Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"The Bible Says..." (Book Review: Scripture and the Authority of God)

I am almost done with N.T. Wright's book, Scripture and the Authority of God (HarperCollins, 2013). Some of it is a little "heady" for me, but necessarily so. I don't feel qualified to "review" the book, but I would like to share a couple of important take-aways, at the risk of oversimplifying a few points.

First, the entire lens of seeing the "authority of scripture" as shorthand for the "authority of God through scripture" is helpful. This position is one Wright uses throughout the book. To me, the Bible is not authoritative unto itself. It is what God and the church do with the Bible that demonstrates authority and divine inspiration. Without that authority, the scriptures become writings to be studied while missing out on true revelation.
N.T. Wright

Second, Wright reminds us that the glory in John 1 comes not from the idea that "the Word was written down," but the pronouncement that "the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." It is important to keep in mind that the "Word of God" that brings salvation and changes lives is none other than Jesus Himself, who literally moved into our world. Again, going back to the first point, the Bible is a resource of words that the Word may use to transform people's hearts and minds only when the authority of God through His Holy Spirit is at work.

The Bible does not equal "God with us" unless we are receiving the revelation of Jesus Christ (aka. Immanuel). In fact, Bible study could indeed be one of the least spiritual acts in which some people participate, misleading us into thinking we are growing closer to God through head knowledge when we are actually distancing ourselves through self-reliance (see John 5:16-47).

I'm glad I stuck it out and will finish the whole book this morning. It was interesting to consider how believers have wrestled with approaches to Scripture throughout the centuries, which Wright summarizes succinctly. I also found the chapter devoted to a case study on the topic of the Sabbath eye-opening, especially as he compared its relationship to time with the Temple's relationship to space. Ultimately, we end up with Jesus fulfilling Sabbath rest, in my opinion, but Wright got to deeper concepts that I had not considered before. For those interested, below are more viewpoints about Sabbath and/or N.T. Wright's perspective. Note that I am merely sharing, not promoting or opposing, these:

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