Sola Scriptura

I re-read "Women's Speaking Justified" over the weekend. My copy is extensively highlighted because it's my absolute favorite Quaker tract. You can read it online here. I love the way that Margaret Fell argues her way through the Bible accusing whoever dares to disagree with her as speaking for the devil without dismissing even a verse of the text.

I don't believe that the Bible is the Word of God, because of that stuff from John about the Word being around since the beginning. I don't regard the Book as essentially Holy, even. It records Holy things in translation many times over. I believe in continuing Revelation. I believe that what the Lord says today takes presedence over Scripture, because if any sort of discrepancy emerges, it is due to human errors of interpretation. I'm not entirely sold on the idea that God is immutable, but we'll see how that goes.

Don't get me wrong, the Bible is a very important part of my spiritual life. I don't read it as often as I feel I ought. I rarely know where to find the phrases and stories I want to find again, and I've got very few verses memorized. But I find it deeply comforting to return to the places I find most familiar.

Margaret Fell brings up some of my most favorite bits of scripture. The parts about how human distinctions between types of people are irrelevant in Christ are very special to me. As a teenager, I had that quote from Galatians about "neither male nor female" on my wall. And that was before I was comfortable with the C-word. (Get your mind out of the gutter. It's Christ). As a child, I payed far more attention to Bible stories with women in them. And Joel 2:21-28 has brought me comfort many times over, especially "and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." Somehow, it makes me feel a little less alone.

But re-reading Margaret Fell makes it clear that I need to spend a little more time with Revelations. While I love the vivid imagery, I just don't get it. Maybe someday, I'll get comfortable with Revelations:
"So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." [Rev. 17:3-5]
Maybe not.

Elizabeth Bathurst

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