Acceptance of the authority of Scripture over all other documents and traditions
Have you ever had someone challenge your faith by asking if you really believe what it says in the Bible? In today’s post, I will provide my response to this question. I must preface this article by saying that this is a difficult topic and I can only pray that I will do this posting justice. Many great theologians throughout history have provided their input on this topic. I do not hold a candle to many of the greats. Thus, I will standing on the shoulders of giants in my meagre attempt to do this topic justice.
According to the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective:
4. We believe that all Scripture is inspired by God through the Holy Spirit for instruction in salvation and training in righteousness. We accept the Scriptures as the Word of God and as the fully reliable and trustworthy standard for Christian faith and life. Led by the Holy Spirit in the church, we interpret Scripture in harmony with Jesus Christ.
Most other Christians follow a similar doctrine. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association stresses the importance of scripture as the infallible word of God as the first and foremost belief in their statement of faith: The BGEA believes: “The Bible to be the infallible Word of God, that it is His holy and inspired Word, and that it is of supreme and final authority.”
I could go on, listing many other Christian organizations that stress the infallibility of scripture. As we can see, this is considered one of the core beliefs of Christianity.
But why? What is it about scripture that makes it so important. There are many reasons, including:
- The Bible outlines God’s commands to us.
- The Bible contains the history of humanity from the beginning of creation.
- The Bible displays God’s power.
- The Bible shows Jesus’ ministry and his message of hope and salvation.
- The Bible contains God’s direction on how to live.
- It is filled with birth, death and rebirth.
- It is filled with miracles both great and small.
The Bible is quite fascinating… The Bible has provided comfort and guidance to Christians for hundreds of years. It contains guidance for both the layman and the minister. It contains messages that are layered with meaning. Consider Jesus’ numerous parables and the duplicate messages contained in his messages.
Leading scholars have debated the truth claims of the Bible for years. Scholarly research continues to validate the historical accuracy of the Bible. And, for those passages that are troublesome to the rational mind, metaphorical interpretation is acceptable.
The spectacular thing about the Christian scripture is that it captures the good news of our Messiah, Jesus Christ, in great detail. Religious studies scholars weigh source documents using a concept called multiple attestation. In a nutshell, this concept holds that the more original source documents provide the same facts, the more historically accurate the story in question is held to be. Thus, a source document that has no other “attestations” or collaborating documents, would not be considered very strong. In the case of Christianity, we have four original gospels, or accounts, of Jesus Christ and his ministry. Further, there are scores of additional source documents that also speak of Jesus as our Messiah. This large number of original texts suggests that there is strong compelling evidence to support the truth claims of the New Testament. I therefore hold that the burden of proof is on the skeptic to show me that my beliefs are not valid. I have yet to find anyone that can shake my firm belief in the historical accuracy of the good news of the New Testament.
Now, why would I take this scripture to be the ultimate authority? Well… The Old Testament is filled with numerous commands from God. Further, Jesus’ directions in the New Testament are equally important. As a follower of Jesus, it is my duty to follow his direction. Therefore, the scriptures that contain these directions are considered the authority over all other documents and traditions.
That being said, many would ask me if it appropriate for me to follow the law as laid out in Leviticus. According to this book, numerous offenses demand punishment by death. Jesus alleviates us of these severe punishments by forgiving us for our sins. The New Testament provides us with a more humane way of dealing with our human failings. Thus, I defend this book against those that would criticize it as backwards or inhumane.
The heart of the Bible is the message of Christ’s salvation and our direction to love God and our neighbour. To lose sight of this clear message is to get stuck in the weeds. Legalistic interpretations and arguments do nothing to enhance the community-building gifts that Jesus gives us. We must not lose sight of the fact that Christianity is God’s Way and it is the way of peace, tolerance, harmony and love. Missing this point means to miss the true meaning of living in spiritual bliss with our creator.
I urge you to look to scripture with an open mind, looking for the positive influence that it can bring to your life. Learn from its historical failures. Learn from the numerous wisdom texts contained within. And most of all, absorb the life-changing influence of Jesus’ message of love and peace.
So here we are… Acceptance of the authority of Scripture over all other documents and traditions.
Now that we have laid this foundation, I urge you to reacquaint yourself with scripture. Whether this is a continuation of a bible reading from earlier today or your first time looking through the good book in quite some time, there’s no time like the present to remind yourself of the power of God’s word.
‘Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom’ (Psalm 90:12, KJV)
Next, we’ll tackle the concept of “rebirth” that is so important to Christians.
Until next time, may God bless you and keep you safe.