experience and the Bible

N. T. Wright invests some thoughts about postmodernity in his book about the authority of Scripture… here are a couple of quotes that I am thinking about…

on experience as authority
“… though this has never been accepted within official formulations, many church leaders now speak of “scripture, tradition, reason and experience” as though the well-known three-legged stool had now been upgraded by the addition of another leg of the same type as the other three.” (Last, p.100)


“Adding a fourth leg to a three-legged stool often makes it unstable.” (p. 101)


“Indeed, the stress on “experience” has contributed materially to that form of pluralism, verging on anarchy, which we now see across the Western world.” (p.102)

then after all that, he offers a different approach…

“We could put it like this. “Experience” is what grows by itself in the garden. “Authority” is what happens when the gardener wants to affirm the goodness of the genuine flowers and vegetables by uprooting the weeds in order to let beauty and fruitfulness triumph over chaos, thorns and thistles. An over-authoritarian church, paying no attention to experience, solves the problem by paving the garden with concrete. An over-experiential church solves the problem of concrete by letting anything and everything grow unchecked, sometimes labeling concrete as “law” and so celebrating any and every weed as “grace.” (p. 104)

finally, I add this quote…

“When, through letting scripture be the vechile of God’s judging and healing authority in our communities and individual lives, we really do “experience” God’s affirmation, then we shall know as we are known” (p. 105)

quotes from The Last Word

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