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9. The Bible is the most reliable record of the historical events on which Christianity is founded.

9.1 As we have seen, the availability of historical experiences for contemporary belief is dependent on a reliable account of them being recorded and preserved.

9.2 All branches of Christianity agree that the record of experiences in the Bible (the Old and especially the New Testaments) forms the main basis for deciding what Christianity is and what is to be believed.

9.2.1 I shall now argue that it is the only basis on which Christianity might be securely founded.

9.3 Certain branches of Christianity also claim that further reliable historical information is available in the extra-Biblical traditions.

9.3.1 However, since this material is not allowed to contradict Scripture by those who accept it, and is more dubious than the Scriptural data, we may ignore it for the purposes of this study.

9.4 These same branches of Christianity also claim that Scripture cannot be privately interpreted, but only within the tradition of the Church.

9.4.1 The above statement seems justifiable to the extent that new teachings in any discipline need proof before being accepted. In a subject with fixed and relatively clear data, such as Biblical Christianity, new teachings are less likely to be sound as time goes by. However, the above statement is not agreed to have any logical force, and new, more correct, interpretations, from whatever provenance, will arise from time to time.

9.4.2 A similar statement, to the effect that the Scriptures may only be interpreted by recognised teachers, is rejected because such teachers have not been able to demonstrate their special ability.

9.5 The precise contents of the Canon of Scripture are not taken as being critical to the current enquiry.

9.5.1 With respect to expanding the Cannon, the Deuterocanonical portions are confined to the Old Testament and are of limited doctrinal significance. The apocrypha and pseudepigrapha of both Testaments either do not claim the authority of the Canonical Scriptures or contain obviously fallacious statements that negate the authority claimed.

9.5.2 In both Testaments, the books occasionally rejected from the Canon similarly tend to be doctrinally marginal or obscure.

9.6 We may take the Bible, therefore, as traditionally configured, to be the most reliable source for the propositions of Christianity.

9.6.1 We take it, therefore, that Christianity is what the Bible (properly interpreted) says it is. The issue of correct interpretation is not so serious as to prevent further progress in this argument. However, I am committed to a straightforward interpretation of the Bible in accord with the literal sense and the most likely intentions of the original authors or compositors.

© Theo Todman 1992 - 2000.
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