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The Problem of Canon

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
June 30, 2022 12:01 am

The Problem of Canon

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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June 30, 2022 12:01 am

How do we know that the right books made it into the New Testament? Today, Michael Kruger unpacks three arguments made by modern critics who seek to undermine our confidence in God's Word, preparing us to give an informed response.

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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind. Why these books and no other books in our New Testament's regular thought about it and I'm sure you have you faithful to the content pages of your new test when you realize it with you at all others. 27 books are adjustment delivered on on the last 126 books 28 books everything we know and trust about our faith is based on the Bible and much of our theology comes from the New Testament, but opponents of Christianity's challenging questions about the origins authorship and reliability of those 27 New Testament books today. Dr. Michael J. Kruger joins us with evidence that will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the right books are in the Bible. Well let me begin by dislocated a series of discussions on the origin of the New Testament canon. So glad you could join us and be here for this. This is a topic that's been near and dear to my heart for number of years, both in terms of my writing and research and speaking and talking topic. I'm convinced has a lot of importance for the church and even for the individual Christian, but I want to begin this first session and really our whole series in a rather unusual spot. I want to begin by talking about Mohammed Ali. Now I know as we begin a discussion of the New Testament canon. I mentioned Mohammed Ali I know is going through your mind you're thinking or so while we talk about the boxer Mohammed Ali talk about the origins of the Bible, or the origins of the New Testament canon will not talk about the boxer Mohammed Ali want to talk you about the shepherd, Mohammed Ali in 1945 there was a shepherd by the name of Mohammed Ali, who lived outside this little town called nag Hammadi Egypt and one year. He was digging in the ground for fertilizer near his farm and he made what might be one of the greatest and most unexpected archaeological discoveries of the modern world there. Mohammed Ali was that day digging in the ground and his shovel hit something hard and he started uncover the dirt and peel away the layers and he found this earthenware jar and he thought for a moment, all his dreams had come true right that he bought man may be in here is treasurer goal or silver as repose out this jar and is thinking about breaking it open.

It was like something out of a movie and Riley's about to break it open. His brother was there stops and says I don't don't break open the writing evil genie inside Microsoft's debate back and forth about the stone door and finally said okay will open it up as the break drawer open and inside they don't find gold. I don't find silver or jewels. In fact, Mohammed Ali was profoundly disappointed because all he found inside the chart books dusty old Maureen books Mohammed Ali ended up selling them some antiquities dealer, not even realizing what he had found. But if you'd only known that day. What you discovered it would've absolutely changed his life because what he discovered was more valuable than any pile of gold refine because of Mohammed Ali found that day. Which he didn't know was what later came to be known as the Gnostic Gospels did in fact found 13 books 13 we call codices that held 52 individual stories and 52 individual writings in these told stories of Jesus that were radically different than the stories that you and I are used to told stories about Jesus, but had a very different feel about the different tone in different theology at the center of his Gnostic Gospels was on the most famous book you've heard about it, known as the Gospel of Thomas. If you read the Gospel of Thomas. He would say wow this at first glance sounds like Jesus but then it doesn't sound like Jesus. Because the Jesus and the gospel. Thomas actually talks not so much about how we can be saved from our sins, but really how we can, save ourselves and we can save ourselves just to having higher knowledge the Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas doesn't really talk about his own divinity. It talks really about or divinity, and how we can be divine, just like God. If you do read the gospel. Thomas, you ask a lot of questions, you would wonder what happened in this version of Jesus and why haven't I heard about this version of Jesus and read this book in what should we do with a book like this should be doing.

Always books that Mohammed Ali found that day.

Now if you were to ask those questions, you'd be asking the very same question that scholars and asking for for generations now, and that even like folks asking that is which book truly do belong our Bibles and how I know the time the gospel.

Thomas don't belong our Bibles and and after all, there's always other writings, there is at least some Christians read and they thought maybe more important books or should we add them to our New Testament's should we not add them to our New Testament. Should we think it those are valid versions of the story of Jesus to or what we do with these books that whole phenomenon that whole problem raised by what Mohammed Ali discovered in 1945 and I'm calling the problem of Canon okay the problem of Canon is really the topic of our first session today because the problem canon gets at this question of why these books and no other books in our New Testament's name your thought about it and I'm sure you have any conflict to the content pages of your new test when you realize it. If you add all others. 27 books and adjustment never dawned on you to ask for 126 books 28 books. What about looks like the gospel.

Thomas is just as valid as St. John or Luke or maybe those should be out in, should be in now.

If you think about from among those kinds of questions are very obvious and basic and normal to ask, and scholars have realized that that's a bit of a problem for Christianity if I decided scholars that have notice that critical scholars have especially noticed that what they've done is a decided that hey if you want to attack Christianity. This is a great spot to do it right. If you want to challenge the validity of the Bible. Let's do it here because they don't think Christians actually have an answer those questions. I don't think that we can know which books belong in which books down.

