The best protestant response to the problem of canon is, to my mind, self-authentication. For those who aren’t aware, the ‘problem of canon’ refers to the (alleged) problem that establishing a particular biblical canon is a problem for protestants, as they have no ultimate authority to turn to (Jesus never enunciates a biblical canon, nor did any of the apostles). A popular response is called ‘self-authentication’, which is the (alleged) process by which true scripture distinguishes itself from untrue scripture to the true believer.
I think it’s fairly indisputable that Matthew 16:18 asserts that there will never not be a true believer (“the gates of hell shall not prevail against [the church]”). That is, assuming that ‘the church’ does, in fact, refer to an ‘invisible body’ or some similar protestant idea, it is at least asserted that said church will never be empty. So we have:
- Since the resurrection, a true believer has always been alive.
- A true believer is able to discern true scripture from untrue scripture.
- Since the resurrection, there has always been someone able to discern true scripture from untrue scripture.
The ancient undivided Church established her canon by the fifth century; the reformation took place around a millenium later. My question for protestants is: Is there any historical evidence that such individuals, as described in (3), existed between the fifth and 16th century? I.e., who recognised the books Tobit, Judith, and Baruch (among others), as untrue scripture? Thanks for your time.