Alibris Secondhand Books Standard

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

n.t. wright on biblical authority

I like the way N.T. Wright answers the question, "How Can the Bible Be Authoritative?"

An excerpt:

If we think for a moment what we are actually saying when we use the phrase ‘authority of scripture’, we must surely acknowledge that this is a shorthand way of saying that, though authority belongs to God, God has somehow invested this authority in scripture. And that is a complex claim. It is not straightforward. When people use the phrase ‘authority of scripture’ they very often do not realize this. Worse, they often treat the word ‘authority’ as the absolute, the fixed point, and make the word ‘scripture’ the thing which is moving around trying to find a home against it. In other words, they think they know what authority is and then they say that scripture is that thing.

I want to suggest that we should try it the other way around. Supposing we said that we know what scripture is (we have it here, after all), and that we should try and discover what authority might be in the light of that. Granted that this is the book that we actually have, and that we want to find out what its ‘authority’ might mean, we need perhaps to forswear our too-ready ideas about ‘authority’ and let them be remolded in the light of scripture itself—not just in the light of the biblical statements about authority but in the light of the whole Bible, or the whole New Testament, itself. What are we saying about the concept of ‘authority’ itself if we assert that this book—not the book we are so good at turning this book into—is ‘authoritative’?

It's kind of long, but worth reading.



At 8/13/2009 10:21 PM, Blogger Steve Hayes said...

It's the same with people's ideas about God. If we say that Jesus is God, people try to think whether Jesus fits with their idea of God or not. Actually it's the other way round. We should compare our ideas of God with what we know of Jesus, and if they don't fit, be prepared to abandon them.

At 8/15/2009 11:28 PM, Blogger BruceA said...

Good point. It's probably the same with many aspects of our faith. For some years when I was in my 20s I struggled, thinking maybe I should give up on Christianity because it made no sense. Then, through a series of events, my perspective was changed and I saw that what made no sense were my own preconceptions.


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