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Central Authority For Christians


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When I read discussions between christians and non-christians it often seems implicitly accepted that the christian scriptures are the final authority.

 

But how and when did this come about, because in the olden days the bishops were the central figures of authority pointing out to people how they should live and think.

What has changed that the authorities of living bishops or other preachers seems of so little relevance in discussions between christians and non-christians?

 

More progressive christians seem to more often prefer the words of Jesus himself when searching for guidance [although you can hardly know if these words were not made up by christians].

 

Is it because the words in the scriptures as well as the words of bishops or other preachers are associated with the mythical "Holy Spirit" permeating the so-called body of the church? Is this mythical Holy Spirit then the final authority of believing christians?

But I never hear a christian say "I know this for sure because the Holy Spirit told me so".

And I never hear, "this should be true because this or that bishop inspired by the Holy Spirit told me so".

 

I find it peculiar that on christian forums the authority of the christian bible always seems to have the final say.

Is this because all christians denominations focus on the authority of the bible in the same way?

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But how and when did this come about, because in the olden days the bishops were the central figures of authority pointing out to people how they should live and think.

What has changed that the authorities of living bishops or other preachers seems of so little relevance in discussions between christians and non-christians?

 

 

Back then the bishops, et. al. were the only ones who could read the bible, or even read at all. Now, anyone can buy a bible in their language of choice without fear of death or excommunication, so the bible (actually, the individual xtians interpretation of said bible) becomes the sole authority.

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Back then the bishops, et. al. were the only ones who could read the bible, or even read at all. Now, anyone can buy a bible in their language of choice without fear of death or excommunication, so the bible (actually, the individual xtians interpretation of said bible) becomes the sole authority.

But now you are assuming that "back then" the bishops themselves considered the bible as their final authority.

Wasn't/isn't it the Holy Spirit in the centre of the church that was/is the real authority?

Do christians officially join the body of the church by swearing that they accept the bible as their real authority?

 

 

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I think prior to the Reformation, "authority" was vested in the church. The Pope was the infallible representative of God's will. Tradition was held to be an authority as well as Scripture. So, the power structure of the church was the primary authority. Scripture and the writings of other "holy men" were supportive of that authority, but not the final authority. Of course, because they had so much power, the leaders of the church were highly corrupt in many cases. This lead to the Reformation.

 

As a way to break that authority, the Protestants began to preach "Sola Scriptura," the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness.

 

I think that reformers like Luther and Calvin and others sincerely believed this doctrine. I think they saw this high view of scripture as a truth to be proclaimed, not a power grabbing strategy in and of itself. But from an outside perspective, how else was the authority of the the Roman Catholic Church going to be undermined? You intensify the focus of authority on Scripture which the printing press made available to more people. And with the same printing technology, you circulate the doctrinal statements that show that bishops, priests and popes don't carry the mantle of authority - - only scripture does.

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But from an outside perspective, how else was the authority of the the Roman Catholic Church going to be undermined? You intensify the focus of authority on Scripture which the printing press made available to more people. And with the same printing technology, you circulate the doctrinal statements that show that bishops, priests and popes don't carry the mantle of authority - - only scripture does.

So in a sense the reformed christians believed that the authority of the Holy Spirit had somehow shifted its favour from the church dominated by bishops to the body of the church formed by all scripture reading christians?

It seems strange how Luther, Calvin etc. could justify such a radical shift since the scriptures were largely the product of early bishops. But probably they didn't realize this enough.

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It seems strange how Luther, Calvin etc. could justify such a radical shift since the scriptures were largely the product of early bishops. But probably they didn't realize this enough.

 

Tradition holds that the first five books of Moses were directly dictated to Moses by God, so those would not be considered ideas born of bishops. The Gospels are considered eye-witness accounts, not ideas born of bishops. Then there were the writings of Paul...was he a Bishop?

 

Which books of the Bible are accepted by Christians as ideas born of religious elites via the Holy Spirit? I'm not familiar enough to know...

 

Phanta

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I find it peculiar that on christian forums the authority of the christian bible always seems to have the final say.

Is this because all christians denominations focus on the authority of the bible in the same way?

I think there are certainly some groups of Christians, say the Pentecostals, who view the holy spirit as the authority, but use the bible as a plumb line of truth. This way, when someone says something spoken by the holy spirit, it should line up with what scripture says. But even here, the bible does carry much weight. I've personally met Christians who almost disregard the bible altogether, but even this doesn't make sense. From where did they first "meet" Jesus? They'll claim that it was through personal revelation, but we all know it was through knowledge of the bible, even if it was through society's influence and not directly from the bible.

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So in a sense the reformed christians believed that the authority of the Holy Spirit had somehow shifted its favour from the church dominated by bishops to the body of the church formed by all scripture reading christians?

It seems strange how Luther, Calvin etc. could justify such a radical shift since the scriptures were largely the product of early bishops. But probably they didn't realize this enough.

 

Yes, I think that is essentially true. There was suddenly the idea of the "priesthood of all believers." Meaning, that you did not need a priest or, by extension, the Church, telling you how to read the Bible. You could interpret it with the help of the Holy Spirit.

 

I don't believe this idea existed much prior to the reformation. And no, I don't think the reformers had any idea what would happen as a result of this radical approach.

 

This idea of "sola scriptura" and putting all the onus on the individual to read and interpret the Bible for themselves was probably the beginning of the end of Christianity - science/modernity putting the icing on the cake, as it were.

 

Yes, I see Christianity in decline - united we stand, divided we fall. It all actually started in the 10th century with the separation of the Greek Orthodox from the Roman Church and has accelerated ever since - albeit slowly.

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Yes, I see Christianity in decline - united we stand, divided we fall. It all actually started in the 10th century with the separation of the Greek Orthodox from the Roman Church and has accelerated ever since - albeit slowly.

 

Sounds a bit like the Oozulum Bird. It flies in ever diminishing circles until it disappears up its own backside.

 

End Times, indeed, well for Christianity.

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Back then the bishops, et. al. were the only ones who could read the bible, or even read at all. Now, anyone can buy a bible in their language of choice without fear of death or excommunication, so the bible (actually, the individual xtians interpretation of said bible) becomes the sole authority.

But now you are assuming that "back then" the bishops themselves considered the bible as their final authority.

Wasn't/isn't it the Holy Spirit in the centre of the church that was/is the real authority?

Do christians officially join the body of the church by swearing that they accept the bible as their real authority?

 

 

 

People who run churches do it because they love the power it gives them over others. Don't kid yourself there is any love there :) The Holy Spirit is some kind of airy fairy entity they use to back themselves up. They think they have been given authority by god when really they just take it themselves. Christians don't swear on anything as far as i know (the bible says not to) but as we know it is the acceptance of the group that is the most important thing, so they will go along with anything the leaders say, seeing they have managed to convince the sheep that god put them there. Over my 36 years in the church all I saw was self serving controlling behaviour from church leadersand barely an iota of humility. Every sociopath will find a niche to get their jollies, the church is full of them.

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