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Any New God-Inspired Writings?


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Hi everyone!

I have a question which I wondered about years ago, and have never had a convincing answer to.

 

Paul and Peter were two early believers who wrote some letters. These letters were included to make up part of the NT.

 

Anyone who is a Christian is a brother/sister of Paul and Peter, and as such, may very well be led to write something which is "Spirit-led."

Why don't these works get added to the Bible?

 

Who says that the ONLY God-inspired writings happened 2,000 years ago?

That would seem to me like a good way to prevent anybody from growing in the Lord!!

 

Any thoughts??

 

Blessings to all here,

brian

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[snip]

 

Anyone who is a Christian is a brother/sister of Paul and Peter, and as such, may very well be led to write something which is "Spirit-led."

Why don't these works get added to the Bible?

 

Who says that the ONLY God-inspired writings happened 2,000 years ago?

That would seem to me like a good way to prevent anybody from growing in the Lord!!

 

Probably at least part of it is that, right or wrong, too much is invested in our Bible as it is. Why, for that matter, don't we have the Didache or the Gospel of Thomas in our canon (or for that matter why don't most Protestants accept the Apocrypha as canonical)? Because somebody decided it was not useful to most Christian faith communities of the period, and/or was politically inconvenient. This isn't just a problem for fundamentalists and other traditionalists either. Jesus ben Sirach, for example, wrote some nice things but if I were female, I'd probably seriously recoil at several passages in Sirach, particularly 25:13-26:18.

 

Another factor is: If you reopen the canon, how do you narrow down all the possible inspired material over 2,000 years so your new Bible won't literally fill a DVD in any word processing format, and thus become entirely unwieldy to read and to study? And on what basis do you choose your new books? On the basis of the "old" books? Or what? Even older authors can pose a challenge. If you want to put Tertullian in, for example, do you put in his Montanist works, his pre-Montanist works, or both? And why? (Full disclosure: from what little I've read about and by Tertullian I like him better as a Montanist.)

Edited by ParSal190
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I personally think it was a mistake to canonize the bible from the start. While I can see the benefit of having to only carry one book with you to church every week instead of having to buy multiple books by different authors, canonizing the bible gives the wrong impression that the holy books that are included in modern day Protestant bibles have always been there and that there was never any real dispute about the authenticity of the bible because everyone was always clearly guided by the Holy Spirit during the selection process. In fact, many Protestant Christians aren't even aware that Catholic bibles are different from Protestant bibles and the idea that many early Christian groups only had access to one gospel seems so strange to modern day Christians. I wonder if Christians would think about divine inspiration in a different way if the books of the bible were still separate instead of collected in one book.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Who says that the ONLY God-inspired writings happened 2,000 years ago?

 

I don't exactly who the WHO are, Brian, that say this, but, yes, I've heard it also. The reasoning goes something like this: God supernaturally oversaw the canonization of the Bible in such a way that everything that is necessary for our "salvation" and "sanctification" is in there -- kinda like the old Campbell's Soup comercial. Of course, this is a faith claim of some parts of Christianity and not a claim the the Bible makes for itself. The warning about adding or taking away words from "this book" teachnically applies to the book of Revelation alone.

 

In my own journey, I have grown most when I have actually challenged or even discarded some of what is considered by most Christians to be canon.

 

And I agree with you that things written today are just as much Spirit-led or inspired (if not more so) than what people in the Bible days participated in. In fact, the Bible speaks much more about people being inspired than it does about text being inspired.

 

Which brings me to Paul's statement (I think it is in Ephesians or Colossians) that we are each "epistles" (letters) written, in a sense, by God to each other.

 

How would that change how we related to each other if we tried to make ourselves aware that the God of the universe was speaking to us today through those we come into contact with?

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I don't exactly who the WHO are, Brian, that say this, but, yes, I've heard it also. The reasoning goes something like this: God supernaturally oversaw the canonization of the Bible in such a way that everything that is necessary for our "salvation" and "sanctification" is in there -- kinda like the old Campbell's Soup comercial. Of course, this is a faith claim of some parts of Christianity and not a claim the the Bible makes for itself. The warning about adding or taking away words from "this book" teachnically applies to the book of Revelation alone.

