Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Source of Authority (Part 2 of 3)

In last week’s post, I began this three part series by asking to what will we give our allegiance? To what should we submit? To whom should we obey? I began to make a case for the Bible being that authority, but this week, let me go a bit further by explaining why the Bible should be considered over a couple of other options.

Many people hold that authority comes from within – that is, they are their own master. But many who hold this approach do not limit their own authority to themselves, but project it to others as well. Such an approach makes sense only as their life continues because once they are no longer living, then all others who were under their authority are now “free” from that authority and must find a new authority for their lives. Of course, this scenario is constantly occurring as parents of young children (particularly) die, but in a grander scheme, true authority should remain in effect over an extended time – not just duration of a life.

Therefore, we need to look for truths that go beyond our lives to find authority. Some turn to science as providing some sense of authority. But science cannot be fully reliant as an authority because science, by definition, is based upon research and discovery. Science, then can uncover truth, but it cannot be truth itself. For instance, the Big Bang Theory is just that – a theory. If true, then somehow, the high-density, high-temperature “state” had to have a cause (i.e a force) in order to react. Currently, scientist are uncertain what this cause may be. Again, science can discover truth, but it cannot be truth – and thus, it should not be the authority for our lives. (Consider, too, that even on “known” issues, the truth changes often. Consider, for instance, how many different statements have been made about the cause for various types of disease only to be changed at a later time.)

So, I turn again to the Bible. Now, based upon the previous argument, many will declare that many aspects of the Bible are unknown, or misunderstood, as well. I agree. But, for instance, science always eventually confirms the Bible, and thus, the Bible should be held higher. (Archeologists continue to uncover “lost” cities and artifacts confirming information within the Bible that some previously contended showed the Bible to be in error.)

So, why trust the Bible? For me, I believe it is God’s Word. Specifically, it is God’s written Word, but it will never contradict God’s spoken Word. We know this because the Bible contains a good deal of God’s spoken Word, and Genesis 1, for instance, reveals that what we call nature obeyed God when He said, “Let there be....”

Now, I realize that what I am writing here requires an element of faith, but so does the theory of a big bang. Again, that is my point. We all choose something to be our authority. Our personal understanding and limitations (including our life span) should be proof enough that we cannot be the ultimate authority. Important aspects like science are insufficient to be our authority, although it can point towards authority. And while other matters may find the allegiance of some, I choose the Bible.

Before I close this post, I must share that my ultimate allegiance must be to God, not the Bible itself. To put the Bible above God would be idolatry, similar to my posts a few weeks ago of putting heaven above Jesus. However, the Bible is our source for authority because we can confirm our direction through God’s written Word. Many people claim to hear a “word from God” which completely contradicts the guidance God has left us in the Bible. Of course, God is not bound to the pages of Scripture; He is an infinite God who is still very much at work today. But I truly believe one reason He provided, and preserved, the writings contained in the Bible, is as a guide to understand Him now (throughout the ages) by knowing what He did then.

Certainly, we must be discerning, and as acknowledged above, the Bible can be misunderstood, and is often misapplied. But that is our issue, not God’s. That is our lack of understanding, not God’s lack of providing what is needed. Thus, we can trust the Bible as our authority. We can, and should, compare the teachings of man (especially) against the words God has left for us (sola Scriptura). As we do, we will see that our source of authority does not merely serve as an authority, but is truly a guide, which provides a sense of purpose to all who heed its words.

Next week, in part 3, I will take one last step in this series to show how the Bible is our guide to purpose, not just an authoritative tool of God as many people consider it to be.