Michael Kruger’s Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Crossway, 2012) is an important contribution to the ongoing issues biblical scholars face when considering what material should be counted as scripture by Christians. Having personally sat under his teaching, I can say that Kruger is a smart guy and his book is certainly worthy of attention. It is well written, accessible, and is probably the best hope Protestants have for grounding the canon outside the authoritative Church that defined it.
The book presents Kruger’s model as well as sifting through other methodologies from various segments of theological society. Kruger offers an explanation of each one, and then evaluates their strengths and weaknesses. A thorough book review would go through all of this material, but all I wish to do here is briefly comment on Kruger’s allegations concerning the “Roman Catholic Model” (a good evaluation of Protestant canon approaches in general can be found HERE).
I will follow the book’s content in the order Kruger presented it with some citations for support, but please note that because I read the Kindle version, I don’t have the page numbers.
Kruger’s basic thesis is that the biblical canon is “self-attesting.” This is not to be taken in the Calvinist sense of the Bible’s internal witness by the Holy Spirit (alone). Kruger incorporates elements that he finds the Bible itself requiring – hence, these criteria are biblically “self” attesting (see HERE). For Kruger, a book’s internal divine qualities, the Church’s corporate reception, and apostolic origin / association are all requirements for a book to be considered scripture. By combining these three criteria, Kruger hopes to avoid both circularity and subjectivism, while also paying tribute to the actual historical process of canonization.
In contrast to his “tri-fold” model, Kruger presents several competing “models” that attempt to explain / derive the canon following different means. Each of these is categorized by type: Community-Determined (e.g., Historical-Critical or Roman Catholic), Historically-Determined (Canon-within-Canon or Critera-of-Canonicity), and Self-Determined (Kruger’s model). The category choice for the “Roman Catholic Model” is, in a sense, Kruger’s first argument against it.
Canon as Community-Determined
Kruger includes the Catholic view under what he calls the Community-Determined model in the chapter of the same title. The model is described as,
“view[ing] the canon as something that is, in some sense, established or constituted by the people – either individually or corporately – who have received these books as Scripture. Canonicity is not viewed as something inherent to any set of books, but as ‘something officially or authoritatively imposed upon certain literature.'”
Kruger begins his survey of the Community-Determined model by looking at the Historical-Critical approach which sees the canon as a fundamentally natural, human construct. Kruger evaluates this view and (rightly) finds it problematic. He then turns to the Catholic view which he says shares a common methodology. This smacks of well-poisoning. The Catholic view is not naturalistic and that it is based on more than merely a human construct. The fact that both views agree that the canon was in some sense determined by a community does not warrant such a comparison. Nor is the Catholic view that canonicity is “imposed” upon the writings (unless that term is being used in an unusual way). Perhaps, though, it is just another example of the problem caused by equivocating between “canonical” and “inspired.”
Super Important Excursus: “Canonical” vs. “Inspired”
It is important to introduce a distinction here that often confuses discussions of the biblical canon. A “canon” is an authoritative list. In the case of the biblical canon, it is the authoritative list of what books belong in the Bible (which is not “a book” but rather a bound collection of various writings). Now, the books in the Bible are also considered to be inspired scripture – human writings that God somehow superintended in order to guarantee that what was written was what he wanted to communicate. Thus, for the Bible, canonicity and inspiration are coextensive – but they are not identical. A book can be one without the other. For example, the book of Revelation took quite a long time to be included in the biblical canon, but it was always inspired. And some books that were not inspired are in some biblical canons (e.g., the Armenian Bible includes 3rd Corinthians and 1 Clement is listed in some early Christian canons).
The failure to distinguish between “canon” and “inspired” easily leads to acrimonious disagreement and Straw Man attacks. If someone says that, “the Church determined the canon,” for example, it might sound like she is saying that the Church caused the book be inspired! No one seriously argues such a thing, of course, but this is the way opposing views are often described in order to attack them. Saying a book is “canonical” should mean that it has been placed in an authoritative list of the books of the Bible, saying that a book is “inspired” should mean that God caused it to be written and safeguarded its writing. Because these two terms are used co-extensively when used of the biblical canon, they are often confused – but being co-extensive does not mean they should be considered interchangeable. (An example of confusing these terms is provided by Charles C. Ryrie who says the books of the Bible “were canonical the moment they were written. . . . Their canonicity was inherent within them, since they came from God. . . . No Bible book became canonical by action of some church council.”)