 

In my own journey, I have grown most when I have actually challenged or even discarded some of what is considered by most Christians to be canon.

 

And I agree with you that things written today are just as much Spirit-led or inspired (if not more so) than what people in the Bible days participated in. In fact, the Bible speaks much more about people being inspired than it does about text being inspired.

 

Which brings me to Paul's statement (I think it is in Ephesians or Colossians) that we are each "epistles" (letters) written, in a sense, by God to each other.

 

How would that change how we related to each other if we tried to make ourselves aware that the God of the universe was speaking to us today through those we come into contact with?

 

Wonderful thoughts, Bill!!

I was just writing about this topic in another place, too.

The New Testament didn't exist when the early church did. And that era saw many miracles, such as raising the dead, which we don't see anymore today.

The Bible, for some, is basically God. And as such, it seems that there is a risk of idolatry.

What we need, imo, is to hear God TODAY in us! Yes, as you say, WE are the epistles!!

 

I have absolutely no reason to believe that only what was written 2,000 years ago is valid teaching. Even some of what I'm reading here on this forum is quite inspiring!!

God is good. God is righteous. "The Lord our righteousness." So when we do good, we are knowing God. Because nothing good or truthful or joyful can come from Satan.

 

So no one has "exclusive rights" to God. Most denominations today want exclusive rights. But God is all, and in all!

 

Blessings!

brian

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So no one has "exclusive rights" to God. Most denominations today want exclusive rights. But God is all, and in all!

 

I think you're right, Brian. Religion, in its best sense, means "to bind together," to make us aware of our connection with God and with each other. But organized/institutional religion often wants, as you say, exclusive rights so that all parts of the God/human/world connection can be controlled, marketed, profitted from, and used as binding chains rather than as freedom to live in awe and compassion that I believe it should be.

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  • 4 weeks later...

If we accept the canonical Bible to be THE definitive revelation of God, then it is finished. God no longer works in the world.

 

This seems to me to be a stale and lifeless religion.

 

The Muslims belive that Prophet Mohamed (PBUH)is the final prophet of God.

If I understand correctly, the Jews believe that the ultimate prophet has yet to come.

 

Ineed if we accept the canon as being a closed book, we are left with the problem of where to draw the temporal line for the end of God's revalation. Is it with the writing of the Revalation that ends the Bible? Is it with the codifying of canon? Did God's revalation end with the final words of Jesus on the cross? With the appearences of the resurected Christ? And how do we resolve the differences between various denominational variations of canon? If the Bible is truly the inspired Word of God why do so many profound differences in translation exist?

 

Why should the word of Paul, who never heard the Man Jesus in the flesh carry any more weight than the word of any other who claims to have had a vision of the resurected Christ? What are we to make of the writings, both canonical and extracanonical, by authors who do not claim a direct conversation with God?

 

In my view, if God is a living God and is not closed to His Creation then God-inspired writings must continue. I think Paul's description of us as epistle's of God makes this case quite strongly. The voice of God is still speaking to us, in us, and through us, if but have ears to hear.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Modern scholarship would suggest that very little if any of the writers of the bible expected their writings to be considered "The Bible" but rather were writings by early Christians and Jews that reflected their understandings at that time. It is difficult to think that Paul thought he was writing for more than his churches otherwise he would have included more historical perspective of specifically what was going on in the early churches. Instead he offered answers to unknown questions/problems.

 

You never know 2000 years from now our writings might be considered holy by someone.

 

With that thought ive got to learn to spell better.

 

 

Steve

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If we accept the canonical Bible to be THE definitive revelation of God, then it is finished. God no longer works in the world.

 

This seems to me to be a stale and lifeless religion.

 

The Muslims belive that Prophet Mohamed (PBUH)is the final prophet of God.

If I understand correctly, the Jews believe that the ultimate prophet has yet to come.

 

Ineed if we accept the canon as being a closed book, we are left with the problem of where to draw the temporal line for the end of God's revalation. Is it with the writing of the Revalation that ends the Bible? Is it with the codifying of canon? Did God's revalation end with the final words of Jesus on the cross? With the appearences of the resurected Christ? And how do we resolve the differences between various denominational variations of canon? If the Bible is truly the inspired Word of God why do so many profound differences in translation exist?

