Is the Bible our final authority?

(Joe Gregory) #1

I got into an interesting online debate the other day about whether or not the Bible is our final authority. I was in the minority opinion in that it was not. I argued that God is the final authority and the Bible is written accounts of God’s special revelation to us. So while it is authoritative, the Bible must draw from something higher, thus cannot be the “final” authority. There was a lot of resistance to this.

Am I off base on this? Has anyone here had similar discussions?

(Caleb Eldridge) #2

The Bible is the revealed divine word of God to God’s people, for God’s people. There is reference to this in multiple passages, namely 2 Timothy 3:16–17: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” In his word God declares his authority, so God alone is the ultimate source of authority. We have the Bible, which we believe is truthful and trustworthy, the divine word of God. This is why we can say that we can place our confidence in the Holy Word of God.

For more info:

(SeanO) #3

@jobobear I think one point I would emphasize - and may be helpful for you as you have this discussion - is that God will not contradict what He has revealed of Himself in the Scriptures because the Scriptures are an accurate self-revelation of God and an accurate record of God’s work in human history. God will also never tell us to do something that He has forbidden in Scripture. In that sense, the Bible is our final authority because it is how God has chosen to reveal Himself to us - through the written Word. At the same time we recognize that we worship a living God and that Jesus is in fact the ultimate self-revelation of God - God in the flesh. Therefore, while the Bible is authoritative, God is Himself - living, active, powerful - and we do not serve the Bible but rather the God of the Bible.

I think the reason you encountered resistance is because people were worried that you were questioning whether or not the Bible is an accurate self-revelation of God - if it is, then God Himself would never contradict it. Many founders of cults and false religions have claimed to have direct revelations from God that contradict Scripture and I suspect that was their concern. So you may just be a bit more careful with your wording.

Is that helpful? Did I understand your question accurately? Christ grant you wisdom :slight_smile:

Here are a few thoughts I find helpful:

  • life is not found in the Bible, but in Christ Himself
  • Jesus is the fullest revelation of God we have and the New Testament is the authoritative source for what He taught and said
  • Jesus and the apostles exhort us to remember the words of the prophets and the law - for they were the work of the Holy Spirit

John 5:39-40 - You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

2 Peter 1:16-21 - For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

(Jimmy Sellers) #4

As a Christian the only thing that I can think that would trump the Bible as we know it is a complete revelation of God’s word. A verse that comes to mind is (1 Co 13:12 LEB)

12 For now we see through a mirror ⌊indirectly⌋, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know completely, just as I have also been completely known.

I don’t think it a stretch to read this verse as looking forward to the complete revelation of God’s word in that Great Day.

(Joe Gregory) #5

Thanks for the response. Much of the resistance I got was along the same lines as you are mentioning. Their initial reaction was that I was saying that the Bible was not authoritative and they would push back by saying we need the Bible to know about God. I see this as giving the right answer to the wrong question. While it is true that the Bible is essential to know God, God must be the final authority.

It’s a subtle distinction between saying “It’s true because it’s in the Bible” vs. “It’s in the Bible because it’s true”.

(SeanO) #6

@jobobear I agree that there is a very subtle distinction between the Bible being true because it is God’s revelation to mankind and something being true simply because it is in a religious text. The first can be verified with historical evidence and personal testimony while the latter is a baseless assertion of authority.

(Joe Gregory) #7

Which one are you referring to as a baseless claim assertion of authority?

(SeanO) #8

@jobobear Just saying ‘it’s true because it’s in this particular book’. In contrast to such a baseless claim, we have good reasons to trust that the Bible is God’s Word and therefore both reliable and profitable.

(Joe Gregory) #9

Gotcha. Thanks for clarifying.

(Terry Black) #10

This is an excellent question and I have enjoyed reading the comments. I think both stands have merit but not in isolation of each other. Scripture is divinely inspired and our source of Gods word. No problem there. I do believe however that we must invite God’s guidance in the interpretation. As sinners it may be easy to take a verse or interpretation out of context to suit our needs. God is the higher authority and I think when its combined with scripture interpretation through prayer it gives a better chance at a clear understanding of the word as it uniquely applies to us. Great question! Thanks for asking!

(Dean Schmucker) #11

The Word is not something that is outside of us, but dwells within. The life of the disciple is not "What would Jesus do:, question answered by reading the Bible, but rather “What is Jesus doing” as measured by the unction within us.

(anon65845839) #12

John 5:39
Jesus said to the Pharisees something very interesting concerning this very topic…

What is essential?