It's time to derive your worldview from the Bible

Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”

by Charles Clough
Features of the founding period of the church. Why it’s important to study church history. Historically interrupted revelation requires a canon. Apocalyptic literature. The authority of oral tradition versus the authority of written tradition. Questions and answers.
Series:Chapter 4 – The Historical Maturing of the Church
Duration:1 hr 25 mins 42 secs

© Charles A. Clough 2002

Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003

Part 6: New Truths of the Kingdom Aristocracy
Chapter 4 – The Historical Maturing of the Church

Lesson 193 – Historical – The Maturing Church

07 Mar 2002
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD

If you’ll start by turning to 1 John 1:1-3 we’re going to open the next to the last chapter in this ongoing saga and it’s going to be the historical maturing of the church. We’re going to try to condense all church history down to a chapter; that tells you how thorough it’s going to be, but it’s important because so many Christians really do not have a good feel for church history and what’s going on in church history and the place where Bible churches fit in this scheme of church history. So I think it’s good to see where we are in the process, and that God has indeed been busy, He hasn’t stopped working when Jesus ascended into Heaven that wasn’t the last thing He did. He’s been very active on down through the centuries. That’s what we’re looking at in chapter 4; then chapter 5 will be the end of the church and the Rapture.

In 1 John 1 we have a passage that defines the root of the historic church. “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life—[2] and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—[3] what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” You notice in verses 1 and 3 that the apostle goes to particular pains to show that revelation is historic, i.e., it could be touched, it could be heard, it could be seen, [using] all the senses - what we call the empirical senses are listed here. In other words, revelation is not just a spooky story of spirits, demons, angels; it’s something that deals with real history.

Verse 2 which is sort of sandwiched in between verses 1 and 3, verses 1 and 3 are grammatically connected and if you diagramed it out you’d find that verse 2 is actually a parenthesis. So verse 2 is stuck in there as an explanation and kind of an elaboration of what he’s talking about: “and the life was manifested” which “we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life.” The question is when we interpret a passage like this in the text we always like to look at the subject of the verb. The subject here is plural, “we.” So the question is, who is the “we”? Could the “we” mean all believers, i.e., everybody who has believed in the Lord Jesus Christ? Or, is “we” somebody else? Looking at these verses we see “we” and “we” and be inclusive or it can be exclusive, and that’s a decision you have to make when you look at the text. By inclusive we mean “we” means everybody, all Christians, everybody, “we,” the author and the recipients of the epistle. Or, he could be saying “we” of a smaller subset of people, and these are to be distinguished from others. Indeed that must be the case because in verse 3 he says “we have seen and heard and we proclaim to you,” so it’s clear then that “we” refers to at least John the Apostle, and “you” refers to believers in the church, to which he is writing, “we have heard, we have seen.”

Notice in verse 1, people tend to think the word “beginning” in verse 1 means the same thing it does in John 1, it’s the same author. Actually if you take a concordance and look up the usage of this word “beginning” in 1 John, because remember when you look up words you always look up the near context first, even if it’s the same author. The context shows that “beginning” in this epistle refers to the beginning of the gospel, not the beginning of the universe. So that which “was from the beginning” is the gospel message, “we have heard” it, “we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled” things “concerning the Word of life.” And we proclaim that to you; now we have a purpose clause in verse 3. All that’s preceded this is antecedent, is the setup for this purpose clause. The purpose clause says “that you,” meaning the people who receive the epistle, “that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son.”

The picture then is that whatever this message is, he’s writing to these people; these people are believers, and we know they are believers, not unbelievers, because later on he says “fathers,” he describes them, etc. it’s over in chapter 2 where he says that, he says it so many times. In 2:18 he says “Children, it is the last hour,” he writes in verse 21, not “because you do not know the truth, but because you do know” the truth, so it’s being written to Christians. Now the question is, how are we to understand this fellowship that’s going on. It says the fellowship, you want to have fellowship with us, and “our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” Then he goes on to say, “And these things we write” to you, “so that our joy may be made complete.”

What he is saying is that the church—believers—have fellowship with God through the message of the apostles. That’s true of salvation, it’s true of fellowship. We come back to the apostles, because it’s the apostles like John who, from the very beginning had the message, and they passed it on. So the big idea here to see when we start talking about church history is that the church flourishes as it responds to the truth of the Word of God, and that truth of the Word of God came historically through the apostles. We want to be careful here because we’re going to get into the issue of authority, so let’s draw a diagram. We have God, we have the Word of God of God, the Word was given to the apostles, and the apostles proclaimed it to the rest of the church. So it goes back to the apostles.

This has created a problem in church history because a vast percent of historic Christians have held to the idea that you must have a continuing apostolate in order to keep the church functioning, because doesn’t it say that the rest of the church has fellowship with God and His Word through the apostles? And that’s, for example, we’ll get into it later, the Eastern Church, we don’t hear much about that, we’re going to cover that a little bit, what we call the Eastern Church, i.e., Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, all the Christianity from Italy east all broke off at one time, in AD 1054. We evangelicals in America don’t usually have too much contact with people from the Orthodox Church. Here in Baltimore there’s quite a large Orthodox Church because we have a lot of Greek people here and Greeks are culturally into the Greek Orthodox Church. If we had Russian friends they’d be connected with the Russian Orthodox Church. That whole segment of “Christendom” (quote unquote), they hold to the authority of the continuing authority of oral tradition outside of the Bible propagated through the institution of the church. It’s their attempt to root authority into some physically present thing, some structure.

Roman Catholicism does much the same thing, the church in the west, except they had a little different take on it. Augustine, who was so good in one area, i.e., in getting justification by faith kind of established before the Reformation ever started; Augustine had another down side, a bleak and black side to him in that because he was led to the Lord while he was in the city of Rome, he wrote a lot to say that it was only through affiliation with the church at Rome that you could be saved. Augustine actually is the father of Roman Catholic exclusivity. So you had those trends.

