canon 2 An infallible God worked through a fallible Church to produce the canon 3 A fallible God worked through a fallible Church to produce the canon 4 A fallible God worked through an infallible Church to produce the canon.

I hope no sane person would choose option 4. Liberals often adopt or lean towards 3. Conservative Protestants generally understand 2 to be correct, while conservative Catholics see 1 as being true. Now I now you will disagree with 2, but I would point out that 2 will produce an infallible canon just as much as 1 will.

For this reason I would say that the Church being infallible is superfluous if what we are aiming for is assurance and infallibility of the canon. Note I am not arguing here that the Church is not infallible at this point, only that she does not need to be infallible for the canon to be infallible. The adoption of position 2 above does not and has not produced an epistemological crisis among the Reformed.

Yes, I agree. However, in previous threads I have argued that there is no disagreement among the Reformed on the canon. And actually I think it could be argued that there is no disagreement among Evangelicals on the matter. For all the epistemological problems that Evangelicals have in other areas, on the canon they are solid.

At least I cannot remember ever hearing of an Evangelical scholar who expressed any sort of doubt on this matter. RCIA candidate here. Grew up in the Church of Christ. It seems like perhaps a never-ending cycle. What would you say about this issue? I wonder if what I wrote to Jonathan in 24 above explaining why this is not a problem for the Catholic clears up the issue for you.

The Catholic can trust the successors of the Apostles. They are successive bearers of the testimony of the Truth of Christ that the Apostles themselves once bore and took to the nations. We can trust them as our teachers, and we can have confidence in their remaining in the truth, because they were sent and anointed by Christ.

There is no vicious cycle in this understanding. I can believe the successor bishop today just like I could have believed the Apostle John nearly 2, years ago. The Constitution was not written inerrantly under divine inspiration pace some people I know! Four conceptual possibilities here are: 1 An infallible God worked through an infallible Church to produce the canon 2 An infallible God worked through a fallible Church to produce the canon ….

But Tom has shown that, while internally consistent, this is ad hoc. That is a funny statement. Please consider reading the full article, or at least the portions of my article where I raise the one issue you think you are addressing. You should at least read Sections I and III, as well as the sub-section of section II that applies to the perspective you intend to defend or address — in this case I believe that is section II.

In the article, I go in depth into addressing the classical and confessional Reformed position, and how it consists of both an objective and a subjective element. As for your Constitution analogy, I embrace the analogy, and see your understanding of its as false. You said:. He noted that the Constitution was formed by the People. I would add that the Constitution has an Article III creating a judiciary that within the first generation came to interpret the Constitution over the other branches of government, and more importantly for our purposes has an Article V that allows for amendment by the Congress or a convention raised by the states.

What you can amend at will you are superior to. So the Constitution cannot be the final bar of authority where it has an authority that can amend it. The Constitution identifies itself see, e. But in all these ways that I have noted, the Constitution does not and cannot lend support to the idea of sola scriptura. You also criticized my sourcing, although you did not demonstrate where I misrepresented the Calvinist apologetic against Catholicism.

The Canon Question

I think you would better off quoting someone like Mathieson [ sic ] as Bryan did in the last big essay. Again, please do read the essay. You will see that I not only made use of Calvin, but also heavily relied upon Ridderbos, Harris, and Bruce. Each of these authors addressed the Catholic view, but you will kindly note that I am not arguing against the Reformed critique of Catholicism. I am critiquing the Reformed view of the canon. So to an extent their critique of Catholicism is irrelevant to my premise.

I left Mathison out because it added nothing to my argument, and was extensively covered in our last article, as you noted. I left out other Protestant authors whom I have read on the canon as well, because at some point you have to limit citations. He takes up your possibilities in his work, which I cited. See supra section II. I hope you will get a chance to sit down and read it all. Thanks for writing this article.

It was articulated by Dr. If God has inspired various books for the encouragement and instruction of His people, then it necessarily follows that He would guide His people the Church to recognize these books. The other aspect of my question may even be slightly off topic.

While we have a basis for believing in the Bible, what basis do we have for believing in the Catholic Church? For my brother especially, we avoid subjectivity with regard to the Bible i. Or are we? The theory you are proposing in no way leads us to believe that the Protestant 66 book canon is correct. If God did lead the Church into selecting the correct canon, which we believe He did, then it is the 73 book canon that the Church has always affirmed. The basis for believing the Catholic Church is, aside from our ecclesiological arguments that I referred to in 34, apostolic succession.

