This has raised its head in our blogging community, like most things do sooner or later. Reflecting on that it comes to me that the question of the canon is part of a much larger question.
If 'conservatives' and 'liberals' can learn to be civil to one another and enter a conversation, there is hope for our country; otherwise the future is dim.
50 years ago, speaking not of politics but of religion, a wise man predicted for our country that the future will bring a chasm of faith, not between Catholic and Protestant (the traditional gap), but between traditionalists and modernists (I don't recall exactly what terms he used). The opening paragraph here addresses that chasm.
For example some 30 years ago a friend and I were in a cab in downtown D.C., of necessity shared with strangers. One of them said something like, "well it really seems like a sorry day".
Bursting with the enthusiasm generated by my recent introduction to a vibrant church, I burst out, "Don't you know that the whole earth is full of the glory of God?" Oh my! Talk about a chasm. The stranger said something like, "Yes, yes, of course". No further conversation.
A simple little incident, but it reflects the chasm. Today people of faith often live close to, sometimes surrounded by, completely secular neighbors. How do you deal with that? IMO most of us just keep our mouths shut. Never talk about religion or politics.
But that won't get it. We have to! If we have witnessed the glory of God, we must witness it. But there are two ways to witness: "brother, are you saved?" (not likely to be very effectual; more likely to antagonize). Another way is to suggest that all the things reported in the Bible didn't really happen. We can't believe them historically; we can appreciate them mythologically (or poetically). Actually considering them only as history robs them of their real value. In this vein Joseph Campbell, in Thou Art That, page 77, spoke of the dramatic scene of the Garden of Eden:
"Clearly, the historical reading of the emblem has here become anomalous, not to say bizarre, what with the talking serpent, a devil, and an incarnate god entering into the action. Such are not the characters of a readily credible history."
If you or I were to say such a thing to a secular neighbor, it's likely she would nod her head in agreement. There! you have a point of contact. If you understand the mythopoeic dimension of the Bible as a whole, you have an interested listener, and even someone (using the language of Canaan here) capable of rebirth. You have become a valued witness and servant of Our Lord.
If you're not capable of such thought forms, your faith is severely restricted in what it can do for the 'unsaved'.
Well, I set out to write about the canon, but .... let's just say I went astray. Now I'll have to post Canon II.