The question of how many books belong in the Christian Bible is one that eluded me for most of my evangelical protestant life. From the age of 17 to the age of 35, I had always been taught and assumed that there were 66 books in the bible. But why 66? To explain this, I would have to retrace, not only the steps that brought me to that conclusion, but I would have to trace the steps that brought us the bible in the first place. Little did I know that this would be the primary reason that I would eventually have to reject the Bible Alone tradition of Christianity to become a Catholic Christian.
In this Blog, it will be my intention to write about the reasons I could no longer remain a Christian, unless it was as a Catholic. In my lifelong search for truth, I had already been convinced that there was a God, and that Jesus was real. At the age of 17 I began my journey as a Christian and I saw the convincing historical evidence for Jesus and the Apostles. I was impressed by the fulfilled prophecies, and the near impossible odds of a man fulfilling so many with such accuracy. The miracles and changed lives certainly played a role in convincing me of the glory of God and the power of his Word, although admittedly subjective to a large extent.
As I developed my understanding of the Bible and began to form my Christian worldview, I submitted to my teachers and friends. I began to embrace certain interpretations that I believed must be true because of my association with the type of people who I encountered a deep meaningful conversion with. I placed my trust in their guidance and accepted certain beliefs without necessarily researching them. Things like the Bible Alone, Faith Alone, Believers Baptism, Communion, the Sinner’s Prayer, and Alter Calls became part of my accepted system of beliefs as an Evangelical Non-Denominational Christian.
Another inherited belief was that the Bible was made up of 66 books. I had never questioned this or found any reason to. Every bookstore I went to sold bibles that contained 66 books. 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.
It wasn’t until many years later that I finally learned that Catholic Bibles had more books. So the first thing I did was try to understand why. Since the Internet had not yet been available, I looked for some books on the Bible to find out more about how the books were assembled. You can guess which kind of authors I found my information from. Other Protestant Christians. What I read and therefore believed, was that the Catholic Church had added books to the Bible after the Reformation period. This answer was satisfactory to me at the time and so I continued to hold that position for many more years.
In 2006, I was determined to put Catholicism in its place once and for all. However, once I started digging deeper into history, and eventually began to investigate the logic of a Bible Alone mentality, it became clear to me that I could no longer hold to that position. In fact, I would deduce that either the Catholic Church was the true church of Christ, or Christianity itself was, at best, a collection of contradicting beliefs that could never be truly understood or correctly interpreted with any assurance.
In the end, the only way Christianity can have credibility is if the Church is visible and capable of sustaining and promoting true doctrine over time. The Bible is for Protestant’s, the most important voice of doctrine. However, the Bible cannot speak for itself. It does not provide for us a list of inspired books. Instead, we must rely on the Holy Spirit’s intervention through time and space, to declare inspiration and to communicate a list of inspired books to the faithful through some sort of declaration. In order to agree on one list, there must be one visible leadership group or person who can make that list binding to all believers. Otherwise, each individual would have the authority to choose a different set of books for inspiration.
In the book of Acts, at the Council of Jerusalem, the Apostles declared among all Christians that circumcision was not required of everyone. If the church would have not had an official body of authority, then the church could have easily split at that moment. We could have had Christians who required Circumcision, and Christians who didn’t. But this is exactly what Protestants are saying when they reject the Catholic Churches declaration of the inspired 73 books of the Bible. They are saying “we don’t agree with the council, and therefore will follow our own logic based on the opinions of people outside of the Church.
With these opening thoughts, I would now like to continue this blog by posting my reasons why every Christian should accept all 73 books of the Bible, and why Christianity only makes sense if you do.