You say, with regard to the Letters, that "my assumption….  is that these are inspired writings."  I have to point out that whenever God-inspired Scripture is spoken of in the NT, that it is the Jewish Bible that is spoken of.  There is in fact no Biblical warrant for the inspiration of the NT and it took Christians 300 years to decide what to include in the NT and they STILL don’t all agree. It is easy to talk about the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the abstract, but if you look at it in the concrete it is a totally different thing. John 16:13 says " When he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth". You only have to look around you at all the US denominations,  which on their own  must number hundreds, all of which differ in belief and practice, to be brought up against the hard fact, that they all claim John 16:13 for their own, yet display no proof of it whatsoever.  Each  member of each of those denominations got their glasses from the same place as you and they all see differently.  Tell me why, John.

First of all, you are incorrect when you make your charge that the New Testament does not claim inspiration for any of its writers.  In 2 Peter 3:14-16, Peter describes Paul’s writings as "scripture."    Your statement is false–plain and simple.   Also, Paul told the Thessalonians that his message was "The Word of God" which they had received.  (1 Thess 2:13)   If you read the second century church fathers, they unanimously use the gospels, the letters of Paul and others as scripture.  This is absolutely undeniable.  I do not know where you are coming from on this one.  As for the canon, naturally it was not set instantaneously.  Neither was the OT, of course,   However, by the end of the second century the list of accepted books was virtually completely set.  The list of Irenaeus is identical to ours, although he admitted that there were four of five books about which there was still some debate.  Grossly exaggerating the situation does not help the believeablitiy of your claims.  The fact is that the early church was very cautious about creating a canon, as they should have been.  All you have to do is read Didache or Epistle of Barnabus to see the difference in quality between the books chosen and those considered but not chosen.
Your attack on the New Testament scripture is a red herring–plain and simple.  However, the situation with so many denominations is more troubling, I will admit.  All I know is that the group I am part of does not have an extra-biblical creed.  We do not generate divisive credal statements for a reason.  We do our very best to be a group of Christians who base both our life and teaching on the Bible alone.  Whether or not we succeed you can judge for yourself.  I cannot end the problem of denominations and of false teachings in Christianity, but the fact that some have false teachings does not logically imply that there is no truth in the scripture.   The fact that some misapply the scripture does not logically disprove the scripture as you yourself know.  I do not claim to have perfect doctrine or an unassailable life.  I believe the key here is humility and being like Jesus–the greatest man who ever lived.  If we can do this, then many of the problems you describe will go away, but realistically and unfortunately, there will continue to be division within Christianity.
Again, and hopefully you will be humble enough to admit this, the fact that some distort or misuse scripture does not disprove the validity of the scriptures, any more than the anecdote I shared with you a couple of days proves anything.  Please forgive my excess of enthusiasm in sharing an anecdote which you properly dismissed as irrelevant.
John O.


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