 

Why should the word of Paul, who never heard the Man Jesus in the flesh carry any more weight than the word of any other who claims to have had a vision of the resurected Christ? What are we to make of the writings, both canonical and extracanonical, by authors who do not claim a direct conversation with God?

 

In my view, if God is a living God and is not closed to His Creation then God-inspired writings must continue. I think Paul's description of us as epistle's of God makes this case quite strongly. The voice of God is still speaking to us, in us, and through us, if but have ears to hear.

 

Agreed! God is alive, and so are we.. and He gives us life and teaching, and when we are willing to listen, we move ahead faster!

 

Modern scholarship would suggest that very little if any of the writers of the bible expected their writings to be considered "The Bible" but rather were writings by early Christians and Jews that reflected their understandings at that time. It is difficult to think that Paul thought he was writing for more than his churches otherwise he would have included more historical perspective of specifically what was going on in the early churches. Instead he offered answers to unknown questions/problems.

 

You never know 2000 years from now our writings might be considered holy by someone.

 

With that thought ive got to learn to spell better.

 

 

Steve

 

Indeed, there seem to be a whole lot of assumptions about the Bible which are written nowhere! Such as, the scriptures are perfect and without error (including the thousands of translations we have!), that the scriptures were intended for ALL people to read, and not just letters to specific people; or that NO other writings would be given later.... Incredible!! Christendom "assumes" so much, it's astounding!

 

Blessings to you both!

Brian

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What are the chances that we'll ever see the Gospel of Thomas would ever be added into the biblical canon? Liberal biblical scholars believe that the Gospel of Thomas does contain some historical sayings of Jesus, so it would be interesting if it could be added into the bible like in a future edition of the NRSV or something. Have there been any attempt by progressive churches to get the sayings Gospel of Thomas added into the bible? By the Gospel of Thomas, I'm referring to that one non-canonical gospel where it's just a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus and there's no narrative or mythology.

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I wonder if the canon will ever be opened. The conditions which required a closed canon, to unite a young fragmented and widely separated church; these conditions will never again occur in Christianity. Books are added to the canon all the time on a temporary basis. Some pastors preach on particular books for weeks or months at time. For a time Purpose Driven Life series could be called temporarily canonical. The works of Borg, Whitehead, Tillich, Merton, etc., are all, I would say temporarily canonical. Just as interpreting the Bible requires using the whole Bible to understand any one passage so does reading "temporary" canon.

 

The other problem is that opening the canon would be seen by many as being dismissive or divisive. There is a flexible, ongoing, temporary canon at any given moment. This canon differs from one congregation to another, from one denomination to another; but it has the same inspiring, challenging, instructive qualities as the closed canon beside it.

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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I suppose if any works, such as the Gospel of Thomas, or the Purpose-Driven Life, or others, were to be added, it would have some type of criteria to indicate its "validity."

What criteria would have to be met? Were the works based on personal revelation of some kind? Did they declare something in particular which other "traditional" works would confirm?

 

Perhaps the only place in the NT where Paul mentions "testing oneself to see if you are in the faith" is in 2 Cor. 13: if you recognize that Jesus Christ is in you.

 

IMO, any works which declare this may be a good sign of being "God-inspired." This, in part, also because 1 John 4 tells us that those who recognize that Jesus is (not has) come in the flesh (that is, their own flesh) is of God.

To me, this is real spiritual depth. Many people will acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come as a person, 2,000 years ago. But how many people will tell you that they know Him in their hearts??

To me, THIS presence in our hearts is the "second coming" that everybody expects to happen in the future, and that's why they are deceived. They don't see God in themselves!

 

Other opinions? How would you distinguish "true" writings from "false" testimonies?

 

Blessings!

Brian

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How would you distinguish "true" writings from "false" testimonies?

 

We make it up through context, community and conversation. We are in charge of what is true and what is false; usual criteria are whether it is inspiring, challenging, or instructive; Whether it supports social justice issues, social-religious (purity laws) issues, and so forth. We choose the temporary canon just as those before us chose the permanent canon.

 

 

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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If I were a preacher, 'The Shack' would be temporary canon. There are at least 6-12 sermons in it. Or I might reference it often throughout a year as was the 'Narnia' series; Pogo or Charlie Brown rose too this attention. I mentioned other more important names earlier. Again, we choose, based on our understanding of the permanent canon and the relevancy of the suggested temporary - how about 'canon du jure'?

