Restoring the Authority of Scripture
By J. I. Packer
(An address given by Dr. Packer to members of the PBSC on November 2nd, 1996 at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Kitchener, Ontario.)
Today I am to speak on the theme of “Restoring the Authority of Scripture” in the Anglican Church of Canada. Let’s begin at the beginning, with definitions. We are going to use that word “authority”; what exactly do we mean by it? Well, authority consists of that which we accept as having a claim to direct and command our thought, belief or behaviour. In Christianity, there are a number of factors which have some place in any account of Christian authority: we speak of the authority of God, the authority of Christ, the authority of Scripture, the authority of the Holy Spirit, the authority of truth. And then in subordination to these five “front-runners”, we also speak of the authority of the Church, the authority of Christian experience, and the authority of Christian wisdom, as exemplified by such scholars as Richard Hooker (whose memory we celebrated at the Eucharist this morning).
But the way in which these elements are to be related to each other is differently conceived by different people. And in the Church over the last two thousand years, three basic ways of relating these elements of authority to each other have crystallized out. Now of course, all three of them can’t be right. And I am going to suggest to you that while one of them is in fact right, two are wrong. The simple way of describing these three conceptions of authority, of setting them alongside each other, is as follows.
First, there are those who say that the authority of the Church as interpreter of Scripture, guardian of the Creeds, and trustee for the Faith, must be primary in every dispute about what is true in Christianity, what is right in the realm of belief, and what is proper in the realm of behaviour. The interpreting Church is the final court of appeal. You will recognize this position, I’m sure, for you will have met it in Roman Catholicism. There have also been some few in Anglicanism who have taken the same line; and, of course, if you have anything to do with the churches of the East, the Orthodox churches, you will find that they follow the same view. “Listen to the Church, if you want to know the mind and will of God; the Church will tell you what the Bible says.” This is what I would call the “ecclesial” position.
The second position, which is a comparatively late-comer – it only emerged about two hundred years ago, within western Protestantism – is the one to which we often give the name “liberal”. This position holds that the final court of appeal in all matters of faith and practice must be Christian experience and Christian reason. Why so? Well, because the view of people who hold to this position is that you can’t trust either the Bible or the Church to come up with definitive answers. The Bible, they say, is a mixed bag: some of very good, and some of it not so good – some of it right-minded, and some of it culturally twisted, because of the way it has been refracted through the prejudices of Jewish, or Greco-Roman, or Egyptian culture. And similarly, they say, you can’t trust the Church to speak the last word; because the Church is a company of people whose minds, like their moral lives, are not yet perfectly sanctified. The Church is capable of making mistakes; and as at the Reformation was underlined, it has made a whole stream of mistakes down the centuries. So what is one left with? We are left with the necessity of being guided by Christian experience and Christian reflection; and ultimately, just because you are an individual, this means that you have to be guided by your own thoughts, your own conscience and your own experience, which, if necessary, you must back against the rest of the world. And in our Anglican Church of Canada today, there are very many folk – clergy and laity both – who take that line; and you can see that, if followed out consistently, it leaves you with as many Christianities as there are people to think them. The overriding thought, which has been basic to liberalism ever since that movement broke surface two hundred years ago, is that the world has the wisdom and the Church has got to play catch-up. And so we are expected, in our Christian reflections on what is true as a matter of faith and what is right as a matter of conduct, to follow the lead of the world’s wisdom and adjust what the Bible says whenever necessary.
The third position is what I would call the “biblicist” position. I have held it back until I’d expounded the other two, simply because I think that its virtues are clearer if you set it alongside them. I recognize it, as you will see in a moment, as the historic reformed Anglican position. I also consider it to be the true position because I believe that it expresses Christianity according to our Lord Jesus Christ. That, too, I will be showing in a moment.
