Did Martin Luther Remove Books from the Bible? A Pastor’s Answer

Why Does the Catholic Bible have more Books in it?

I love answering questions about the Christian faith online, in person, and by email. The issues involved are usually common for people so I share my answers here. Today’s question:

Answers to Common Pastor Questions

Why does the Protestant Bible have fewer books than the Catholic Bible? Did Martin Luther take out books he to suit his theology?

The short answer:

Martin Luther did not remove any books from the Bible. This claim is inaccurate and misleading. The books in question were separated from the Bible as a result of the Reformation. That is true. But they had been subject of intense debate from the time of Jesus. They were not considered Scripture by the Jewish people. Much of the early church did not include them either. The man most responsible for the confusion over the books did not consider them Scripture. They were not even part of the Catholic canon until 1547. So though Luther did begin the process by which the commonly accepted Protestant Bible came about, it’s foundation was laid 1500 year earlier.

The Protest against Rome

To understand this issue, you have to start with the Protestant Reformation. Really comprehending the causes of this world shaking revolution should clear up questions about these additional books. It may also challenge you to examine the things you accept as “normal religion” in your life.

The Reformation started in 1517 as an attempt to fix problems with the Roman Catholic Church of that time period. These were not just objections to the practices you heard about in History 101. Indulgences – selling salvation – was bad enough. There was so much more going on. The Catholic Church from 800 AD until the Reformation was nothing like even today’s version. It was not so much a church but rather a religious absolute monarchy. It was an imitation of the secular political structure of the time. The Church alone dictated to the “regular” people how to worship God, how to live, how to work, and even who they belonged to. It required people to work in almost slavery on Papal lands and constantly pay for their salvation. It even directed wars against other Christians and non-believers. The Pope was the unquestioned King of this worldly kingdom. He grabbed massive amounts of land and wealth in the process. Every aspect of life ran through and for the benefit of the “princes” of the church. Nothing was allowed to diminish or question their authority – enforced with the pain of death at the stake.

Freedom to Rest – Galatians 3

The allure of such immense power and wealth was obviously tempting. Wealthy families of the times purchased jobs in the church for their children who then handed out more positions to their relatives. The family of the Pope at the time of Luther bought him the position of a bishop at 7 years old and cardinal at 13, for example. They bribed enough people for him to eventually become Pope. This supposed man of God then encouraged a war in order to give his brother more wealth and power. He also made his cousins, nephews, and other relations bishops and cardinals.

As you can imagine, this had an affect on the doctrines and practices of the church. When priests were amassing too much wealth and were passing it on to their children and out of the control of the church, for example, the Vatican decided priests could not be married. Was there a Biblical mandate for this decision? No, but the churchmen needed to preserve their wealth so they did it anyway. This does not mean there were not good men and women in the church during these years. But the leadership of so many of these evil men over a long period of time had an impact. Their practices were all over the church by the 1500’s. They were accepted as normal.

Then Luther and the other Reformers came along. They were not the only ones to see these great issues. They were simply the first ones who were able to do anything about it. Jan Hus made the same objections as Luther about 100 years prior. The church killed him to silence his dissent. The Reformers sought to go back to the actual foundation of the faith – the Bible – rather than the accepted practices. They questioned whether the decrees from the palaces of Rome were true and demanded evidence proving it. This process of examination led to the Reformation. The church across the world chose to stop following men and seek God alone. Salvation by grace was brought back to the forefront. The church universal for the first time in many years objected to killing people in the name of God. The Bible was shared freely in every language rather than hoarded and concealed. Questioning in order to get closer to Jesus was encouraged. The idea that one regular person is worthy to go to Jesus that you accept so freely now was revolutionary for the time.

Is Your Gospel Worth Dying for?

The church as a body of believers was reborn! What a wonderful thing!

The reformers weren’t done . They examined everything from this new God focused perspective. It was no longer what those in Rome proclaimed from their golden thrones. Instead, they asked simple questions about everything to make sure it was from God and not some guy who bribed his way to power:

What does the Bible say? What does history tell us? Why are we doing this act we claim is on behalf of God? Would Jesus ever do this? What about the early church? Is this true?

We all owe a great debt to the men and women of the Reformation.

If you have a Bible in your home in your language and the confidence to read it, this is fruit of the Reformation. If you believe Jesus loves you directly, this is from the Reformation. If you think you are worthy to take communion, bread and wine, this is from Luther and friends.

You are Enough in Jesus

It took brave Christians staring down the most powerful men of their age to bring all this back to the common man. They got back to the roots of the church.

The Reformers also applied this same scrutiny to the Bible. This questioning led to where we are today – the difference between the Catholic and Protestant Bible which we call the Apocrypha.

What if I am Having Doubts? A Pastor’s Answer

What are the Apocrypha?

The Apocrypha are the 7 additional books of the Catholic Bible – Tobit, Judith, 1st and 2nd Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (or Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach), and Baruch. They were written during the time period after the Old Testament but before the New Testament. The Protestant church generally views them as deserving of respect and containing some historical truth but not inspired – meaning without error and God breathed. You are free to read them and learn from their historical aspects. They just do not meet the standard to be included in the Bible.

The Apocrypha are old. They are also likely real in that they are the same books as they had back then. They were well known by the Jews during the period. They were also known to contain some accurate history about the time between the Testaments. So they are very old books that contain history of the Jewish people read at the time, so that is good. But the writings of Josephus are also old, real, and about the Jews. So are any number of ancient Jewish documents. That does not make them Scripture. This is the big issue involved.

It is worth noting that the New Testament canon has been agreed upon almost universally since the 2nd Century. The doctrines and words of Jesus have been agreed on for 2,000 years.

So what happened with these other books?

Why are the Apocrypha Not in the Protestant Bible?

The Reformers studied how we got the Bible and how it was compiled. They were truth seekers, which is a good thing. They found concerning things about the Apocrypha.

It started with the fact the Jewish people themselves did not consider the Apocrypha to be part of the Old Testament Bible. The keepers of the Law who lived in Israel at the time of Jesus did not keep them with the rest of the Bible. They also did not refer to them as Bible. So the Hebrew Old Testament read by the Jewish people did not include the Apocrypha. The Jewish people were aware of the books and read them. They just treated them as history and not inspired Scripture. This position never seems to have changed. This should be enough alone to give us pause as they are Old Testament books.

Are you beginning to see how far back this question goes?

It continued with the fact that Jesus, the Apostles, and the writers of the New Testament never once quote the Apocrypha. Not once among the many references made by Jesus, Peter, Paul, and the like did any of them say “As Scripture says in…” and cite Tobit or Maccabees. These men quote the Bible in every speech they make. Jesus quotes as far back as Genesis and relies on Deuteronomy to fight off Satan’s temptation. They also quote non-Christian sources and lost books on a number of occasions. They had the Apocrypha, clearly, yet they did not cite to it once. It is a glaring and I believe damning omission.

The early church also had problems with these books from the start. Many early Christians were against the Apocrypha. The Church council of Laodicea in 363 AD considered the Apocrypha, for example. They not only rejected these books as Scripture but also forbade reading these books by the church. Early church leaders like Origen, Melito, Cyril, and Athanasius joined in and all wrote against the Apocrypha. They made the same arguments as those above. The basic conclusion of these folks was the books were useful for some things but were not Holy Scripture.

If you stop here – about 400 years after Jesus – you again understand why their are significant issues about these books.

Then a simple decision by one guy named Jerome entered the narrative and caused all sorts of confusion that persists to this day.

