Bible origin - Evangelical perspective

I find one of our very best arguments that illustrates Church Authority to be the fact that it was the Church who compiled and gave us the Bible, led by the Holy Spirit at the Council of Nicea.

If it were not for the Authority of the Church, how could we know we have the right compilation of Books?

I find the argument so compelling I cannot even imagine a counter. Thus my curiosity if heightened. However I am having difficulty finding popular Evenagelical/Protestant counters to this argument. Can anyone point me to one/more?

Keep in mind that over 75% of Sacred Scripture - the Old Testament - was written before the Church existed.

While it is correct to say that Canon of Scripture is a product of the Church, it really can’t be said that the sacred texts themselves are a product of the Church. I think Catholics get in trouble with Evangelicals when we say things like, “The Bible comes from the Church.” Evangelicals rightfully reply that the Bible comes from God via men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. .

This is well put. It is important to use the correct terminology here, separating the Canon of Scripture from the inspired texts themselves. The Church herself even states that the Sacred Texts were received as a gift and that the Church serves the texts, not the other way around.


Just one problem. The Council of Nicaea had NOTHING to do with setting the canon of the Bible. Nothing whatsoever. Never an issue there.

When I was evangelical my pastor in discussion with him on me questioning the faith in general, I asked him how do we even know the Bible has everything in it it is supposed to?

He responded by saying he had studied the early church as they compiled the Bible and that they were really prayerful about it and that he truly believed the Holy Spirit guides them.

Not knowing anything about catholicism at the time, I looked more into this early council and found that it was Catholic, and that they included more books then my Bible. This raised many questions and started a road to Catholicism.

So all that to say, lots of evangelicals believe the church had authority at that time. I never got a chance to pin my pastor down on why that’s no longer the case.

True. But the OT canon was not established by the Jews until after the establisment of the Church (an possibly even in response to it). So, the Church established the Canon of the Bible we have today by infallibly recognizing the inspiration of the books contained therein.

While it is correct to say that Canon of Scripture is a product of the Church,


it really can’t be said that the sacred texts themselves are a product of the Church.

Yes and no. The authors of the books and letters of the NT were real authors - not just scribes taking dictation. Inspired, yes - but true authors nonetheless.

I think Catholics get in trouble with Evangelicals when we say things like, “The Bible comes from the Church.” Evangelicals rightfully reply that the Bible comes from God via men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. .

Sounds like we’re arguing about the filioque. The Bible comes from God through the Catholic Church. So…it is from the Church…and God. Yes, precision is important here.


“To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.” - John Cardinal Newman

Thank you all who replied. However Jon here, is the only reply that attempts an answer to my question.

Is this (bold) the only answer the evangelical has in his apologetic toolbox? That the Church (the one church at the time) was, at the time, inspired by the Holy Spirit?

Then was it this same Church (the Catholic Church) that went astray? Did the Holy Spirit lose His proverbial grip on this Church?

If possible, I’d like to see some popular Evangelical Apologist perspective on this. Any resources? I’d be very interested to know Hank Hanegraaf’s perspective on this. However I couldn’t find anything.

You will find that the cannon of scripture is something evangelicals take for granted. They just don’t think about it. They assume it’s the word of God because everyone says so.

The only other argument I’ve heard is that “it’s evident by reading that they are biblical and other ancient texts aren’t”. In essence that each person decides what the cannon is and comes to the same conclusion. I frankly find this argument extremely weak and laughable. I think most people do and that’s why only a couple people use it.

He makes the case (at about the 28 minute mark of this broadcast that “the Bible we have was not determined by men, but only discovered by men, based on principles of ‘canonicity’ (that is, the principle or rule by which something is discovered to be determined by God).”

In other words, he’s not even making the case that there was inspiration by the Holy Spirit in the development of the canon, but only some (vague? undefined?) process by which people came to understand what God had in mind.

I’d like to see dronald come by and offer an answer.

Hey. Any chance we could get some of the guys from Christian Forums to answer your question?

Actually, the New Testament was written by Catholics (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, …) and preserved by Catholics as they shared the writings with each other until a time when they thought it good to formalize what they shared in the Canon.

I agree. My post was paraphrasing the Catechism which states:

106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. “To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more.”

My Church wrote your Bible.

Randy, more than 75% of the words in the Bible were penned by Jews. This is the kind of thing which causes Evangelicals to dismiss the Catholic faith out of hand.

Statements like this are probably the reason why there are so few Evangelical refutations of the Catholicity of Scripture. Evangelicals simply laugh when we say things like this.


Yes, he did not address the question of “how we can know for certain we have the right books”.

His answer is the equivalent of simply saying, “because”. This must be difficult for the evangelical.

If they answer the question; the men of the time had the infallible authority to make the decisions, the follow-up would be; what happened to that authority.

If they answer the question; it was a process, the follow-up would be; how do we know the process was infallible.

This is why I am searching for evangelical apologist responses to this. Such as the one you pointed me to. Simply to see if I can find anything at all that is the least bit convincing.

actually, martin luther thought the early church went astray in compiling the bible, and removed some old testament books that were no longer in the jewish tradition. and he also wanted to remove revelation originally.

Of course it was.

And those Jews were the people that God formed in order to prepare the way for His Incarnation. The authors of the OT books were looking forward to the day of their salvation which is found in Jesus alone. Therefore, the authors of the Hebrew Scriptures - together with those of the New Testament - form one witness, one single people of God, one body in Christ, one Church.

Which wrote the Bible. :slight_smile:

This is the type of rhetoric which causes people to dismiss the Catholic faith out of hand.

I’m surprised that you would take such a triumphalist and divisive view as to say, my Church wrote your Bible, especially in light of the fact that you live in the deep south. I wonder whether you count any Evangelicals among your close friends. My Evangelical friends wouldn’t be friends for long if I took this attitude.

You express what the Church doesn’t even claim. The Church does not claim to have written the Bible.


but you have to admit, it is funny when protestants go all sola scripture on you, when they don’t even kno who put the scriptures together.:stuck_out_tongue:


Here’s a book you might enjoy…I know I did.

By Rev. Henry G. Graham

We are not undervaluing the written Word of God, or placing it on a level inferior to what it deserves. We are simply showing the position it was meant to occupy in the economy of the Christian Church. It was written by the Church, by members (Apostles and Evangelists) of the Church; it belongs to the Church, and it is her office, therefore, to declare what it means. It is intended for instruction, meditation, spiritual reading, encouragement, devotion, and also serves as proof and testimony of the Church’s doctrines and Divine authority; but as a complete and exclusive guide to heaven in the hands of every man—this it never was and never could be.

The Bible in the Church; the Church before the Bible—the Church the Maker and Interpreter of the Bible—that is right. The Bible above the Church; the Bible independent of the Church; the Bible, and the Bible only, the Religion of Christians—that is wrong. The one is the Catholic position; the other the Protestant. (Rev. Henry G. Graham, Where We Got the Bible – Our Debt to the Catholic Church, TAN Publishers, Rockford, IL, p. 29.)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit