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Doctrine Of Scripture  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Qualities: The Scriptures possess divine qualities, “(1) the beauty and excellency of Scripture, (2) the efficacy and power of Scripture, and (3) the unity and harmony of Scripture” (Kruger 126-7). John Calvin said, “It is easy to see that the Sacred Scriptures, which so far surpass all gifts and graces of human endeavor, breathe something divine” (Institutes 1.8.1.).
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Confessional Support: “The heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God” (WCF 1.5).
Opposing Views:
Walter Bauer rejected the divine qualities in that there was no system of orthodoxy in the early church until the fourth century, but many Christianities (Kruger 135). This claim though is opposed to reality, the church had the Old Testament canon, the “Core” New Testament books, and the rule of faith in the late second and early third century (Kruger 136-140). Using these three resources the church could combat heresy and posit what books were orthodox.
F. C. Baur postulated that the books of the New Testament contradicted each other (Kruger 142). However, when such contradictions are put under scrutiny they are seen to be exaggerated and able to be brought into union.
Origins: The books that are in the Canon must be apostolic in origin. The apostles were established by God as the authoritative messengers of the New Covenant (Kruger 175). To be apostolic means that a book must have been penned during the time of the apostles, and also that, “it was written by someone who was an apostle or got his information directly from an apostle” (Kruger 182). Irenaeus states, “We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith” (Haer. 3.1.1).
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Opposing Views: Modern scholars insist that not all the books we have in the New Testament canon are not written by the apostles, nor are they written by those associated with the apostles. Instead they postulate that many of the books are counterfeits (Kruger 122 and 189). This view though lacks any sort of conclusive evidence, in fact much scholarship has taken the opposite view and historically validated apostolic authorship or influence of the books stated to be pseudonymously written. Furthermore, there arguments based on literary style can be explained without thinking they have an author other than who claims to have written it (Kruger 191-2).
Reception: There must be a “predominant unity” of acceptance amongst the catholic church as to what books are to be considered canonical (Kruger 103). Abraham Kuyper argued that the Holy Spirit works corporately and cultivates a “communion of consciousness not merely with those round about us, but also with the generations of saints from former ages… [through which] the positive conviction prevails, that we have a graphically inspired Scripture” (561-2)
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Confessional Support: “We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture” (WCF 1:5).
Opposing Views: Scholars have proclaimed that the early church was a mess when it came to the reception of the New Testament canon. That it was not until the fourth century that any form of consensus was made (Kruger 122). This however is not as extreme as scholars often make it and there are remedies to this claim. For instance, the canonical core was most definitely affirmed as early as the second century (Kruger 137).
The Closing of the Canon: The canon of Scripture was closed after the age of the apostles passed (Kruger 286). “As the redemptive work of Christ is once for all, so the word of Christ and the apostles is once for all. For God to add more books to the canon would be like his adding something to the work of Christ, something Scripture teaches cannot be done” (Frame 139). God is the source of the canon and the closer of the canon. No man can add to or take away from what he has inspired (Frame 138).
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Confessional Support: “Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased” (WCF 1.1)
Opposing Views: Hahneman asserts that the canon was not closed until the fourth century by the church (Kruger 129). The canon is from God and the church did not make it. The canon was completed when the last book in the New Testament was written. The church formally recognized all of the books in the fourth century (Kruger 286).
Works Cited
Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion: In Two Volumes. Ed. John T. MacNeill. Trans. Ford Lewis Battles. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960. Print.
Frame, John M. The Doctrine of the Word of God. Vol. 4. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Pub., 2010. Print. A Theology of Lordship.
Kruger, Michael J. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. Print.
Kuyper, Abraham. Encyclopedia of Sacred Theology; Its Principles. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1898. Print.
Roberts, Alexander, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325: The Apostolic Fathers ; Justin Martyr ; Irenaeus. Vol. 1. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1905. Print.
The Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms: As Adopted by the Presbyterian Church in America: With Proof Texts. Lawrenceville, GA: Christian Education & Publications Committee of the Presbyterian Church in America, 2007. Print.
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