How do we know that the 66 books of the Bible are from God? A presuppositional response, Part 3: Related Issue: presuppositional vs. non-presuppositional

As we close this three-part discussion, we need to “button up some holes” and compare the presuppositional view with the common view of affirming the canon based on the ”apostolicity plus” view described in part 1.

When viewing the canon presuppositionally, there will always be some nuanced differences, but this is due to the methodology of the Bible being the absolute authority in all areas. Many well meaning Christians have bought into non-presuppositional views; as result, they may inadvertently not give the best answers to this question. I wish to encourage those who have not considered the presuppositional method to seek to understand it in more detail.

The Method of Apostolic Authority

The method of using the Bible as the authority and beginning with Christ who gave authority to the apostles for the New Testament writings is a presuppositional method. Development of the canon is taking the angle of starting with the Bible (i.e., let God be His own authority) as a basis to discern the canon based on statements from Jesus and the apostles as to apostolic authority (a self-authenticating approach).

For those who are familiar with the debate about determining the canon, the presuppositional approach is not the most common method used by evangelicals in the past 100 years. There are two primary competing methods by which evangelicals often argue when looking at the canon. I mentioned the most common one previously (see part 1: Number 9, Apostolicity Plus: things written or affirmed by the Apostles, their associates, or the brothers of the Lord, or potentially others; tests must be applied to find out if they are Scripture). I gave a brief response previously but will now dive into the debate over these two methods in more detail.

Both methods agree that there are twenty-seven books of the New Testament and agree on the books included, but the debate is over the method itself.

Position 1 (Presuppositional View): Apostolic authority granted to a book or letter for canon status, by being authored/co-authored by an apostle or affirmed by an apostle as Scripture when imposed on the church. This is the basis for canonicity, and external tests are useful (consistency, church usage, preservation, and so on), but are merely a confirmation of what Scripture already assets, not the basis of determination.

Position 2 (Apostolicity Plus): Some books by the apostles and some books by others, such as their associates and/or brothers of the Lord (Jude, Hebrews, Mark, and so on), could be canon (i.e., not all apostles’ books are canon; some books by non-apostles are canon). Potential Scriptures can only be found by applying tests like consistency, church usage, or preservation to see if they are Scripture.

In this three-part discussion on canon, I used the development method of Position 1 by starting from the internal texts of Scripture, particularly with Christ and His statements (e.g., John 14:26, 15:26–27, 16:7–15; Luke 11:48–49) Then I followed with other biblical passages to argue for the importance and authority of the apostles who Christ entrusted with the gospel and the authority to handle it properly. Some of these passages follow:

 “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior.” (2 Peter 3:1–2)

  “Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some   of them they will kill and persecute.’” (Luke 11:49)

  “Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20)

  (showing the authority an apostle had) “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4–6)

  “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:17)

At this point in the discussion, I want to critique Position 2 and expand on some biblical problems with it, which I began to do in previous sections. Keep in mind that those holding to this position are brothers in the Lord but simply fail to do apologetics in the area of canon from a proper presuppositional fashion.

Leading modern scholars

Scholars, including those who have proposed apostolicity plus/Position 2, recognize the importance of the apostles in determining the canon, and rightly so. There are a number of passages that make their importance in the church unmistakable, especially in light of statements from Jesus like, “I will send them prophets and apostles.”

A leading commenter on the canon of Scripture was B.B. Warfield. He took the position that the New Testament canon was the outworking of the apostles as either authored or affirmed by them.[1]

“We say that this immediate placing of the new books — given the church under the seal of apostolic authority — among the Scriptures already established as such, was inevitable. It is also historically evinced from the very beginning. Thus the apostle Peter, writing in A.D. 68, speaks of Paul’s numerous letters not in contrast with the Scriptures, but as among the Scriptures and in contrast with “the other Scriptures” (II Pet. iii.16) — that is, of course, those of the Old Testament. In like manner the apostle Paul combines, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, the book of Deuteronomy and the Gospel of Luke under the common head of “Scripture” (I Tim. v.18).