Then along came the Protestants and the Protestants throw out the tradition completely and say we’re going to have fellowship with Lord through His Word. So when we look at a passage like 1 John we want to be careful what we’re saying. 1 John does link fellowship with God through the apostles, but if you look at verses 1–3 what is it about the apostles that is emphasized? It’s the message of the apostles. Notice what he says, that which we have “seen and heard we proclaim to you,” that which we proclaim has to be a message, and it’s the message of the apostles that acts as the linkage between the rest of the church and God.

That’s why, to this day, Protestants can say the Apostle’s Creed. Think about what the Apostle’s Creed says. What’s the first line? “I believe in the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” So if you said the Apostle’s Creed and recited it in some Protestant circles, people would freak out and think you’d gone back to Roman Catholicism. That’s not true. It’s the interpretation of that first sentence, “I believe in the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” The Protestant position is that “Apostolic” means the message of the apostles. How do we get saved? We get saved by the gospel, right? Everybody got saved by the gospel. Well, where did you hear the gospel from? I heard it from Joe down the street. Okay, where did he hear it from? He heard it from a pastor 30 years ago? Where did he hear it from? He heard it from somewhere or he read a book or something like that and it all goes back to this, because even the second century people, where did they hear the message from? The apostles. So it’s an apostolic message.

The emphasis is in verse 3 on content … content! So the church is apostolic all right, but it’s apostolic not because it holds a human connection, necessarily, with the apostles but rather it holds to the message of the apostles. That’s what makes “the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” By the way, you know the meaning of the word “Catholic,” it means universal. We could substitute “the holy universal Apostolic Church.” What do we mean by universal or Catholic? We mean that it’s valid for every culture, every tongue, and every nation. That’s the background.

Now what we want to deal with is we’re going to divide church history up for convenience sake, we’re going to talk about the first stage and we’re going to say this is the foundational stage of the church. The foundational or we can say the infancy of the church, because during this period the Lord worked in certain ways. This period, by the way, for those of you who like history, we’re going to say that the foundational or infancy part of the church, the way I’m using it, dates from the resurrection of Christ, AD 30 or AD 33, whatever chronology you follow, say from AD 30 up until about AD 500, just after Augustine and the collapse of the Roman Empire. It’s a long chunk, four or five centuries. And I know some people say the infancy was really only the first hundred years, etc. That’s okay, I’m just categorizing it because we’re going to do this in one chapter and I’ve got to divide the church into big chunks. This chunk is going to be called the foundational period of church history, and we’re going to look at it because there are lessons to learn.

Here’s why it’s good to study church history. Church history will give you a perspective on what happens to ideas when they’re lived out. View church history as a vast experiment. Doctrinal truths have consequences and false doctrinal truths lead to severe consequences. The church is actually a laboratory where you can go back and say gee, if we believed this way, what would happen? You can often see this happen, sometimes it takes a century or two to work out but bad doctrine gives bad fruit. The bad fruit may not happen right away, that’s why church history is so important. Church history is necessary because your lifetime and my lifetime may not be long enough to see the results of a bad doctrine because it takes time to work its way out. But if you go back to history you can see it because you’ve got two or three or four centuries to watch what happens and you can say well, I don’t want to go that road, that’s what happens if I believe that. That’s what’s so powerful about church history.

You often see this, for example, just simple leadership apart from our spiritual aspect of life. Think of how people gain experience in leadership positions. Usually good leaders are good historians because we just don’t have enough days in our lifetime to experience enough to give us the maturity in every area and we have to borrow that maturity from somebody else who went there. That’s why God designed families; that’s why children are supposed to listen to parents because the parents have had a lot more experience, a lot more failures than the kids have. Do you know what’s the difference in the older person and the younger person? The older person has sinned 8,000 more times. The point is that we know what happens, you do this, this happens. And you know, the kids are immortal and they think therefore they can learn all by themselves and so they do the same thing and you sit there and say ah, come on… but so did our parents do that with us. It’s a never ending cycle.

Church history, however, is a teacher in that regard. Church history doesn’t necessarily show you truth authoritatively like the Scripture does, but it shows you historic cause and effect. So what we want to do is concentrate in this chapter, first on this infancy period and see what we can learn about the great doctrines of the faith and why, in the infancy of the church God did certain things. There’s a nostalgia among many Christians—we want to get back to the first century church. Frankly, I don’t want to get back to the first century church. The first century church wasn’t that great. If it had been that great, God would have just raptured it right away and that’s the end of church history.

The first century church had wonderful things in it, don’t get me wrong. It had some wonderful people; they had some wonderful experiences with the Holy Spirit. They had some wonderful missionary work that went on. So there are some very delightful, edifying and powerful things that were done in that generation because the Holy Spirit worked His thing in that generation. And we can’t dismiss it, we can’t knock it, we can’t ridicule it; that’s the work of the Holy Spirit.

However, the church had to learn a lot of things historically. The first century church was not, for example, was not really knowledgeable of who Jesus Christ really was. That may strike you as very odd, but it wasn’t till the end of this period, close to AD 500 that the church really thought through who Jesus was. You say what? Yes, and do you know what the motivation to think through who Jesus was, what caused them to have to agonize about who Jesus Christ really was? Heretics, heresy, false teachers, the wolves had to snip and bite at the back legs of the sheep before the sheep would move. That’s always true of church history, that’s one of the first lessons you learn about church history. We learned it in the book of Acts, the church didn’t move out of Jerusalem until the church was kicked out of Jerusalem. The church didn’t go out into the world until the church was kicked out into the world. It had to be persecuted, it had to be mauled, it had to be ridiculed, it had to be challenged. That’s the story of church history, until the heretics started denying the deity of Jesus Christ the church didn’t have a clue. Intuitively they kind of felt it but they couldn’t articulate it, they couldn’t out and halt a debate and it took one man, actually a bishop in Alexandria, this guy was a fantastic person, called Athanasius.

Athanasius was the guy who finally stood up, he started first as a deacon, and he eventually became a bishop, and it was Athenasius to whom we can be very thankful today for getting up as a minority position, articulating the Trinity and getting that straight, he helped the hypostatic union doctrine get straight. So we owe an awful lot to this guy. He also helped straighten out the Canon, which we’ll get into. So he was one of the stars and he was surrounded by hundreds of people that fought him hammer, tooth and nail.

