"Scripture", "the authority of Scripture", "the Bible says," are shorthand for longer ideas about the will of God being revealed to humanity, a will expressed in acclamations and proclamations, in commands and prohibitions, in warnings and encouragements, and in guidance and general directions for how we should live as people claiming relationship with God.
Rightly, yesterday, a commenter here raised questions about our knowledge of the revelation of God (see bottom of post). If, for instance, it is declared to us within the 'canon of Scripture', that is, within a prescribed set of pages of writing, on what basis do we understand the limitation of that canon since there is no additional message in writing "they be the limits of my revelation to the church."
One response, articulated by another commenter is: "because the Church has acknowledged Scripture, as collected by sheer use/citation early on in the piece, is both the authoritative witness to and unique instrument in the saving economy of God, climaxing in Jesus, the Messiah of Israel."
I agree with that response but acknowledge that it does raise the question whether the church which acknowledges Scripture as authoritative witness to etc might at another point in its life acknowledge something else as "authoritative witness" to God acting in history, as, indeed, I understand those parts of the church today are wanting to do when they say something like "we now see that God is working in the lives of [identity of people group]."
I think one way forward in such discussion could be to acknowledge a point at the heart of Eastern Orthodox theology, God has spoken in ecumenical councils where "ecumenical" means the "undivided church" and "council" means a true representation of the whole church. That is, we might one day be in a position to say with authority that the authoritative revelation of God has been given on [issue of the day] because a new ecumenical council has assented to such proposition.
That makes working for the unity of the church, organically and organisationally worth doing!
But if you would allow my paragraph above, a proposal I am articulating within it is this: if we do not have the agreement of the whole church on the matter we do not have much authority when we attempt to claim that on a matter we have now received the authoritative revelation of God.
Focusing down to the Anglican church in these islands and decisions we might come to at our General Synod in 2014, it is comparatively easy to predict that we will pass by a majority some decisions that will change our polity on the blessing of same sex relationships while simultaneously indicating to ourselves that we are not a united church on such change. Such change, no doubt, would enable those who wish to perform such blessings and to have such blessings performed to proceed. What could not then be claimed (I suggest) is that our church had now received an authoritative revelation from God to so proceed.
In other words, effectively, if change comes to pass, (I suggest) we would be allowing that on this matter we did not have the authoritative revelation of God but we did not mind if individuals (ministers, parishes, dioceses) proceed to bless.
If, from the perspective of "revelation" this was so, then it would be a matter of integrity, fairness and justice that our church transparently indicated that it would be equally permitted that individuals did not proceed to bless.
What do you think?
"Bosco Peters commented: That all relevant revelation is already received by the church in Holy Scripture is a revelation beyond the closure of the Christian canon of Scripture. Discuss.
The canon of Scripture is a revelation beyond the closure of the Christian canon of Scripture.Discuss.
What is the Christian canon of Scripture? Discuss.
That many issues are so difficult to find unmistakably articulated in the Christian canon of Scripture points either to the inadequacy of it for the purpose of all relevant revelation received by the church or indicates that a variety of responses to these many issues are acceptable to the Revealer. Discuss."