Reflecting on the Reformation


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I am aware that outside of the original apostles, nobody in church history has given us perfect doctrine. The apostles were not perfect men, but were the instruments God used to release His truth. Through the apostles God gave the Word as a compass of nonnegotiable truths. The heart of the message written in God’s Word is a message of redemption. The second nonnegotiable truth is the good news that Jesus gave His life for us; that He is willing and able to save our souls, that if we repent for our sins and confess with our mouth that Christ die and rose again and, if we accept His Lordship, we shall be saved.[1]

            My personal frustration with all of the books I have read of church history so far is that they mix in truth with lies. Galatians 1:8 tells us, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (KJV)

            Even as, in the mix of all, God still raised ambassadors of truth within the walls of the Catholic Church, it is obvious that the Catholic Church, as an institution, completely lost her way and became indeed accurse. The veneration of Popes, the selling of indulgence, the adoration of Mary, praying to dead saints and leveling councils and men’s opinions to the level of the authority of Scripture, were the key factors that force a desperate cry for reformation.

            Through Scripture we see that God always raises leaders as instruments of blessings or as instruments of judgment; God indeed raised Luther to deliver his church as He did Moses to deliver His people out of Egypt. Next year we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, what an amazing time to reflect on such historical event!

            Martin Luther was not the first one to point out the Catholic Church’s inconsistencies and hypocrisy. There were others, such as John Wycliff and John Hus who also spoke against the Catholic Church’s abuses of power before Luther. These men proclaimed Scripture as the ultimate authority of truth. However, without a doubt, Martin Luther was the chosen one by God to ignite the fire of the return of the preaching of the Gospel to the church and to the world. Another key voice on this reform came from Switzerland, Ulrich Zwingli.

            An attempt was made to unite these two giants of the protestant movement, however, even as both men agreed on key theological issues such as: the authority of Scripture alone, the rejection of the authority of the Pope and salvation by faith alone and not by works, they could not come to an agreement on the Lord’s Supper. Martin Luther saw the bread and the wine as the actual body of Christ while Zwingli saw it as symbolic.[2] On that point, we can say that the protestant movement initiated the never-ending protest against themselves.

            I am afraid that today, just like in the times of Luther and Zwingli’s, some other factors get in the way of truth. Factors such as: political pressures, pride and selfish ambitions. Zwingli was perhaps more radical than Luther in his approach to the Bible[3], but even as he could not find biblical evidence of infant baptism, his political ambition or his view of politics as an instrument to advance the reform, blinded him to compromise on this issue. Zwingli is the indirect father of the Anabaptist movement as a couple of his students were inspired to search the Scriptures for truth[4], accept what was there and reject what was not, a key theme of Zwingli’s approach. These students did not find any Biblical evidence for infant baptism. Nevertheless, Zwingli rejected that revelation for political gain and even persecuted the Anabaptist.[5]

            Was the reformation a failure? Some may argue that it was; our divisions as protestants are obvious and shameful, but the reality of God’s compass for us is as true as it was 500 hundred years ago. How much of what we are doing is indeed Biblical? With the reformation we can say that now it seems like everybody has the freedom to read the Scriptures, which is a great thing, but what is indeed dangerous is all these private interpretations of Scripture. I do believe in Sola Scriptura, but what has happened to us? Can we find the Gospel today or have we also become accursed? Perhaps, just perhaps even as traditions are not divine as the Catholic Church proposes, we should look back and pay more attention to those traditions that poses clear biblical backing. The Bible gives us absolute truths; our orthodoxy, dogmas and the sound doctrine, so we must definitely and desperately must start there in our quest for truth.

 

 

[1] Romans 10:8-10

[2] John B. Payne, ZWINGLI AND LUTHER: THE GIANT VS. HERCULES, Christian History Institute, https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/zwingli-and-luther/

[3] John D. Woodbridge, Frank A. James III, Church History Volume Two, (Grand Rapids: Zonderland), 2013, 154-155

[4] Ibid., 153

[5] William R. Estep, The Anabaptist Story, The Reformed Reader, http://www.reformedreader.org/history/anabaptiststory.htm

God Got This!


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God is not simple; it is an insult to call Him so, for who understand the mind of God? Nevertheless, we must find God in the simplicity of our lives! In the waking up in the morning to new mercies, in the gift of a saved soul, in the priceless moments with our families, in a good conversation, in the beauty of a sunny day, in the dignity of making a living, in a walking alone with God, in the freedom that we still have to study the Word, in the voice of the Holy Ghost and in a paper and pen.

I am not waiting for the next move of God or subscribing to this or that idea of who He is. I have access to Him now. God got this! That is revival!

He is the Creator, He is Goodness and He is Justice! He is the author and finisher of our faith, yes; He got this!

I am growing in grace and in the knowledge of my King. God has managed to navigate His will through history and the resistance of evil men. If He is with me who can dare stand against His purpose for me?

Yes! God got this! He is God when I am in the mountaintop, when I am in the valley or when I am in the desert. He is God whether I can sense His presence or not; when I am filled with laughter, when my heart is trouble or when my tears do not let me see the way, He is God.