The basic tenet of the biblicist position is this: that when there are disputes and differences of opinion regarding matters of faith and matters of conduct, the appeal must always be to Holy Scripture: interpreted from within, as it does if we allow it to. On all matters of belief about God, and on all questions relating to the life of worship or service of God, Holy Scripture can be found to interpret itself. The Reformers, indeed, insisted on this point. It has been rather obscured in modern times because the focus of interest in a great deal of modern biblical interpretation has not been on what is true about God and what is right in the realm of conduct, but much more on how as Christians we are to speak into our own culture and be heard. And with that primary concern in mind, one can’t wonder that so much stress has been laid on the idea that the Bible comes out of a world which was very different from our world, and that we have got to make all kinds of adjustments to the Biblical way of putting things in order to be heard today. Again, I’m not going to pursue that one at the moment; I think frankly that as a line of thought, it’s nothing like as compelling as it sounds when stated in formula terms the way I’ve just done. But I don’t want to say any more about it now, or we shall never get through with the things I do want to say, which are the basic things for our discussion.
So back to my insistence, which experience proves over and over again: that the Bible interprets itself from within, on the basic questions of Christianity – what are we to believe about God, what are we to do in the worship and service of God. I also affirm that the Reformers were right to think that through the agency of God’s Holy Spirit we who study the Bible are enabled to discern what it is saying about God and godliness. And though we must value what the Church historically has had to tell us for the understanding of God and godliness, it is part of our discipline as believers to measure and check all of that by what is said in the Scripture itself; and only to believe what the Church tells us because we find it to be in line with what the Bible tells us. So that is position number three; and, as I have said, I believe that this expresses Christianity according to Christ and according to the apostles. That is to say, it was principle number three which our Lord intended his people to be using in all disputes about God and godliness until he comes back again.
Now for the moment, just note the differences between the three positions; and, may I beg, don’t let yourself be sidetracked by what you will find many people saying when you state these positions as starkly as this. They will try to tell you that it isn’t ever as clear as that – and that what we need, as wise Anglicans, is a sort of fusion of the three positions. We need, in other words, a triple basis of authority in which Church, and personal reason and experience, and Holy Scripture, all stand alongside each other. A threefold cord, they say, is not easily broken. And they invoke Richard Hooker, no less, as an exponent of this position.
Well, friends, I have to tell you, that’s an insult to the memory of the great and saintly Richard Hooker. Hooker’s classic work, the “Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity”, is very clear and strong on his principle of authority; and it isn’t the threefold cord at all. What Hooker says is what all the Reformers say: namely, that Christ’s way, when there are disputes about belief and behaviour, is to go back to the Scriptures interpreting themselves from within. But, said Hooker, when it comes to applying biblical truth in the life of the Church, we should take full note of the Church’s historic experience, which will have a great deal of Holy Ghost wisdom in it. And also, when confronted with problems that haven’t arisen before, or on which Scripture does not speak explicitly, we should take full note of the best that Christian reason, operating in fellowship and in discussion, can give us; because God the Holy Spirit guides the minds of his people too. In other words, consult the wisdom of the Church and the wisdom of the best Christian minds, in order to see how to apply biblical truth in church life and in personal life; but where Scripture speaks clearly, you simply follow what the Bible says. That’s the real Hooker. So you can see that for him, church and Christian reason are not on the same level with Scripture at all; church and Christian reason come in to help us understand the best way of applying biblical principles in personal and church life. And I think Hooker himself – if in glory he knows what’s going on in the Church of England that he left behind him – would be very upset at the way that he’s so commonly misrepresented these days.
And of course you can see that in any question where your three sources of authority say different things, you’ve simply got to come clean and set one of these elements above the other two. That does happen – take, for instance, the question of abortion. We know what the liberals say: they follow the world’s wisdom and say that a woman has the right to decide what will happen to her own body. If she is pregnant and doesn’t want to be, it’s just ordinary civilized western ethics to let her have an abortion and that’s that. But the Church, right from the earliest days of Christianity when abortions were common in the Greco-Roman pagan world, has always said that where God has given life, that life has a claim on our protection as Christian people, and it would be scandalous to kill it in the womb, just as it would be scandalous to kill it after birth has taken place. In other words, abortion and infanticide belong together. Well, there you have a very radical cleavage; those two positions can’t make peace with each other. What is a Christian to do?
