Social Authority vs. Scriptural Authority

June 16, 2021

It is amazing how strong the influence of social media has become in society today. The fact that people contemplate (and carry out) suicide based on their social media status is almost beyond belief, but it is all too true.

We must let the word of God dictate our self-assessment–starting with the FACT that we are God’s friends and his beloved kids.

Romans 5:10-11 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

1 John 3:1 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!

And let us keep the megaphone of social media and the authority it wants to exercise over us in proper perspective–and a very small one at that!

Bishop Emeritus Matthew Thomas writes,
“We are living in unusual times where authority is far less objective and precariously far more subjective. Many read the Bible for inspiration and comfort only. Far fewer are reading it for wisdom and direction as we “follow after” Jesus. In the Bible’s place are the larger community’s opinions that are easily accessed through social media and the 24-hour information cycle where authority is constantly challenged and defined — every voice seeking our agreement. For others, personal relationships seem to hold unquestioned final authority on most matters…What are we to do about this and how are we to respond as believers?”

He offers three observations regarding social authority today.

“First, the authority of self and culture and opinion usurp biblical authority…in contemporary society, truth-telling is often subordinate to subjective ideals (my truth) and self-advancement that would help us achieve personal goals rather than kingdom fruit.”

“Second, if a truth is hard to observe or seems odious to others, it must be ignored or altered to remove difficulty or offense. A simple reading of the Gospels in the Bible would leave any attentive reader to the conclusion that Jesus said many hard things requiring discipline and commitment leading to obedience of His followers. This is often off-putting to those who prefer to hide their sin and shield themselves from criticism. Evidence of this is that church attendees are often better disciples of the culture than Jesus. They follow that which is easiest, offends the least, and is doable with or without faith.”

“Third, it is all too common to confuse pleasing or mollifying people with loving them…People change their theology not on the basis of the authority of Scripture, but on a more fluid and seductive authority — the crowd or ‘herd’ as it is called in psychological terms. I have seen it often. People form views and opinions about human sexuality and change their theology, not on the basis of new revelation from the Bible, but on the implication for their loved ones. I hear mostly something like this: “Yes, I know what the Bible says, but I love my son and so …” In other words, the timeless truths of Scripture are less formational than my loved one’s current decisions. Whole denominations have changed their position on Scriptural authority simply because of their deference to social authority…The same can be said of indefensible positions on racism, sexism, justice, human trafficking/slavery, immigration and how we treat the foreigner. When emotions and social connections reign supreme and hold the greatest weight of authority over our lives, we sadly ignore or distort that which should be our first line of reason and theological sanity. This can lead to becoming followers of no one or everyone rather than The One. If we are going to be disciples of Jesus, then we must be aware of the pull of cultural influences as we hold them against the authority of Scripture. The Bible must hold authority and our attention. It must inform our beliefs and practices. Then we will rise above the shifting tides.”

May we be one in our adherence to the Bible, rather than social and subjective influences that seek to hold authority over our lives.

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