My kids and grandkids used to say that mostly to one another, “Uh, you’re not the boss of me.” It became a great joke at our house and hubby picked it up. The other day he came home all wet so I told him to get dry clothes on have some coffee and he quips, “you’re not the boss of me!” Made me laugh! That phrase is often used in a moment of total irrationality to assert one’s independence.
It’s a good phrase, because it speaks to lines of authority. It begs the question, So Who is the boss of you? It’s important to know Who you serve in any given situation, how you are going to discern the Truth, and who you ultimately answer to.
So I really appreciated this article about sola scriptura. I don’t agree with much of it, but it helped to open my eyes as to the nature of the problem. She is speaking of having once been reformed and having converted to Catholicism. She argues heavily against the idea of scripture alone, and proceeds to say, “But it does indicate heavily an implicit acknowledgement that Scripture requires an interpretive authority. “
What I found so fascinating is that not once was it suggested that your “interpretive authority,” is the Lord, Jesus Christ, the Author of the Bible, the Author and Finisher of our faith, even! If I wish to know more about a book, I tend to seek out the author, chat with him, read interviews, get a feel for the words he wrote, what motivated him how he perceives the world.
Seems quite natural to do this with the Bible, too. A bit funny, but I actually knew the Lord long before I even knew He had written a book. Discovering the bible was kind of like discovering the words of an old friend. How cool is that, if I ever forget His nature, His intentions towards me, His wisdom, I have His Words in tangible form!
So I quite agree with the idea that, “Scripture requires an interpretive authority,” but there seems to be no willingness to embrace the fact that the Holy Spirit is your authority. How real is God to you, how strong is your relationship if you believe you need a human interpreter to define Him for you? I’m not just speaking of Catholicism either, but also the reformed with their Wayne Grudem, Tim Keller books, and assorted Calvinistic interpretations. Or on the more liberal side of things, perhaps the Rachel Held Evans coloring book or journaling with Beth Moore….
I don’t wish to sound too snarky here, we are blessed with numerous brothers and sisters in Christ and we have teaching resources galore to help us discover the bible and to draw closer to the Lord. So none of those things are bad, in fact they are all a great blessing. The bible actually says, “do not neglect to gather together” and “iron sharpens iron,” so we need one another and the eyes and perceptions of other people to enrich our relationship with the Lord Himself. History, tradition, millions of believers who walked before us are important.
But just the same, who is the Ultimate Authority? Who do you actually turn to when something confuses you or sends your soul into angst?? Do you trust the Lord to lead you and guide you through it, or does the authority of the teachings, doctrines, beliefs, culture of others, always trump His?
Don’t get me wrong here, there are multiple tools at our disposal and while the bible may be infallible, we humans are certainly not. I am just saying that what is so often missing from the equation is the Lord Himself. At some point in our walk as mature Christians we need to get to the point of having our own relationship. Other people can only teach us about their own relationship and that is a great blessing, a huge encouragement, a wealth of wisdom, but at some point we have to step into the Lord’s arms for ourselves.
I think it actually says that in the bible too, “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”
Let me address some of the fear here, I often get the stink eye from some, I like to say “God said.” Well, He did. I don’t know of any other way to put it. He spoke to me in prayer He made his presence known to me, He confirmed and reaffirmed His guidance. By whose authority do I bring carrots and not cookies to church today? By His authority. By the full power and authority of Jesus Christ who made His will known to me because I, in a desire to be pleasing, sought out His will this morning.
You may laugh if you like, but I assure you carrots versus cookies is a real conflict in my world, as is cool whip versus real cream, as is the minefield I just label “pork and gluten.” I’ll spare you the details.
We only seem to get into trouble with our biblical interpretations when we approach the bible as if it were a legal document, a contract, a set of furniture assembly instructions from IKEA. A sweet woman the other day said, “I was reading in Hebrews and God told me to go clean the bathroom.” Cracked me up, because I totally get that. No one else is going to read Hebrews and suddenly conclude this is a book about cleaning the bathroom, but letting Scripture read you, and letting the Lord speak to you, is really what it’s all about.
Is there disagreement about whether or not Hebrews has something to say about housework? Only if we are failing to honor and embrace the Holy Spirit and His power to move in individual people’s lives. Just because the Lord is telling one woman to clean her bathroom, doesn’t mean He’s speaking that truth to everyone.
Bathrooms are an inconsequential example, obviously it can get far more complex. The point being, “my sheep know my voice” and God often deals with us as individuals, as well as corporately.
There is a great deal of fear in the world about false teachers right now and bad doctrine, and the dangers of people being led astray, and while I get that, I’m going to say that a huge part of the problem has to do with us seeking out teachers, seeking out other lines of authority, rather than seeking out the Lord Himself.
And you know what good teachers always do? Point you back to Him.
“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” Albert Einstein