The Vulgate

Jerome was a church leader in the late 300’s. He was commissioned by the Bishop of Rome to create the Latin Vulgate. This was the “official” translation into Latin of whole Bible. Jerome did not believe the Apocrypha were inspired. He agreed that the Jewish people in Israel never treated them as Scripture. He acknowledged they had not changed that position. Jerome’s position was consistent with the Jews and many others in the early church. Jerome also departed from the norm of that day. He understood Hebrew so he translated from the original Hebrew Old Testament rather than the more common Greek version. This formed the foundation of his position. Yet, when the Vulgate was completed in 405 AD, he included the Apocrypha in the Bible. It appears to have been a concession to the pro-Apocrypha position of part of the church. Jerome wrote introductions to each of them indicating they were helpful but not Scripture. Yet, the timing and inclusion would have long lasting repercussions.

The church change described above took place in the centuries that followed while Latin was the dominant language. People simply got used to the Apocrypha being included among the books of the Bible. Jerome’s introductions were still there saying they were not canon but most people did not even have a Bible during the years that followed. The Catholic Church did not get rid of the issues with the disputed books. It did not add any new scholarship or insight. But the inclusion of the books alongside the inspired ones in the official translation made them hard to tell apart. The “official” church also forbade anyone from disagreeing with them. What did that look like? When William Tyndale had the gall to translate the Bible into English so people could read it, he was executed as a heretic. You can understand why the arguments died down as a result. The Vulgate and all translations based on it therefore included the Apocrypha for many years.

These questions all came back up with Luther and the Reformers. They asked the same questions that the early church did, now without threat of death. The reformers found themselves agreeing with the Jews, many early churchmen, Jerome, and with the early church council:

The books of the Apocrypha are not bad, but they are not part of the Bible.

The new found freedom to ask questions led them to the same conclusion of 1100 years prior. This is why the Protestant Bible has fewer books. As you can see, the issues did not come out of the blue. It is simply a conclusion based on 2,000 years of evidence and discussion, when it was allowed. The difference between the canons does not change the authenticity of the New Testament or most of the Old Testament. It was not a plot by either side. It was simply the result of a difference of opinion that has been going on for a very long time.

Were the Reformers correct? I think the evidence is overwhelming. But here is the great news.

First, these books are not the New Testament. The disagreement about the Apocrypha has no affect on the truth of Jesus, the Gospel, and the clearly documented doctrines of Jesus.

Second, you are free to investigate them yourself. This is the liberty Jesus won for you on the Cross. It is also the right to question and value yourself as a person Martin Luther and the Reformers risked everything to gain for you. Keep that in mind as you explore the issues.

God bless you.


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36 thoughts on “Did Martin Luther Remove Books from the Bible? A Pastor’s Answer
  1. I have found that the canon of Scripture is the single most fruitful topic to discuss with Protestant friends. The canon is the set of books that make up the Bible—Scripture’s “table of contents”—and it is one of the most important issues between Catholics and Protestants for two reasons: first, because the Catholic and Protestant canons differ (Catholics have seventy-three books in their canon and Protestants have sixty-six); second, because Protestants believe in a doctrine called sola scriptura or “the Bible alone.”

    Sola scriptura means that only the Bible is the sole, infallible rule of faith and the sole source of public revelation given by God to man. Under this doctrine, Scripture is the first, best, and ultimate depository for divine truth, as well as the only one that is without error, having been inspired by God himself, who cannot lie.

    But for sola scriptura to be true, we must first be able to know which books, exactly, make up Scripture (i.e., the biblical canon). We must also know this biblical canon with a certainty strong enough to bind our consciences. After all, if we believe that God inspired books to be written such that they are without error but we don’t know which books those are, we are left in the unacceptable position of not knowing whether a given book is inspired (and therefore inerrant) or whether it is just another book written from the mind of a human being.

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    Martin Luther was not afraid to challenge the canon of Scripture. He relegated four New Testament books to an appendix, denying that they were divinely inspired. Though this alteration of the New Testament wasn’t adopted by the Protestant movements, his alteration of the Old Testament was, and by the end of the Reformation Protestantism had removed seven books (the deuterocanonicals) from the Old Testament canon.

    This means if Protestantism is true, God allowed the early Church to put seven books in the Bible that didn’t belong there.

    Why Protestants changed their canon
    The Protestants rejected the books for several reasons, two of which we will focus on here. The first was a “problematic” passage in 2 Maccabees, and the second was their desire to go “back to the sources”—ad fontes—which to them meant using the same books that the Jews had decided upon.

    2 Maccabees included a laudatory reference to prayers for the dead, a practice that the Catholic Church had encouraged for assisting the souls in purgatory. Recall Luther’s protest of the sale of indulgences to remove the temporal punishment due for already forgiven sins—punishment that must be paid before a soul would be fit to enter heaven. Luther and the Reformers rejected purgatory, so all that was connected with it also had to go: indulgences, prayers for the dead, and the communion of saints (which includes those both living and asleep in Christ).

    The Reformers pointed out that these seven books were not included in the Jewish Hebrew Bible. For that reason, they argued, the books should not be accepted by Christians. Some Protestant apologists seek to bolster this claim by mentioning the theory that, around A.D. 90, a council of Jews at Jamnia explicitly rejected these books. (The consensus among modern scholars is that the Jews closed their canon closer to the end of the second century A.D.)

    Others like to point out that some Church Fathers rejected one or more of these books. They strengthen this argument with the testimony of Josephus and Philo—two Jews from the first century—who also did not accept them.

    Why the deuterocanonicals are inspired
    Because Catholicism is true, the church Christ founded, and not the Jews, possessed the authority and divine guidance to discern the Old Testament canon.

    A little historical background is needed here. The first Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, used during Jesus’ time, was called the Septuagint. It was an evolving set of books that was added to from the third century B.C. until the time of Christ. It remains the most ancient translation of the Old Testament that we have today and so is used to correct the errors that crept into the Hebrew (Masoretic) text, the oldest extant manuscripts of which date only from the ninth century.

    The Septuagint was used extensively in the Near East by rabbis, and in the first century the apostles quoted prophecies from it in the books that became the New Testament. It was accepted as authoritative by the Jews of Alexandria and then by all Jews in Greek-speaking countries.

    By the time of Christ, the Septuagint contained the deuterocanonical books. The majority of Old Testament quotes made by the New Testament authors come from the Septuagint. In fact, the early Church used the Septuagint as its primary Old Testament source until the fifth century. Its importance cannot be overstated.

    Historical evidence also shows that there were multiple, conflicting Jewish canons at the time of Christ. Protestants claim that the Hebrew canon was closed at the time of Christ. But let’s stop and think about that: How could the Jews close their canon when they were still awaiting the advent of the new Elijah (John the Baptist) and the new Moses (Jesus)?

    Recall that Malachi 4:5 tells us that God would send a new Elijah the prophet: “Behold I will send you Elias the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” We know from John 1:19-25 that the Jews were eagerly awaiting this new Elijah, as well as the new Moses.

    Since many prophets in the Old Covenant had been inspired by God to write books, it only makes sense that the Jews would expect these two great prophets to write books as well. Closing the Hebrew canon before the prophets’ advent, then, would have been unthinkable.

    Timothy Michael Law, in his new book When God Spoke Greek, has demonstrated that the Jews did not close their canon until the second century A.D. This fact renders the (alleged) Jewish council’s decision at Jamnia moot. It should be noted that most scholars today doubt that any such council ever took place.

    But even if it did, would Jewish leaders possess the authority to make a decision binding upon the Christian Church? Those Jews who had accepted Christ had already become Christians. The remainder had no authority to decide anything about divine truth, as that authority had passed to those filled with the Holy Spirit (i.e., the apostles). The same goes for the opinions of Josephus and Philo. The Jews did not have the authority to decide the canon. The Church did.

    Law also shows that the Greek Septuagint is a witness to an at times even more ancient textual stream of the Hebrew scriptures when compared with the Masoretic text. Ironically, this meant that the Reformers goofed when they relied upon the Masoretic text and the (truncated) Hebrew canon in their attempt to go “back to the original sources.” They should have used the Septuagint translation and included the seven deuterocanonical books! Thus the argument that Christians should base their Old Testament off of the Hebrew Bible rather than the Greek Septuagint is dubious.

