I saw this from a Protetant facebooker,
The early church merely did what the rabbis before them did – *recognize* God’s Word in the Scriptures. This comes down to the nature of the Scriptures in the first place. If they are truly God’s Word then they are undoubtedly self-authenticating. When my wife speaks to me I know she is talking to me and I have no need to ask my next door neighbor if those are really her words or not.
Several problems with this statement (and self-authenticating claims in general).
- St Athanasius, Origen*, and others recognized numerous books of the “Apocrypha” as authoritative Scripture. If Scripture is so self-authenticating, then how did someone like St Athanasios, who is infinitely times more sensitive to the truth of God’s word than the Reformers, get it so wrong?
- The most obvious question is “Self-authenticating to whom?” On these grounds how can we deny the Mormon his claim to his Scriptures, or the Muslim his claim to his? Given the structure of the argument, all that the Mormon has to say–and Mormons have told me this in street evangelism–“You just have to accept the obvious truth that Joseph Smith is a conduit of God’s revelation.” Obviously, he isn’t, but if we are to accept lines that “self-authenticating is valid,” then we really can’t deny the Mormon his claim.
- If the church “recognizes” God’s word, we must ask, “Which church?” The Church that Protestants claim “recognized” God’s word also prayed to the Theotokos, believed that we eat the flesh of Christ, which is the medicine of immortality (St Ignatios), maintained apostolic succession, and the like.
- And the most glaring problem, “Why should we give a damn what the Christ-hating and Christ-killing rabbis say the standards for Scriptures should be? And while we are on that topic, which rabbis: Palestinian or Diaspora? Since they didn’t accept the same canon we should be skeptical of “self-authenticating claims.”
*I realize Origen is neither saint nor church father, but Origen did a lot of intensive work on various manuscripts and was intimately familiar with the debates over “what was scripture.”