Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Michael Kruger discusses Roman Catholicism and the NT Canon: Today on the Dividing Line with James White

"I agree with Bart Ehrman"
"I agree with Bart Ehrman"
This promises to be the BEST.CONVERSATION.EVER (especially if you are a Roman Catholic-vs-Protestant geek like me)!

Roman Catholicism and the NT Canon: Today on the Dividing Line with James White. Dr. Kruger writes:

My new book, The Question of Canon, is designed to challenge a particular approach to the New Testament canon that is prevalent in the modern academy. It is the approach that suggests that in the earliest stages of Christianity the canon was in disarray; the canonical process was a wide-open affair where no one agreed on much of anything and no one was able to distinguish canonical books from apocryphal ones.

What is ironic about this critical approach is that it has an unexpected ally: Roman Catholicism. The Catholic claim is remarkably similar to the one of critical scholars (at least in its premise). Both claim that the canonical situation in early Christianity was in disarray and that there was no way to distinguish canonical books from apocryphal books. It’s just that modern scholars use this as a justification to reject the canon altogether, whereas Catholics use this as a justification for why we need an infallible church to tell us which books are in the canon. But, both groups share the same premise.

In my interactions with Catholics over the years, I have raised this issue. I have pointed out that many of the Roman Catholic apologists are essentially making the same argument as Bart Ehrman. They are trying to show that the canon was a mess so that they can argue the only solution is to lean on papal authority (of course, Ehrman doesn’t take this second step). Admittedly, this has been a bit discouraging. I would have hoped that Protestants and Catholics could at least team up to respond to the criticisms of scholars like Ehrman.

In order to address the difference between Protestant and Roman Catholic views of canon, I will be joining James White on his Dividing Line program today at 1PM EST. It is a live program, so tune in if you are able!


  1. Speaking of the canon, just like to know if a canon of Popes/Ecumenical councils exist. I have heard that papal elections are not infallible. If there is no canon of Popes, it would be a problem for the RCC wouldnt it?


    1. Hi Explorer -- there is no "infallible list of infallible dogmas". RCs respond to this by saying "We've got the living magisterium to make decisions". That has its own problems -- which is evidenced most recently by some of the "policy changes" being put into place by this new pope vs the previous two popes, who most of the folks we know think were "really great". But as great as they were, this new pope is still "a breath of fresh air".

    2. So the current RC has a fallible list of infallible popes / magisterial clarifications. This is a bit similar to the Evangelical fallible (but inerrant) list of infallible books.

  2. The supreme authority in the RCC is whatever the Pope and his representatives are saying right now.