The institutional church’s claim to authority is rooted in the idea that people have to believe what the church teaches because the Bible teaches the same thing. Naturally, the church is the interpreter of what the Bible says; so, in reality, the Bible says whatever the church wants it to say, regardless of any evidence to the contrary. If history proves anything at all, it proves this point.
In responding to the concerns and questions of its own membership about matters of ethics and justice raised by its doctrine, the church falls back on the same line. In effect, their response is that if the Bible teaches a doctrine, then that proves it to be true and automatically just. A biblical proof text is all that’s required to sweep aside all questions and demand doctrinal compliance. In other words, the membership must relinquish their doubts because of irrefutable biblical evidence.
It should be instantly obvious that, since the church defines what the Bible says, any reference to the Bible really means that the questioners are at the mercy of the church and its leadership. Whatever the church says is really the rule and therefore serves to silence all dissent and divert all questions of ethics and justice.
Now the church has always had ample isolated passages to prove whatever point they chose. That’s how we embraced a geocentric universe and chattel slavery for centuries and called ourselves Christians in the process. To insist that the church now has arrived at the proper interpretation of scripture and therefore demand compliance to church doctrine as essential is just a continuing denial of historical evidence.
In this context, all references to Bible authority are meaningless. The church has made too much of the Bible in the past, proving what is now obviously wrong either scientifically or morally. Whatever they continue to claim based on their biblical interpretation is equally suspect.