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2008-10-19_How We Got The Canon_various_SL

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How We Got The Canon

Various   |   Shaun LePage   |   October 19, 2008

How We Got The Canon

Various   |   Shaun LePage   |   October 19, 2008

I.       Introduction:

A.    “How We Got The Canon”—sounds like a story from the Civil War. No—story about how we got the Bible. I’m sure I could develop a metaphor—the Bible is like a “cannon”—shoots down the enemy/strongholds…But not that kind of “cannon.” Spelled with one “n” in the middle. Homophone or homonym: a word that sounds like another word, but has a completely different meaning. We’ll get to the origin of the word in a little bit, but the topic is this: How We Got (the books of the Bible). 

B.     Perhaps you watch PBS—one night you came across a show called “From Jesus to Christ”. You thought to yourself, “Great! Finally my tax dollars are being spent on something worthwhile.” So you settle in to watch a documentary about your Lord and Savior. Instead, you hear the narrator saying things like the first Christians had many other books. Their belief systems were very different. Many Christians believed in a very different Jesus. No one taught that Jesus was God until two or three centuries later. And maybe you are astute enough to know that those statements are just plain false.

C.    So, you pick up your remote. You turn off that blasted TV and write an email to your Congressman demanding that your tax dollars quit going to PBS. Then, you decide to read a book instead. Someone gave you a copy of something that’s been on the best seller list for a long time and is one of the best-selling books of all time—they told you. That sounds great! So, you find it. The DaVinci Code. That sounds interesting. “Leonardo DaVinci is one of my heroes,” you say to yourself. And you dive in. You begin reading that the Roman Emperor Constantine manipulated the Bible. “A Roman Emperor decided which books were in the Bible?” you ask yourself. That’s what the author is telling you. He says Constantine wanted Christianity to act as a unifying religion for the Roman Empire. He thought Christianity would appeal to pagans only if it featured a demigod similar to pagan heroes. According to the Gnostic Gospels—the author tells you—Jesus was merely a human prophet, not a demigod. Therefore, to change Jesus’ image, Constantine destroyed the Gnostic Gospels (which were probably true—is the implication) and promoted the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John instead—so that he could portray Jesus as divine or semi-divine. The book also claims Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene!! It says one of these books Constantine tried to destroy—The Gospel of Philip—says Jesus called Mary his wife and even kissed her frequently on the mouth!

D.    You don’t know what to believe. You don’t know what to say. You begin asking yourself whether any of this is true. Were there other books that should have been a part of the Bible? If so, do they teach something about Jesus that’s different than what I’ve been taught?

II.     Review

A.    For the past several weeks, we’ve been looking at reasons why I believe we can trust the Bible.

1.         Started with an overview: “Can We Trust the Bible?”

2.         We’ve looked at three issues in a little more (a lot more) detail:

a)      The Bible (the Greek copies and our English translations) are reliable.

b)     Problems with Biblical Authority.

c)     Last week: Can We Understand the Bible?

B.     Today (probably next week too): wrap up this introduction with “How We Got The Canon”.

1.         Then, we’ll have the FVW weekend

2.         Then I want to offer a big picture of the entire Bible—how does it all fit together?

3.         Then, Genesis to Revelation—God’s Story; How God is working in history.

III.   Handouts

A.    One of the common problems people have with the Bible is the belief that the Bible was randomly thrown together at best or there was deception involved at worst—for 2,000 years Christians have been duped.

B.     This is important stuff. It gets to the heart of all we believe: Did God speak? Did His prophets (those He chose to write for Him) get it right? Did God preserve what they wrote? Everything we believe depends upon whether we can say “yes” to those questions.

C.    Each box on your handout is numbered—let’s start with #1.

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