The early Christians did not, then, first form a rival “canon” of “new books” which came only gradually to be accounted as of equal divinity and authority with the “old books”; they received new book after new book from the apostolical circle, as equally “Scripture” with the old books, and added them one by one to the collection of old books as additional Scriptures, until at length the new books thus added were numerous enough to be looked upon as another section of the Scriptures.

The Canon of the New Testament was completed when the last authoritative book was given to any church by the apostles. . . . Whether the church of Ephesus, however, had a completed Canon when it received the Apocalypse, or not, would depend on whether there was any epistle, say that of Jude, which had not yet reached it with authenticating proof of its apostolicity…. And in every case the principle on which a book was accepted, or doubts against it laid aside, was the historical tradition of apostolicity.

Let it, however, be clearly understood that it was not exactly apostolic authorship which in the estimation of the earliest churches, constituted a book a portion of the “canon.” Apostolic authorship was, indeed, early confounded with canonicity. It was doubt as to the apostolic authorship of Hebrews, in the West, and of James and Jude, apparently, which underlay the slowness of the inclusion of these books in the “canon” of certain churches. But from the beginning it was not so. The principle of canonicity was not apostolic authorship, but imposition by the apostles as “law.”” [2]

There are also many other modern scholars, such as F.F. Bruce, who recognize apostolic authority as the key to canonicity in the New Testament. They recognize the importance of apostolic authority and there is no doubt why, with a host of Scriptures appealing to their authority. Bruce writes:

“For various reasons it was necessary for the Church to know exactly what books were divinely authoritative. The Gospels, recording “all that Jesus began both to do and to teach,” could not be regarded as one whit lower in authority than the Old Testament books. And the teaching of the apostles in the Acts and Epistles was regarded as vested with His authority. It was natural, then, to accord to the apostolic writings of the new covenant the same degree of homage as was already paid to the prophetic writings of the old.

One thing must be emphatically stated. The New Testament books did not become authoritative for the Church because they were formally included in a canonical list; on the contrary, the Church included them in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired, recognising their innate worth and general apostolic authority, direct or indirect.”[3]

The crux of the issue

In the case of Bruce and many modern scholars (whose work is to be highly respected, no doubt) dealing with the details of the books of the New Testament, they ultimately had to give up apostolic authority to include other writings (e.g., Jude and Hebrews). Instead of asking the question, “How do these books have apostolic authority?”, they asked, “How can we add to apostolic authority to include other writings?” Herein lies the problem.

Sadly, many scholars who would readily affirm apostolic authority for the New Testament when pressured with Jude, which is one of the main debate points, would appeal to methods other than apostolic authority. Why not stand on the Bible’s claims of apostolicity and evaluate Jude to see whether it was founded in apostolic authority such as an apostle affirming it as authoritative?

Typically, the arguments include varying views such as “people who were eyewitnesses and companions of the Lord,” “brothers of the Lord,” “associates of the apostles,” and so on. Supposedly, these people can also be responsible for canon books of the New Testament of their own merit, according to this position—as if equal to the apostles! But there is a major problem with this—where does the Bible say this?

And further, who comes up with this list of potential authors? People do and then take their ideas to the Scriptures. Some may appeal to Acts 1:20–22 as “people who were eyewitnesses and companions of the Lord,” but this was a requirement for a candidate for an apostle, but it was not equal to a status as an apostle.

Recall that one of the two candidates (Barsabbas) was not counted among the twelve. If they could be equal to the apostles by writing or affirming canon Scripture without the approval from an apostle, then the elevation of Matthias to the level of apostle to replace Judas was meaningless. B.B. Warfield and other scholars were rather adamant about the authority of an apostle and were more consistent than this approach.

