What should Christians consider to be authoritative?

Summary

The 66 books of the Bible mutually agreed upon by all Christians are the only authorities considered as God’s own words, both sufficient and infallible. For this and the reasons listed below, nothing else should be considered doctrine.

Endorsements

Most Protestants, such as GotQuestions.org and Billy Graham agree with this, and most Pentecostals are Protestants. While Catholics and the Orthodox have additional books in the Old Testament, they at a baseline agree with the 66 books.

Reasons

God’s Word includes the Old Testament: books Jesus approved of.

Jesus said that “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). Almost all biblical scholars agree this refers to what the Hebrew Jews called the Thorah, Nabiaim, and Kethuvim, which are the 39 books of the Old Testament, from Genesis to Malachi.

God’s Word includes the New Testament: works of the original disciples and Paul.

The majority of Christians already agree that the 27 books of the New Testament are truly God’s Words, mainly because all of those books are written by people who knew Jesus. The one exception is Paul, but Jesus appointed Peter to lead His church (Matthew 16:18), and Peter said Paul’s written letters are Scripture (II Peter 3:15,16). 

God’s Word cannot be confusing.

Because God never confuses us (I Corinthians 14:33) and because the Holy Spirit has already succeeded in leading many toward the truth (John 16:13), the logical outcome of this is to find what most of Jesus’ followers believe is the Word of God. As of now, there is a worldwide consensus that the 66 books of the Bible are God’s Word.

God’s Word is written.

God’s Word must be written and not spoken. Every time God wanted a doctrine writer to record His Words, He never told them to pass it down verbally, but to always pass it down in writing (Jeremiah 30:2; Habakkuk 2:2; Revelation 1:19). This is most likely because God never changes (Hebrews 13:8), and humans have a tendency to accidentally add or remove words verbally due to speech errors or false memory.

God’s Word never contradicts itself.

Scripture always is coherent in its explanation of righteousness and sin (II Timothy 3:16). If a book had a logical contradiction, then one or both of them must be removed.

A great example of this is the contradictions in the Mormon’s Pearl of Great Price book. Abraham 2:22-25 contradicts Genesis 20:2-3,11,13. There is a historical error in that although it’s the same story, God says something different. It’s also a moral error because in the Pearl God tells someone to lie, even though they also believe in the Bible where it says it’s impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18).

God’s Word is not tradition.

The Pharisees created additional rules that were supposed to be derived from the given Law of Moses (Mark 7:3). Jesus said we must only “teach as doctrine” the “Word of God,” not the interpretations of these commands, written by men (Mark 7:7-8,13). Paul did say to “hold to the traditions” he taught (II Thessalonians 2:15; I Corinthians 11:2), but Paul, similar to Jesus, differentiated between the “traditions of man” and the doctrine of the Christ (Colossians 2:8).

Many Protestants believe certain preachers like Martin Luther are infallible, while many Catholics believe in papal infallibility, yet no person outside of Scripture is allowed to say their interpretations must be followed by others because they logically are traditions, not Scripture.

God’s Word is not from the Pope speaking “ex cathedra.”

Catholics believe in papal infallibility, that at certain times when the pope speaks, known as “ex cathedra”, it is impossible for him to say something wrong. This belief is built on the belief of apostolic succession. We have proved in the following linked article that apostolic succession was not a teaching of Jesus.

Counterclaims