Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When did the canon really develop?

If you haven't ever heard of Bart Ehrman, you probably should have an idea of who he is. You can read about him here. In short he is a professor at UNC-Chappel Hill specializing in textual criticism of the bible. He's written several books at the popular level, which unfortunately have become fairly popular. I've read Misquoting Jesus but haven't read Jesus Interrupted. He is currently an agnostic, though once claimed to be born-again Christian. Now he spends time leading people to abandon any confidence that they may have once had in bible. 

The problem, amidst his pre-supposition that the bible is NOT God's Word-you can read about his tragic journey to disbelief in Misquoting Jesus-are some of his facts. Fortunately there are lads much smarter than I, who have time to spend researching, and who use this study and research to equip the church.

Sometimes Ehrman's tactics aren't simply textual. He and others like to reinforce the idea that the early Church really didn't have any sort of canon (meaning rod or standard) of inspired books. In fact that wasn't decided upon until the 4th and 5th centuries, at least folks argue. The problem as Dr. Micheal Kruger points out, is that this is misleading. We actually have a Muratorian fragment which many scholars believe reference a list of accepted books dating to 170 AD. Most of the books we currently have in our bible are listed. This shows that the early church did know which gospel accounts were inspired (there are a number of others that aren't), as well as Acts and Paul's epistles among others. 

While only the Spirit's internal witness can convict someone that the bible is God's Word, as the Westminster Confession of Faith reminds us CF (I.5), we should be ready to challenge the pre-suppositions, misinterpretations, and "facts" of those who cast doubt on God's Word.

Do yourself and your neighbor a favor by spending 3 minutes watching Dr. Micheal Kruger explain how the early canon of the bible was actually formed. You'll be glad you did.

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