William Barclay was a Biblical scholar and professor in Scotland who published extensively. One of his books is Day by Day published in 2003 by Hendrickson’s Publishers. One of his short articles deals with the idea of authority. He asks "Where, for the Christian does authority lie?"
He examines the question of whether it lies in the church and notes that given the human conduct of the Christian church over history it is unlikely to be there. He notes that the Roman Catholic Church, that claims such authority, has a history that includes such things as the Spanish Inquisition, the traffic of indulgences and it’s other failings and concludes: "The church on earth is far too human an institution to have any kind of infallibility attached to it."
He asks, if not the church, whether final authority for the Christian lies in the Bible? But, this Biblical expert observes "The trouble about the Bible is that no sooner have we quoted one text on one side than it is so often possible to quote another text on the other side." In spite of his reverence for scripture, he concludes that since the Bible is subject to interpretations that every word of the Bible cannot be seen as authoritative.
His conclusion is that:
"There is no such thing as a final authority which can be externally imposed on any man. It’s God’s method that man is compelled to use his own mind, his own heart and his own judgment. And for the Christian there is only one authority and that authority is Jesus Christ interpreted by the Holy SpirIt."
Whatever your views, Barclay presents an issue that should be of interest to all of us who profess to be Christians. What role should a well informed conscience play in answering the question of authority?