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Just about everyone wants to know how the sixty-six books got chosen to be in the Bible. Why these sixty-six? Why not a few more (or a few less)? Why these books and not others?

In Persecution in the Early Church, Herbert Workman tells the story of a Christian who was brought before the Roman governor of Sicily during the last great persecution of the church. His crime? Possessing a copy of the Gospels.

The governor asked, “Where did these come from? Did you bring them from your home?”

The believer replied, “I have no home, as my Lord Jesus knows.”

The governor asked his prisoner to read a portion of the Gospels. He chose a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Next he read from Luke: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

At this, the judge ordered the prisoner taken away — to his death.

Under Roman law new religions were illegal. In its first few decades Christianity was seen as a sect within Judaism. Once it was determined that Christianity was a separate religion, it became illegal to identify as a Christian. So, for the first three centuries of what we now call the Christian Era, it was a crime to be Christian. Persecutions sprang up throughout various parts of the empire. Believers were tortured and sometimes martyred for their faith. In 303, Emperor Diocletian ordered the confiscation of Christian property and churches and the burning of Scriptures. Believers and their Book had become so inseparable that the way to eliminate Christianity was to eliminate the Bible.

How the Bible Came Together

Who decided what went into the Bible? The short answer to that question is no one. Or maybe a better answer is God did. When scholars talk about how a book qualified to be called Scripture, they list five characteristics called the laws of canonicity. But these characteristics are recognized in hindsight; they weren’t developed by a particular group at a particular time in history.

After his resurrection, Jesus commissioned his followers to go and make disciples, and they did. They devoted themselves to sharing the Christ’s good news, enfolding people into local churches and teaching them to obey all that Jesus had commanded.

These Jewish believers already had Scripture. Around Palestine the Jewish Scripture is exactly what Protestants today call the Old Testament. Jesus referred to these books when he spoke of the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms (Luke 24:44).

Outside the Holy Land, some Jews included 12 to 15 other books as part of Scripture. The Septuagint, which was translated in Egypt, contains books that we now call the Apocrypha. (Apocrypha means “those hidden away.”) Early Christians differed over whether these extra books should be considered Scripture or not. Those nearest Palestine tended to exclude them. Those closer to Rome tended to include them.

During the sixteenth-century Reformation, Martin Luther spoke strongly against the Apocrypha. In reaction the Roman Catholic Church convened a council in Trent (now in Italy), where they declared the Apocrypha to be canonical. To this day Catholics and Protestants disagree on this issue. Catholics uphold the Apocrypha. Protestants believe that the Apocrypha is useful but not inspired.

Wherever Christianity spread, Christians gathered for worship and instruction. In keeping with the customs of the Jewish synagogue, a portion of Old Testament Scripture would be read and explained. Meanwhile, the apostles, along with other evangelists and teachers, traveled from place to place to plant churches and encourage believers. When one of these recognized leaders was in town, he was invited to speak during the service.

As need arose, the apostles wrote letters to various churches. When a letter arrived, it was read with great excitement in the worship service. Often the letter would be copied and shared with neighboring churches who, in turn, would share it with still other churches. Naturally, the more inspiring letters were copied and shared more often.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul wrote, “After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16). We still have the letter to the Colossians. The letter to the Laodiceans was not considered inspired or pertinent enough to be preserved.

Around A.D.150, Justin Martyr described worship this way:

On the day called the Day of the Sun all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then all rise together and pray.

 

By this early date, “the memoirs of the apostles” were considered as important to the teaching of the church as the writings of the prophets.

Marcion and Montanus. About ten years earlier, a wealthy ship owner named Marcion sailed from his home near the Black Sea to the capital city of Rome. Marcion believed that the God of the Old Testament was different than the God of the New Testament. The former was distant and loved justice, while the latter was loving and emphasized grace.

Marcion rejected the Old Testament, along with any writings that might reinforce views other than his own. He developed a list of books he considered acceptable: portions of the Gospel of Luke, ten of Paul’s letters, plus a letter purportedly from Paul to the Alexandrians. This list is known as the Marcion Canon.

The church had to respond to this. Though nothing had been officially written down, decided or proclaimed, most Christians had a sense of what was Scripture and what wasn’t.

Between A.D.156 and 172, a second provocateur appeared on the scene. His name was Montanus. Montanus was accompanied by two prophetesses, Prisca and Maximilla. “The Three” spoke in ecstatic visions and encouraged their followers to fast and pray, calling the church to a higher standard of righteousness and zeal. If that was as far as their teaching went, they would have been an asset. But their message included what they called “new prophecy,” which pushed Christ and the apostolic message into the background. The age of Jesus was being superseded by the age of the Holy Spirit, and Montanus was its spokesman.

Was Montanus truly bringing a new prophecy with new authority? Prophecy more authoritative than Jesus and the apostles? This question prompted the church to respond a second time.

In A.D.144, the church of Rome excommunicated Marcion and continued the sifting process on what was Scripture and what wasn’t. The Montanus controversy pushed the church to ask further questions of their Scriptures. Specifically, was God bringing further revelation? Could that revelation be true if it contradicted things taught by Jesus and the apostles? Could new truth change or add to the basic teachings the church had been feeding on for the past century? The answer was no. From this, the church concluded that the canon of Scripture was closed.

