I was recently asked by a friend of mine, whether, as Christians, the Bible is our Authority? My reply was no. Ultimately faith, theology, tradition and such things are the interpretive domain of community and the individual. The authority is in our common & diverse exploration of God and our seeking of him: common in that we who call ourselves Christians are all seeking, diverse because we all see him differently. That is messy and not monolithic in any sort of organizational sense. The fact that there are differing ideas about God, differing interpretations of holy writ all contribute to a lack of power base for those who would like to add uniformity of thought and expression.
Now my friend who asked me the initial above question is not the sort of guy who is looking to extend any power base or necessary uniformity of belief. He was genuinely asking the question that he was currently wrestling through in his Christian journey. But his question has continued to bounce around in my mind, not because I am questioning the answer I gave him, I’m not, but because I am thinking about how bible has become an idol in western protestant Christianity, especially for the fundamentalist and the evangelicals. Like any idol it does not reflect the divine but the maker and the gazer. The blind spot (the reflection) in bible and faith is interpretation…we are all converging upon the same collection of words but we are all bringing different perspectives, experiences and theology to that interpretive process and coming out with different ideas and beliefs. Additionally, we are swapping off the experiences of others, or rather our interpretation of another’s witness of those events, in place of our own. If God is real, if he is involved in human affairs, then he should be at work in the 21st century just like in the 1st, only the places, the ways, our understanding of how and where he is at work should be different if only because of all the history behind us. Really the bible, as it is used today reflects back our views and interpretations, not necessarily the divine.
Now I don’t want to throw out the bible; far from that I think it needs to be brought back to a place of appropriate function within the community of faith. I think that the bible is something that we should be in dialogue with (Borg) and to the extent that we are in conversation with those stories and living a explorative Christian life, seeking to find where God is working in our day, we are living a Christian life.
Why do some wish to have bible as our authority, I think that has more to do with power than with faith.
What do you think?