Surely what the Christian must do is go to the Scriptures. And it can be argued that the Scriptures are as clear as anyone could ask on life in the womb from the moment of conception. So the Bible decides the dispute between the historic Church (whose testimony is at present represented by the Roman Catholic church) and the majority Protestant way (whose views are heavily influenced, I am afraid to say, by an error in our modern western culture). This last is by way of illustrating how, when you’ve got a dispute, you have to set one of your three sources of authority above the other two. Does the Bible have the last word, or does the Church have the last word, or does the mind of our times, the prejudices of our culture, the way of the world as we may now call it – is that to be decisive in these cases?
I told you that in my view – and I don’t stand alone here – the principle of appealing to the Scriptures as the highest authority is the authentic Christian and authentic Anglican principle; and before I go any further, I will argue a little further in support of that view. First of all, I appeal to the New Testament, where we can find evidence of how our Lord and his apostles intended that the Christianity that they were founding should be understood. Here is our Lord: the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapter 5, verse 17 – from one standpoint, almost the most significant thing that he ever said. “Do not think that I came to cancel or set aside the Law and the prophets. I came not to destroy them, but to fulfil them.” We know those words; but have we ever thought about the long-term implication which they carry? Fulfilling what is written in Scripture is a way of acknowledging the authority of what is written in Scripture. What is written sets the pattern; I fill it up or fill it out, but in so doing, I am accepting the authority of the pattern.
What did this mean for Jesus? Well, as the Gospel shows, it meant that in his life as the perfect man, he fulfilled, he embodied, all the righteousness of worship and service of God that the Law and the prophets had spelled out. Furthermore, it meant that in his role as the one whom the Father had appointed to be the Saviour of the world, the Messiah, the anointed King, he set himself to fulfil all that was said in the Law and the prophets about the path that the Messiah must tread: to be condemned, to be crucified, and to die on the cross. Just before his passion, at the Last Supper, he underlined this very thing, in Luke chapter 22: “This that was written must now be fulfilled in me”, and then he quotes from Isaiah 53 the words, “And he was numbered with transgressors”.
Then, as one of Paul’s sermons in the Acts of the Apostles says, “God raised him from the dead (the third day); by his death he has put away our sin, and opened the path to forgiveness and new life with the Father.” And by his resurrection, as surely is inescapably obvious, God the Father vindicated – set the seal of his approval upon – everything that the Son had said and done up to that moment. So the Son was right to understand his own vocation in terms of fulfilling the Scriptures.
And after the resurrection, on the Emmaus road as you remember, Jesus, walking with Cleopas and his unnamed companion, chided them for their failure to realize what had happened: “How foolish you are, how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken; didn’t the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was in all the Scriptures concerning himself. And they said afterwards, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he opened to us the Scriptures?”
And then later that same day, Jesus appeared to the inner circle of the disciples in Jerusalem, and he said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you. Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures, and he told them, “This is what is written: that Christ will suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem.” That’s the understanding of the Scriptures, according to Jesus. And you note the frame of reference within which all this is being said: the Scriptures have been fulfilled! What did that mean? It meant that the Scriptures were indeed the authoritative word of God, the authoritative word of Jesus’ heavenly Father: he has pleased God, and done right by fulfilling the Scriptures in the way that he has. And the resurrection is proof of it.
Well that, it seems to me, is already a pretty clear indication that the supremacy of Scripture is basic to Christ’s Christianity, because the supremacy of Scripture was basic for Christ himself. He is the Son of God. He knows the Father’s will better than anybody. And he knows that the Father’s will is that he fulfil the Scriptures. When he teaches in the course of his ministry, an appeal to the Scriptures is always definitive. That ends the argument, for the disciples as well as for himself.
