The Bible’s Authority
The Westminster Confession of Faith, the standard of Reformed theology and interpretation, states “The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.” This statement of faith presents the Reformed understanding of the Bible’s authority, which is not derived from “any man or Church.” The Bible isn’t authoritative because the Pope says so. The Bible isn’t authoritative because I feel it is so. The Bible is authoritative “because it is the Word of God.”
If there were no popes and if I weren’t a Christian, the Bible would still maintain its authority. Why? Because Truth is objectively present outside of myself or any man, woman, or child. This is a concept that is foreign or offensive to modern ideology. In today’s day and age, humanism is the reigning philosophy. Humanism places the human experience at the center of everything. Whatever your experience might be, that is your reality and is truth, regardless of contradictions. Take three women for example: The first is a Muslim woman who is subject to the worldview of women as second-class compared to men and as possessions of their husbands. The second is a lesbian who is subject to the worldview of radical feminism that views men as oppressors and husbands as antiquated patriarchy. The third is a Christian woman who is subject to the biblical worldview of complimentary help-meet in stewardship and the spiritual headship of her husband.
All three of these women have different experiences of marriage and different worldviews. Humanism says the experiences of these three women are all true, regardless of the fact that these are all opposing worldviews. Which worldview is right? Humanism says all of them are right for the individual. This thinking has made its way into churches. Our denominational vows have changed to reflect this error. The Book of Church Order for the PCUS (old Southern branch) asked candidates for Teaching and Ruling Elders “Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?” The Book of Order for the PC(USA) asks the same candidates “Do you accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God’s Word to you?” Do you see the subtle change? If God’s Word is authoritative “to you” it’s not necessarily authoritative as “the only infallible rule of faith and practice.”
The Westminster Confession is spot on when it points our attention to the reason God is the source of the Bible’s authority. “God (who is truth itself) [is] the author thereof.” The Bible is authoritative because its Author is Truth itself. There is no alternate Truth because there is no alternate God. The Lord our God is One. Humans may experience God differently, but our experience of Him neither adds to nor detracts from His truthfulness. It’s not God’s responsibility to change to fit human demand. It’s humanity’s responsibility to be transformed to fit God’s demands.
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