It takes faith to believe in Jesus Christ. It takes faith to believe that God inspired men to write letters and books, such that they are inerrant. It takes faith to believe that the deposit of faith was not corrupted sometime in the past 2,000 years of history since Christ. It takes faith to believe that Christ established the Church and that the gates of hell won’t prevail against it. I would not expect any of this to be controversial. Do you take exception with it? Do you reject the claim that believing in these things takes faith? If so, then you would be claiming they are demonstrable through reason alone, which is false. Reasons and motives of credibility support all these beliefs, but cannot prove them.
You wrote, quoting Dr. Kruger (and let me see if block quotes work):
to say the canon is self-authenticating is to say that these books objectively bear qualities that show them to be divinely-produced books. It is analogous to our belief that natural revelation (the created world) exhibits qualities that show it is divinely-produced. Do we not believe that ‘The heavens declare the glory of God’ (Ps 16:1; cf. Rom 1:20)? In the same manner, why would we not believe that God’s special revelation also bears evidence of his handiwork?
Let’s assume I agree that this is true. The idea then is that the books God inspired would sort of “jump out at” the attentive reader (and we might add, one who has the Holy Spirit within him). God inspired these psalms, proverbs, histories, apocalyptic writings, letters, gospels, and epistles. Jesus’ sheep will “hear His voice” and recognize each of these writings through prayerful reading (if not outright divine illumination/private revelation).
Yet, you have faithful men in the early Church who erroneously included non-inspired books, or excluded inspired ones, as any glance at the various canonical lists proposed during the first 400 years shows. Either they didn’t have the Holy Spirit and so missed those objective qualities of the divine, or their Spirit-gauges were not completely accurate. (But we are to believe, I suppose, that John Calvin’s is? Or John Bugay’s?)
Dr. Kruger would say, it seems, that it was through the gradual consensus of all these broken-gauged men across centuries that the Holy Spirit worked, something that is not too far off from Catholicism’s claims. But Catholics believe that God guided the Church in her discernment, not just on the canon, but on all doctrines of faith and morals. This is consistent. Protestants, like you and Kruger, do not believe this, and so your belief that God guided these men to the true canon over time, but didn’t guide the Church on the other doctrines she discerned, is ad hoc. You say that Protestants have answered the canon question, but I have not heard an answer that avoids being ad hoc in just the way I described.
Regarding interpretation and the accusation that the Catholic Church interjects itself as a lens between Scripture and the believer, even Keith Mathison admits that Protestants also required an interpreter: “All appeals to Scripture are appeals to interpretations of Scripture. The only real question is: whose interpretation? People with differing interpretations of Scripture cannot set a Bible on a table and ask it to resolve their differences. In order for the Scripture to function as an authority, it must be read and interpreted by someone.”
So is that someone John Bugay? Or Dr. Kruger? Or Mathison? Or the PCA, PCUSA, OPC…? How do we know? (And if you choose the “church” based on the one whose interpretation of the Scriptures matches your own, you just created that circular reasoning you’ve been trying to avoid.) So you cannot avoid an interpreter, the only question is, which interpreter do you choose? Protestantism’s sola Scriptura, the Called to Communion guys demonstrated, reduces to solo Scriptura with respect to ultimate interpretive authority. Mathison failed to rebut their argument.