Unlocking Suitcases

October 16, 2006

I am reading NT Wright’s “The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture”

Here is an excerpt I wanted to post for the sake of dialogue:

[regarding use of shorthand as a way to contain lots of doctrinal information… i.e. phrases like penal substitution, satisfaction theory, just-war theory, etc.]

“Shorthands are useful in the same way that suitcases are. They enable us to pick up lots of complicated things and carry them around all together. But we should never forget that the point of doing so, like the point of carrying belongings in a suitcase, is that what has been packed away can then be unpacked and put to use in the new location. Too much debate about scriptural authority has had the form of people hitting one another with locked suitcases. It is time to unpack our shorthand doctrines, to lay them out and inspect them. Long years in a suitcase may have made some of the contents go moldy. They will benefit from fresh air, and perhaps a hot iron.”

(First of all, I have to admit that I laughed out loud when I read the line about “locked suitcases” because I had this funny image come to mind of middle-aged, suit-clad men beating each other up with those old-school, hard-cased suitcases… who wouldn’t pay money to see that??)

I don’t think I believe Scripture is authorative… (ha, just seeing who is paying attention…)
I believe that God is authoratitive, and that He allows Himself to be seen through the Scriptures. If Jesus was given all authority, I have to ask myself what does it mean for Scripture to then be authoritative in light of this? Anyone else have thoughts on this? I have only read the first 2 chapters so I am excited to read more of what Wright has to say.

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5 Responses to “Unlocking Suitcases”

  1. Heather Lane Says:

    Lacey –

    I have enjoyed reading about your new adventures in Vancouver – what an exciting journey … Praying God’s blessings on you –

    Heather (Hagood) Bruce

  2. Jeffrey Says:

    good post lacey. as you know, I’ve long abandoned my belief in sola scriptura, lol. Jesus told “some Jews”, I would say most likely some pharisees or saducees, given the nature of the comment, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” [read more].

    John says in chapter one of his gospel account that the Word has been made flesh and dwelt among us. The people of the OT knew not that the very Spirit of God lived in them already and so they worshipped the Torah as many of us worship our Bibles today, rather than realizing that we have been made in the very image of God and it is his Love and Life that give us our being, or better yet, make up our true being–that is, spirit, not flesh. Why, I wonder, do humans feel such a strong need to have a physical item to worship?

    again lace, very good post. sorry for the length of my comment.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    you should check out mclaren’s “the last word and the word after that”, an interesting play on words on n.t. wright’s book.

  4. Lacey Says:

    long comments are fine, jeffrey! you would like this book, i think 🙂 it would serve as affirmation, for sure.

  5. Herschel Says:

    so I found this through longbrake…

    the authority of Scripture is something that I have been thinking about alot lately….

    I’m not sure I have much of value ot this conversation…especially since its an old post but just that i still cant get over my lifelong indoctrination that scripture is inerrant and authoritive…..

    and yet, every moment im in seminary that gets alittle more fuzzy…


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