More will be said on this below as it comes up quite often in this discussion.
The Roman Catholic Model(s)
In section two of the “Community-Determined” chapter, Kruger explains what he thinks of the Roman Catholic model(s). He describes the Catholic view as being based on the “trifold authority structure that includes Scripture, tradition, and the Magisterium (the church’s teaching authority).” Kruger’s problem is that the Magisterium “alone has the right to interpret Scripture and tradition” and thus has the sole authority to determine the canon.
Kruger’s evaluation of this model appreciates the historical role the Church played in determining the canon, as well as the Church’s acknowledgement that the process is not entirely human. He also admits that the Catholic model does not entail that the Church created or constituted the canon (as it is often caricatured by critics). But, because Catholics also recognize that the Bible is a product of the Church, Kruger believes there is a second model within Catholicism that is often “bundled together without distinction” with the former view. That is, Kruger believes that various statements from the Catholic Church on the canon indicate that two models are really in play and are often confused.
The different affirmations Kruger lists, however, do not necessarily constitute a second model. For one thing, the [members of] the Church that produced the biblical writings are not the same [members of] the Church who determined the canon (otherwise there would be no canon debate!). Statements regarding these two groups, then, will naturally sound different. This will only lead to confusion if they are not distinguished. Second, the Catholic Church’s understanding of its relation to the biblical canon does not match either choice in the dilemma Kruger presents in his book. A third way can account for the various statements Kruger cites for what he presents as the Catholic model(s). More on this below.
No Inspired Table of Contents
Kruger’s first complaint is that a Catholic “misses the point entirely” when pointing out that the Bible does not have an inspired table of contents. This argument basically states that Sola Scriptura cannot account for the biblical canon because a list of biblical books is not in the Bible. While not a problem for a tradition that recognizes an authoritative Church, it is though to be a huge problem for one that claims to get all its theological authority from the Bible (because one cannot use the Bible to know what counts as the Bible). Kruger thinks this is a red herring because even if a “28th book of the New Testament” was discovered that included a table of contents, it would only push the canon question back a step (because how would we know this book belonged in the Bible?).
The fact that a 28th book “would never satisfy Catholic concerns” is not a Catholic problem though – it is just a problem. All books in the biblical canon need to be determined /discovered (whether they offer a table of contents or not), and no matter what model is offered, it has to be employed by someone. Whether this process is called “discovery” or “determine” – it either reduces to personal recognition (which does not explain why the early Church and Martin Luther himself struggled over the inclusion of several books), or it expands into the Church’s recognition (which is either fallible or infallible – but we’ll get to this later). Either way, the canon is never just a “given” as a starting point.
The reason this is a problem for Protestants as well as Catholics is demonstrated by the fact that Kruger’s “self-attesting” model cannot itself get off the ground before the canon is known. “The intrinsic authority” of the Bible (the criteria Kruger alleges is being ignored by Catholics) assumes that one knows which books have such authority. One might ask how Kruger discovered his “biblically self-attesting criteria” without his first knowing what books made up the Bible. Perhaps one of his criteria should not be included but are because they are in a book that should not have been in the canon? Or perhaps there are additional criteria that are missed because it was in a book excluded by the canon? If one can discover which books have this “intrinsic authority” prior to employing Kruger’s model, then other elements in his model seem unnecessary – and if one cannot, the rest cannot even get started.
Kruger’s next issue is that it was apostolic teaching that “was the substance of what would later become the New Testament” and that this teaching was the “foundation for the church rather than the other way around . . . (Eph. 2:20).” The implication is that the Church was dependent on the Bible and not vice-versa. The rest of Kruger’s claims in this section are unsupported Sola Scriptura bullet points which may preach well, but remain unimpressive to those outside the choir.
