Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Bible as the Ultimate Authority - is this Possible?

I recently had, what I eventually came to realise was, a non-productive conversation with a Protestant, that brought to a head many other similar conversations I've had with Protestants. That is what prompted this post. For those who may not be aware "Protestantism" means all the churches claiming belief in Christ other than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints holds direct revelation from God as the ultimate authority. Catholics hold the Pope to be God's mouthpiece, and the ultimate authority on earth. Protestantism rejects the Pope as an authority from God, and holds that the Bible is the ultimate authority. This means there is no higher authoritive source for what God has to say than the Bible, to the Protestant. In fact it holds the Bible as the one and only authority. All beliefs are claimed to have been derived from the Bible. And to have any religious opinion it must be supported from the Bible.

The question then arises as to how sensible is this concept? Is the Bible a sound ultimate authority? Questions could be gone into of which of the conflicting ancient manuscripts is the most correct. And what of the changes that were made where the original word can't be detected due to the many corrections made of that particular word, in spite of our science. Some of these changes are on very serious issues, that is why they were changed. Then there is the problem of opinion of what each Greek or Hebrew word, in the Bible, really meant to a people we can't interview to find the meanings of those words.

Protestants will claim that God wouldn't ALLOW the Bible to be interfered with: He would make sure that it came through perfect. But if that is true how is it that the vaste majority of people who have lived upon the earth haven't even had one? In fact Protestantism teaches that for the first approximately 2400 years (up to Moses) no scripture existed whatsoever: That the Bible is the only scripture that has ever existed. So what makes them think THEY are so special, that God has gone to some specific effort to make sure they have perfect Scriptures? God is no respector of persons.

But I'm not going into these problems in this post.

The biggest problem with the Bible as an ultimate authority is that when all is said and done it is subject to private interpretation. Whatever you demonstrate from the Bible they just make excuses for. Traditional interpretation is held above the actual words of the Bible.

God is said to have created man in his "image and likeness". They claim this doesn't mean in his physical likeness or image, but in some other undefinable sense. But God used these terms also in the law given to Moses. And no one denies that the commandment refers to making something that physically LOOKS like anything living (Ex 20:4).

We have loads of scriptures stating that God has a body looking like a man. What do they say though? Either 1. It was an angel. Or 2. It is speaking figuratively and there was no actual thing to see. Whichever we choose, they are claiming the Bible's statement isn't correct as written.

We have loads of scriptures stating that people have seen God. One where God himself states the person saw him. What do they say of these? The answer is the same as that above. And the quote where it says that no man has seen God at any time. A shame they couldn't understand that one by reading the others properly that say similar things, but explain better.

The Bible talks of baptism for the dead. But they tell us that doesn't count because it is only written once.

Christ speaks of going TO the Father and sending back the Holy Ghost, and Prostestantism tells us that the Bible teaches a trinity (almost all Protestants - with due respect to those who know otherwise). Even with their talk of magic transformations of Christ (to try and confuse the issue), we still have the Father sending back the Holy Ghost.

We have the Bible giving many scriptures showing that we existed before coming here to earth. Yet they reject these also and say that he just knew ABOUT us before, but didn't know us as the Bible states.

They say that God's claim of being our Father is that he is our inventor.

Jn 3:16 states that God sent Christ because he loved us so much. Yet Protestantism tells us God has no real passions, and he just says these words to try and explain as best he can.

I could go on and on. However these above demonstrate the point I'm saying.

They tell us that we should understand not to take these things as written. But I would ask then by what standard are they judging that we should take them as they interpret them? After all they reject the concept of logic relative to God. And particularly considering that their interpretation ISN'T what the Bible says.

How can the Bible be God's ultimate authority yet we aren't really to believe it to mean what it says where it conflicts with traditional interpretation? Even the most simple of statements are interpretable. According to Protestantism we can't even believe Christ when he tells us that God loves us (as he has no passions). See how silly this whole thing gets?

The Bible as an ultimate authority is a dismal failure. People quote it out of context probably more often than they quote it in context. Or maybe it's just that I notice these things and it seems that way.

