Biblical Inspiration....unashamedly circular?

Since 2 Peter was not mentioned by any early church leader before 100 years after a Peter died, the assumption that Peter wrote it is not reasonable.
That letter is not in the canon that I accept.

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“Chapter 3. The Epistles of the Apostles.

  1. One epistle of Peter, that called the first, is acknowledged as genuine. And this the ancient elders used freely in their own writings as an undisputed work. But we have learned that his extant second Epistle does not belong to the canon; yet, as it has appeared profitable to many, it has been used with the other Scriptures.”

Excerpt From
The History of the Church
Eusebius of Caesarea

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From Eusebius, in the early fourth century

“Hippolytus knew numerous other Christian writings from the first and second centuries, and on occasion quoted from such books as the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Acts of Peter, and the Acts of Paul. One observes, however, that all this literature does not possess in his eyes the same authority as do the Gospels or the Book of Revelation. He is the first Christian writer to reflect a knowledge of 2 Peter, but not as ‘Scripture’,”

Excerpt From
The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance
Bruce M Metzger

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Hippolytus was not born until more than 100 years after Peter died.

2 Peter was not written by Peter. Consider the earlier canon of the Church of the East, rather than the Roman Catholic canon of a couple of hundred years later,

Wow! And is your Pastor Andy Stanley on board with that?

I don’t know Andy’s opinion on 2 Peter.

I am certain he knows followers of Jesus can have different opinions on many things while still being brothers and sisters in the faith.

We are called to follow Jesus; we are not called to follow a particular canon.

If the Apostle Peter had really written 2 Peter, don’t you think some church leader would have mentioned it or quoted from it in the first hundred years following Peter’s death? The authentic books were mentioned and quoted repeatedly.

Those are good questions - and I too don’t know pastor Stanley’s take on this; it was an honest question. But I’ll admit it would catch me by surprise if the man who launched the “unhitching the new testament from the old” sermon series (a series I very much appreciated) would, after that controversy-provoking move then attempt to begin unhitching some of the New Testament books as well.

As regards whether or not Peter himself penned all the words, I don’t mind being agnostic about how much help or polish was given it - or even if it was later associates of Peter remembering and attributing some of their oral preservations to his name. (same thing with the gospel of John). To me, as a matter of faith, I’ll accept that the God who works and expresses divine communications through fallen human authors can also superintend all the later processes of compilation, canonization, and even translation. I see the spirit as active in the whole process, and even active still today as we labor to freshly apply scriptural principles into our new situations, cultures, and contexts. So I don’t sweat overmuch about whether or not epistles were delivered in completed form entirely by their namesakes. It’s part of our received written tradition now.

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You would not be surprised if you actually listened to his messages. Several years ago Andy stopped talking about the Bible as a cohesive unit and started calling it what it is — a collection of individual documents.

He says “we don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead because the Bible tells us so. We believe Jesus rose from the dead because eyewitnesses told us so: Peter, John, others. Even James — what would it take for you to convince your brother that you were God in a bod?”

A few years ago in a sermon he said “I started a number of years ago talking about the Bible not as a unit but as a group of documents. No one noticed.” But I had noticed. I think in that same sermon he lamented the use of the preschool song “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” He pointed out the reliance on “The Bible is the Word of God so that is all the proof you need” is not a foundation on which the current or next generation will accept as the generations of 50-100 years ago did.

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Well - sure. I too - think of it as an entire and varied library of works, and don’t think that’s all that controversial - even if it remains so to some. And I think one can still accord it privileged, and even sacred devotional status without falling into bibliolotry or venerating it as some sort of 4th member of the Trinity.

Two comments:

  1. We are not called to have faith in that process.
  2. A review of church history and the current situation shows that is not what happened. The 66-book canon that most Protestants use is only about 500 years old. It was not in use for the first 1500 years of the church. There are still multiple canons in use by different subsets of Christendom. Even the 27-book New Testament was not set by Roman Catholics until about 397 AD, long after the 22-book New Testament of the Church of the East (my preferred NT canon).

Of course not. We are called to have faith in God. And this world is very much a setting of God’s continued work, Vance. I hear what you’re saying - and even agree with most of it. But I’ve tried to stop getting bent out of shape when hearing people refer to the Bible as God’s word (or God’s written word). That is a valid part of our received tradition by now, and I choose to work from within that and respect your decision to think (or at least emphasize) otherwise on the matter.