He is God whether He answered my prayers or not. He is God in the supernatural and He is God in the simplicity and routine of the natural. He got this!

A Strange Process In Fairbanks


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It has been a strange process here in the golden heart city; closer to three years later it seems like God is taking me to a process of preparation and equipping and also a great conviction to finish some old projects I started years ago; two in particular. Finishing a real personal Music CD I started in Nashville, Tennessee and a book I started while residing in Jacksonville, Florida. The Lord told me this is the year of finishing what I started.

            I feel like I have been hiding for the last three years; from very active in ministry in North Carolina I am now not so active. Preached some in my local church, but lately not so much. I am working on one of two masters I would like to complete. A masters on Pastoral Counseling, later a masters in Apologetics and then, I hope to finish my doctorate; not sure in what.

            Perhaps Fairbanks saw my true retirement as a Martial Arts Instructor; I have absolutely no passion and absolutely no time to teach martial arts. I am considering however, for the sake of exercise, to engage in taking a new style of martial arts. Just thinking about for now!

            In December I am planning to go to Merida, Mexico. I can’t wait! My focus will be to minister at “Iglesia La Hermosa” with Pastor Andrés Briceño Ruiz, a good friend and a good brother.

            How long am I going to stay in Fairbanks? I don’t know! I am blessed to have my own business as a Care Coordinator with Fusion Care Coordination working with the elderly and people with special needs. This has provided the freedom to be able to control my time and focus more on my relationship with God and on these project I mentioned. Is all this a preparation to be eventually use here in Fairbanks? I don’t know either! But for now I take it one day at the time.

 

Compassion Without Truth, Truth Without Compassion


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The Mean Teacher

There are issues that could go both ways, there is no absolute truth, the truth in those cases is subjective. However, we can’t ignore the fact that truth does exist. There are things that can’t go both ways; there are things that are one way or the other, no middle ground.

The root of all truth is found in God’s Word, not in philosophy, ideologies, political affiliations, etc. Truth comes from God; lies come from the devil. Proverbs 12 tells us, “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.” (KJV)

In contrast to God’s character and nature John 8:44 tells us about the devil, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (KJV) There is a lie and there is truth.

I learn a long time ago that truth without compassion is an open door for confusion. Truths is necessary, love also delights in truth according to First Corinthians 13. The most explicit warning is found in Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (NKJV)

We as Christians are call to speak up. But we must also understand that the Gospel itself is offensive. The ticket to salvation is to first confess our condition as sinners; we must repent! However, in a society where everybody claims to have the truth and everybody claims to be right, where do we go? We go to the Word, that’s the standard!

Now there is a second warning I want to also mention. Second Corinthians 3:5-6 tells us, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (NKJV) This Bible has also being used wrong through history. We must approach the Bible as a Spiritual book and for its interpretation and for revelation we MUST inquire the vital assistance of the Holy Spirit.

Just as compassion without truth is bad; perhaps truth without compassion is worst. I have being guilty of giving out truth in a harsh way; God is dealing with me in that area. That is because it gives a bad testimony of the character of God.

We confront sin with a sincere heart to see the other person reconcile with God, not to shame them publicly and brag about it. I don’t have any problem telling a man cheating on his wife that he is sinning; but I will also encourage him to repent, to stop and, I would try to help him in restoring his marriage. My God is a judge, but my God is also merciful and that is the balance; compassion with truth and truth with compassion.

 

Don’t Let the Devil Make a Liberal Out of You


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Liberalism fights against any form of absolutes. Liberalism will fight orthodoxy, dogmas, any form of doctrine, structure or authority. Liberalism, many times is the result of things gone wrong. As the direct result of Satan’s doings, twisting and corrupting what is good, human policies are made.

         So the office of the apostles suffers a terrible reputation because of false apostles. The response? Let’s eliminate the office of the apostle and let’s call them Bishops.

         So you have a bunch loose cans calling themselves prophets; the response? Let’s preach and teach that the prophetic office does not exist anymore.

         Folks have gone to seminary and come back arrogant; the response? Let’s discredit any form of education and seminary.

         We have had abuse of power in the church, so let’s eliminate government from the church; no elders, no deacons and no titles; everybody is a leader; nobody tells anybody what to do.

         We have seen obvious corruption in church finances; the response? No more need to give.

         People have interpret the Bible wrong; the response? No need for Scripture; let us all follow the Holy Ghost, let’s focus on all the Bible verses that speak of the Rhema Word and totally ignore all the rest that speak about the Logos.

         Liberalism is bad everywhere. Liberalism is bad in our schools, is bad in our homes, is bad in our communities, is bad in politics and liberalism is terrible when is found in the church.

