The Council of Nicaea
|Created by Gerard de Vos|
Category: Bible related
People who read Dan Brown's book, The Da Vinci Code, think his information that the Church Council of Nicaea sat down and decided which books must be the Biblical Canon, is the truth. (The word, 'Canon' is defined as a catalog of authoritative sacred writings. This is the 39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books that constitute the Bible).
But, “the councils that discussed the Canon were not held until the fourth century, by which time the New Testament had already become the Scripture of the church.... The churches and their leaders did not accept every manuscript that happened to bear the name of an apostle or that professed to relate previously untold history and teaching” (Merrill C. Tenney, New Testamenty Survey. Inter-varsity Press, 1985. p410). There were books that were excluded from the Canon, like the New Testament Apocrypha, including the Epistle to the Corinthians, the Apocalypse of Peter, et cetera.
What special characteristics identify the authoritative books in the Biblical Canon? If the king of a country writes either letters or recommendations to his subjects, he would see to it that it has his exact words. He would also have to give some sign to his subjects that it comes from him. Then, in the early days, it was sealed with a special seal. Similarly we can ask what the proofs are that the Bible is God’s revelation to man?
What seal did God put on His writings?
God's revelation in the Bible took place within history. We can research the history of the descendants of Abraham, that of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and the subsequent history of the church after 100 AD.
2. Predictive history.
As the God of history, God used his written Word, the Bible, to predict to the nations what would happen in the future. For example, the Assyrians were used by God to punish the northern kingdom of Israel, but they overstepped their bounds by being very harsh and cruel to God's people. For this perpetration, God said that their capitol city, Nineveh, would be destroyed (Nahum 1-3). At the time Nahum wrote this prophecy (c. 660 BC), Assyria had reached the height of its glory under Ashurbanipal (669-663). Nineveh was a mighty city, but according to Nahum's prediction, Nineveh would be invaded by her enemies and taken over during a flood. This happened when the Tigris river overflowed its banks. The flood destroyed a part of Nineveh's wall and the Babylonians invaded the city and took it over (612 BC).
3. The Jewish nation.
The history of the Jewish nation and their restoration and return to their country, Israel, is miraculous and unique. They were dispersed throughout the world, persecuted through ages, and yet remained a distinct nation. This is a very strong proof that the Bible could not have been a product of limited, temporal men only.
4. The Bible's influence.
In the last 2000 years, the transforming power of the Bible spread throughout the world and the lives of millions of people were changed for the better because of its influence.
5. The Bible's opposition.
On the negative side the continual efforts to malign the Bible, the ridiculing of its teachings, the efforts of philosophers, so called scientists, and others to prove the Canon, the 66 books wrong, prove that it is a unique book, the only of its kind.
The council of Nicaea did not decide which books must be part of the Bible. Just as God guided the writing of the books, He guided the selection of the books. The Biblical Canon is not the product of man, but of God.
Related articles: 5 Bible Facts, Believe it or Not, Lies that reveal the Truth, History and the Bible