The Authority of Scripture Part VI

Frederick Buechner defines idolatry as ‘the practice of ascribing absolute value to things of relative worth.’

My professor mk has discussed this topic as the bible acting as a sort of deceiving idol, one that starts with the best of intentions, but leads us to a place that is not all that different from the plight of the Pharisees. The terms we use to describe the bible are eerily similar to the terms used to describe the pope: inerrant, infallible, absolute truth, perfect. And when we use terms like this, I begin to wonder (as mk has suggested) whether these are the terms used to describe Jesus Christ our Lord or simply the book we try to follow or the papal figure we admire. John Caputo sheds some light on this when he writes: “I take the second commandment very seriously and I do not put false gods – like books (biblical inerrantism) or the Vatican (papal infallibility) – before God, who is the ‘wholly other.'” A large aspect of the Reformation was built around the priesthood of believers and no longer abiding simply by the words of the pope. But Protestants have seemed to fall into the same trap, just with another object of affection – the Bible. These days everything has to be biblical, and if it is not, then it is no longer viable. There is little talk outside of the emerging movement discussing trying to become imitators of Christ or followers of the way or even trying to love God and neighbor more than our death-grip on this book we call the Bible. What I am trying to get at is that Protestants typically harp on Catholics because they rely so heavily on the authority of the pope when in reality, they are guilty of sucking at the teat of the authority of Scripture. Both the pope and the bible are not God and were never intended to be God. In the book of John, Jesus addresses the Pharisees and scolds them for searching the scriptures diligently when all they have to do to experience life is come to him. Let us not elevate the Bible to something it was never intended to be. At the same time, let us not down play it into just another one of the thousands of books in the library. Let us remember that God has spoken and we have account of this in the Bible, but God continues to speak . . . he has not stopped. Viewing Scripture as the final word is essentially making yourself out to be a form of a deist – God created the world, worked in it for a time, but once the early church began, left humans to fend for themselves, but not without leaving a two-edged sword which we know as the Bible to guide us. Some may choose to pledge allegiance to the Bible. Me on the other hand, I will only bow down before God.

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One Response to The Authority of Scripture Part VI

  1. Beth says:

    So how are we supposed to view the Bible? Is it an instruction manual, a “Christianity for Dummies” type deal? Is it a collection of stories from which we are supposed to draw important morals, like Aesop’s fables? Is it a mystery that we’re supposed to try and solve?

    I think you do an incredible job of making your point about what the Bible should NOT be to us. It’s a very solid argument, interesting, well articulated. But you kind of leave out what the Bible SHOULD be.

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