Spurred by these dilemmas, the church developed its list of canonical books. The following are guidelines for accepting a book into the New Testament:

1. Was the book written by a prophet of God?

2. Was the writer confirmed by acts of God?

3. Does the message tell the truth about God?

4. Did it come with the power of God?

5. Was it accepted by God’s people?

These are the marks of canonicity. “Canon” is a Greek word meaning “rule” or “measuring stick.” These five questions are used to determine which books “measure up” to being labeled divinely inspired. They exhibit “the marks of canonicity.”

Turn to a Bible’s table of contents and you’ll see that each of the books was written by either a prophet or apostle (Ephesians 2:20) or by someone with a direct relationship to one.

Miracles were the means by which God confirmed the authority of his spokesmen. In Exodus 4, Moses was given miraculous powers to confirm his call. In 2 Corinthians 12:12, Paul teaches that the mark of an apostle is “signs, wonders and miracles.”

Truth cannot contradict itself, so agreement with the other books of Scripture was only logical. As was historical accuracy. If the facts of a book were inaccurate, it couldn’t have been from God.

The inner witness of the Spirit was equally important. A key question these early Christians asked was, "When we read this, is there an inner sense from God that what is written is right and true?"

Initial acceptance by people to whom the work was addressed was crucial. What was the original audience’s sense? Did they accept the book as an authoritative word from God? Daniel, who lived within a few years of Jeremiah, called Jeremiah’s book “Scripture” in Daniel 9:2. Paul called the Gospel of Luke “Scripture” in 1 Timothy 5:18. Peter affirmed that Paul’s letters were “Scripture” in 2 Peter 3:16.

The Muratorian Fragment. Even before Marcion and Montanus, the church was aware of these important criteria. In A.D. 96, Clement of Rome wrote, “The apostles were made evangelists to us by the Lord Christ; Jesus Christ was sent by God. Thus Christ is from God and the apostles from Christ. . . . The Church is built on them as a foundation” (1 Clement 42).

After Marcion and Montanus, lists of New Testament books begin to appear. One of the first was The Muratorian Fragment. It was discovered among the Vatican’s sacred documents by historian Ludovico Antonio Muratori in 1740 and dates to about A.D. 190. The fragment is damaged. The portion we possess begins with “the third book of the Gospel is that according to Luke.” We assume the first and second Gospels to be Matthew and Mark. The fragment lists John, Acts, all of Paul’s letters, James, 1–2 John, Jude and the Revelation of John. It also includes the Revelation of Peter, the Wisdom of Solomon and (“to be used in private, but not public worship”) the Shepherd of Hermas.

Eusebius. By the early third century only a handful of books that we now call our New Testament were in question. In western regions of the empire, the book of Hebrews faced opposition, and in the east Revelation was unpopular. Eusebius, a church historian of the fourth century, records that James, 2 Peter, 2–3 John and Jude were the only books “spoken against” (though recognized by others).

Athanasius. In 367, Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, wrote an Easter letter that contained all twenty-seven books of our present New Testament. In 393 the Synod of Hippo affirmed our current New Testament, and in 397 the Council of Carthage published the same list.

Who Decided What Belongs in the Canon?

Theologians are careful to note that the church didn’t develop the canon; God did that by inspiring its writing and superintending each book’s preservation. The church recognized the canon by experience and mutual agreement.

Dr. Hal Seed is founding pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, CA. In the past five years, New Song has seen over 5,000 people make first time decisions for Christ. Hal is the author of Future History: Understanding the Book of Daniel and End Times Prophecy,  Jonah: Responding to God, I Love Sundays, The Bible Questions,  as well as The God Questions. Each of these books is being used in small groups and church-wide campaigns around the country.

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Pablo Taylor

commented on May 28, 2013

The authority of then Scriptures were determined by the Holy Roman Catholic Church right from the very first Pope Peter of whom Christ build His Church. Martin Luther was in error when he took out some books while others put them back again in their own version of scripture. Why does the protestant church accept the Scriptures but reject the very Church that it came from. All Scripture is inspired not just what the protestants choose to believe. There is just One Church founded by Jesus Christ and not tens of thousands of churches. There is just One Body of Christ and not tens of thousands of sects. There is One Truth for all and not self revelation. If you are going to quote Martin Luther then follow his doctrines or come back to the Truth of the Roman Catholic Church the Only Church founded by Christ. You cannot study Church history without studying the Roman Catholic Church and you cannot study the Roman Catholic Church without studying history. The two go hand in hand. There is no separation of Church History and that of the Roman Catholic Church. Even studying the Inspired Scriptures brings us back to the Roman Catholic Church. And likewise studying the Roman Catholic Church brings us back to Inspired Scripture. The two cannot be separated. The Roman Catholic Church is the True Church of Jesus Christ yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Go back and read The Inspired Scriptures provided by the True Church, and go back to all Inspired Scripture and not just what you believe to be inspired.

Joe Mckeever

commented on May 28, 2013

Pablo, you are out of your depths in this discussion, friend. If you believe Peter was the first pope, you have just thrown away all historical scruples and opened the door to believing a thousand false teachings. Can we stay with the subject here? This is a great article and I'm so grateful for it.

