“… the “Bible” as the early church’s sole rule for faith and life is anachronistic.”


“I am not claiming that we should have no confidence in the canon we have, but rather that we should be aware of how we received the canon we acknowledge as authoritative. My point here is that a knowledge of the formation of the New Testament canon has implications for the way Evangelicals have understood the nature and function of the Bible in our own traditions. No matter how one looks at the history, it is difficult to maintain that the church had a closed New Testament canon for the first four hundred years of its existence. This means that an appeal to the “Bible” as the early church’s sole rule for faith and life is anachronistic. Further, we need to recognize the manner in which the various documents found their way into the New Testament canon. The assertion that these documents forced their way into the canon by virtue of their unique inspiration has little historical support. In our desire to avoid the corrupting influence of tradition, we have often missed the fact that the very Bible we claim to accept as our only guide is itself a product of the very tradition we avoid. I will not mince words here because no serious study of the formation of the New Testament canon can avoid the fact that the church had a great deal to do with this formation. The Bible is the church’s book, and as many of the fathers show, the church has the responsibility to properly interpret the Bible because this same church has formed it. . . . The Christian faith did not grow in response to a book but as a response to God’s interaction with the community of faith. The Bible must be viewed as a product of the community because traditions of the community provide the context in which Scripture was produced.”

~Evangelical Craig Allert in A High View of Scripture? (Evangelical Ressourcement): The Authority of the Bible and the Formation of the New Testament Canon

Originally published at Brutally Honest.

Wizbang Weekend Caption Contest™
Weekend Caption Contest™ Winners April 8, 2016
  • Wild_Willie

    There are two believers. Those that believe in the Bible and those that don’t. Only one has a huge faith issue. ww

    • “Those that believe in the Bible…” as what exactly?

      • Walter_Cronanty

        The inspired word of God?

        • From the Catechism:

          101 In order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words: “Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men.”63

          102 Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely:64

          You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time.65

          103 For this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God’s Word and Christ’s Body.66

          104 In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, “but as what it really is, the word of God”.67 “In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them.”68


          105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”69

          “For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.”70

          106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. “To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more.”71

          107 The inspired books teach the truth. “Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.”72

          108 Still, the Christian faith is not a “religion of the book.” Christianity is the religion of the “Word” of God, a word which is “not a written and mute word, but the Word is incarnate and living”.73 If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, “open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures.”74


          109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.75

          110 In order to discover the sacred authors’ intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. “For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression.”76

          111 But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. “Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written.”77

  • Paul Hooson

    Another important story is that Bernie Sanders will head to Rome to see the Pope after tonight’s debate. This is yet another strong sign of the warm love many Jews have for this Pope who has worked so hard to improve relations with all Christian faiths, Jews and Muslim moderates.

    • CaptainNed

      Vermonter here, and pretty sure that Bernie wouldn’t know a synagogue if he bonked his head on the front door of one. I’ve seen him eat. He ain’t keeping Kosher.

      • Paul Hooson

        I’m a Jew as well. but I eat pork as do about 57% of Jews. I sure made a clerk and female customer laugh at the close-out grocer when I saw 10 1/2 ounces of sliced ham for just 99 cents the other day. I joked, “I’m Jewish, but also thrifty, and ham for 99 cents is such a deal. Oh well, religion is only so much…”.

  • The universal Church consists of more than the Roman Catholic branch, and the universal Church relies on theologians who have expertise in the Old Testament manuscripts and the New Testament manuscripts. Those theologians aren’t the one’s who disagree with the teachings of those manuscripts.

    • Paul Hooson

      I really like THE COMPLETE JEWISH BIBLE translated by David H. Stern a great deal. It uses the original Jewish names for the prophets and more. It includes both the Tanakh(Old Testament) as well as the B’rit Hadashah(New Testament), as well removing some antiJewish bias language that sadly made it into Christian translations of the Jewish scriptures.

    • In what way is this comment relevant to what Craig Allert, an Evangelical, and in case you don’t understand that, it means he is not Catholic, had to say in the excerpted quote posted?

      Be specific.

      And though your comment has little to do with the quote, can you name the theologians you’re referencing that disagree with Holy and Sacred Scripture?

      Be specific.

  • CaptainNed

    I’m no fan of Evangelicals, but his description of how the NT canon came to be is essentially correct.

    • Paul Hooson

      Pentecostals are more fun than the Evangelicals. You can’t beat those Pentecostals for entertaining sermons and great Holy Roller music. It’s great entertainment! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ4AN1q5RBU

    • jim_m

      Yeah that description works as long as you discard the central tenet of the Christian faith that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit. So if you are going to discard the concept of divine inspiration (as this author clearly does by claiming that it is a product of the community and not of God) let’s go ahead and discard the idea that anyone believing that it isn’t inspired is also a Christian, because they aren’t.

      • I need to understand how it is you can conclude that the author is discarding the concept of divine inspiration? It’s as if you are discarding this notion that the Bible was written by men… not by the direct hand of God.

        • jim_m

          “The assertion that these documents forced their way into the canon by virtue of their unique inspiration has little historical support. ”

          “The Bible is the church’s book,…”

          “The Bible must be viewed as a product of the community because traditions of the community provide the context in which Scripture was produced.”

          The Bible is not of God, it is of man. THAT is the overriding message of this man’s writing as posted above. He was pretty clear in his denial of inspiration.

          I have never said that it was written by the hand of God. I have pointed out that it was inspired. This man believes that it was not inspired at all and he makes it pretty darned clear.

          • jim_m

            And let me further expand on this to explain that while it is true that the various books of the Bible are both a product of inspiration and the person who wrote the individual book, and that each book is also imbued with the culture and personality of the person writing it, this man is claiming that this is all the books are.

            He is claiming that the books are a product of only the man and the culture. He outright denies inspiration.

            While some may focus on the fact that he supports tradition they are doing so while overlooking the fact that this guy is denying inspiration.

            I doubt any Christian, or Catholic, would deny inspiration in the way this person does.

          • Allert’s own words, from the book:

            I am not here denying the inspiration of the Bible, but rather I am arguing that we evangelicals have come close to deifying this collection of texts with little to no understanding of how they came to be collected into the Bible.


            I realize that some of the criticisms offered in these pages may give the appearance that I see little good in evangelicalism. In actuality, however, I offer the criticisms and choose to remain within my evangelical framework because I believe it has gotten many things quite right. I identify closely with evangelicalism precisely because its adherents hold the Bible as the ultimate authority for faith and life.

  • pennywit

    The history, for those who are interested: