[NOTE: The following is from a letter I wrote to the editor of the Religious Herald, which was subsequently published in the October 16, 2008 edition. I was responding to a previous article (in the Oct.2 edition) that stated "The Scriptures are authoritative and do not change."]
"The Scriptures are authoritative" begs the question, "Which Scriptures?" Aside from questions regarding the Scriptures of other religions, there are questions regarding the use of the Hebrew or Christian Scriptures, as well as the "Scriptures" used by the early church, which did not make it into the canon several centuries later. The fact that the canon was closed by a convention of church politicians probably deserves no more allegiance than I gave a resolution of the Southern Baptist Convention (which are necessarily non-binding) calling for a boycott of Disney.
As for "The Scriptures...do not change," I was raised in a church that advocated verbal plenary inspiration in their constitution, with the claim that the Scriptures were infallible "in the autographs." How nice, since no one has any knowledge of what became of these "autographs." And even if they do exist somewhere, since the meaning of words change over time, the reality is that the "Scriptures" change as well.
"The Bible says!" is only useful to those wishing to impose uniformity and control.
In my experience, most Baptists are good Baptists: they reserve the right to interpret their own conscience under God, which undergirds the forgotten principle that no Baptist can speak for another Baptist. For me, the ultimate reality is that a person of conscience can make no appeal to any outside source--not an infallible Pope in Rome nor an infallible paper pope bound by leather--but only to that inner voice of conviction: "Here I stand!"
[NOTE: Bold print added ti the original for emphasis in this blog.]