 

We make it up based on how influential it is for our lives.

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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I believe that we can determine a true writing by the burning testimony of the Holy Ghost. This testimony will only come to those who earnestly and honestly seek the truth. We should apply what James said in the first chapter of his book, "Ask in faith, and not wavering".

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It seems to me that what is "canon" is what is meaningful at the time. At our church we have had reading from the Koran, lost gospels, and even some contemporary readings and it works.

 

There is something special about the very early writings, and I include those not included in what is known as "The bible", it is that they were written by people who in some cases had direct knowledge of Jesus and at the least by people who were only a generation removed. While I know that doesn't reflect accuracy .... it is unique.

 

 

There are some differences in what is considered canon from denomination to denomination Catholics, Mormans and Jehovah Witness' to name a few. I doubt that what is generally considered "the bible" will ever change for most.

 

 

steve

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So many authors have written God-inspired works through the ages, after the bible…I agree with the names mentioned, among others. I don’t see any need to add them to the biblical canon though. It seems reasonable as Steve pointed out, that the idea was to include the writings closest to Jesus’ generation, rather than later ones like the Gospel of Thomas. I was once in a very long discussion interpreting this book line by line. An interesting exploration / comparison, yet somehow a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus is not as inspiring without the life, the healings, the actions of Christ accompanying the teachings--at least that’s how it seemed to me.

 

If by “new” you mean contemporary writers, a few that speak to me are by Kathleen Norris, Marilynne Robinson, Sue Monk Kidd, and Mary Oliver.

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...too much is invested in our Bible as it is. Why, for that matter, don't we have the Didache or the Gospel of Thomas in our canon...?

After reading Elaine Pagels' book Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, I wish Thomas had been included and John left out, rather than vice-versa.

 

I personally think it was a mistake to canonize the bible from the start.... I wonder if Christians would think about divine inspiration in a different way if the books of the bible were still separate instead of collected in one book.

This seems a key point, and a key question. If The Bible stopped being universally accepted as the core document of Christianity, would there be less tendency toward One Right Answer, with the intolerance that so often follows behind?

 

I wonder if the canon will ever be opened. The conditions which required a closed canon, to unite a young fragmented and widely separated church; these conditions will never again occur in Christianity....

It seems to me that the church today is fragmented, every bit as fragmented as it was in the days of the Gnostics and Marcion. Having a fixed canon hasn't prevented fragmentation at all, or so it seems to me.

 

The other problem is that opening the canon would be seen by many as being dismissive or divisive. There is a flexible, ongoing, temporary canon at any given moment. This canon differs from one congregation to another, from one denomination to another; but it has the same inspiring, challenging, instructive qualities as the closed canon beside it.

It's hard for me to see Christianity as being any more divided than it already is. But the concern over being dismissive or disrespectful is very true. The response I've gotten to a related idea--that Christianity needs a thinner Bible--has been a flat rejection of the possibility.

 

This is actually the main question that brought me to this message board: why is it so hard to get modern Christians, those who already acknowledge The Bible's several problems, to adopt a kinder, gentler, thinner version as the formal basis of their religion? I just don't know if I should attempt to ask that question, with background, rationale, etc., in this thread or start a new one?

 

Thanks,

Jim

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This is actually the main question that brought me to this message board: why is it so hard to get modern Christians, those who already acknowledge The Bible's several problems, to adopt a kinder, gentler, thinner version as the formal basis of their religion? I just don't know if I should attempt to ask that question, with background, rationale, etc., in this thread or start a new one?

 

Thanks,

Jim

I think we can start by removing the Pastoral epistles and Revelations. Those are the books I won't miss the most.
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I think we can start by removing the Pastoral epistles and Revelations. Those are the books I won't miss the most.

 

I, for one, would be in favor of leaving the Bible as it is. There is an old saying that goes, "Those who don't learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them." Despite many good things found in the Bible, it is also full of mistakes of "religion" (how we connect with and treat one another and God). So though I don't pull much of my own theology out of the pastoral epistles and Revelation, those books are, IMO, useful in demonstrating where religion and theology go wrong in bearing "bad fruit."