As to the “foundational” issue, there is first of all an equivocation here. Paul says the Church was built on the foundation of apostolic people – not apostolic teachings. Both the Church and the New Testament are apostolically founded in this sense. But it is a simple fact of history that the Church predated the New Testament by decades. Thus, since the New Testament was written by both apostles and other Church members, it is not false to say that the New Testament was dependent on the Church, but not vice-versa.
Further, it was Paul (not the Pope) who called the Church (not the New Testament) the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). So Catholics have their “foundational” prooftexts as well.
Finally, as will be shown below, it is only on the assumption that there is a conflict between the authority of the Church and that of the New Testament that these assertions seem to have any weight.
Old Testament Canon
Kruger’s next volley is to point out that a biblical canon existed for the Jews sans divine revelation. The implication being that just as Israel needed no infallible authority to define its canon, Christians do not need an infallible authority (the Church) to define their’s. The claim is simply not true though – for two reasons.
First, we see from the New Testament itself that at the time of Christ, there was no single, authoritative canon. The Sadducees accepted only the Torah, the Pharisees seemed to have followed the modern Jewish canon, and other Jewish groups followed the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament which is quoted in the New Testament more often than the Hebrew, and which included the deuterocanonical books that Protestants removed 1,500 years later). Not only was a singular Jewish canon not settled in Jesus’ time, it was not settled soon after either. Religious and secular sources agree that it probably reached its modern form sometime in the 2nd century A.D.
Further, Israel did indeed have infallible revelation from her prophets (remember Eph. 2:20?). Presumably, had the OT canon been seen as a big issue, one of them could have spoken up about it.
Finally, this argument ironically fits the Catholic paradigm better than it does the Protestant. For the Sola Scriptura Protestant, a questionable canon is a huge problem, but for the Catholic it is not. Thus, Israel’s relation to the Old Testament is much like the Church’s relation to the New Testament for the first 1,500 years of its existence. It was not until the contents of the Bible were seriously challenged that the Church bothered to deal with it in a council (see The Council of Trent below). Until then, it was simply not necessary.
Kruger states that because some early writings were considered “canonical” right away, they could not have received their an authority from some “future ecclesiastical decision.”
This is true, and it is not disputed by Catholics. Statements marshaled to prove the contrary are being misread – probably due to the “canon / inspired” confusion noted above. Remember that “canonical” refers to a book’s being included in an authoritative list – not that it is authoritative simpliciter. Canonical status and inspired authority are two different things (i.e., Paul’s writings were all authoritative but not all of them ended up in the canon – cf. 1 Corinthians 5:9 and Colossians 4:16). No one says that a divinely inspired writing lacked authority until the Church came along centuries later and bestowed authority upon it.
The Council of Trent
Kruger notes that the Catholic Church did not formally declare the contents of the biblical canon until the Council of Trent (c. A.D. 1546). Based on this fact, Kruger asks whether the Church had a canon for the 1,500 years prior. He then states (without support) that “the history of the church makes it clear that the church did, in fact, have a functioning canon long before the Council of Trent.”
Whatever rhetorical purchase he attempts to gain here it is undermined by historical facts coupled with a correct usage of the terms.
The first concerns a distinction Kruger himself recognizes elsewhere in the book. If he means by “canon” an authoritatively defined list, then the canon did not exist until someone made the list. That is simply true by definition. The only issue then is to discover when such a list came into being. Kruger may wish to point to an earlier authoritative list than Trent’s, but he does do so. Kruger seems to have in mind something else here, though: a “canon” as a “functioning” (if unofficial) list. If that’s all he means, then his objection is moot because no one disputes that the Church had “functional” (if unsettled) lists of scripture throughout its life (see A High View of Scripture? by Craig Allert).
Second, the force of Kruger’s rhetoric is weakened by the fact that canonical lists did indeed exist long before Trent (at least as early as in A.D. 382). That these canons were not dogmatically asserted by an ecumenical council does not make them non-authoritative or non-functional to use his terminology. So at worst the Church would have been without a canon for a couple centuries (which is hardly a problem considering that the Church existed without the New Testament for decades, and few could have had access to it or read it anyway).