Summary of Strengths of Position 1 (Presuppositional view)

  • The New Testament is derived from apostolic guidance where the apostleship was of utmost importance and explains why Paul defended it so vigorously.
  • Apostles were entrusted with the authority and so, when the apostles died, the canon was closed.
  • All 27 books have a scriptural apostolic basis by which we can know they are canon as Christ conferred this power to them to recognize the Word of God by the Holy Spirit. Whether we know exactly which apostle is not necessary.
  • External tests are a confirmation (tests are of extreme importance as things should be consistent—God will not contradict Himself, according to 2 Timothy 2:13—and they can be used to ward off false books from false prophets and false apostles).

Summary of Weaknesses of Position 1 (Presuppositional View)

  • Jude does not say that James (who was called an apostle) affirmed his book as Scripture, nor does the book of Hebrews directly state it has apostolic support. In both cases, they must be inferred from the text.
  • The inferences are based on the assumptions that James gave authority to Jude’s book by mentioning him in the opening, that those confirming it to the writers of Hebrews were the apostles (Acts 1:21–26), and that Peter was correct that Paul wrote to the Hebrews (in verse 2:3 “and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him”). These could have been affirmed by other apostles; we simply are not told whom.

Summary of Strengths of Position 2 (Apostles Plus)

  • Tests are of extreme importance as things should be consistent (God will not contradict Himself—2 Timothy 2:13) and can be used to ward off false books from false prophets and false apostles.

Summary of Weaknesses of Position 2 (Apostles Plus)

  • No biblical basis to know what the full canon is; in other words, all books must tested to see if they are canon whether apostles or others.
  • The Bible does not give any credence to the authority of associates, friends, or co-laborers of the apostles or others or brothers of Lord, but appeals to human arguments must be made to support this view.
  • Who is the final authority on the canon? Humanity, who comes up with test, applies the tests, and makes judgment calls; so this view has man sitting in authority over the Word of God.

The Slowness of Canon Recognition

I have previously argued at length that God not only determines the canon and was completely responsible for its existence (developed it), but even more: that only God gives the guidelines to know what the canon is in His Word—so that people cannot even boast when they find it out. (If anything, it shows how slow fallible people are to take so long in realizing what the full canon was). To know what the canon is, we must begin with God’s Word.

If a book had apostolic authority (written or affirmed by an apostle for use in the churches for instruction), it was Scripture (e.g., Luke 11:49, 2 Peter 3:2); the apostles were the authority, as given by Christ, and if they imposed a book or letter on the church for instruction, then it was Scripture. Early on, this would have been obvious within the churches, as the apostles were alive and travelling around to these churches and teaching them verbally what was written Scripture. So they could easily say what was Scripture and what was not.

In some cases, the letters themselves give some snippets of this such as Peter affirming all of Paul’s letters (as discussed in the previous articles). It was not until the apostles died that people started to question what was Scripture. After that, people no longer had apostolic guidance and so likely began to react by putting together lists of Scripture such as the Muratorian canon (estimated to be from around A.D. 170). So the churches, in essence, lost information as to what was Scripture, even though the Scriptures themselves give the guidelines for knowing what it was.[4] This was likely because fallible people, within the church were muddying the waters on this issue.

Even at the time of the apostles, a particular church still may not have known the whole of the New Testament canon. It took time to get a copy of authoritative Scriptures, have it copied, and pass it along to another church. This process can take quite some time from one end of the Roman Empire to another—especially when Jews, as well as the Romans and Greeks, were persecuting the early church. In other words, it is not like our electronic age where we can send a copy around the world in a matter of seconds.

The moment a book of Scripture was written, it was Scripture and to be included in the canon, whether people recognized it or not. It may have taken some time for a church to realize it was Scripture until an apostle made it known to them. In other words, a letter written by Paul to the Galatians is Scripture, but Christians in Alexandria, Egypt may not have known it was Scripture for some time, even if they received a copy fairly soon after. But once they found out it had apostolic authority, they realized it was inspired Scripture. It makes more sense that people, over the generations, lost what was Scripture in the same way that many Israelites lost what was Scripture when in captivity.