When we go to the Epistles, we find the same thing. We find the apostles explicitly claiming that their Scriptures, that is the Old Testament (Jesus’ Scriptures of course), are to be understood as material written by God the Holy Spirit, for the instruction of Christian people. It isn’t only a book for Jews, it’s a book for all of us who believe in Jesus, say the apostles. And with that, the apostles insist that their own teaching, given in the name of Jesus, must be treated as the word of God, having authority for the fledgling churches. So one can’t wonder that when the teaching of the apostles was eventually put into writing, those documents were set alongside the Old Testament Scriptures, and the result was the Old and New Testaments together, the Holy Bible: the Christian Bible, the word of God for the guidance of God’s people. As I said, the apostles appealed to Old Testament scripture; and there are lots of passages that I could quote, if I had time, to show you that.
But I’ll just quote one which I think may fairly stand for them all. It’s from the second epistle of Peter, which, though some critics have doubted it, I believe is authentically Peter. And in this epistle, chapter 3, verse 15, Peter speaks of what, and I quote him, “our dear brother Paul wrote to you with the wisdom that God gave him, writing the same way in all his letters, speaking about these matters”. Then Peter says, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction”. Here we are, at the end of the apostolic age, probably in the fifth or sixth decade of the first century; and already, Peter at least notes that Paul’s letters are to be counted as Scripture and bracketed with the “other Scriptures”. Actually, history says that the early Church, in the latter years of the first century, never had any doubt about this. And Paul’s letters, and the four Gospels that we have, were circulated about all the churches, to be read and expounded alongside the Old Testament, as part of the word of God.
The other bit of Peter’s second epistle that I wanted to quote to you is at the end of the first chapter, where Peter has been talking about his own personal experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. “I was there”, says Peter, “I saw Jesus transfigured, I heard the word from heaven, the word that his Father spoke, saying, ‘This is my Son whom I love, with whom I am well pleased’. Take it from me”, says Peter. He is making the point that the apostles did not follow cleverly invented stories when they told about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. “But then”, says Peter, “if you’re not prepared to take it from me” (this is apostolic modesty, I think), “take it from the Scriptures” – the Old Testament Scriptures, which certainly were confirmed by the Transfiguration; and I think that the right way to understand his words is as expressing the thought that the Old Testament Scriptures in any case ought to be regarded as more authoritative than any others’ experience, even that of an apostle.
Again, in verse 19, my understanding of the original Greek is, “And we have something more certain”, (more certain, that is, even than the apostles’ eyewitness testimony, the word of the prophets): “to which”, Peter continues, “you will do well to pay attention, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns, the morning star rises in your hearts” – that is, until the Scriptures give you certainty about the things of God. And he goes on to say, “First and foremost, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophets’ own interpretation” – or guesswork. None of it is simply human fancy or fantasy, for, “Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
So Scripture comes from God as definitive and decisive truth, concerning Christ and the Christian life: Scripture must be supreme in judging matters of belief and behaviour among the disciples of Jesus. And it seems to me really that there’s no answer to that line of thought; and what modern liberal thinkers do, as a matter of fact, is not even to attempt to answer it: they simply ignore this dimension of Christ’s Christianity. Yes, we must accept Christ’s teaching about repentance, we must accept Christ’s teaching about money, we must accept Christ’s teaching about this and that; but what about his teaching regarding the principle of biblical authority? Well, we can ignore that.
Now, I said that I was going to show you how our Anglican Church has traditionally committed itself to this principle. Let me open my Prayer Book, to the Thirty-Nine Articles: dating from the 16th century, and written to settle disputes about Christianity. Here we are at Article VI, “Of the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation”. I read: “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation”. That’s the sufficiency of Scripture. We come to article VIII, and we are confronted with the complementary principle of the supremacy of Scripture. Article VIII is titled, “Of the three Creeds”, and it reads, “The three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed; for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture”. That is the reason for receiving them and maintaining them against their critics: “They may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture”. Their authority, as statements of the Church’s faith, is not decisive; their authority, as expressions of biblical teaching, is. The Church takes its faith from the Scriptures.
We move on to Article XVII. Here are both sufficiency and supremacy, brought down to the level of practice. At the end of the Article, we read these words: “… we must receive God’s promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture; and, in our doings, that will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared to us in the word of God.” We are to trust the promises of God, as Scripture presents them to us, and we are to obey the directives of God – the moral commands of God – as set forth to us in the word of God.