We will have a lead article on that topic in a few months, but we believe in the Church which is in objective succession from the apostles, i. The critique of the Protestant claim does not apply to our recognition of the Church because our recognition has objective criteria that in no way depends on our private interpretation of Scripture. I went through your points but I cannot answer everything in your essay without giving an essay length answer back.

If we cannot break your essay down then I cannot explain where I think you have gone wrong. I was trying to speak to your 2. A point which is what I think you were focusing on in post If I have to answer all your points at once, then I give up. You and TC are reading way too much into my analogy. If he were to tell me I was being inconsistent by appealing to something outside the Constitution if the Constitution was the supreme law of the land, I would say that he has misunderstood the concept of the supreme law of the land. So likewise I say that the Bible is our supreme law spiritually or is the final bar of authority.

questioning canon

Now if someone asks me what the appropriate elements books of the Bible are I would appeal to something outside of the Bible. So let me just state bluntly that sola scriptura does not obviate the appeal to something outside scripture. The Church received the canon. We have no issues stating this. We are appealing to a source outside of Scripture but we are not contradicting sola scriptura.

I hope this makes sense why this is true, but if not ask me. I did read all of your Calvin quotes. I did not want to comment on them all one by one because my point was the same with all of them. Calvin was not attempting a comprehensive apologetic to Catholics here. He has a Protestant audience here, and even when he speaks of Catholics he is speaking to Protestants with assumptions that none of us Reformed folks are going to question. But you are raising issues concerning the relationship between the Church and the canon that are not at issue when Protestant speaks to Protestant.

They are good questions but Calvin does not address them. It would be the similar situation if an atheist read Calvin. He would think that Calvin was crazy and he would think that your answer to Calvin was crazy too. You and I share a great many assumptions concerning God, his revelation to us, etc that the atheist would reject. So we must have a different approach to the atheist when he asks us about Scriptures.

And likewise Protestants need a different approach to the question of canon when we speak to Catholics than when we are writing to teach and encourage other Protestant about Scripture which is what Calvin does in The Institututes and other works. I would not use Sproul as representative of the Reformed position. We have talked about his position here a number of times. This point does sort of get to my cases 1 through 4 which I hoped you might take up. It is not ad hoc to hold that the production of the Scriptures in infallible while other action of the Church are not.

But he never said that tradition was theopneustos and the RCC does not claim that tradition is inspired. There is a distinction between Scripture and tradition and thus we distinguish the work of the Church in receiving the canon and her forming traditions outside of Scripture.

Could there be any more principled distinction than that God distinguishes the Scriptures? The theory is OK. It does seem to lead to a 73 book cannon. The other feature of the argument is there are close parallels that can be draw with other doctrines. For example, the papacy and apostolic succession. To make the argument work you need to either accept generally that whenever God guides His people to recognize doctrine X that becomes strong evidence that X is true.

It makes a lot of sense. But if you accept this principle and you know history it is going to make you Catholic. It is very close to the catholic notion of sacred tradition. So I find it interesting that James White adopts this position. He must know that he is basically adopting Catholic thinking when he appraoches the cannon question that way. He has been invited to participate in this discussion. I hope he does. Andrew, we agree with you. This article is built on the arguments we made for the nature of the Church.

Your conception of Church was refuted in the ecclesiological arguments referenced above. Please refer to those and if you disagree with us, then refute our arguments on those threads. Andrew, I am mostly just a reader not a commentor at C2C. But I just want to quickly ask you one brief question. In your last comment you wrote:.

Is your query, then, not a textbook case of begging the question? But, then there would be no point of the argument, because you would have loaded the conclusion into the second premise, and so the argument would be question-begging. Nor does 4 follow. It would be ad hoc to maintain that God will guide His Church to recognize the canon, but not guide His Church to recognize orthodoxy from heresy between to The criterion used at Trent was primarily: Which books are used in the liturgy in the universal Church?

And the answer to that question is the canon declared infallibly at Trent.

Are a Few New Labels Too Much to Ask For?