Fortunately Christ sent the Holy Ghost to those who are ready to accept it and listen to him, rather than trying to tell God how things are. God himself should be our ultimate authority, as Joseph Smith discovered.


Ryan said...

Mormons don't believe in infallibility. All is fallible cause we are fallible. All is subject to change cause our circumstances change. There is no perfect revelation because the recipient is imperfect.

Doug Towers said...


Welcome to the site.

I can't dispute your logic there.

NM said...

Hi Doug,

I am what you may call a protestant =)

Carl Trueman in a talk entitled, 'Knowing God: The Importance of Scripture' is good to better understand the stance of reformed doctrine =)

Doug Towers said...


The link you gave only wants to install an up-to-date version of media player.

So you will need to be more specific about your ideas.

yeti said...

I think that there are at least a few other churches "belief in Christ" who are not protestant.
I think namely of:
Eastern and Oriental Orthodox
Jehovah's Witnesses
Christian Scientists
and Ukrainian Catholic
Anyhow, I find that a minor error.
What i am unable to fathom is, from where did you get the idea that Protestants believe in an unfeeling passionless God?

Doug Towers said...


To be a Protestant church all you need is to be protesting against the church existing at the time. The church protested against is the Roman Catholic church.

ALL churches that have started up because they have not agreed with the Catholics are Protestant. This includes the all those you have cited. Anyone telling you otherwise is talking nonsense.

While the orthodox churches may be old they still came from the Catholics.

The only church other than the Roman Catholic church that isn't Protestant is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The reason we are an exception is that Christ came himself and re-established his church upon the earth. We didn't just start up because we disagreed with some doctrine.

In regard the God with no emotions being taught by Protestantism. They teach that God is incomprehendable. That his talk of emotions is only for our benefit. And that he doesn't have emotions like we do.

I was raised a Protestant and went to 3 different churches on Sundays. I have been through many churches in those years and took enough interest in doctrine to know. I have spent countless hours since joining the church in conversation with Protestant ministers and members of their congregations.

yeti said...

I guess we would then describe protestants differently. (I would wonder how you feel about those who protest against protestants? and I would still suggest your description in the blog is a little vague. Are Muslims protestant because they believe in Jesus and they are not Catholic? Well, no.) Anyhow, i think i get what you mean then by your definition, but with holding sure a wide group of people under one name you must allow for differing beliefs. I for one would fall into the category protestant, but all my life i have been taught that we follow a God who has feelings, while we can never fully comprehend him, we can get glimpses of his character. If you read the Bible it is undeniable that God has emotions. God gets angry, he loves, and he is moved to compassion. In the New Testament Jesus is the visible image of God. He laughs, and cries and overturns tables in anger, and is tempted and sweats drops of blood in anguish. I would strongly question any protestant who teaches an emotionless God, and am very surprised that through your many interactions with protestants you have found this belief commonly held.

Doug Towers said...


Your question of whether a church is Protestant because it is protesting against the other Protestant churches by its existence is one I have sometimes asked myself.

There are many Protestant churches that don't want to be called such because of the prophecy in revelations about the daughters of the harlot.

But like it or lump it they came about from the Roman Catholic church. The Eastern Orthodox churches came about because the king didn't want to be dictated to by the Pope. Thus they came from the Catholics anyway. Though obviously they claim to be the ones who are right and that the Catholics came from them.

The Anglican (Church of England) came about because Henry VIII wanted divorce and the Pope refused it. Thus he took the Catholic church in England and made himself its leader. That makes it Protestant also. Though as they make Biblical claim that the King of England is the rightfull leader of the church they obviously don't claim to be Protestant either.

The Muslims aren't Protestant because they started their religion at Abraham. Not as a break-off of the Catholics.

Allah is God. In the Bible the spelling uses an "E" rather than an "A" at the beginning, and being Hebrew they used a different language relative to it. God is "El" or "Al". Christ called to him from the Cross, Eli.

I support your belief in a feeling God. The Bible certainly does teach a feeling God. You have no dispute from me in that regard.