During the recent Lambeth Conference, Bishop Tom Wright presented this piece, The Bible and Tomorrow’s World. It is a really helpful look at, you guessed it, the Bible!
I’m reading through it, and I had to stop to write down some thoughts midway through. I find it incredibly interesting that Bishop Wright sees the “left” and “right” making the same mistakes, because they both begin with the assumption of some form of Deism. He writes,
The real problem with the Deism that infected so much of the western world in the eighteenth century and dominates it still – thank God for our brothers and sisters from elsewhere who didn’t have that problem! – is that it lives by serious reaction against the whole notion of God’s kingdom coming ‘on earth as in heaven’.
Then, he goes on to say,
That is why the Left, which prefers a detached Deism so it can get on and do its own thing, disregarding instructions that seem to come from a distant God or a distant past, gets it wrong, and why the Right, which wants an authoritarian command from on high, doesn’t get it.
In other words, both the left and right hold ot a form of Deism. For the left, the God of deism is disconnected spatially and chronologically, thus making God somehow in need of updating or at least in need of some serious help to get things done in the world. On the other side of things, the gap between God’s spatial distance is filled by Scripture. The problem there is that Scripture isnt’ God’s incarnation, Jesus is. It’s amazing that both scriptural idolatry and idolatry of human effort both are attempts at bridging the gap between a Deistic God and the distanced world.
Wright, instead, sees things in this way:
The God of scripture is with us in the world, his world, the world in which he lived and died and rose again in the person of his Son, in which he breathes new life through the person of his Spirit. Scripture is the vehicle of the kingdom-bringing ‘authority’, in that sense, of this God.
He does go on to simplify what he’s trying to say:
Basically, I believe that scripture is the book through which the church is enabled to be the church, to be the people of God anticipating his sovereign rule on earth as in heaven
I’ve just started reading this article, and I’m very interested in seeing where he goes next. I’m impressed with the way God’s incarnation in Jesus is central, the Spirit’s ongoing work isn’t diminished, and there is a strong place for the Church in the purposes of Scripture.