Scripture in the Early Church: The 2017 Ligonier Winter Conference

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join R.C. Sproul, Michael Haykin, and Stephen Nichols for the Ligonier 2017 Winter Conference.  The theme was “Scripture in the Early Church.”

There were a number of great sessions on a variety of topics related to early Christianity, such as “Preaching God’s Word in the Early Church,”  “Living God’s Word in the Early Church,” and “Heresy in the Early Church.

My session was on “God’s Word in the Early Church,” where I explored the unique qualities of our four gospels over against apocryphal texts like the Gospel of  Thomas.  You can watch here:…

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What’s the Very First Time We See a NT Book Used as Scripture? My Article in the Festschrift for Stanley Porter

Few issues in the study of the NT canon have generated more discussion (and disagreement) than that of the canon’s date.  When were Christian writings first regarded as “Scripture”?  When was the first time we can see that happening?

For many modern scholars, the key time is the end of the second century.  Only then, largely due to the influence of Irenaeus, were these books first regarded as Scripture.

But, I think there is evidence that NT books were regarded as Scripture much earlier.  And some of this evidence is routinely overlooked.  A good example is the widely neglected text tucked away in 1 Tim 5:18:

For the Scripture says,

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Five Myths About the Ancient Heresy of Gnosticism

In the world of biblical studies, at least among some critical scholars, Gnosticism has been the darling for sometime now.  Especially since the discovery of the so-called “Gnostic Gospels” at Nag Hammadi in 1945, scholars have sung the praises of this alternative version of Christianity.

Gnosticism  was a heretical version of Christianity that burst on the scene primarily in the second century and gave the orthodox Christians a run for their money.  And it seems that some scholars look back and wish that the Gnostics had prevailed.

After all, it is argued, traditional Christianity was narrow, dogmatic, intolerant, elitist, and mean-spirited, whereas Gnosticism was open-minded, all-welcoming, tolerant and loving.  Given …

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Was Jesus Married to Mary Magdalene? Revisiting a Stubborn Conspiracy Theory

When I was a kid, I always used to enjoy the “whack a mole” game at the local arcade (yes, we had to go to an “arcade” to play games).  You had be quick to win that game.  Each time you hit a mole, another would pop up, taking its place.

Of course, that is what made the game both fun and frustrating at the same time.  No matter how hard you worked, it always seemed that the moles just wouldn’t go away.

Sometimes it’s like that in the world of biblical scholarship.  Theories pop up, are quickly refuted by the academy, and then, just when you think they have …

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An Essential Key to Understanding the Development of the NT Canon

How and when the early church recognized the 27 books in our New Testament has always been a fascinating topic for people.  There is innate curiosity within us about why these books were regarded as Scripture and not others.

Unfortunately, the high level of interest in the New Testament canon is often combined with a high number of misconceptions about the canon.  For anyone willing to search for it, the internet is packed with myths, mistakes, and misunderstandings about how the whole process really worked.

While there is no quick cure for such misconceptions, there is one essential key that really helps clear away the cobwebs.  And that key is …

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