how can the bible be authoritative?

November 19, 2005

NT WrightThis morning, I read the manuscript of a marvelous lecture by NT Wright called “How Can the Bible be Authoritative?” (Thanks to for making it available: HTML/ PDF. Thanks also to Mark and Gary who both recommended it to me.) This is a must read for anyone who is serious about understanding the role the Bible should play in our churches and in our culture today. Here are just a few thoughts from his conclusions to stir your interest:

  • The church is not made so that there can be a safe ghetto into which people can run and escape from the world, but so that God can shine out his light into the world, exposing (among other things) the ways in which the world has structured itself into darkness. And this is relevant to the concepts of authority themselves. The Bible is a living witness to the fact that there is a different sort of authority, a different sort of power, to that which is recognized in the world of politics, business, government, or even the academy.
  • It might be much more appropriate to go off and write a novel (and not a ‘Christian’ novel where half the characters are Christians and all the other half become Christians on the last page) but a novel which grips people with the structure of Christian
    thought, and with Christian motivation set deep into the heart and structure of the narrative, so that people would read that and resonate with it and realize that that story can be my story. After all, the story of the Bible, and the power that it possesses, is a better story than any of the power games that we play in our world. We must tell this story, and let it exercise its power in the world.
  • There are worlds to be discovered here of which a good deal of the church remains sadly ignorant. The Bible is the book of personal renewal, the book of tears and laughter, the book through which God resonates with our pain and joy, and enables us to resonate with his pain and joy. This is the really powerful authority of the Bible, to be distinguished from the merely manipulative or the crassly confrontational ‘use’ of scripture.
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