         The greatest sign that liberalism has taken over the church is 1) when groups claim to have a monopoly on the truth, when they call themselves the true church. It never fails, things never end up right, 2) when they make steps to minimize and depart from the authority of Scripture. Remember, liberalism can’t tolerate orthodoxy, dogmas, sound doctrine, government, theology and absolutes, so Scripture will definitely get on their way, 3) claims of the next new thing. The Charismatic Movement has given birth to many children and grand children. They continue to cater to sensationalism and emotionalism, with very little Scripture to back up their claims. The prosperity Gospel, the focus on self, the do not judge me mentality, the Jesus only, the Holy Ghost only, the waiting for the next move of God, eternally waiting for revival, the giving of dates for Christ return and the list goes on and on.

         Liberalism is the worst ideology against the Gospel. We are aware that there are many things out of place in the church, many things that need fixing. However, nothing will be fixed with lies; nothing will be fixed with more man-made traditions and concepts that can’t be found in Scripture. Love rejoices in truth[1] and it is that truth that will make us free.[2] Don’t let the devil make a liberal out of you.

 

[1] I Corinthians 13:6

[2] John 8:32

La Totalidad de Dios


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Imagínese por un momento, si hablando de un automóvil, dijéramos que las llantas son lo más importante. No tan solo eso, pero imagínate si decimos que las llantas es todo lo que el automóvil necesita para funcionar. Aún las llantas más exclusivas del mundo no podrían, por si solas, provocar la energía necesaria para producir la locomoción esperada. Un automóvil está compuesto de muchas partes que contribuyen a su buen funcionamiento. El hacer semejantes reclamos concerniente a las llantas es un disparate. Así también, el caminar Cristiano también se compone de muchos elementos.

         Me temo que muchas veces nosotros también hemos acomodado e interpretado versos Bíblicos a nuestra manera para acomodar la doctrina que nos gusta, ignorando y menospreciando todo lo demás.

         Tal y como el carro necesita, no tan solo las llantas, pero también el motor, el volante, los frenos, el acelerados, la carrocería, etc. como Cristianos necesitamos “… todo el consejo de Dios.” de acuerdo ha Hechos 20:27.

         No podemos enseñar a Cristo como Salvador solamente e ignorar que El también está llamado a ser Señor de nuestras vidas. No podemos enfatizar exclusivamente en el amor de Dios, ignorando el hecho de que Él también es juez. No podemos hablar de la gracia, ignorando la realidad de las consecuencias del pecado. Dios está haciendo la obra en nosotros, pero eso no quiere decir que estamos llamados a vivir un Evangelio sin responsabilidad. No podemos hablar del Padre ignorando el Hijo, ni del Hijo ignorando al Padre y no podemos hablar del Padre ni del Hijo ignorando el Espíritu Santo. No podemos hablar de la Palabra Escrita e ignorar que Dios también habla o, dedicarnos a supuestamente escuchar del Espíritu Santo, sin corroborar lo que escuchamos a través de las Escrituras.

         No podemos ser tan intelectuales en nuestro deseo de aprender teología que nos olvidamos de postrarnos delante de Dios en alabanza y adoración, de levantar su nombre en alto, de cantar, de llorar, de danzar y de expresar nuestro amor por Dios libremente. Por otro lado no conviene ser tan carismático que todo nuestro caminar de Cristianos se enfoca en sentimientos y manipulaciones emocionales.

         Todo tiene un balance natural; puedes orar doce horas al día, mas nunca hablarle a nadie de Cristo, ni darle de comer al hambriento convirtiendo así tu fe en vana. Por otro lado, puedes perderte en obras dando aún tu vida, sin ningún tipo de reconocimiento departe de Dios debido a la falta de amor, de acuerdo a Primera de Corintios trece.

         Sí somos libres, pero eso no nos da licencia para ignorar que la Iglesia tiene un gobierno establecido por Dios; que ha Dios le agrada que las cosas se hagan en orden de acuerdo a Primera de Corintios 14:40 y que estamos llamados a someternos a las autoridades establecidas por Dios de acuerdo a Romanos 13.

         Hermanos, solo he dado unos pocos ejemplos en este pequeño artículo; pero existen muchos más ejemplos. Estos atentos parciales de definir a Dios y el caminar Cristiano, es producto del deseo del hombre de estar en control y, tiene su origen en la arrogancia. El punto es que tenemos que buscar de Dios en su totalidad y estudiar las Escrituras en su totalidad; todo en la Biblia es importante.

         Que Dios los bendiga, recuerda que todos estamos aprendiendo, nadie lo sabe todo. Si tienes alguna pregunta o algún comentario escríbeme a angelcasiano@aol.com

Las Herejías de la Iglesia Orgánica


Entiendo claramente el problema de la religiosidad, doctrinas de hombres, controles demoniacos, la parte de la iglesia infectada con la cultura del mundo, las enseñanzas falsas de que solo algunos privilegiados son los verdaderos ministros, la adoración a edificios, la secularización de la Iglesia, la falsedad, la adoración a títulos, grados colegiales, la hipocresía y tantas otras herejías y problemas. Mas la Iglesia no se arregla con más mentira, sino con la fuerza del Espíritu Santo y la verdad de Cristo que es la que nos declara libres.[1]

         Personalmente simpatizo con la idea de tener esto que llamamos Iglesia en nuestros propios hogares; sé que nosotros somos la Iglesia, no edificios. Ahora, he sido consistente en oponerme a estos tres puntos, 1) La minimización de la Palabra Escrita, 2) la crítica irresponsable a la sana doctrina y, 3) El divulgar que la Iglesia original no tenía Biblia (Palabra Escrita).

