Christians tend to use Scripture. Let’s not kid ourselves. It is difficult to be a Christian and not have sometime, or another, used Scripture. For some, it is the central aspect of the faith. For others, it is a guide of some sort. Many use it as a proof-text while others use it story time.
What I want to briefly speak to is the issue of scriptural authority (SA) and how we use it, towards the proper use of it.
First, in an extremely unbiblical view, there are those on the far right, almost cultic side, of SA. For instance, there is the Pure Life Ministries proclaiming as the first tenet of their statement of faith that they “believe the Bible is the inspired and infallible and authoritative Word of God.” That covers some ground, doesn’t it? But, let us dig further. In another place, they write,
Pure Life Ministries is founded upon the authority of the Word of God as the supreme and all-sufficient Truth for overcoming sin.
Do you see the problem here? They now incorporate “all-sufficient” into the idolization of Scripture. By this circular logic, Pure Life needs nothing else except their own interpretation of Scripture. No psychology, no science, no medical help. This is the same tactic so-called faith healers use to slaughter innocent children when they refuse medical help. After all, medical help is not in Scripture. Focus what is going on here. The Trinity is not as important as their view of Scripture. The death and resurrection of Christ is not as important as their view of Scripture. What is important is to cement in their follows that the leaders are the sole determining factor of what “the bible says.”
They remove Tradition, Reason, and the intellect from reading Scripture. The interpretation must not be challenged, either by question or by reason. Further, there is no help outside of Scripture. In effect, they have replaced God with the bible, as is so evidence in their statement of faith.
This, in case you don’t get it, is the wrong approach to SA.
The Articles of Religion says plainly enough that Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation. Scripture then begins not a rule book, but a guide book. It allows for us to differ over some things, accept reason and Tradition, and to remain united. SA is not about providing for us everything, on every topic. It is not about restricting what we use to live or use to read Scripture. It is about focusing on the topics in Scripture showing us we are in need of salvation.
The all-sufficient approach must require someone to seek their life structure from Scripture in such a way as to divorce the Text from reality. Do they likewise seek only medical help as offered in Scripture? What of finances? Where is the license in Scripture for such groups as Pure Life Ministries? Rather, in a moderated SA, wherein Scripture provides for us the authoritative narrative do we understand our need for salvation as well as our individual responsibilities.