The authority of the Bible refers to the idea that the Bible is normative for the church in all speech, thought, and practice. In other words, Scripture is the sole and final authority for Christians in all matters of faith and practice.
The Bible is authoritative because its authority has been conferred by God, and this is where all discussion of biblical authority must begin. Thus, Scripture is a divine and human instrument through which God has communicated and revealed his authority. Most Evangelicals go further than this, insisting that the Bible has a genuine authority "as the authentic embodiment of God's self-disclosure... Some, like Karl Barth, allow this authority to be bestowed by God while insisting that the Bible itself is essentially a human document. Others - e.g., Rudolf Bultmann and Paul Tillich - regard the Bible as a fallible collection of religious writings on which the early church arbitrarily imposed an authority that evangelical piety has continued to uphold" (McDonald, p. 153-54).
- Walter Elwell, ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker, 2001), s.v. "Bible, Authority of", by H.D. McDonald