Sheldon Boyd

commented on May 28, 2013

WOW! While I love the church I am a part of I certainly do not consider it to be the "Only church". Not sure where we read that Jesus established any church, in fact I thought the scriptures teach that "We" are the church.

Deacon Mike Daniels

commented on May 28, 2013

Joe that is the subject - where did the bible come from - "Who Decided What Went into the Bible?". And Pablo is correct. As a 19th Century convert to the Catholic Church - John Henry Cardinal Newman - once said, "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant." Jesus came and founded a Church. He never wrote down one word, he founded a Church with 12 Apostles as the leaders of that Church. And that Church was one church for 1000 years. It was that Church that gave us the cannon of the bible. The facts are the facts.

Michael James Monaghan

commented on May 28, 2013

I agree with Joe McK. It is a great article. I just had one quible; it was Hal Seed said , 'the Church of Rome' where I would have prefered , 'the Church AT Rome' Then I saw Pablo's response. It's pleasing a Roman Catholic looks in though ?. The reason I would have liked AT Rome was that the Roman Catholic Church with Popes and Vatican assertions probably didn't form that way until about 3-400 Ad . Islam may moan about the Crusades; but the Inquisition knocked out most Christian biblical witness . I sometimes wonder if the religion of romanism hadn't surpressed learning and the scriptures if the printing press might have been discovered centuries earlier ?. There is NO evidence Peter was EVER in Rome let alone reside there for the years Romanism claims . Apart from that , Peter was an Apostle to the Jews . Much of Romanisms claims are evidently open to debate . That Christ gave Peter the keys for the Roman Church; that Constantine granted Papal Rome ; and that Canon Law ( the twin of Sharia law ) can be traced back to the apostles . Look for 'The false Decretals ; and 'The Donation of Constantine ' online . Nice try Pablo. But not convincing .

Hal Seed

commented on May 28, 2013

Hi folks. For the sake of copyright, my publishers at Intervarsity would like it noted that what appears here as an "article," is actually chapter 3 of my latest book "The Bible Questions" (IVP, 2012). If you enjoyed it, I hope you'll hop over to www.pastormentor.com and pick up a copy. - Hal Seed

Bill Williams

commented on May 28, 2013

@Pablo and Deacon Mike, I know and am friends with many Roman Catholic believers, and I accept them as my brothers and sisters in Christ. Having said that, I'd like to address a couple of points. First of all, the Scriptures did not come from the Church, as the Scriptures that we know as the Old Testament were already established centuries before Jesus Christ and the Church. Second, it is not true historically that the Christian Church was "one church" for the first one thousand years of its existence. I refer you to Bart Ehrman's book Lost Christianities. In it he demonstrates how in the first centuries there was a wide range of beliefs all claiming to be "Christian." It appears that there was as much diversity in the Christian Church in its first centuries as there is today. Ehrman is an atheist, so obviously I don't agree with all of his conclusions. But his historical documentation is solid. Blessings to you both, and have a wonderful day!

Pablo Taylor

commented on May 28, 2013

Bill, You say that the Scriptures come from the Old Testament. How do you know that the Old Testament is inspired? There has to be an established Church that can tell us what is and what is inspired. Having thousands of so-called Christian churches, movements, sects, etc., causes a lot of problems with doctrines. Who is right and who is wrong? And who decides what is right or what is wrong? I refer you to study the Holy Saints of the RCC and also to study the great Popes of the RCC and not some book written by someone who doesn't even believe that God exist.

Pablo Taylor

commented on May 28, 2013

Joe M. says: Pablo, you are out of your depths in this discussion, friend. If you believe Peter was the first pope, you have just thrown away all historical scruples and opened the door to believing a thousand false teachings. Can we stay with the subject here? This is a great article and I'm so grateful for it. Joe, what part of historical scruples am I opening the door to? You say to stay on the subject. The subject is void if we cannot recognize where the true source of Scripture came from. It it wasn't for the RCC we would have the Scriptures as we have today. The name of the article is WHO DECIDED WHAT WENT INTO THE BIBLE and I said that it was the Roman Catholic Church. What part of the subject did I sway away from?

Simeon Ngezahayo

commented on May 28, 2013

Dear Hal, Yes. God Himself chose the books to be included in the Holy Bible but used man. You should consider the very content of the Bible as it is, and not cling onto the books out of the 66.

Jason Mahurin

commented on May 28, 2013

How about this - instead of coming to a website to bicker with FELLOW BELIEVERS about semantic arguments, what do you say we all just go and DO what the Bible tells us and focus on what unites believers rather than what separates them? I love many of these articles and appreciate the insight they provide me as a young pastor. If I disagree, I go to the Word and search it out or maybe seek the counsel of men wiser than I. What I DON"T do is waste time trying to prove my opinions are more right than another man of God's. Need scripture to back up this reprimand? Look no further than the very writings under debate here from the apostle Paul who warned us of this exact type of nonsense. Spend your time and energy wisely fellow men of God...and stop wasting it on petty argument.