As false books popped up and other letters were written between churches, there became a need to separate out the books with apostolic authority and those without. As we have seen in history, this took a while and people did not agree because they did not always look to the Bible for the guidelines, but instead looked at what fallible, sinful people said in their passing comments.

Sadly, a number of people throughout history began using human arguments to say what the canon was and ignored apostolic authority (i.e., not starting with the Word of God). The Roman Church for example openly makes the claim that they determine what the canon is, in essence elevating themselves to a position of being greater than the Word of God (Matthew 10:24).

Others, especially around the time of the reformation, rightly rejected that position in favor of a position closer to the view that the apostles were the ones responsible, but in some instances they use a human argument to include a few others (e.g., Jude). So they were closer but they still retained some elements of humanism in determining the canon.

But such things need to be revised further to get back to biblical authority, and reduce the human argument element—where the apostles were the ones who were responsible for the whole of the New Testament, by directly writing or directly affirming the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. When human arguments are involved it leaves open the possibility of an incomplete and an insufficient canon. In other words, the canon must simply be taken on blind faith without a true basis when the Bible is not the absolute authority on the canon.

Scholars who take Position 2 (Apostolicity Plus) conclude that the canon is simply taken on faith, because we can never know if it is complete. Stephen Voorwinde in The Formation of the New Testament Canon does not hold to the position of apostolic authority for the New Testament canon (though he recognizes that this was typically the early view) and he writes:

“Yet it remains a confession of faith that the canon of the New Testament corresponds exactly to Christ’s canon. Their identity cannot be absolutely established by historical study. Historical evidence and “proofs” take us only so far. As in so many other areas there comes a point where it becomes a matter of faith.”[5]

When it comes to the canon, we should start with the Word of God and let it dictate the guidelines for the canon. Tests are useful, but they cannot be the basis. Scripture gives the basis as apostolic affirmation of a book. This is the best method to know what the canon of the New Testament consists of.

Tests and Testing the Tests

Tests are important as a confirmation. I am not arguing that the tests are not based on Scripture; I am arguing that determining the canon by testing alone has no basis in Scripture. Putting the Word of God as the center of a test where we fallible humans are the ones doing the grading is back-to-front! Tests are great in an after-the-fact viewpoint (which is why they are supplementary in the presuppositional view).

One theologian and apologist emailed me this list as the tests that are generally agreed upon:

  • Is it prophetic (did it come from a “man of God,” 2 Peter 1:20, i.e., apostolic authority for NT)
  • Is it authoritative (“Thus says the Lord”)? (hundreds of verses)
  • Is it consistent with the rest of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 6:18)?
  • Is it dynamic in that it shows God’s life-changing power (Hebrews 4:12)?
  • Was it received and accepted by believers (2 Thessalonians 2:13 and others)?[6]

When people generally agree upon something, that makes humanity the authority. Other tests have been proposed. For example, Dr. Norm Geisler uses the following tests:

  • Was the book written by a prophet of God?
  • Was the writer confirmed by acts of God (performing miracles, etc.)?
  • Does the message tell the truth about God?
  • Did it come with the power of God?
  • Was it accepted by the people of God?[7]

Others say:

  • Whether the book had been written by one of the Apostolic circle or closely related to it
  • Whether it bore the marks of inspiration
  • Whether it was Christ-centered in its teaching
  • Whether it was read in the worship services of the Church[8]

There are others as well, but this should suffice to reveal there are as many tests as people commenting on the test! Some people have preservation as a test and so on. In the testing models, who proposes books for the canon? Humans. Who picks these tests and who grades them? Humans (i.e., “generally agreed upon”) who are sitting in authority over the Word of God. This is a subtle form of humanism that has crept in –albeit unknowingly for most—so please be forgiving. I say this cautiously as I used to do this method too! This is why the Bible needs to be its own authority in the development of the canon.[9]

Let’s turn back to the first set of tests. Using these tests as a sole basis to find out what the New Testament canon is causes problems. By these tests, how can Jude be Scripture—it is not written by an apostle, nor affirmed by an apostle in this view (this is obviously aside from the equivocation fallacy where a “man of God” is equivalent to “apostolic authority”). So Jude would fail the first test. If this concept is extended to merely holy men, not just apostles, then the idea of apostolic authority breaks down to lip service.

