Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Authority of Scripture

I recently read The Last Word by N.T. Wright. I highly recommend it and his approach to discussing the nature and use of Scripture. Wright's stated intention of the book is to argue "neither for a variety of modernism, nor for a return to premodernism, nor yet for a capitulation to postmodernism, but for what I hope is a way through this entire mess and muddle and forward into a way of living in and for God's world, and within the community of God's people, with Christian and biblical integrity."(p.10) Wright does this quite well, seeking to rise above the "shallow level" of the current debate. As a Baptist, I have certainly seen the fallout from the Bible wars within my own denomination and its negative effects upon those who have been watching. The first step to rise above the current level is to understand that "authority of Scripture" is a "shorthand for God's authority exercised through Scripture." Wright carries this understanding throughout the book, returning to remind the reader that Scripture is not the end of revelation, nor merely just a record of God's revelation. Wright advocates that Scripture has its authority in a "delegated or mediated sense." For Wright, the authority of Scripture is found in it as story more than a guidebook to convey information nor as just an inspirational book for devotional use. It is a story climaxed with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and is intended to shape the life of people just as the story of Israel was to direct the life of Israel. Wright puts it this way, "We read Scripture in order to be refreshed in our memory and understanding of the story within which we ourselves are actors, to be reminded where it has come from and where it is going to, and hence what our part within it ought to be."(p.115) In the book, the reader is presented with a way(by employing a "five-act" hermeneutic) to understand where she is in the story and the responsibility of sharing this story with the world, offering a "picture of God's sovereign and saving plan for the entire cosmos, dramatically inaugurated by Jesus himself, and now to be implemented through the Spirit-led life of the church precisely as the scripture-reading community.(p.114) I recommend this book to you for Wright's thoughtful approach to a sore subject and for his pointing to other "fresh" books that are being written and published to lead the reader out of the current polarizations and predictable positions from modern and postmodern arguments and into "creative and intelligent reflection."


Anonymous Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I've been considering this one for a while.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci

1/23/2006 12:26:00 AM  

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