In fact, they would say to us as believers that really your belief in these 27 books as opposed to others is a bit of a blind leap of faith.

You Christians can believe it. If you want. There's no reason I think that you're really right about these books of interest to Sean the dark and could be Thomas.

It could be always other books.

How do you know anyway so some scholars have called this the Achilles' heel of Christianity. This is our big vulnerability. So were told now to write what I mean by this is the right in this way if we don't have answer the question of how we know what we have confidence of these are the right 27 books that does raise a question for Christianity.

I mean how can we talk about the message of the New Testament. If there's no New Testament release.

No coherent boundaries of the New Testament would talk about the message that we read in our Bibles. If we can justify the sort of circumference in the scope of our Bibles.

And if we don't have a New Testament, we can have a New Testament theology New Testament theology would have a gospel message, and when he realizes the critics are right in one way, if we don't have some answer to why these books are not other books in as soon some sense become the Achilles' heel of the Christian faith.

And so the whole point of this series together with you is to begin to answer that question to build answer that problem will explain why we believe these books and no others. I'm convinced this is a critical issue for the church. I suppose someone might argue, well, look, you know why we worry about what scholars say mean the person imputing.

They believe the why militias leave the issue alone. I wish it were that easy is not that easy.

Here's why.

One of things that happened in recent years is that scholars have begun writing not just for other scholars.

If you notice this, but scholars have begun writing for people at light level out in the world's all the many of the books are now becoming popular level books in the writing more stuff on Internet blogs and you realize the issue just won't go away because they're trying to target the average person. Christians need to have a good answer to these questions no reason it won't go away though is not just because scholars writing for laypeople now there's other issues behind the issue of Canon and actually what I want to do with the rest of our first session today as I want to lay out three other issues going on that are feeding this issue of Canon. You can look alike, as these are three factors in play in the scholarly world that are exacerbating the problem right there. Continue to make Canon issue and generate discussions and so someone says why golly it's been what, 1500 years since the church supposedly decided these things. How could it not be resolved in the answer is that three things met Ray tell you three things keep popping up that keep raising the issue again again in people's minds. You sort of think of this as three tributaries feeding a bigger river. Okay you want to know why your river has such a high level of water will easy tributaries are feeding into it right in there making it run really fast. That's what's going on so I use this on missile layout. These three factors. This is still in why the problem is a problem for the church… Walk through these three factors one at a time in the first is this. There's been a number of doubts raised over the last few generations about the authorship of New Testament books number of doubts raised over the years about the authorship of New Testament books.

Now you and I don't think much about this right when you read a book and you see a name attached to it. You're like me, you assume that the name attached was the name of the author right so when you look at the gospel of John a look at that first page it says the gospel of John, you rightly think well it was written by John the apostle, the son of Zebedee. He's the author of this, but scholars are being asked questions about that and they begin to say will John wrote that you know John wrote John and Nate. I know Margaret Markin how you know who these people were and they begun to raise questions about how and whether we can be sure about the authorship of New Testament books, but actually there challenge goes deeper than that. They're not just asking how we know what the authors of these books are they're actually suggesting that a number of the books in our Bibles are new Testaments are actually forgeries of the words is not just that we don't know the author is, but they argue we have reason to think that the authors are people pretending to be someone they're not. So for example when you look at the book of Ephesians that we think Paul wrote scholars say will pop and really right that Paul didn't write that all federal some pretending to be Paul wrote Ephesians writing in Paul's name was a forgery. Another example… Second Peter some scholars look at second Peter say well you think Peter is a computer, but was really Peter some soldier pretending to be Peter and this is become one of the main sort of thing. Scholars want to talk about. It's a bit of a of a dripping faucet right since keeps going drip drip drip. The issue keeps coming up again and again is a recent book that came out on this topic by Bart Harmon. Now if you don't know Barton's name you him to mention his name several times for Don Waterman is a professor at UNC Chapel Hill act actually hands me my alma mater.

He's probably one the most prolific criticizes of Christianity today he finds all kinds of reasons not doubly Christianity in the Canon Housley one of his favorite issues. He wrote a book over the last couple years and this is the title of the book, listen to the title. This is book is called forged writing in the name of God in the subtitles.

This why the Bible's authors are not who we think they are now 20 year that title that probably kinda raises some concerns right you're probably think that Telcom bothers me know what you think about that title, authors are not who we think they are will will and who are these people and why should I think that I should listen to them if their forgers up there forgeries molding their liars and their lawyers why those books in my Bible. You can see the title like that is designed to stir doubts within believers and this is one of the things that's making the Canon issue be an issue. Think about the kid issue.

Just why these books are no others, but this is one of the tributaries it's feeding it because as soon as you start asking a question about whether these are the right authors. This is when asked what is the right book

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