Sunday 2 July 2006
Heavy canon fire
LCG web commentator and church history buff Bob Thiel writes: "one of the reasons that the COGs are NOT Protestant is that we believe the Bible and do not believe that anyone... is entitled to change it."
Which led me to think again about the whole canon issue.
To provide a bit of an introduction, Bob regards the Bible - his non-Protestant canon (which actually is the Protestant canon) - as a given. It kinda dropped out of the sky one day, intact, fully formed and fluttering gaily down beneath a Holy Spirit parachute. Those nasty Church Fathers and proto-Catholics had nothing to do with it. If I understand Bob correctly, he champions a reconstruction where the Eastern church created the current canon before it invented ikons, pillar saints and liturgical chants, and was still under the influence of those mysterious and mythical COG leaders of the apostolic age.
I disagree with Bob, though I don't doubt his sincerity (as the old refrain goes, folk can be "sincerely wrong.") For me, this was a real "trunk of the tree" issue several years ago, as it affects the whole underpinning of fundamentalist and evangelical belief. I even wrote a short article on the subject which attracted a bit of attention. It sorely needs a rewrite, which I'm hoping to get done later this year (then it'll appear as a PDF file on otagosh.) Currently the New Testament paper that I'm doing touches on this issue, and there's more to add. But despite the fact that it's a little dated, I stand behind what I said then.
Bottom line: for centuries the canon was subject to change after change as Christians of all hues and stripes debated what to include. And in some cases they got it terribly wrong in the final cut. The article explains this in some detail. I'll expand on this theme in later postings.