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Thread: Determination of the Canon and Sola Scriptura

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    Determination of the Canon and Sola Scriptura

    I've heard the question from Roman Catholics [and Orthodox I presume] that how can protestants hold to Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) when what books should or should not be included in the canon cannot be determined with any certainty and/or authority from our traditions. The charge is that our history for the church begins in 1517 (implying that protestants are like Joseph Smith, saying that we restored what was lost). For example, Roman Catholics appeal to the council of Carthage in AD 397 where the canon was supposedly set in stone. What "proof" or "evidence" would you give as to what books should be included in the canon and why?
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    I am currently reading through the first 2 volumes of David King and William Webster's massive work on the nature of sola scriptura, inspiration and canonicity. I would highly recommend the purchase of them. The third volume is patristic citations supporting the protestant position of inspiration and canonicity.

    I would add, further, that if the claim that the council of Carthage set the books into stone at 397 AD, then how are the RCC's any different than the protestants? What were the books 300 years or so before that time? Moreover, did the council canonize the various apocrypha (sp?) books that the RCC maintains are inspired? As I recall, they did not.

    The Muriturian (sp?) fragment was produced about 170 AD and it lists at least 22 of the 27 books of the NT as being inspired. The other five are not listed, primarily because the document is damaged and we cannot gain all of what was written upon it. A final historical note is that Marcion produced a NT of his own around 150 AD. His testament contained only selections from Luke, and the epistles of Paul. The fact that the christians of his day reacted by detailing the truly inspired books and rejecting Marcion's text, is evident that the Christian believers had an authoriative understanding of what the books of the NT truly were.

    Fred

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    Originally posted by Fredman
    I would add, further, that if the claim that the council of Carthage set the books into stone at 397 AD, then how are the RCC's any different than the protestants? What were the books 300 years or so before that time? Moreover, did the council canonize the various apocrypha (sp?) books that the RCC maintains are inspired? As I recall, they did not.
    here is the list from carthage. here are lists from various writers of the first eight centuries. the specific disagreement is on the apocryphal or deuterocanonical books. here are the difference in lists of OT canon between Greek Orthodox, protestant, and Roman Catholic.

    carthage includes the protestant OT plus wisdom of solomon, ecclesiasticus (five books ascribed to Solomon in the Septuagint are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom of Solomon, and the Psalms of Solomon/Ecclesiasticus), tobit, judith, and the first two books of the maccabees. the current Roman Catholic list includes the list from carthage plus the addition to esther, baruch, epistle of jeremiah, song of three children, story of susanna, and bel and the dragon (based on the council of trent).

    The Muriturian (sp?) fragment was produced about 170 AD and it lists at least 22 of the 27 books of the NT as being inspired. The other five are not listed, primarily because the document is damaged and we cannot gain all of what was written upon it.
    the text is quoted here.

    A final historical note is that Marcion produced a NT of his own around 150 AD. His testament contained only selections from Luke, and the epistles of Paul. The fact that the christians of his day reacted by detailing the truly inspired books and rejecting Marcion's text, is evident that the Christian believers had an authoriative understanding of what the books of the NT truly were.
    certainly they had a general understanding, but it seems that no two lists agree in full as to how to categorize some of what is now called the apocrypha or deuterocanonical books. go here to see what i'm talking about.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    A room without books is a body without soul.
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    Roman Catholic Article on OT Canon

    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Now you have gone and stirred up my interest in all of this!
    I did find the following link that addresses the OT and the apocrypha. There are a series of articles addressing this at this website. It may be a place to get some further research on your question.

    http://www.christiantruth.com/Apocryphapart2.html

    Fred

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    Originally posted by Fredman
    Now you have gone and stirred up my interest in all of this!
    good! that's what i wanted to do. also go here for some more links.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    The Missing Hermeneutic

    The argument of what should constitute the Bible is not unlike the argument of how to interpret the Bible. In both cases, the principal hermeneutic may be missing from the 'books.' You may not find it there.

