Review of Canon Revisited by Mike Kruger
Ordinarily, when I review a book, I attempt to lay out positives and negatives, giving a balanced perspective on what the book has to offer. Occasionally, though, there’s a book that was so personally helpful to me that I have a hard time finding anything negative about the book whatsoever. This is one of those rare times. Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament by RTS-Charlotte professor Mike Kruger (find his blog here). Further, given the complexity of the issues that this book addresses, I’m really not competent to lay out too much analysis of it. Nonetheless, here are some of the reasons why this book was so personally helpful.
First, in light of the departure of a somewhat prominent Reformed pastor to the Roman Catholic Church, it was very helpful to find a scholarly presentation of the rational reasons for accepting a self-authenticating model of Scripture instead of the Roman Catholic church-based authentication model.
Secondly, his analysis of the various models of canonical authentication helped clarify for me the issues inherent in the debates between modernists, postmodernists, Roman Catholics, and Protestants. Ultimately, my understanding of those views was strengthened, but so also was my confidence in a model that sees Scripture as self-authenticating while still recognizing the importance of internal qualities of Scripture, the acceptance of Scripture by the church, and the internal witness of the Holy Spirit.
Thirdly, the book increased my confidence in the process by which God preserved his word for his people. I believe that my understanding of how God did that in history is much better than it was before I picked up this book. Additionally, Kruger highlights the importance of presuppositions and the impossibility of neutrality in approaching such a question.
Lastly, Kruger helpfully responds to several key “defeaters” of his model that help to defend why Christians are rationally justified in believing that only these 27 books are to be considered canonical. To be clear, he does not intend in this book to give a method for proving to non-Christians that the Bible is true. But he does intend to show that Christians are rationally justified in believing that only the 27 books of the New Testament are to be considered Christian Scripture. This is important, given the challenges presented by popular writings such as The Da Vinci Code and more academic works by Ehrman and others.
Accordingly, I would highly recommend reading this book if you want to have a greater understanding of how we can be confident in believing that we have the right 27 books of the New Testament and that we are not missing any other canonical writings.