         La Iglesia de los Apóstoles originales tenían el Viejo Testamento y ellos mismos, se puede ver claramente en la misma Biblia, sabían cuando lo que escribían era inspiración divina. Si van a tener una discusión sobre estos asuntos, tengámosla con bases Bíblicas. Si traen puntos sin bases Bíblicas están haciendo lo mismo que han hecho y continúan haciendo los que ustedes tanto critican. Es de estos errores que nacen las doctrinas de hombres. Déjame entonces presentar algunos puntos para informarles del porqué de mi oposición a la minimización de la Palabra, la crítica irresponsable a la sana doctrina y la divulgación de que la Iglesia original no tenía Palabra Escrita.

         Juan 5:37-40[2] nos revela claramente que el conocimiento Bíblico no salva. Los Fariseos veían las Escrituras como muchos ven las Iglesias, como agentes de salvación. Mas Cristo nos anima a escudriñar las Escrituras porque la misma da testimonio de El. Pregunta, si la Iglesia original no tenía Biblia, ¿a qué Escrituras se refería Cristo? Si la Iglesia original no tenía Biblia, ¿cómo explican ustedes 2 Timoteo 3:16-17? Veamos Hechos 6:1-7,

“En aquellos días, como creciera el número de los discípulos, hubo murmuración de los griegos contra los hebreos, de que las viudas de aquéllos eran desatendidas en la distribución diaria. Entonces los doce convocaron a la multitud de los discípulos, y dijeron: No es justo que nosotros dejemos la palabra de Dios, para servir a las mesas. Buscad, pues, hermanos, de entre vosotros a siete varones de buen testimonio, llenos del Espíritu Santo y de sabiduría, a quienes encarguemos de este trabajo. Y nosotros persistiremos en la oración y en el ministerio de la palabra. Agradó la propuesta a toda la multitud; y eligieron a Esteban, varón lleno de fe y del Espíritu Santo, a Felipe, a Prócoro, a Nicanor, a Timón, a Parmenas, y a Nicolás prosélito de Antioquía; a los cuales presentaron ante los apóstoles, quienes, orando, les impusieron las manos. Y crecía la palabra del Señor, y el número de los discípulos se multiplicaba grandemente en Jerusalén; también muchos de los sacerdotes obedecían a la fe.” Reina-Valera 1960 (RVR1960)

         Las referencias a la “Palabra” aquí son todas referencias a Logos (Palabra Escrita) en otras Palabras, lo que conocemos como la Biblia. Fíjense que la Palabra del Señor crecía, fíjense que el número de discípulos se multiplicaba grandemente y aún muchos fariseos se convertían de su error a la fe en Cristo.

         Los Apóstoles originales sabían que lo que escribían era de Dios, la Biblia lo confirma. Pedro hace referencia a las cartas de Pablo y se refiere a ellas como Escrituras.

“Por lo cual, oh amados, estando en espera de estas cosas, procurad con diligencia ser hallados por él sin mancha e irreprensibles, en paz. 15 Y tened entendido que la paciencia de nuestro Señor es para salvación; como también nuestro amado hermano Pablo, según la sabiduría que le ha sido dada, os ha escrito, 16 casi en todas sus epístolas, hablando en ellas de estas cosas; entre las cuales hay algunas difíciles de entender, las cuales los indoctos e inconstantes tuercen, como también las otras Escrituras, para su propia perdición.” 2 Pedro 3:14-16 Reina-Valera 1960 (RVR1960)

         ¿De qué escritura hablaba Pedro aquí? Nuestro Señor Jesucristo nos dio evidencia escrita del Viejo Testamento. En Lucas 24:44 nos dijo:

“Y les dijo: Estas son las palabras que os hablé, estando aún con vosotros: que era necesario que se cumpliese todo lo que está escrito de mí en la ley de Moisés, en los profetas y en los salmos.” Reina-Valera 1960 (RVR1960)

         ¿Y qué podemos decir de la doctrina?

“Te encarezco delante de Dios y del Señor Jesucristo, que juzgará a los vivos y a los muertos en su manifestación y en su reino, que prediques la palabra; que instes a tiempo y fuera de tiempo; redarguye, reprende, exhorta con toda paciencia y doctrina. Porque vendrá tiempo cuando no sufrirán la sana doctrina, sino que teniendo comezón de oír, se amontonarán maestros conforme a sus propias concupiscencias, y apartarán de la verdad el oído y se volverán a las fábulas.” 2 Timoteo 4:1-4Reina-Valera 1960 (RVR1960)

         Hermanos, la Palabra Escrita es central, es en lo que podemos confirmar que lo que recibimos es verdad. Existen doctrinas falsas, en contra de esas peleo, pero estamos llamados a aprender de la doctrina de Cristo, la que le enseñó a los Apóstoles y la que estamos hoy llamados a aprender y a enseñar. Por favor hermanos dejen los disparates, ¿de dónde ustedes sacan la idea de que la Iglesia original no tenía Biblia? Las Escrituras, les he mostrado, existían desde el principio.

