Our Pages

Scripture and the Authority of God: N. T. Wright

Book review

Scripture and the Authority of God: N. T. Wright
Posted on August 21, 2020  - By Garrett Haley

Title: Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today

Author: N.T. Wright

Published: 2005

Pages: 210

What is Scripture? How should the Word affect our lives here in the 21st century?

If you’re like me, you grew up reading and being read the Bible from a very young age. And as you’ve grown older, you’ve gone through seasons where Scripture seemed to lose its allure — either due to doubts, or busyness, or confusion, or just the desire for something fresh and new.

It can be hard to step back and think about Scripture in a fresh way. How do we grow our appreciation for a book so old, so long, so familiar, so hotly-debated?

With those questions in mind, I dived into theologian N. T. Wright’s book Scripture and the Authority of God. And I highly recommend it! Wright’s book is a renewing, insightful, perspective-sharpening overview of Scripture and what God’s Word should mean for us today.

How do we grow our appreciation for a book so old, so long, so familiar, so hotly-debated?

A powerful channel

Throughout the book, Wright specifically tackles three questions that he lays out in the prologue (p. 16):

  1. In what sense is the Bible authoritative in the first place?
  2. How can the Bible be appropriately understood and interpreted?
  3. How can its authority, assuming such appropriate interpretation, be brought to bear on the church itself, let alone on the world?

*Spoiler alert!*

On page 21, Wright shares what he calls “the central claim of this book”: that the authority of Scripture really means the authority of God exercised through Scripture.

In other words, Scripture is not just the primary way God conveys information to us. Nor is it just a static record of revelation. Nor is it just a divine self-communication. Nor is it just an inspired devotional manual. Rather, Scripture is actually an ongoing means of God’s action in and through us — a venue through which God heals and renews His creation and brings His kingdom to the world.

So we shouldn’t think of the Bible as something that describes how God changed lives in the past, or a book that tells us about God and salvation. The Scriptures are a powerful channel that God has used throughout history and continues to use to change lives today.

As Wright puts it:

“The ‘word’ was not just information about the Kingdom and its effects, important though that was and is. It was the way God’s Kingdom, accomplished in Jesus, was making its way in the world” (p. 49).”

Scripture is actually an ongoing means of God’s action in and through us… a channel God continues to use today

I love that point.

Does it challenge you to view the Bible in a grander, bigger, more life-changing way? I hope so!

A temporary signpost

To drive that point home, Wright makes a bold claim: in the new heaven and the new earth, we won’t read Scripture. The Bible won’t be needed anymore. “Not because it is irrelevant,” Wright says, “but because it turns out to be the map to a destination we have now reached” (p. 125).

Just as Jesus critiqued the Jewish leaders for not realising the Scriptures pointed toward Him (John 5:39-40), we will no longer need the signpost of the Bible once we are finally raised and dwelling with Christ — that is the ultimate goal, the culmination, everything is waiting for and pointing toward (Romans 8:22-25).

“The authority of God, as mediated through and in the whole scripture, points to the renewal of creation through Jesus Christ as the key theme of the whole story” (p. 194).

If your time in the Word has been sporadic or dry lately, then, first off, rest assured you’re not alone — that is an ever-present struggle for believers in these hectic times. But second, I would highly recommend you read a book like this one from N. T. Wright. You may find yourself coming away with a heightened appreciation for the authority of God, as conveyed through His Word.

I’ll close this review with what I think was my favourite quote from the entire book:

“In Scripture itself, God’s purpose is not just to save human beings, but to renew the whole world. This is the unfinished story in which readers of scripture are invited to become actors in their own right” (p. 27).

Garrett Haley

About Garrett Haley

Garrett Haley is a native Texan and serves as a deacon at his local assembly in Lubbock, TX. He enjoys reading, writing blog posts, leading church discussion groups, and pondering life’s deep questions. Preaching on occasion and organising church get-togethers are a couple of his other favourite areas of service.



Get a notification in your Inbox

A weekly brief of new resources and Scripture-based insights from our editorial team.