The canonicity of the Bible and the Bible canon form a topic you don’t hear much about. Yet the canonicity of Scripture is a very important part of bibliology, the doctrine or study of the Bible.

The word canon is from the ancient world and basically means “a rule or standard.” It referred to a reed that was used to measure things, much as we use a ruler today. The classic definition of canon in church life is “rule of faith.” Through the centuries of church history, many denominations and church bodies have drawn up canons that help to determine belief and practice for its people.

In the process of time, canon also came to mean “a catalog or authoritative list.” Canonization tells how the Bible received its acceptance as men recognized the authority of God’s inspired writings. It is the process by which God’s inspired Word was recognized by men of God and then collected and preserved by the people of God. This subject is as intriguing as it is important, because the process by which the books of the Bible were included is an amazing story in itself and one that’s filled with drama. However, my primary concern as a preacher and teacher of God’s Word is the product that we have in our hands today and how we use it.

You might be reading this and saying, “Tony, is this really a big deal? Why should I care about the canonicity of the Bible? The Bible is how it’s been for hundreds of years.” To which I reply, “Absolutely—it is a very big deal.” Canonicity is not just a musty issue from ancient history. American founding father Thomas Jefferson, who was a deist, took a pair of scissors to the gospels and cut out the parts he didn’t accept. We have many more recent examples than this. The bestselling The DaVinci Code is one in a long list of many.

As our culture continues its shift away from God, more and more of His Word is being edited, tweaked and redefined by preachers who claim His name. While they may not come out and declare a change to God’s Word, the avoidance of teaching truth in the face of controversy has left a number of our churches anemic and faltering.

Our nations’s ills are not merely the result of corrupt politicians, terrorists or extremists. Our troubles can be traced directly to ineffective preachers producing ineffective Christians. The tragedy today is not that sinners sin; that’s what they’re expected to do because mankind is born in sin and shaped in iniquity (Ps. 51:5; Eph. 2:1-3). The real tragedy is that the church as a whole has failed to advance God’s kingdom and truth in society in order to be a positive influence for good in our nation and world.

In order to position America to experience revival and renewal, we as preachers must commit to teaching the entire canon. We must disciple effectively those within our influence to live all of life under the comprehensive truth of God. When we do, we not only will change our churches and communities, but we will change our entire nation for good.

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About The Author

Dr. Tony Evans is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative, chaplain of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and author of over 100 books, booklets and Bible studies. The first African American to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, he has been named one of the 12 Most Effective Preachers in the English-Speaking World by Baylor University. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on more than 1,200 US outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. Dr. Evans launched the Tony Evans Training Center in 2017, an online learning platform providing quality seminary-style courses for a fraction of the cost to any person in any place. The goal is to increase Bible literacy not only among lay people but also among those Christian leaders who cannot afford nor find the time for formal ongoing education. For more information, visit

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