This is runoff from a conversation that was going on elsewhere, and something I think is important enough that I'll end up recycling some things I've said before here and here.
Once again, let me remind everyone that I love the books of the bible. Love them. I've spent much of the last several years immersed in them, and I've read the bible cover to cover, in a few different translations, many times. With that said...
The bible is NOT the final authority on all things regarding my faith.
That may not have been true even 2 or 3 years ago (even though I was never fundie, I'm sure I suffered from my own forms of legalism and religious addiction...and probably still do), but it couldn't be more true today. Let's look at another of Paschal Baute's "Symptoms of Religious Addiction"...
Scrupulosity: rigid obsessive adherence to rules, codes of ethics, or guidelines
We call the books of our bible the "canon". Wanna know what it means? "Canon" comes from the Greek word "kanon", which means "rule" or "measure". Ouch. Compare that to the symptom of Religious Addiction above. What this means to me - the men who put together the various canons weren't necessarily committed to pursuing absolute truth, but were concerning themselves with creating a religious rulebook, based largely on personal dogmas, building a religion rather than encouraging a faith...and attempting to establish a means of control over it through its "accepted" documents.
One of the most revered figures of the protestant faith, Martin Luther, wanted Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation removed from the canon. In his opinion, and that of other church leaders, those letters went against the ideals of "sola scripture" (the doctrine that the bible contains all essential knowledge for salvation and holiness) and "sola fide" (justification by faith alone). It isn't coincidental that those books are found at or very near the end of the bible as we know it today. They were, in essence, building an entirely NEW faith, over a millennia after Christ. They needed an instruction manual or rulebook to do so, and forged the canon to fit these new concepts doctrinally and dogmatically.
That makes me more than a little itchy.
What that's left us with is a modern Christian community whose true deity is largely the "Holy Bible". Heck, most of the churches in my neck of the woods think anything other than the KJV is a "devil book". The smart money says that I could go into one of these churches and preach the same Jesus from a different translation of the bible and receive far more resistance for doing so than if I preached a different Jesus from the KJV. I'd bet my life on it. So, you have to ask, are they genuinely worshipping Jesus AT ALL, or is the focus of their worship the "Holy Bible"? Have they become junkies to a lifestyle built around the bible rather than true faith in Christ? There are even entire denominations (Calvary Chapel - the nondenominational denomination, is a forerunner in this area) built around the idea that "church" is to be centered around a line by line, verse by verse, expository approach to the bible. "Topical" sermons are considered too shallow. The by-product of this approach is that all members are indoctrinated to view the bible as the ultimate and final authority on all things concerning their faith. They learn no discernment, because they look to the wrong source for truth, having truth parceled out to them via the human interpretations of the bible, and the bible becomes an idol.
Certain tendencies emerge, such as looking at the bible as a single organism. We fall into lazy phrases of Christianese like "the bible says" (I still do this sometimes), when, in and of itself, "the bible" doesn't say anything at all. The individual books within it have MUCH to say. To say "the bible says" discredits the very distinct and individual messages of the very distinct and individual books inside of it. The bible ISN'T ONE BOOK. It's a collection of 66 very diverse books, written by a wide range of men from all walks of life, from farmers and shepherds to kings to scholars to biological half-brothers of Christ. While those books may correlate with and compliment each other, and all point in the same general direction, they're different books that must either stand or fall on their own merit. The Psalms don't speak for Hebrews, Joel doesn't speak for Romans, Malachi doesn't speak for Titus, et cetera.
We begin to call the bible "God's word", even though the bible absolutely ISN'T "God's word". In its construct, it's MAN'S WORD as a final authority on "God's word". Some of its books contain some of God's wordS, but its general theme, through all of the books, is to point to the Living Word, Jesus Christ.
Using the bible as a "final and absolute authority and arbiter of truth" is what has left us with hyper-fundamentalists, patriarchy, quiverfull, rigid, gender-based conservative "Christianity", and many other legalistic and goofy offshoots and cultic groups. When it becomes a rulebook (which, by definition, the "canon" is), and men serve as the commissioners and administers of those rules, you get left with one mell of a hess. Scriptural gymnastics are engaged in to undergird goofy, and destructive, belief systems.
All of this is done in total defiance of the words found in the Gospel of John (note that I said "the Gospel of John" - not "the bible"). Jesus never promised us a bible, a biblical canon, or any set of "scripture", to guide us. He promised to send us the Holy Spirit. (John 16:13)
Nothing, NOTHING, supercedes the work of the Holy Spirit in the life and heart of an individual. THAT's the final authority on our faith. You may believe that leaves too much room for personal interpretation. Yeah, and the bible doesn't (SA).
If you desperately cling to the idea that the bible is "God's word", and the ultimate and final authority on matters of your faith, you may want to take a deeper look at the Symptoms of Religious Addiction.
Nothing here is said to diminish the books of the bible (or any other religious writings). I love them. I just want to give them their proper place - as a supplement to my faith - not as the object of my worship.