Turretin rightly concludes:
What Beckwith's argument essentially asks the reader to do is to derive the belief about the number of books of Bible without the Bible. Then having taken away the Bible, Beckwith claims that the number of books can't be determined. But this is simply a game of bait and switch. Beckwith lures the reader in with a proposal to derive something from the Bible but then takes away the Bible.Having had this conversation many times over, I'd like to add a couple of thoughts.
Finally Beckwith asks:Where have I gone wrong in this reasoning?To which we may reply that he went wrong when he made the switch from letting us have the Bible to taking it away from us. If we have the Bible, we can easily tell you the number of books, even if the table of contents is missing. If we don't have the Bible, we're not dealing with Sola Scriptura any more.
1) First, I would love to ask how Mr. Beckwith knows there are 66 books of the Bible. He would obviously say, as a Roman Catholic, that it is the RC church's authority to tell us this information. Of course, then I would ask how he knows the church has this authority. Of which he would then explain that Jesus told us in Matthew 16 that Rome has this authority. To which I would then ask how he knows Matthew 16 is God's Word. He would then respond by saying the church says so. To which I would ask...I think you might get the point now.
This leads to circular reasoning. Of course a couple of Roman Catholics have explained to me that this is not circular but spiral. That has been an interesting spin, but call it what they will. A circle is still a circle.
2) If we were living in the 20th year of the wilderness wandering after the Exodus from Egypt among the Israelites, and God spoke to Moses, and Moses wrote down what God said, would we need an infallible external authority to tell us that what God said to Moses and what Moses wrote down was in fact God's Word? Of course not! When God speaks, that is His own Word and authority. There is nothing higher to appeal. In other words, Moses would never have appealed to Rome's authority or any external authority. It would not only have begged the question, it would have undermined God's own authority.
So after Moses finished the first five books of the Bible, the people of God did not need to have an infallible index within the Bible. If you wanted to know at the time how many books were in the Bible, you simply would have counted them.
In conclusion, Rome has never been needed to know infallibly what books or their number should be in the Bible. The Bible is self-authenticating. This does not mean the Bible is without a witness by Rome and other churches such as the Eastern Orthodox or even church fathers such as Athanasius. It simply means that what Roman apologists require of the Bible is not necessary and is in fact is an un-Biblical epistemology.