the last word

I spent the day in Athens and picked up N.T. Wright’s The Last WordI couldn’t stop reading once I began.  The authority of Scripture is one of those issues that’s been floating around in my head in recent months, but reading Wright is affording me the first real conversation that I have had with myself about the subject.

Anyway, here’s a bit from pp. 23-24:

We now arrive at the central claim of this book: that the phrase “authority of scripture” can make Christian sense only if it is a shorthand for “the authority of the triune God, exercised somehow through scripture.”  Once we think this through, several other things become clear.

All authority is from God, declares Paul in relation to governments (Romans 13.1); Jesus says something very similar in John 19.11.  In Matthew 28.18, the risen Jesus makes the still more striking claim that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him, a statement echoed elsewhere — for instance, in Philippians 2.9-11.  A quick glance through many other texts in both the Old Testament (e.g., Isaiah 40-55) and the New (e.g. Revelation 4 and 5) would confirm this kind of picture.  When John declares that “in the beginning was the word,” he does not reach a climax with “and the word was written down” but “and the word became flesh.”  The letter to the Hebrews speaks glowingly of God speaking through scripture in time past, but insists that now, at last, God has spoken through his own son (1.1-2).  Since these are themselves “scriptural” statements, that means that scripture itself points — authoritatively, if it does indeed possess authority! — away from itself and to the fact that final and true authority belongs to God himself, now delegated to Jesus Christ.  It is Jesus, according to John 8.39-40, who speaks the truth which he has heard from God.


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