Friday, March 10, 2017

Canonical vs. Apocryphal

John Lawton Jeffcoat III, the director of GreatSite.com, argues, "The Apocrypha was removed from Protestant and Anglican publications of the Bible in the 1880's due to the influence of textual critics Westcott and Hort, with the advent of the 'Revised Version' of 1881-1885... the first widely-accepted modern English Bible to be published after the King James Version. Are you going to base your theology upon the idea the NEW revelation about which books should be in the Bible came down from God in the 1800's?"

John's argument is completely fallacious, and when I challenged him to present an actual case that would strengthen his argument, he got all pouty and started throwing a tempter tantrum. He argues that the Apocrypha was removed in the 1880s, arguing, "NOBODY had the God-given authority to remove it 125 years ago.  No satisfying justification for its removal was ever given by anyone." But he fails to grasp the fact that nobody had the God-given authority to include it for 2,000 years either! In fact, everything he spews forth regarding the 1880s simply does not match up with historical evidence. The Belgic Confession, written in 1561 (over 300 years prior to the 1880s), had this to say in Article 6:
Article 6: The Difference Between Canonical and Apocryphal Books

We distinguish between these holy books and the apocryphal ones, which are the third and fourth books of Esdras; the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Sirach, Baruch; what was added to the Story of Esther; the Song of the Three Children in the Furnace; the Story of Susannah; the Story of Bel and the Dragon; the Prayer of Manasseh; and the two books of Maccabees.

The church may certainly read these books and learn from them as far as they agree with the canonical books. But they do not have such power and virtue that one could confirm from their testimony any point of faith or of the Christian religion. Much less can they detract from the authority of the other holy books.
Furthermore, The British Delegation and the Synod of Dort (1618-1619), edited by Anthony Milton, page 137, had this to say:
He added that the reasons urged to the contrary were of little force, & that there was no reason ut erranti antiguitati suffragentur posteri [antiquity going to favor the future]. Deodatus109 who had required time of deliberation now answered that of those bookes a difference must be made. Some of them having allmost nothing but fables & errors with little or no profitable matter; such he thought all but lib. Sap. Eccles. Baruch: & 1 um Machab, which onely he wold have preserved, the rest rejected.
To conclude that sentence by plurality of voices was established that they should still be retained, but placed after the New Testament.110

109. Ward notes that in additon to Deodati, the Hessian delegate Georg Cruciger (1575-1637), professor in logic at Marburg, also favoured removing some of the Apocrypha (ibid.).
110. The Acta, p. 24, contain a reasonable full account of this final agreement. It was emphasized that, while it might have been preferred that the Apocrypha had never been joined to the canonical books, they were to be retained, but only on condition that they be distinguished from canonical books by a different title to show that they are of human origin; that they be preceded by a preface in which their authority and errors are explained to readers; that a further type be used for marginal annotations that would note all the points which the papists used from them to oppose the truth of the canonical books; that they be distinguished by different pagination; and that although historically they have been placed between the Old and New Testament, yet to ensure that the people can learn to distinguish them more effectively from the canonical scriptures, the Dutch churches had not decided to remove them to the end of the New Testament.
John claims, "We are not arguing that the Apocrypha is definitively the inspired Word of God. We are merely arguing that the Apocrypha has been part of 'The Bible' for TWO THOUSAND YEARS." And his point is... exactly? There was no God-given authority to include it in the first place, nor was there any God-given authority to remove it. If Christians want the Apocrypha as part of their Bible, that is up to them. If they want the Apocrypha in a separate book from the Bible, that is also up to them. If they do not want the Apocrypha at all, again, that is up to them. Some of the Apocryphal books are goofy and ridiculous, but some are historical, albeit not entirely accurate and definitely not inspired.

I would really like to know where John gets the idea of theology based on which books are or are not included or excluded: "Are you going to base your theology upon the idea the NEW revelation about which books should be in the Bible came down from God in the 1800's?" There is absolutely no theology connected to whether the Apocrypha are included in the Bible or excluded from the Bible. Apparently John has a poor understanding of precisely what theology is. The inclusion or exclusion of the Apocrypha has no barring on Christian theology whatsoever because it has nothing to offer in the way of theology. So why does John make such a huge fuss over whether or not the Apocrypha is included? Such insistence marks him as someone belonging to some kind of cult, like the KJV-Onlyists.