There is a huge divide between Christians (not to mention Muslims) on the authority of the scriptures, not just in theory, but in practice. While the scriptures say:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may perfect, thoroughly equipped for all good works.”
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy is of any private interpretation, for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the holy Spirit.”
“As for God, his way is perfect,the word of the Lord is tried…”
“The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”
It is clear that the writers of the Bible (and other holy books) considered the words they recorded to be the words of God- true, perfect, universal, and eternal. And just in case their word was not enough, the threat of curse and damnation was used to seal the deal.
The Bible is considered God’s word by the Christian world; at least that is the picture the Bible paints for itself. But there is a growing movement in much of Christianity to discredit that point of view. I knew of a few churches that didn’t really believe in the inerrancy of scripture, but in recent years the idea become mainstream. They think that the scriptures only contain the words of God.
I don’t understand how this can be. What is a religion if it is not founded on a book? How can one say that certain parts have less (or no) authority in the life of the believer?
I do recall two passages that address this attitude directly. The first is a little known warning hidden in the Old Testament law that basically says none were to add or subtract from God’s words. It is found in Deuteronomy 4- hardly a well-traveled area of the Bible.
The second comes, conveniently, at the very end of the Bible, and basically repeats the sentiment of the Deuteronomy passage, but with the added threat of elimination from the Lamb’s Book of Life. In other words, dissenters will perish!
It is interesting that Christians and Muslims take a liberal stance toward their own scriptures, since those very scriptures instruct them that they are indispensable to the spiritual life and health of the believer. In a palpable way, God (or his mouthpieces) was trying to create the air of authority in what may or may not have been intended to be the final say from God.
Scripture was portrayed as unchangeable and inescapable.
I have heard all kinds of substitutes offered for the authority of the scriptures. One “pastor” claimed that God revealed to him directly that which was the true, eternal word. No wonder that many are drawn to this kind of license for private interpretation of the word.
How can this not be construed as taking the authority for oneself any less than the way we unbelievers are criticized for rejecting the Bible in toto? For a believer to claim authority is to wrest it from the grip of the one who actually must have it for the system of religion to exist. God cannot be the servant of the creature.
That is the reason I reject the idea of authority. While all of us have authorities in our lives so that we can live peaceably with each other, it is antithetical to our individuality to turn over control of our lives and our way of thinking to another. Once we surrender, reason is lost and we cannot operate as a free being.
The God of religion is a king, sitting on a throne, with a crown and scepter in his hand. I am so thankful that this is only a caricature of the true God. If only Christians could admit that they don’t really believe in that God, many would feel free to leave and celebrate the God of Nature.
Believers who take authority into their own hands actually show that they know their God is not real and cannot punish them for imaginary sins. They want the benefit of eternal life without the responsibility to follow the dictates of the religion. They don’t even realize that they are practically practicing Deism. Many have not heard of Deism because the churches fear that knowledge would truly set them free.
Where there is fear, there is a shroud (sounds like the Dark Side of the Force). All that the world needs is the right information and the veil will be lifted, bringing the knowledge that has been hidden from the mind’s eye. The door to Deism is an open mind. One must simply be willing to admit that they are their own authority.