Thoughts on Scripture from NT Wright’s The Last Word – Post 1 – You Should Read It

Primary Audience – my local church
Secondary – Anyone interested in reading/applying Scripture and reading books regarding it and anyone interested in the work of NT Wright

If you know me personally, you may have heard me talk about how you should be reading NT Wright. If you are an easy sell, I would start with The Last Word. For us evangelicals, a lot rises and falls on our view of Scripture. When reading Wright, the questions concerning his position on Scripture always surface so it makes a bit of sense to begin here. Further, I did not read them in this order and I wish I did.
Wright begins The Last Word by discoursing on thoughts regarding modernity and post-modernity. Wisely, he does not build his case around either but instead aims to offer “a way through this entire mess and middle and forward into a way of living in and for God’s world, and within the community of God’s people, with Christian and biblical integrity” (p. 10).
He is annoyed with the shallow level of debate often depicted in name calling, “fundamentalist” and “radical” and I too share too his frustration with how both sides, conservative and liberal, and the many sides in between try to undermine each other. One position assumes the other has hidden motives or does not love God as much as they do. One side will use the motto, “It must be Biblical” or “The Bible says” and assume that the other side is not committed to that end. One will ignore millennia of tradition, a plethora of the voices of the church fathers, new voices, and reduce the argument to a place that does not acknowledge that one is using a hermeneutic (a method of interpretation).
For instance, the popular term “the Bible says” is a difficult one because everyone believes the Bible is saying something – in fact, we/they believe it’s saying what we/they are saying, otherwise we/they wouldn’t be saying it. Most of these heated debates are anchored to a commitment of Scripture, rooted in a deep love for Christ, and determined to be living in the Spirit that pleases the Father. The problem is that we like to assume that those who differ from us fall short to our piety and devotion to the Lord.
I am among the many who have ceased in using the term in hopes that the person I am in conversation with is also committed to the integrity of Scripture. Perhaps if we commit to the seeing the perspective of “the other”, we can know and experience the deeper truths contained in our Scripture. This is I find to be both difficult and exciting.
More so, I cannot help but apply that to the evangelical reaction towards Wright himself. We are very suspicious of any thought produced from any mainline, charismatic, high church, Orthodox or Catholic church. This post is not an argument from ecumenicalism but perhaps an encouragement to extend grace towards those in different traditions that interpret the Scriptures differently than we do. I know many evangelicals love the Scriptures but it is impossible for me to concede that we love it the most when we account for our collective biblical literacy or even the simple act of bringing a Bible to our corporate worship services. This is not chastisement, and I am not ashamed to be an evangelical, I just want to be a Christ-follower that has not deluded himself into self-righteousness (and would appreciate those within ours and other traditions to do the same).
I hope you consider reading The Last Word – It’s a great read. You can pick it up from Amazon here.