The formation of the canon and foundationalism
“If the early church was a theological quagmire, if apocryphal books are as valid as so-called canonical books, and if scholars are convinced the New Testament is filled with forgeries, then on what possible basis can Christians have confidence that they have the right twenty-seven books? How can Christians ever know such a thing? It is here that we come to the precise question this book is designed to answer. This volume is concerned with the narrow question of whether Christians have a rational basis (i.e., intellectually sufficient grounds) for affirming that only these twenty-seven books rightfully belong in the New Testament canon. Or, put differently, is the Christian belief in the canon justified (or warranted)? Of course, critics of biblical Christianity have roundly argued that Christians have no rational basis for holding such a belief about the canon ... the problem with the Christian belief in canon is something other than its truth or falsehood, but has to do with whether Christians have adequate grounds for holding such a belief” (Michael J. Kruger, Canon Revisited)Adequate grounds? A rational basis which justifies belief in the canon? Critics of “biblical Christianity”? Watson, seems to see things differently.
“One may indeed wish to affirm that the catholic church was right in its selection, and that these four gospels are individually and collectively adequate to the reality of divine self-disclosure in Jesus in ways that noncanonical gospels are not. Yet there is no standpoint from which such an affirmation could be made other than the one already shaped by the canonical decision” (Francis Watson, Gospel Writing)I side more with Watson, even if it seems circular. Trust in the canon is first and foremost trust in the Triune God, particularly in his successful self-communication by Jesus and in the Spirit to the community of faith as it “recognised” canonical texts.