Why You Should Not Buy Into a Hippo
This is the sequel episode of a question introduced and answered a month ago, “Did the Catholic Church give us the Bible?” In answering that question, the Council of Hippo was introduced. This is the early church council that Catholics and Orthodox Christians point to and credit for producing the biblical canon as we have it today. Last month’s answer gave three burdens of proof in contradiction to the Catholic church’s confession. Now we ask the question, “Why did the Catholic church deem the Council of Hippo necessary?”
At the Council of Hippo in 393 A.D., a council of church bishops convened and gave their official authorization as to which books were and were not inspired. Milton Fisher writes about the Catholic church’s declaration of the New Testament canon in the 4th century. He states, “A need for officially defining the canon was not pressing until then,” (Comfort, Philip. The Origins of the Bible, p. 67). Paul warned the Christians at Thessalonica not to believe coming imposters who would write epistles in the names of the apostles, trying to deceive (2 Thess. 2:1-2). By the time of the Council of Hippo in 393 A.D., such imposters were at large, influencing Catholic bishops to make an official decree announcing which books were authoritative and which were not. In light of this brief history, no pope, man named Tertullian, or church council decided which books should be included in the Bible. The inspired collection of Bible books was recognized prior to this church council placing its stamp on the cover. Catholics and Orthodox Christians violently object to this truth, but it is indeed the truth as born out by historical fact. Much like a patient who has been given medicine by a doctor, the 1st century church was given the Bible by God. When the patient takes the medicine and acknowledges it to be good, he does not authorize the medicine; he simply recognizes the inherent authority already in the medicine. Such is the case with the Bible as delivered by the Great Physician. The church simply recognized the inherent authority within scripture, and it did so long before any Catholic church council opened its mouth.
The Bible contains God’s very words to men. These words were written down by inspired men of God as they were instructed by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). The individual books that resulted from this revelatory process were then shared among the 1st and 2nd century churches (Col. 4:16). The staunch oral tradition and preservation of biblical manuscripts allowed faithful Christians to refute uninspired writings no later than the 2nd century. The Council of Hippo was deemed necessary by men in order to affirm what was already true and authoritative. In short, the Catholic “stamp” of approval was plagiarized from the stamp of the apostles and prophets that originally produced and circulated the Bible canon. The testimony of history and of the Bible together speak to the divine self-efficacy of scripture, needing no Catholic stamp of authorization. The 66 books of the Hebrew-Christian Bible is God’s breath- inhale it.