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 Issues | The Bible | Authority

The Authority of the Bible

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Biblical Authority

What is the authority of the Bible?

How should Christians make decisions?

The position of the Church of England is that supreme and final authority rests with the Bible as God's Word written.

This is explained in Article 6 of the Church's Thirty-Nine Articles but this has to be understood alongside the rest of the articles.  These affirm that the Bible is always over the Church and not the other way around.   Moreover, in the Book of Homilies, which remains a sort of official commentary on the teaching of the Church of England, the Bible is described quite clearly as 'God's infallible Word'.  That is to say, the Bible is reliable, without error as originally given by God.

In many contemporary debates it is often that the issue centres not around the authority of the Bible but how it is to be interpreted today.  This is misleading; in reality the differences normally arise not from interpretation but the more fundamental question of what people believe the Bible itself to be.  See further an article in Cross†Way 2003.

The Anglican teaching on the nature and authority of the Bible as represented in the official doctrines of the Church of England.

The Book of Homilies contains an exhortation on reading Scripture, particularly in having humility when claiming that Scripture is in error.


Church Society articles


"The Word of God : Its Divine Inspiration, Infallibiiity, And All-sufficiency for Salvation. Church Association Tract 401 (from 1909) by James Maden Holt.

The attitude of the Protestant Reformers to the divine inspiration of the Bible is charted by Philip Edgcumbe Hughes in his Churchman article.

The English Reformers' Teaching on Scripture. Churchman article by Ernest Strickland.

The Bible has all the Authority of God, its author (Cross†Way article 1999)

Being gods or being God's - Introductory article in Cross†Way 1999 on the assault on authority in the Church today

Theological Method & Authority. Nigel Atkinson discusses the roles Scripture and Tradition should have in the authority of the Church. (Cross†Way article 1999)

Irenaeus on the Authority of Scripture, the 'Rule of Truth' and Episcopacy - Part 1. Churchman article by James Paice

Irenaeus on the Authority of Scripture, the 'Rule of Truth' and Episcopacy

- Part 2. Churchman article by James Paice

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