It’s the inspiration of the Bible. As a Catholic, I know the Bible is inspired. Catholicism provides me with an authority which tells me this. But for Protestants (excluding Mormons, sorry, my study of Mormonism is only in its pre-mature infancy at this point), how do they know the Bible is inspired? How do they know that it is the bible and not the book of Mormon, or the Quran, or any other books that are claimed to be inspired?
I don’t know how much time I’ll have to come back to this discussion, but please feel free to carry on without me. I’ll get back to the forum whenever I have a chance.
Good question. The bible is a collection of writings. The New Testament is a collection of writings by the apostles and disciples of Jesus. Sometime toward the end of the 4th century the Church gathered these particular writings, as well as the Jewish scriptures in use at the time of Jesus, into one ‘book’. The idea that these writings were inspired by the Holy Spirit came from the Church, not from the books themselves. In one of his epistles Paul talks about the value of scripture but the scriptures he was referring to were the Jewish scriptures since the New Testament had not been written. And nowhere does Paul or any other writer say, “What I am now writing is inspired by the Holy Spirit.” He never talks about the scriptures being sufficient or inerrant.
How do Protestants know the Bible is the inspired word of God?
In 1 Cor. 14:37 Paul said, “If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.”
In 2 Pet. 3:16 Peter said, “as also in all [Paul’s] letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
Jesus said in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” This means that the Lord has commissioned the apostles to accurately record what Jesus had said because the Holy Spirit would be working in them.
In summary: Jesus promised direction from the Holy Spirit, Paul considered what he wrote to be the commands of God, and Peter recognized Paul’s writings as Scripture.
Divine Inspiration of the Bible is a Jewish belief that Christianity borrowed. It is based on the fact the whole Scriptures is the Revelation of God, which Moses received on Mount Siana and which was written down by the biblical writers throughout the ages. We know the Bible is the Word of God because it is the Revelation of God. And because of this, there can no new revelations that correct, change, or redefine the Revelation of God.
This is an area where Catholics and (certain) Protestants play “Which came first? The chicken or the egg?”. Please note that I say “Certain Protestants” because I am not sure which other Christian denominations believe one thing or another and I don’t want to contradict or offend any Protestants/Christians that don’t have the same beliefs.
When putting together the list of authoritative books, the church leaders did not arbitrarily generate a list of books that would be considered authoritative; rather, they simply documented and formalized the list of books which the early Christian church already considered authoritative.
Factors which the early church used in deciding whether a book was to be regarded as canonical included:
Apostolic Authorship - Was the letter written by one of Jesus’ apostles or one of their close associates?
Authoritative Recognition - Was the book generally regarded by the various congregations of the early church as authoritative?
Doctrinal Soundness - Were the teachings of the book in keeping with the apostolic faith?
The New Testament canon was not produced by the simple decree of any church governing body. Rather, like the Old Testament, the New Testament took shape over a period of time as the oral teachings of the original apostles were written down and distributed among the early Christian churches.
The early church then documented and formalized the already recognized list of authoritative writings in order to prevent the distortion of the truth over the passage of time.
As stated by James Bernstein, an Orthodox leader: “The councils did not legislate the canon so much as set forth what had become self-evident truth and practice within the churches of God.”
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