Let’s look at the notes on page 86; we’re going to start the first thing which we’ve already basically done in the previous chapters. The first thing that we notice about this foundational period is that Christianity splits from Judaism. So if this is Judaism, Christianity is ejected. That’s going to cause something to happen to Judaism. As Christianity is ejected and has a distinct entity, now it becomes a problem for Judaism, so Judaism takes a counter role and becomes officially anti-Jesus. At this point, because Judaism now has to debate with these Christians, who, by the way, at this point are all Jews themselves, so it’s Jew against Jew over this issue of Jesus, or Yeshua. Judaism has to take the position that this is a violation of historic Judaism. Historic Judaism, they say, is monotheistic, and to say that the Messiah Himself is God is to divide the One God.

So you have Judaism take on what we will call a very solitary monotheism. It did not take that position prior to the time of Jesus. It was very loose in that sense. You can read, when we went through the doctrine of the Trinity we went into Isaiah, a passage in Isaiah that talks about the Trinity, you have Jehovah, you have the One who Jehovah sends, and His spirit. So there’s this looseness inside Judaism before Jesus. But when Jesus hits the scene, and there is this horrifying split inside the congregation of the Jews, now you have this rupture happen, Judaism changes its theology in response to Christian Jews. And Christianity, of course, separates from Israel.

Something you’ll notice here about church history, you always have an overreaction. Christians always do this, they always have; people do this and always have. By 500 AD this rupture had become so thorough that the church didn’t want anything to do with any prophetic interpretation that gave a future to the Jew. That’s why by 500 you have amillennialism develop in the church, because to be premillennial, i.e., Jesus is going to come and set up the millennial kingdom with whom? Israel! Well that gives Israel… that says that those Jews out there have a future. You bet! Amillennialism developed in part of this thing that was going on, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Each side wanted to define itself from the other so we have this problem come, the only way we’ll get near you is with a ten-foot pole. That historically took 300-400 years to work out. But it was a deflection, and unfortunately it was something that contaminated Christian theology for some time.

Back years ago there was a Hebrew Christian rabbi in New York, Rabbi Leopold Cohn, who started the organization we know today as The American Board of Missions to the Jews and Leopold Cohn wrote a tract. It’s very interesting, I haven’t seen it in 40 years but back in the 50s and 60s we saw a lot of that tract, at least around New York City they saw a lot of it, and it was a little tract he made, “What it Has Cost the Church to Withhold the Gospel From the Jews”. His whole point was that if the church, instead of reacting this way, had tried to win the Jews to Christ, kept on evangelizing instead of separating from them, and they had articulate Jews become Christians that would come in and be theologians in the church, it would have straightened out a lot of theology in the church because the Jew is coming out of a culture that was loyal to The Book. The Jew understands his Old Testament. He has those categories already built in, and that would have made theology a lot clearer for the church. But the church didn’t do that. So it’s wallowed around up until about 1830 not having any future for Israel. Reformers never got this straight either. Of course we can’t blame them; they had enough problems in their day. But amillennialism continued down through history and wasn’t purged out of some areas at least until the mid-19th century. It’s only 150 years since it’s really come back into its own again.

That’s just a preliminary thing, that’s the first thing, a sense of distinct identity. That’s the first thing that happened. That is already happening by the end of the book of Acts. That’s why Acts ends, in fact, turn to Acts and you’ll see the signal of this happening. Progressively as you read through the book of Acts you’ll see turning, this turning away. In Acts 28:28, that’s the flavor the book of Acts leaves you with. “Let it be known to you therefore, that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; and they will also listen. [29] And when he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.” The idea is … you can see in verse 26 and 27 he’s quoted that Isaiah passage that Jesus quoted also, and with that quote in Acts 28 you have the second invitation to Israel basically terminated.

What I mean by this is that if you diagram the ministry of Jesus Christ, He has a crescendo and then half way through every one of the four Gospels He starts pulling back, pulling back, talking to the disciples more, talking to the public less. Why is that? Because the public has rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. And at that peak in His ministry, this is the Lord Jesus Christ, right here He quotes the same passage that’s quoted here; they both refer to an Isaiahianic prophecy that God will harden the people by giving them more of the Word of God. That’s how God hardens hearts.

The Word of God softens hearts but it also hardens hearts. That’s why when Pharaoh rejected, what did God do? He gave him some more evidence, didn’t He? He sent Moses in again to teach him the Word of God. What did he do? Pharaoh rejected. So He goes and sends Moses back again to Pharaoh. Pharaoh rejects again; every time Pharaoh’s rejecting, rejecting, rejecting, rejecting, rejecting He’s hardening his heart. What’s happening? He’s getting more of the Word of God, more of the Word of God, more of the Word of God, more of the Word of God and more of the Word of God, so actually it’s the Word of God under the Holy Spirit that hardens hearts. That’s not usually covered, but that’s what goes on.

The same thing happens in the book of Acts. In the book of Acts you have the early crescendo, you have Peter’s great sermon inviting the nation once again to accept the Messiah, and then you have persecution set in and the rest of the book of Acts goes down. And Acts ends like this, with that same citation from the same passage of the Old Testament, announcing that God has hardened the nation, and the one epistle that follows this up is the epistle to the Hebrews when he warns the people, keep it up folks and you’re going to have a little problem here. Don’t go back to Judaism.

The first thing we want to say is the church has a distinct identity, there’s a separation culturally and socially away from the Jewish community. Christians began not worshipping as sort of a subset of the synagogue around the Mediterranean area; they had their own community that they began to develop.

Now we come to the second feature of the infancy, and that’s the one we want to spend time on because it concerns the authority of the church. Where does the church get its authority? We, therefore, have to deal with the Canon. By the Canon we mean … not c-a-n-n-o-n but c-a-n-o-n, Canon in the sense that it’s used to speak of legal documents. The Canon is the officially designated list of the books that are considered to be the Word of God. So you can think of the Canon as a list. The question is, where did the list come from? The Jews had a list of the Old Testament, and we’ll get into that. Then the church had to make up a list for what writings they thought were apostolic and what writings weren’t apostolic. So the list is going to involve two things; it’s going to involve the Old Testament list and then involve the New Testament list. Until this list is defined, then the source material for doctrine isn’t defined. That’s why this list is so important.

