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An Unsuspected Idol

05/17/2018
Seek The Truth Blog

An Unsuspected Idol:

When asked, hyper-fundamentalist Christians would firmly state that their specific translation of the Bible was the only Book God used to instruct, describe Himself to, or communicate with Christians. Because of a hyper-literal interpretation of the first few paragraphs in the Gospel of John, and because fundamentalist Christianity has associated the phrase "Word of God" solely to their translation of the Bible, they literally view their translation as a text-based version of God Himself. Like the ancient Pagan worshippers who viewed their statues made of stone as a stone-based version of their gods, hyper-fundamentalist Christians worship cotton, linen, and flax formed into pages of their Bible as an idol.

Most are unaware that the statements made by each individual author were written several hundreds of years before their scrolls or letters were combined with other scrolls or letters to form the Bible Canon or that the Christian Bible used to contain several additional books. Most of all, they are unaware that the pages between the leather bindings used to be considered by the early Church as a "library" rather than a "book", and that a countless number of men violently argued and debated as to which "books" their "library" should contain. It was not until 367 A.D. that the list of scrolls and letters was circulated by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, which finally established the content of the New Testament.

While hyper-fundamentalists and even many traditional Christians affirm the current selection of books in the Bible, historically this was not the case. Books and letters were selected based upon a consensus of agreement as to authenticity, and the consensus was far from unanimous. In fact, there were several books which were contested enough to be categorized as "disputed writings" by several early church fathers, a term called "Antilegomena". The "disputed writings" were widely read in the Early Church and included the Epistle of James, the Epistle of Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, the Book of Revelation, the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabas and the Didache. Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation, further questioned the authenticity of some text and attempted to remove the books of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation from the canon.

Though some might find this concept offensive, the term "disputed" should not be misunderstood to mean "false" or "heretical". For the point being made, however, it can correctly mean "non-idolatrous". Both the founding fathers of Christianity and the founder of the Protestant Reformation did not consider the combination of books to be "God", nor were they afraid to critically examine the content presented by the authors. Regardless of whether or not their critical examination was justified, this is a significant difference from the way in which hyper-fundamentalists view their translation of the Bible. Christians today should note, however, that the views of the early church and up until well past the Protestant Reformation were significantly different than today. If a passage of text in the Bible was in question, the reader or translator critically examined it. There was not and should never be any fear of being accurate.