    Regarding Church Fathers doubting the deuterocanonical books, it is true that several rejected one or more of them or put them on a level lower than the rest of Scripture. But many, including those with doubts, quoted them as Scripture with no distinction from the rest of the Bible.

    The broader fact is that the testimony of the Fathers was not unanimous on the Old Testament canon. Even Jerome, the great biblical scholar, early in his career favored the Hebrew canon but then changed his mind and submitted his opinion to the wisdom of the Church, accepting the deuterocanonicals as Scripture (ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf203.vi.xii.ii.xxvii.html).

    Finally, it should be pointed out that Protestants seeking to defend their canon based on historical evidence—even if they are convinced they have found sufficient proof—run into an insurmountable problem: Nowhere in Scripture does it say that this is the way to know which books belong in the canon. Such a criterion for choosing the canon in fact contradicts sola scriptura, because it is an extra-biblical principle.

    A consistent Protestant argument for selecting the canon of Scripture, then, must itself come from Scripture, which would create a circular argument. Unfortunately—but providentially—no such instructions from God exist. No table of contents is found in any biblical book. No scroll with a table of contents is considered inspired by Protestants (or by Catholics).

    The self-authenticating canon
    Most Protestant apologists realize that all their stalwart arguments have iron-clad rebuttals. And so many have abandoned those arguments and cling to their last remaining bastion: They claim that the inspired books authenticate themselves. This idea is so widely used that it is worthy of a lengthy explanation.

    The self-authenticating canon means that a true Christian can read a given book and easily tell whether it is inspired by God or not. The Holy Spirit dwelling within the Christian would witness to the book’s inspiration. This theory did away with the need for trusting the corrupted early Church or for tracing the messy history of the canon’s development. Instead, you as a faithful Christian simply picked up your Bible, read the books, and listened for the inner witness of the Spirit telling you that the books were inspired by God.

    Similarly, you could theoretically pick up a non-canonical epistle or Gospel from the first or second century, read it, and note the absence of the Spirit’s confirmation of its inspiration. As Calvin described it:

    It is utterly vain, then, to pretend that the power of judging Scripture so lies with the church and that its certainty depends upon churchly assent. Thus, while the church receives and gives its seal of approval to Scripture, it does not thereby render authentic what is otherwise doubtful or controversial. . . . As to their question—How can we be assured that this has sprung from God unless we have recourse to the decree of the church?—it is as if someone asked: Whence will we learn to distinguish light from darkness, white from black, sweet from bitter? Indeed, Scripture exhibits fully as clear evidence of its own truth as white and black things do of their color, or sweet and bitter things do of their taste. . . . those whom the Holy Spirit has inwardly taught truly rest upon Scripture, and Scripture indeed is self-authenticated (Institutes of the Christian Religion, I, vii.1, 2, 5).

    Calvin makes two claims here. First, that the Church does not give authority to Scripture but rather Scripture has authority by the fact that God inspired it; second, that a Christian can know the canon from the Holy Spirit’s testimony within him, not by trusting a decision of the Church.

    Calvin’s first claim has never been contested by the Catholic Church, the Orthodox churches, or any Christian. It is a straw man: The Church teaches that it received inspired texts from God (through human authors) and that God guided it in discerning which among many texts were truly inspired. The Church is thus the servant of written revelation and not its master.

    Calvin’s second claim has become the common answer from Protestants who can’t concede that a corrupt Church selected the canon. There’s an element of truth to it: Surely the Holy Spirit does witness to our souls when we read the Bible. But Calvin sets up a false dichotomy here: Either the Church, by discerning the canon, imagines itself in authority over Scripture, or the canon is self-evident to any Christian. Calvin replaces the belief that God guided the Church in selecting the canon with the belief that God guides me or you in selecting it. He forces his readers to choose between these options, but in fact they are both false.

    History contradicts Calvin’s claim
    There is no principled reason, in Scripture or elsewhere, to believe that God would guide me or you in this discernment but not the Church. Moreover, Calvin’s subjective criterion for discerning the canon is surely impractical and unrealistic. How would a person seeking truth but not yet indwelt by the Holy Spirit know which books to read to find truth? What about a new Christian who had not learned to distinguish the inner voice of the Spirit from his own? At what point after his conversion would a Christian be considered ready to help define the canon? If two Christians disagreed, whose inner judgment would be used to arbitrate their dispute and identify the real canon?

    Another problem with Calvin’s claim is that the facts of history contradict it. As we have seen, the selection of the canon was not an easy, debate-free process that ended with the close of written revelation in the early second century. Rather, the canon emerged slowly through a laborious process, with differing canons being proposed by different Church Fathers during these centuries.

    If the canon were obvious and self-evident, the Holy Spirit would have led each of them to the same canon. Yet even these faithful, Spirit-filled men, so close to the time of the apostles and Christ himself, proposed different canons. It was not until almost A.D. 400 that the canon was settled, and it contained the seventy-three books of the Catholic Bible. When, more than 1,100 years later, the Reformers changed the canon by rejecting the seven deuterocanonical books (and Luther unsuccessfully tried to discard others), it was another example of intelligent and well-meaning Christians disagreeing about the “self-authenticated” canon.

    The books of the canon are not obvious merely from reading them. Martin Luther should prove that to Protestants, since he was the founder of the Protestant Reformation, and yet he tried to jettison four books from the New Testament.

    The Church discerns the Old Testament
    This means that neither the New Testament nor the Old Testament is self-authenticating. And so we come full circle back to the question of the deuterocanonicals. Weighing this evidence, any open Protestant should be able to admit that the only thing keeping him back from considering these books as inspired by God is the Protestant tradition that rejected them. Is that tradition from God or from men?

    The Church’s careful discernment of the canon settled on including the deuterocanonical books. And, with some occasional doubts, the books were consistently included in the canon from the 300s through the 1400s. In fact, the ecumenical council of Florence in the mid-1400s reaffirmed their inclusion in the Old Testament canon. This was long before Martin Luther and the first Protestants and lends further evidence that the Church accepted these books as inspired and did not “add” them to the canon in response to the Reformation, as many Protestants claim.

    If Protestantism is true, then for more than a thousand years all of Christianity used an Old Testament that contained seven fully disposable, possibly deceptive books that God did not inspire. He did, however, allow the early Church to designate these books as Sacred Scripture and derive false teachings such as purgatory from their contents. Eventually, God’s chosen Reformer, Martin Luther, was able to straighten out this tragic error, even though his similar abridgement of the New Testament was a mistake.

    1. Hi Wamala –
      Sorry for the delay in responding. I took an extend break over the summer and am just getting back to blogging. Thanks for your extensive response. Some thoughts after reading:

      I am not sure what the thoughts on a later closing of the Hebrew canon has to do with the issue. The Jewish homeland of Israel was destroyed in 70 AD. The Jews in the Greek world had all sorts of views on the books that are different than what the Jews in Israel thought. Jesus was also present before then and closed the canon at that point based on His arrival. If it is not in there at the time of His arrival, it really doesn’t matter what the Jewish people wanted to add later or expected.

      The Church’s careful discernment of the canon settled on including the deuterocanonical books. And, with some occasional doubts, the books were consistently included in the canon from the 300s through the 1400s. In fact, the ecumenical council of Florence in the mid-1400s reaffirmed their inclusion in the Old Testament canon. This was long before Martin Luther and the first Protestants and lends further evidence that the Church accepted these books as inspired and did not “add” them to the canon in response to the Reformation, as many Protestants claim.

