This book is not what I thought it would be about. When I purchased the book, based on the title, I thought I would be learning about how we can be assured that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. Instead it describes the challenge the church currently faces in trying to answer the question, “What does Scripture say?” The debates on this topic often wind up undermining people’s confidence in the authority of the Bible. In Wright’s words: “Taken as a whole, the church clearly can’t live without the Bible, but it doesn’t seem to have much idea how to live with it.” In this book, Wright provides helpful guidance on how to read the Bible today, providing definitions of what the authority of Scripture means in action, thereby restoring Scripture to a place where we can find God’s voice today.
Wright spends quite a bit of time providing the history of scriptural interpretations and biblical scholarship throughout the past two millennia which has resulted in the confusion we now face. He then provides a series of recommendations for how we can get back on track. He ends the book with two case studies, on Sabbath and monogamy, that demonstrate how the proposals he suggests can be applied.
In alignment with Crossways International’s teachings, Wright argues that “we must be committed to a totally contextual reading of Scripture. Each word must be understood within its own verse, each verse within its own chapter, each chapter within its own book and each book within its own historical, cultural and, indeed, canonical setting.” He further emphasizes that we must understand and appreciate our own cultural perspectives and the way they predispose us to certain assumptions and viewpoints, emphasizing some things in the Bible while downplaying others. It is important to understand the entire story spelled out in the Old and New Testaments. To simply take short readings here and there risks misunderstandings and potentially reduces the power and meaning of Scripture. “The systems whereby readings are chosen must be so arranged that ordinary Christian worshippers are confronted as far as possible, with the whole of Scripture, especially the whole of the New Testament, on a regular basis.”
“The authority of Scripture is most truly put into operation as the church goes to work in the world on behalf of the Gospel–that is the good news that in Jesus Christ the living God has defeated the powers of evil and begun the work of new creation…Scripture’s authority is thus seen to best advantage in its formation of the mind of the church, and its stiffening of our resolve, as we work to implement the resurrection of Jesus, and so to anticipate the day when God will make all things new.”