You notice a section in the notes on page 86 entitled the “Completion and Recognition of the New Testament Canon.” Not just the completion because physically by the time the apostles died the Canon existed in the sense that the Scriptural books of the Canon existed physically. They weren’t written later. So all the material physically exists by the time the apostles are dying. What doesn’t exist is a universal recognition of their existence and their authority. That had to come and that had to take some time to get to. There are two actions here, there is the completion action and then there’s the slow recognition that yeah, gee, there’s the letter that Paul wrote to so and so church, we’d better list that.

When we say the Canon closed, what do we mean by that? The next paragraph is the closing of the Canon. Turn to Revelation and look at the last section. Revelation 22:18, there’s a curse attached to the Book of Revelation, it says: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; [19] and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” That’s a pretty serious text.

It’s interesting the New Testament ends with that. That’s how the New Testament ends, don’t mess with the text! That’s the message, leave it alone, don’t add to it, and don’t take away. Now the interpretation of verse 18 refers to the literal book of Revelation, but what I’m saying is that in the providence of God, the book of Revelation is the last book tacked on to that list, and it’s something that maybe applies to more than just this one book of Revelation, but it has an over-arching warning that the revelatory process is finished, now you guys observe it and leave it alone.

That introduces us to an idea about the Bible, and it’s one that we need to keep in the back of our mind because if we do keep this idea in the back of our minds it will resolve this issue of authority and where we go for authority. Those of you who were here when we were going through the Old Testament, do you remember me saying that revelation is historical, it’s personal, it’s prophetic, etc. What we mean by saying that the revelation in the Bible is historical is that if you take a time line and go down through human history, it is not true that revelation is constant. There are times and places where revelation is very intense and then there’s a period of the silence of God.

On page 89 there’s a diagram to show this. You’ll notice that there are three great eras of public revelation in the Bible. It is not true that this revelation was continuous. If you did a frequency chart, took a graph, graphed it by time and graphed the number of revelatory events, it doesn’t come out in a straight line. It comes out like this, there are these three peak eras, and those three peak eras have something in common. One of the things that the first era and the third era have, that is the first column across Table 7 and the third column across the table is that they culminated in the generation of a set of documents.


Starting characteristics

Authentication of Messengers

Authentication of Message

Vivid Instruction

Moses and Joshua (1441-1390 BC)

God forming a new nation, Israel (Exod. 19:8;33:13; Deut. 4:6-8)

Moses (Exod. 4:1-9, 29-31); Joshua (Josh. 3:7)

To Pharaoh (Exod. 7:17; 8:19); To Israel (Exod. 6:6-7; 14:31)

Israel (Exod. 10:12; 14:13-14); Egypt (9:26; 11:7; 14:4); Nations (9:16; Josh. 2:9-11)

Elijah and Elisha (870-785 BC)

Decline and Fall of Israel not due to false religion (1 Kings 17:1)

Elijah (1 Kings 17:1; 18:36); Elisha (2 Kings 5:8)

To Israel (1 Kings 17:24; 18:36)

Prophets of Baal; People of Israel (1 Kings 18:39; 2 Kings 5:15)

Christ and the Apostles (AD 25-95)

Separation of the Church from Israel

Christ (Mark 2:7; John 14:11; 20:30-31); Apostles (2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:4)

To Israel (John 10:37-38; Acts 3:1-8); To church (Acts 10:44-48; 15:8-9)

To Israel (Matt. 8:26); To church (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 5:3-5).

Table 7. The Three High-Frequency Miraculous Periods of Biblical History (adapted from Dillow’s work, Speaking in Tongues).

When Moses finished what were the documents that were left finally? What documents did he bring into existence historically? The Pentateuch, or the Jews call it the Torah. When he finished this thing it was the law for the land of Israel, it was the constitution. If you go back to Deuteronomy 4:2 you’ll see a remarkable little text there. What was the last book of the Pentateuch? Deuteronomy was the fifth and last book of the Torah. So notice what is said in Deuteronomy 4:2, “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor [shall you] take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Doesn’t that sound familiar?

It’s the same thing, that when these eras of revelation end and when the revelation has been captured in a document, you’re supposed to keep the document and don’t mess with it. There are a lot of ideas here, and what I’m trying to do is jell these together for you, so you can see that they are all kind of one ball of wax. The idea of historical revelation means that God does not publicly reveal Himself to each and every saint down through church history. He does not do that, that’s not the way God works. He doesn’t continually give miracles, He doesn’t continually give revelation. He gives revelation in a whole spurt and stops; it’s enscripturated. We go for centuries —boom, boom, boom—all of a sudden a lot more revelation comes out. It’s enscripturated, and then we go for centuries. In other words, you can look on human history as a time when God speaks and a time when He is silent. There are whole centuries when God is silent and doesn’t have any public revelation.

That is seen prior to the New Testament when, if you read a book, 1 and 2 Maccabees, you’ll see during the Maccabean revolt the Jews had a problem. They had this problem of desecration of sacred things and they didn’t know what to do. So the Jewish people in the boom of Maccabees are saying hey, we don’t have a prophet here to tell us what to do, so we’re just going to bury the stuff and leave it here because they dared not mess with it. They didn’t have a prophet, and they knew, by the way, the fact they didn’t have a prophet tells you they knew what a prophet was like because they recognized they didn’t have a prophet. All down through history you have this oscillation of revelation and silence; revelation and then silence.

Why do I make such a point about that? Here’s why. You’ll hear critics say, well if God is real, how come He hasn’t spoken since the time of Jesus. By that they mean speaking historically, publicly. Then you’ll have some people say well, He has, He’s spoken to me, He’s spoken to Joe, He’s spoken to John. Wait a minute; He leads Christians, but the leading of the Holy Spirit today is not the same thing as a revelation in New Testament times. That was when Scripture was being written, that was infallible revelation. That stopped, that’s not happening any more. There is no such thing. If it were, Revelation 23 would be written. There’s no Revelation 23 being written.