Mark Baker

commented on May 28, 2013

Jason M: Yes, you proved your point, and, apparently, you wasted your time. Could it be that we are sinful people, with hearts that are deceitful above all things, and that Christian websites will be infiltrated (at least from time to time) by false teachers and falsehoods? Could it be that some "FELLOW BELIEVERS" are misled, deceived, or even wolves in sheep's clothing? Could it be that we have a responsibility to "contend for the faith" and "not give in" to "false brothers" or false teachings? You said, "what do you say we all just go and DO what the Bible tells us and focus on what unites believers rather than what separates them?" That would be great, but do you really think we are in agreement over what "unites believers" and what, exactly, we are to do? Isn't that the problem we are wrestling with?

Michael James Monaghan

commented on May 29, 2013

Pablo reminds us that this article is titled 'Who decided what went into the Bible ' . Hal has ably summed up 'Who' in the last sentence . God. Christians ought to be subject to God's word for doctrine , reproof , correction and instruction and that includes all who claim the Name of Christ - Christians . A study of the Romish style Saints, or those Popes , or even the Church Fathers , is NOT a good idea . But a study of God's word , the Bible is . Keys and authority are not new to scripture. Isaiah 22:20-24 and 2Kings18:17-18. Peter used the keys Christ gave him to open up the Kingdom of God to the Jews at Pentecost . and later to the Gentiles Acts 10:44-46 . That is as far as Peters keys and authority went ?. Nothing about a triple tiara :). Any discussion should look at the foundational claims perhaps ?. And the common denominator should be the Bible !!! . ? ps in the Bible all Christians are called saints .

Dennis Cocks

commented on May 29, 2013

Anyone who is trusting in Roman Catholic doctrine for salvation will be quite shocked when they die! The Roman Catholic Church teaches works salvation, baptismal regeneration, Mary worship, transubtantiation (sp?) which teaches that the ACTUAL body of Christ is brought into their wafer and then received at communion, etc. I think Pablo and others are the ones who need to read the Bible for true doctrine!

Michael James Monaghan

commented on May 29, 2013

Yes , Transubstantiation may be the darling doctrine of Romanism. A former 'priest' converted to Christ said something like : 'If you can get them to accept that the waferbread becomes actual Christ , body ,blood,soul and divinity, whilst still looking like bread, smelling like bread ,tasting like bread and corrupting like bread , (ie use by date ) and worshipping it , you should have no problems with them acknowledging the authority of the pope and accepting all things catholic ' 50 years in the church of rome ; chiniquy . We are told this and other extra biblical doctrines come from the Bible .

Gerbrand Van Schalkwyk

commented on May 29, 2013

Very good article. For anybody who beleave the Peter story. Please investigate when Peter died and when the Catholuc church was formed. HOW do you become pope after more than 200years after you died? For those who wonder how a prophet was determined, who was true and who was false. Any prophet who had a prophesy had to record it with the high priest. All were closely recorded. Sometimes the prophet was even murdered but they still recorded his words. If the prophesy came true he was accepted as a prophet. Even if he died in the process. That is why Jesus said Jerusalem killed the prophets. If any part failed he was rejected.

Ephrem Hagos

commented on May 29, 2013

You have compromised God to break his irrevocable promise of revealing himself and directly inspiring people rather than more books. (Jer. 31: 31-34)

Pavlina Brtanova

commented on May 29, 2013

Thank you for the article, it enriched me. I have learnt things I knew nothings about. Recently somebody asked me about The Canon, I was quiet and ashamed, I had no clue what is it. Yesterday I subcribed to SermonCentral (just for fun) and today I got all what I nedeed. I love the way how Holy Spirit works. About the discussion. You made it clear to Pablo. I am glad that noone made it clear to me that way, when I was Catholic. Have you ever heard about love?

Martin Vu

commented on May 29, 2013

Hello all, I am Catholic Christian and I particularly enjoy going on Sermon Central to read articles on how to lead better and preach better. I think we Catholics stand to learn a lot from our Christian brothers and sisters on how to minister more effectively. With that said, I'd like to join in on this conversation topic of Who Decided What Went Into the Bible? As Christians, we agree that it was God who ultimately inspired and authored the books of the Bible. But I would be interested in exploring the issues of how it happened? And through whom? And perhaps most importantly, by what tangible authority were certain books declared canonical or uncanonical? The article only briefly touches on these issues, but I believe there remains much that can be clarified.

Pablo Taylor

commented on May 29, 2013

Now that we know that it was the Roman Catholic Church who decided what went into the Bible, we can now trust the RCC for the understanding of Scripture. We do not have to argue over doctrines from the other tens of thousands so-called churches. We have the Nicene Creed created by the RCC. When other people insist that the RCC teaches Mary worship, works, and other ridiculous claims, we can ignore their ignorance. Obviously, they don?t understand true Church History and what the Scriptures teach. Many are misinformed or willfully twist Scripture to affirm what they want it to teach. This has always been an issue in the enemies of the church founded by Jesus Christ-the Roman Catholic Church. Pablo de Costa Rica

Donald Roberts

commented on May 29, 2013

Thank you Hal for your accurate, clear, historical, overview presentation. As former host of Shalom on the CBN radio network in the 70/s. The challenge is to acknowledge that we all have received error and prejudice in our past teaching. Thanks be to God, who through His infallible Word, allows us to "bring every thought into captivity to the knowledge of Christ." God never leads contrary to His Word. What a simple thing for the Creator of the universe, to guide, protect and preserve His Word, so that we might know truth. May God bless you my brother.

