Church History

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Marcus Parker
February 1, 2011
CHHI 301-B02 LUO
Professor Michael Mitchell

The Foundation of Orthodoxy and the Canon

God is the Divine Author of a set of books, songs, narratives and letters that were written as a way for man to draw nearer to Him through His loving Son Jesus the Christ. God’s Word is an expression of who God is and who His Son is. J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays wrote a book called Grasping God’s Word. Within this book, the authors inspire their readers by giving a detailed reason why we study the Bible. They say, “The reason we study the Bible is that we want to hear God’s Word to us.” They go on to say, “The Bible was written by numerous human authors, but the divine aspect of it is inseparably and mysteriously interwoven into every verse. The term we use to describe this relationship between the divine role and the human role is inspiration. Inspiration can be defined as the process in which God directed individuals, incorporating their abilities and styles, to produce His message to humankind.”[1] Our Bible is an inspired canon of the 39 received books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament. The combined 66 books of the Old and New Testament form the orthodox belief which was founded upon the inspired moving of God among man and creation. What were the events and movements that were influential in the recognition of the canonical books? Furthermore, what methodology was used by the applicable individuals and councils that deemed these 66 books the inspired Word of God? In her work titled, “The Establishment of Christian Orthodoxy of the Holy Bible”, Kathy McFarland gives us a very in depth understanding of the foundation of orthodoxy and the establishment of canon. I will begin by reviewing her thought about the foundation of orthodoxy. McFarland states, “Both Christians and pagans were shocked by the heretical ideas that were developing by the late second-century. Irenaeus, a Christian author who represented the 'mainstream', non-gnostic Christianity, wrote a book attacking Gnosticism because it denigrated the material world, removing the ability for God's active interest from being expressed, and separated the God of the Old Testament from the God of the New. Tertullian agreed with Irenaeus that the Christian faith originated with Jesus and established a standard which belief could be tested. As Tertullian put it in his Prescription against the heretics, "It is clear that all doctrine which agrees with the apostolic churches - those moulds and original sources of the faith - must be considered true, as undoubtedly containing what those churches received from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, Christ from God. And all doctrine must be considered false which contradicts the truth of the churches and apostles of Christ and God. "This apostolic principle became extremely important in later centuries as the orthodox standards of faith were established.” Now we have an understanding of the foundation of orthodoxy, I will now delve into McFarland thoughts on the establishment of the canon. “Christians possessed the writings by the apostles and their disciples that they believed expressed the rule of faith in written form by the time of Irenaeus and Tertullian, Most of the local churches within the Roman world agreed to which writings should be included in the NT canon by the second century; however, this agreement was not formalized until the third council of Carthage in 397. Most scholars believe that the New Testament canon was completed by A.D. 100, if not earlier. They would read these writings in the practice of their faith as they met, and thought of these writings as equal to the writings the Jewish Scripture. The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), was in the Canon as the New Testament began to be added over a period of 400 years. The basis for including a book in Scripture was apparent within the process of...
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