CSC: WELS Topical Q&A: Bible: Inspiration/Inerrancy: Bible - Inspiration/Inerrancy (08)
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Q:Explain what canonical criticism is and why it would be inappropriate for Confessional Lutherans to use it in biblical hermeneutics?

A:Canon criticism involves three separate phases. The first is how the canon came into being. Canon criticism assumes that the development of the canon was mainly a human process in which men in the church decided over a period of time which books of the Bible would be included in the canon. This is misleading because just like inspiration, the decision which books would be included in the canon was divinely guided. The Old Testament canon was approved by Jesus (Lk 24:44) and attested to by Paul and Peter in their inspired writings (2 Ti 3:16, 2 Pe 1:19-21). The NT canon was established by Jesus' apostles, whom he chose for this purpose (Jn 14:16-17; 14:26; 16:5-7; 16:12-15). The apostles remind us that their words were the Spirit's words (! Co 2:12-13; 2 Pe 1:12-21) and so are on a par with the OT canon (2 Pe 3:2; Eph 2:20). The NT canon came into being with the encouragement and approval of the apostles (2 Pe 3:15-16). The apostles encouraged believers to test everything by these books (1 Th 5:19-22) and warned them not to be misled by writings that did not have apostolic approval (2 Th 2:2; Re 2:2).

Another error of canon criticism comes out of its view of how the canon came into being. Since it views the development as a human process, it also suggests that human beings added to, altered, and rewrote some parts of the inspired books to make them fit better into the canon. This injects a subjective element into the study of God's Word that allows people to set aside small or larger portions of the Bible if they decide any of these portions are words of the early church rather than the inspired writers.

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