After all that, it’s no wonder that we find article XX saying, “The Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith; and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s word written” (that’s how the Articles describe the nature of Holy Scripture) – “neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another.” In other words, the Church is a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ; but it may not teach anything that goes against what is written in therein.
Well, so we might go on. But that, I think you will agree, is clear enough as the staking out of a position in which neither human guesswork, informed by the world’s culture, nor the church’s say-so, informed by tradition that has not yet been tested by Scripture, are to be received as authoritative. I hold this measure of what the world is saying; the Bible must measure what the Church is saying. The Bible is God’s word written. The Anglican Church is committed, then, in principle to Christ’s teaching on authority in Christianity; and one of the sadnesses of modern western Anglicanism is that in so many cases, we have lapsed from that. And having done so, we are not only flawed Christians, but flawed Anglicans too.
And perhaps we ought not to wonder that as long as the Anglican Church continues lapsed from Scripture, so long will it continue largely bereft of the power of God, as we see that power working in the early days of the Church as recorded in the Book of the Acts. Word and Spirit belong together: that was a Reformation principle. And where God’s word is honoured, the power of the Spirit is experienced; and where God’s word is not honoured, the power of the Spirit is withdrawn. I don’t want to belabour this, but let me say, just think of those congregations known to you, those congregations, perhaps, to which you belong, in which the word of God is honoured; and I will tell you, and you can confirm from your own knowledge, that in those congregations people come to know and love Jesus Christ and their lives are transformed. Go to congregations where the Bible isn’t honoured in that way, and you’ll find that the knowledge of Christ is lacking too.
I haven’t quite finished, although I haven’t far to go now. Before I close, I want quickly to alert you to those forces in the contemporary church which are making it hard to re-establish the authority of God’s word written in these days. These are the solvents which have dissolved away the Anglican faith in Scripture that was there before they came along. Faith, I mean, in Scripture as the authoritative word of God, interpreting itself from within, to point us and lead us to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. All these solvents come from a movement in western culture which likes to call itself the Age of Enlightenment. I see that as another expression of the pride of intellect to which fallen human beings are all too prone; I would call it the Age of Darkness, myself.
The Enlightenment gathered speed towards the end of the eighteenth century, and has been running as a dominant force in western culture ever since. To start with, it infected the Church with skepticism about revelation. The God of Enlightenment religion is a God who doesn’t tell us things. And whatever else the Bible is, it isn’t his word. It’s human guesswork, first and last, about God; some of it very good, because of the religious expertise that it reflects; some of it not so good, because it gets twisted by the prejudices of the culture; but none of it is the word of God. That’s the basic skepticism of Enlightenment religion, from which everything else that I’ve mentioned follows. Enlightenment religion, you might say, reclassifies Holy Scripture as “heritage mythology” rather than as the word of God.
Then rationalism, that is, confidence in human reason to construct or reconstruct a religion that satisfies the human heart, is the next principle. Out of skepticism about the Bible came the enthroning of rationalism to reconstruct. Man is taken as the measure of reality, and the criterion of truth is that it should immediately appeal to our minds in light of the cultural conditioning that we have had.
And out of rationalism comes biblical criticism, which, alas, took over the teaching of the Bible in universities and theological colleges almost everywhere in the west. Biblical criticism is the study of Scripture from the Enlightenment standpoint. It isn’t revelation, it isn’t the word of God; what is it? Well, it’s heritage mythology, some good, some not so good, some true, some false; and the business of biblical criticism is to sort out the wheat from the chaff, and tell us what bits of the Bible we can safely discount. And, alas, there are many, many folk, who have been ordained, who went into theological college with a robust faith in the authority and truth of the Scriptures, who had that faith destroyed in the course of their theological education, and who then came out of college and proceeded to destroy the faith in Scripture that was held by the folk in the pews. It’s a very sad story, and it isn’t only the Anglican Church that has suffered in this way.
