Were the New Testament Books Widely Disputed?
One rather common misconception is that there was widespread disagreement by the early church fathers about which New Testament books were inspired and included in the canon. The truth is just the opposite: among church fathers there was widespread acceptance of the New Testament books and very few disputes. The following chart appears in both Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands a Verdict and in Norman Geisler’s Systematic Theology. It shows all the church fathers and councils that quoted any New Testament book, mentioned anything about their inspiration or lack thereof, or alluded to whether they should be included or not. It covers the first 400 years of church history, the period apparently alluded to by modern critics.
In this chart, the only books that are questioned are the ones with question marks (?). Thus Origen questioned four books (Hebrews, II Peter, and II & III John. Since Origen was condemned as a heretic, his views carry little weight in orthodox circles. Yet citing Origen shows that even those beyond the fringes of orthodoxy did not question the bulk of the New Testament books…
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