The previous version of the statement identified Jesus as the “criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted.” This statement was dropped from the newly adopted version.
If not Jesus, what criterion do we use to interpret scripture? Is the implication that scripture does not need to be interpreted? That we can always take it at face value? That idea can lead to all kinds of mischief—like when Southern Baptists, at their first national meeting, declared slavery to be God-ordained because the Bible says, “Slaves obey your masters.” (Ephesians 6:5)
Wayne Ward, a former professor of mine, told the delegates at the meeting:
The Bible is not a “flat” document. You could follow Moses and stone adulterers. It would clear out Congress and empty some pulpits, but it would not be true to words of Jesus in the New Testament...
The Bible is Scripture, God's written word, yes, but it does not say anywhere believe on the Bible and thou shalt be saved... We have to decide whether we're going to stop in the Old Testament with Moses or whether we're going to go on and interpret Moses by Jesus.
©2000 C. David Hess