    All of scripture is that which testifies of the crucified and risen Christ (Luke 24:25-27, 44,45). The apostle Paul was given the final revelation of the meaning of that event (Gal. 1). In the Lukan passage above, the Lord gives us his OT canon, which is the only opinion that really counts in the end. Does Christ's tri-fold canon of the Law of Moses, Prophets, and Psalms include doubtful books of wisdom like Ecclesiastes or the Wisdom of Solomon? Good question. One that was not yet settled at the very time that Jesus spoke these words; the Council of Jamnia was many years later. In considering any book, we must consider whether it bears a powerful testimony that is in some way revealing Christ to us. In addition, we must consider whether other teachings in the book indeed detract from that testimony; it might be that only a small portion of a book is self-authenticating in bearing testimony to Christ. Where did the principle come from that canonicity is only determined at the full-book level? Otherwise, the book may be indeed valid for edification, public reading, or historical fact--but its status is inferior when trying to establish the superior or gospel canon. An entire book may be judged to be canonical only if the true people of God jealously preserved its contents (using it for worship, etc.) over a long period.

    One contributor to the forum had this to say about the Muratorian Fragment:

    "The other five are not listed, primarily because the document is damaged and we cannot gain all of what was written upon it."

    I think this notion needs to be challenged. Other books are listed in the fragment that were never accepted and indeed found to be apocraphyl or heretical. In my estimation, the fact that certain 'early fathers' wanted a book like the Shepherd of Hermas in scripture illustrates just how far they had already wandered from the gospel. Others wanted Barnabas, the Apocalypse of Peter, etc.

    It is not true that the book of James gained 'slow acceptance.' It gained quick acceptance after centuries of outright rejection. Why is this fact hidden from us in so many presentations of the issue? If a book was not jealously guarded against interpolation by the true people of God for three hundred years, how can we be sure that every word is scripture?

    The 'self-authenticating' theory is the closest of any to the truth, but what makes NT scripture self-authenticating? I would propose this: it must yield uncompromising and powerful testimony in the Holy Spirit to the 'full corn' and works-free gospel--revealed to the one man whom Christ elected to be the apostle to the nations.

    In the spirit and power of the deceased chairman,
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: The Missing Hermeneutic

    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    In considering any book, we must consider whether it bears a powerful testimony that is in some way revealing Christ to us. In addition, we must consider whether other teachings in the book indeed detract from that testimony; it might be that only a small portion of a book is self-authenticating in bearing testimony to Christ. Where did the principle come from that canonicity is only determined at the full-book level? Otherwise, the book may be indeed valid for edification, public reading, or historical fact--but its status is inferior when trying to establish the superior or gospel canon. An entire book may be judged to be canonical only if the true people of God jealously preserved its contents (using it for worship, etc.) over a long period.
    but isn't this sort of subjective? how is this determined for the church? or is this determined on an individual level (e.g., i take this one as inspired and you take that one, etc.)? i think that's the problem. the Roman Catholic sees this as "each man doing what is right in his own eyes" and thereby becoming his own pope so now instead of one pope there are a bunch running around proclaiming what is right. do you see the dilemma?
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    "The other five are not listed, primarily because the document is damaged and we cannot gain all of what was written upon it."

    I think this notion needs to be challenged. Other books are listed in the fragment that were never accepted and indeed found to be apocraphyl or heretical. In my estimation, the fact that certain 'early fathers' wanted a book like the Shepherd of Hermas in scripture illustrates just how far they had already wandered from the gospel. Others wanted Barnabas, the Apocalypse of Peter, etc.
    The two books that were extremely informative for me in sifting through the history of canonicity were R. Laird Harris Inspiration and Canonicity and FF Bruce's The Canon of scripture
    The portions of the Muraturian fragmant that I have read, the original writer makes a distinction between those 24 or so NT books he authenticates as scripture and the books such as the Shepherd of Hermas and others of its ilk. Those non-canonical books were said to be encouraging to Christians, but were not authoritative for the rule of faith.

    It is not true that the book of James gained 'slow acceptance.' It gained quick acceptance after centuries of outright rejection. Why is this fact hidden from us in so many presentations of the issue? If a book was not jealously guarded against interpolation by the true people of God for three hundred years, how can we be sure that every word is scripture?
    That is part way correct. James has always been listed as being scripture. It was always on some list somewhere depending on what part of the Christian world the list of canonical books came from. Granted, you are correct that for the most part, many Christians were suspicious of James, but only a few outright rejected it as not being scripture. Most of that had to do with the slow transmission of information in the ancient world. There were various books that took time to travel around the Roman Empire, and by the time they arrived in a location, Christians who already had a completed canon in their mind, would hold those late comers as being suspect in origin. On top of that, some books, like James and Jude, were not written by a known apostle of the original 12 and thus they were looked upon as being imitations.