These tests are fine in once sense but it is how they are used. They still fail to address the concern over a basis for the canon. Tests are an after-the-fact criteria, not a basis. In other words, any book can be put through a test, even now, which leads to the issue of a complete canon and sufficiency. Using the Bible’s internal evidence as the authority to arrive at the canonical books is the basis; the tests are but a confirmation.

Let’s test the test with two books using the first set of tests.

Paul’s alleged missing book[10]:

Let’s take this claimed missing book of Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:9 and apply these tests. Is it from an apostle? Yes. Is it authoritative? Yes (according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:9). Is it consistent? Paul never wrote otherwise and even affirmed it to be followed in the church. However, since there are no extant copies of this alleged book, no one can prove otherwise. Is it dynamic (even though Hebrews 4:12 really does not say this)? One cannot know since we have no copies of a missing book. Was it received and accepted by believers? Yes, by the Corinthians. It gets a 4/5.


Is it from an apostle? No. Is it authoritative? There are no statements like “God says.” Is it consistent? Yes. Is it dynamic? Yes. Was it received and accepted by believers? Yes. It gets 3/5.

By the results of the test, neither of these books should be Scripture, because neither got a 5/5; thus, the test is not adequate. But note how Paul’s alleged missing book outscored Jude! Had we selected different tests to include preservation, then Jude would have been 4/6 and so would Paul’s alleged missing book – both still failing.

If one turns to the second set of tests, it fairs no better. Is the book of Jude written by a prophet? No. Did Jude perform miracles? No. Need we go further? Jude would fail the test. But Jude is Scripture so the tests, fail.

But due to failure of the test-alone methodology, the presuppositional method is the answer and why it was used in this discussion. It removes the human element. This is why an internal textual means is superior—God develops the New Testament canon through Christ and the apostles, and apostolic authority is the basis.

Recognition by the Early Church—Is That Significant?

Another factor to consider is that the New Testament books were commonly used in churches. It was this widespread use that further indicated they were authoritative (building on that initial basis). This kind of confirmation was common with Old Testament books with the Jews because the prophets knew which books were authoritative and this permeated their society. So a similar practice should have been expected with the New Testament with the Apostles affirming certain books as Scripture.

Many church fathers recognized and quoted from New Testament books as authoritative early on. In short, some are:

  1. Polycarp (disciple of John)
  2. Ignatius (before AD 150)
  3. Tertullian (AD c. 155–d. 230)
  4. Clement of Alexandria (AD c. 150–d. 215)
  5. Justin Martyr (mid-second century) [11]

Recognized lists of authoritative books appeared to reduce confusion with many other writings that were in circulation by gnostics and others. Furthermore, early church leaders would write letters to churches as well, but there was need to distinguish these from authoritative canon. So they began to list these out. There was the Muratorian Canon from about AD 170. It was damaged but still listed all but about five books of the New Testament. Eusebius in the 4th century lists all but about five, but does not outright reject any other New Testament book.[12] But recall these are fallible lists by fallible men and merely a confirmation.

Many lists have followed since then. Such references reveal significant recognition of the canon. One would think that Christians, who have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who is God (2 Timothy 1:14), would be able to recognize God’s writings to man and use them, but this is not always the case—but at the same time recognize that man does not set the canon but merely discovers what God has done. Anytime one is dealing with sinful, fallible man’s recognition, caution should be exercised, which is why a presuppositional approach should be the deciding factor. Lists are merely a good confirmation.