Michael James Monaghan

commented on May 29, 2013

Martin Vu . Perhaps Hal may not be available to enlarge on this theme here . But there is Got Questions .org or ...catholic.com/quick questions or wikipedia.org/biblicalcanon. Wikipedia shows churches from around the world treatment of the canon. and charts. Western;Eastern;Oriental;Assyrian. The Protestan churches in the West and elsewhere recognise a canon without the help of the Vatican . They have led in vernacular translations , forcing the supposed 'custodians' to follow suite- eventually after having suppressed God's word all those many centuries , forbidding the reading of it and fostering their own medieval version of christianity .

Dennis Cocks

commented on May 29, 2013

@Pablo says "When other people insist that the RCC teaches Mary worship, works, and other ridiculous claims, we can ignore their ignorance." Sorry Pablo, I have Roman Catholic family and I know EXACTLY what the "church" teaches. I have been to weddings and funerals and heard with my own ears how Catholics are supposedly going to get to heaven. BTW, did you know that Peter had a wife? Matt. 8:14 "And when Jesus was come into Peter?s house, he saw his wife?s mother laid, and sick of a fever." And Mary had children with Joseph after Jesus was born. Matt. 13:55-56 "Is not this the carpenter?s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?" The authority of Scripture was not determined by the RCC!

Dennis Cocks

commented on May 29, 2013

Amen Mark Baker!

Bill Williams

commented on May 29, 2013

@Pablo, this conversation has increased quite a bit since I checked in yesterday! I am responding to your comment to me #8. "How do you know that the Old Testament is inspired? There has to be an established Church that can tell us what is and what is inspired." The books of the Old Testament were considered by the Jewish people to be inspired long before the time of Jesus and the Church. Every time the New Testament speaks of the "Scriptures" it is primarily referring to the Old Testament. The writings of the NT, through the process described by the author of this article, were "grafted in", to paraphrase Paul. "Having thousands of so-called Christian churches, movements, sects, etc., causes a lot of problems with doctrines." Yes it does, but as I said yesterday, that has been the case since the very beginning of Christianity. Paul's letter to the Galatians, recognized by most to be one of the earliest (if not the earliest) of NT writings, bears witness to this phenomenon. It is not something that only came up after the East-West Schism or the Protestant Reformation. This is simply the by-product of two realities, 1) the nature of language is such that it is inherently open to differences of interpretation, and 2) human beings have the right to believe according to their own convictions. "Who is right and who is wrong? And who decides what is right or what is wrong?" Well, I know this answer will seem like a cliche, but ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit alone who can decide who is right and who is wrong, for it is the Holy Spirit who inspired the human authors. The Holy Spirit has been given to every believer, and part of his ministry is to teach us the things of God. I firmly believe that believers who are filled with the Holy Spirit, as we study the Scriptures for ourselves, as well as in community with other Spirit-filled believers who also study the Scriptures for themselves, the Holy Spirit himself will guide us to Truth. This won't remove every single difference of interpretation, of course. But God will ensure that we are clear on those issues which are essential for salvation. "I refer you to study the Holy Saints of the RCC and also to study the great Popes of the RCC and not some book written by someone who doesn't even believe that God exist." I actually have studied RCC history and theology quite a bit. I did a double major in college: English Literature and European History. Obviously, you can't study European History without studying the RCC. And yet, despite my studies in this area, I remain a Protestant. Not everyone has Cardinal Newman's experience! As for Ehrman's book, just because he's an atheist does not mean he is not qualified to do historical research. He is, and his research is solid. I just don't agree with all of his conclusions. Ehrman's research eventually lead him to reject God, but I believe that was most likely because his presuppositions concerning God and Christianity were flawed; and instead of changing the presuppositions, he rejected the entire package outright. Thank you for taking the time to listen to my thoughts, and I am open to continue this conversation if you wish. God bless you, my Brother (Or as they say in Costa Rica: "Que Dios te bendiga, mi Hermano!"--I minored in Spanish!)

Michael James Monaghan

commented on May 30, 2013

We have discussed 'who decided what went into the Bible ' and overall the answer is the Holy Spirit the real author of His word and the acceptance and recognition of a canon by a majority of Christians. Christians in general are very happy with the 66 books of the Bible .But there may be another question. Do we recognise a closed or open canon ?. There are some Christians who God speaks to people in an inspirational way and what He says through them is scriptural . They look outside God's already received and written word for 'new' doctrine . I think of some people who think their are Prophets of God today and even Apostles . Their is also the popes who like to introduce new doctrine and say when they speak 'ex-cathedra' 'their faithful' must accept it as the word and will of God . Things like 'papal infallibility' the assumption of Mary' ' that Mary is co-redeemer co-mediatrix etc'. That their 'Mary' is 'queen of heaven'. But most evangelical protestant christians do believe in a closed canon . And that God has led His church , the body of Christ to rest in them . ?.

