I hope, by now, people understand that the things I write here aren't designed to diminish or devalue a person's faith in Christ. The flipside of that - I hope people understand that I DO want to diminish AND devalue faith in traditions and commandments of men, which frankly, many, maybe most, well-meaning Christians confuse with genuine faith in Christ. We need to cut through all the romanticized notions about our faith, all of the "blood of believers" martyrdom that makes us feel justified, all of the "old-time way" and "old paths" bullbutter.
The evangelical community would like to think, for instance, that the founders of our country were a group of spiritual stalwarts who prayed day and night and had some kind of big campmeeting revival and praise-fest before drafting our Declaration of Independence and eventually our Constitution, swayed ONLY by the voice of God. Well, I've no doubt that there were some very sincerely spiritual men among them who DID do a lot of praying, but there were also non-believers, whoremongers and adulterers, probably an alcoholic or two, and some slave-owners. With the exceptions of owning slaves and having no women involved, it probably looked a lot like our Congress now in its moral make-up. Not quite the religious, storybook beginnings that the Christian community would like to believe. Our founding fathers were fallible people, just like we are, prone to make mistakes at times, just like we are. People are ever people - back then, today, 100 years from now. We may continually have access to more and better information, more technology, and more material resource, but people are ever people. And with that, I'll turn back to the construct of the biblical canon...
You know the old saying, "If you want to know the future, look at the past"? I think there's a whole heckuva lot of truth in it. It can also be used as a mirror in the opposite direction, as in - if you want to know what the construction of the biblical canon looked like in the past, imagine if it happened today. I mean, seriously, imagine if it happened today. To do so, you have to take the fact that most of mainstream Christianity has delved into some degree of bible worship (as have its leaders) off the table, and imagine we were starting from scratch. You'd have a council consisting of all the leaders of various demoninations (such as the SBC, Assemblies of God, Churches of God (Cleveland and Anderson), Presbyterian, Methodist, and so forth) along with men like Billy or Franklin Graham, and Word of Faith movement people like T.D. Jakes, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, et cetera, along with people like Rick Warren - and, of course, dominionists like Gothard, Phillips, Wilson, et cetera, would demand their seats at the table. I wouldn't be surprised to see some prominent Christian politicians like Huckabee wanting a piece of this action, too.
Would you trust that bunch of buffoons to conclusively determine what was of God and what wasn't? I mean, our new biblical canon might include everything from the 4 gospels (which are an interesting story in and of themselves) to the Pauline epistles to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition to The Purpose Driven Life to The Shack to the Basic Life Principles.
Think long and hard about it. Not very spiritually romantic, is it? The fact of the matter is, the church HAS accepted such a thing. History repeats itself - and look at how many people unquestioningly accept the modern biblical canon as the absolute standard and capsule of all truth and of all that God could and would ever need to say to men. The groups of men who created it were no better and less fallible, and had no fewer personal hangups and dogmatic baggage, than the group of men in my scenario above, yet the modern church has put ALL faith in their conclusions.
In the modern protestant faith, the two most revered men are usually Martin Luther and John Calvin - and both were religious addicts and fools. These men had HUGE voices in the construct of the modern protestant canon - and both were religious addicts and fools. That's not to say that they didn't say and do some good things or have some good ideas. Rather, it's a look at the entire body of work.
Martin Luther hated the Jews. HATED them. Now, you can argue that his words and teachings might have been abused and misused, but many of Adolf Hitler's beliefs were formulated from the words and works of Luther concerning the Jewish people and faith. Sorta offsets whatever good he did in helping to bring the Christian faith out of the Dark Ages, and certainly renders him as someone revered when he probably shouldn't be.
John Calvin was a legalist's legalist. His teachings led to the creation of a Christian theocracy in Geneva that was one big religious shile of pit. Oppression, zealotry, idolatry of biblical law, mandatory church attendance. CONTROL. People were executed for promoting ANY other version of the faith than that which Calvin taught and the city council endorsed. Geneva's answer to Catholic religious oppression was protestant religious oppression. It looked a lot like dominionism and what we call "hyper-calvinism" today. From the link...
Regardless of whatever good may be found in his teachings, and whatever you think of Calvinism and its doctrines today, it shouldn't be forgotten that he wanted to force other people, by law, to accept his own religious standards - something that couldn't possibly make him more anti-Christ.
And these men had a voice in the biblical canon as we know it today. Calvin questioned the divine inspiration of 2nd and 3rd John and Revelation. In my last piece, I mentioned Luther's resistance to the NT books of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation, but he also strongly opposed the inclusion of two OT books. His opinions regarding these books from the link...
Esther: "I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist."
Jonah: "The history of Jonah is so monstrous as to be absolutely incredible."
Hebrews: "The Epistle to the Hebrews is not by St. Paul; nor, indeed, by any apostle."
James: "St. James' Epistle is truly an epistle of straw."
Jude: “The Epistle of Jude allegeth stories and sayings which have no place in Scripture." (apparently, he doesn't like Jude's direct quotation from the Book of Enoch - a book which, btw, the early church accepted as inspired)
Revelation: "I can discover no trace that it is established by the Holy Spirit."
The only reason that most people who claim to believe the bible is inerrant, infallible, and completely inspired by God believe this is because other men told them so - and their investment into a form of Christianity that amounts to bible worship is so deep that to examine the biblical canon, its construct, and its divine inspiration, would unravel everything about their faith.
Regarding the heroes of the Christian faith, I think it's pretty silly to include men like Luther, Calvin, and those who were part of the various councils through the centuries which determined divine inspiration of scripture by majority vote. The TRUE heroes of the faith, back then, now, and in the future, are people you've never heard of and will never hear of, people who didn't demand a voice at the table of leadership, but people who simply lived out the message of Christ in loving and giving ways.
Here's a pretty good place to start measuring your own religious addictions where the bible is concerned: Have you ever heard of, or read, the Book of the Secrets of Enoch (sometimes known simply as the Book of Enoch)? If not, despite this lack of knowledge, do you still believe the 66 books of the modern protestant canon are the completed "word of God"?
My advice - start unraveling.
Know why you believe what you believe. Make sure your faith is truly in Christ and not in a man-made bastardization of Christianity based on a man-determined, majority vote dictated collection of books.