Church fathers like Ignatius (John’s disciple) and Irenaeus put the apostles on a level of authority well above themselves.[13] They do this to distance what they wrote from the books that apostles affirmed as Scripture.


“But shall I, when permitted to write on this point, reach such a height of self-esteem, that though being a condemned man, I should issue commands to you as if I were an apostle?”

“I do not issue orders like an apostle.”

“I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you. They were apostles;”

“I do not ordain these things as an apostle: for “who am I, or what is my father’s house,” that I should pretend to be equal in honor to them? But as your “fellow-soldier,” I hold the position of one who [simply] admonishes you.”


“Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge.”

“Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles does thus exist in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth, and that no lie is in Him.”

A Brief Introduction: Are More Books Ever Going to Come?

 “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)

The point of the Bible was not to record all things but to record what was sufficient. It is sad that people are often looking to add books or materials at the level of Scripture (e.g., Book of Mormon, Watchtower publications, false gospels, hidden books, the Koran, and so on), and yet few have ever really read and understood what is already written in the sixty-six books of the Bible.

The Book of Life, mentioned in Scripture, is from God, but other books mentioned or quoted in Scripture are not inerrant Scripture.[14] Among these are the Book of Jashar (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18), Books of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel and Judah, Book of Enoch (quoted by Jude 1:15), and so on. If quoted, that particular passage can be seen as Scripture, but not the rest of the book.

The fact remains that the Scriptures have been preserved just as the Scriptures said they would be (Psalm 12:6–7). And the Scriptures cannot be broken (John 10:35). God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), so His writings will not contradict themselves. Thus, any book that is in contradiction with the sixty-six books of the Bible is not from God. This quickly eliminates many alleged holy books right from the start, even if they claim inspiration from God or try to attach a prophet’s or apostle’s name to themselves.[15]

Some models of progressive creationism have tried adding to Scripture as well. Leading progressive creationist Dr. Hugh Ross has made the claim in one of his books that nature is “likened unto the 67th book of the Bible.”[16] He has reiterated this more recently.[17]

Since the creation is under a curse (Genesis 3; Romans 8), and a new heavens and new earth are needed (Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1), and the curse has not been removed yet (Revelation 22:3), it is appropriate to say that this alleged 67th book of the Bible (which, many times, is more the secular interpretation of nature) is not valid Scripture. Besides, heaven and earth will pass away, as have many of the secular interpretations of them already, but God’s Word will never pass away. This fact gives further indication that nature is not Scripture (Mark 13:31; Matthew 24:35; Luke 21:33).

 “Therefore the wisdom of God also said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute.”” (Luke 11:49)

There is no mention of a future group of people given at the level of prophets of the Old Testament and apostles of the New Testament. Does the Bible talk about when the vision and prophecy would cease? Yes it does. Let’s dive into the Old Testament.

In Daniel 9:24-27, God prophesied that He would seal up vision and prophecy (Daniel 9:24) when desolations would occur in both the Holy City (that is, Jerusalem per Nehemiah 11:1, Isaiah 52:1), and the sanctuary (that is, the Temple; e.g., 1 Kings 6:19) per Daniel 9:26.

The end is when the Temple and Jerusalem were left desolate in A.D. 70 (Mark 13:14, Matthew 22:7, Luke 21:20). Consider that in the book of Revelation, the Temple was still standing (e.g., Revelation 11:1-2). This gives a timeframe for when vision and prophecy would stop [and hence, there would be no more Scripture after that date (Daniel 9:24)]. This is further elucidated in Psalm 74:1-12.

When Herod’s Temple was destroyed and things were smashed to pieces in the sanctuary and burned the Temple and when Judea was ravished and destroyed this fulfilled what is stated in Psalm 74:1-12 since there would no longer be any prophets after this desolation. This is not in reference to the captivity, when the first Temple was destroyed since the items in the Temple were removed and carried away (2 Kings 24:11-13) [as opposed to being destroyed] by Nebuchadnezzar; and prophets lived through this and continued prophesying in Babylon and Persia.

