Revisiting the Concept of ‘Closed’ Scripture
The term ‘closed canon of Scripture’ often surfaces in theological discussions, but it might not accurately represent the inherent potentiality of the Scripture. It is crucial to understand that while we currently have a Scripture to which no additions are being made, it doesn’t imply that it is ‘closed’. In fact, the Scripture remains perpetually open to the degree that God can augment it whenever He so chooses.
This theological understanding is founded on the belief that while Soteriological history is deemed complete, leading to a perceived completion of the Bible, God’s word, embodied in the Scripture, is always open.
Additions to Scripture: The Authority of a Prophet
Additions to Scripture, if any, can only occur if God ordains a prophet who has the ability to demonstrate his divine authority and speak in line with previously revealed revelations. The guidelines for distinguishing a true prophet are elucidated in the book of Deuteronomy.
Interpreting Deuteronomy: Discerning the Divine Voice
Deuteronomy 13 instructs that if a prophet or a dreamer of dreams presents signs or wonders that come to pass, yet he advocates for the worship of unfamiliar gods, his words are to be disregarded. These circumstances are tests from the Lord to discern our undivided love and devotion to Him.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22, on the other hand, cautions against those prophets who presumptuously utter words in God’s name that He has not commanded, or who speak in the name of other gods. The litmus test for false prophecies is their failure to manifest or their lack of alignment with the truth.
The Fear of God and the Third Commandment
The fear of God guides us in the observance of the third commandment: to not take God’s name in vain. This is not about refraining from irreverent language; it is about safeguarding God’s reputation and living in reverential fear of misrepresenting Him. Proposing an open canon, implying that the Scripture might be added to, is a weighty claim that cannot be fulfilled casually. For who among us can demonstrate prophetic signs at will or speak on behalf of God?
Implications and Power of an Open Canon
An open canon perspective carries significant implications. It upholds the integrity of Scripture while simultaneously keeping God’s conversation, power, and authority alive. It paints the Bible not as a static, first-century manuscript but as a vibrant medium of dialogue with God that’s pulsating with life.
Under this perspective, we are ever-ready to hear His voice again. If God so wills, He can add to the Scripture — be it one book or a hundred. Just as our current canon emerged organically, any additions would likewise be organic, maintaining the Scripture’s dynamic nature.
This view of Scripture, as an organic and open canon, invites us into a living, evolving relationship with God, a dialogue that continues to reverberate with His divine wisdom and love.
Adding to the Canon: A High Bar, Yet Open Possibility
The idea of adding to the canon might sound audacious, and understandably so. However, I’m open to this possibility. But it’s crucial to remember that the standards are steep. Fulfilling the stringent criteria as set forth in Scripture for anyone to be considered a divinely ordained prophet is an incredibly high hurdle. Thus, the likelihood of anyone meeting these standards in the near future seems slim.
Nevertheless, it’s important that our apprehensions don’t prompt us to coin theological safe-word such as “closed.” This does not align with the open nature of Scripture as highlighted in the canon itself. Such terms might offer a semblance of security, but they could misrepresent the actual dynamic nature of the Scripture. Therefore, while remaining open to potential divine additions, let’s refrain from incorrect and uncanonical labels that confine our understanding of the Scripture.