         Estudien la historia de la Iglesia; fue la Iglesia Católica, utilizada por satanás, la que le arrancó la Palabra escrita al pueblo común para dársela solo a los clérigos. Pero gracias a Dios por Juan Wycliffe, Juan Huss, Martin Lutero y tantos otros héroes de la fe que, aunque no fueron perfectos, le devolvieron el acceso a las Escrituras al pueblo.

         Si estoy en error, confírmelo y compruébelo a través de la Biblia, pero sinceramente no me interesan opiniones de hombre, sensacionalismos y personalidades. Hermanos Latinos, no todo lo que sale de los Estados Unidos es de Dios; les exhorto a que tengan cuidado con este mover de la Iglesia Orgánica. Se están metiendo con los fundamentos incambiables de nuestra fe.

Con amor y respeto,

Siervo Angel Casiano

 

[1] Juan 8:32

[2] También el Padre que me envió ha dado testimonio de mí. Nunca habéis oído su voz, ni habéis visto su aspecto,

38 ni tenéis su palabra morando en vosotros; porque a quien él envió, vosotros no creéis.

39 Escudriñad las Escrituras; porque a vosotros os parece que en ellas tenéis la vida eterna; y ellas son las que dan testimonio de mí;

40 y no queréis venir a mí para que tengáis vida.” Juan 5:37-40 Reina-Valera 1960 (RVR1960)

 

A Bible, A Pen and a Notebook


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Do I believe in Christian Music? Yes I do; but if is use as a tool to control emotions or the mood in the room, I don’t! With music you can make somebody sad, even cry. With music you can make somebody feel happy, energize, courageous and even inspire. Music can be sensual, vulgar and very violent.

                 Music is selective; some love the black sound others the Latino rhythm, yet others prefer a more Anglo style; some prefer Michael W. Smith, yet others Fred Hammond’s style. While one is lost “in the anointing” as he listens to his “jam”; the other is annoy by the very same sound. Some go crazy and lost in God’s presence with “Amazing Grace”, “All is Well” and “To God be the Glory”, while others are not move at all, but indeed bored.

            I do think that music is overrated and, even as I believe in having an anointed worship team in churches, it should never be the most important aspect of our service and it should never be substituted by the teaching of God’s Word… NEVER! I believe that many of our charismatic churches are catering to the emotions while neglecting what truly delivers a soul… BIBLICAL TRUTH!

            Many are playing the music loud, playing the jam that people like, catering to the flesh with very little infusion of Spirituality and not much teaching of our Dogmas as Christians. Where do you see a protagonist role in music ministry in the New Testament? It is not there! To see music you must look at the Old Testament, specifically, the Levites. Show me then, where do you see the Levites playing before the world as a way of bringing them to God? Is not there!

            We must get to a point where a Bible, a pen and a notebook suffices; no need for special sounds, special music selection or a slow song to make us cry. In that secret place, in that place of silence, our souls should thirst and hunger for God.

The New Testament Canon: Manmade or Divine?


NT Canon

LIBERTY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF DIVINITY

The New Testament Canon:

Manmade or Divine?

Submitted to Dr. John M. Landers, in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the completion of the course

CHHI 520 DO6

History of Christianity 1

by

Angel Casiano

May 2016

Table of Contents

 Introduction…………………………………3

The New Testament is Real…………..……4

The Archeological Voice……………….…….4

The Announcement of a New Covenant….5

Where do we Look First? ……………………7

Apostolic Authority and Antiquity…………..8

Catholicity……………………………………..11

Orthodoxy………………………………………12

The Rule of Faith……………………………….12

Conclusion………………………………………14

Bibliography…………………………………….15

 Introduction

            There is much argument as to the validity of the Canon in regards to whether or not it was man-made or divinely inspired. There has also been, among the catholic community, a horrendous degree of heresy with a foundation of contradictions in regards to the Canon.

            Though much of the debates over this topic may end in emotional battles or webs of fallacies, the main intent for this paper is to establish that the canon of the New Testament is not a man-made activity, but indeed a divine one. Skeptics and Catholics alike embrace a man-made approach to the Canon while disregarding basic criterion. Even as this paper is addressing the skeptics by making an effort to establish an apologetic argument concerning the authenticity of the New Testament, an effort is also made to do apologetics from within. This paper will make an effort to show that God is not only the fountain of inspiration for the Scriptures,[1] but also the force behind the establishment of his own Word.