Finally, it’s a historical fact which both sides admit that the exact content of the New Testament was disputed in the early Church. Questioning the existence of the biblical canon before it was determined at an authoritative council, then, is analogous to Jehovah’s Witnesses questioning the Trinity because that doctrine was disputed and not defined by an authoritative council until Nicaea in A.D. 325. Of course, it was not that the doctrine of the Trinity came into being or derived their authority from that council, it just was not an issue until Arius and his followers began to be a problem. In the same way, Trent’s canon decree was made necessary by Protestants who were arguing for a canon which did not match any of those made earlier in Church history.
As stated earlier, Kruger says there is “some confusion in the Catholic model” – mainly due to the “two” positions he infers from various statements made by Catholic theologians concerning the Church’s “causal” role in determining the canon. His concern is over whether or not the Church can be credited with “causing” the New Testament canon and therefore being in a position superior to it.
In response, one needs to remember that “cause” has numerous and varied meanings (efficient, secondary, material, formal, instrumental, proximate, ultimate, etc.). The Catholic Church recognizes these distinctions and often uses them in its explication of doctrine. A failure to appreciate them will certainly cause confusion (for example, Kruger’s confusion of “proximate” and “instrumental” causes in this section would reduce human authors to mere secretaries if he used those terms in their classical sense).
Now, Kruger specifically takes on Peter Kreeft for his notion that the Church “caused” the Bible:
Note that Kreeft (a classical philosopher who understands the important differences between various types of causes) indicates what he means by “cause” right in the text: “production.” That the Church produced the Bible (i.e., the New Testament) is an historical fact upon which all agree. It is no more problematic to say the Church “caused” the Bible in this sense than saying the biblical authors caused their books (2 Pet. 3:16) even though it is God who ultimately gets the credit (2 Pet. 1:20). Kruger admits that Kreeft is “technically correct” – but he then goes on to accuse Kreeft and the Church of confusing proper causes! This is both false and a Straw Man, however – the Church was making the kinds of distinctions Kruger insists upon centuries before he or his Reformed cohorts came along.
Similarly, Kruger accuses the Church of confusing the “theological” and the “historical” orders of the canon. The Catholic Church, though, makes these exact distinctions (and, predictably, makes different statements concerning them). Who, then, is actually causing the confusion over terminology? Even if some Catholic authors are unclear, charity requires that they be understood as speaking in concert with the Church – especially if they are used as examples of the Church’s teaching. Although the thinkers Kruger cites (e.g., Kreeft, Küng, or Rahner) may be Catholic, they are only authoritative to the extent that they are in agreement with the dogmatic teaching of the Church (unlike Protestantism, Catholics are not given automatic interpretive authority as soon as they join!). So, ad fontes, right?
The Catechism has this to say about the Bible’s “causes”:
God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” “For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.” (CC 105 – emphasis in original)
Clearly the Catholic Church sees God as the “ultimate” cause of the Bible. As to the determination of the canon:
It was by the apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books. This complete list is called the canon of Scripture. (CC 120 – emphasis added)
This hardly sounds like a Church that thinks it bestows authority on inspired texts or “causes” them in a way that usurps God’s authority. Despite Kruger’s reasoning, the Catholic Church does not, in fact, reach the conclusions he thinks it does (or should). The First Vatican Council stated clearly that,
These books the Church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the Church. (3.2.7)
These compounded errors all come to bear on Kruger’s “most fundamental concern” which will be treated next.
Kruger’s main issue is that he believes the Catholic model subordinates Scripture to the Church. His evidence for this is found in his answer to his own question: “How does the Roman Catholic Church establish its own infallible authority?” Because Kruger sees the Catholic model as requiring an infallible external source for canonical authentication (which, remember, it does in the “historical” sense but not the “theological”), he thinks this creates a problem for establishing the Church’s infallibility. The problem as he sees it is that: (1) The Church cannot ground its infallibility on the Bible, because it sees itself as the cause of the Scriptures (which would result in a vicious circle), and the Bible does not indicate that the Church is infallible anyway. (2) The Church cannot ground its infallibility in history because the historical evidence itself is not infallible and there is evidence of the Church’s fallibility (papal abuses, corruption, doctrinal error, etc.). (3) Finally, the Church cannot ground its infallibility in itself because this begs the question.
