Here is a link that helps us understand the fact that the bishopric is the arbitrator of truth and that the Bible, our primary repository of truth, belongs only to the Church that is under this bishopric.
From the link above we can see that there are dozens of early writings that are not in the Bible. In the first few hundred years of the New Testament Church the authority of revelation was verbally transpired by the bishops, to the priests and then to the rest of the Church. In the fourth century the bishops decided which books out of these many would be “canonized.” This Canon of early letters began to be called the Bible.
The Bible is not something that was handed over from the apostles to the people at large! The Bible is a fourth century selection of early Christian writings. When we say that we believe in the Bible, we are saying that we believe in the selection that was accomplished by the bishopric of that time. This means that we believe in the authority of the Church at that time. We believe in the Canon of the Church!
Should we believe that the bishopric of the fourth century was the very representation of the true Church? If you do, then congratulations, I will see you at your chrismation! If you do not believe that the fourth century bishopric was alive and well and represented the Church, which Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and most sects do not believe, then you are left with this list of books and your own conscience to create your own Canon of Scripture on your own will, becoming a prophet.
Unlike popular belief there was no formula passed down from the apostles for the choosing of the books of the New Testament. Many sectarian theologians will attempt to construct formulas but none have been successful. Proclaiming litmus tests of authorship will not work because several books have unknown and questionable authors, and proclaiming litmus tests of theology can only work to a certain degree.
No prophet in the Bible ever spoke of a new Church to be birthed out of the old, which again, is what Mormons teach; that the Church apostated and that Joseph Smith was called to restore it. The problem with this claim is that the Church supposedly fell away long before the Canon of Scripture was established. This would make the Canon completely void! Either the Church did or did not fall away.
Again, it is important to note that there is no formula or litmus test that can be used to create the Canon of Scripture that we now have. It had to be done prophetically through the specific authority that Christ established. That authority is still here. If it were not then the authority of the Bible would be up for debate.
The Bible is not our sole authority because it was given by the Church. It is the Church that is our authority and it is the Bible that the Church teaches and protects. We cannot even claim that the Bible is inspired by God unless we include those who He “inspired” to put it together. We can glean from some of its benefits without the historic Church but we cannot lay claim to it and live it like one that is under its yoke. If we give up our autonomous spirit and submit to the authority of the historic Church, we will see the Bible in a whole new light. Passages that were once very quiet to us will now come to life and motivate us and our walk with Christ.