So the feature that we’re involved with as we get into this Canon issue is that there are certain characteristics that accompany history and it’s true of Israel and it’s true also of the church. Go back to page 86. One of the features we want to say is the Canon tends to close whenever the period of public revelation starts to shut down. It seems the type and format of the last words of God are what we call apocalyptic style.

For example, let’s go back in our history of the Old Testament and you’ll see this come out. Remember the slide I have of the events and I start out with the call of Abraham, then the Exodus, then Mount Sinai, then conquest and settlement, then David. That was the ascent; that was when revelation was going, Israel was being built up. Then it culminated in the golden era of Solomon. Then, after Solomon, we had the decline of the kingdom, then we have the fall of the kingdom, then the exile. In that decline of the kingdom period there was a book written that is very similar to the Book of Revelation. What is that book? You’ll never hear sermons on it; I’ve never heard a sermon out of it. The Book of Ezekiel. The reason you don’t hear sermons on it is because it’s a very, very difficult book to study. The reason it’s very difficult to study is it’s apocalyptic literature, just like Revelation is apocalyptic literature.

What do I mean by apocalyptic literature? Apocalyptic literature is very symbolic. It’s not like the prophets. Apocalyptic literature is not written to castigate the people of God so much as it is written to encourage them to persevere, because they’re going to face a lot of hard times and apocalyptic literature’s message is that hard times are coming but God has the final victory so persevere. Apocalyptic literature has as its function to generate hope; hope that is rooted on the promises of God. Apocalyptic literature usually doesn’t have as a format a call for repentance, which is interesting. Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. are forcing and confronting the people: repent of your sins. But it seems that when apocalyptic literature is written the time for repentance is gone, it’s too late, so now it’s just the end times to look forward to.

So when the Old Testament was kind of on the decline, when Israel was falling toward the exile, yes, the Old Testament Canon had not been closed, but nevertheless in this period of decline there came forth this book of Ezekiel. There also came forth another book that’s similar to apocalyptic literature, and it’s a section in Isaiah called the little apocalypse, and I don’t have the chapter, I think it’s chapter 24, but there’s a section in Isaiah, only a chapter or two, that has this same style, this apocalyptic style to it. But Isaiah ministered as the kingdom was declining. Then another apocalyptic book in the Bible is the book of Daniel, and that’s full of symbols, dreams and visions. Another section where you see apocalyptic literature is in the post-exilic prophet, Zechariah. There he writes with a certain style, the apocalyptic style.

Something to notice about the style of apocalyptic literature, it always features a vision that the author has and he doesn’t know what to do with it, so there’s usually an interpreting angel somewhere associated with it that explains at least some of the rudiments of this vision. Remember Daniel is talking to an angel. John on Patmos is talking to an angel. Ezekiel sees these visions and they are explained to them. So those are loose features of this thing, this style, this kind of formatted literature. Again to review, the two big ones on the Old Testament are Ezekiel and Daniel, and in the New Testament the book of Revelation. These books tend to close out periods of intense revelation. So it’s no accident that the New Testament, when it was closing out and the founding period was over and lo and behold, a book in the apocalyptic format was generated. You say wait a minute, you’re saying that the apocalyptic literature was generated when things were closing down, the church was just beginning. Yes, but who’s the custodian of Scripture? The church, or Israel? Turn to Romans 3. [blank spot] If Jews are going to generate Scripture, you guys better get it out now, because things are going to start separating. So again this ties together. Apocalyptic literature closes the Canon.

I’ve already talked about on page 87, the next feature, and that is that “Historically-interrupted revelation requires the Canon.” We’re not going to get through this but this is the second thing you want to have in your mind that when a canon becomes necessary because the prophets die off, it’s precisely the absence of prophets that cause the need for a canon. Moses, in Deuteronomy, we just got through saying this, I’m writing this down and I don’t want you to change the text, leave it. Moses also said that there would be prophets arising after him, but not in his generation; prophets after him, and he gave certain instructions in the book of Deuteronomy. At that point the writing prophets began to add to Moses’ writings; they added Joshua, then the next one was Judges, and the guy who wrote Judges probably was Samuel. Samuel did an analysis because Samuel is the prophet that has to deal with this monarchy thing and so he’s going to explain why we have to have a monarchy. So he or his school apparently put together the book of Judges to show what the historical record was. So when we speak of historically interrupted revelation, the revelation stops, the prophets die off, there has to be the Word of God made available. So when that happens Scripture sets up a [can’t understand word].

In John 14 Jesus forecast or prophesied that this was precisely what the early church would have to do; it would have to generate a document. He didn’t exactly say it as a document, but in John 14 He says when I send the Holy Spirit He will lead you into all truth. Verse 26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Verse 26 sometimes is sloppily taken to refer to every believer. Why, from the last clause in that verse, must that not refer to every believer but to the apostolic generation? Look carefully at the last clause in verse 26, “and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Jesus spoke to one generation of the church, the founding generation, and these guys were like us, they didn’t remember everything that Jesus said, they forgot, but what is the Holy Spirit going to do? He’s going to bring it to their minds. What for? So it can be enscripturated. So they will preach it and then it can be written.

This is going to lead to a problem, and the problem is the problem that comes out of this period that wasn’t settled for over 500 years … it wasn’t settled for 900 years, it still hasn’t been settled in some quarters. That’s the difference between oral and written tradition. The question now is that when the apostles went around, they would preach. You might be in the congregation, I might be in the congregation; I would hear, I heard Paul. What would I do? I’d go out and preach, I’d share that message. Other people become Christians and we might have a local church in Timbuktu some place, and we don’t have any Scripture. All we’ve got is if we can borrow a Torah somewhere from one of the local synagogues, that’s all we’ve got. We don’t have anything else. So how is the Word of God communicated then? Orally, oral tradition. What’s the problem, however, with oral tradition? It can get corrupted. So the problem is that oral tradition becomes a tool that unless the Holy Spirit is constantly correcting the tool, oral tradition can become corrupted.

