Monday, March 06, 2006

N.T. Wright on Authority & the Bible

I just purchased N.T. Wright's book on biblical authority, entitled The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture. Wright also has an essay on biblical authority here, much of which I understand to be in the book.
Many will not be familiar with the "Bible wars" of thirty years ago (Harold Lindell's The Battle for the Bible, Jack Rogers' response, and so on). These were the "inerrant" vs. "errant" debates. Wright has a good handle on this and shows, among other things, how the whole debate was miscast and, in relation to the actual Bible, anachronistic. Wright's work will provide very good reading for any Christian interested in the question "Why should the Bible be considered authorititative as the Word of God?"
Wright is especially good in claiming that evangelical inerrantist views actually have a low view of the Bible. Wright's work, as well as that of Craig Keener and Ben Witherington, warn us how to avoid making "the Bible into something which basically it is not," and give us a perspective and a hermeneutic that is far more authentic to the Bible itself.
I also really like what he has to say about "story authority." Consider, e.g.: "Story authority, as Jesus knew only too well, is the authority that really works. Throw a rule book at people’s head, or offer them a list of doctrines, and they can duck or avoid it, or simply disagree and go away. Tell them a story, though, and you invite them to come into a different world; you invite them to share a world-view or better still a ‘God-view’. That, actually, is what the parables are all about. They offer, as all genuine Christian story-telling the does, a world-view which, as someone comes into it and finds how compelling it is, quietly shatters the world-view that they were in already. Stories determine how people see themselves and how they see the world. Stories determine how they experience God, and the world, and themselves, and others. Great revolutionary movements have told stories about the past and present and future. They have invited people to see themselves in that light, and people’s lives have been changed. If that happens at a merely human level, how much more when it is God himself, the creator, breathing through his word."