    The 'self-authenticating' theory is the closest of any to the truth, but what makes NT scripture self-authenticating? I would propose this: it must yield uncompromising and powerful testimony in the Holy Spirit to the 'full corn' and works-free gospel--revealed to the one man whom Christ elected to be the apostle to the nations.
    I would agree with that, but your statement doesn't say enough. If that were the only qualification, James would not be part of the canon; at least in some folk's mind. I believe the testimony of the work of Christ is important as you state, but would add to that the testimony of the author who wrote it, or those readers who knew the author who wrote it. In other words, as Harris points out in his book, the apostolic office of the writer, or his direct connection to the Lord Christ and his apostles is vitally important. And I would further add the work of the Holy Spirit in his church. God used the Christian church to preserve and canonize those books he wanted in the NT. I realize that smacks of the RCC claim, but the fullest measure of God's work in his church rejected the "canonical" list outlined in those 2 councils that Disciple mentioned above. For instance, after the council of Carthage, Jermone, along with other Christian leaders, objected strongly to those handful of non-canonical books the council allowed into their final lists. That demonstrates the purifying work of God among the members of the Christian church. They objected because first, a certain canon already existed in the minds of the believing church and the non-canonical books of the OT were not part of it, and God was using his people to sharpen one another in the process of establishing his canon.

    Fred

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    Re: The Missing Hermeneutic

    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    In the spirit and power of the deceased chairman,
    just curious...what does this mean?
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Originally posted by Fredman
    The portions of the Muraturian fragmant that I have read, the original writer makes a distinction between those 24 or so NT books he authenticates as scripture and the books such as the Shepherd of Hermas and others of its ilk. Those non-canonical books were said to be encouraging to Christians, but were not authoritative for the rule of faith.
    here's what it says:

    There is current also an epistle to the Laodiceans, and another to the Alexandrians, both forged in Paul's name to further the heresy of Marcion, and several others which cannot be received into the catholic Church. For it is not fitting that gall be mixed with honey. Moreover, the epistle of Jude and two bearing the name of John are counted in the catholic Church; and the book of Wisdom, written by the friends of Solomon in his honour. We receive only the apocalypses of John and Peter, though some of us are not willing that the latter be read in church. But Hermas wrote "The Shepherd" very recently, in our times, in the city of Rome, while bishop Pius, his brother, was occupying the chair of the church of the city of Rome. And therefore it ought indeed to be read; but it cannot be read publicly to the people in church either among the Prophets, whose number is complete, or among the Apostles, for it is after their time. But we accept nothing whatever of Arsinous or Valentinus or Miltiades, who also composed a new book of psalms for Marcion, together with Basilides, the Asian founder of the Cataphrygians . . .
    That is part way correct. James has always been listed as being scripture. It was always on some list somewhere depending on what part of the Christian world the list of canonical books came from.
    i think that is a huge part of the argument. it seemed that at least early on, what you saw as canonical depended on where you were and what your particular church used. this impact on the lists cannot be underestimated in my mind. their world was much different than our world of the internet and instant information. communication from all regions was not very quick.

    God used the Christian church to preserve and canonize those books he wanted in the NT. I realize that smacks of the RCC claim, but the fullest measure of God's work in his church rejected the "canonical" list outlined in those 2 councils that Disciple mentioned above. For instance, after the council of Carthage, Jermone, along with other Christian leaders, objected strongly to those handful of non-canonical books the council allowed into their final lists. That demonstrates the purifying work of God among the members of the Christian church. They objected because first, a certain canon already existed in the minds of the believing church and the non-canonical books of the OT were not part of it, and God was using his people to sharpen one another in the process of establishing his canon.
    but you see the problem inherent within this don't you? you see the subjectivity that arises don't you? which list and which purifying from which individuals do we accept? all of the lists differ. what most RC people say is that we cannot necessarily trust individuals but must take consensus (which there really isn't any in this area despite their claims to the contrary) and accept the authoritative councils or proclamations made ex cathedra. i really don't know how they'd get around this argument since i don't believe their current list even agrees with the council of carthage. it seems that the RCC canon list was not really set in stone until the council of trent in the 1500s. so how they explain the discrepencies in lists i'm not sure. but that is a question we must also answer. is there an objective way to determine the canon of what is inspired and what is not? it doesn't seem to me that there is. the argument from protestants and RC and eastern orthodox are identical but the conclusions and lists are different. so how do we determine the canon with any certainty and how do we apply sola scriptura this?
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    The Enigma of James, 3 John, 2 Peter, etc.

