A Challenge to Protestants: Is the Book of Esther in the Canon of Scripture?


“How do you know that the Book of Esther is the inspired Word of God and belongs in the canon of Scripture?”

This is a question I often ask Protestants. The Protestant literally has no way to prove that the book of Esther is inspired by God and belongs in the Bible. It is never quoted in the New Testament. It never mentions the word “God” in its pages. We don’t know who wrote it. Even the first century Jews could not agree on its place as Scripture.

I sometimes also ask, “How do you know that the Book of Third John is the inspired Word of God and belongs in the Bible?” It doesn’t claim to be written by an apostolic author and its authority was doubted by many early Christians.

The Catholic Christian has the comfort of knowing that the Holy Spirit can lead the Church to make infallible statements. Thus, the Bible is an infallible collection of infallible books.

However, the Protestant must follow the line that R.C. Sproul often gives: The Bible is a fallible collection of infallible books.

The Protestant can never give a reason for why he believes that Esther or 3 John belong in the canon of Scripture. Calvin said the books of Scripture attest to their own divine origin. But this begs the question? Attests to whom? What if someone reads a book of the Bible (let’s take James for example) and after reading it thinks that it is merely an epistle of straw and contrary to the Gospel of Christ. Or what if someone reads the Shepherd of Hermes and concludes that it has the character of Scripture? Who gets to decide which books do and don’t attest to their own divine origin?

The only sure way to solve the riddle is to appeal to the authority of the Catholic Church to infallibly determine matters of faith. However, if a Protestant does appeal to the Church in order to assure himself that he has an infallible collection of infallible books, he has to ask himself: “But what if the Catholic Church made other infallible statements?” And at this point, the Protestant begins to become a Catholic…

Are there any Protestants out there who feel that they can solve the problem without appealing to the infallible nature of the Catholic Church?

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  • Frank Berean

    I am not a Catholic, but I am a Christian who believes the Bible to be the infallible word of God that consistently points to the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
    Please see http://bereansearching.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/an-exposition-of-the-book-of-esther/
    as it will provide the “Proof” you request to show why the Book of Esther should be considered an integral part of God’s Holy Word, the Bible.

  • M. Burns (Tiber Swim Team)

    Not sure what happened…clicked once, posted thrice! Sorry. :-[

  • M. Burns (Tiber Swim Team)

    Not sure what happened…clicked once, posted thrice! Sorry. :-[

  • Jeffrey Rose

    30 August 2007 OP? Awesome to see an enduring topic!

    I am aged 50, raised Lutheran, “born-again” at age 11 with a friend same age (via “Jesus Movement”), on-again, off-again, “non-denominational (with a couple years Southern Baptist and a touch of Calvinist-non-denominational, not SBC) /whew

    It gets mighty confusing to do three things the Apostle Paul mentioned so many times as critical in the Christian “life”:
    1. Love (via pure heart)
    2. Good/clear conscience
    3. Sincere faith

    “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5)

    So, I sway back and forth now from Roman Catholicism and a non-denominational (Calvinistic) church (or fail to go anywhere!)

    God is greater than my heart and I pray for PEACE. I have ALWAYS had doubts about Esther. I was really struck at age 11 that the all caps LORD or GOD was the unspeakable YAHWEH or I AM the Jews later did not vocalize. Esther seems, well, more a “nationalistic” book, in my petsonal opinion [when not considering ANY canon.] No where do I really see or even sense God as in just about every other book! So, how can I reject, say, Baruch, seeing how I feel about Esther? The Church … Authority … seems Satan knows if He can divide with doubt, rendering Authority powerless for individual Christians, he continues to weaken the Body of Christ :(

    I can only repeat, for me — at this time –, Love, Conscience, and Faith, need to be as they are meant to be before God in my life. Feel free to remember me in prayer? Satan would live to keep me bound in confusion and unfruitful!

    ~ Jeff

  • Jeffrey Rose

    30 August 2007 OP? Awesome to see an enduring topic!

    I am aged 50, raised Lutheran, “born-again” at age 11 with a friend same age (via “Jesus Movement”), on-again, off-again, “non-denominational (with a couple years Southern Baptist and a touch of Calvinist-non-denominational, not SBC) /whew

    It gets mighty confusing to do three things the Apostle Paul mentioned so many times as critical in the Christian “life”:
    1. Love (via pure heart)
    2. Good/clear conscience
    3. Sincere faith

    “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5)

    So, I sway back and forth now from Roman Catholicism and a non-denominational (Calvinistic) church (or fail to go anywhere!)

    God is greater than my heart and I pray for PEACE. I have ALWAYS had doubts about Esther. I was really struck at age 11 that the all caps LORD or GOD was the unspeakable YAHWEH or I AM the Jews later did not vocalize. Esther seems, well, more a “nationalistic” book, in my petsonal opinion [when not considering ANY canon.] No where do I really see or even sense God as in just about every other book! So, how can I reject, say, Baruch, seeing how I feel about Esther? The Church … Authority … seems Satan knows if He can divide with doubt, rendering Authority powerless for individual Christians, he continues to weaken the Body of Christ :(

    I can only repeat, for me — at this time –, Love, Conscience, and Faith, need to be as they are meant to be before God in my life. Feel free to remember me in prayer? Satan would live to keep me bound in confusion and unfruitful!

    ~ Jeff

  • Dan McClellan

    How do you know which statements of the Catholic Church are infallible? Clearly they’ve made mistakes in the past.

  • Guest

    P.S. I’m a protestant, but whether you think Esther belongs in the cannon is a smaller issue to me that the fact that you think the Catholic Church is infallible.

  • Timothy Campbell

    If I have to appeal to the infallible nature of the Catholic church in order to resolve the dilemma I think I will just become an atheist