Friday, March 4, 2016

The Authenticity of the New Testament

The third important source of knowledge in Indian epistemology is Sabda (Word or Verbal Testimony); the first two are pratyaksha (direct perception, experience) and anumana (inference, reasoning). The role of testimony as source of knowledge is crucial since it affirms the unity of knowledge and the fact that much of what we know has come to us by means of testimonies. Historical knowledge copiously relies on written testimony. Similarly, culinary science, medicine, architecture and a host of sciences conserve and convey knowledge to us. However, not everything conveyed as information is necessarily true. However, by affirming the first two sources of knowledge to be authentic, we also affirm that testimonies of direct perception cannot be considered as unreliable sources of information; for by rejecting the reliability of testimonies, one also rejects the reliability of one’s own experience and his testimony of it.

The authenticity of Christian experience is deeply tied with the testimony of, first, Christ and, then, the Apostles. The Biblical Canon (all the books in the Bible) was sealed with the testimony of the Apostles, the last of all being John. The following facts can be noted:

  1. The testimony of the Apostles, who were with Jesus and learnt from Him, was foundational to the New Testament church. What they said and what they endorsed was doctrine. (Acts 2:42; Acts 15; Eph.2:20).
  2. The OT was affirmed by Christ and the Apostles as the divine testimony of Christ by the Spirit (John 5:39; 2Pet.1:20,21)
  3. The NT was not just the testimony of a single person, received secretly, and closed to verification. On the contrary, the NT was the testimony of the 12 Apostles of Christ, open to cross-verification as well as independent verification. The things asserted happened openly. The testimony about the event on the Mount of Transfiguration was attested by three witnesses (Peter, John, James) as required by the OT Law.
  4. Apart from the 12, there is the independent testimony of Apostle Paul (his testimony not only including the vision on the road to Damascus, but also the vision of and, later, healing by Ananias).
  5. With regard to Paul’s writings, Apostle Peter attested of these as being Scriptures (2 Pet.3:15-16).
  6. The experience of the Apostles on the Mt. of Transfiguration which included the vision of Moses and Elijah and the voice from heaven was, among other experiences, crucial in establishing the irrefutability of the identity of Christ to the Apostles (2Pet.1:17-18).
  7. Over 500 people testified of seeing Jesus after His resurrection (1Cor.15:6), thus independently verifying the claims of the Apostles regarding the resurrection of Christ.
  8. Paul himself, a persecutor of Christians, had a direct vision of Christ and became a witness of Christ.
  9. The NT is an account of the testimony of the Apostles regarding Christ; therefore, it is a proof or testimony book. As to which of the books are authentic and which are not was decided by applying the criteria of the canon by the Church Fathers, which made sure that only books written or attested by the Apostles and read as Scriptures by the local churches, having been referred to as Scriptures by the Church Fathers, could be accepted as the sealed testimony of the Apostles, the Chief Witness being the Holy Spirit.
  10. The Five-fold Ministry of the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Teachers, Pastors, are given “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph.4:12-13), which unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God is given to us in the written testimony of Christ sealed in the witness of the Bible.

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