    Let me quote Fredman,

    I would agree with that, but your statement doesn't say enough. If that were the only qualification, James would not be part of the canon; at least in some folk's mind. I believe the testimony of the work of Christ is important as you state, but would add to that the testimony of the author who wrote it, or those readers who knew the author who wrote it. In other words, as Harris points out in his book, the apostolic office of the writer, or his direct connection to the Lord Christ and his apostles is vitally important. And I would further add the work of the Holy Spirit in his church. God used the Christian church to preserve and canonize those books he wanted in the NT. I realize that smacks of the RCC claim, but the fullest measure of God's work in his church rejected the "canonical" list outlined in those 2 councils that Disciple mentioned above. For instance, after the council of Carthage, Jermone, along with other Christian leaders, objected strongly to those handful of non-canonical books the council allowed into their final lists. That demonstrates the purifying work of God among the members of the Christian church. They objected because first, a certain canon already existed in the minds of the believing church and the non-canonical books of the OT were not part of it, and God was using his people to sharpen one another in the process of establishing his canon.

    This statement very clearly illustrates the difference between the way historic churchmen view the history of the people of God and the way I am compelled to view it in the Holy Spirit. I am a Christian nonconformist committed to the Reformation--but also to the full-corn gospel revealed only to Paul (afterward shared with & accepted by the other apostles). What is the 'Christian church' and what are these councils? Were those who comprised them committed to the Pauline works-free gospel? I would propose this: absolutely not! I challenge anyone to show me the spirit of Paul and his continuous and impassioned commitment to the works-free gospel in the 4th and 5th century 'fathers!' It is not there. Neither is it there in the earlier fathers. The great apostasy began immediately after Paul's death.

    The fact that the 'fathers' defended an apostolic view of the Trinity and Christ's deity; plus in addition preserved the original apostolic scriptures for us in the Gospels, Acts, and Paul does not mean that they believed the true gospel. Without defending the Trinity, Deity of Christ, and a canon of scripture; even a pseudo-Christian gospel could not survive. The false Christianity had to be somewhat based on the geniune in order to be convincing.

    These men held to water regeneration, salvation by character, atonement as a ransom paid to the devil (generally--with a few 'creative' exceptions), autonomous man, the absolute authority of the bishops and state over the conscience, and a host of other heresies.

    J.N.D. Kelley has shown in his 'Early Christian Fathers' how far these men departed from the atonement and apostolic soteriology. They praised Christ's divine person--while at the same time damning his sovereign work in saving humans absolutely devoid of personal merit.

    If we hold to the precious truths of freedom of conscience and the priesthood of the believer, no man can ultimately decide truth for us. All believers must listen to the wisdom of other believers. However, it is crucial to discern what sectarian biases exist in all interpreters. Where commitment to a certain sectarian tradition is paramount, truth is secondary. In those cases, you cannot depend on others. You have to depend on yourself, enlightened by the Holy Spirit in the true gospel. Many believers in past ages have had to stand alone on certain watershed issues.

    I would be interested in knowing which 'lists' contain James. It is obvious that this book was the triumph of Judaistic Cristianity (the heretical Ebionites, etc.) but I want to know a non-Judaistic list from the West or East. I have never found such. The canon of Ireneaus is certainly significant in this regard.

    Pilgrim, I am going to leave the issue of my signature to mystery for now, as it is something I'm hoping that readers will investigate and figure out. I participated in another board for 2 years and no one had a clue.

    The fact that a manuscript cannot be found supporting a position is not 'proof' that the position is incorrect. Abundant manuscripts HAVE been found that would cause us to question whether the disputed verses in Mark (after 16:8), the story about the adulterous woman in John 8, and other passages are canonical. Since James was not preserved in the same fashion as other apostolic writings, the polemic in 2:14-26 may indeed be interpolation against Paul. The earliest fragments of James that have been found are from chapter 1. Jude is enlightening; it does not contain the same rhetoric at all. Neither does Matthew (the other book used to falsely support a gospel of faith+character).

    In the tradition, power, and spirit of the deceased chairman,
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Pruning the Excess Vine

    I believe that something was left unclear in my last post.

    I do not propose that the canon needs to be expanded. Never! The rejection of the apocraphyl books is completely and totally a work of the Holy Spirit. I'm suggesting that the true canon should possibly be smaller than what we have thought, not larger. I can only hold to a personal judgment based on my limited knowledge. The issue desperately needs to be re-opened and re-studied by the people of God everywhere. However, this will not happen where institutional churchianity dominates.

    The issue of the canon was decided in careless haste by Protestants, in order to counter Papal accusations of anarchy against the 'church' and its historic decisions.