When the Temple and Jerusalem were left desolate in A.D. 70, it sealed up vision and prophecy. Essentially, the canon of Scripture would be sealed from that point until Christ returns on that final day, the Second Coming (prophets and apostles were responsible for the prophetic Scripture through the Holy Spirit). So Revelation, or any other book of Scripture, must have been written prior to this (A.D. 70) or they are not Scripture.[18]


Please do not get me wrong, there are still a number of great theologians, even though a number have bought into the apostolicity plus position. And if you know some, please be praying for them. The point is that many have been influenced by false ideas that have been creeping into theology ever since many Christians started to compromise the Word of God with humanistic viewpoints, such as millions of years or evolution in the 1800s.

Even I have been influenced by some of these ideas and I needed to get back to the authority of the Word of God and I think we all need to be humble in this area (1 Corinthians 8:1) – you see, I used to appeal to “apostles plus” and used to teach that view to others and I always struggled with it, until I realized I need to surrender to God’s Word alone.

Presuppositional thinking (God’s Word as the absolute authority as a methodology from the starting point to final authority) is a new way of thinking and is uncommon in today’s church.

When we start with the Bible, we see that God self-authenticates His Word as God is the greatest authority on this subject and no one can appeal to higher authority elsewhere. (Hebrews 6:13). God openly signed it (with many passages saying it was from Him as would be expected) and confirmed it via apostolic authority. So now it is a matter of taking the time to read and trust what God says in His Word. In summary, one can rightly state:

“The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority in everything it teaches.” [19]


Cite this article: Hodge, B., How do we know that the 66 books of the Bible are from God? A presuppositional response, Part 3: Related Issue: presuppositional vs. non-presuppositional, Biblical Authority Ministries, September 3, 2015,

[1] This is not to say everything that Warfield wrote is being endorsed, but for that matter neither are all the positions of the other authors that I have referenced.

[2] B.B. Warfield, The Formation of the Canon of the New Testament (Philadelphia, PA: American Sunday School Union, 1892).

[3] F. F. Bruce, “The Canon of the New Testament,”

[4] For more on the history see:

[5] Stephen Voorwinde, “The Formation of the New Testament Canon,”,Vox Reformata 60 (1995),

[6] A friend who is a theologian-his name is held back for privacy, personal correspondence, April 28, 2011.

[7] Norm Geisler, “The Canonicity of the Bible,”

[8] Bastian Van Eldren, “History of the English Bible,” (lecture, n.d.), p. 6.

[9] This must be the case in argument from the position of ultimate authority. There is no higher authority and, hence, the ultimate authority must be the final authority on the subject.

[10] I am not here to debate alleged missing books of Paul; though after much study, I would yield to the context of 1 Corinthians 5 as what Paul is referring to in this passage. Especially in light of Peter saying: “And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation — as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” Although this would be another chapter in and of itself.

[11] Brian Edwards, Why 27? (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2007), pp. 46–48.

[12] Brian Edwards, Why 27?, p. 47. See also Glenn Davis, “The Development of Canon of the New Testament,”

[13] Their writings are readily found online such as: and

[14] The Book of Life is in the possession of God alone.

[15] Bodie Hodge, “Other Religious Writings” Answers, October–December 2007, pp. 36–38. See also the chapter on New Testament Apocrypha in this volume.

[16] H.N. Ross, Creation and Time (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1994), p. 56.

[17] Andy Butcher, “He Sees God in the Stars,” Charisma, June 2003, p. 40.

[18] Thus any alleged prophetic book that came after this such as the Koran, Book of Mormon, Watchtower publication and so on are not Scripture.

[19] Answers in Genesis, “Statement of Faith,” Basics (B) 1,

How do we know that the 66 books of the Bible are from God? A presuppositional response, Part 3: Related Issue: presuppositional vs. non-presuppositional