Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation [King James Version: of any private interpretation]. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. – 2 Peter 1:20-21 (NIV)
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The prohibition on “private interpretation” means there’s nothing secret here. There are no “secret” understandings for the initiated alone, no code words for a clandestine circle. The Bible is an open book, an open invitation to all, even if the findings are unorthodox.
George Fox, who knew the Bible thoroughly, said our authority arises from the Living Christ and not from the words on a page. Thus, Scripture is subject to the authority of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, to the extent that its authors and editors were faithful to that Spirit, the Scriptures also have authority – at least for those readers who themselves are guided by the divine Light. While our Quaker faith emphasizes the importance of direct experience of the Spirit of Christ, our tradition also looks to Scripture and to the gathered meeting as measures by which we are to test our interpretations and leadings.
Quaker theologian Robert Barclay declared that the Spirit is infallible but men and women are not. Because of our own individual biases and human limitations, he distinguished “between the divine and human aspects of revelation. … Furthermore, these divine and inward revelations do not and cannot contradict the testimony of scripture, nor are they contrary to sound reason.”
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Moreover than this, the Scriptures do abundantly speak forth the Extent and Benefit of Christ’s Death for all Mankind, upon Condition of Faith and Repentance, join’d with new and continued Obedience, which are the Gospel Terms on which he is offered to them: For Christ Jesus gave himself a Ransom for all, he tasted Death for every Man, so saith the Apostle. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)