Non-Canonical Writings...


#1

In a discussion with an Atheist, she said that it should be noted that there were many writings about Christ and many of them are not included as inspired by God because of their heretical teachings about Christ that the Church did not want to put forth. How is this argument responded to by the Catholic Church? These atheistic arguments seem to be rooted in philosophy and in favor of the historical Jesus as a great teacher/prophet/anything else but divine. Playing the devil’s advocate, say that the non-canonical writings were rejected because Christ’s disciples wanted to or felt compelled (whatever reason) to divinize Jesus. Thus, when the disciples “led by the Holy Spirit” came to a better understanding of Christ, any story that wasn’t in line with their understanding was heretical and to be rejected. What can be said about this? Are there any books that continue this line of thought and are refuted by the Christian perspective?


#2

In a discussion with an Atheist, she said that it should be noted that there were many writings about Christ and many of them are not included as inspired by God because of their heretical teachings about Christ that the Church did not want to put forth. How is this argument responded to by the Catholic Church?

The Atheist’s statement is correct. There were many early writings which were not included in the New Testament because they were determined to be not inspired. So how does the Church know which books are inspired and should be included? Sacred Tradition – the oral teaching of Jesus and the apostles. The deposit of faith was entrusted to the apostles and orally handed on in the Church over the years. The first book of the New Testament was not even written until many years after Christ’s resurrection. And the canon of Scripture was not finalized until centuries later. But, by the authority of Sacred Tradition, the successors of the apostles were able to determine which books to include and which to throw out.

Playing the devil’s advocate, say that the non-canonical writings were rejected because Christ’s disciples wanted to or felt compelled (whatever reason) to divinize Jesus… What can be said about this?

Arguments such as this can be countered partly with common sense and logic. For example, in his book By What Authority? (p. 52) Mark Shea asks of the apostles, “How did they create from thin air (as is asserted) the fable of the God-Man Christ and get people to believe in it and in them to the point of being willing martyrs for their faith?” Stated that way, the argument just doesn’t hold up.

We also confirm our beliefs through Tradition, writings of the Church Fathers and Doctors, and other historical sources. But no matter how much evidence is given, we also must rely on faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines faith as, “Both a gift of God and a human act by which the believer gives personal adherence to God who invites his response, and freely assents to the whole truth that God has revealed” (CCC Glossary).

Are there any books that continue this line of thought and are refuted by the Christian perspective?

Here are a few recommendations:
Handbook of Christian Apologetics
Where We Got the Bible
By What Authority?


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