The New Testament is Real

The Archeological Voice

            Without necessarily dealing with which books should or should not be in the Bible, archeology gives us overwhelming evidence that a manuscript called the New Testament existed in antiquity. Skeptics may argue that they’re more or less books, that some books were left out, that there are secret books still out there or whatever the new argument is. However, any person with some basic common sense cannot intelligently argue against the reality of the New Testament. So before we enter into the canonical discussion, lets listen to the archeological voice.

            Discoveries ranging from evidence for the Tower of Babel, to Exodus, to the           Walls of Jericho, all the way to the tombs of contemporaries of St. Paul, have greatly enhanced the believability of the Bible.[2] 

            The Institute for Creation Research reports that the evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament is far greater than any other document of antiquity.[3] For example,

            The New Testament was written in first century A.D. There are some 20,000        manuscripts in existence. The earliest textual evidence we have was copied 100 years after the original. In contrast:

  • Caesar’s Gallic Wars was written in the first century B.C. There are only 10 manuscripts in existence. The earliest textual evidence we have was copied 1,000 years after the original.
  • Aristotle’s Poetics was written in the fourth century B.C. There are only 5 manuscripts in existence. The earliest textual evidence we have     was copied 1,400 years after the original.[4]

            The following table gives us an impressive look at how solid the archeological evidence of the New Testament is compared to other ancient writings. Pay attention to when the book was written, the earliest copy from the original date and the time span and how many manuscripts were written during that time.

Manuscript Evidence for Ancient Writings[5]

Author Written Earliest Copy Time Span # Mss.
Caesar 100-44 B.C. 900 A.D. 1,000 yrs 10
Plato 427-347 B.C. 900 A.D. 1,200 yrs 7
Thucydides 460-400 B.C. 900 A.D. 1,300 yrs 8
Tacitus 100 A.D. 1100 A.D. 1,000 yrs 20
Suetonius 75-160 A.D. 950 A.D. 800 yrs 8
Homer (Iliad) 900 B.C. 400 B.C. 500 yrs 643
New Testament 40-100 A.D. 125 A.D. 25-50 yrs 24,000

There is no other document written in antiquity that can come close to the New Testament in terms of authenticity. Notice that the New Testament not only has the shortest time span between the original manuscripts and the first copy, but there were also far more copies made in that time period. The more copies made in the shortest period of time, especially with the fact that the printing press wasn’t invented yet, the greater the validity and accuracy.

            The number of New Testament copies is over thirty times the number of all the documents of antiquity combined. It is astonishing how some skeptics can completely refute any possibility as to the validity of the New Testament, and yet accept the validity of other writings with far less archeological evidence. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, for we know that Satan is the god of this world’s system![6]

The Announcement of a New Covenant

            The New Testament did not appear out of nowhere. The Old Testament clearly announces the establishment of the New Testament[7]. Jeremiah 31:31 states,

            “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant        with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the           covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a   husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make  with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My  people.” (NKJV)

            The most important aspect of these verses to gather, as far as the Canon of the New Testament is concern, is a very distinct link between the Covenants. Though often times the New and Old Testaments are seen as two different books, the Old Testament prophesies unify the texts. Jesus is the ultimate link between the Old and New Testament, as He is fulfilling the climax of the New Testament by quoting the Old. The Old Testament prophesies of the New Testament are set at approximately 600 years before the New Testament manuscript was written through the Prophet Jeremiah!

            Every single word from Genesis to Revelation was already in existence. This is not just a book; the Bible represents the very essence of the character of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 (KJV) The Logos, we can say, is beyond our time and beyond our space.

            The reality is that many Christians do not know the first thing about the canon of Scripture; however they don’t need to know to believe, they know it by the witness of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures are so overwhelmingly true for the believer because it’s far beyond any other book; it is the heart of God, the Creator of heaven and earth. This will never be enough explanation for any skeptic, but we must also remember that God has made his existence obvious to every human being according to Romans 1:18-20[8]. In reality we are not dealing with skeptics and atheists, we are dealing with suppressors of God’s truth.

Where Do We Look First

            The Bible states in Revelation 22:19, “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (NKJV) Paul declares in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” (NKJV)

            Changing, twisting, adding and taking away from God’s truth are satanic strategies that can be clearly seen through church history. Satan has done a remarkable job in planting seeds of doubt concerning the reliability of God’s Word. Satan told Eve “…You will not surely die,”[9] a statement that totally contradicted God’s instructions. The Catholic Church and its traditions is not the place we should be looking first for canonical answers. As a matter of fact we should not be looking at the catholic Church for any Biblical answer; that is because they have not only added to the Scriptures itself, they have also taken the liberty of establishing other divinely inspired elements.

            Roman Catholicism denies the ultimate authority of Scriptures alone (sola scriptura) and has consequently adopted the well-known trifold authority structure      that includes Scripture, tradition and magisterium (The church’s teaching authority). The key component in this trifold authority is the Magisterium itself, which authority teaching office of the Roman Catholic Church, primarily    manifested in the popes and his bishops.[10]

            The idea that something else outside of Scripture is divine is in fact the greatest obstacle against good theology and sound doctrine. Traditions and the teachings of the church should not be ignored; they are extremely important; however those traditions and teachings must be based on God’s Word. God’s Word represents the absolute truth. These liberties taking by the Catholic Church is what led to so many lies added to God’s Word; purgatory, the praying to dead saints, praying and the veneration of Virgin Mary and the list goes on and on. There is no telling what Pope Francis will come up with next.