There’s one verse in the Scripture that has been a bone of contention over this oral and written tradition argument. Obviously what we’re dealing with here again is the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox on one side of this issue and Protestants on the other side of the issue. The issue is: what is the authority of oral tradition versus the written tradition. The crux passage that comes up in every one of these debates is found in 2 Thessalonians. We’re going to go there, discuss some things and come back to it next week.

Roman Catholic apologists will go to 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to justify their view that the church has authority by virtue of its preservation of oral tradition. They’ll take you to this verse, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth of by letter from us.” So they argue, see, right there in your Protestant Bible you are looking at oral tradition that is authoritative and apostolic, it’s apostolic oral tradition; therefore as apostolic oral tradition it must have authority and it’s an authority on par with Scripture.

So what then do the Protestants respond to that challenge of 2 Thessalonians 2:15? The response is that the content of both the oral and the written tradition is the same. Obviously 2 Thessalonians 2:15 wouldn’t make sense if the oral tradition largely contradicted the written tradition. So the oral tradition that existed at the time of the apostles, the oral equals the written, it was identical to it and you could tell because you could check it. You could go back and check whether the oral tradition was the same as the written tradition. We have the written part of the tradition in the New Testament epistles. So that’s why we can go back and we can identify whether oral tradition is true or not.

This shouldn’t be so hard and we have to get away from this being a big apologetic problem. When you were led to the Lord, probably most of you were led to the Lord through somebody witnessing, something like that, not by reading. Some of us were led to the Lord by reading Scripture. But you were led to the Lord by someone who talked to you, were you led to the Lord by oral or written tradition? You were led to the Lord by oral tradition. But what was saving about that oral conversation that you had? Was it saving because it was oral or was it saving because the oral tradition fit the Scripture? The oral tradition fit the Scripture. So yeah, you could have been saved because someone vocally led you to the Lord, told you the gospel message, and the oral tradition came to you, but the saving power of that oral message was because it lined up with the authoritative written message.

The question the Protestants raise was by the 15th century the oral tradition had a lot of crud in it, indulgences, this going on, that going on, buying the way to heaven, doing this, and 8,000 good works for that, whoa! So the Protestants had to say wait a minute here, the church is totally corrupted, where do we go to find what? Going back to 1 John 1, how do you have fellowship with God? Through the apostolic revelation. Where’s the apostolic revelation? Hey, where is it? It got buried. So that’s why the Protestants went back to the only living source which was the written documents that were known to be apostolic, and said therefore we won’t build our doctrine on anything other than that which can be verified as apostolic, and the only thing that can be verified as apostolic is the Canon. The church has shown itself unable to preserve oral tradition by its behavior, therefore oral tradition will not stand and oral tradition will be usurped by the position of written tradition.

As a supplement to this, think about how many times Jesus would respond by saying “it is written.” Notice how many times He responded “it is written that. …” Why did Jesus use written tradition? Here was one person who could have possibly used all tradition; right, if there was one guy that could use oral tradition? But why did He keep reverting to written tradition? Oh, now we have a precedent. Jesus Himself utilized written tradition. Jesus built His case on the written Word of God, the Canon of the Old Testament.

Let’s go to some New Testament passages that show the same thing. 1 Corinthians 4:6, “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn…” what? “not to exceed what is written.” Oooh, you’d better believe the Protestant Reformers used this verse. Don’t exceed what is written; if it’s not written then it has no authority, you need not obey it. The church can say all it wants to about oral traditions but we don’t care about oral traditions, we care about the written tradition. Don’t exceed that which is written.

Turn to Acts 17:11, this is one that you’ve often heard Bible teachers use; this is not some new revelation here. In Acts 17:11, “Now these [at Berea] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness,” how? “examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.” What was their criterion of judging truth from falsehood? Written tradition! We’ve run out of time, we’ll stop right here, you see the role of the importance of the Canon. If the Canon weren’t defined we’ve got a real problem here because we don’t know where to go for the written tradition. To make a long story short, you’re going to see that the church, for four or five hundred years … it wasn’t really until the Protestant Reformation that the Canon, believe it or not, of the Old Testament got straightened out. Imagine that. It took 1500 years to argue about what books were in the Old Testament.

Do you know where they could have found out in fifteen centuries? Go down the block to the nearest synagogue. They didn’t have to wait 1500 years, go down to Rabbi So-and-So. Yeah, maybe he’s not a Christian, but go down and ask him, “Hey, what do you Jews use for a Canon?” Duh! Jewish Canon. That’s why when we hit the Protestant Reformation the Protestant Reformers went right back to the Jewish Canon. If you open a Catholic Bible today you will find extra books in there, Apocryphal literature. Next time we’ll tell you the story of how that got started. But in those books is where you learn to pray for the dead; you don’t learn that out of the canonical Old Testament. You learn it out of the Apocryphal literature. So it is that we have a struggle in church history. We’re not trying to antagonize people here; it’s just that it’s a search for the authority of the truth. What do we use as our standard and our criteria?

Question asked: Clough replies: Purgatory is an idea that does come partly out of the Apocrypha, those extra books, not centrally but those ideas float around there. But when you get back to the fundamentals—first of all, in answering your question about repetitions, that has always been true down across the centuries. I think back to, probably Adam and Eve, the tendency to repeat things over and over. I guess it can be all right, it’s just that when I think because I repeat something 53 times there’s something meritorious in the mere repetition. I might repeat Scripture to myself, in fact, those of us who have memorized verses and write it on a 3×5 card and you’ll repeat it to yourself 150 times. But that’s the process of trying to memorize something, so you can have it in your head to use; nothing meritorious in and of itself.

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, He talks about vain praying, and talks about doing it out in public to impress people, you know that’s where He said go into your closet, a quiet place, and just talk to God privately. You don’t have to get out there and be a showman about it. And the Pharisees apparently were doing something like that in Jesus’ day by going through what He called vain repetitions. I don’t want to blame somebody for just repeating something a lot. It’s their choice, it’s just I think the attitude that goes with it that’s the problem.

