One of the criticisms of people who question and challenge the Bible will say that it is a book written by man, for men. At base level, one cannot deny this thought. The people who wrote the Bible, were in fact humans. But, when we try to understand the authority of scripture, we must understand as N.T Wright says, Identifying God’s authority exercised through scripture. The authority and inspiration of the Bible is central to the Evangelical understanding of what the Bile is and what it does. Wright’s statement opens up to a new channel of authoritative uses, the way in which God uses narrative, the way in which we are allowed to use it to act against injustices in the Church and the world, and how God uses it to establish his Kingdom here in this world. This is an authority that some Evangelicals have dismissed in their attempts to leave this life in hope for the next one. Restructuring on how we interpret the Bible, in a less systematic, includes more Biblical and personal authority.
Human history has loved story. It was the way we passed down our traditions, our legacies, and it is how we tell others who and what we are. People like Donald Miller have shown the power of how storytelling changes the world. Likewise, people like Wright and Scot McKnight have shown the authority that the Bible holds when we understand it as a story. It invites us into the story of how God is redeeming the world, and how we have a role in doing God’s work and finishing the chapters that he left open before his return. It allows us to read ourselves into the story, to be transformed by the characters in it, and to consider the Bible from more than just one angle. We are allowed to see how God is working out of periods of times, in communities, and is speaking into them to reveal the Truth that they needed as a form of their own liberation. It makes what has been known as the living Bible just that, living.
When we think of how the Bible has been wielded throughout history, it can be seen both for its awful use as a weapon and its ability to make a bigger world. In Hitler’s regime, the German government used Romans 13 as its authority to get Christians to bow down to their work. In a less negative and frightening sense, we can’t dismiss the use of the authority we have seen in Martin Luther and how he wielded the Bible against some of the corrupt practices of his time. When we look at the history of the Jewish people, their emphasis on the Torah and the Hebrew Scriptures has been not only foundational to their spiritual journey, but to their personal education. Human history has been deeply shaped by how the Bible has been wielded.
The Bible has been used to demonstrate the power of both the kingdoms we live in, and which will be given to us. The biblical writers live in the authority of truth which claims the creation that is groaning and the kingdom of glory that awaits us (Romans 8). This is the authority that is proclaimed that we see in the person of Jesus, in the Gospel writers and the missions lived and taught by the writers of both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. This authority is one that breathes hope, life, and peace into a kingdom that is vacant of it. It gives us purpose and meaning for this life. It is the beckoning to all Christians who are called to live out Christ. It is a calling worth living. It is a life that is inspired and authoritative and it’s the life that we see in the Bible.
This is the hope that we can take with us in something that is used for our own personal devotion, but is something that breaks opportunities of hope when we recognize the God who is working through history and is not finished. This is a word worth trusting.