            In a society that increasingly rejects absolutes, where everybody is free to have their own version of truth, it is vital that the Word of God be defended as the document that carries the acceptable dogmas for life given by God through the teachings of what is righteous according to God’s standard, not in accordance to an open and never ending idea of what is right and what is wrong according to liberalism.

            Looking at the Catholic Church’s definitions of their own Canon, it is easy to see their lack of respect for sound doctrine, their theological blindness and an arrogance that precipitated their falling away from the basic truths of Scriptures. In the Catholic Church’s arrogant attempt to define the canon, “the canon has so much become the church’s book that it is unable to be God’s book.”[11]

            In a serious study concerning the canon, the Catholic Church should not be taken seriously. In finding any answer to the canon we must find true orthodoxy. That orthodoxy can only be found through the original apostles.

Apostolic Authority and Antiquity

            The canon of the New Testament seems to be a complicated thing; after all, there were many books that claimed canonicity. However, when looking deeply at the matter, it was not a hard task. The focus of the canon is found in the apostles, not in the church’s fathers, not in Marcion’s sickly ideas of the canon, and not in the arrogance of the Catholic or any other church. To be able to identify the canon of the New Testament, we must look first at who did the writing. Ephesians 2:20 tell us, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,” (NKJV).

            Antiquity gave us a strong tool to begin to identify the authenticity of the New Testament canon. This meant that in order for any writing to be considered a part of the canon, it needed to have been written by an apostle or by a direct associate of an apostle.[12] Any writings after 100 AD were automatically rejected.

            As we will see, authority and antiquity are not the only criterion to determine the canon of the New Testament; but they must be the first ones. There were apostolic fathers and disciples of the original apostles that were indeed men of integrity and whose contributions were phenomenal. Nevertheless, if we engage in trying to confirm the canon based on what the fathers of the church quoted, then some will pick and chose who they consider fathers of the church; after all, Second Timothy 4:3 gives us a very human characteristic, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;” (NKJV) Very clearly this means that we can get lost in quoting men with the objective of feeding confirmation for our selfish agendas.

            Did the apostles know they were writing the heart of God? Kruger speaks of Apostolic Self-Awareness.[13] Scriptures such as, 2 Peter 3:15-16, “and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved     brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard   to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction,  as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” (NKJV)

            Notice that Peter was aware that Paul was writing Scripture. Also notice the uniformity of Scripture, “…in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things…” The Scripture has no contradictions! Lastly, notice at the end of this portion of Scripture that the twisting of God’s Word is not new. Skeptics continue to present suppose contradictions of Scripture that when looked at further are clearly not.

            First Thessalonians 2:13 tells us, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you  who believe.” (NKJV)

            People still have the choice today to look at this book as words from men or words from God. God has given us that choice. Nevertheless there is a promise on this verse that this book will effectively work in the lives of he who believes.

            There are other verses that are able to demonstrate that Apostolic Self- Awareness that Kruger is telling us about, I want to end this portion with these verses out of First Corinthians 14:37-38, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (NKJV)

            Again, expanding from some of the points I made earlier; Paul made it very obvious that if somebody is to be considered a true prophet or a spiritual person (Born Again Believer), they would have no problem recognizing God’s Word. Not recognizing God’s Word as true is indeed a sign that we are dealing with unbelievers who are blinded to God’s truth according to 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.[14]

Catholicity

            Catholicity has nothing to do with the Catholic Church, as we know it: this term simply means universal. However, we must also remember that even the Catholic Church recognizes the same 27 books of the New Testament as the Protestants recognize.

            Obviously, as we stated before, the Catholic Church has gone beyond the Scriptures and continue to make claims of other sources for divinely inspired material. F. F. Bruce made the point, concerning the book of Hebrews that, “…the Roman Church ultimately consented to receive Hebrews as canonical so as not to be out of step with the rest of the orthodox Christendom.”[15]

            As Catholicity is used as criterion, the idea of secret and lost books is thrown out the window. The Scripture was not to be in the dark, but out in the open. “A work which enjoyed only local recognition was not likely to be acknowledged as part of the canon of the Catholic Scripture.”[16] It is said, that if all of the copies of the New Testament were burned, we will still be able reconstruct the New Testament almost in its entirety, based on the many quotes of the first and second century apostolic fathers and Christian writers.

Orthodoxy

The Rule of Faith

            Each of the early churches had a Rule of Faith. This was a set of basic doctrines     learned and confessed at baptism, somewhat centered around a confession of the         Trinity (Tertullian, Against Praxeas 11).[17]

            The point that I want to make here, and it is perhaps the strongest point I would like to make, is that after we deal with the antiquity of a book written during the apostolic age, the best way to determine if that book was part of the canon is by simply assessing what that book teaches. The fact that the original apostles were fighting Gnosticism, in part, made it relatively easy to get rid of heresy. Heresy was actually made obvious to pinpoint!