      Do you honestly know the history of the Catholic Church for a good portion of the time period you reference? I am not intending to be disrespectful, but you rely on the “careful consideration” of the church men of that time period. History and their own writings and records show us they were often not even Christians, much less careful and faithful servants of the Lord. Their decisions included declaring war on other Christians, murdering those who disagreed with them, and making regular Christians like you and I work as virtual slaves on Church property because “God said”. The pope promised Jan Hus safe passage to come to Rome to discuss his views, before arresting him and killing him. These are the men who bought and sold church offices. This is not meant as “All Catholics are BAD” type of argument, but when you are relying on the RC Church because it is the RC Church, a huge problem is that same church has been officially awful on many occassions. Just because they gathered together and agreed on something doesn’t make it true. Many of them did not even read the Bible.

      The premise is also flawed as the books were not “included” in 300’s.

      Jerome – the man who put together the Vulgate is the one who gave them the name Apocrypha. He wrote they were not inspired and did not have authority to form doctrine of the Church. he also noted that the books were not part of the Jewish canon. It was this same Bible that later used to justify the books.

      Lastly, the argument “we wouldn’t have the Bible without the church” is also one in which Catholics seem to misunderstand what Protestants believe. We reject the authority of the group of men centered in Rome who have only been a real power since about the 800’s. They call themselves the Universal Church who has been there the whole time, but that actual structure really only took power with the destruction of the Western Roman Empire and the rise of the Franks. Before that, the Eastern Empire had much more power and the state church was more of the Orthodox Church. the Ethiopian Church also probably precedes the “Roman Catholic Church” as do some of the Eastern Orthodx churches like in Serbia etc. Yet, this does not mean they are the One True Church either. That is the communion of the saints – the living breathing body of Christians the world over. The Bible calls living Christians saints rather than some guys elected by a bunch of other guys who bought their jobs. So, historically, the Apostles and then the early church compiled the Bible and through correspondence and examination, as a body, filtered out the pretenders and agreed on the Bible. There was general agreement in the 1st Century what was real and what was not. It did not need a solemn church council to get that done.

      BTW – even back then there was disagreement about some of the books included. The Gospels and most of the NT were agreed upon. But like Luther, some held out Hebrews and 1 John and 2 John, before it was agreed that they were authentic. So Luther was merely agreeing with some of the early church. He also was just one man among many in the Reformation.

      So, in short, I disagree with you but respect your right to not be convinced.

      1. I’m not intending to get into the whole argument about the books, but I do want to clarify that Catholics do not refer to the clergy as the “communion of saints”, because sainthood is not granted to you for declaring service to God or becoming his priest, we recognize that human beings retain free will. Papal infallibility is ex cathedra. And the Roman Catholic Church has been around as long as the Eastern Orthodox Church.

      2. Hi Emily – nice to hear from you! Perhaps I missed/forgot the comment about the clergy being the communion of saints? Can you explain if it is something I wrote?

        About the age of the Roman Catholic Church vs the Eastern Orthodox and Ethiopian Churches – my point is it really depends how you date them.

        The RCC says that it is the church that carried the line from the Apostles to now.

        Yet, you have the first 400 years where the church that is recorded by history looks nothing like the one that calls itself the RCC centered on Rome. It was neither Roman nor centralized.

        The best argument for a centralized monolithic church is probably from the Eastern Orthodox, honestly, because the earliest centralization of the church was part and parcel with the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire AND the associated church men started originally in Rome but then transferred with the Emperor to Constantinople. Imperial Christianity HQ was there, not Rome. Rome was left as a bit of a backwater of the Empire and left to wither.

        It was not until the 800’s that the church that was left over at Rome made an alliance with the Franks which gave it the power to start dominating Europe.

        So the folks from the beginning were not in Rome. Then after a few hundred years, there was some people in Rome, but they moved to Constantinople. It if far from an unbroken line.

  2. First of all, thank you for writing your blog. It is, by far, the best pro-Protestant canon website I’ve found so far.

    I want to do further research and have 3 questions.

    Your blog says:
    The early church also had problems with these books from the start. Many early Christians were against the Apocrypha. The Church council of Laodicea in 363 AD considered the Apocrypha, for example. They not only rejected these books as Scripture but also forbade reading these books by the church.

    Wikipedia says:
    The 60th canon listed Canonical books, with the New Testament containing 26 books, omitting the Book of Revelation, and the Old Testament including the 22 books of the Hebrew Bible plus the Book of Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah; but excluding all the deuterocanonical books proper. It is also believed that they may have demonized the “Second Book of Enoch”, which led to its degeneration.
    The authenticity of the 60th canon is doubtful, as it is missing from various Greek manuscripts and may have been added later to specify the extent of the preceding 59th canon.


    Here are my 3 questions:

    Do we have copies of the canon list of the church council of Laodicea decided on or are they added later as Wikipedia says?
    Is it true that Revelation is missing from the church council of Laodicea?
    Is it true that Baruch is contained in the church council of Laodicea, in which case they didn’t reject the entire Apocrypha?

    1. Hey Jared – thanks for the words of encouragement! I applaud your desire to research the questions in depth and not take mine or anyone else’s word on the issue. You are correct, for example, about the inclusion of Baruch by the Council. I missed that while making my point. Sorry. My overall goal was to encourage all Christians to follow in the footsteps of the Reformers and not accept a narrative simply because it is oft repeated. In this case, the Catholic Church’s stance that the Apocrypha has been accepted since the beginning, aka “They have always been there, why did Martin Luther take it out?”. That does not match up with the history at all.

      This ties in with your questions:
      The question of whether the books were added in Canon 60 is one that is still debated. 59 – says non-canon books should not be read and 60 sets out the books so it is an important question. Wikipedia has a definitive answer based on early Greek manuscripts, but scholars still debate the issue.

      However, at about the same time as the Council, we do have records of leading lights of the church like Athanasius and Cyril of Jerusalem who set out the books of the Bible. Their lists are almost identical to the Canon 60 one – but include Revelation. Then, in other councils that occurred within the same time period, the New Testament is the same. The Old Testament reflects the same debate as today – with one or two of the Apocrypha, but not all.

      So the list with Canon 60 may have been added but it generally reflected the position of a good portion of the church, even if it was.

      Revelation was not included in Canon 60, but was recognized otherwise around this time period.

      Lastly, yes, they included Baruch, but this is not a shocking thing. It shows both the decentralized nature of the early church and the desire to seek truth. The councils and leaders of the early church were debating these issues determined to get it right and willing to contradict others in seeking to do so. The challenging part about the Apocrypha is that they are not “bad” books. They are generally historical and to be respected. This is what Jerome notes when he includes the Apocrypha with intros. It is just that they don’t rise to the level of Scripture.

      The overall point is not that the church never agreed that the Apocrypha were to be included. Rather, that both the Jews and the early church had consistent significant questions about them. It was only the later dominance of the Catholic Church allowed by their taking secular power that tried to silence the argument.

  3. Just reading this in 2022. Thanks for your writings. You claim no one quotes the Apocrypha in the New Testament. I believe that is not true. Sirach for instance is referred to/quoted in Matthew correct? To say it is never quoted (or referenced) is false.

    1. Hi Herman – well, I disagree with you and restate that it is not quoted – as in directly cited. I have seen the arguments about Sirach in Matthew and basically they state that Jesus relied upon Sirach or paraphrased it. The argument is not convincing to me, but, regardless, it is markedly different than saying it was quoted.

      1. I am curious about this as well – are ALL of the other books of the Old Testament quoted/directly cited? I don’t have a way of finding this out other than to ask scholars of the Bible. It would seem a good argument if so.

      2. I will have to go back and look at this, but from my recollection there are almost 300 direct quotes from the Old Testament that clearly quote from 35 or 36 of the Old Testament books. There are then arguments about the other 3, whether they are directly referenced or just alluded to. They are Song of Solomon, Ecclesiates, and Esther. So I think though it does not decide the question, it is evidence that does point to an issue with the NT writers and the Apocrypha/Deuterocannon.

