Saturday, October 28, 2006

Robert L. Millet - BYU Sperry Symposium 10-28-2006

An address given at the BYU Sperry Symposium on How the New Testament Came to Be.

Robert L. Millet - Department of Ancient Scripture - BYU
The Closed Canon: Blessings, Challenges, and Prospects
He talked of a canon of scripture being authoritative and books are included because they are deemed authoritative. There was a lot of discussion about books to be included in the Bible. There was a lot of Christian writings at the time, but they tried to determine which were authoritative.

Luke 24: 44-45
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be afulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their aunderstanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

Jesus continued to teach His people from the Law of Moses, the words of the prophets, and other sacred writings. Those records testified of him to and it was of continued importance that the people learn and understand those scriptures too.

He described some of the history of how we got the Bible in the form we have it today. There was much debate of the the books to be included Old Testament and even the entire Old Testament itself. There were also disputes over what to include in the New Testament. There was also much that was removed and attempted to be removed that didn't match what some people wanted to believe. For example Martin Luther not like the Epistle of James because it talked so much about the need for works.

Some books were removed from the canon because they were not in narrative form. They didn't tell a story. They were trying to make Christianity more palatable to the rest of the world.

Professor N.T. Wright, a bishop in the Church of England stated, "The canonization of scripture, both Jewish and Christian, was no doubt complicated by all kinds of less than perfect human motivations."

Some writers in the early Church add titillation to their writings to make them more palatable to non Christians often taking liberties with the doctrines. The canonized books of the Bible helped keep some of that in check.

On the other hand too much reliance on the canon can shut off people to being open to further instruction from God. It can also lead to complacency if a point of doctrine is not dealt with directly in the Bible some may assume that God doesn't care how we deal with it. It can border on scripture worship.

Scripture points away from itself and toward God and delegated to Christ.

One Protestant scholar has inquired tellingly into the erroneous doctrine of a closed canon. He writes: “On what biblical or historical grounds has the inspiration of God been limited to the written documents that the church now calls its Bible? . . . If the Spirit inspired only the written documents of the first century, does that mean that the same Spirit does not speak today in the church about matters that are of significant concern?”(Lee M. McDonald, The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, rev. ed. (1995), 255–56.)

Who authorized the canon to be closed?

2 Nephi 28:26-31
26 Yea, wo be unto him that ahearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!
27 Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we aneed no more!
28 And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are aangry because of bthe truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the crock dreceiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.
29 Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we aneed bno more of the word of God, for we have enough!
30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon aprecept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn bwisdom; for unto him that creceiveth I will give dmore; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.
31 Cursed is he that putteth his atrust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the bprecepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Didn't the apostles in New Testament times declare that the canon was no more closed .

The Bible is a wonderful tool in the hand of God, but horrible when used as a weapon.

We do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, but we do believe that what we have today is what God intended for us to have.

Before we can write the Gospel in our own book of life we must learn the Gospel as it is in the books of scripture. - Bruce R. McKonkie 1982

We read the Bible through the lenses of restoration scriptures. Christians have been likewise taught to read the Old Testament through the lenses of the New Testament. They would probably rather read the book of John or other writings of the apostles than the book of Leviticus they nonetheless confess a love for the entire Bible. The same is true for Latter-day Saints. We would most like modern scripture, but we love all scripture.

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