    What has been the 'fruit' of accepting James 2:14-26 as canonical? Every heretical cult and departure from the Reformation has made this passage the basis of its doctrine.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: The Enigma of James, 3 John, 2 Peter, etc.

    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    This statement very clearly illustrates the difference between the way historic churchmen view the history of the people of God and the way I am compelled to view it in the Holy Spirit. I am a Christian nonconformist committed to the Reformation--but also to the full-corn gospel revealed only to Paul (afterward shared with & accepted by the other apostles).
    what is the full-corn gospel? what is this language from?

    All believers must listen to the wisdom of other believers. However, it is crucial to discern what sectarian biases exist in all interpreters. Where commitment to a certain sectarian tradition is paramount, truth is secondary. In those cases, you cannot depend on others. You have to depend on yourself, enlightened by the Holy Spirit in the true gospel. Many believers in past ages have had to stand alone on certain watershed issues.
    but do you see the subjectivity in this? which are in the canon? how do you determine it? which believers are you listening to? how about your sectarian bias? if we all depend upon ourselves, enlightened by the Holy Spirit in the true gospel then shouldn't we agree on everything? yet this is not the way the church seems to work. the only way i've seen everyone agree on everything is when there is authoritarianism where one person determines what is right for all those under him/her. so on this issue in particular, which list and which believers are you listening to? how do you determine your canon? if it is smaller than the canon protestants currently have, on what basis have you made this detemination and why? and if my list is different from yours based on what i sense is enlightened by the Holy Spirit in the true gospel then who's list is correct? on what basis can you call mine corrupt?

    I would be interested in knowing which 'lists' contain James. It is obvious that this book was the triumph of Judaistic Cristianity (the heretical Ebionites, etc.) but I want to know a non-Judaistic list from the West or East. I have never found such. The canon of Ireneaus is certainly significant in this regard.
    Cyril of Jerusalem, Council of Laodicea, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Rufinus, Epiphanius, Jerome, Augustine, 3rd Council of Carthage, Codex Claromontanus, Letter of Innocent I, Decree of Gelasius, Isadore of Seville, John of Damascus, Apostolic Canons, and Peshitta Version. go here to see the comparison lists of disputed books in the NT and here to see the ancient canon lists quoted in full from their original source.

    Pilgrim, I am going to leave the issue of my signature to mystery for now, as it is something I'm hoping that readers will investigate and figure out. I participated in another board for 2 years and no one had a clue.
    i looked but could find nothing. perhaps someone else will have better luck.

    Since James was not preserved in the same fashion as other apostolic writings, the polemic in 2:14-26 may indeed be interpolation against Paul. The earliest fragments of James that have been found are from chapter 1.
    or perhaps you (and others such as luther) do not correctly understand what Jas 2:14-26 is about and how it may fit very nicely with paul in romans 4. simply because false teachers use a text as support for their position does not mean we must throw it out. indeed, cultists have perverted every text of Scripture and it may even be said that anyone can make the Bible say whatever they want it to say. people use the Bible to justify their sin and false doctrine all of the time. and simply because the earliest fragments of James are from chapter 1 is not insurmountable evidence that anything after chapter 1 (or what was in that fragment) was added. this is an argument from silence if i ever heard one. shall we say that because the earliest fragments of the OT being found in the Qumran caves near the dead sea do not contain all of the OT that those sections that are missing are therefore not Scripture? this is a very specious argument if you ask me.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Re: The Enigma of James, 3 John, 2 Peter, etc.

    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    I am a Christian nonconformist committed to the Reformation--but also to the full-corn gospel revealed only to Paul (afterward shared with & accepted by the other apostles). What is the 'Christian church' and what are these councils? Were those who comprised them committed to the Pauline works-free gospel? I would propose this: absolutely not!
    out of curiosity, does your full-corn gospel allow for the fact that faith that doesn't result in works is a dead and non-justifying faith? does it allow for the fact that those who have died to sin should not still live in it? does this full-corn gospel allow for the fact that any man that is in Christ is a new creation/creature? does it allow for the fact that you are saved by it, if you hold fast the word which was preached? does it allow that a tree is known by its fruit? does it allow for the fact that true repentance will result in appropriate fruit? if not, then this full-corn gospel is perhaps a full-rotten-corn gospel. the entire epistle of james fits in very nicely with the rest of the message of the NT. just read Romans 6; 1 Co 15:2, 2 Co 5:17, Eph 2:10; Col 1:23; Titus 2:14, 3:14; Heb 3-6, 10; and 1 John. Christians that have no fruit are not Christians at all. people who think they are justified and have no works, have the damning faith of demons which can never justify. abraham's faith was made complete or shown as real by the fact that he responded in obedience. this is the message of 1 John as well. the apostles and Jesus and John the Baptist were in complete agreement on this point. to miss this, is to miss what it means to be a believer.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Re: The Enigma of James, 3 John, 2 Peter, etc.

