Scripture and the Authority of God by N.T. Wright

I’m thinking of renaming the blog “Four for Friday,” because that’s about all I’m able to make time for these days. So I’m sneaking a quick one in just before Friday to try to maintain some blog-cred.

Another alternate name could be “N.T. Wright Fan-Boy,” since that’s about the only other thing I talk about around here. A friend of mine was reading Wright’s Scripture and the Authority of God and asked if I had read it. Much to both our surprise, I hadn’t. He said he was finding it challenging and would love hear my thoughts on it. Never needing much of any encouragement to read more Wright, I promptly ordered it and dove right in. As chance would have it, I finished it up this past weekend, a day or so before this same friend tied the knot.

As you might suspect, the book is good. Really good. Wright successfully (IMHO) navigates between the warring conservative and liberal advocates in the “Battle for the Bible.” One group of Christians argues for a kind of inerrancy that the Bible doesn’t really seem to affirm about itself. While the other group writes off the Bible simply a man-produced piece of literature and therefore no more authoritative than “Chicken Soup for the Soul” or “Harry Potter” or Oprah or whatever.

Or as Wright says it himself…

Much of what has been written about the Bible in the last two hundred years has either been following through the Enlightenment’s program, or reacting to it, or negotiating some kind of halfway house in between.

So many good thoughts and not really anytime to unpack them, so I’ll just fire away a few more memorable quotes and let the chips fall where they may.

On how the Word is authoritative…

The apostolic writings, like the ‘word’ which they now wrote down, were not simply about the coming of God’s Kingdom into all the world; they were, and were designed to be, part of the means whereby that happened, and whereby those through whom it happened could themselves be transformed into Christ’s likeness.

On role that “religious experience” should play in constructing truth…

We could put it like this. ‘Experience’ is what grows by itself in the garden. ‘Authority’ is what happens when the gardener wants to affirm the goodness of the genuine flowers and vegetables by uprooting the weeds in order to let beauty and fruitfulness triumph over chaos, thorns, and thistles. An over-authoritarian church, paying no attention to experience, solves theĀ  problem by paving the garden with concrete. An over-experiential church solves the (real or imagined) problem of concrete (rigid and ‘judgmental’ forms of faith) by letting anything and everything grow unchecked, sometimes labeling concrete as ‘law’ and so celebrating any and every weed as ‘grace.’

Ok, there’s more – always more – but that’s enough to try and wrap one’s brain around for one day. Oh, one other thing. Scot McKnight also recently wrote a bit about the book. Lot’s more interaction over there.

See you tomorrow with some insanely great music in hand.