Those books had been used in the liturgy of the universal Church for over a thousand years. Volume II: 2 Esdras was the real Ezra and Nehemiah together; and Jerome corrected that mistake and separated them into separate books. How could Trent infallibly declare to be non-canonical what popes a thousand years earlier had accepted?

These are clearer statements from Jerome than the ones you reference from prefaces to Tobit and Judith. There, Jerome seems to be saying he is submitting to the bishops orders to translate them into Latin, not that they are canonical. Wisdom, therefore, which generally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon. Thank you for bringing up Dr. It is similar to some of the views I addressed in the paper, and is prone to some of the same criticisms. I said that:. Ridderbos provides a modern Reformed articulation of the confessional view.

So the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit is intrisic to the process. I argue this at length in section II. The role of the Church is taken up in section II. I noted in the preface to section II that the theories were not mutually exclusive. Maybe it proves too much against your view, but I did not take it too far. As I said, the Constitution identifies itself for what it is, unlike the Bible.

You disagree with Herman Ridderbos, then. I addressed your statement in the following paragraph. Could you please tell me with which premise or conclusion you disagree? That would help me to focus my response:. Since Protestants see the former as violating sola scriptura, there is no principled reason not to see the latter as a violation of sola scriptura. Again, I look forward to focusing in on the part of this paragraph about which we are not in agreement. I note that Sproul is Reformed, and is ordained in one of the more conservative Reformed denominations in the U.

There is no one monolithic Reformed view, of course. Your summary of the argument is good, and I think Dr. Of course, this leads to the problem you pointed out, which is that the canon recognized by the Church seems to be the Catholic canon Dr. Scripture is the guide of the Church, and it is what makes Christians sufficient, trained for every good work 2 Tim. God guides the Church—but He does so through Scripture. I am not certain whether or not it is completely logical, but Dr. At least some people in the early Church such as St. Even if it can be shown that some, or even most, Christians rejected the Apocryphal books, the fact that there was uncertainty and debate for so long Dr.

And even if the reception of the Apocryphal books was a minority view, that would hardly prove that they are not canonical for the Protestant, given that the Protestant view on so many other things baptism, justification, etc. I can certainly see the strength of the position that is being advocated in this article.

However, I have another question my apologies if I seem inconsistent on kind of arguing both sides… about the Catholic position. And if so, how would the Christians before Trent know with certainty what the canon was? How would Trent infallibly declare to be non-canonical what popes a thousand years earlier had accepted? Which popes and where and in what capacity, exactly, did they do such a thing?

Note: a pope getting the canon wrong is perfectly compatible with Catholic theology. At best your argument is an appeal to several individuals, none of whom, including the pope, carry the full authority of the Church. The lack of convergence among individual Catholics in the early Church is a well known fact, and the article mentions this. All the more reason to believe in the Catholic canon — it was delivered to us by the Church and not the university unlike the Protestant canon.

The way I would state this is that Protestants will speak of the various internal evidences that demonstrate that it is the Word of God. The books of the Bible were not just picked at random, they really do evidence the hand of God on them and we can see it. There certainly is quite a bit of discussion of such things in Reformed and Protestant literature. If an author has no reason to be discussing it, the role of the Church may not be mentioned.

But we fully realize that if a Muslim or an atheist or a Catholic reads such a passage he will have objections over things that would not have been a point of contention with a Protestant reader. So you as a Catholic are bringing up the specific issue of the Church and we should not then talk about the internal work of the Spirit in His Word unless we also speak of the role of the Church. I think F. Bruce does this.

He speaks of the various internal evidences of the Scriptures, but he then moves to the fact that these evidences were used by the Early Church to authenticate the various canonical books. So when you as a Catholic ask me about how we got the canon I would not want to refer you to a Protestant work that only spoke about the internal evidences of divine authorship unless the author placed these evidences within the context of the Church.

All that the Church can lay down is this, that it has received the Canon as a standard and rule for faith and life, handed down to it with absolute authority. Ridderbos teaches here that it is the Church who receives the canon. Perhaps he was critiquing another position? Anyway, I agree with what Ridderbos says in my quote of him above. But if like Ridderbos in my quote, we see that the Church received the canon and received it with absolute authority then we will reject the concept of each of us making our own judgment on the matter.