Michael James Monaghan

commented on May 30, 2013

should have been there are some christians who SAY God speaks to them or those they admire , in a scriptural way. You may be able to think of some like Joseph smith;ellen white ..... ? etc. Then what about the supposed 'marion' appearances and messages ? They purport to have additional messages from 'God' . None of these appear to believe in a a closed canon . R Catholicism says their 'tradition' has the same authority as scripture . Did not the Pharisees too ?. But those who let themselves be guided by the word of God and the Holy Spirit, pay no heed to these fables . 'Unless they speak according to this Word.....' the scriptures of God .

Martin Vu

commented on May 30, 2013

I notice that there are some misunderstandings here about what the Catholic Church actually teaches. Being Catholic-Christian, hopefully I can help to clarify a couple of these while staying close to the topic at hand of "Who Decided What Went Into the Bible?". It seems that the general consensus is that God is the ultimate author of Scripture. Catholics say "Amen" to that. God indeed is the One who authored and inspired the Bible. Perhaps where we diverge is in the question of "how?" Interestingly, Dr. Hal Seed affirms a rather Catholic-sounding position. He said, "In 393 the Synod of Hippo affirmed our current New Testament, and in 397 the Council of Carthage published the same list." Indeed, these councils were convened by the bishops of the Catholic Church. It was there that they compiled the New Testament canon of Scripture that we have today. Perhaps it's tempting to claim that the canon of Scripture was affirmed through overall Christian consensus, but if we were to look at the New Testament index in our Bibles, both Protestant and Catholic Bibles use the same New Testament canon that was approved by these bishops, and not a different one.

Pablo Taylor

commented on May 30, 2013

Dear Michael, You said, "Their is also the popes who like to introduce new doctrine and say when they speak 'ex-cathedra' 'their faithful' must accept it as the word and will of God." This is not EXACTLY true. Very few Popes have used 'ex-cathedral' and when they do, it is an extreme process. Please study the RCC as it appears that you do not know what you are talking about. With all respect to you. Do the research and then post your findings.

Pablo Taylor

commented on May 30, 2013

Dear Dennis, please show me in official Catholic doctrine where they teach Mary worship, salvation by works, etc. I am Roman Catholic and I study the official doctrine of my church. Even if a priest were to say something different in the mass or in a book, I will always check the official RCC doctrine. Often leaders and members of the RCC teach things that are not in the official catholic doctrine. Just like an Assembly of God pastor could teach something that is not in a/g doctrine. Just because someone who works or teaches in a church says something false about the church does not make it official doctrine taught by the church. Many years ago there was some RCC priest that allowed homosexual marriage among gays. They went against RCC official teaching and doctrine. So therefore one cannot say that the RCC now teaches marriage among gays just because there were some bad examples by ignorant RCC priest.

commented on May 30, 2013

For Pablo: a) Can you name the book that Martin Luther removed from the Bible? b) Do you understand why the Orthodox Canon that retains that book, does so? c) Do you undedrstand why both Oriental Christianity and Eastern Orthodox Christianity consider Cahtolic Christianity to be schismatic? For Joe: Both Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Oriental Orthodox Christianity see Catholic Christianity as schismatic, albeit for slightly different reasons. Both of those groups consider Catholic Christianity to be in error, for deviating from the Truths that Jesus preached. For the rest of you: Consider that the founding of the oldest church still extent is mentioned in Acts. This church has a canon that is larger than the one compiled in Constantinople, which, in turn, is larger than the one compiled in Rome.

Michael James Monaghan

commented on May 30, 2013

Thank you Pablo for your correction. But what was ' the extreme process' to define the doctrine of 'the assumption of 'Mary' and 'the immaculate conception ?' . These are considered the same inspired word that 'Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit'. Therefore surely they are considered additions to the canon ?. Papal Infallibility whilst speaking ex-cathedra was formally defined in the 18oos , but generally Rcatholic teaching is said to be ireformable .?. Why ?. It is based on the 'promise' to Peter . But if the pope is the present successor of Peter , why is he not ministering to Israel and teaching the kingdom of God ?. Paul was definitely in Rome , but Peter probably never . Peter had no need to go to Rome voluntarily . There was only a small jewish population there . Peter was 'the Apostle to Israel ' Paul , 'the Apostle to the Gentiles . Acts . Romans Ephesians .

Mark Baker

commented on May 30, 2013

I hope we'd all agree that two of the biggest problems/differences--if not THE two biggest problems between so-called "protestantism" (the PC) and "catholicism" (the CC) is 1) The PC's supreme authority is the written Word and the CC's supreme authority (even if they struggle in admitting it, or realizing it) is a select group of men (i.e "the Church"). 2) The PC's gospel is, among other things, salvation by grace alone through faith alone--APART from works; while the CC's gospel does require works of some kind in order to be saved (e.g. the "sacraments" or baptism or ...); not only that, but some of these "sacraments" are "anathema" to "protestants." Because these 2 foundational realities are so far a part, and are irreconcilable, AND, most importantly, these are so supremely important and determinative, how can we say that we believe the same? (If that is what many here are are asserting.) If we are universes apart in authority/truth/salvation then we are most certainly distinct, if not anatagonistic. Pablo: you seem to state, or argue, or at least imply (elsewhere, at a minimum) that "catholics" believe the same as us "protestants," [If not, then please disregard this] but you seem to assert here the superiority of the CC, especially in relation to the "PC." Please explain.