  4. Thank you for this insight. I was raised Catholic and converted to Protestant in my 30’s. I truly have an understanding of God’s love and character more than I ever did living under the thumb of Catholic legalism. People can argue all they want about the Apocrypha but what this all boils down to in the end is about our freedom in Christ. I love Him and know Him and know I will be with Him when I leave this body. I never had this as a Catholic because you are told when and how and what ways you can worship Him. Today I am free for Him to be a part of everything I do every day. I don’t go to humans who have died before me to pray, the Catholic version of a Saint, I pray directly to Jesus. God never wanted us to make idols of Mary or other people. He wants us to go to Him

    1. Sorry – hit reply to quickly. I agree with you completely. Praise God for guiding you into His wonderful, joyful freedom! I am also grateful for it as well.

      The Catholicism that I saw was either filled with misery or entirely cynical. It was not a pretty picture. – certainly not one God calls us to.

  5. I wonder if you have seen this book: https://shop.catholic.com/why-catholic-bibles-are-bigger-revised-2nd-edition/
    This discussion has inspired a deeper look into the early church history as I have learned that Jesus and the disciples did know and accept these books and did not speak against them. I like deep diving and sharing knowledge, and I plan to take a look at this book. I thought you may wish to know about it – and even have a conversation with the author, perhaps. It would be a great discussion!

    1. Hi Natalie – sorry about the delay on this comment. I appreciate that you are looking into this issue. I also personally enjoy researching the questions and discussing them. I haven’t seen that book, though will try to check it out and I am familiar with many of the arguments in favor of the books. I presented my conclusion after researching and comparing the evidence and the arguments of both sides, but I do understand that other Christians do disagree with me. I would point out in this discussion that this point:

      I have learned that Jesus and the disciples did know and accept these books and did not speak against them.

      Is not wholly accurate. Jesus and the disciples would have known of the books as they were written by that time and generally known in Israel. Jesus and the disciples are also never specifically recorded as speaking against them. But the third statement is inaccurate both specifically and if applied more generally. There is no record of Jesus or the disciples approving of the books so it cant be said that they specifically did from them. Generally, Jesus and the disciples were part of the larger group of Hebrew Jews who lived in Israel during the Temple period. This group as a whole never accepted the books as Scripture. So this is not definitive as to Jesus and the disciples, but it does point to an inclination against, for me.

      That would be a great conversation! Thanks again for the comment! God bless you, Tom

  6. Sure would respect Tom more if he included his citations. He makes lots of claims that I can only guess is his faith. I wonder if he has “faith” in the Tooth Fairy too?

    1. Hey Father Bones – though I always appreciate discussion, comments like this and the general trend of snarkiness being equated with wisdom is such a waste of time. If you want citations for a specific issue, you can just ask. I am a lawyer with a degree in history – I know how document sources. Frankly, they are not hard to find if you look without a prejudice.

  7. Did everybody go to Hell for 1521 years? Was this bad Catholic Church you speak of good enough to decide which books made the New Testament? If the correct changes were made in 1521 to the bad ole Catholic Church why does everyone continue to disagree and branch off into 40,000 denominations? Why would Jesus tell Peter You are my Rock and I will for my church? He didn’t tell Martin Luther that?

    1. Hey Joe Joe – I appreciate the comment, though I wonder how much you are interested in discussing your questions. I don’t intend to be dismissive or rude, but it seems like you are repeating common lines in favor of Catholic traditions that are not supported by history.

      Did everybody go to Hell for 1521 years?

      This question is in line with the often repeated claim of the Roman Catholic Church that it was only the RCC before Luther split off and messed everything up. They claim from the time of Jesus to 1521 as just them. Meanwhile, this is not even arguably true. The Ethiopian Church is established through the Eunuch in the Bible and is evidenced as existing through archeology back to the 3rd Century. There were orthodox churches established as state churches in Eastern Europe in the 300’s. There were Coptic churches and Aksumite Churches in Africa from the time of the early church. What do these have in common? They all have been present and independently from the beginning.

      Then the Biblical account of the churches of Acts followed by the historical account of the first 400-500 years of the church show churches that look nothing like the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Church itself did not even claim primacy originally and there were bishops in a number of areas of the Roman Empire. The first councils were held by independent regions of the church and contradicted each other at times. It was only after the Roman Empire left Rome and the Roman Church leaders decided that they would be land owners and princes of the earth did the church that Luther dealt with came into being. This was after the Orthodox Church and the RCC split – with each claiming to be “the” only institutional church in the great schism – as they each ignored the other churches.

      So your assumption that is part of your question – that everyone was Catholic before 1521 goes against the clear historical facts. Which goes into the next question:

      Was this bad Catholic Church you speak of good enough to decide which books made the New Testament?

      Again, you can’t answer this question without dealing with the fact that the “Catholic Church” was really not yet in existence and did not decide what books went into the Bible. I know many people point to the Council of Nicea and say that the Catholics or Romans made the Bible there, but this is just not true either. The Roman bishop did not even lead Nicea which was also not about the books of the Bible. Debate about certain books had been happening since the beginning, like Hebrews, but the church as a whole has widely agreed on the New Testament since the earliest history.

      I ask you, though, you keep making light of the bad ole Catholic church – but are you aware of how the Catholic Church of the middle ages operated? Are you aware that the pope of Luther’s time bought his position as did many of the church leaders of the time. Many were part of the oh so powerful DeMedici banking family. This same church fielded an army, enslaved people, and made war on other Christians in the Italian peninsula when one of their leaders needed more land. Even in modern times, the pope during world war 2 supported the fascists in Italy and never spoke out against the Nazis – but protested when Allied bombers hit near church property/

      Were these the sort of men good enough to determine the New Testament or declare in the name of God as successors to Peter?

      If the correct changes were made in 1521 to the bad ole Catholic Church why does everyone continue to disagree and branch off into 40,000 denominations?

      So consider this – if any one of the claimed 40,000 denominations acted like the Catholic Church of 1521, they would ally themselves with a blood thirsty emperor and ruthlessly attack anyone who attempted to believe anything slightly different than them or threatened their power. Luther would have been burned at the stake like Jan Huss was about 100 years before and any country that supported such doctrine would have been attacked by the leaders forces under the authority of a Crusade. The Pope issued 5 successive crusades authorizing the Holy Roman Empires attacks on Bohemia nd teh Hussites – with 10’s of thousands of dead in the process. Since Protestants don’t do that and value individual freedom, there is much room for differences of opinion on parts of doctrine.

      And though they don’t call themselves such, you have many, many different flavors of church within the Rcc- from Jesuits to Marianists to Benedictine to Opus Deo to Latin mass only to Mel Gibson’s super strict version to the regional differences as well as the very diverse ideas about God and worship that are present in the practice of Catholics and each diocese.

      Why would Jesus tell Peter You are my Rock and I will for my church? He didn’t tell Martin Luther that?

      The interesting thing about this claim is that there is no evidence in the Bible or in early church history that they church took it to mean that Peter was the Pope and the RCC was the church. You can debate its meaning now, but Jerusalem and Antioch were the center of the church world in Acts. When a church council is held in Acts 15 – it is in Jerusalem and its leader is apparently James – not Peter. Predictably, this interpretation of the rock meaning Peter as Pope only came to prominence when Rome was trying to take over the world.

      Is Peter important in the Bible? Is he a leader in the church? Of course, but it is a huge leap from this to claiming that a bunch of rich dudes who bought their positions had some sort of inhereited authority because of their positions.

  8. Is it not true that Luther declared himself wiser and above God by declaring his own authority supreme on what Gods church is and removing books from Gods’ Church Bible?
    Did he not declare himself to be god and are not all his followers merely protestors and reformed followers of this deciever, gathered in the church of luther? Following a feel- good deity? A church not from God, but a movement causing his children to fall into sin, and thus away from Him?
    God does not change. He was, he is and ever shall be.

