Theologians Who Don’t Study the Bible

<%image(20060201-lastword.jpg|240|240|lastword)%> The Last Word : Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture

I began reading NT Wright’s latest book last night, The Last Word. This is the US edition. Apparently the editors didn’t like the British title: Scripture and the Authority of God. Not only does the US title confuse Wright’s book with McLaren’s latest, The Last Word and the Word after That : A Tale of Faith, Doubt, and a New Kind of Christianity, but it also obscures the message of the book.

Wright is not giving a final word or message on the Bible that will close off debate. He’s not providing the last word on a topic that transcends the boundaries of time and culture. And while the US sub-title offers a touch of clarity, it still doesn’t convey the message of the British edition. This book isn’t just about a new kind of authority for scripture, it’s also about the authority of God and the role that scripture takes in the church’s mission to share the Gospel.

Now once you’ve passed by the muddle that is the US title, you can start reading the book and it’s golden “Wright” from the start. He begins with a short survey of 5 areas that impact the way we read scripture. While he says a great deal that I cannot delve into at the moment, his words on scripture and theology are worth reading again and again.

Wright comments:

“The revival of trinitarian theology that has occurred since the 1970’s . . . has happened without much detailed explicit engagement with or exegesis of the Bible, perhaps because the biblical scholars available to the systematic theologians were not much interested in the doctrine of God, or indeed in “doctrine” at all for its own sake.

Few if any of the philosophical theolgians of the last couple of generations have written serious works on scripture itself; that is, on what the text actually says.” (bold mine)
(Wright, pg. 15)

That critique is worth heeding. With the fresh discoveries of meaning and lessons learned through understanding culture and philosophy, the emerging church should not grow too heady with these new interpretive keys. The Bible still must be studied. I find myself dabbling in philosophy and theology and not spending enough time in the scriptures that such books are supposed to help me understand.