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Don Stewart :: What Minimal Factors Should Be Expected of a Book That Is to Be Included in the New Testament Canon?

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Don Stewart

There are a certain number of minimal factors that we should expect from a book if it is to be part of the New Testament canon of Scripture. These factors include the following.

  1. The book must come from an authoritative source.
  2. The work did not contradict truth that God had previously revealed.
  3. The work must be historically accurate.
  4. The message centered on the Person of Jesus Christ and His program for humanity.
  5. Believers must hear the voice of God through this work.
  6. The book was used continually in the church from the time of the Apostles.

1. The Books Must Come From An Authoritative Source

The Book must have an author who was granted unique authority by Jesus. They were the only ones whom Jesus specifically called and commissioned. No one else could qualify as an authoritative source concerning the teachings of Jesus as well as the interpretation of His teachings

2. They Must Be Orthodox In Teaching

Any work that would come from God must be orthodox in doctrine. God would certainly not contradict something that He previously revealed. Therefore any work that contradicted previous Scripture is to be rejected.

3. They Would Be Historically Accurate In All That They Say

Another important aspect is historical accuracy. For a book to come from a perfect God we should, at the very least, expect it to be accurate in all that it says. If God is the God of truth, then whatever originates from Him must be true.

4. They Must Further Our Knowledge Of Christ And His Commands

Jesus Christ must be at the center of any book that would be part of the New Testament. This does not mean that each work must unveil new doctrines about Him. What it does mean that His person and program must be furthered by the contents of each book.

5. Believers Must Hear The Voice Of God Through These Writings

Any writing that would ultimately come from the living God would, of necessity, have His power and authority behind it. Believers rejected many books because this criterion could not be met.

6. The Church Must Continually Use Them

If God divinely inspired a particular writing, then we would expect that work to be received by the people of God and continuously used in the church.

These criteria are the minimum that we should expect from any book that is to be placed into the New Testament canon.

Summary

For a book to be considered to be Holy Scripture there is a certain minimum standard that we should expect from it. To begin with, the document must come from an authoritative source. Next the teaching must be orthodox - it cannot contradict what was previously revealed. In addition, the writing must be historically accurate. Furthermore the work itself must center upon Jesus Christ and His plan for humanity. Also the believer must also hear the voice of God through this work. Finally, the church must continually use the work from its beginning.

All of the New Testament documents meet these criteria.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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