Chapter 1: Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today

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Random thoughts as I read through this book…

The central claim of the book is that Scripture is not authoritative in of itself (even pointing away from itself), but only receives authority when God works through it. (This makes an interesting intersect with examining the Canon, and what belongs or doesn’t belong in it, and indeed, how it came to be, if we can strip away the recent interpretative angles of seeing Canon as a tool of power). The idea that we have lost the meaning of the phrase “the authority of Scripture” is one in which Wright spends a few paragraphs getting around too, noting that we have used, I’m paraphrasing here, the phrase so much that it simply holds no real meaning anymore. Of course, this is the danger of merely reading the texts. We only under the scriptures as we want them to be understood, as our particular lens sees them.

The idea of authority in the narrative is a new one to me, although I understand the concept well enough, and even if I didn’t, Wright gets his point over. And it is one which is often missed, especially in preaching which is based on topical reading, i.e., where verses are pulled from chapters and passages which generally are part of a larger narrative themselves. Authority, then, is not in God’s narrative, but in the preacher/teacher who is creating his or her own narrative. Wright notes that Scripture’s functions as a “sub-branch” of various theological topics, which moves the focus from Scripture to God’s purpose, pushing Scripture as an invitation to participate, not as a rule book. That’s the story…

In using Scripture as a rule book, and acting as ‘God’s revelation’, it does put something between God and us, and pushes Justin Martyr’s Transcendent God even higher, even further out of reach. I know that I’ve been guilty of that, seeing Scripture as God’s Revelation of Himself, which takes the focus off of God, putting it on a far distant action and my interpretation of the action. God worked ‘back then’ making cessationism very popular and more likely. Wright rails against this view, pointing out the logical fallacy of having Scripture as a ‘record of a revelation’ and the such. It is refreshing, and indeed, enlivening to my own theology to read these thoughts expressed as such.  Often times conservatives focus solely on Scripture while Liberals focus solely on Christ, and yet here, it seems to be a proper, moderate, middle ground which calls us away from the excesses entailed in ignoring Scripture’s proper use.

He even covers the act of devotional reading, which he is not opposed too, but instead, sees it as directly related to the Christian life. This, for him, doesn’t equate authority either.

So far, so good.

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2 Replies to “Chapter 1: Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today”

  1. Sounds interesting so far; I look forward to reading your thoughts as you continue blogging about it. It definitely has potential as a book worth reading.

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