Is the New Testament Canon a Fallible Collection?

By Mike Barlotta

New Testament CanonWe have an amazing collection of 66 books in the Bible (at least in the Protestant version), but have you ever wondered how that collection ever got assembled? It can be an important question as the Catholic Bible contains additional books (Apocrypha) and there have been a series of critical views (from the DaVinci Code to various books by Ehrman) suggesting that the collection we have is incomplete or inaccurate. Many question 2 Peter is old enough to be written by the Apostle Peter others suggest that the “lost” gospels like Thomas or Judas were wrongly left out. So how do we know which books belong in the Bible? Can we accept the Table of Contents (ToC) in the front of our Bible as infallible?

As a starting point we would have to start by defining the Bible as a collection of books that are inspired by God. In order to be included in the collection a book must be inspired.

In stating that the ToC is infallible we would be asserting more than that there are no errors in the list (since I would agree that we have the right books and only the right books), but that there is no possibility of error in the list.

Since the Bible is a collection of inspired books, Geisler and Nix in their book “An Introduction to the Bible” rightly state that:

  • God determines which books are in the canon.
  • Man discovers which books are in the canon.

We should have no problem stating that the contents (at least in the autograph) of a particular inspired book (for example Ephesians) would have authority and infallibility because God was involved in the writing (determining). The authority of the book comes from God. The recognition of the authority of that book is done by man…

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