    Originally posted by BillTwisse

    Pilgrim, I am going to leave the issue of my signature to mystery for now, as it is something I'm hoping that readers will investigate and figure out. I participated in another board for 2 years and no one had a clue.
    Your signature refers to William Twisse the man appointed as chairman (I believe he was titled 'prolocutor') of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, doesn't it?

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    Re: Re: The Enigma of James, 3 John, 2 Peter, etc.

    Originally posted by Traveler
    Your signature refers to William Twisse the man appointed as chairman (I believe he was titled 'prolocutor') of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, doesn't it?
    Main Entry: pro·loc·u·tor
    Pronunciation: prO-'lä-ky&-t&r
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, from Latin, from pro- for + locutor speaker, from loqui to speak
    Date: 15th century
    1 : one who speaks for another : SPOKESMAN
    2 : presiding officer : CHAIRMAN
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Re: Re: The Enigma of James, 3 John, 2 Peter, etc.

    Originally posted by Traveler
    Your signature refers to William Twisse the man appointed as chairman (I believe he was titled 'prolocutor') of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, doesn't it?
    pro·loc·u·tor - Pronunciation Key (pr-lky-tr)
    n.
    A presiding officer or chairperson, especially of the lower house of a convocation in the Anglican Church.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    The Legacy of William Twisse

    Dear Brethren,

    You got it! I'm exposed and the egg is on my face! I expected that the contributors to this board would figure it out, because there is a level of knowledge here that is very lacking elsewhere!

    Historical Fact: Dr. Twisse passed away a significant time before the Westminster Confession of 1646 was finalized and approved. Since much of my personal library is packed away right now, I can't give you all the facts on the activities of his compromising 'yes man' successor. The bottom line: Twisse would NEVER have signed off on the final version (especially the notorious chapter 9), which is a concession to the free-will whiners supporting the ridiculous and absurd views of John Milton in his fable 'Paradise Lost' (based on pure speculation, never remotely taught in scripture).

    Our view of the 4th and 5th century 'councils' will certainly have a large influence on our views of 16th and 17th century councils. Many historic churchmen are commited to the view that we must find SOME movement in external churchianity that God was leading FULLY. To these, it is unthinkable (most horrible) to propose that the individual believer, under the unction of the Holy Spirit through the Word, can sort out truth in all the movements while also condemning the errors. This is true of Episcopalianism, Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, Baptistism, an a host of other sectarian systems.

    All of the external church councils ended up defending SIGNIFICANT aspects of truth in the gospel. That cannot be denied. The issue is whether any were fully and totally correct in their assertions, thus not subject to the judgment of the individual believer enlightened by the Word and Holy Spirit.

    In the honor and memory of Dr. William Twisse,
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Impassioned Response to Challenges

    Well, brethren, I’m buried! I feel like I’m facing the emperor in Star Wars who boldly asserted to Luke: How can you defeat my POWER? The authority of historical and purportedly OBJECTIVE church dogmatics is seemingly invincible. Churchianity is objective, a single believer represents merely a puke-poor subjective opinion, right? Can my pathetic and broken humpty dumpty ever be put back together again? Ichabod, the glory has departed!

    By the way, I apologize for not making myself clear. In no way am I interested in 4th century lists supporting James. By that time many had a good reason to incorporate the works theology of James; to further the authority of the institutional and state church. I’m only interested in any ‘non-Judaic’ Christian lists from the second or early third centuries. I’m not denying that they exist; I just have not found them in my reading of any prominent scholars on the issue (such as Van Campenhausen).

    I fully recognize the gospels, Acts, and Paul as canonical. These books were accepted fully by all believers no later than the second century. This undisputed canon is not unlike Christ’s tri-fold OT canon of the Law, Prophets, and Psalms.

    Dave Armstrong, a passionate Roman Catholic apologist, has a good web-page on this issue at http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ45.HTM . Although I despise his theology, I believe he is absolutely correct in his assertions about the motives behind Protestant views of the canon. Although Protestants profess that self-authentication (in the gospel--hopefully?) is the basis of canonicity, their ACTUAL ‘objective’ basis always ends up being the ecclesiastical authority of tradition in church councils throughout the ages.

