How to Discover the Right Books of the Bible: Introduction

Several months ago I did a study on the topic of canonicity, with special focus on how to identify the books that should be included in the Bible as inspired Scripture. Why study and discuss this topic? Well, the authority of the Word of God is crucial to every generation. Salvation depends on the Word of God, for it tells us of Christ. Christian discipleship depends on the authority of the Word of God, for a believer must know all the truth in order to mature. Therefore, discovering the Scriptures that are the Word of God is a most important task for anyone in his faith journey. While sometimes theologies debate whether to start with God Himself or to start with the Bible, as I develop this topic I will seek to avoid this dichotomy. Instead, I will aim to provide the criteria by which a person today in our world can discover that the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments are indeed the only written inspired Word of God in existence, and that therefore these books constitute the right standard for what is God’s authoritative. I will be discussing clues from within the Old and New Testament writings as historical documents for criteria of canonicity. I will also discuss the way the topic has been dealt with throughout Christian history up to the present. Finally, I will present some simple criteria for determining the inspiration of a particular book. Now, since there are many topics that are foundational to this study, I would like to point out certain assumptions that underlie this series.

First, the triune God of the Bible exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Second, that the sixty-six books of the Bible are reliable historical documents even apart from believing their are divinely inspired of God.
Third, the possibility for revelation of God to man concerning God Himself.
Finally, the word canon refers “to all texts that give evidence of divine inspiration.” (taken from John S. Feinberg, Light in a Dark Place, 454-455).

My discussion will begin with a biblical theology of canon, seeking to develop the idea from the Bible from a historical perspective throughout the history of God’s dealings with his people. After that, a historical theology discussion will follow. The discussion will conclude with a systematized theology of criteria of canon. I hope you will benefit from this study!