Reviews, Critiques, Surveys

Are the Books of the New Testament “Self-Authenticating” or was the Catholic Church Necessary to Define the Canon of Scripture?

By Steve Ray

Hello Protestant Friend:

I was very happy to receive your twenty-five-page letter which claimed that sola Scriptura (Bible alone) and sola fide (faith alone) were the faith and teaching of the Apostles. I found your reasoning very weak (sorry to say) and since I once believed these false doctrines myself I thought I ought to respond to your misconceptions. I have no animosity toward you for your views; in fact; I love you for taking the time to express your theology and I love you for your sincere faith in our Lord Jesus. Having once held these views myself, I know that they can be held in good faith and I assume that is the case with you.

Since this letter became longer than I originally expected, I decided to add an outline to help you understand the flow of my discussion. So, here it goes.

  1. Our Recent Discussions
    1. Intro: Self-authentication of Biblical Documents
    2. Federal Rules for Self-authenticating Documents
    3. Correct Criterion vs. Circular Reasoning
    4. The Early Church and the New Testament Documents
    5. The Reformation and the Canon
    6. A Fallible Collection of Infallible Books
  1. Your Letter: Especially on Inspiration, Scripture, and sola Scriptura
    1. 2 Timothy 3:15, 16: A Basis for the Canon of the New Testament?
      1. Old Testament or New Testament
      2. Anarthrous Construction and Warfield
      3. Correct Translation of the Greek Text
      4. Universal Negative: Nothing else is Inspired or Infallible
    2. 2 Peter 3:16: Substantive Proof of the New Testament Canon?
    3. 1 Timothy 5:18 & Luke 10:7: Substantive Proof of the New Testament Canon?
    4. Summary using Norman Geisler’s Syllogism
    5. Catholic Teaching in a Nutshell
  1. Miscellaneous Comments from Your Letter
    1. Augustine, Calvin, and the Councils
    2. The Noble-minded Bereans and Sola Scriptura
    3. Is the Catholic Church “Co-equal” with the Sacred Writings
    4. Can Catholics Interpret the Bible?
  1. Sign-off and Finger-resting
  1. Our Recent Discussions
  1. Intro: Self-authentication of the Biblical Documents

Anyway, to get serious, when we talked about the authentication of the sacred books contained in our Bible, you mentioned legal precedent for documents that were “self-authenticating.” In other words, as I understood it, there was no need for anyone (including individuals, authorities, councils, apostolic successors, etc.) to make such a determination as to which books were infallible, inspired, and canonical, since they were self-authenticating and could be discovered, but not determined. This is Norman Geisler’s view as well (Endnote 1) Whew! I hope that mouthful made sense.

You also said that the reason it took so long to discover the collected canon was due to the condition of man. If you don’t mind, and in the spirit of friendship and combativeness we have always had together and thoroughly enjoyed I will continue our tradition and take another salvo in this letter. I don’t have any Norman blood, but I do have French [passion], and German [precision and belligerence], and Irish [feisty], and English [verbose] blood in me. So, don’t blame me, blame it on my genes.

  1. Federal Rules for Self-authenticating Documents

I am of the opinion that the sacred writings were not, and are not self-authenticating. I don’t mean they are devoid of divine authorship, nor that they are without the divine imprint. I only mean that internal and external evidence alone is not enough to clearly and definitively establish them as inspired, authoritative, and infallible. Since you mentioned it, I looked up the legal guidelines on the matter of self-authentication in the Federal Rules (U.S. Code Title 18 Crimes and Criminal Procedure, Federal Rules no. 902) (Endnote 2). This is the section, as you well know, of Self-Authentication. The reason I looked this up is simple: you stopped me in my tracks when you mentioned this, not because I questioned the validity of my objection to self-authentication, but because I was not knowledgeable about the evidentiary rules.

For the whole long and detailed argument, click here.

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Our Friends and Neighbor’s Sing Like Angels

by Steve Ray on December 14, 2018

They’re good friends of ours and their convent is 9 minutes from our house.  Here is a short introduction to these beautiful Sisters and their heavenly music.

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Cover of the “mythical” booklet “Trail of Blood”

What is the history of Baptists? Can they trace their roots back to the 1st century? Many ”fundamentalist” Baptists believe they can. Are they correct?

There is a booklet that is very popular among this fundamentalist crowd. It is entitled “The Trail of Blood”. The booklet claims that Catholics persecuted the true Christians — the Baptists — leaving behind a trail of blood.

I used to believe this premise and now that I have looked more carefully I wrote an article about this booklet and this the idea Baptists are the true Christians that have survived Catholic attempts to destroy them. Here is how my article begins:

“When Baptists attempt to discover the origins of their tradition they are faced with a historical dilemma. The search for Baptists roots hits a dead end in the sixteenth century. Most acknowledge that Baptist tradition is a tributary flowing out of the Protestant Reformation, but others attempt to discover a line of historical continuity, of doctrine and practice, back to Jesus and even John the Baptist. These Baptists are commonly referred to as “Baptist Successionists”. . . “

-For my full article on the Trail of Blood, click here (pdf).
-For other articles and references, click here.
-For more such articles and letters, click here.

