I appreciate and respect your willingness (and the willingness of your church) to so openly and staunchly defend your beliefs to the world. If anyone "has a ready answer," it's the folks at La Vista Church of Christ!
Allow me a moment to answer your last question. I find it amusing thatyou call into question whether Matthew's account of the Jesus's life is inspired.
I didn't call into question its inspiration; I called into question whether you could prove its inspiration from Scripture.
It implies that you see the strength of what Matthew taught in regardsto marriage, you made arguments to get around it, but the truth is that you would prefer that Matthew didn't exist at all.
Not at all! I believe Matthew to be inspired; I just recognize that, using Scripture alone, I can't prove it. I have to resort to extra-biblical tradition for my doctrine (belief) that Matthew is inspired.
The evidence that Matthew's account belongs in the Scriptures is largeand abundant. The account matches the other accounts and the four accounts do not contradict each other. Early Christians accepted Matthew's account and quoted from it. For example, Clement of Alexandria makes reference to the star that appears at Jesus' birth, a fact only recorded by Matthew. Speaking of Ignatius, C. R. Gregory states: "The author clearly knows our New Testament in general. The Gospels of Matthew and John appear to have been either his favorites or the ones better known to him." The same argument can be made for other early Christian writers, such as Polycarp. These writers don't prove the inspiration of Matthew, but they give evidence that Matthew has a very long history of being accepted as being a part of the Bible.
Of course! And I accept all their testimony. But, unfortunately, their testimony isn't biblical, and so has no real evidential value according to your "command, example, or necessary inference" criteria.
The strongest evidence is the apostle Paul himself. He refers toMatthew 19:9 in I Corinthians 7:10-11 as something the Lord said.
That then just pushes the question off onto what command, example, or necessary inference proves that I Corinthians is Scripture.
However, let me refer you to "The Canon of the New Testament" for further proof.
While certainly a good piece of writing, it still relies on extra-biblical tradition in order to establish who wrote certain letters and when. This is especially evident in your quotation of the Church Fathers to support the canonicity of the Scripture; it's interesting, though, that while you accept the claims of the Church Fathers with respect to the canon of Scripture, you reject much of their other beliefs (for instance, about the "real presence of Christ at the eucharist).
I cited the fact that Matthew's account was consistent with the other three gospels (and the rest of the Bible as well for that matter) which is a mark of God's inspiration (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). I also noted that the information contained uniquely in Matthew was alluded to by Paul in I Corinthians 7:10-11. Yet you then casually dismiss these because you would then question whether the other books of the Bible are inspired. Thus there is no answer to your question because you ruled out all answers to your question which come from the Bible. Yet you stated you wanted the scriptural evidence that Matthew was inspired.
Matthew's account has been accepted as God's word since it was written, as evidenced by:
- Matthew's account is used as a reference by other inspired writings.
- Matthew's account is used as an inspired reference by uninspired writers. It is cited by:
- Clement of Alexandria (late first century)
- Epistle of Barnabas (about A.D. 130)
- Letters of Ignatius and Polycarp (first half of second century)
- The Didache (first half of second century)
- Matthew's account appears in the proper historical time frame (i.e. it doesn't appear hundreds of years after the claimed author had died).
- The Gospel of John is written with the assumption that people were familiar with the other gospel accounts as John does not cover much of the material covered in the other gospels.