The case for 73 books is not about the content of the pages, it’s about the authority of anyone to decide the number of books inspired by God. Anytime someone wants to argue that one of the 7 books is historically inaccurate, or a name is wrong, or it’s just to ridiculous of a story that seems to go against God’s character, we can simply point out many of the same difficulties in their accepted 39 OT books. If fact, Martin Luther did not think the book of James to be inspired because he couldn’t find a way to reconcile it with his belief in faith alone. So the problem is most often not the bible, but our flawed interpretation of it.
But the real reason to reject a 66 book canon is because the Church has never pronounced a 66 book canon. The beauty of the Catholic Church is that it is traceable. This is what makes it authoritative and verifiable. Without going into the details (which can be done in a separate post) it is historically verifiable that the same 73 books found in the Catholic Bible were listed at a Church Council in Carthage.
If you look up this council you will probably run into a protestant website called gotquestions.org. On this site they admit that the council listed other books, but added that those books aren’t normally considered inspired. As proof of their claim they site individuals who were not even present at the council. That is like saying that the Council of Jerusalem pronounced circumcision to not be required, but since a lot of people disagreed with the council some years before and many years later, we should still require circumcision.
This in fact did happen. The Jewish Christian group called the Judaizers continued to reject the results that came from the Council of Jerusalem for many years, eventually they died off, along with their beliefs. The importance of this incident is to show how important it was in the early church to have a single voice of authority to pass on the teachings. They didn’t rely on any particular bible passages to make this change, in fact, Acts 15:7 states “And after there had been much debate…” then Peter stood up and proclaimed his message and everyone kept silent. From that point on there was no more debate inside the Church. The council had spoken.
At this point, a person may respond that the Church was already Corrupt by 397’s Council at Carthage in which the Canon, as it is in Catholic Bibles today, was ratified. The argument might try to say that the Canon was already known by Christians well before 397.
The problem with that argument is that it falls apart when one thinks it through. The argument tries to convince its audience that the Spirit of God was with the Apostles at the Jerusalem Council, but after the Apostles died there was apparently no more need for a unified group of Church leaders. This presents a whole new problem for the person who holds this view, since the Bible was certainly not put together, or even widely accepted by the time the last Apostle passed away. It would then follow that the only Bible that would have authority over Christians would be the Bible that the apostles themselves left us. Since they did not leave us a list of inspired books, we are at the mercy the people who did. The only list that was left and used by the Church from 397 to the 1500’s is the Catholic list that includes those 7 books.
The non-catholic is now in a position of having to defend the removal of those books over 1,000 years after they have been consistently used by the Church. If the Holy Spirit did not lead the Church to accept these books as inspired scripture, then by what authority does any individual or group of individuals have to proclaim that those books are no longer, and never have been, inspired? It would seem that anyone with a convincing argument could say the same about any book of the bible.
This wouldn’t be the first time. Marcionism convinced many followers to reject the Old Testament God and the writings of Paul, which he believed to be a heretic. Without the Church hierarchy who would defend the true doctrine of Christ? Arianism ran rampant in the 4th and 5th century, which led to the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople from which the nature of Christ was defined and we received the Nicene Creed. If the Church has no binding Councils after Jerusalem, then the Creed is simply one option, and Arianism is another. This would make Jehovah’s Witnesses just as valid of a view of Christianity as any other. Following the same logic all the way down to the Protestant Revolt (reformation) and ask yourself the same questions. Can they pick and choose which books belong in the bible after 1200+ years? Do they get to decide if baptism is not valid for infants? Can they change the meaning of “This is my Body” to make it just a symbol of Christ and not truly his Body? And even if they could, where does truth even exist once each individual decides for themselves what they will believe about Christ?
I’m not saying that there will never be divisions inside the church, but that can eventually be rectified through the Church. In protestantism, there is never a rectifying of doctrine, there is only another division based upon another disagreement. The Catholic Church works the same way it always has. If there is a differing opinion on doctrine, a council is held to debate the topic and pray for the Holy Spirit to direct their decision and trust that He does. Just like the Council of Jerusalem. If a doctrine is pronounced infallibly, anyone who disagrees from that point forward is not in union with the Church. Whether it is over circumcision, baptism, communion, the canon of scripture, or any other issue. Once it has been dogmatically defined it is a closed matter. Christ gave the Apostles the power to bind and loose and they passed that power on to their successors, and it is through the Holy Spirit that Truth is passed down through the Church.
In Summary, there is a line of truth being passed down through the ages. It is passed on by the Apostles and their successors. We accept their conclusions about circumcision, baptism, books of the bible, Mary, salvation, prayer, the Eucharist, the Mass, and son on. Not because we have no choice, but because there is a reason to follow their lead more than there is a reason to follow the lead of people who left the Church to follow their own doctrines and beliefs. Choosing to follow the Bible without the aid of the Church leads to chaos and division over and over. If you reject the Churches conclusions, then you reject any possibility of the Church being One. Every truth becomes subjective and your interpretation is just that, your interpretation.