Ten Basic Facts about the New Testament Canon Every Christian Should Memorize

Michael J. Kruger (President and Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina) has began a series to help believers better understand their New Testament and hopefully correct a pattern he has witnessed in recent times:

Almost every couple of years it happens.  Usually it occurs around Christmas or Easter.   And it is typically associated with a massive media blitz.   I am referring to sensational claims, made by either scholars or laymen, that something definitively “new” has been discovered about the historical Jesus.

Examples of such claims abound in just the last number of years.  The so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife was “discovered” last year and purportedly taught Jesus had a wife.   The Gospel of Judas was all the talk in 2006, as were told that the traditional Gospels may have not given the whole story.  And, of course, we all remember the Da Vinci Code phenomenon in 2003 and after.

Our modern culture loves “new” things.   They don’t want to hear the same old stories again and again—particularly when it comes to religion.  They want something fresh and exciting.   They want something different.   This fascination with the “new” is why people feel they must reinvent church (or Christianity) for each generation.  People like to believe they have discovered something that no one has ever discovered before.

While this regular pattern of sensational claims about Jesus is quite well-documented, there is another pattern that is also well-documented, namely Christians being unprepared to respond.    As each new claim about Jesus is made, most believers in the pew find themselves inadequately equipped to provide an answer.   For whatever set of reasons, the church has not adequately taught its members about the origins and reliability of the Scriptures.

Here are the first four parts of his series (I’ll update the rest when they’re available):

  1. “The New Testament Books are the Earliest Christian Writings We Possess”
  2. “Apocryphal Writings are All Written in the Second Century or Later”
  3. “The New Testament Books Are Unique Because They Are Apostolic Books”
  4. “Some NT Writers Quote Other NT Writers as Scripture”

His series is designed for a lay-level audience and is a great resource for conversations with skeptical friends. For more on the subject, check out his book: Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Crossway, 2012). Here is a short video of him responding to Bart Ehrman’s claims about the NT canon:

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