N.T. Wright’s 2005 book Scripture and the Authority of God is a mixed bag as far as I’m concerned. I was helped by much of what was said, puzzled by what was left unsaid.
John Frame’s review of the book (in its American incarnation, entitled, The Last Word ) helped me to understand what is missing from Wright’s account. It attempting to get ‘beyond the Bible wars’ (from the subtitle of the American edition), Wright (deliberately?) omits any meaningful affirmation and explication of Scripture as the inspired word of God.
Wright defines ‘inspiration’ in the following terms:-
by his Spirit God guided the very different writers and editors, so that the books they produced were the books God intended his people to have.
Well, yes. But as Frame points out, precisely the same could be said of all the books in his (or my) library: God providentially arranged for them to end up there, even though some of them are good books and some of them are bad books. For Wright, divine inspiration implies divine providence, but the real question is whether inspiration implies divine endorsement.
It’s OK to list some of the more troublesome misreadings of the ‘Right’ and of the ‘Left’ (78-81) [For more on this, see here]. It’s helpful to be urged to see our role within the “five acts” of the narrative (creation, fall, Israel, Christ, the church). It’s fine to be reminded that our reading of Scripture should be “totally contextual,” “liturgically guided, “privately studied,” “refreshed by appropriate scholarship,” and “taught by the church’s accredited leaders” (84-104).
But Wright simply does not discuss the most pressing question about the authority of Scripture. In Scripture, ‘the Word of God’ implies, among other things, divine speech. We need to know, then, in what sense and to what extent the words of the Bible can be regarded as the words of God. On this point, he is unhelpfully silent.