How do you know we know which books are supposed to be in the biblical canon based on the axiom of revelation?
Thank you for your question, Corey. For those who are reading who may not be familiar with what you are asking about, they can check out this short article that I wrote on Hubpages. They can also obtain information at The Gordon Clark Foundation and the Trinity Foundation websites.
The 66 Books of the Bible are Self-Evidently the Word of God
What I am about to say is not to be taken as Gordon Clark’s position, for I am not sure if he would agree with me on what I am about to explain. The axiom of revelation is, ‘The Bible is the Word of God.’ In this axiom, the Bible is defined as the propositional revelation of the 66 books of what is often referred to as the Protestant Canon. 1 The 66 books of the Bible are identified by definition rather than than by deductive inference; thus, the 66 books of the Bible is a presupposition of the axiom of Revelation.
A presupposition is a belief that is true by definition (or you could say, self-evidently true) given the truth of an axiom. If the Bible is defined as the 66 books of the Protestant Canon in the axiom of revelation, then the 66 books of the Bible are the Word of God. Thus, the 66 books of the Bible being the Word of God is considered a self-evident truth within the confines of the axiom of revelation, for denying the 66 books as the Word of God when the Bible is defined in the axiom as the 66 books of the Protestant Canon would lead to a self-contradictory axiom.
People may then be concerned and ask, “Aren’t you just picking this axiom and your definition of the Bible?” I stand guilty as charged on both counts. Everyone has to start somewhere in their thinking; this starting point is called an axiom (or sometimes it is called a first principle). If we do not start somewhere, we cannot begin. If we cannot begin, then we cannot validly draw conclusions, for conclusions, by definition, have preceding premises. When we enter this world, we soon see that it is a puzzle to be solved. Some may choose to try to solve it and others may choose to live a life without regard for truth. Though axioms are chosen, clearly, some axioms are better than others. Axioms should be weighed by how well they solve the puzzle of this world. If we adopt an axiom, what questions can we satisfactorily answer? I start with the axiom of revelation for two reasons. First, it is because I believe the Bible is God’s Word. God has made me into a new creature, and thus, I am filled with Yeshua’s righteousness and his identity (Colossians 3, Galatians 2), and I cannot bear to think anything other than what God thinks. Second, starting with the Bible appears to me to be the best way to satisfactorily answer the questions of this world. Other things I have tried in my philosophical journey have failed to establish the law of contradiction and the conclusion that knowledge is possible.
Yeshua is Our Shepard and We Will Hear His Voice
Yeshua himself has said that we will know him when he speaks (John 10:14, 10:27). Yeshua, God in the flesh, has promised that we, as his sheep, will know him. Thus, we, as his sheep, can discern his revelation to us without fail, and if anyone comes to us with a different Gospel than what Yeshua has given us, we can test it for its veracity (John 4:1). Many people think that God cannot speak to us anymore, but God speaks just as clearly today as he has ever done before. It is not the method of communication that establishes clarity, rather, it is the Word given by God that establishes clarity. The Bible teaches that God’s words are sufficient for our understanding (2 Timothy 3:16-17), for if it were not, how could the Bible be profitable for correction?
Thus, using the axiom of revelation, we see His Word through the wisdom and power of the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) and the Messiah who lives in us. Because of this, it is easy for us to discern what constitutes as God’s Word and what doesn’t. And to say we cannot discern God’s Word amounts to a rejection of what God clearly tells us in His Word, and if we are so inclined to reject God’s own claims, we have no reason to believe anything he has said. Thus, in order to avoid skepticism, we must accept all of what God tells us and we should not fall into a state where we try to discern the spiritual in the natural, for the natural and unregenerate man cannot understand the things of God because these things are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). Just the same, a believer, who is justified by faith, will be limited in his ability to discern spiritual matters because he is not allowing the Spirit of God to fill him and make him into a new creature that only seeks the things of God (Romans 6:1-23; Galatians 4:8-20). In the Bible, God has given us everything we need to know that pertains to life and Godliness. We also see that we can logically support our contention that the 66 books of the Protestant Canon is God’s Word if we start with the axiom of revelation.
1. There is not a rule in logic that allows for us to validly infer a proposition from a non-propositional source. Defining the Bible in the axiom of revelation in this way gives us a way to avoid the charge that we have to start with our senses in order to know what the Bible says. This is one of several reasons why I define the Bible in this way.