10 Misconceptions About the New Testament Canon

By Dr. Michael Kruger:

This series exams some common beliefs out there in the academic (and lay-level) communities that prove to be problematic upon closer examination.

1. The Term “Canon” Can Only Refer to a Fixed, Closed List of Books
2. Nothing in Early Christianity Dictated That There Would be a Canon
3. The New Testament Authors Did Not Think They Were Writing Scripture
4. New Testament Books Were Not Regarded as Scriptural Until Around 200 A.D.
5. Early Christians Disagreed Widely over the Books Which Made It into the Canon
6. In the Early Stages, Apocryphal Books Were as Popular as the Canonical Books
7. Christians Had No Basis to Distinguish Heresy from Orthodoxy Until the Fourth Century
8. Early Christianity was an Oral Religion and Therefore Would Have Resisted Writing Things Down
9. The Canonical Gospels Were Certainly Not Written by the Individuals Named in Their Titles
10. Athanasius’ Festal Letter (367 A.D.) is the First Complete List of New Testament Books

At this link.

The Doctrine of Scripture Series

Pastor Kevin DeYoung, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan

Jesus’ View of Scripture:

Jesus held Scripture in the highest possible esteem. He knew his Bible intimately and loved it deeply. He often spoke with language of Scripture. He easily alluded to Scripture. And in his moments of greatest trial and weakness—like being tempted by the devil or being killed on a cross—he quoted Scripture.
His mission was to fulfill Scripture, and his teaching always upheld Scripture.
He never disrespected, never disregarded, never disagreed with a single text of Scripture.
He affirmed every bit of law, prophecy, narrative, and poetry. He shuddered to think of anyone anywhere violating, ignoring, or rejecting Scripture.
Jesus believed in the inspiration of Scripture, down to the sentences, to the phrases, to the words, to the smallest letter, to the tiniest mark.
He accepted the chronology, the miracles, and the authorial ascriptions as giving the straightforward facts of history.
He believed in keeping the spirit of the law without ever minimizing the letter of the law. He affirmed the human authorship of Scripture while at the same time bearing witness to the ultimate divine authorship of the Scriptures.
He treated the Bible as a necessary word, a sufficient word, a clear word, and the final word.
It was never acceptable in his mind to contradict Scripture or stand above Scripture.
He believed the Bible was all true, all edifying, all important, and all about him. He believed absolutely that the Bible was from God and was absolutely free from error. What Scripture says God says, and what God said was recorded infallibly in Scripture.
Jesus submitted his will to the Scriptures, committed his brain to study the Scriptures, and humbled his heart to obey the Scriptures.
In summary, it is impossible to revere the Scriptures more deeply or affirm them more completely than Jesus did. The Lord Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior, believed his Bible was the word of God down to the tiniest speck and that nothing in all those specks and in all those books in his Bible could ever be broken.

(1) How to Think and Feel About the Word of God – Psalm 119:1-119:176

How to Think and Feel About the Word of God from URC Web on Vimeo.

(2) Something More Sure – 2 Peter 1:16-1:21

Something More Sure from URC Web on Vimeo.

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What About Those Who Have Never Heard?

Article: R. C. Sproul: Are Those Who Have Never Heard of Christ Going to Hell? (original source here)

That’s one of the most emotionally laden questions that a Christian can ever be asked. Nothing is more terrifying or more awful to contemplate than that any human being would go to hell. On the surface, when we ask a question like that, what’s lurking there is, “How could God ever possibly send some person to hell who never even had the opportunity to hear of the Savior? It just doesn’t seem right.”

I would say the most important section of Scripture to study with respect to that question is the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans. The point of the book of Romans is to declare the Good News—the marvelous story of redemption that God has provided for humanity in Christ, the riches and the glory of God’s grace, the extent to which God has gone to redeem us. But when Paul introduces the gospel, he begins in the first chapter by declaring that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven and this manifestation of God’s anger is directed against a human race that has become ungodly and unrighteous. So the reason for God’s anger is anger against evil. God’s not angry with innocent people; He’s angry with guilty people. The specific point for which they are charged with evil is in the rejection of God’s self-disclosure.

Paul labors the point that from the very first day of creation and through the creation, God has plainly manifested His eternal power and being and character to every human being on this planet. In other words, every human being knows that there is a God and that He is accountable to God. Yet every human being disobeys God. Why does Paul start his exposition of the gospel at that point? What he’s trying to do, and what he develops in the book of Romans, is this: Christ is sent into a world that is already on the way to hell. Christ is sent into the world that is lost, that is guilty of rejecting the Father whom they do know. Continue reading

Zeitgeist Debunked

Article: Zeitgeist Debunked: Jesus Is Not A Copy Of Pagan Gods by Steven Bancarz – original article here.

It’s often claimed that the story of Jesus was plagiarized or adopted from pagan deities. That the ideas of his virgin birth, his baptism, his gathering of disciples, his miracle working, his title as the son of god, his death and his resurrection are ideas that were taken from pre-Christ pagan myths and mishmashed together to give us the unoriginal and recycled story of another dying and rising saviour-figure: Jesus Christ.

Zeitgeist, Religulous, and other such films and books have popularized this idea, which has since then become a favourite talking point of skeptics in the blogosphere. I personally have seen this point brought up so many times it is hard to keep track, with the same sensationalist memes being recycled around the internet:

We are told Jesus is just one of many dying and rising gods present in history, and that every culture has their own saviour figure with stories that are exactly the same as the story of Jesus in every way. Since we apparently have stories of gods that predate Jesus who have the exact same outline and ministry as he did, it’s suggested that the story of Jesus is a knock-off of pagan stories that come before him.

This idea could not be farther from the truth. As Bart Ehrman, atheist professor of Religious Studies at UNC, has said:

“The alleged parallels between Jesus and the “pagan” savior-gods in most instances reside in the modern imagination: We do not have accounts of others who were born to virgin mothers and who died as an atonement for sin and then were raised from the dead (despite what the sensationalists claim ad nauseum in their propagandized versions).”

While this idea may stop is in our tracks at first glance, when we dig deeper we find that these “parallels” are made up to such an extent as to be simply embarrassing. Jesus is not a knock-off of pagan god stories, and this is a basic fact of history. Let’s take a quick look at Mithra, Dionysus, and Horus, all of whom are claimed to have born of a virgin, killed, buried, and resurrected from the dead.

Mithra

Virgin birth?

Mithra had absolutely no virgin birth. In fact, Mithra was not born in a literal sense, he emerged out of a rock.(1)(2) Mirtha was only born metaphorically, not literally. Mithra even emerged out of this rock as an adult, not as a baby. Mithra has no real mother, no virgin birth, no manger.

Crucified? Resurrected?

Mithra was never killed, let alone crucified. As Mithraic scholar Gordon Richard says there “Is no death of Mithras” (3). If he didn’t die, that means there was no “last supper” he wasn’t crucified, buried, or raised on the third day. If he didn’t die, he wasn’t resurrected. Continue reading