I began my reading on April 15th. An incident with a friend took place a week earlier. It was still percolating in my mind while I began my reading of Matthew 5:1-12. The more I thought about it the more I knew that what I had experienced a week earlier had felt like persecution (verses 11-12). Once I remembered that the people who had killed the prophets in the OT and the people most wanting Jesus dead were not the heathen of the land but the religious leaders, the more I knew I was on to something.
Here is the snapshot of the incident. I was discussing with this friend some views that some other friends were now entertaining and I summarized it with the statement "it all comes down to the authority of the scripture", to which she responded something like "you don't believe in the authority of the scripture." I was so taken aback by this I don't remember what I said, if anything. I knew what she meant and because I know how well she knows me, it stung. Really badly.
Some of you reading may remember the crisis of faith I had in the fall of 2004. I was challenged by a group of very smart unbelievers on the truth of the scriptures. It was a very dark time. If what they were saying was true then who I was and how I had lived (including my parenting) was all being called into question. If the Bible was not true then maybe all was in vain and I had led my kids down a false path. A paragraph can not do justice to the paralyzing effect this had on me. One quarter century of a life of study and mentoring on the life of Jesus being called into question! After a month I came to the conclusion that they could not prove the Bible was false and I could not prove it was true. It came down to faith. I chose the path of putting my confidence in the Bible and moved on.
The reason my friend told me that I did not hold to the authority of scripture is because I have some unorthodox beliefs. This does not mean I don't hold to the authority of scripture. It means I do not see Biblical evidence to hold to the creeds which have become the litmus test for orthodoxy. There is no point in trying to tell her that she reads the Bible through the creeds. For people who have "gone to church" most of their lives, this is just the way things are. It's like the mind is set to default to reading the Bible through the lens of the creeds. You don't even realize you are doing it and because 90% or more of Christians do it, you don't have to even challenge yourself to consider the possibility that could be the case. The burden of proof somehow becomes the responsibility of the minority.
Another reason why this friend brings this up is because she believes she must defend the faith. I do not believe I need to defend anything especially to another follower of Jesus. What is important is that Christ is preached. It did not even bother Paul what the motive was. Check this passage out:
12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my [i]imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole [j]praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the [k]brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my [l]imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even [m]from envy and strife, but some also [n]from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition [o]rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my [p]imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.
For me, holding to the authority of the scriptures means that I will bow the knee to what the Bible says regardless of my own personal views. If the King says it, wants it, etc. I am the servant and I bow to that authority. It's not what I think that counts.
What does holding to the authority of the scripture mean to you? Is it important? For me it is absolutely essential to my life as a disciple of Jesus.