Question asked, something about creatively thinking about the Scripture: Clough replies: The question is when using creative writing or creative visualization and other things are we in danger of adding to the Scripture. Let’s go back and look at the question a little big more before we try and answer it is. And that is, what are we adding or subtracting from? What are we adding to or subtracting? What is the issue here in that verse we read? Adding and subtracting from what? The corpus of Scripture, the inspired Word of God. So you would add to the Word of God if you were to say that whatever it is you were imagining, or whatever it is you were writing was authoritative Word of God and it should be added to the Canon. Would you dare, therefore, write chapter 23 of the book of Revelation?

Comment made: Clough says: Yeah, that would be adding to the Scripture. [comment made] Absolutely, the Book of Mormon and the Mormon Church is very shrewdly counterfeit. Remember to be a counterfeit you have to have to be shrewd, and they were knowledgeable enough to know that the claim of the Book of Mormon could not sail unless the claim for a canonical Scripture were backed up by another claim which would be that the prophetic line had opened up again. So, in that sense, it’s very cleverly constructed so that it’s not just a book plopped out there, but it’s a book that is supposedly generated by a prophet, which allows us then—and think about this—Islam is much the same way. You can’t get the Quran without a prophet. Remember, Mohammed’s name is the prophet.

So all of the counterfeits to biblical revelation in order to be halfway looking like the Bible, have to always do something like the Bible which is to assert that this book, whatever it be, Mormon or the Quran or something else, it has to be generated by a prophet. That’s what makes it so much like a counterfeit. They have to do that to make it look real, but the moment they make that claim they open up a door of criticism back to themselves. It’s a two-way door. If they’re asserting the fact that the prophetic institution has once again come into being, such and such a powerful way that that new institution or prophet or prophets, plural, has come into existence historically and therefore has written this new book, Book X, then they have said they respect the biblical sequence of first prophet, then Scripture. Right? Because they tried to counterfeit it. So they’re going back to a biblical picture; first you have a prophet, then you have the written Word. Aha, but where did they get that pattern from? They got that pattern from the Bible.

So, we go back to the Bible, and we turn to a passage of Scripture that talks about the institution of a prophet. For example, we go back to Deuteronomy 18 because this is where that idea that you need a prophet to write Book X comes from. In Deuteronomy 18:14, here’s the canonical source of the idea that the counterfeiters are using. So we go back to the Scripture that they’re using, although they don’t want to acknowledge it, they’re building their foundation on this center of the Scripture, so we go back to the center of Scripture and we say ooh, that’s nice to know that you need a prophet to write Scripture. Why do we have to do that? Deuteronomy 18:14 says, “For those nations which you shall dispossess,” pagans, “listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so.” Now this is to Israel, but here’s where the idea of the prophet comes. Verse 15, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like” whom? “Me.” Who’s “me?” Moses. Moses becomes the archetype of all prophets. Aha, “will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, and you shall listen to him.” By the way, “a prophet from your countrymen,” was Joseph Smith a Jew?

Someone says something: Clough says: Well, Luke was writing under the auspices of Paul so it really doesn’t make much difference. Just like, for example, if you go to Romans apparently Paul didn’t write Romans either, he dictated it to somebody and his name is at the end of the book of Romans. So you have what was called the amanuenses, the man who wrote but the content of what they wrote was… you see it in Jeremiah. Jeremiah dictated it to a scribe; a scribe called Baruch I believe it was, and Baruch just took notes on Jeremiah and wrote it, but Jeremiah was the guy who authorized that writing, so it’s under prophetic counsel, even though they didn’t write it.

Anyway, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, and you shall listen to him.” Look at verse 18, “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. [19] And it shall come to pass that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name; I Myself will require it of him.” A prophetic mouth piece.

Question asked, did God reveal Genesis to Moses … Clough replies: Oh, He probably relied on writing, because remember Moses, when he compiled the Pentateuch it appears he was using sources because he uses the word toledah, “these are the generations of” and it’s a formula that you see in Genesis. It looks like the got those from somewhere. Where he got them from we don’t know.

Question asked something about did people rely on their memories: Clough replies: Oh, there were great oral traditions, but I think you have to be careful even there. We learn in our schooling about proto history, and people were oral before they were written. We’d better be careful about accepting that premise. I’ll tell you why? Think back biblically if you were to correctly analyze ancient history, what great event led to probably the destruction of written language anyway? The Tower of Babel. If there had been a written language prior, and I think there was, and I think I know what the language was, that means not me, everybody that has looked at it says the early language, this is proto Semitic language. The reason for that is because of various technicalities that happened in Genesis.

But the point is that when we are learning in school that ooh, the alphabet didn’t develop until later, and this and that, first you saw cuneiform and then you saw pictographic, and then man evolved and somebody invented the alphabet, that kind of thing, that’s just a false view of language to start with. So the questions that come out of a false view themselves are skewed questions. We have to say we don’t believe and I don’t accept the fact that when you go back in history and see cuneiform and you see pictographic writing, that may be nothing other than a manifestation of the confusion that was going on in people to communicate across the ruptured mess that occurred at Babel, the only way they could communicate was with pictographs, to draw pictures of what they meant. So the cuneiform, ironically, the pictographic languages that are supposed to be precursors of written alphabetic language may be nothing more than recovery techniques from Babel. That’s how, again, you see how twisted these questions become. You try to answer a question and then you realize wait a minute, I haven’t formulated the question correctly because the question itself is [can’t understand words].

Let me finish the point in Deuteronomy 18, because the false religions have to acknowledge - to justify - the appearance of an authoritative Scripture. They have to root it on a prophet. And I’m saying think of the logic now. They’re using a biblical picture. But if you go back to the biblical picture, which is Deuteronomy 18 where you see the whole institution of the prophet explained, and look at how it concludes. Verse 19 says God’s going to require it of you. Okay, if you were sitting there listening to this what would be your next thought? Well wait a minute, if Joe says he’s a prophet how am I going to tell if Joe’s a genuine prophet or not. So guess what the next verse is?