    1. Hi Jo-Jo – Thanks for your comment and for caring about the truth of God’s Word and His Church. Did you read the post itself? The reason I ask is one of the main points I explain in it is that the books of the bible that you are saying Luther removed were never actually considered the Bible by the Israelites (the people of the Old Testament), much of the early church, and the man who compiled the Latin Vulgate, the Bible version that the Catholic Church relied upon for much of its history. It was the very later arriving Roman Catholic Church who eventually added the Apocrypha to the Bible and ignored the churches prior rulings that they were not Scripture and Luther called out the illogic of their position. He did not make himself God in the process, he merely pointed out that the extremely corrupt and often evil men who made up the leaders of the RCC of that time had made a number of grievous errors.

      As a point of fact, I suspect that you would agree with Luther if you were living in that time as well – unless you are cool with working as a slave on church land for 10% of your year is what God requires, regular people are not worthy of touching a Bible much less reading it, and anyone who disagrees with the Pope should be burned alive – like what the Pope did to Jan Hus and tried to do to Luther.

      I understand that you disagree with Luther (and me) but it is rarely helpful to not learn what the person you disagree with actually thinks about a subject before bashing it. You make quite a few accusations about a whole lot of people like me who love Jesus and believe that we follow the Bible over any man, seemingly without understanding the foundation of our beliefs.

      You are free to do so, but it is a shame.

  9. The claim that these books weren’t in catholic canon until 1547 is false, the apocryphal books have been included in catholic canon since the synod of Hippo in 393 AD

    1. Hey there – thanks for taking the time to comment. I think you are mixing together two things in your claim. The synod of Hippo was one of a number of synods that happened during this general time period. It produced a list of books that they considered canon, which included some of the apocrypha. The synod at Carthage which is a few years later did as well. These lists were produced but were not the official canon of the church – they say as much and say their list was pending approval by Rome.

      They are regional and similar to the synod at Laodicea which was in the 360’s where that synod forbid the reading of the apocrypha saying that they were not scripture.

      The actual official adoption by Rome takes place at the Council of Trent in response to the Reformation.

  10. Hello, the fact of the matter is Luther was angry with the Catholic church at the time for good reason. But to break off, schism, and a new religion is created (using his name Luther for lutheranism, A protestant church along with all other protesting people like Calvin (Calvinism named after a man)is heresy. If the protestant revolution never happened we would all be Catholics and believe in the same thing which God intended. They should have prayed and stayed faithful and ask for God’s help. This is why we have so many different denominations to choose from… Because we “feel” that so and so is wrong so I’ll go and try this church or that church and say “oh yes, this feels right, these people think as I do”. God didn’t create all of the different denominations… Men did. I choose to follow the church that I can trace back to when Jesus walked the earth (Catholicism which means universal) not a man made religion created with a mans belief as to what is right or wrong because he’s angry. Prayer is powerful I think we can all believe and agree about that and it can change things.

    1. Hi Bonnie – Thanks for the comment and for your thoughts. I am glad you enjoy your church home and that you love Jesus, more importantly.

      I don’t seek to change your mind about your church choice, that is between you and the Lord, but I do wonder if you would consider the foundations of your viewpoint about the Catholic church and how it affects your heart towards the rest of the Christian world. There are whole lot of non-Catholics in the world and we love Jesus. Jesus’ standard for ou being disciples of His is never stated to be following a church, but in loving Him and loving our brothers and sisters in Him. Protestants believe in the catholic church, small c meaning universal as in everyone who calls on the name of Jesus – it is just a different definition.

      I would challenges some of the things you set out as fact in your comment.

      If the protestant revolution never happened we would all be Catholics and believe in the same thing which God intended.

      I know the Catholic Church tends to paint history in this fashion, but it is simply not the case. The Reformation started in the early 1500’s. At that point, it had been 500 years since the Great Schism when the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church disagreed on their essential doctrine and two churches were formed where one had been previously. I word it this way because many of the churches that were later titled as Orthodox are some of the oldest in world. Constantinople became the heart of the Roman Empire in the early 300’s. It was also the heart of the church world, at that time. So as of 1500, you have thousands of Orthodox churches that reject the claims of the Roman Church.

      Christianity has also been the state religion and had state churches from the early 300’s in places like Serbia and Russia. These churches, Serbian Orthodox and Russian orthodox were also in existence for about 1300 years before Martin Luther. In Africa, you also have the Ethiopian Church and had the Aksumite Empire and its churches. The Ethiopian church has been in existence since the Ethiopian Eunuch from Acts. They recently unearthed a church from the 200’s in Ethiopia. These historical churches also were/are separate from the Catholic Church, reject its authority, and were in existence at the time of Luther.

      Sorry for the history discussion, but it is important. The Roman Catholic Church, in fact, only controlled as small portion of the world, the domain of the Holy Roman Empire. This was due to their alliance with the Franks in the late 700’s, guys who conquered Europe and eventually titled themselves Emperors.

      You also had many people and groups who had rejected the claims of the Catholic Church throughout the years from the time of Christ until Luther for the same reasons. We have records of early church councils where it is clear that the position of pope did not exist. You also have guys like Jan Huss who read the Bible and arrived at the same conclusions as Luther. Hus did so about 100 years before Luther. The Church responded by burning Hus at the stake and sending multiple crusades to kill anyone who believed what Hus taught. My point is the claim that there was one church specifically before Luther and it was the Roman Catholic Church is just not true. Church history has been filled with many wonderful branches of Spirit filled believers from the very beginning. If you view it as just a monolithic ONE CHURCH until that pesky Luther, you cannot possibly treat the questions involved fairly.

      History aside, the bottom line comes down to the question of authority. You claim that departing from the Catholic Church is heresy. That is fine. You are entitled to your beliefs. But Luther, Hus, the Reformers, and regular guys like me look first to the the Words of Jesus contained in the Bible to set out what is or isn’t heresy and for what His church should look like. Our standard for heresy is Jesus’ adn we believe we are following His faith, just like all Christians have since the Book of Acts.

      You are correct in observing that Protestant churches can be divided and messy. But, having attended Catholic Schools of differing orders and experienced Catholic Church, I can tell you that this is not a uniquely Protestant experience. It is also not a new one, as the churches of the New Testament dealt with many of the same issues. 1 Corinthians 1:

      11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are [f]contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

      Thanks again for your thoughts,
      God bless you,

      1. Hi, thank you for your response. First of all I’d like to say I’m not condemning any Christian Faith, to do that is not Christian. My husband and his side of the family are Lutheran, some of my best friends are Lutheran. At one point in my marriage I was considering becoming a Lutheran to keep the peace in my husbands side of the family. Before I did that I decided to look into the background of my Catholic Faith. I read the book by Scott Hahn (who was a protestant) called “Surprised by Truth”. I read stories, and you can also YouTube the videos, on Eucharistic miracles where hosts have bled real blood, have real heart tissue. I had a hard time walking away from those miracles that have happened so I didn’t, couldn’t.

        Catholics lock the hosts away in the tabernacle behind the altar after they are consecrated. They are the true body of our Lord. The mass is not just a shared meal in remembrance of the last supper, it’s the true presence of Jesus. When a host falls to the ground in our church, the priest has to pick it up and get all of the particles he can see off of the floor.

        Read the book ” Devil in the city of Angels ” by Jesse Romero. Watch YouTube videos on how Satanists only take hosts from a Catholic church, because even they know that it’s the only true church with the real presence of our Lord Jesus. They use the hosts in their satanic rituals. Watch the YouTube video about Zachary King who was a former Satanist who turned Catholic. He was high up in the satanic church, performed many abortions and other satanic rituals including black masses which are the opposite of Catholic masses.

