Canon Inspiration

This is an incomplete thought but I thought I’d blog it anyway:

A guy in Theology I asked Dr. Vanhoozer “Is the canon of scripture infallible? If so, how do you know?” and followed up with somthing about councils, etc. Dr. Vanhoozer wasn’t flustered by the question and I could tell that he had more to say but felt the time crunch so he gave a rather simplistic answer and said that we’d cover canon later in the course. It got me thinking on the subject once again. Here’s part of my thought process.

This is an irrelevant question. Why? Because the canon is inerrant, whether that is infallible or not does not matter since it is a fait accompli and it isn’t open to question as to whether it could have gone wrong, it didn’t. How do I know this? How do I know anything to be true?

What is at stake here is whether councils are infallible. We know that they aren’t. For example, the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) said things that were later overturned. They prohibited meat sacrificed to idols (v 29) which Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Sprit later pronounced to be okay (1Co 8).

We do not need an infallible council to formalize the cannon of the NT. What we do need is a council who was inerrant on that point. And councils have made statements that are inerrant. In the Jerusalem we find that they said that Gentiles need not be circumcised (v 19). This was later upheld by the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:2-6).

The next question then is how we may know when a council has spoken inerrantly? The question becomes even more pointed when they speak on a subject that is not in the Bible. On the question of the cannon the point is illustrated most clearly.

We may know that the NT cannon is correct because of two witnesses, 1) the Holy Spirit and 2) the holy catholic and apostolic Church. First, the Holy Spirit provides subjective internal witness to His Word in the heart and mind of believers who ‘hear’ His voice in the text of scriptures as they read it. But we are not left alone with only this subjective experience; the Church has, through the centuries, authenticated the canon and upheld the canon. There is no reason to add or remove books since the Church has not, historically, recognized them. The Didache is a wonderful, ancient Christian document that is helpful in understanding the teaching of the Church Fathers, but it is not inspired scripture.

More could be said but time prohibits.

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