Canon of the Bible : Determining its Certainty
Why is the Protestant position of rejecting an infallibly guided Church
to give us the Canon of the Bible crazy ?
Imagine a person climbing a large tree and going out on a large limb. He
is sitting on the limb with a leg on each side and facing the trunk of
the tree. He takes out a saw and cuts off the limb he is sitting on from
the tree. Now, isn’t it crazy to expect the unattached limb to remain
suspended in the air ?
But this is not unlike the Protestant who accepts the Catholic Church’s
New Testament, but rejects the Church’s teaching authority. True, it is
the Holy Spirit who causes those books to be the inspired word of God,
but the question remains, which Books belong in the Bible.
How does a person know with infallible certainty which books belong in
the New Testament canon of the Bible?
When discussing this with a Protestant it is vitally important to keep
the focus on the New Testament so as not to get sidetracked onto
tangentially issues about the Deuterocanonical Books of the Old
Testament. Yes, our Bibles do have a different canon, a different list
of Books in the Table of Contents, and that fact is important, but the
“How does a person know with certainty that he has the correct books in
the New Testament?”
For Catholics, we believe
Jesus founded a Church on St. Peter
that has continued throughout the ages till today by
through which the Holy Spirit infallibly works, despite the sins of the
Popes and others like me, to infallible guide her when important
decisions have to be made to guide the people to heaven. This includes
decisions such as which Books belong in the Bible.
Protestants, on the other hand, have no infallible guide, only the
subjective arguments of man.
The Canon, Who decides ? A divinely instituted and guided Church, or
“You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I (Jesus) do not accept testimony from a human being, but I say this so
that you may be saved.”
A lesser thing cannot be the foundation and support of something that is
greater. Merely human opinion cannot authenticate what is, or what is
not, the Word of God. Neither Jesus or His Apostles have written down a
Table of Contents for the Bible. The Word of God was not given to us
with an inspired canon, or Table of Contents. If Sola Scriptura, Bible
Alone, is a true doctrine, then the most Protestants can claim is to
have a fallible list of infallible books. The bedrock of all his
conclusions on how to interpret Sacred Scripture and even what is
Scripture, what is the Bible, is based on his own human authority or
opinion. The Protestant’s reasons for his list of Books that belong in
the New Testament is merely human opinion and conjecture.
However, if Catholicism is true, and it is, then we have a Church
instituted by Christ ( Matthew 16:18-19), which is infallibly guided to
the correct answer for this and the other essential questions for our
salvation. Our certainty is based on the Love of the Father to guide and
save us, and in the truthfulness and integrity of Jesus Christ to be
faithful to His Promises for His Church He built on St. Peter, and in
the power of the Holy Spirit effects those promises to be true and
fulfilled in spite of the sins of the Popes and Bishops, so that the
infallible decrees of that Church are protected by God’s grace to be
At the bottom on this new page below are placed many links that answer
that question. The videos by Patrick Madrid are especially good. Maybe,
others on this list can suggest which links are best.
St. Augustine states :
“[In] the Catholic Church, there are many other things which most
justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations
keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by
miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age.
The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of
the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it
in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. ....
For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the
authority of the Catholic Church.”
[ Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental.
[Contra Epistolam Manichaei Quam Vacant Fundamenti.]
Chapters 4 and 5 ]