Problematically, many take the scripture and produce it as evidence to support their church, or their beliefs. As many examples and quotations can be given, as Elder Callister gave, and yet different conclusions are reached. Others look to the scripture as a way God acted, but not as the only way God can act. They suggest the sacraments are the usual way, but not the only way. Is God bound by the sacraments? A more basic question I find myself asking is: Is God?
But, back to the scriptures. So many people take them so many ways. It wake me wonder if there is any good in studying them at all. To every person they say something different, and these messages, often contradictory fail to tell us anything about capital T Truth. Perhaps because there is no such thing, or at least, such a thing is unknowable. So, why study the scriptures? Why read them at all? While some look to the Bible through the eyes of historians, and others through the eyes of the poor, John Chrysostom (I believe, but I cannot find a reference), suggests that a good interpretation of the Bible is one which leads to love. To throw away authorial intent, and to measure an interpretation by love sounds pretty great to me. There are, however, certain problems bound to surface. Love is a great sounding measurement, but it fails as people interpret some actions as loving that I would call horrible. We each define love differently, and so, love is really no standard at all.
Why study the Bible? So we can find support for our beliefs? So we can feel confident that we are right? Those sound like poor reasons, but maybe there is something more. Maybe the Bible can inspire us to live differently, and maybe there is something beneficial about letting the Bible shape out lives. Can we do that? We come to the Bible with preformed ideas; is it possible to learn from the text? I hope so.
I can (and have) spent countless hours arguing the Bible against the Bible. Many cling to this sacred work, but derive interpretations completely contrary to my understandings. The above is a reminder that countless hours simply throwing Bible verses back and forth will be wasted. My Mormon friends would simply conclude that this is why the Bible is not enough, and modern day scriptures have been provided. Rather than searching for accurate information within the Bible they will prod me to read and pray about The Book of Mormon to know if it is true. Latter-day Saints do not need to know all their doctrine because they know that someone, namely their Prophet and the General Authorities, do, and they trust that they have got it figured out. Saint Augustine put it well: “To trust the word of another is one thing, to trust our own reason is a different thing; to take something on authority is a great timesaver and involves no toil.” How much easier and simpler it would be to name an authority to my theology and take whatever she says as truth without question. While taking one as an authority provides a great opportunity to be led astray, my mind may do no better job of leading me to truth.