John underscores the basis of religious authority in the text for this morning’s New Testament reading: If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater… (1 John 5:9). Although not citing this verse, Kruger applies its teaching when he raises the question of religious authority as it relates to the canon.
After, all, who has the authority to tell us what constitutes a divine book? Only God himself. And where would God tell us such a thing? In the Scriptures (Canon Revisited, 85).
Kruger’s approach is correct. Ultimate authority is God’s and his testimony is greater than the testimony of men. Evangelicals have tended to reject this approach when it comes to determining what books are to be in the Bible. Rather than being content with the testimony of God they have appealed to the testimony of men. For example, we are told by some that certain books should be in the Bible because they are orthodox. Orthodox? What about all of the other books that are orthodox that are not in our Bibles (Shepherd of Hermas or 1 Clement to name a couple). Other have suggested that usage of the book in the early church is an indicator of canonicity. The only problem is that some books that were quite popular in the early church are not in our Bibles; and some that received little attention (2 and 3 John) are. Perhaps it is the date of the writing that makes a book canonical or not. Again, though, there were plenty of books written during the first century that were orthodox and got attention but didn’t make it into our Bibles.
The real problem with all of this, though, is that the reception of the Book as Holy Scripture becomes dependent upon some human made standard of truth, a standard that is not found in the Bible.
How can the Scriptures be the ultimate standard of truth if their reception is dependent upon some other (presumably more certain) standard? (Kruger, 80).
That is the question at hand and that is the question that exposes the goofiness of evangelicalism.
“Ironically,” notes Kruger, the Catholic model is in a slightly better position because at least it purports to rest the canon on divine revelation (through the infallible pope and church), whereas the criteria-of-canonicity model rest the canon on “neutral” human assessments of historical evidence (80).
Evangelicals are much more comfortable being individual popes who go about determining what is truth and thus elevating their testimony above the testimony of God.
The testimony of God matters. It matters for what we believe and why we believe it. It’s imperative we don’t justify God (theodicy) by the testimony of men because in so doing we elevate the testimony of men above God’s and thus subordinate Him to them. God has big shoulders. He can speak for himself. He is his own interpreter and he will make it plain.