the center for Christ’s direction: the church or scripture?

This is an ongoing concern or struggle in my thinking. The Roman Catholic Church sees the Church as the center or body, specifically the Magesterium of the Church, in receiving Christ’s direction as well as authority. The Reformation seemed to grant that status to scripture alone, “sola-scriptura.” But in reality I don’t think they moved (including the Anabaptists) from the church as being the body at least primarily through the clergy, for receiving Christ’s direction and authority. It is probably only a fairly recent notion which brings the emphasis and focus on the individual believer who with their Bible and the Holy Spirit can interpret scripture apart from the church. The church effectually and for all intents and purposes set aside, though even those believers are usually faithful in some way to church.

At this point I still like scripture first, “primera-scriptura.” And then going to tradition meaning what the church teaches. In other words testing what the church teaches according to scripture. But the question remains, just who makes that judgment. Is it the individual believers or the church as a whole, with input from individual believers? I would say the latter, with certainly important influence coming from those who have studied the sources exegetically and theologically.

At the same time for all practical purposes we end up having to submit to the church if we’re going to submit to Christ. After all, the church is Christ’s body in the world. Of course this is taking for granted that the church we’re talking about is really a genuine church, having a high view of scripture as the written word of God and holding to the apostolic teaching passed down in the Christian orthodox tradition.

So the answer is not all that clearcut. You might say both, but qualified. You simply can’t separate the church from scripture any more than you can separate Christ from the church. So that we must learn to submit to both if we’re to submit to Christ.


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