And to qualify the statement about absolute authority, from my standpoint the difference between Catholic and Protestant is just where the locus of this absolute and infallible authority lies. Does it lie with the Church herself or does it reside just with God who works through the Church? I assume you are speaking of the differences between Catholic, EO, and Protestant on the canon.

I did not want to get into that with Tom because it seems like at the outset we can simplify the matter somewhat if we are just speaking of the Protocanonicals. But concerning what you would speak of as the Dueterocanonicals, it appears to us that while they did enjoy popularity in some geographies such as North Africa, there is little consensus during the Medieval Era as to the canonicity of these works.

Tom talks about Jerome not arguing for the exact same canon than the Protestants, but there is little unqualified support for these additional books at this point and really through the Middle Ages. I guess I was assuming that some Popes did approve of the canons of Hippo and Carthage later in the fourth and fifth Centuries.

Roman Catholic apologetics claim there was a council of Rome in where Pope Damasus approved of the same canon as Hippo and Carthage. The point is, Trent changed the earlier canons of Hippo and Carthage, on the Esdras issue, and that, according to RCC theology means that God was not guiding the Church infallibly for many centuries on that issue.

In RCC theology the ecumenical council does have that authority; but not in Protestant theology. Neither Popes nor councils are infallible; only the word of God, the Scriptures are infallible. Actually, I did not know that that would be compatible with Catholic theology. If God allowed the Arians to get control and promote heresy for 60 years after — ?? The councils of Rome and Carthage, though not ecumenical, were ratified by a pope and did affirm the 73 books of the Catholic canon in the 4th century. The canon, for the early Christians, simply meant the books which were allowed to be read in the liturgy.

The canon never has been a collection of books to base the faith on. This is an important point because had sola scriptura actually been believed in the early Church, we would have expected that the very first thing the Church would ever do is to clarify the canon, but this barely seems to be on their radar. Ken, Actually, I did not know that that would be compatible with Catholic theology. He needs to be intending to bind the consciences of all Catholics on the matter.

Most teaching, even in papal encyclicals, does not meet this criteria. If 1 Esras was a central point of the faith that would be a problem. It does not prove Ecclesial Deism when the church struggles to reach clarity on a matter. God can let us struggle and not let us fall. It sure looked bad than. But we often are tempted towards deism whne troubles arise in our personal lives. It is not surprising that some might be tempted to believe that when troubles arise in the life of the church.

But we believe God is in charge as a matter of faith. History bears this out. God does preserve His church through any storm. The storm ends up proving Him faithful. Which Scriptures and how do you know? Even if you succeed, you are still left with the problem of inconsistency. Yes, if he pronounces it as binding on all of the faithful. If you can show that the pope did this regarding the inerrancy of a book that Trent rejected as errant, then you will show him to be in contradiction with Trent. How does the RCC determine that? The precise definition was created in right?

At the time of their decisions, pronouncements, encyclicals, etc. Otherwise, why would they write a bull or encyclical? This thread is about the canon; we need to cut off the papal infallibility conversation. Please see Newadvent, for example, on infallibility if you want to research it. They are invitations to dialogue on the particular issues at hand, in this case the canon, and to mutually pursue truth. Thank you for understanding. With all of the work that you guys have done in dividing up the arguments between Protestants and Catholics into easily digestible chunks with well-defined segues between them, there is no need for our attentions to meander through seemingly-related but for the moment tangential issues.

At issue is a whether there is a contradiction between sola scriptura and certainty regarding the canon, and less importantly, b whether the actual Protestant canon was built through any of the rules by which its apologists claim it was, or whether there are exceptions to each of these rules making the exact choice of books ad hoc. I believe that Tom has conclusively answered both a and b in the affirmative, and it remains to the Protestant interlocutors to: 1 delve into the details of his argument without introducing general attempted tu quoques that can only be answered in the later articles that have not yet been posted on this site or answered through some research of your own — come on guys!

Both 1 and 2 are interesting and on topic — I applaud that which has appeared in those categories thus far. Tim and all — Ok, I will try to stick to the issue of the canon, but you guys are too restrictive, in my opinion; as all of these issues relate to each other. Protestant issues. Your main point in the OT Apocrypha section mostly on Jerome was that no church father held to the exact 39 book canon of the Protestant OT. Speaking technically, it is irrelevant to my main point what Trent decided. Trent post-dated the Reformation, of course, and my argument is about the canon and the Reformation.

