N. T. Wright has been a much needed voice in Christianity these past few decades. His scholarship alongside his minister’s heart have allowed him to speak with great authority on doctrine and other church issues. His book on the resurrection, Surprised by Hope, is a milestone in my journey of faith.
In Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today, Wright challenges both ends of the Christian spectrum: the liberals who dismiss anything that doesn’t fit their model and the conservatives who flirt with idolatry of the bible (what I like to call bibliolatry).
I read through this book rather slowly, about 10 months, as news headlines, math courses and good movies compete for my attention. What I appreciated was the unifying message that all the authority rests with God and since the Bible points to God’s authority, then it is lent authority on that very basis.
While reading the Bible, context has been emphasized by any serious teacher: “A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text.” Wright takes it one step further by introducing a framework for understanding biblical writers (and their authority) through the particular stage in God’s story as told in five acts (we are currently in the fourth act). He suggests that we should not be under the authority of Leviticus for instance as it represents an earlier part of the story – I wouldn’t read and understand a letter from my girlfriend the same way I would when she is later my wife.
Other important points brought up are the role of scripture in church and the importance of scholarship among teachers of the Bible. A liturgical grounding and an honouring of accreditation aid in maintaining a healthy interpretation of who God is and what He is doing among us today.