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Friday, October 02, 2015

The Authority of Scripture

You say you love the Lord. You say you even love His Word. Well, not love, perhaps, but at least respect. Unlike Roman Catholic doctrine, we believe that the Bible is the sole authority in matters of faith and practice. Thus, most non-Catholic churches affirm the unique authority of Scripture. So do most non-Catholic Christians. And then you run into practice. Do we really believe in the authority of Scripture?

As it turns out, I think a lot of people who affirm the Bible and its authority end up actually downgrading it to second place (at best). There are many other things that take the first spot.

"How do I feel about that?" is likely number one. Right on its heels is "What does experience tell me?" So a passage, for instance, that explains that God ordered Israel to kill an entire neighborhood cannot be true because "I don't like the way it feels" or "Experience tells us that this isn't right or good." A close third is whether or not it conflicts with society. I don't understand why this one holds such prominence -- isn't it a given that God's Word will conflict with society? -- but that one is almost as big as the first two. Does the Bible teach that women should not be in leadership over men in the church? Well, until society determined that the Bible was all wrong on how it portrays the roles of women and men, it was a given. Suddenly well-meaning, sincere, Bible-believing Christians arrive at the conclusion that all the church for all the time prior to feminism was wrong and the Bible never said any such thing. That is, we don't allow the Bible to dictate values, morals, or truth. We determine what it is. Where the Bible disagrees, we have to make corrections. That might be by way of deletion or simply ignoring stuff or it might be through creative and innovative interpretation. But by no means can Scripture be correct when it says, "I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ." (1 Cor 11:3) Why? I don't feel it's right (feelings). Experience tells me that men aren't always good leaders and sometimes wives should be in charge (experience). Besides, that was then; this is now. Our culture isn't the same as that one. We know better now (society).

These three prime suspects have wreaked all sorts of havoc with Scripture as God's Word and as authority. Among the liberals or progressives, it is most pronounced. They're fine with redefining Scripture into oblivion. But it's not merely them. Even conservative Christians will explain how the concept of hell doesn't work because "it's a horrible thought" or how "There is none who does good; no, not one" (Rom 3:12) doesn't make sense because "we know from experience lots of unbelievers who do good" or how God is certainly fine with women leading men in the church these days because "that's a prior culture". Clear texts like
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." (Matt 16:24)

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. (1 Tim 2:11-12)

Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. (1 Peter 4:19)

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. (1 Peter 3:1-2)
get redefined, reinterpreted, or simply tossed into outer darkness to align the Bible with our "noble sentiments", our personal experiences, or even our societal beliefs.

So ask yourself. Is the Bible really the final authority? Is it really the Word of God? Or are there other things that take precedence in your thinking? Is the Bible the Word of God and authoritative as long as it aligns with your feelings, your experiences, your views from society, your own perceptions? If the latter, rest assured you're likely among the majority. Unfortunately, in this case that's not a good place to be.


Marshall Art said...

In some ways, I think Scripture can be analogous to some vegetables. They're not all delicious, but still good for you. Scriptural teaching might not be comfortable, might not "go down good", but that doesn't diminish the value of it at all.

Stan said...

I think the fact that Scripture, taken as it is, can be "vegetably", uncomfortable, and downright anti-societal thinking serves as evidence that it is divine. Human beings don't think of this stuff.