Also, you treat the Aprocrypha as if it is a discrete set of texts that neatly go together. There is no such set. There is a set of deuterocanonical texts, but I am not sure if this is the exact set of texts to which you refer when you discuss the Apocrypha. Regarding the Church Fathers you noted who did not accept the Catholic canon, including your take on Jerome, I rest on what I said to you by e-mail:.

My primary contention is that it offends the doctrine of sola scriptura to define the canon by an extra-Biblical measure.

Questioning the Canon: Lunchtime Conversations, Week 1 – Bridge

Under this doctrine, one should reject a canon criterion that essentially measures the canon by fallible, extra-Biblical historical evidence. I agree completely with Ridderbos on this point. You seem intent on proving that some of the early Church Fathers, and the later Cardinal Cajetan a popular talking point for Protestant apologetics , did not stand behind the canonicity of the deuterocanonical books. You responded:. I think your canon criterion is that evidence of canonicity, including but not limited to the role of the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit, should only be discussed within the context of the role of the Church in determining the canon.

Also, I think you are challenging my summarization of the classical and confessional Reformed position by saying that I read books meant for other Reformed people who already understood the broader context, so I wound up taking them out of context. The works I cited in this article were not so limited in their scope or their intended audience.

Besides, I come from the Reformed position, so am familiar with the context of these readings—I speak the language, if you will. Please note that I separately addressed in section II. There I cited Bruce as an advocate of this position, just as you have cited him here in the combox.

Since my response to that position that the widespread acceptance of the Church defines the canon is contained within the article, I will not repeat it here. My opinion, which I laid out in the article, is that the classical and confessional Reformed view cannot use the testimony of the Holy Spirit as mere supporting evidence of the determination of the Church. Your quote from Ridderbos does not demonstrate that he believed the Church to reflect upon various evidence, including the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit, and then to determine the canon.

So he is not saying that the Church played a part in determining the canon. From what or whom did the Church receive the canon? In the context of addressing an argument, I define relevancy as that which makes a proposition more or less likely to be true. For example, if I argue that sola scriptura is invalid for the reasons given in this paper, then the truth or fallacy of papal infallibility is not relevant because papal infallibility does not make any of my premises more or less likely to be true. I hope that helps clear things up. I recommend that you read the ecclesial deism article.

It means that the universal Church will never believe or teach [either in ecumenical council or by the one holding the keys of the Kingdom] as definitively to be believed or held, an error in matters of faith or morals. While many bishops were favorable toward Arianism in the fourth century, Arianism was never taught by the Church universal or by the Pope, as definitively to be held by all Catholics, nor was it ever believed by the Church universal, even though it was believed in certain parts of the Church.

By contrast, many of the Catholic beliefs and practices that Protestants rejected in the sixteenth century had been believed by the Church universal for over a millennium, and some had been taught by the Church universal as definitively to be held by all the faithful. For this reason, insofar as Protestantism rejects such beliefs and practices, it presupposes ecclesial deism.

But in this case, the critics are justified in thinking that it is indeed the Western canon of art that is under attack, not just this one painting. However, the point that inevitably follows — that such a repudiation and reevaluation would be wildly out of proportion — is not true: The call to reject exploitation and to stop celebrating it under the guise of artistic freedom is only commensurate with the history of oppression that accompanied, justified, and was in turn justified by, these beautiful, masterful, interesting, important works of art.

Are a few, or even a thousand, new wall labels really so much to ask? Curators are free to reject such recontextualization of paintings as solutions to the problems raised by protestors. But they cannot reject the problems themselves. If we wish to display works of art that not only record but also celebrate exploitation, we must not allow their presence in our hallowed museums to justify or normalize it.

Opposition to art — whether physical, in the case of the Confederate monuments that have been brought down across the southern United States, or intellectual, in the case of the demands to remove works from view or to recontextualize them in a critical way — is nothing to take lightly.

But there is an argument for turning upside-down our entire approach to the canon of Western art, just as there is an argument for destroying every monument to the Confederacy that exists in the United States: They do not merely represent a historical oppression, they enact a present one. Die Zeit hast really gone off the ideological deep end recently into extreme postmodernism.

First, an article that seriously argued all men are predators.