Dennis Cocks

commented on May 30, 2013

@Pablo, then please explain EXACTLY how one is saved. Can one be saved apart from the Catholic church? What about the verses I shared stating Peter had a wife and Mary had other children with Joseph after Jesus was born? How about a new question, what about idolaltry? Exodus 20:4-5 "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;" In every Catholic church I've been in there are numerous statues of Jesus, Peter, Paul Mary, etc in which people bow down to. What about the Vatican? How many people kiss the statues of supposed saints and bow down to them? Are you ging to tell me I don't know what I am talking about again?

Mark Baker

commented on May 30, 2013

Dennis: Allow me to address one of your recent points. It could be argued that those who adhere to the Catholic Church's teachings are NOT--I repeat--NOT violating the verse/commandment you quoted. How can this be? Simple, the Catholic Church has literally removed that specific commandment from their own "Ten Commandments." [Many people, including many Catholics, do not know this!] Yet they still maintain "Ten" commandments on their list by splitting the last one (about coveting) into two commandments. So, Dennis, you stand corrected! (kidding) That is one of many troubling fruits of putting a select group of men in authority over Scripture.

Dennis Cocks

commented on May 31, 2013

@Mark, thanks for the info! I always wondered how they got away with bowing down and worshiping idols!

Michael James Monaghan

commented on May 31, 2013

In box 1 , Pablo seems to say that the 'canon of scripture' was determined by the ...rcatholic church to the very first pope Peter '. When Christ gave the authority of the keys to Peter , the gospel was not being preached to the Gentiles . In fact the Lord forbade the Apostles going to the Gentiles , but rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel . At Pentecost , Peter did not mention any 'Church' , but preached to Israel. Acts 2. Peter did go to a Gentile , reluctantly , Acts 10 , but after was acknowledged as the Apostle to the Jews. . Paul went to the Gentiles initially 'to make Israel envious' to stimulate belief in THEIR Messiah . Wherever Paul went after , he preached to the Jews ,first. When they rejected the gospel of the kingdom, Paul went to the Gentiles. Then Paul arrived at Rome. Paul called the Jews first to come hear him. When they rejected his message , Paul told them that God was now going to go to the Gentiles period . 'The salvation of God is now sent to the Gentiles and they will hear it '. Then , Paul's became the Apostle to the Gentiles full time and to any individual Jew who might listen . Acts 28 and Ephsians . Pauls last letter was to Timothy. Timothy was Pauls choice and entrusted with the Gospel of Grace. (Peter is not mentioned at all. But he had used the keys given to open the Gospel first to the Israel , then to the Gentiles) . This authority could not be passed on as they had served their purpose . ?

Martin Vu

commented on May 31, 2013

May I make a comment regarding the bowing down to statues and the 10 Commandments from a Catholic perspective? This link below explains why Catholics bow to images and statues http://www.catholic.com/tracts/do-catholics-worship-statues And this link below explains why the list of 10 Commandments are different between Catholics and Protestants http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/did-the-catholic-church-change-the-ten-commandments

Pablo Taylor

commented on May 31, 2013

One of the most misunderstood teachings of the Catholic Church is this one: "Outside the Church there is no salvation" (Extra ecclesiam nulla salus). Those trying to grasp the meaning of this teaching often struggle with its formulations by various Church Fathers and Church Councils down through history. Of course, to understand an isolated formulation of any Church teaching, one must study the historical context within which it was written: why it was written, what was going on in the Church at the time, who the intended audience was, and so on. One must discover how the magisterium (teaching office) of the Church understands its own teaching. If someone fails to do this and chooses, rather, to simply treat a particular formulation as a stand-alone teaching, he runs the risk of seriously misunderstanding it. In recent times, the Church has recognized that its teaching about the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation has been widely misunderstood, so it has "re-formulated" this teaching in a positive way. Here is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church begins to address this topic: Go to http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/what-no-salvation-outside-the-church-means

Pablo Taylor

commented on May 31, 2013

What about Peter?s wife? She is nowhere mentioned. I find this strange. Imagine the scene. There is the mother-in-law, lying in bed. At her side, as one would expect, is her dutiful daughter?except that Matthew and Luke make no reference to her daughter. Leaving her out of the story is strange. It is not the way a writer would be expected to handle the incident, since a daughter usually is the one most frantic about a mother?s condition. The story is tantalizingly brief. Maybe the Evangelists decided to leave out all but the most salient facts. Or maybe it was because Peter?s wife wasn?t there?she already may have died. I think this is the most likely explanation for her non-appearance. In short, I think Peter was a widower at the time his mother-in-law was healed. For more information see: http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/did-peter-have-a-wife

Pablo Taylor

commented on May 31, 2013

Catholics worship statues!" People still make this ridiculous claim. Because Catholics have statues in their churches, goes the accusation, they are violating God?s commandment: "You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down to them or serve them" (Ex. 20:4?5); "Alas, this people have sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves gods of gold" (Ex. 32:31). It is right to warn people against the sin of idolatry when they are committing it. But calling Catholics idolaters because they have images of Christ and the saints is based on misunderstanding or ignorance of what the Bible says about the purpose and uses (both good and bad) of statues. Anti-Catholic writer Loraine Boettner, in his book Roman Catholicism, makes the blanket statement, "God has forbidden the use of images in worship" (281). Yet if people were to "search the scriptures" (cf. John 5:39), they would find the opposite is true. God forbade the worship of statues, but he did not forbid the religious use of statues. Instead, he actually commanded their use in religious contexts! For more information see: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/do-catholics-worship-statues

