Had an interesting conversation yesterday about things such as the validity and reliability of Scripture. It got me thinking about how many Christians effectively entrust the content of their faith to Scripture and Something. 'Something' might be 'the church' or 'tradition' or 'Calvin' or 'the Thirty Nine Articles' or 'the Church Fathers' or, especially since the Enlightenment, 'critical scholarship.' The something else I am speaking of is a kind of 'extra authority' which sits alongside Scripture, or even over Scripture and gives us confidence that Scripture is valid and is reliable. A variation, however, concerns, critical scholarship: for some this is a kind of radical testing of Scripture in which Scripture passes the test, for others this is a radical testing of Scripture in which Scripture fails the test but that emboldens them to invest new meaning into the words of Scripture (cf. Geering, Spong, Cupitt). In the latter case critical scholarship is an anti-authority rather than an authority in keeping with (say) tradition or a great theologian.
So here is the next thing that strikes me: if Scripture is what many of us believe it to be, then Scripture is God's Word written and needs no additional authority alongside it or over it. In terms of development of faith or growth into Christian maturity, it could be argued - provocatively, if not dangerously - that our development is constrained if our reading of Scripture is dependent on another authority, if we need, so to speak, the security or warm blanket of the church or tradition or our favourite theologian or creedal statements or those sometimes strange grandfathers and great-uncles of our faith know as the Fathers. Even the bracing winds of critical scholarship can be a heat pump circulating the warm air of satisfaction of knowing that our reading of Scripture has contemporary academic respectability. These additional authorities are helpful and assist us along the pathway of Christian development, but my point or question is whether, in the end, we should depend on one or more of them?
Is God calling us to read Scripture as God's direct means of communication with us? Do human authorities stand in the way of the (so to speak) stark, piercing voice of God speaking into our souls?