In This Issue

Ryan Glomsrud
Friday, April 30th 2010
May/Jun 2010

"Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" is one of those questions signaling an unanswerable conundrum. This issue takes up the question of the formation of the Bible or "canon," meaning the official list and "rule" of Old and New Testament books. Readers may come to this topic from different starting points, but here is the question that frames much of what follows: Does the Word of God create the church or does the church officially decide what constitutes the Word of God? Put another way: Did the church establish the canon or did the Bible create the church that afterward recognized the books of the Bible to be what they are, the canonical Word of God?

Unfortunately, many evangelicals today think this is either an unsolvable "chicken or egg" conundrum, or worse, that the church acted out of its own authority to create the Bible, which is the Roman Catholic position. From a biblical and Reformation perspective, however, canon formation is not a chicken/egg conundrum but a problem of some who would mistakenly put the cart before the horse. Therefore, our common theme once again is that it is God who works and we who respond; the Word and Spirit together found the community of faith who maintain these books for the purpose of preserving the record of God's promises.

Editor-in-Chief Michael Horton begins with an explanation of the relationship between covenant and canon. God's design includes making his covenant promises known in covenant documents–the two are virtually indistinguishable in fact–so that the New Testament canon is a function of the New Covenant. Leon Brown addresses the further question of the Roman canon, which differs from the Protestant by including several "apocryphal" books of questionable authenticity. Next, even though we have a "closed canon" of Scripture, this does not mean that the work of recovering the Bible for a modern reformation is completed. To the contrary, Simonetta Carr interviewed the Reverend Andrea Ferrari who is "continuing" the Reformation in that bastion of Roman Catholicism, Italy. White Horse Inn producer Shane Rosenthal reflects on the history of history, or the way classical authors such as Thucydides and Herodotus (inventors of history as a genre) plied their trade in contrast to the most famous of biblical historians, Luke, the author of the Third Gospel and the book of Acts. In a remarkable turn, Christ's resurrection from the dead is highlighted as a key factor that influences the way New Testament history is recorded and Christian arguments are constructed. Nothing could be farther, however, from this Christian perspective on history and the resurrection of the body than Gnosticism and so Mark Pierson, vicar at University Lutheran Chapel in Los Angeles, offers a thorough discussion of the various Gnostic gospels that have received so much hype in recent years. Finally, we feature an additional interview with Paul Maier, coauthor of a book that interacts with some of the more far-fetched claims of Dan Brown's novels. More than any other popular work, Brown's The Da Vinci Code has encouraged the mistaken notion that the fourth-century Emperor Constantine "created" the canon at the Council of Nicea, a view Maier easily combats.

This issue circumscribes the topic of canon formation in order to make sure that Reformation Protestants are all pulling in the same direction to recover Scripture in 2010–with the cart being pulled along by the horse!

Ryan Glomsrud
Executive Editor

Friday, April 30th 2010

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

Picture of J. Ligon Duncan, IIIJ. Ligon Duncan, IIISenior Minister, First Presbyterian Church
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