Friday, July 9, 2010

Defending the Protestant Canon

Luke Ch.11:47-51 : text is in verse 51

“47 Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.

48 Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.

49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:

50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;

51 From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.”

     Christ recognizes the Old Testament canon as running from Abel in Genesis to Zacharia, whose book does not appear last in the Protestant canon order though he is known to be the latest writer in that canon chronologically.  This answers two major questions concerning canon by the Lord's decree, not by man's.

     Firstly, Christ verifies the authenticity of the Genesis account.  By citing Abel as a prophet, Christ is acknowledging that Moses' account in Genesis is real history at least as far as Jesus is concerned (which should be as much evidence any Christian needs).  His statement here means that Abel was a real person, not some mythical invention of later tradition.  In fact, it is tradition vs the Word of God that is the subject of this very debate.  Christ is saying to the Pharisees that they must reference real history, God's real Word, not their traditions when giving guidance or being guided as how to live.  Christ includes Abel (thereby incorporating the Genesis account) as part of that real history. Thus, if the book of Genesis is actually metaphor, Christ's whole argument falls apart meaning He was in error which means He was not God.  Chuck Genesis from real history & you chuck Christianity out the same window.

     Secondly, Christ affirms that the extra books included in the Catholic canon are, in fact by His decree, not authentically canonical.  Christ here Himself closes the canon chronologically at Zacharia.  This is why books such as Maccabees & Jubilees are not included in the Protestant canon.  Christ in advance confirms the writings of the apostles as canon (see Jn 16:14 note "Christ Verifies the NT"), but excludes all books in the so called 400 year "Silent Era."  Any debate over canon must center on this verse, a proclamation from the Lord Himself, which can not be denied, altered or refuted.  Certainly we can look to these books as probable historical accounts in the same way as we might consult the Autobiography of Ben Franklin to understand life in colonial America.  However, we would never call Ben Franklin's work "inspired" just because it is historically accurate.  "Inspiration" implies & must demonstrate more than historical accuracy (though that is a vital requisite component).  Thus, if the Lord Himself did not see these as books worthy to live by, then neither should we.

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