Number (1) is clearly not the Catholic position. The Church does not ground its infallibility on the Bible, although it certainly supports its infallibility with the Bible. This is accomplished by a different process than Protestant proof-texting, however. The Church does not claim to “have a Bible verse for that” – rather it finds support from biblical facts that, when taken together, paint a picture of an infallible Church. When Protestants see Catholics use the Bible in this way for support, they often consider it a failure because they are expecting simple proof-texts. (It should also be noted that Kruger’s own canonical criteria lack proof texts, but this does not invalidate them biblically.)
Number (2) is also not the Catholic position. The Church does not look back at its success throughout history and then conclude that it must be infallible. Rather, infallibility is a theological conclusion. An analogy with the Bible may help here: Christians believe the Bible to be infallible not because they have compared everything it says to reality and discovered that it is never wrong. Rather, infallibility is concluded based on the nature of the Bible itself (being the Word of God who cannot fail). When the Bible seems to come into conflict with evidence from history (or science or philosophy, or any other field) the error must have come from somewhere else. As stated at Vatican I:
God cannot deny Himself, nor ever contradict truth with truth. But, a vain appearance of such a contradiction arises chiefly from this, that either the dogmas of faith have not been understood and interpreted according to the mind of the Church, or deceitful opinions are considered as the determinations of reason. (Dei Filius ch. 4)
As to Kruger’s alleged counter-evidence from history, each either (a) does not refer to what comes under the protection of infallibility (e.g., non-dogmatic papal errors), or (b) would only seem to count as evidence if one begins with the assumption that Catholic dogma is false.
Number (3) is stated in a way that is so obviously circular that it is disappointing that Kruger suggests it at all. It is not surprising, however, that he provides no statement to that effect from the Church. The only source Kruger lists for such a fallacious claim is Peter Kreeft who Kruger quotes as saying, “The Church is infallible because she is faithful.” First, this is not the same thing as saying, “the Church is infallible because it says it is.” Right or wrong, Kreeft’s statement is not circular. Second, it is unfair to imply that this single, flowery utterance accurately summarizes Kreeft’s thought when it is nested in a chapter devoted to explaining (not defending) the Church’s infallibility. As is clear from the context, Kreeft argues that it is the Church’s relation to Christ that guarantees infallibility:
So, the Church does not argue that its infallibility is based on the Bible (the Church was infallible before it wrote the Bible). It also does not argue that history evidences infallibility (how could it?). Nor does the Church tell people to believe it is infallible based on its own infallible authority. So what does it base its infallibility upon? As is easily discerned from its writings on the subject, the Catholic Church believes itself to be infallible because Christ founded it and promised to protect it from failure (Mt. 16:18-19). The Catechism puts it this way:
In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility. By a “supernatural sense of faith” the People of God, under the guidance of the Church’s living Magisterium, “unfailingly adheres to this faith.” (CC 889)
More could be said on the Church’s infallibility (and, importantly, its limits), but it would not really speaks to Kruger’s main issue, which is whether the Church “subordinates” the Bible.
Kruger’s mistaken notion of the Church’s infallibility claims aside, his real problem is that he equates the Church’s infallibility with a subordination of the Bible to the Church. If the Church is the infallible cause of the Bible, he says, that makes the Church primary and the Bible secondary. If that is the case, he worries, how could the Bible ever correct the Church?
First, if Kruger’s summary of the situation is accurate (i.e., the Church is indeed infallible and it caused the canon), then the above conclusion follows and is true whether he likes it or not. In other words, if the Church really is primary in authority – even over the Bible – then Kruger should submit to it and reject Sola Scriptura. His discomfort with the conclusion is no argument against it.