For 1000+ years, it was a valid part of the received tradition that the pope was infallible in matters of faith and morals. Should we accept that too?

Your statement reminds me of my time in the US Army, where we had a saying: 200 years of tradition unmarred by progress.

But increasingly in an age of shared information, making false claims about the Bible will damage the work of spreading the gospel. The wise man builds his house upon a firm foundation.

As far as I can tell, yes. Note also that he’s using reasoning to justify his rejection of reasoning as an authority. What really strikes me, though, is that a religion whose ultimate authority is the Bible might be an interesting religion but it isn’t Christianity. In the latter religion, the ultimate authority is God, primarily as revealed in Jesus.

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When we say Biblical inspiration what do we mean? The OT & NT? Or just the NT? The trouble is the NT, by inspiration, validates the inspiration of the OT. So all the horrors of the OT are inspired and cannot be abrogated by anything in the NT. Unless they’re fables, God isn’t really like the monster of the OT. Is that it? Which is the kind of thing liberal evangelicals-reformed believe. Is that the get out of jail free card here? There are horrors in the NT too of course. Are they fables? God’s really nice? Doesn’t assassinate people with heart attacks and weaponized worms?

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I think you’re right. Here, he seems to say you can judge what is right by a general feeling, too. How does one argue with someone of another faith about how one’s feeling is better than another’s?

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We don’t. But we do have objective evidence to point to. For Phil Yancey, it was a realization that occurred in his mind – it was personal and powerful, but that does not denote subjectivity necessarily, since it was not about feelings or inclinations (sometimes it’s the opposite of a person’s inclinations and therefore resisted!). Then there is external objective evidence that some have, with the multiple dots already connected.

I suspect this question makes a bit more sense if we take it out of its context speaking about the Bible, and just analyze the basic question… for instance:

When God made the statement to Moses from the burning Bush, “I Am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” i easily grasp that such a statement, if actually made from the God of the Universe is indeed “self-attesting”… in the sense that, what higher authority could we use to “test” God’s own words. We know that the voice that was speaking to him was indeed the God of Abraham et al… because why? Because the eternal God just said so. what else do we need?

That said, there is another important angle… it seems reasonable for Moses to perhaps considered the logical alternatives: had he eaten some undercooked lamb the night before, and was hallucinating? had he fallen asleep and had a waking dream? was some fool Egyptian ventriloquist playing a trick on him? ones, presumably having excluded these alternatives, apparently recognized the voice as indeed being God’s own.

So I suspect there is indeed a place (i think this is what Grudem is getting at) where we use our reason, evidence, and the like in order to “authenticate” that the message really is from God (by excluding other alternatives and other such reasoned methods)…but, once we have recognized the message’s source as God himself, then we recognize that everything it communicates is indeed true… including any “self-atteststion”.

I compare it to what was seen in the submarine movie “Crimson Tide”… as the movie portrays it, when a radio message is received that claims to be from the President/Pentagon or whatever, they don’t just blindly and immediately do whatever it said to do (launch the nuclear weapons at such and such target) , as there is the possibility that the message could be a forgery. the movie portrayed a method by which the message was “authenticated” and thus confirmed that it really came from The president/pentagon… but once said message was so authenticated, then the submarine officers were duty-bound to do whatever it said, whether or not they understood it, agreed with it, or the like.

this didn’t mean that they were claiming that they had greater authority than the president, rather, they reasonably authenticated the message and confirmed it as actually coming from the president… once they did that, however, they realized that they had to submit and obey whatever the message said, as it was recognized as being from the president.

I would humbly posit that there are indeed reasonable steps by which we similarly “authenticate” Scripture to be God’s words, but once we do, then we as believers are duty bound to believe and obey whatever God has indeed communicated… - including any so-called “self-attestation”


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Agreed though we could also assume Moses was crazy as we usually do anytime someone claims God speaks to them literally and especially when they claim he told them something we disagree with. But yes, I agree our experiences with God are self-attesting in a very simple sense.

I don’t disagree with this at all. I am not sure it is consistent with Grudem’s statement though. But you are correct and we know “self attestation” doesn’t occur in a vacuum.

I don’t know what to make of this yet. I’m going to dig through some other systematic theology texts and see if they say something similar.



Nice example, but the message they received and could not authenticate was to stand down. And they were in the middle of the default, standing order, launch sequence.

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