Following Jesus

Can you Trust the New Testament Canon?

Posted by Karl Alsin on

If you spend time sharing the gospel with people – or make it known that you are a Christian who believes the Bible – sooner or later you will be asked about the integrity of Scripture.  One assertion that is leveled against the Church is that the New Testament cannot be trusted because it is a product of man.  The idea is that a bunch of men chose the books they liked and omitted the books they didn’t like, thus cementing the path of Christianity in a narrow-minded, male-dominated direction.

From an article called, The Bible’s Ungodly Origins by Robert Johnson published on the deism.com website, you can find this assertion against Christianity:

Many rank and file Christians sincerely believe the Bible is a direct communication from God to man. I know I used to believe it was when I was a Christian. And from recent conversations with many sincere Christians I know this is currently true for many believers. Once it is proven to our God-given reason that the Bible is strictly a man-made collection of mythology the mind loses yet another shackle of "revelation" and is soon on its way to full freedom and progress.

I disagree.  Here’s a few things you should know when it comes to the reliability of the Bible with regard to the canon of Scripture.  The canon is the collection of the books that Christians regard as authoritative Scripture.

  1. The New Testament books were never voted on.

One myth that is still propagated to this day is that the Council of Nicea voted on which books to keep and which books to reject in the New Testament.  The 27 books of the New Testament were largely decided by the Church through general usage over time.  The Church itself vetted out spurious books and even good but secular books.  The Church did not confer spiritual authority upon these books but merely affirmed the spiritual authority that these books already possessed.  (The task of the Council of Nicea which was convened in 325AD, was to affirm the Church’s belief in the deity and humanity of Jesus, not to determine a list of Bible books.)

  1. The New Testament books are very old.

The 27 books of the New Testament are not recent developments or books that were written hundreds of years after the time of Jesus.  Many of these books were in circulation during the lifetime of the writer of that specific book.  That means the writer could have refuted or challenged anything devious that was attributed to his work. By the year 180 AD, the four gospels and only the four gospels were recognized as legitimate plus 22 of the 27 books were already listed by the Church as Scripture.

  1. The New Testament proved itself to the early Church.

These were books that blessed the Church, were consistent with other known Scriptures, carried an apostolic connection and exalted Jesus.  There is also the discernment of Christians who are equipped by the Holy Spirit to recognize spiritual truth, John 10:27, 14:26, 16:13-14. 

It’s not like there were hundreds of options to be voted upon in councils that met hundreds of years after the life of Jesus.  Godly people who suffered greatly taught the Bible and died for the gospel truth that is contained in the Bible.  The Da Vinci Code got it wrong.  The Church got it right.  You can trust the New Testament.