Verse 20, “But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.” Oh-oh! Capital punishment. Well, you can’t kill somebody with rocks, which was the way they did killed people then, without a trial. So now the question comes, when you go to trial what’s your law of evidence? Because you’ve got to decide whether the person accused of being a false prophet is a genuine prophet or not, how is the court to decide the case? It’s all here; you just have to read the text. Verse 21, “And you may say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ ” The answer, verse 22, “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the things does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”

Another test is given parallel to this one, Deuteronomy 13. So the long and the short of this is that once a claim of prophetic lineage is made by a false religion, all you have to do is extend the thing, just like a judo punch, somebody punches you take it, and you take it further than they want. They want to assert a prophetic heritage. You say okay, we’ll assert a prophetic heritage, let’s go back to where the prophet started, and it says here that it’s got to be theologically connected to Mosaic theology. Hmm. Is Joseph Smith theologically consistent with Moses? I don’t think so. Is the Koran theologically connected to Moses? I don’t think so. So they fail in the fact that on one hand they’re trying to talk about we’ve got to have a prophet, we’ve got to have a prophet, we’ve got to have a prophet, but on the other hand the prophetic line doesn’t connect with the root. So there’s an internal logical contradiction, and that’s where you hang them.

Question asked: Clough replies: No, I don’t think so because purgatory as a doctrine preceded the papal infallibility by centuries. Oddly enough, the Pope… [person interrupts and says something] I’m not sure of that particular heritage, but I know that purgatory has been around a long time. Ironically the declaration of the infallibility of the Pope didn’t happen until the last two or three hundred years. The infallibility of the Pope was not even declared in the Reformation. It’s interesting.

Question asked: Clough replies: Yes, that’s the idea, but that doctrine of infallibility of the Pope is a recent one, it’s not one that goes back. [same person says something about Peter] They’re still standing on apostolic succession, but by apostolic succession they meant the passing of this oral tradition. It started off good, I mean, I disagree that Peter was the first Pope, but think about the early church without the New Testament. Put yourself back there in a mind experiment. Here you are, you’re sitting there in AD 120, John’s dead, Matthew’s dead, Mark is dead, you’ve got nobody to go back to. Who would you feel closest to going back to? Somebody that studied under those guys? I would, I’d gravitate to somebody that knew John. So there was a tendency, it’s easy to explain how it got started; it was just a loyalty about the guys that were hanging around with the apostles. So you would want to be near them, and as long as that connection was close, you were pretty safe.

What happened was back by the third or fourth generation you were already getting heresies coming in and everything else, and that was precisely why the church decided to go back and dig out where the writings are, because they faced this big mess, that well Joe, he’s only four generations from John and he’s teaching this, and we’ve got Sam over here and he’s teaching something else. Who’s right? So they said the only way we can find out who’s right is we’ve got to back and see if we can scrape up … didn’t Paul write something to the Corinthians, go back to the library and see if you can find that one. And that’s what happened, they dug all this stuff out and that’s how we got the Bible.

But again, remember what I said you learn about church history. The church doesn’t do a thing until it gets kicked in the ass. That’s Theology 101 from Charles Clough. The point is that nothing happens until the church gets forced to do something. And we wouldn’t have a New Testament if the heretics hadn’t come along and challenged the church. And we got forced to say all right, we’re got to settle this one, and we’re going to go back to the apostles. That was led of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit bore witness that look, it can’t be the Holy Spirit teaching this and the Holy Spirit teaching that. We’ve got to have something straight here, so go back to who was it that introduced us to Christ? It was the apostles.

So there was a process that happened in that early period of time of collection, and it was slow because some books almost didn’t make it. I bet you can guess one or two of them. James is one that had a real problem. In fact, Martin Luther threw it out; he thought it was a fake book, as late as the Reformation, because he got so irritated at James 2. Then the Book of Revelation is missing from some lists. The book of Hebrews, 2 John, 3 John, 2 Peter, there are quite a few books that were late in getting collected. That doesn’t mean they weren’t around. Do you know how we know they were around? Because there was one guy, I think it was Irenaeus or something I’ve quoted here, he gives us a list, and he’s only dated about AD 120 or 130 and he’s got the whole New Testament listed, so we know it existed then. It was just that a lot of people had difficulty accepting the authority of certain of the books.

Some of it wasn’t because of the content of the book, some of it was because they felt they really didn’t now whether that book was written by a real apostle or not. And there were other books that competed with these. The Didache for example, 1 Clement, these were writings written very soon after the apostles and they circulated around the churches and sometimes they’re even listed as New Testament books. So there was just a little process of filtering all this out and finally they settled on this. But we can be assured that the Holy Spirit didn’t leave the church without guidance and He worked through this. The problem is this, and we broached this back in the Old Testament, and if you’ll think, when you get into these issues of church authority, here’s a way of thinking through, to help you think this through.

If you will set the church aside for a moment, just set it aside, and go back to the Old Testament, and think to yourself, who brought the Old Testament text into existence? It came out of the nation Israel. But once the text was brought into historic existence, was Israel above the text in authority, or below it? Below it, because no matter how the text came about, doesn’t imply that the channel through which the text came is authoritative over the text. It just means that Israel was a conduit for the Old Testament and once the Old Testament was written, they had to obey it. Can any of you think of one passage that is so crystal clear in the New Testament that once somebody writes Scripture the “somebody” is subservient to his own Scripture? There’s a text that involves the word “anathema,” cursing. It’s Galatians 1, and Paul says “though I or an angel from heaven come and teach you another gospel than that which you have heard, let him be damned.” Now he’s saying that for himself. He says once I had that revelation, and it got enscripturated, I can’t change it and I’m under that authority. So the tendency has been in church history to argue the other way, to say well Mother church gave us the Scripture, so it must be Mother church that’s an authority over the Scripture. That’s not valid logic, because if you’re going to say it that way, what do you do with the Old Testament. You’re certainly not going to argue that Israel had higher authority than the Old Testament text.

Question asked: Clough replies: The early church, different people, different councils. [someone says something] That’s right, they all disappeared, but the writings were saved and copied. That’s the miracle of the Holy Spirit’s preserving Scripture. [someone says something] That’s right, all those churches died. [someone says something] No, Paul was the one who gave us the Scripture. The early church circulated the text. [someone says something] Recognized the Canon or gave us the Canon. [someone says recognized it, then says something else] That was recognized over several centuries which we’ll get into.