Second, though, from the Catholic point of view, Kruger’s worries are based on a false dilemma. It is not the case that either (1) the Bible is over the Church, or (2) the Church is over the Bible. There is a via media, a third possibility Kruger does not consider: the actual claim of the Catholic Church. It is the Catholic position that the Church and the Bible are both authoritative because they are both a product of, and kept from error by, God.
Again an analogy might be helpful. In fundamentalist circles it is common to hear that letting science (or philosophy, history, or any other extra-biblical discipline) influence how we interpret the Bible is to put that discipline “over” the Bible (which is, oddly, the opposite of the common accusation made against Catholics concerning Galileo!). But creation and the Bible are different sources for many of the same truths (both are “God’s truths”), so there cannot actually be a conflict between them and neither is “over” the other. Similarly, the Church’s role in determining the canon and defining dogma is not an authority “over” the Bible – it is a different source for many of the same truths (in Protestantism it is often thought that they must be exactly the same truths, but this is often violated). Thus, “interpretation of” does not reduce to “authority over” for the Church any more than it does for science, philosophy, history, or other extra-biblical disciplines. Rather, the Church functions as a safeguard against errors caused by these fallible influences:
Since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. . . . Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture”. Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, . . . Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”. According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture . . . . Be attentive to the analogy of faith. By “analogy of faith” we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation. (CC 111-114 – emphasis in original)
While determination of the canon might seem like a special case that escapes the above analogy, the main point is that if God is the same ultimate source of a truth, two different entities proclaiming the truth cannot be in conflict or even claim to rule over one another. If God can cause fallible men to write infallible books, he can also cause them to infallibly teach dogma and determine the biblical canon. If that is admitted, then it is only a matter of discovering which tradition was guided into doing so.
In the end we simply cannot avoid reliance on extra-biblical authority. Even if the Bible clearly laid out the criteria for the canon, those criteria would have to be applied by someone. The instant someone attempts to apply those criteria they are exercising “authority” in the sense that Kruger wants to avoid. But, as stated by Tom Brown:
The very act of answering the Canon Question inherently involves an extra-Biblical fallible human judgment, unless one is preserved from error by the Holy Spirit. This fallible human judgment, by defining the criterion of canon, exercises power over the canon itself . . . . Therefore, absent the Holy Spirit’s preserving one from error, to answer the Canon Question is to exercise power over Scripture, and to place one’s judgment over Scripture. So to answer the Canon Question is to violate the doctrine of sola scriptura by placing something over the Christian’s sole infallible authority.
Any biblically self-attesting criteria for the canon must come from books which must already have been identified as canonical. But the Bible does not contain a canonical list, therefore it has to be compiled by an outside source. If doing so places that extra-biblical source “over” the canon, then it is just true by definition that the extra-biblical source is “over” the canon. The Catholic does not, however, have to accept that definition.
Circularity problems can only be broken by going outside the circle. When it comes to the biblical canon, that is a move Sola Scriptura adherents cannot make if they (1) consider authority to define the canon as being in authority over the canon, and (2) are consistent. Michael Kruger has attempted to sidestep this problem by locating canonical criteria in the Bible alone. It is ironic, then, that Kruger’s “self-attesting” method actually parallels the actual Catholic “model” (i.e., the actual process by which the canon was defined). As noted by Jonathan Prejean, Kruger’s “internal testimony” refers to Scripture, “apostolic association” is known by Tradition, and “corporate reception” is really the Magisterium (none of the canonical lists were made by laymen, after all). In the end, even these “biblically self-attesting” criteria end up including the Church.
Kruger’s issue really seems to boil down to the fact that the Catholic Church sees itself as infallible. But however the canon was determined or discovered, infallibility had to come in somewhere, or else the canon is nothing more than a “fallible collection if infallible books” (a position Kruger does not “like”). Regardless of the inspiration of the biblical writings, the biblical canon just is a list of those writings made by the Church. So if the Church was not protected from failure when it made that list, then the biblical canon itself is fallible. In the end, we can maintain principled faith in the canon’s infallibility only if we have faith in the Church’s.
“I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so.”
(St. Augustine, Against Manichaeus, 5)