Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I found this interesting example of "speck" and "beam" blindspot:
Some people, particularly Quakers, Pentecostals and some other sects that claim to hear direct revelation from God on a daily basis, would list experience as a means by which to know doctrine, but I would disagree, and so would a lot of Protestants. There's just no way to judge another person's subjective experience and I think that the credibility of that method falls apart by the demonstrable fact that different individuals, even in the same denomination and the same church, often hear wildly contradictory things from "God".
On the other the hand, dismissing direct revelation because different people come forward with different "truths" and claim such revelation as source and authority for them does not reveal a weakness of this authority that is not also a weakness of Biblical authority.
Those who have looked to the Bible as the primary authority have come forward with all kinds of very subjective "readings" and "parsings" about the will, character, nature and plans of God from scripture. The denominational landscape was, in fact, created by equally wild "contradictory things from 'God.'" The inability to develop a unified, consistent Protestantism is due to the Bible being an often opaque, vague and even contradictory source of guidance.
Furthermore, in practical terms of living a Christian life, attempts to resolve the wildly contradictory things about God resulting from parsing the supreme Biblical authority have involved a good deal of innocent blood soaking into the ground and a good deal of further far fetched parsing to justify the killing.
In terms of the righteous Christian (and Jewish) living to which we are all, it is written, exhorted by Jesus and others depicted in the Bible, and by those to whom authorship of its books are attributed, it is hard to say that those who hold this Book as the supreme authority have had better outcomes than those who place that authority in direct revelation from God. Quakers, for one example, never made a martyr of anyone who disagreed with what they claimed to have heard from God. Biblical authority was, however, that upon which Protestant Boston hanged Quakers. Which best exemplified loving one's enemies?
Placing the outcomes of sola scriptura, and those of direct revelation, on the continuum between the "fruits of the spirit" and the "works of the flesh" (Galatians 5) may be a useful exercise in further considering these rival claims to authority over us.