Monday, January 13, 2014

Canonicity

On January 7, 2014, Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries interviewed Dr. Michael Kruger from Reformed Theological Seminary about the canonicity of Scripture.  This interview was set up in response to a segment from Catholic Answers Live on October 31, 2013, regarding the Roman Catholic rejection of Sola Scriptura.  I'm quoting an exchange between Dr. White and Dr. Kruger that happened around the 1:17:00 mark in the interview:
Dr. James White:  "So much of the issue that comes up from people looking at the canon is from a simple, naturalistic perspective, which makes no sense.  Canon is irrelevant.  It is a historical thing to talk about unless there is something supernatural going on that provides a consistency upon which you can even talk about the subject of the canon.  The biggest problem in academia today is that so much of what is done is done by pulling apart Scripture and treating Scripture as completely separate from others rather than what theologians use to do and that is being constrained by the entire body of God's revelation and that it provides light upon itself."

Dr. Michael Kruger:  "You can't authenticate the Bible like any other book because it claims to not be [sic] like every other book, so if you claim that you can authenticate it on naturalistic terms that the unbeliever can agree to, then you are denying what you are setting out to prove which is that the Bible is from God.  If the Bible is from God, constituted by God, and constituted by Spirit, then it is a living book; you actually meet God in this book, so when you talk about authenticating and recognizing which books are from God, you are actually talking about recognizing the divine or God Himself, which means you got a whole theological category that you have to have in order to talk about what constitutes the recognition of God...You can't recognize God without having the Spirit rightly working in your heart to do so.  If the Bible is living and powerful and active and God is in it, then it is able to authenticate itself.  The Bible has the marks and the qualities about it to show that God is speaking in it.  This makes the Bible unique; it is self-authenticating because of its power and the Spirit working in it."

Dr. James White:  "A low view of Scripture predominates most of academia today...When the Spirit of God recreates us and makes us live, that recreated person will have a respect for and an obedience to the word of God."
I completely agree with the comments made here and that the Bible is self-authenticating, but I found this conversation quite ironic.  Dr. James White is a proponent of textual criticism, which seeks to reconstruct the original text of the Bible.  If Christians are to have a high view of the Bible because God's word is living and powerful and active, how could the "oldest and most reliable" manuscripts lie dormant for centuries until they were found by a 19th century scholar?  I believe that God's word is living and powerful and active, but I also believe that God has preserved His word for all Christians from the moment the holy men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit to write Scripture, (1 Peter 1: 20-21).  I find Dr. White's view on the King James Bible (which he discounts because it is not based on the "oldest and most reliable" manuscripts) and his view on the canonicity of Scripture reflected in this interview highly inconsistent; you cannot have the Bible hidden and active at the same time.

"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever," (Isa. 40:8).