In this episode of Quest 4 Truth, Doug Hamp and Rob Skiba continue their study of Revelation chapter 1. Where is Hades? Who has the keys to death and the grave? We know that the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture, but was it the Holy Spirit or the Council of Nicea that inspired/authorized the "canon" and the creation of a "Bible?" Should the canon be open or closed and who is to decide that? Without a doubt, this episode is perhaps going to be the most controversial. Just remember, questions are good and both Doug and Rob are only asking them because they are on a Quest 4 Truth.
For the record, I want to make it absolutely clear that I trust and accept all of the (66) books in our Bible as authentic and written by the authors who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. My contention comes with the idea of excluding even the possibility of allowing another book into the so-called "closed-canon."
Case in point: if another authentic writing of one of the Apostles were to be found in our day, why in the world would we not want to include it? Who says every scroll ever written by great men of God, prophets and apostles was found by 1611? What if tomorrow, we unearth one of the Apostle's houses and find a whole treasure chest full of say Nathaniel's writings or Andrew's or Simon the Zealot or more from Peter, James and John - or the missing letter(s) of Paul? What then? To say they can't be included in our Bible because they are not in the "canon" I think is circular reasoning and completely absurd. Again... I'm talking about if these texts can be authenticated and proven not to be frauds.
There are a number of other books that used to be considered canon by various Church Fathers. For instance, a number of them (2nd and 3rd Century) referred to 1 Enoch as Scripture. Tertullian (160-230 C.E) wrote:
Chapter III. ----Concerning the Genuineness of "The Prophecy of Enoch."22
 I am aware that the Scripture of Enoch,23 which has assigned this order (of action) to angels, is not received by some, because it is not admitted into the Jewish canon either. I suppose they did not think that, having been published before the deluge, it could have safely survived that world-wide calamity, the abolisher of all things. If that is the reason (for rejecting it), let them recall to their memory that Noah, the survivor of the deluge, was the great-grandson of Enoch himself;24 and he, of course, had heard and remembered, from domestic renown25 and hereditary tradition, concerning his own great-grandfather's "grace in the sight of God,"26 and concerning all his preachings;27 since Enoch had given no other charge to Methuselah than that he should hand on the knowledge of them to his posterity. Noah therefore, no doubt, might have succeeded in the trusteeship of (his) preaching; or, had the case been otherwise, he would not have been silent alike concerning the disposition (of things) made by God, his Preserver, and concerning the particular glory of his own house. [source]
The Book of Enoch was extant centuries before the birth of Christ and yet is considered by many to be more Christian in its theology than Jewish. It was considered scripture by many early Christians. The earliest literature of the so-called "Church Fathers" is filled with references to it. The early second century "Epistle of Barnabus" makes much use of the Book of Enoch. Second and Third Century "Church Fathers" like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origin and Clement of Alexandria all make use of the Book of Enoch. As mentioned above, Tertullian even called the Book of Enoch "Holy Scripture". The Ethiopian Coptic Church added the Book of Enoch to its official canon. It was widely known and read the first three centuries after Christ. Why then should I argue against these witnesses (some of whom were directly discipled by the Apostles (or their first converts)? If people in the Bible are quoting from it (extensively) and people in the first few centuries thought of it as Scripture and if people such as the Ethiopians still do, and if YHVH saw fit to preserve it (Dead Sea Scrolls)... who am I to say otherwise?
I do not consider myself in any way qualified to determine what is and is not Divinely inspired Scripture. But this I do know: If it contradicts existing Scripture, that's a good sign that it is not. However, if it does not contradict Scripture, but rather elaborates on and only confirms it, well I don't see the problem.
Enoch and many other books became discredited after the Council of Laodicea. And being under ban of the authorities, afterwards it gradually passed out of circulation. Now, we are told it was never considered "canon." The evidence seems to suggest otherwise. This brings up another point requiring me to correct myself concerning a statement I made in the above video.
I said that the Bible "canon" was decided upon by the Council of Nicea. That is actually incorrect. I am a victim of misinformation and guilty of not double-checking it. After looking into it (the day after posting Episode 8) I discovered that the word "canon" is used of all of the various decrees they made. I misunderstood that to mean "canon of Scripture." As I (now) understand it, the Council of Nicea decided upon twenty canons, which are as follows:
Canon 1: On the admission, or support, or expulsion of clerics mutilated by choice or by violence.
Canon 2: Rules to be observed for ordination, the avoidance of undue haste, the deposition of those guilty of a grave fault.
Canon 3: All members of the clergy are forbidden to dwell with any woman, except a mother, sister, or aunt.
Canon 4: Concerning episcopal elections.
Canon 5: Concerning the excommunicate.
Canon 6: Concerning patriarchs and their jurisdiction.
Canon 7: confirms the right of the bishops of Jerusalem to enjoy certain honours.
Canon 8: concerns the Novatians.
Canon 9: Certain sins known after ordination involve invalidation.
Canon 10: Lapsi who have been ordained knowingly or surreptitiously must be excluded as soon as their irregularity is known.
Canon 11: Penance to be imposed on apostates of the persecution of Licinius.
Canon 12: Penance to be imposed on those who upheld Licinius in his war on the Christians.
Canon 13: Indulgence to be granted to excommunicated persons in danger of death.
Canon 14: Penance to be imposed on catechumens who had weakened under persecution.