Pablo Taylor

commented on May 31, 2013

Dear Mark and Dennis. The RCC did not take away the second commandment. Another charge sometimes made by Protestants is that the Catholic Church "hides" the second commandment. This is because in Catholic catechisms, the first commandment is often listed as "You shall have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3), and the second is listed as "You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain." (Ex. 20:7). From this, it is argued that Catholics have deleted the prohibition of idolatry to justify their use of religious statues. But this is false. Catholics simply group the commandments differently from most Protestants.

Dennis Cocks

commented on May 31, 2013

@Pablo, you have yet to explain how someone is saved. In every instance you have said that Catholics don't teach this or believe this I have seen practiced with my own eyes! I have seen people bow to statues and even kiss them! So then tell me, since I am "wrong" about what Catholics believe, tell me what differences there are between us? You DO teach baptism saves a person! You can deny that all day, but again, I KNOW its true! Mary is known as "The Queen of Heaven." BTW what about her having more children? She did NOT remain a virgin and she is NOT interceding for us in heaven to her Son! So again, what are our differences?

Dennis Cocks

commented on May 31, 2013

BTW, I am going on vacation so I won't get back to this until next weekend sometime.

Mark Baker

commented on May 31, 2013

Dennis: rub it in, why don't you! [have fun!]

Michael James Monaghan

commented on Jun 1, 2013

And remember , the only 'queen of heaven' mentioned in the Bible is/was an idol god whom Israel began to worship and serve influenced by the nations around them . They broke the 1st commandment. This idol was and is well known under different guises and names today it seems . But getting back to Paul who had an apostleship distinct from the twelve. It was he who introduced the revelation that after Israels demise , a new creation came about , a Church was revealed of which Christ Himself was the Head . It is called 'the Church which is the Body of the Christ '. Read about it in Ephesians and Colossians 1st .

Michael James Monaghan

commented on Jun 1, 2013

Oh , I omitted to give the reference for the only Queen of Heaven in the Bible . It is Jeremiah 44: 17-25. I find it puzzling that they who like to take the credit for deciding the canon of scripture , should have chosen a title which the Bible shows belongs to an idol . I hope too that our rcatholic friends have seen that all is not 'cut and dried' with Peters role as a supposed pope ?. Peters ministry had all to do with Israel and church of believing Israel But nothing to do with the Vatican and the church there composed of Gentiles .

Vincent Aja

commented on Jun 8, 2013

One of our greatest problems lies in answering a question when someone does not understand even the question. I believe that this issue here should have been showing us how we get our Bible. What was in the mind of the early fathers was to get the inspired Word of God together so that it will never be contaminated with the writings of the ordinary people. The early fathers have taken the Old Testaments books where they have seen that every Prophet had said, SO SAID THE LORD, OR THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME TO ME. This made the Old Testament book to be inspired. And from the New Testament they have followed the same manner wherever that they have seen the books that have the transformational power. So the very books that they have left behind were more philosophical and historical than been inspired. We should never forget that this was prayerfully done. If we should understand that the writer has furnish us with names of the people who have started to deny that the God of the Old Testament is not the same God of the New Testament. So this issue is not about Catholics and Protestants, rather it`s how we have come to get the real Bible which we have today.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Jun 9, 2013

Thanks Mark! I did have fun, went fishing in Wisconsin. Didn't do too good, didn't do too bad, but it was still great to get away and enjoy God's creation!

Dennis Cocks

commented on Jun 9, 2013

@Pablo, I am back so if you have an answer for me I would like to hear it! Thanks!

Mark Baker

commented on Jun 10, 2013

Dennis: Glad you had a great time; it would be hard not to on a fishing trip in Wisconsin.

Mark Baker

commented on Jun 10, 2013

Pablo: I would love an answer to my questions I posted earlier about the differences between the "PC" and "CC" ... and your explanation of where you stand on the superiority of the CC, etc. Thanks

Dennis Cocks

commented on Jun 12, 2013

Where did all the comments go!

Mark Baker

commented on Jun 12, 2013

That were raptured ... and our comments are left behind!!!!

Michael James Monaghan

commented on Jun 13, 2013

There are probably explainable reasons the previous comments have gone , but the essay on 'Who decided what went into the Bible' is still there . While the article may be ad - infinitun , the comments may not be ?. The last paragraph , sums up the doctrine and gives joy and assurance to the readers that the Bible IS God's word and we should take heed to it . ?. ' Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet , and a light unto my path '.

Bill Williams

commented on Jun 13, 2013

The website went offline for about a half hour earlier this week. Somehow, comments made previous to that were deleted, but comments made afterwards are being posted.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Jun 13, 2013

@Mark OH NOOOO, I thought my comments were saved!!!!

Mark Baker

commented on Jun 13, 2013

Yes, Dennis, "I wish they'd all (our comments) been ready"!

Dennis Cocks

commented on Jun 14, 2013

@Mark, Hahahahahaha! That was great!

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