13.11.09

Tom Wright and the authority of Scripture

Scripture shaped the people of Israel who longed for the kingdom.

Tom Wright explains how narrative is dynamic. It is not going to be like an instruction manual because this is not dynamic.S ee 'Scripture' by NT Wright.

John Stott will explain how Matthew's exhortation that not a jot or tittle has been removed from the law testifies to how authoritative are the scriptures.

The authority of scripture
Did Jesus Christ regard it as authoritative? His insistence on fulfilling the Scriptures is often at odds with his practices and preaching in that we are called to honour our mothers and fathers and yet he refused to accept his own brothers and sisters when they called him and instead he believed that fellow believers were his family.

It is interesting to look at Tom Wright and the Windsor report about the authority of Scripture and his contribution to this.

When Paul meets the Judiazers he meets people who are being more literalistic about the Old Testament than he is. He rebukes these people.

The story is moving on. So are we being taught to justify a kind of redemption-hermeneutic?

There is discontinuity from rules under the Old Covenant. The sacrifice rituals and the mandatory sabbath are no longer insisted upon. The divide between the Jews and the Gentiles have been left aside. The scriptures have been summed up in Jesus Christ and so there is a new mode.

We are pointed to Tom Wright's idea of a 5 act play. There is the last act and we are called, yes, to work it out. Is this what is being implied? So there is real emphasis on hermeneutics.

Richard Burridge says that the most distinctive thing about Jesus is that he had a very high moral vision but mixed with everyone. Do evangelicals wanting to guard their distinctiveness, unhelpfully preach for separation out from others?

The final act in Tom Wright's play is unfinished, this is where we are at according to the Tom Wright analogy. The characters called to produce the play are asked to improvise the ending so that the play can come to conclusion successfully. We might want to stop the play because it seems to share nothing with what has come before. The play might be stopped though if it copies by rote scenes from before. These similarities need reinterpreting for the new act. These two examples of where it goes wrong have happened and are happening - those that lose the plot are heretics and those who learn by rote are fundamentalists.

Tom helps us to see how the authoritative Bible is also dynamic and our job is to act our part in the story that moves us and is about us and God.

Improvisation is a deeply faithful model - the first act is God's good creation and there is are multiple genres to it but we tell of God's order as good and beautiful - if we tell the story this way then we are faithful to God's story, we also need to move into recognising Act 2 this world is flawed by sin and we did fall but then the third act of the story is the story of Israel and then we tell the stories of the prophets so that we do not become dejudiazed and we are called to be salt and light and at first it was the people of Israel who were called but now we are no longer under the law not because it was odd but because it had all been fulfilled and we live in a narrative that has moved on into Act 4 which is the story of Jesus and we are not there now we are in the fifth act and we need to interpret how Act 4 has resonance for us today - the cross and the resurrection of Jesus they are the climax of the narrative out of which we are living - from Pentecostal onwards we are the people of God in Christ of the world the redeemed and the redemptive people of Christ - we see the end is in site and we are called by the Spirit to improvise the story between the acts - we do not repeat the same speeches but we must act in character and this is quite a challenge and the Christian debates about how we do this must be constant through this drama - we do not reconstruct the drama or follow him literally - we are a different people and yet we are the same people.

The notion of improvising is important but sometimes misunderstood - there is a careful and needed listening to the complete performance which we are called to continue in obedience to the music so far and continue in fresh expressions which will lead us to the full and complete redemption - we have the parameters for the appropriate announcement and we are free to take the music forwards but we are not free to play out of the tune - all the actors and travelling companies - the churches are free to improvise but we are in the same play and in this way we would be healthy and in harmony with one another.

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