    If St. Gus wanted James in the canon, who are we following if we believe him? Although he restored a MEASURE (only) of the apostolic teaching on election--ravished totally by Justin and Tertullian, he still taught, along with so many other ’fathers,’ these heresies (in the Enchiridion and other works):

    1. Justification by subjective character transformation instead of objective grace in Christ’s person and work.
    2. Atonement as a ransom paid to the devil.
    3. Sacramentalism (grace communicated by ‘eating Jesus‘).
    4. Water regeneration.
    5. The authority of the bishops over the conscience in determining truth.
    6. Triumphalism (the notion that external churchianity will ultimately rule the world).
    7. The power of the state to punish heresy.
    8. Purgatory (a complete denial of Christ’s perfect righteousness imputed to the believing sinner).
    Others

    I will respond to Pilgrim’s arguments systematically, as that is the only way I know how to respond.

    But do you see the subjectivity in this? which are in the canon? how do you determine it? which believers are you listening to?

    The gospel revealed to Paul in its fullness is objective, never subjective. The believers who originally received God’s revelation are those we need to listen to.

    How about your sectarian bias? if we all depend upon ourselves, enlightened by the Holy Spirit in the true gospel then shouldn't we agree on everything? yet this is not the way the church seems to work.

    You are right! It doesn’t work that way. The triumph of truth in the community of believers has ALWAYS been a slow and painful process. Those who claim that EVERYTHING can be worked out through timely and short discussion in the Spirit are deceiving themselves. IT CAN’T. If we have the mind and attitude of Christ, a great deal of diverse interpretation can be overcome, but certainly not all! We have to fellowship where we agree (primarily on Christology and soteriology) and agree to disagree for now on many things. Anyone who thinks that more than this is possible is living in a dream world.

    The only way i've seen everyone agree on everything is when there is authoritarianism where one person determines what is right for all those under him/her.

    Of course! We KNOW it is true! Sometimes it is more than one, where two or more are agreed on enforcing their misguided dogma--in denying prophecy taught by the ‘least of the brethren.’

    So on this issue in particular, which list and which believers are you listening to? how do you determine your canon? if it is smaller than the canon protestants currently have, on what basis have you made this detemination and why? and if my list is different from yours based on what i sense is enlightened by the Holy Spirit in the true gospel then who's list is correct? on what basis can you call mine corrupt?

    Believers will never agree on everything, as has already been evidenced. I am not upset if James 2:14-26 is read in public worship, even though I personally believe that passage to be 1) a polemic against the Pauline gospel, 2) the confident basis of all cultic theology, and certainly 3) non-scripture. But I respect other believers who view it differently. Self-authentication of a passage in the gospel is demonstrated by the fruit it bears or the lack thereof. For me, the fruit of James 2:14-26 is evident: it is the confident basis of every works-theology teaching in existence that has departed from the gospel for the last 2000 years.

    Perhaps you (and others such as luther) do not correctly understand what Jas 2:14-26 is about and how it may fit very nicely with paul in romans 4. simply because false teachers use a text as support for their position does not mean we must throw it out. indeed, cultists have perverted every text of Scripture and it may even be said that anyone can make the Bible say whatever they want it to say. people use the Bible to justify their sin and false doctrine all of the time.

    This argument could be equally advanced against ANY apocraphyl writing that someone is convinced is canonical! The epistle of Barnabas is very inspiring to me in many points; far more accurate in defending the teaching of the apostles than James. The early believers (in the late first and second century) also had far more respect for Barnabas than James. It does not contain the anti-Pauline rhetoric that James 2:14-26 is known for. I love Barnabas more than any other non-scriptural early Christian work! Many early teachers accepted it as canonical. But I don’t for a moment. Although it is full of Christian wisdom in promoting the End of the Old Covenant law, its neo-law teaching simply does not ring true to the New Testament--Paul especially. Christ did not come to replace the OLD law with a NEW law; he came to abrogate law entirely as a basis of justification (before God AND men).

    I do believe that Luther truly understood what James 2:14-26 is saying in its polemic against Paul. 99% of Christians have never read his eloquent and (to me) flawless argument. Unfortunately, I will have to search for the reference as I once read it and have forgot where it is. But I remember the main details of what he had to say:

    1. Paul NEVER refers to a dead faith, neither does any other apostle or author of the New Testament. The notion of a dead faith is blasphemy to Paul. Since faith is a product of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, any suggestion that the faith in Christ revealed in the gospel might be ‘dead’ is a denial of that very gospel.

