Process of deciding the canon of the Bible


I was told that “Church officials decided which books would be included in the Bible according to their own agendas.” I know that the person making the accusation should prove it, but they told me that it was “too much to go into detail on Facebook.” :rolleyes:

Has anyone been fed this “deciding canon for their own agendas” line? I’m sure I will never speak with this person again, it was a friend of a friend, but I want to know what to say after such an accusation.


First…I would ask…what is this agenda…what is this personal agenda this person is talking about…and have him/her cite these personal agendas…or provide at least one…and see if even one is actually provided.

I would use the language of Trent…that to be in the canon was that is was read in the churches…in other words…one of the driving reasons for deciding on a canon was to have an common and united list of readings for use during the Mass and the edification of the faithful…not their own agendas.


That seems like a strange accussation. I dont see why a Catholic or non-Cat would say that.

Even despite the canon differences in Protestant and Catholic Scripture, there is not a large difference, and Protestants still rely on Church authority which brought about their canon.

Its really too ignorant of an accussation to take seriously. This seems to be someone who has issues with authority.

I might ask them, “Which canon of Holy Scripture do you venerate and how did God reveal His agenda for this canon?”



Looking back at the conversation, I don’t think she is Christian. I think she just had a big problem with religion as a whole, so she decided to just be hateful. :frowning:


Each church (Catholic, Protestants, various Eastern Orthodox, and various Oriental Orthodox) all chose their own biblical canon, none of which agree 100% with each other. I’m not sure that’s an “agenda” beyond the fact that each church believes they have the power to make this decision for themselves.


Hi Dave, I will have to beg to differ. Take the JW’s who have not been so bold (yet) as to disregard any books in the Protestant canon as canonical, however they have made some minor adjustment to the translation. Keep in mind this same group began by using the KJV bible. :shrug:



William A. Jurgens, in his volume 1, of “Faith of the Early Fathers”, lists that in 381, Pope St. Damasus I, (366-384), who is remembered as having commissioned St. Jerome’s translations of the Scriptures and for having changed the liturgical language of the Roman Church from Greek to Latin, is also noted for "The Tome of Damasus (A.D.382), para. 910t, reads: " It is likewise decreed: Now, indeed, we must treat the divine Scriptures; what the universal Catholic Church accepts and what she must shun. The list of the Old Testament begins: … (the books of the canon from the time and affirmed numerous councils and lastly at Trent, the 47 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament as we know them at this tiime0>


The problem is that only a minority (the West) accepted this list.


Then they haven’t made their case. A baseless accusation is worthy only of rejection.


That is untrue. All of Christianity accepts as canonical the 27 Books of the New Testament declared authoritatively by The Catholic Church.


Bear in mind that for the first 350 years there was no Bible as we know it. There were the scriptures which each ‘church’ individually accepted but while there was agreement on some of the works that was not universal. Generally the 46 books of Septuagint was accepted in its entirety. Again this was not universal as other writings were also accepted by some. There were a number of canons proposed over the years. The one that was finally accepted was the one proposed by St. Athanasius in about 348 AD. But the question is why was the establishment of the canon necessary if the church operated with out one for so long? The reason was Gnosticism. Gnosticism produced its own writings and some of them are known to us today. These are the so called “Lost Books of the Bible” that the History Channel likes to call them. Some of these writings became very popular in some areas. The desire for a canon was an attempt to reserve only certain writings for use in the Divine Liturgy of the Mass. This was an ongoing occurence in the late second, third and early fourth centuries. So the Bible was intended to be a liturgical reading list containing those writings that were suitable for use in the Church at Mass. It was never intended to be a self guided study of Christianity. That perversion came 1100 years later at the protestant rebellion.


NT, yes. OT, no.


Since when was the church a democracy? The Council of Trent affirmed the writings as contained in the Vulgate of Jerome. Therefore the ‘list’ is the true deposit of sacred writings. What some schismatic or heretical groups say is of no consequence.


Well…so what? Is this the basis for Truth?

In the Arian controversy, majority bishops were Arians, but it lost out in the end.

In most recent times, Pope Paul VI went with the minority view in issuing Humanae Vitae…:shrug:


The Book of Enoch was rejected. Why? Because it didnt conform to the criteria of the other books?


Beginning with the first recorded gathering of the apostles, Peter, Paul, and others as recorded in the 15th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, the “Council of Jerusalem”, the issues that were addressed, were settled primarily with the final address by Peter, which affirmed the primacy of Peter, (the 1st Pope); the guidance and teaching from Peter, whose name is mentioned 156 times, more than all the other apostles and disciples of the time, and all the 267 successors to him, had their teachings in faith and morals affirmed and proclaimed as a matter of faith by those bishops at the first Vatican Ecumenical Council in 1870. Through the centuries, the Church has had a very torturous path to provide us today with the theology that we call Catholic-Christianity. Paul’s letters predated the gospels and the other letters of the New Testament as early at the 50’s, and gospels as late at 70 - 90’s.The point is, the popes all issued what we call encyclical’s, some more that others, which are their teachings on the issues of their times. Yes, in many instances, they went against the grain of opinion and wishes of many, were affirmations of the teaching of Jesus, Christ.


The lack of a uniform canon or theology of canon shows that the decisions of these oft-cited early “councils” (Rome, Carthage etc.) actually carried very little to no weight outside of the Western Empire. Then, when apologists argue that these “councils” also had papal endorsement, such an approach calls into serious question the authority of the Pope in the early church.

The pope seems to have made an important decision in the early church but most Christians didn’t care to follow it.

But more typically, Catholic apologists attempt to portray Christianity as having one agreed-upon unified biblical canon until the Protestant Reformation, which is just patently false. For example, Patrick Madrid made this assertion on his “Right Here, Right Now” show last week. This is usually in response to the allegation made by Evangelicals and Fundamentalists that the Catholic Church “added books to the Bible” which is also patently false. Fighting one falsehood with another doesn’t really advance the cause of the truth, IMO.


The point is, is that from the beginning, the Church as a unified whole under the Bishop of Rome has held 73 books as Holy Scripture. The fact that it was questioned by individuals was not necessarily a heretical thing until the Church finally felt a need to formally as doctrine, acknowledge which books are Holy Scripture. This was because divisions arose and were trying to use Scripture to justify false doctrines.



This is correct. There was no formal definition of the canon until the 16th century because of one very important reason. There was no need for such a formal definition. As for the protestant rebellion this was a western issue and did not involve the eastern churches. Since the Orthodox had already repudiated the reconciliation achieved at the Council of Florence in the 15th century they took no part in Trent. But the defining of the canon at Trent was for the universal church regardless if the Orthodox and/or protestants accepted it or not.

By the way, the Orthodox, in rejecting reconciliation under the universal bishopric of Rome, suffered the same consequence as the Jews in rejecting Christ. The Jews lost the Temple and their country to the Islamists and the Greek Orthodox lost the Haggia Sophia and the Byzantine Empire also to the Islamists.

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