Canon 15: Bishops, priests, and deacons are not to pass from one church to another.
Canon 16: All clerics are forbidden to leave their church. Formal prohibition for bishops to ordain for their diocese a cleric belonging to another diocese.
Canon 17: Clerics are forbidden to lend at interest.
Canon 18: recalls to deacons their subordinate position with regard to priests.
Canon 19: Rules to be observed with regard to adherents of Paul of Samosata who wished to return to the Church.
Canon 20: On Sundays and during the Paschal season prayers should be said standing.
Again, I took the word "canon" for granted and assumed it was a reference to the Bible canon. That said, it is no secret that Constantine founded the Roman Catholic Church. The Council of Nicea was called by him. With an intense hatred of anything he considered "Jewish," Constantine blatantly ignored the commands of YHVH as given to Moses and declared...
At the council we also considered the issue of our holiest day, Easter, and it was determined by common consent that everyone, everywhere should celebrate it on one and the same day. For what can be more appropriate, or what more solemn, than that this feast from which we have received the hope of immortality, should be kept by all without variation, using the same order and a clear arrangement? And in the first place, it seemed very unworthy for us to keep this most sacred feast following the custom of the Jews, a people who have soiled their hands in a most terrible outrage, and have thus polluted their souls, and are now deservedly blind. Since we have cast aside their way of calculating the date of the festival, we can ensure that future generations can celebrate this observance at the more accurate time which we have kept from the first day of the passion until the present time....
— Emperor Constantine, following the Council of Nicaea
Constantine also declared Sunday to be an Empire-wide day of rest in honor of the sun, thus replacing YHVH's (Saturday) Sabbath. At the time of the council, imperial coinage and other imperial motifs still depicted pagan cult symbology in combination with the Emperor's image.
Personally, I want nothing to do with anything that came from or out of this man or his creation. The actual, "official canon of Scripture" was decided by his organization (i.e. the Catholic Church) at the third Council of Carthage (397 AD), which was held about 72 years after the Council of Nicea (325 AD). It was here that the "canon of Scripture" was decided via Canon 24 of this council:[source]
That nothing be read in church besides the Canonical Scripture
Item, that besides the Canonical Scriptures nothing be read in church under the name of divine Scripture. The Canonical Scriptures are as follows:
Let this be sent to our brother and fellow bishop, Boniface, and to the other bishops of those parts, that they may confirm this canon, for these are the things which we have received from our fathers to be read in church.
While not done at the Council of Nicea, as I previously thought, it was still officially decreed by the Catholic Church. Why should I listen to anything sanctioned/commissioned by Emperor Constantine, who was about as pagan as it gets? Especially when I consider how much damage he actually did to the true faith! This guy got us so far off the mark, replacing Torah instructions for things like YHVH's Feasts with pagan holidays such as Christmas and Easter and the ditching of Sabbath for Sunday. Leadership breeds after its own kind. Thus, the subsequent popes and bishops followed with the same ideologies he had. I wouldn't trust these people with anything - much less dictating to me what is and is not to be considered the "official canon Scripture."
As pointed out above and in the video, the Protestants later came along and hacked away at the "official canon of Scripture" that stood for centuries prior and determined something different. Why should we listen to them either? The Jews had a collection of Scriptures they considered to have been Divinely inspired. I get that. I understand how that was essentially a litmus test for determining what we should and should not hold sacred... but some of those texts are not currently in our Bible. Compare the Septuagint (which would have been essentially considered the "Bible" used at the time of the Apostles and Jesus Himself) for instance.
As I said in Episode 8 of Quest4Truth, when did God ever tell anyone to make a Bible (as defined by a man made collection of Scripture into one volume) anyway? Furthermore, when did YHVH ever say that He would never again allow the Holy Spirit to inspire anyone ever again to write things that would help us know Him better? When did YHVH put Himself into a 66 book box?
Some suggest (as Doug did) that YHVH was the author of the Bible (more specifically, some say ONLY the KJV). Personally, I believe He was the author of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) - absolutely! However, as stated above, the Bible needs to be understood as a collection of Scripture between two covers. Words mean things and there is a difference in meaning for the words "Scripture" and "Bible." With that in mind, the question I've been asking is:
Did YHVH authorize/commission/sanction/approve/inspire the collection and acquisition of Scripture into a Bible?
If so, where do we see in Scripture, the command to do so (and the specific number of books to be contained therein)? I do not see such a thing anywhere in Scripture. And my challenge remains the same: If you believe otherwise, please provide a book, chapter and verse from your 66 books of Scripture that states otherwise.
"No. YHVH did not inspire the creation of the Bible. If He had, and if it was that important to Him, we'd only have one universally accepted canon and God would not allow any others to exist, nor any other scroll of Scripture to ever be found."
Of course, everyone who sees this post will have a different prejudicial bias based upon which column they belong to (in the charts) and point to the other columns as being wrong. But I think that's pride and arrogance, claiming the corner on truth. I also think we need to stop pointing fingers and accusing others of "heresy" concerning things about which Scripture is silent (i.e. the creation of a Bible).
Do I LOVE my (KJV) Bible? Yep. Absolutely. And have for as long as I can remember. I read it daily. However, I will not blast you if yours happens to have a few books in it that mine does not. I only ask that you respect me the same.
Archived Shows >