            Gnosticism comes from the Greek word Gnosis, meaning knowledge. They claim that Salvation is gained not through Jesus Christ, but through special knowledge. From the pulpits of many churches during the times of the original apostles, the Gnostics presented their heresy by teaching that there is a god outside of the Old Testament God who was so pure and so perfect that he viewed all matter as evil; therefore, they presented the God who created the Universe as an evil god.[18]

            “The danger of Gnosticism is easily apparent. It denies the incarnation of God as the Son. In so doing, it denies the true efficacy of the atonement since, if Jesus is    not God, He could not atone for all of mankind, and we would still be lost in our  sins.”[19]

            So after apostolic antiquity and catholicity was established, the deal could only be sealed by the Orthodoxy brought forth by the apostles. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 allowed us to see that there was indeed an orthodox apostolic tradition, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” (NKJV). “They had had to defend the Apostolic Teaching, summed up in the rule of faith, against the docetic and gnostic presentations which were so attractive to many in the climate of opinion at the time.”[20] This statement of faith expanded as heresies expanded, but it always came straight out of Scripture. We can learn so much from the work of Irenaeus.

            “The tradition that carried authority with the apostolic churches—the churches the           apostles started themselves—was the body of tradition given to them by the apostles. Those churches believed it was their job—and, more specifically, the job  of the elders—to preserve that tradition unchanged. Irenaeus, a noted bishop of the late 2nd century, explains the process as an answer to gnostic heresies:

            We refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, which is            preserved by means of the succession of elders in the churches. (Irenaeus, Against       Heresies III:2:2, emphasis mine)”[21]

            That orthodoxy includes the following nonnegotiable truths of Scripture: 1) God is the Creator of the universe. 2) God is good. 3) Because of Adam’s sins there is a need for redemption. 4) Redemption can only be found through Jesus Christ. 5) Jesus was all human and all divine. 6) Jesus’ death and resurrection was real and the foundation of our faith.

            You will be able to find a Scripture to support every single one of these and many other points.

Conclusion

            In conclusion, through the various subjects presented, it is clear that the canon of the New Testament is not a subject that can be ignored by the skeptics and twisters of the word. Archeology and the curious instances of prophesy are voices speaking to the skeptics. The Apostles are a voice to the Catholics. The canon of the New Testament is not a man-made tradition. No word from a man that is considered half of the world and half with God can challenge the true canon. No skeptic can dismiss the archeological foundation of the canon. There are firm grounds as to why the 27 books agreed upon by the Protestant Church are the true canon of the New Testament. These books have no contradictions and are verified through the apostles, who were tasked with ensuring that Jesus’ pure gospel would be released, unchanged and unaltered by the many enemies of the faith and their personal agendas.

            Oh, how much we need to go back to the rule of faith! How much we need to go back to the teachings of the apostles, to our core beliefs, to our dogmas and to the smell of blood shed by our Lord, by the prophets and by the apostles as they gave us the gift of what is right, what is perfect, what is beneficial, what is powerful, what is pure and what is… the canon of the New Testament!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

Archeological Evidence, http://bibleevidences.com/archeology.htm

Bruce, F. F. The Canon of Scripture. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1988.

Deem, Rich. Is Our Copy of the Bible a Reliable Copy of the Original. http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/bibleorg.html

New King James Bible

Kruger, Michael J. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books, Wheaton: Crossway, 2012.

Slick, Matt. Gnosticism, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, https://carm.org/gnosticism

The Manuscripts. http://www.icr.org/bible-manuscripts/

http://www.icr.org/bible-message

The Council of Nicea, Part II, The Rule of Faith, http://www.christian-history.org/rule-of-faith.html

http://www.theopedia.com/marcion

 

 

[1] 2 Timothy 3:16

[2] Archeological Evidence, http://bibleevidences.com/archeology.htm

[3] The Manuscripts, http://www.icr.org/bible-manuscripts/

http://www.icr.org/bible-message

[4] Ibid.

[5] Rich Deem, Is Our Copy of the Bible a Reliable Copy of the Original, http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/bibleorg.html

[6]

[7] Michael J. Kruger, Canon Revisited, 166-170

[8] “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” Romans 1:18-20 (NKJV)

[9] Genesis 3:4

[10] Michael J. Kruger, Canon Revisited: Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012) 39

[11] Ibid., 66.

[12] Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, 259

[13] Kruger, Canon Revisited, 184

[14] “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

[15] Ibid., 263

[16] Ibid., 262

[17] The Council of Nicea, Part II, The Rule of Faith, http://www.christian-history.org/rule-of-faith.html

[18] Matt Slick, Gnosticism, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, https://carm.org/gnosticism

[19] Ibid.

[20] F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, 260

[21] The Council of Nicea, Part II, The Rule of Faith, http://www.christian-history.org/rule-of-faith.html