Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Let us not get carried away when affirming scripture's authority

"How scripture is to be brought into play to judge the authenticity of doctrine requires careful reflection. It will not do simply to suppose that if a doctrine is found in scripture, in the sense of being stated explicitly somewhere in the text, it is ipso facto authentic [something Christian communities should believe]. Among the doctrines whose authenticity scripture is to judge are the doctrines found within scripture itself; and it is altogether possible that some of these may be judged non-authentic. To say that scripture has normative authority does not imply that every individual unit of scripture--every assertion of fact, every moral judgment, commandment, etiological tale, psalm, or what have you--has normative authority. Particular elements of scripture may have a role to play in generating theological understanding without themselves being representative of that understanding. Of course, people may grant authority to verses of scripture simply because they are part of scripture just as people may grant authority to what celebrities say in product endorsements simply because they are celebrities. One function of a properly articulated understanding of scriptural authority is to correct such mistakes." (Charles M. Wood, Love that Rejoices in the Truth, 79.)