 

There are, of course, many other "bad fruit" passages in the Bible -- God killing the whole world in Genesis, Moses and Joshua committing genocide in the name of God, Abraham thinking God demands a human sacrifice and fully ready to do it, the account of Japhtha and his daughter, Elijah and the bears, and the countless inane "laws" for which, it is thought, God commands the death penalty. These passages are there for all to read and, if we so choose, to learn from. In my own life, these "bad fruit" passages brought me to the conclusion that 1) the Bible presents many different interpretations of God and what God desires and 2) therefore, I have the freedom and responsibility to choose what kind of "God" I think is ultimate reality. The God I believe in is not behind these "bad fruit" passages, but they do demonstrate how different views of God can be harmful to ourselves and others.

 

So I'd be for leaving the "bad stuff" in there and just saying, "Here is what happens when religion goes wrong." I would also be for creating a second (or third, etc.) set of writings that contain some "good fruit" from Christianity down through the ages but with the express condition that it refrain from being considered to be infallible and inerrant.

 

As always, just my 2c.

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I think we can start by removing the Pastoral epistles and Revelations. Those are the books I won't miss the most.

 

If modern Christians stopped using the Old Testament and Revelation, that would be a huge step forward, morally, ethically, spiritually. A unified gospel (such as Thomas Jefferson's or the one Stephen Mitchell did in his Gospel According to Jesus) would be awesome. One that included bits from the Gospel of Thomas, and other sources, would be cool too. But, whatever the end result, it should exclude everything that's antithetical to the Two Commandments, which automatically cuts out Revelation, various chunks of the epistles, and pretty much the entire Old Testament.

 

Jim

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I agree with Bill, the idea is not to throw out parts of the bible but to interpret it in a progressive way. We need to see the gospel in the context of the old testament. Spiritual history, like secular history, includes what to avoid as well as what to emulate.

 

It might be interesting to discuss Stephen Mitchell's version of the gospel, I just got it.

 

Do you have a favorite saying from the Gospel of Thomas?

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My own view, when I attempt to analyse it (which is not often, and not to be recommended) is full of contradiction (or is it paradox?) I love the Gospels just as they are, full of "hard sayings", parables, stories. I find other versions, drawn from them, - like that of Stephen Mitchell or Leo Tolstoy - totally anemic and flavourless. (And the Gospel of Thomas to me is just a disembodied selection of "wisdom" sayings - each worthy to ponder, yet the sheer number tumbling after each other tends to numb the mind (well, MY mind..... :D ) As far as the rest of the NT, nowadays I basically ignore it, and the Gospels seem more "inspired" because of it.

 

The paradox rests in my being more drawn to the "Eternal Word" image of Christ, rather than the historical Jesus, which seems a more disembodied idea. Yet St Paul did say somewhere that he no longer knew Jesus after the flesh..........but, then, thats a part of the NT I just said I ignore, so I'm out of order....... :(

 

Just the ramblings of a foolish Pure Lander.

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I, for one, would be in favor of leaving the Bible as it is. There is an old saying that goes, "Those who don't learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them."

[...]

So I'd be for leaving the "bad stuff" in there and just saying, "Here is what happens when religion goes wrong." I would also be for creating a second (or third, etc.) set of writings that contain some "good fruit" from Christianity down through the ages but with the express condition that it refrain from being considered to be infallible and inerrant.

 

I support the idea of The Bible still being used by Christians, but I would like it to be used as a historical document, as an advanced text. While some folks can look at that stuff and gain insight from it, we have to remember that (historically) The Bible has been used to justify heinous things. And yes, some folks today still use The Bible for hateful purposes. This, it seems to me, puts a burden of responsibility on those Christians who don't want to be judged by either the history of the church or by the abuses of the fundamentalists. Actions speak louder than words, and carrying The Bible to church on Sunday is an action.

 

Your idea of a second or third set of writings is, I think, exactly what I'm lobbying for. The issue of infallible and inerrant is, in my mind, a different one than the issue of "official" status, where a denomination would select a particular collection of writings to define the faith and to serve as the basis for public, common worship. Again, study of The Bible wouldn't be prohibited, but would be recognized as optional and, probably, as advanced.

 

Jim

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