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The Bible out of Context: “Saved by Faith Alone”?

November 13, 2018

When reading the Bible devoid of its historical and textual context, there is no context except the context which any person might supply for it. or put otherwise, A text without a context is a pretext. I always get frustrated when self-proclaimed Bible students or teachers start pontificating about the meaning of the Bible and […]

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For those following the Geocentrism Nonsense Arguments – Updates

July 31, 2018

From my friend Dave Palm at Geocentrism Debunked. His website is debunking the belief that the earth lies at the center of the universe which some Catholics have taken a shine to lately. (Maybe the earth is flat too :-) **************************************************** There has been a lot going on at Geocentrism Debunked lately. Most notably I had a live discussion/debate with geocentrist Bob Sungenis on the Non Sequitur […]

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We Loved this Movie: “Woman in Gold”

July 15, 2018

We watched an exceptional movie today which we highly recommend! Full of injustice and redemption, courage, family, sacrifice and love. Have Kleenex handy. We will watch it again for sure. The true story of artwork stolen by the Nazis from a Jewish Austrian family and their fight to have it returned. The elegant woman Maria […]

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Fun and Relaxed 4th of July

July 4, 2018

?Happy 4th! Thanks to all those who made our independence and freedom possible! Kids all traveling so Janet & I took 3.5 mile walk, cooked healthy food on the barbie and watched hilarious family-friendly Aussie movie “Deckchair Danny.” Love being a husband/dad/granddad, love being an American, love being Catholic! (Picture from front porch.)

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“Braco the Gazer” Stares at You! World’s Gone Mad!

June 18, 2018

There is the old saying that, “If your mind is too open your brain may fall out.” Or stated another way, “If you don’t stand in something, you’ll fall for anything.” St. Augustine said that we were created with an emptiness in our soul that only God could fill. But for people who have rejected […]

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Disappointed in Two Movies: “Shape of Water” and “Breathe”

May 5, 2018

We see some of our best and worst movies while flying in airplanes back-and-forth across the Atlantic. Today we saw one of our dumbest movies which started out intriguing but we both said it’s on the lower end of all the movies we’ve watched. It was called “The Shape of Water“. It was about a […]

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The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon – I Stand Up to Applaud Him!!

February 28, 2018

There is a lot of buzz going around about the Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson who is defying the Canadian government and the tyranny of the lunatic Left. I stand up to applaud him! Here is an article in Catholic World Report written by Bishop Robert Barron. Barron introduces this eloquent, courageous and very bright man. […]

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Ten Worst Catholic Hymns of all Time

February 2, 2018

I haven’t heard them all, but the ones I recognize — I agree. I’ve told Janet if I hear some of them again I’ll walk out. Ten Worst Catholic Hymns of all Time

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Reclaim the Presence of God and Dinnertime for the Family

January 3, 2018

Paraclete Press has come out with a delightful book to help families practice the presence of God and help make dinner fun. I wish I had written this book! Check out”Feeding Your Family’s Soul – Dinner Table Spirituality” Not only spirituality but fun things to make dinner and enjoyable family get-together. I echo Fr. Andrew […]

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Eternal Security: Is Baptist Pastor Charles Stanley Right?

September 29, 2017

ETERNAL SECURITY (Once Saved-Always Saved): Analyzing a Sermon by Baptist Pastor, Charles Stanley By Steve Ray Hello Protestant Friend: Even though I have watched his show off and on over the months, I had no intention of watching Charles Stanley on television last night. It was just that I was tired after getting home and […]

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Fr. James Martin’s book “Building Bridges” – Comments by Dr. Ed Peters

September 17, 2017

About Fr. Martin’s book September 16, 2017 by Dr. Ed Peters: Defending his book, Building a Bridge (2017), Jesuit Father James Martin claims that its consistency with Church teaching is attested to by (A) his own good standing as a priest, and (B) the canonical approval the book received from his Jesuit superior. Martin’s first claim, that he […]

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Trump Body Slams CNN

July 3, 2017

The Left has no sense of humor or perspective. When leftists practice real violence (black hoods, beatings and all) there is no sense of outrage or condemnation.  But when there’s a humorous tweet there’s all kinds of condemnation and outrage, huffing, puffing and sputtering. Most Americans know exactly what Trump’s tweet was saying. Only the […]

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Why I Like Thomas Williams and Breitbart News

June 8, 2017

Yeah, I know it gets a bad rap in the local “Main Street Media” but if you shake off their bias and take a closer look it’s a pretty good place to find out what’s really going on. My friend Thomas Williams is the Rome correspondent and I have nothing but respect for this guy.

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