By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
My theme is a very important one: A Church’s Authority Versus The Bible’s Authority. Something in the recent news brought it to mind. You might have seen it discussed on TV, or heard about it in some other way. Here is what the news item was about: The principal of a Roman Catholic school here in the state of Washington lost his job because he had violated his contract by marrying a man.
There has been quite an uproar from some of the school’s students and parents because they feel the principal should be allowed to keep his job. They feel this way for a few reasons: 1)The principal has done a good job. 2) He is well-liked by many parents and students. 3) His homosexuality should be accepted in the name of tolerance.
The school defended its acceptance of his resignation for at least two reasons: 1) The Roman Catholic Church objects to homosexuality, and the school, being a Roman Catholic school, is obligated to follow the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. 2) The man had violated his contract by marrying a man.
The reasons for accepting the man’s resignation are logical. He did what he knew would be objectionable, no matter what one’s view of homosexuality is. The Roman Catholic Church has a right to set its own standards, like them or not. He had an obligation to follow his contract, like it or not. If he wanted to work at a Roman Catholic institution, he had to play by its rules. That is how life works.
But the main point I want to make is that when the school officials were asked why it will no longer allow this man to be its principal they said it is because the Roman Catholic Church forbids homosexual marriages. The man had violated his contract by violating the authority of their Church. In other words, the school’s authority on moral subjects is the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, those who know some basic facts about Roman Catholicism know this to be true.
This is very different from the view held by millions of persons around the world who say their authority on moral and doctrinal matters is not the Roman Catholic Church, the Baptist church, the Presbyterian church, or any other church or religious organization. Rather, they say their authority on moral and doctrinal matters is the Bible itself. While they might look to their leaders for guidance on morals and doctrine, the word of the leaders is not final. Rather, what the Bible teaches is final. That is why I put the graphic of the man looking through the Bible next to the one of a church building. We, too, should seek to learn what the Bible says on some subject of interest.
Such persons hold this view because they know that the Bible is not merely the word of man. They know it is the Word of God. They know God communicated his mind to those whom he had chosen to be the writers of the Bible, and they know that what was written is, therefore, the final authority on moral and doctrinal subjects.
As a consequence, we who know the Bible is the Word of God do not say, or at least should not say, that we believe this or that about some moral or doctrinal point because our church or religion teaches it, but because the Bible teaches it. A church, any church, can be wrong. It and its leaders are not infallible. But the Bible is infallible. Therefore, if a church’s leaders say something that contradicts clear Biblical teaching, we should follow the Bible in spite of what they say.
In this post, I have not quoted any Biblical statements to support my proposition about the Bible’s authority being the Christian’s final authority on moral and doctrinal subjects. But, having read the Bible numerous times, I can safely say that the writers of the Bible did believe this to be true about their writings. More importantly, the Lord Jesus Christ affirmed in clear terms on many occasions that the Old Testament is the Word of God, and that his first-century A. D. apostles would also communicate the Word of God to the world. This they did do, by their preaching and by their writings, which have long been called “The New Testament.” The Old Testament and the New Testament that make up the Bible are the only Testaments God has given to the world.
Now, rather than simply take my word for it that the Bible is meant to be the Christian’s final authority on moral and doctrinal subjects, I challenge you to discover it for yourselves by reading the Bible itself. If you do so, you will learn that the Bible teaches many things that relate to day-to-day living. One of them is that God says homosexuality is always wrong, in spite of what any church or person says about it. A good place to start reading about this subject is the first chapter of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians. His letter is found in the New Testament.
Here are some good English Bible translations to read; the King James Version (old English), the New King James Version, the English Standard Version, the New American Standard Version. (These three are in modern English.) I strongly prefer the King James and the New King James versions.
If you have questions about the Bible and related subjects, click on the following link to a very helpful website: http://www.gotquestions.org/