        There cannot possibly be over 20,000 denominations that all claim to be the true church. Study the conversion stories of protestants, atheists etc who converted to the Catholic faith. Why is it that when other faiths who try to exorcise demons and can’t always free the person, call on a Catholic exorcist for help? Read the stories of Father Gabriel Amorth a famous exorcist. I pray you do look into at least one of these suggestions, if not all.

        I’m not understanding what you mean when you say you attended Catholic schools and experienced Catholic Church. Were you once Catholic?

        God bless🙏 Peace

      2. Hi again Bonnie –

        First of all I’d like to say I’m not condemning any Christian Faith, to do that is not Christian.

        I am glad to read this. I did not think otherwise, but there is often much division and anger within the Christian so it is hard to know someone’s heart. This was part of the reason that I wrote this post. There is a lot of misunderstanding and strong feelings about Luther and the Reformation that can divide Jesus loving Protestants and Jesus loving Catholics. I believe that even if you ultimately disagree with where his theology led him, there is much about Luther and his motivations that modern Catholics would readily agree with.

        I’m not understanding what you mean when you say you attended Catholic schools and experienced Catholic Church. Were you once Catholic?

        Yes, my father was Catholic and even though I did not go to church much in my early years, I became Catholic before high school and then went to a Catholic High School and College. We had mandatory mass and I took religion for 8 straight years. My wife was also Catholic and went to Catholic schools from Kindergarten through College. We attended Catholic Churches from when we met in college through the birth of our first child, who was baptized in the Catholic Church. It was only when I was in my 30’s that I first started to actually believe in Jesus and read the Bible that we left the Catholic Church. I had taken 8 years of theology in my time in Catholic Schools and had gone to many masses and, yet, there was so much I either never heard or did not understand.

        I went on to become a lawyer and when Jesus did a miracle in me and saved me from the alcoholism that was destroying me and that had destroyed my father and grandfather, I used my lawyer training to figure out why I had never understood before that time. I know a big part of it was my responsibility and my sin, but I also bought into a lot of the misunderstandings that are common among Catholics that I try to address here.

        I had a hard time walking away from those miracles that have happened so I didn’t, couldn’t.

        I am glad that you have a church home that you love. You can see from my writing that I disagree with the Catholic Church about things, but since our faith is really about Jesus, we can trust that He will take care of us both – regardless of who is correct.

        There cannot possibly be over 20,000 denominations that all claim to be the true church.

        This is one of those common misunderstandings that mentioned above. Two things I would point out in response:

        I know Catholics think this way, but the Protestant view of the “One True Church” is very different than the Catholic view. We define the One True Church as every person in the world who is a believer in Christ – regardless of which church tradition they follow. So the Baptists don’t claim to be the One True Church and exclude the Methodists or Lutherans or Catholics. They each claim to be a denomination – a style of worshipping Jesus – that is one part of the One True Church.

        Second, the history of the church in general that I mentioned in my previous response shows that there has been a diversity within the Body of Christ pretty much since the beginning. I wont go through it again, but there have always been a variety of church structures present on the earth. I believe this is consistent with 1 Corinthians 12 – we are one body made up of many different parts with the head being Jesus.

        I agree that it can be confusing and within the freedom that Christ gave us there is an opening for abuse, but if the historical time period of Luther tells us anything it is that there is plenty of room for abuse when one church has a monopoly.

        God bless you,

  11. Hello there,

    Sorry if a stranger has barged in pastor but may I throw my hat on this one? I’m afraid we may have indeed a caricature here:

    “the fact of the matter is Luther was angry with the Catholic church at the time for good reason. But to break off, schism, and a new religion is created (using his name Luther for lutheranism, A protestant church along with all other protesting people like Calvin (Calvinism named after a man)is heresy.”

    I’ve seen this caricature a lot from people a lot and believe me there are others out there concerning Luther. The truth is, Luther never intended to leave the Church, he never even intended to leave the Augustinian order. The Church excommunicated (kicked out) him for holding on to his insistence for reform within the Church. This fate was shared by Peter Waldo (12th century) and Jan Hus (15th century), of course, John Wycliffe (14th century) would have been excommunicated as well but his circle of friends prevented it till he died of natural causes. These men altogether predated Luther too by some centuries(as the pastor had pointed out), thus eliminating another caricature that the doctrines we hold today began with Luther. Finally, Luther did not set out to found (build) a new church, his reforms were welcomed by many Catholic churches.

    Even I invoke my Catholic identity as emphasis that it has not disappeared, I only seek to cleanse it from Roman accretions through the light (Psa. 119:105) of the everlasting word (Matt. 24:35). The Reformation offers me what I could never refuse as a common folk, free access to the Word of God in my own tongue. Something that our former colonial masters, the Spaniards, did not offer us for exactly 333 years (1565-1898). The Bible arrived on our islands either in Latin or Spanish but only few could understand it and not many could afford education. It was only during the time of the Americans that Bible translations were formally done. By reading the Bible for myself, I eventually understood that it was never meant to be locked up in a foreign tongue because the Holy Scriptures reveal us these words: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4) How can I learn them which were written before except it be revealed to me in my tongue? Let alone have patience and comfort of the Holy Scriptures?

    Thank you for your patience and God bless you

    1. Sorry if a stranger has barged in pastor but may I throw my hat on this one?

      Of course, you are very welcome and thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      The Reformation offers me what I could never refuse as a common folk, free access to the Word of God in my own tongue. Something that our former colonial masters, the Spaniards, did not offer us for exactly 333 years (1565-1898).

      This is one of the wonderful world shaking changes that I think often gets overlooked when discussing Luther. Being able to read the Bible seems so natural and normal that it is easy to overlook the fact that common people were not even allowed to touch the Bible by Luther’s day and translating it into the common language was considered debasing to the Word. This was in spite of the Holy Spirit miraculously translating Peter’s message on Pentecost into every common language and Jesus Himself not speaking in Latin.

      It is such a sad, overlooked part of history. It is one of the things I included in this post – 5 Reasons Catholics Should thank Martin Luther – https://pastorunlikely.com/5-reasons-catholics-should-thank-martin-luther/

      The Bible arrived on our islands either in Latin or Spanish but only few could understand it and not many could afford education. It was only during the time of the Americans that Bible translations were formally done. By reading the Bible for myself, I eventually understood that it was never meant to be locked up in a foreign tongue because the Holy Scriptures reveal us these words: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4) How can I learn them which were written before except it be revealed to me in my tongue? Let alone have patience and comfort of the Holy Scriptures?

      Amen! That is such a sad history, but praise the Lord He brought willing translators and has led you to where you are today!

      We had the Bible in English, but sadly, in my experience the remnant of the doctrines that led to keeping it in Latin and out of the hands of people were still very present. The Bible was available, but the consistent message was that it was only for the “better” people to read – the priests and bishops. Us common folk could not understand it and/or it had nothing to offer by itself and we should just come and be taught be the direct conduits to God, the clergy. It was a very low view of the Bible and God’s love for His people and a very high view of clergy. It took me a very long time to read the Bible and see that this was not at all what Jesus intended. Praise God for His patience with me!

      God bless you as well!

      PS – Can I ask what island?

      1. The Philippine Islands, Ferdinand Magellan arrived on Limasawa’s shores in 1521 but its colonization wouldn’t happen until 1565. All the Spaniards laboured to do was to provide us the “Doctrina Cristiana” while it was a religious material, it nevertheless wasn’t the Bible. The Spaniards may have been gone for over a century now but their influence on my people still lingers. Even after American rule (1898-1946), priests would tell the common folk this ridiculous tale saying, “Don’t read the Bible because it’ll make you mad.” or in my language, “Ayaw’g basa’g Biblia kay makabuang.” Sadly, I believe some old folks still say this on occasion. Besides that, the older generations were known to throw rocks at non-Catholic churches. It’s only recently that my people are more tolerant towards other churches. I have three uncles who are Catholic ministers, they’ve been telling me the usual things and conversion to Roman Catholicism is no exception. I’ve told them that I’m still a Catholic because even as a boy our Sunday school teacher would tell us that we’re still Catholics. The only difference is, we don’t follow the teachings of Rome but Christ’s, hence, we are Christian Catholics. We acknowledge the significance of the Reformation, the errors of Roman teaching and partake in bearing the name Protestant.

