Wright on Scripture

Wright on Scripture June 6, 2024

“Scripture, tradition, and reason are not like three different bookshelves, each of which can be ransacked for answers to key questions. Rather Scripture is the bookshelf; tradition is the memory of what people in the house have read and understood (or perhaps misunderstood) from that shelf; and reason is the set of spectacles that people wear in order the maje sense of what they read–though worryingly, the spectacles have varied over time, and there are signs that some readers, using the ‘reason’ available to them, have severely distorted the texts they were reading. ‘Experience’ is something different again, referring to the effect on readers of what they read, and/or the worldview, the life experience, the political circumstances, and so on, within which that reading takes place.   This can be seen–‘in experience’– by the chaos that results if experience is allowed to be the final arbiter. Whether in official statistics or in anecdotal evidence, the ‘experience’ of Christians, and of everyone else for that matter, always and inevitably comes up with several simultaneous and incompatible stories. ‘Experience is far too slippery for the concept to stand any chance of providing a stable basis sufficient to serve as an ‘authority’, unless what is meant is that, as the book of Judges puts it, everyone should simply do that which is right in their own eyes. And that of course means that there is no authority at all. Indeed, the stress on ‘experience’ has contributed materially to that form of pluralism, verging on anarchy, which we now see across the Western world.”— Scripture and the Authority of God, . pp. 101-02.


N.B. to this I would add see my recent volume Sola Scriptura.  Experience can be genuine, and yet not be good or godly, or true.  The truths of Scripture can and should be confirmed in the experience of those who accept the Good News.  The reverse, where individual experience is used as the arbiter of the truth of Scripture makes the individual the final arbiter of truth, and that is pure narcissism– that way lies madness and sin.

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