    2. The ’men from James’ in Galatians were the fathers of a Judaistic pseudo-Christianity whose hero was James and arch-enemy was Paul.

    3. Abraham and Rahab were NEVER justified by works. Just the opposite! Abraham was justified by FAITH when he offered up Isaac, not works. His works were ABHORRENT in all human estimation--he was willing to commit murder! But his willingness to obey God’s strange command evidenced the principle of faith (in God’s power to resurrect) as opposed to works. Likewise, Rahab was justified by FAITH when she hid the spies sent by God, not works! How do we know that major sexual sin did not occur between Rahab and the spies--we don’t! It may have or it may not have. We only know that Rahab was convicted that she needed to protect them because of their sanctified mission in the Lord! Others in her vicinity may have performed better WORKS of philanthropy toward the poor than her. She lied! However, she knew in the Spirit (as opposed to her natural ‘flesh’) that a greater thing was happening. God was working his infinite and sovereign will in history! So she was justified by her faith, NEVER by her works.

    4. It is virtually a denial of the gospel to compare WORKS to the SPIRIT and FAITH to the BODY. The reverse is true! Faith is comparable to the SPIRIT and works are comparable to the BODY! All of the Bible reveals that although the body is essential and not to be depreciated; the spirit is superior. The fact that James (or later perverts, as I believe is the case) would twist this around is unthinkable. These false teachers had no respect for the Pauline gospel.

    Simply because the earliest fragments of James are from chapter 1 is not insurmountable evidence that anything after chapter 1 (or what was in that fragment) was added. this is an argument from silence if i ever heard one. shall we say that because the earliest fragments of the OT being found in the Qumran caves near the dead sea do not contain all of the OT that those sections that are missing are therefore not Scripture? this is a very specious argument if you ask me.

    I was not using this as a FINAL and absolute argument; simply as an interesting observation. I stand on what I already said above.

    Out of curiosity, does your full-corn gospel allow for the fact that faith that doesn't result in works is a dead and non-justifying faith?

    A moot point. There is no such thing in Paul‘s teaching, as I have already pointed out.

    Does it allow for the fact that those who have died to sin should not still live in it? does this full-corn gospel allow for the fact that any man that is in Christ is a new creation/creature? does it allow for the fact that you are saved by it, if you hold fast the word which was preached? does it allow that a tree is known by its fruit? does it allow for the fact that true repentance will result in appropriate fruit? if not, then this full-corn gospel is perhaps a full-rotten-corn gospel. the entire epistle of james fits in very nicely with the rest of the message of the NT. just read Romans 6; 1 Co 15:2, 2 Co 5:17, Eph 2:10; Col 1:23; Titus 2:14, 3:14; Heb 3-6, 10; and 1 John.

    I am very disappointed by this argument. James is not arguing merely for the necessity of fruitful obedience (in the tradition of Matthew and Paul himself). Paul received the final revelation of the gospel (the ‘full corn in the ear’). To claim that those who accept his testimony might not completely accept the implications of a tree known by its fruit--this is very disheartening to me. That is all I have to say on this subject. Please defend the fruit of James 2:14-26 in Christian history. It goes far beyond supporting the necessity of obedience to Christ--it affirms that men are justified by works. Inform me of all the priceless good it has accomplished in comparison to the works-free gospel revealed to Paul.

    If we cannot know from the rest of the New Testament the truth of holding fast, the necessity of bearing fruit, etc. then we are indeed very miserable and unenlightened.

    Christians that have no fruit are not Christians at all. people who think they are justified and have no works, have the damning faith of demons which can never justify

    I certainly agree that Christians without fruit are not Christians. But demons have no FAITH in the true gospel. If they are convinced that truth exists in the gospel, they rebel against it with invincible determination! There is no BELIEF with an AMEN in devils! Whatever confession of gospel reality they have, this is not the faith in Christ of eternal ages (Rom. 1:16,17) that Paul defends, NEVER!

    Abraham's faith was made complete or shown as real by the fact that he responded in obedience. this is the message of 1 John as well. the apostles and Jesus and John the Baptist were in complete agreement on this point. to miss this, is to miss what it means to be a believer.

    Where does Paul say that true faith is incomplete and needs additional proof of its genuine content? Chapter and verse please! 1 John certainly repeats the Pauline perspective that those who simply believe with an ’amen’ have eternal life!

    In the spirit, tradition, and power of the deceased chairman,
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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