According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

NT Wright on "Scripture and God's Authority"


by Scot McKnight
posted June 1, 2011

The biggest problem many of us have with how we frame the “doctrine” of Scripture is that it isn’t adequate to how Scripture arose as our Sacred Text or how it operates either in the church or with us as Bible readers. Here’s the traditional model: it’s a top-down deposit or transmission of information. In other words, Scripture is framed as revelation.

I, too, would place Scripture within a framework of revelation, but that’s not enough, nor is it the primary framing. [Handmade chart with Penultimate app on the iPad.]

What is your model? What model is most “biblical” for you? And, what do you think of Tom Wright’s take on Sabbath as an illustration of how his model of Bible reading works?

Scripture flows out of the Trinitarian inter-communicative Logos and it is connected to the Holy Spirit and it is a “product” as well of the church. The revelation model has a top-down model that moves from God to revelation intent to inspiration and author/text and inerrancy and authority and reading. It’s all framed as a top-down revelation. It’s inadequate because God chose to manifest truth and grace and redemption through history, at specific moments and over time and through authors and through a community, and that history is nearly eliminated in the revelation model. The model needs supplementation to frame a view of Scripture that is organic to how Scripture came into existence. This top-down model is too much golden tablets dropping from the sky.

But Scripture at the organic level emerges from authors who are part of God’s People (Israel, Church), and the books in Scripture arise out of particular circumstances and are written by authors with intent and agenda, and the individual authors interact with one another (Micah, Isaiah, Matthew, Romans, Hebrews, Revelation) and carry the Story forward so that the last version of the Story can reframe the former versions. And then there is the ongoing life of the church — and tradition. Many of us think the revelation model tells us very important things, but it is inadequate.

That is why so many of us value the voice of Tom Wright in this discussion. His newest book, Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today, is both a revision and an expansion of his former book The Last Word.

This book of Tom’s both revises and expands and, in particular, adds chapters that are test cases for how his theory of Scripture works out. He examines two topics, Sabbath and Monogamy. Today I will look at his Sabbath chapter, but first a brief on the big ideas of the book.

The expression “authority of Scripture” is shorthand for “the authority of the triune God, exercised somehow through Scripture” (21). There is something important here, for Wright acknowledges that authority is God’s — and derivatively of Scripture. Any time someone equates the two, there opens the possibility for idolatry to occur. Furthermore, Wright is keen on showing that this authority of God is God’s authority in working out the Kingdom mission for his people and creation. Scripture, then, is a sub-branch of mission, the Spirit, eschatology, and the Church itself (29). Again, very important.

When Wright comes to sum up his entire argument, on pp. 115-116, he says this: The authority of Scripture is “a picture of God’s sovereign and saving plan for the entire cosmos, dramatically inaugurated by Jesus himself, and now to be implemented through the Spirit-led life of the church precisely as the scripture-reading community.” Thus, the “authority of Scripture” is put into action in the Church’s missional operations. Scripture, he says, is more than a record of revelation and was never simply about imparting information — it is God’s word to redeem [and involve!- res] his people as God works out his plan for the entire created order. And you may know how the Bible teaches what Tom calls a 5-Act play: creation, fall, Israel, Jesus, Church. We are in the 5th Act now.

Now to Sabbath. Tom provides an exceptional illustration of how both to read Sabbath (i) in its OT setting, (ii) what Jesus and Paul “did” to that teaching, (iii) how the Jubilee principle extends the Sabbath principle, and (iv) how Jesus is the transition to a new kind of time — death and resurrection and new creation, and thus how the Sabbath principle finds fulfillment in Jesus himself, and then he probes (v) how to live that Sabbath principle out in our world. Here are some highlights:

1. In the OT Sabbath was a strong commandment, it was the day YHWH took up abode in the temple of creation (here he chimes in with John Walton) and asked image-bearers to enjoy that same rest.

2. Sabbath shows that history is going somewhere, it is a temporal sign that creation is headed toward that final rest, and it is sacred time.

3. Sabbath has to be connected to Jubilee, and therefore to justice and compassion for the poor, and that means Sabbath and Jubilee point us toward the restoration of creation.

4. Jesus thought the entire Sabbath principle pointed toward himself. Time was fulfilled in him; a new kind of time begins with him. Paul does not seem to care about Sabbath, and he observes its absence in Romans 13:9; Col 2:14-16; Rom 14:5-6. I have to be brief: it’s about time’s fulfillment. Sacred time finds its way to Jesus Christ and new creation.

5. To continue celebrating sabbaths is to focus on the signposts when we have already arrived. Thus, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” You don’t need the alarm clock when the sun is flooding the room with its light. [Sabbath has occurred. Restoration has come. - res]

6. The early Christians didn’t transfer Sabbath to Sunday. [Nor do we - res].

7. We don’t need to back up into a Sabbatarianism. [sic, Christians do not need to become Seventh Day Adventists; nor Judaise or prosyletize their Christian faith backwards into the restrictive/antequated OT regimes and lifestyle observances; etc. - res].

8. We “celebrate” instead of “rest” — a kind of celebration rest. We reserve this day for new creation life. Music, the meal, family, service, peace, justice, love — these are the notes of Sunday for those who see the fulfillment of Sabbath in Jesus.

We live in a perpetual sabbath.



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