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WHI-1181 | The Big Picture of the Bible

Posted by on in 2013 Show Archive
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What is the Bible all about? Though this may sound like a basic question, it's actually one that many people overlook in our day. It's common in Christian circles today for pastors and Bible study leaders to lose sight of the forest for the trees. In other words, we need to better see how all the books of the Bible fit together and proclaim one big overarching narrative. That's the focus of this edition of White Horse Inn as we continue our series on reading the Bible.What is the Bible all about? Though this may sound like a basic question, it's actually one that many people overlook in our day. It's common in Christian circles today for pastors and Bible study leaders to lose sight of the forest for the trees. In other words, we need to better see how all the books of the Bible fit together and proclaim one big overarching narrative. That's the focus of this edition of White Horse Inn as we continue our series on reading the Bible.


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  • Guest - Gregory Dent

    How do you know what books belong in the Bible?

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  • Guest - Paul Swift

    Gregory Dent,

    The hosts addressed this issue quite thoroughly in two broadcasts in 2010. The second gets more to the procedural aspects of your question, but I recommend starting with the first to better understand the concept of canon itself:

    2010/05/23 The Origin of Scripture

    2010/05/30 The Formation of the Canon

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  • Thank you for this bible as a whole series! I have really been enjoying and learning so much. I see much too often that people draw conclusions out of the bible that are way out of context. You have to look through the lens of the whole bible to understand completely. Again thanks!

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  • [...] The Big Picture [...]

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  • Guest - Michael Horton

    Great question. The early fathers display by their method the best way of answering that. First, they made no pretense of determining what books belonged, but of simply discerning which ones had apostolic credentials (that is, were written by an apostle or under apostolic auspices). They discerned this by historical criticism. Most of our NT canon was already in use in the public service, from India to Spain. It was easy to detect, by historical analysis and content, which were already regarded as "Scripture" and which were spurious texts added later, especially by Gnostic sects. A great recent study is Michael Kruger's THE CANON REVISITED.

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  • Guest - Gregory Dent

    Thank you for reply. So, if I read you right certain men, early fathers with heavenly authority "discerned" for themselves, which letters to use, which writings were considered to be the word of God. Historically we know that that were indeed many letters being used in the Churches in the first centuries, but I've never heard of any 'texts' being added to the Bible after the 4th century. We do know for certain that several books were removed by some in the 17th century. Who were these early fathers you speak of? How did they explain their methodology? Can you give me some of their names and references to their writings on the matter?
    Thanks, Greg

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  • Guest - Michael Horton

    Jesus delegated to his apostles the authority to speak in his name, directly. The church has no authority directly from Christ, but only indirectly as it interprets the prophetic and apostolic writings. The early pastors and elders allowed nothing in the public reading and preaching that was not regarded as authentically apostolic. There was a remarkable consensus very early. For example, Irenaeus (2nd c.) quotes from most of our New Testament. Athanasius mentioned them all as “a canon.” There are many examples of that kind. Peter referred to Paul’s letters as “Scripture” (2 Pet 3:16). So there was already a working canon long before the church felt obliged especially by the alternative canon of the Gnostic sects to say “this and no more.” As for the 17th century, you may be referring to the Apocryphal writings. These texts from early Judaism were not included in the Jewish canon. Protestants adopted the Jewish canon for the Old Testament, while Rome has continued to include the Apocrypha in their Bible. Again, I would refer you to the work of Michael Kruger, Bruce Metzger, and others who have done a lot of close historical work in this area.

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  • Guest - Gregory Dent

    Yes, St Irenaeus was an early father of the Church. He affirmed the 4 Gospels while preserving the Apostolic traditions of the early faith which along with scripture have been handed down to us. He also embraced Rome as the seat, and the Pope as the leader of the faith. He died around 200 AD. But the Bible as we know it was not offically assembled and declared to be so until around 380 AD at the 1st council of Rome. All of the 77 books of the canon declared to be holy scripture by the Pope at that council are in the Catholic bible today. The several books some refer to as Apocrypha were removed many centuries later by Martin Luther. As I understand it while the Jews of Jerusalem did not accept them as scripture, Jewish sects elsewhere did.
    St Irenaeus would disagree with you I think concerning your remark about the church not having direct authority from Christ. In the book of Matthew Jesus clearly gives his direct and complete authority to the apostles. He laid hands on, breathed on,and gave them the power to forgive sins. He gave St Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven making him the leader of His Church. If that isn't direct authority what is?
    At any rate, I thank you for allowing me to participate in your group, for your patience and prayers. I would also encourage you, and your readers to research some of the other early fathers of the Church. Polycarp (who taught Irenaeus), Justin Martyr, St Clement of Rome to name a few.
    Greg

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  • Guest - Michael Horton

    Greg, I assumed at first that you were either an honest inquirer/mild skeptic or perhaps someone more attuned to the Mormon/Jehovah's Witnesses critique of the canonical developments. Your comments now make me wonder if you are simply an apologist for Rome, contending that the Roman Catholic Magisterium is responsible for the authority of Scripture. I do think, at this point, you are working against the obvious presuppositions of the early church.

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  • Guest - Gregory Dent

    The Roman Catholic Church did not author the scriptures, if that is what you meant, or implied. I never said that. The Church is the guardian of all that Jesus bestowed on his church, his bride, including the scriptures. "Whatsoever you bind on earth is bound in Heaven." KJV. "Whatsoever" emphasized here. That is direct authority to act on his behalf. It's important to remember who he was talking to as well. He gave this commission to the 12, privately.
    I'm surprised you thought I might be a Protestant. I have spoken to a few Mormans, and more than a few JW's and have found them to be peaceful folk. I am as you said a simple apologist for the Catholic faith. Concerning obvious presuppositions : What obvious positions held by the early fathers do we know of that aren't contained in their writing? How can we know outside of direct revelation.What they presupposed of their philosophy they gave to through the Holy Spirit in their words. And they were all Catholic.

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