  12. I thank God that I found this page. I’ve read through the comments and really appreciate your responses even to those that seem trollish and drive by.

    I have a question, do you agree or disagree with the removal of the apocrypha from the Protestant Bible? It’s been my understanding that while it wasn’t considered inspired it is still included in the German Bible among others and only in the 1820s did it truly begin to be removed. I’ve also read this was welcomed to reduce costs which seems very problematic.

    I admit I’m not well versed in this and assume you probably are.

    If you are able to address and provide opinion or evidence, I greatly appreciate you.

    1. Hi Jordan – Thank you for the encouragement. I am blessed to read that you appreciate this page and what I see as evidence of the Holy Spirit working in my responses. I can say that I do like most people and understand where they are coming from since I made all of the same arguments before Christ. There are many times, though, where my initial fleshly draft response has to be deleted and I have to pray for Jesus’ heart before starting again. God loves even the most trollish poster so who am I have to an attitude.

      I agree with the removal of the apocrypha from the Bible. I don’t have a problem with reading them and they are certainly in regular circulation, but there is no need for the confusion that comes with associating them so closely with the inspired Word of God. This all traces back to Jerome, who compiled the Latin Vulgate. Jerome struggled with the question of the apocrypha before ultimately coming to the conclusion that they were to be respected, but were not Scripture. He was pressured by church authorities, despite this, to include the apocryphal books. Jerome compromised by including them with the Vulgate, but wrote introductions to them that stated that they were not Scripture. People being what we are, the physical association of the apocryphal books with the Bible was more powerful than his introductions and given the fact that the Vulgate became the standard Bible translation for hundreds of years, it is the source of much of the issues over the books up to the present time. If i remember correctly, Luther’s translation went for the same compromise.

      I would follow the practice of the Jews who kept the inspired Scripture in the Temple set apart from everything else, including the apocrypha, even though they respected other books as well.

      God bless you!

  13. Brothers! Let us live not by lies. Please look into Athanasius as he did not deny the duetoro-canon. Find the quotes where he is claimed to have “denied the apocrypha” and he lists explicitly books you claim he denies. I am not insinuating that the author of this post is intentionally misleading but rather that he is uncritically repeating falsehoods said elsewhere.

    Laodacian 60th cannon is almost 100% spurious, you would not rely on such a source if it was pro catholic, please use equal scales.

    Esther is never quoted in the NT and excluded by Athanasius, should it be excluded? If not, why not?

    The councils of Rome, Hippo, and Carthage in the late 4th early 5th centuries that accept the duetorocanon, and unlike Laodacia these are undisputed and accepted by all scholars as authentic and not later additions like canon 60 of laodacia.

    Jerome, like many chrustians today, beleived that observant Jews OF HIS TIME had deeper spiritual insights into biblical questions from centuries before than contemporary chrustians.think Sadar dinners. The missaratic Jews had no more insight into biblical questions than the church fathers of the same time simply by virtue of being Jews. We must remember that the missaratic Jews changed OT. scriptures to deny that Christ was the messiah. The massaretic movement was explicitly reactionary and anti Christian. Why beleive their testimony on what we consider scripture?

    Finally, the Septuagint, without question includes the duetorocanon. The early church universally accepted it. Early church fathers like Irenaeus, Clement, Hippolytus, and many others as well as the vast majority of all canonical lists.

    I do not intend that you accept the duetorocanon as inspired scripture, just that you recognize the majority of the arguments in this article as unfounded.

    1. Hey Justus – though I respect your position, it is helpful to not smear someone who disagrees with you on issues that have been debated among Catholics and Protestants for many years as someone who is spreading lies and falsehoods. You may be 100% committed to your position, but it ignores the mountains of debate and the contrary evidence, and is further just not very nice. I disagree with not only your conclusion, but the factual basis behind it, but that does not make you a spreader of lies or ignorant.

      Taking yours out of order –

      Finally, the Septuagint, without question includes the duetorocanon. The early church universally accepted it. Early church fathers like Irenaeus, Clement, Hippolytus, and many others as well as the vast majority of all canonical lists.

      These statements are simply not accurate, for a number of reasons. Your statement about the Septuagint paints over the question of what exactly was the Septuagint at the time of Jesus, how many books were actually completed, and what was included in each Septuagint version or copy. We know the Torah was the original Greek translation that was considered the Septuagint – 72 authors and all – but that various additional books were translated into Greek over the years that followed at various times There was also not a uniform version of the Septuagint and we don’t have any from the time of Jesus. Since there were also other greek translations from that time period, it is impossible to claim that one Septuagint in one form ruled them all in the 1st Century. The copies that are the basis for the claim that it certainly included the apocrypha are from well after that time and still do not represent one example of a uniform set. The Jews were certainly aware of the Septuagint and of the books of the Apocrypha and yet, it is undisputed that they never included them as inspired books…and this leads back to Jerome.

      I am not sure how your Jerome argument tracks with an argument that discounts anything that Jerome wrote. He specifically addressed the practice of the church at that time and the contemporary view of the Apocrypha:

      “This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a “helmeted” introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is not found in our list must be placed amongst the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which generally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon.”


      As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it also read these two Volumes (Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus) for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church.”

      The issue is not that the books are bad or useless, it is that they are not the inspired Word of God and should not then be used to formulate doctrine. This was the same position expressed by —

      Please look into Athanasius as he did not deny the duetoro-canon. Find the quotes where he is claimed to have “denied the apocrypha” and he lists explicitly books you claim he denies.

      Athanasius. Your position may be inflamed based on modern usage of the term “the Apocrypha” as referring to the deuterocanonical books which I admittedly used. Athanasius’ used two separate terms for two categories – those books that are useful for edification but not Scripture and those written by heretics which he refers to as the apocrypha. Athanasius is clear in the opinion that the stated books in the first category are not canon, but not heretical.

      But for the sake of greater exactness I add this also, writing under obligation, as it were. There are other books besides these, indeed not received as canonical but having been appointed by our fathers to be read to those just approaching and wishing to be instructed in the word of godliness: Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Esther, Judith, Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being merely read; nor is there any place a mention of secret writings. But such are the invention of heretics, who indeed write them whenever they wish, bestowing upon them their approval, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as if they were ancient writings, they find a means by which to lead astray the simple-minded.

      Here is what the post said about the books:

      The Protestant church generally views them as deserving of respect and containing some historical truth but not inspired – meaning without error and God breathed. You are free to read them and learn from their historical aspects. They just do not meet the standard to be included in the Bible.

      I don’t think I ever said that Athanasius “denied the Apocrypha” but rather that he spoke against it – meaning he said that it was not Scripture. Athanasius and Jerome seem to clearly say just that. Even as far forward as the Reformation you have Cardinal Catejans of the Catholic Church agreeing with Athanasius and Jerome, though he does add some illogic at the end of his quote:

      Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the Apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, as is plain from the Prologus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the Bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the Bible for that purpose. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage.

      His position was to respect the historical finding that they were not canon, but then claim they were which doesn’t make much sense. It does show clear awareness of the view of the books.

      The early church universally accepted it.

      Obviously, this is not true and can be seen from just this limited response.

      You are welcome to your contrary conclusion, but it is simply unfair and unkind to paint those who disagree in a bad light when we either disagree with your conclusion or with your reading of texts.
      God bless you,

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