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History: Christendom

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  1. 1. Orientation
    10 Steps
  2. 2. Eternity in Operation: The Roman Principate and the New Testament Church
    11 Steps
  3. 3. Imperium sine Fine: The Successions of Rome, Judea, and the Apostolic Church
    11 Steps
  4. 4. The World That Died in the Night: Christianity, the Church Fathers, and the Transformation of Culture
    11 Steps
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ASSIGNMENT:

  1. Read I Corinthians 2:13, II Corinthians 13:3, I Thessalonians 2:13, II Peter 3:15-16, II Timothy 3:16-17, and Articles 3-6 from The Belgic Confession.
  2. Write a short essay or discuss with your instructor the following questions: How do the scriptures attest to their own authority? What reasons does The Belgic Confession give for trusting the authority of the scriptures?

SELECTION: The Belgic Confession, Articles 3-6

Article 3: The Written Word of God

We confess that this Word of God was not sent nor delivered by the will of men, but that holy men of God spoke, being moved by the Holy Spirit, as Peter says.

Afterwards our God—because of the special care he has for us and our salvation—commanded his servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit this revealed Word to writing. He himself wrote with his own finger the two tables of the law.

Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures. (2 Pet. 1:21)

Article 4: The Canonical Books

We include in the Holy Scripture the two volumes of the Old and New Testaments. They are canonical books with which there can be no quarrel at all.

In the church of God the list is as follows: In the Old Testament, the five books of Moses— Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth; the two books of Samuel, and two of Kings; the two books of Chronicles, called Paralipomenon; the first book of Ezra; Nehemiah, Esther, Job; the Psalms of David; the three books of Solomon— Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song; the four major prophets— Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel; and then the other twelve minor prophets— Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

In the New Testament, the four gospels— Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the fourteen letters of Paul— to the Romans; the two letters to the Corinthians; to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians; the two letters to the Thessalonians; the two letters to Timothy; to Titus, Philemon, and to the Hebrews; the seven letters of the other apostles— one of James; two of Peter; three of John; one of Jude; and the Revelation of the apostle John.

Article 5: The Authority of Scripture

We receive all these books and these only as holy and canonical, for the regulating, founding, and establishing of our faith.

And we believe without a doubt all things contained in them— not so much because the church receives and approves them as such but above all because the Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts that they are from God, and also because they prove themselves to be from God.

For even the blind themselves are able to see that the things predicted in them do happen.

Article 6: The Difference Between Canonical and Apocryphal Books

We distinguish between these holy books and the apocryphal ones, which are the third and fourth books of Esdras; the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Sirach, Baruch; what was added to the Story of Esther; the Song of the Three Children in the Furnace; the Story of Susannah; the Story of Bell and the Dragon; the Prayer of Manasseh; and the two books of Maccabees.

The church may certainly read these books and learn from them as far as they agree with the canonical books. But they do not have such power and virtue that one could confirm from their testimony any point of faith or of the Christian religion. Much less can they detract from the authority of the other holy books.