A Recent FB Discussion That Ends with Questioning the Content of the Canon

Usually when an episode of the Textual Confidence Collective drops the Facebook groups I am apart of start to light up with all kinds of comment traffic. This last Monday was no different. I was late to this one tread but I thought I would employ the method I proposed in yesterday’s post. What follows is the result of using that method. Laugh and tremble.

Jim: Though wouldn’t it be true (on your account) that someone can genuinely come to know truly the LORD (albeit in an appropriately creaturely way) even if they couldn’t give reasons for why the LORD used a particular edition of the scriptures?

Wouldn’t it also be true (on your account) that the LORD can and does use (to your mind) less pure instances of the publication of the word (imperfect transmission of the truly sacred standard text / imperfect translation of it) in order to bring people to a genuine knowledge of Him?

You do have an explanation of the saving work of God in the cases of many who have been brought to faith despite the poverty (as you see it) of the channels.

So that there is a word and that word is used as means by the Spirit is sufficient, regardless of prior or even ex post facto rationalisation about the nature of the word.

Peter Jr: Good to hear from you. Here is the extent of Scriptural sufficiency necessary for salvation:

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” – Romans 3:23

“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” – Acts 16:31

The rest of the Bible can be “omitted” and the person reading these two verses can be saved.

Sufficient reliability of a text for salvation is a Church-destroying low standard for preservation.

Question to you: Let’s move from the aggregates to the whole. Can you show me a whole Greek NT or English Bible that you tell the Church is [not contains] the inspired infallible word of God? In the digital age, the name and a picture of that Bible will suffice to answer my question.


Jim: Your KJV to start with, my ESV, and my friend’s Bag-ong Maayong Balita Biblia.

Peter Jr: If it’s fine with you we will go with your ESV. Your Bible [the ESV] includes the story of the woman caught in adultery, albeit in brackets. Is your Bible in this place the inspired infallible word of God?

Jim: In the same way as your KJV is the word of God, i.e. to the extent they respectively faithfully transmit the word of God.

(Just in case viewers get confused I regularly use the NASB, ESV, NIV and others when it comes to English bibles and have less frequently in recent years but still nonetheless used the KJV even in preaching, I do tend to use the older MT+TR based Y Bibl when reading in Welsh, and any of a number of Cebuano translations that I read badly as I’m still learning – I just picked the ESV because there was one near by)

Peter Jr: You didn’t answer the question. Again, Is your Bible in this place the inspired infallible word of God?

Jim: Maybe you mean I didn’t answer it in the way you would have liked me to have answered it.

But let’s keep the the discussion rolling.


Peter Jr: If yes, then can we both agree that the presence of brackets in your Bible at John 7:53-8:11 cast doubt on the passage in question?

Jim: While I believe the scriptures are the word of God on the basis of the work of God’s Spirit in and with the word, in my case I would have to say that I have a moral certainty that the pericope of the adulteress is not original to John’s writing of his gospel, is not part of the canonical scriptures, and does not share the relevant properties of the word of God.

Peter Jr: You agree then that you believe your Bible to contain the uninspired fallible words of men i.e., the story of the woman caught in adultery?

Jim: Yes my physical copy of the ESV, which is one of a number of Bibles I use in a number of languages, has printed within its covers some text that I do not believe constitute part of the canonical scriptures.

In this I’m experiencing a phenomenon common to many believers through the ages.

(Sorry for the pedantic “one of a number…” but I do want those onlookers who might be silly enough to be still listening to me going on that I don’t share with you a virtually exclusive relationship to one translation of the Bible in English)

Peter Jr: Thank you for the conversation and clarity.

1.) The admission that your ESV “has printed within its covers some text that I do not believe constitute part of the canonical scriptures” indicates that you believe the ESV you read is some amalgamation of men’s words and God’s words, and yet you still call the whole book “God’s word.” Sometime I would enjoy hearing your exegetical defense of “‘God’s word’ means an amalgamation of men’s fallible words and God’s infallible words.” You know, something like, “Thus saith the Lord, er…uh I mean thus saith the Lord and also a little bit of my own non-inspired fallible opinion.”

2.) For everyone else reading this, Jim has clearly stated that his English Bible(s) is at best a mixture of human ideas and divine ideas. I’d be interested to see how many of you agree. If you do, could you do Jim and I a favor [and this is especially for the Textual Confidence Collective], “Like” Jim’s post just above mine here as a sign that you too believe that your Bible [whatever version or Greek text that may be] “has printed within its covers some text that you do not believe constitutes part of the canonical scriptures.”


And there you have it folks. Show’s over. Apparently this is the definition of “textual confidence” and an expression of Christian orthodox Bibliology in the 21st century. No less than two of the TCC was present to this discussion and yet neither of them said a word to rebut the existence and carefree admission of known noncanonical words in the body of the scriptural canon.

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