Monday, September 26, 2011

The "rule"


The New Testament text was passed along or copied by eager converts to have the written words of their teachers. The autographs were lost because of the organic materials the words were written on (Parchment). Thus, documents were then copied and the texts were spreading through out the region very quickly. As the church grew there was a need to establish a “canon” or group of texts that have authority or the ability to rule over the others. Thus, the books were reviewed by church leaders and given authority by specific criteria. Some of the criteria was asking the authority of the author, eyewitness or to be heard directly from an eyewitness, and the application to the Christian life. As more and more Gentiles were converted, the community of believers became more and more pluralistic and a need arose to condemn minor variations. These debates and declarations truly helped the church clarify its doctrines, it also point out serious threats, such as Gnosticism.

There would be many more threats to the New Testament and the the church, but over the first two-three hundred years the New Testament Canon (Rule) of books was established through a set criteria. This criteria would also face opposition at times and even today there are variations on the “rule” of the books. Yet, in all the threats, the scripture emerged and has an authority so that the reader can be confident it is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Critical thought of the scriptures has always been present among believers. Political changes often affected the spreading of the texts and how the texts were often translated to Latin in response the Roman world and its leadership. As Christianity became culturally desirable, leadership among the groups of believers rose. The leadership started to gather on occasions and these gatherings were labeled as councils. During the councils the leadership would discuss and interpret conflict with in the texts, such as the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.

I am in a Graduate Class at Johnson University discussing an Introduction to the New Testament. The professor is Carl Bridges. I am enjoying the research and work. The question of the day is, "do you read the rule?" or maybe another way of stating it is, "Do you (& me) allow the rule of the scriptures to rule in our lives?"

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.- Colossians 3:15-16

You know I love ya, Don

3 comments:

Paul "Shammah" Pavao said...

Can I recommend a page to you? The Council of Nicea did NOT discuss the canon. They did not decide on any books. It was never even talked about.

I have a list of the sources that are available for the Council of Nicea at http://www.christian-history.org/nicea-myths.html. Those sources are how we know what happened there. The books of the Bible simply were not a topic of concern.

Don Crane said...

Paul, I agree the "books" were not discussed. The books were "letters" and writings. Thus, my purpose for writing the blog post. People need to understand the word of God is living and working in their lives today. We need to cherish it as a standard for everyday life and for the social life of our cultures.

You may want to check out the Book, "An Introduction to the New Testament"(especially page 41) by D.A. Carson & Douglas J. Moo. The evidence is very clear on what was discussed at the council. The standards were discussed terms and lay a standard, a "rule," for many theological items. Today, we would refer to them as doctrines. At that point in history, doctrine was not a point...Jesus was too much embedded in their everyday life and living.
Thanks for sharing Paul. Truly appreciate all and any dialogue.

Paul "Shammah" Pavao said...

Hmm. To look at that book would cost me over $25! Are you sure you mean the Council of Nicea and not a different council? Eusebius and Athanasius are the only eyewitnesses of the council, and neither says anything about the canon.

On the other hand, the creed they decided upon is by definition a "rule of faith." Every church had one, and the Nicene Creed was based upon the creed from the church at Caesarea, though they made some changes to it (especially, of course, the crucial word "consubstantial" or "one in substance").

Otherwise the "rules" you are referring to must be the 20 canons, though those wouldn't have anything to do with Scripture, either. They decided some pretty important things, including forbidding Christians to join the military, allowing Novatian clergy to maintain their office when they returned to the church, and forbidding single clergymen to have single women living in their house.

Am I misunderstanding what you're saying in your original post? You mention "The NT Canon (Rule) of books" and later you say, "During the councils the leadership would discuss and interpret conflict with in the texts, such as the Council of Nicea."

Are you not saying that the Council of Nicea disscussed which books, letters, writings ought to be in the Bible? If I'm misunderstanding you, I'd guess I'm not the only one.