0174 - Providence and the Protestant Canon of Scripture pt 1
What is the relationship between Providence and the Canon? In today’s episode, I talk about recent arguments in favor of the idea that God positively willed Christians to accept the 66-book Protestant canon of Scripture. This question came up in a recent video I was watching where two Protestant scholars were discussing various views about the canon within the Christian world.
These claims about divine Providence and the Protestant canon of Scripture harkened back to a statement I read in a popular systematic theology penned some time ago. Therein a popular Baptist scholar argued that all Protestant Christians should have confidence in their 66-book canon of Scripture for a variety of theological, historical and experiential reasons.
In this episode, I briefly address the various reasons forwarded in favor of the idea that God positively willed Christians to accept the 66-book Protestant canon of Scripture. Therein, I devote the majority of my attention to addressing the question of the historicity of the 66-book Protestant canon. I briefly discuss the acceptance of a Jewish listing of the Old Testament book in the fourth century by Christian leaders in the Roman East. The use of these leaders as a testimony to the Protestant canon, I argue, is problematic because their theory differs radically from their actual practice. On the one hand, these fourth-century leaders did indeed provide a list of scriptural books that came very close to purported Jewish canons of the period. But on the other hand, in their actual practice these fourth-century Christian leaders quoted from the Deuterocanonical books as scriptural, even though they did not include these books on their formal canonical lists.
In the end, we conclude that it is of utmost necessity for Christians to rely primarily on the authority the historical church of early Christianity and the Middle Ages in order to determine with certainty what exactly the canon of Scripture is. Criteria such as Providence, I argue, cannot be used as a reliable guide to determine that identity of the canonical books.
To forward this argument, I note, among other things, many Christians of the early church and Middle Ages did in fact regard books rejected from the 66-book Protestant canon not only as scriptural but even as canonical. In view of this complex history of the reception of the books of Scripture, the Providence criterion makes it virtually impossible to determine with certainty which books ought to be included in the canon of Scripture accepted by Christians.
Join us today as we talk about the question of Providence and the canon of Scripture. To access the show, download our free app on the iOS or Android stores. I look forward to hearing back from our audience.
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The Catholic Heritage Show is devoted to helping Catholic Christians better understand the history, teachings and culture of their Catholic faith so that they can better love and serve Christ, the Church and their neighbors. Dr. Erik Estrada is a Catholic scholar who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame and specializes in the history of Christianity and historical theology. He also completed a licentiate (S.T.L) in theology and patristic science at the Augustinianum Patristic Institute in Rome and a S.T.B. at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.
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