In the meantime, we have also come up against the positive ideology of the post-Enlightenment culture, in the form of evolutionism: the idea that every day and in every way, the world is getting better and better. This view rode high through the nineteenth century, and right up to the middle of this century. It’s been impossible to maintain it these last fifty years, when the appalling lapse of our culture into barbarism has come to be generally known. It isn’t only the Holocaust; for example, we now know that the police system in most countries, even our own, accepts a certain amount of torture for the interrogating of witnesses. And the inhumanity of genocide, which remains with us in the modern world, and a great deal more inhumanity of man to man, has come to light; and the earlier idea that every day and in every way the world is getting better – evolving, you see, into something nobler and higher than was the case before – simply cannot be credibly maintained. But the Enlightenment has nothing better to offer than this whistling-in-the-dark type optimism; hence the growing modern disillusionment, and the sense of abandonment and despair.
And so that’s the cultural legacy which we face. We are, shall I say, Christian realists: maintaining a deep pessimism about human nature, because we believe in original sin, but also an optimism of grace because we know that Christ through his Spirit is able to change people and overcome the down-drag of sin in converted human lives. But we are unfortunately at the present time a minority; and we are up against a majority whose minds are deeply infected with the Enlightenment point of view.
In our church, as liberal-trend theologians try to make the best of a bad job, the preferred theologies are (I’ll give them their technical names) “process theology” and “monism”, which blend quite well and are in fact found conjoined in many current teachings. Process theology is the idea that God himself is in the process of evolving into something better than he has been, and taking the world with him; but at the moment, he is not fully in control of his own world, and he hasn’t yet managed to stamp evil out. Process theology, with its idea of a God who is finite and not perfect yet (though he’s going to get there in the end) came into vogue after the Second World War, as a Christian response to the horrors of the Holocaust, and genocide continuing in places like Cambodia. The thought is that bad things happen in the world the way they do because God isn’t fully in charge. So practical Christianity becomes a matter of understanding God’s dilemma and being on hand to help him impose his will and love on a world which as yet is not prepared to take it.
And alongside that, there is monism. Monism basically is the idea that God and his world are a single entity. God doesn’t have any life of his own apart from his relationship to the world, and the world is permeated by God at every point. It’s not biblical, as you can see; it doesn’t really distinguish between the Creator and his creation, but rather has much more in common with the Hindu way of thinking about the world as permeated by the divine. You can see, perhaps, what is bound to come, and does come, out of monism at the ethical level. As Alexander Pope in his Enlightenment conceit said, “Whatever is, is right.” And once again, if you’ll allow me to illustrate, all you have to do here to see how the principle works is to reflect on what is being said by many inside our Church about ethics in relation to gay people. “Whatever is, is right.” These folk know what they want to do; presumably God made them that way, so who are we to question it? The Bible takes a different line, but that is what monism leads you to. And other examples could be given; monism plays into the hands of those who say that the world has the wisdom, and the church’s business is to play catch-up. And again, go round the theological colleges and centres of theological learning, and you’Il find a great deal of process theology and a great deal of monism still being pumped out. And clergy come into the ministry, having had their minds infected by that kind of teaching; and the results are not happy at all.
Let me round off what I’ve said by affirming this, which I think my line of argument has allowed me to say. The authority of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, the divine founder of Christianity, the one whom we honour as our Saviour, our Lord and our Friend, and the authority of Holy Scripture as the word of God, resolving decisively all questions about belief and behaviour in the service of Christ: those two authorities are one. The authority of Christ and the authority of Scripture belong together. That’s Christianity; that’s Anglicanism too. That’s the path of wisdom that we have to recapture in our own thinking and restore in the life of our church. Tough task? Yes, friends, it is a tough task. But we can begin at the beginning, in our discussions and reflections, this very day. When confronted by a tough task, there is nowhere to begin except where you are. Here we are as members of the Prayer Book Society, which is committed to maintaining the authentic Anglican system of faith and life. Biblical authority is basic to that system. So as members of the Prayer Book Society, we must be committed to maintain and seek to restore God’s truth on this point as on others.