"In order that the mind may not be taxed, moreover, by the manifold and confused reading of so many such things, and in order to prevent the escape of something valuable that we have read, heard, or discovered through the process of thinking itself, it will be found very useful to entrust to notebooks ... those things which seem noteworthy and striking."

[Commonplace books: Thomas Farnaby, 17th-century]

Why is authority like this? Why does it have to be like that? Because God (as in Acts 1 and Matthew 28, which we looked at earlier) wants to catch human beings up in the work that he is doing. He doesn’t want to do it by-passing us; he wants us to be involved in his work. And as we are involved, so we ourselves are being remade. He doesn’t give us the Holy Spirit in order to make us infallible—blind and dumb servants who merely sit there and let the stuff flow through us. So, he doesn’t simply give us a rule book so that we could just thumb through and look it up. He doesn’t create a church where you become automatically sinless on entry. Because, as the goal and end of his work is redemption, so the means is redemptive also: judgement and mercy, nature and grace. God does not, then, want to put people into little boxes and keep them safe and sound. It is, after all, possible to be so sound that you’re sound asleep. I am not in favor of unsoundness; but soundness means health, and health means growth, and growth means life and vigor and new directions. The little boxes in which you put people and keep them under control are called coffins. We read scripture not in order to avoid life and growth. God forgive us that we have done that in some of our traditions. Nor do we read scripture in order to avoid thought and action, or to be crushed, or squeezed, or confined into a de-humanizing shape, but in order to die and rise again in our minds. Because, again and again, we find that, as we submit to scripture, as we wrestle with the bits that don’t make sense, and as we hand through to a new sense that we haven’t thought of or seen before, God breathes into our nostrils his own breath—the breath of life. And we become living beings—a church recreated in his image, more fully human, thinking, alive beings.

[Christianity: N.T. Wright, How Can the Bible Be Authoritative?]

Posted by Wystan on 06.10.2009

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Then, we have to ask, if we are to get to the authority of scripture. How does God exercise that authority? Again and again, in the biblical story itself we see that he does so through human agents anointed and equipped by the Holy Spirit. And this is itself an expression of his love, because he does not will, simply to come into the world in a blinding flash of light and obliterate all opposition. He wants to reveal himself meaningfully within the space/time universe not just passing it by tangentially; to reveal himself in judgement and in mercy in a way which will save people. So, we get the prophets. We get obedient writers in the Old Testament, not only prophets but those who wrote the psalms and so on. As the climax of the story we get Jesus himself as the great prophet, but how much more than a prophet. And, we then get Jesus’ people as the anointed ones.

[Christianity: N.T. Wright, How Can the Bible Be Authoritative?]

Posted by Wystan on 06.10.2009

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