Okay, I am potentially about to open up a can of worms that may be well beyond the scope of the people on this
forum’s desire to study. I have read and searched through the other pertinent threads on OST, and have not found
any of them to be sufficient in answering my direct questions. The best category is "The Canon of the
Bible" & possibly "Truth" in general. So here is the gist:
Most people will start threads talking about the "verity" or "validity" of certain New Testament
books and/or early church writings. These would include topics such as "Is the Gospel of Thomas
inspired", "The people/situations that influenced the development of the canon", and "The
various differing canons of the different congregations of the early church". Most scholars, in doing
research on this subject, end up developing what they believe to be the "criteria for canonicity" that the
early church used to determine whether a book was inspired of God or not. But, most often times they establish
these criteria by using the Old Testament, without spending any time discussing the "how’s" "when’s"
and "why’s" of how the OT itself was established. So, inevitably their NT canon was based off of an
already established canon. So we take the next step back:
Who established the OT canon, and under what criteria was IT established? After following this process to the
very end you end up getting to the question of whether or not MAN should have ANY influence at all in determining the
CRITERIA for canonicity. I mean, if God wants us to be able to distinguish His true voice from all of the others
out there, HE should be the one that provides (or provided) the criteria, not man. We, as humans, are EXTREMELY
likely to decide what should and should not be included in our canon based on what we already believe or wish to make
others believe. This should NOT be the case. In other words, our personal beliefs or agenda should have NO
influence on what IS and IS NOT the Word of God. The Word of God is just that, the Word of God. Other
criteria, established by God alone, should be the standard to which we compare all other writings (in my current
Establishing the above leads us to look for criteria-determining factors WITHOUT using a previously established
canon. One argument has been made for the "ancientness" of the texts of the old testament as proof
for their verity, but any devout scripture studier will know that the Biblical manuscripts are by no means the oldest
religious manuscripts in existence. Now, I say this knowing that there are NO originals of the Biblical
manuscripts, and if there were, maybe they would be the oldest. Heck, maybe the very fact that there are no
originals is even more proof that the Biblical manuscripts are the oldest religious documents. But, knowing all of
that, TODAY we have ancient Egyptian documents and paintings which speak of religious worship habits which FAR outdate
the oldest Biblical manuscript we have. So, the scientifically established "date of origin" of any
particular religious writing should not stand as a valid criterion for the "Word of God". At least since
there is evidence (even if not in the form of actual documents) of very ancient belief systems. Otherwise, if we
all just followed the PROVEABLY oldest religious documents, shouldn’t we all be following the ways of the ancient
Egyptians or ancient Mesopotamians right now?
To me, the very order and diversity present in creation is enough to prove there is a Creator outside the
boundaries/limitations of this universe. Knowing this, what is the next step in learning which, out of all the
so-called "gods" out there to choose from, is the TRUE ONE? Is there a means by which to establish, or
rather discover, God’s criteria for what is and is not inspired of Him (WITHOUT using an already established canon)?
The question may come up: why does all of this really matter? Well, when you have so many different religious
groups out there (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc.), all with their own sacred writings that they
follow, how is one to minister to the other? The argument/discussion most often stops between them when which book
they each follow is brought up. One says, "The Bible says this…," the other answers, "Well, the
Quran says this…!" The battle is being fought on uneven, unequal ground. What first needs to be
established, which would pretty much end any argument by bringing in the truth, is which is the actual Word of God. And in order to establish this, a set of criteria by which to compare/examine all writings must first be established.
Otherwise, it is just "He said, she said".
As a side note, let me just say that I would call myself a "Messianic Israelite". I believe Yahweh is
the one True God, and the Yahshua, His Son, is the Messiah. I believe in the active power of God, worked in
visible signs and wonders, as being a very real and possible criterion for establishing from nothing which god is the
True God. In other words, if one person can speak "Stand up and walk in the name of Yahshua," and the
person gets up and walks, and another person can say "Get up and walk in the name of Allah," and they don’t,
the True God is revealed in His working through the truth. So, I am not setting aside the "power of God"
aspect of determining the criteria, just probing for the others.
And remember, try not to come with arguments that are rooted in or come directly from an already established canon.
Thanks for any and all input! All constructive and guiding comments are welcome! Yahweh Bless!