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47 of 61 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Simply Wright, December 20, 2011
This review is from: Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters (Hardcover)
The grading system of golden stars may have worked in kindergarten, but it fails entirely when attempting to sum up the accomplishments of an author. Three stars means this work is neither amazing nor awful. It is filled with both insightful and interesting perspectives and arguments that are difficult to be convinced by. But it is definitely worth your time - if that is the sign you were looking for in the stars.

It wasn't until the end that I began to see what Wright was communicating in this work. I believe he is, for the most part, responding to the current and popular belief that religion is strictly a private matter, which should be kept to oneself. It has no relevance for the world or social communities of today. Wright then is attempting to stir a reaction in Christians by somewhat blaming, or at least scolding them a bit, for having allowed such a belief to become so prominent in the world. For many Christians today are guilty of buying into this view themselves (especially those American Christians, as Wright keeps hammering away). Having done so, Christians will not only change where religion is applicable, but also to what end it is good for, i.e., what redemption it offers us. As a strictly personal activity, the redemption also becomes strictly personal. And Wright points to this as the cause for the hyper-subjective/hyper-self absorbed flavor that Christendom has taken on today. The uber emphasis on one's personal salvation in getting to individually be whisked off to eternal paradise, and thus forgetting about another emphasis in the Bible regarding God establishing his Kingdom here on earth someday. "Kingdom" emphasizes community, and thus implies that religion (Christianity) is not strictly a private matter, nor is its redemption.

Wright then goes through this work addressing scriptures that the Church has historically interpreted to be discussing private redemption of being whisked off into a distant eternal heaven as in need of some clarification. They are actually addressing the Kingdom of God here on earth, a kingdom that is already taking shape around us. Wright has understood the scripture to have a heavier emphasis on this shaping Kingdom on earth than on any distant eternal paradise to be obtained after death. Wright is then attempting to stir Christians to do away with the hyper-privatized expression of their faith and to be active in the world in a way that coincides with the belief that the world's King is coming. The attraction to do this is due to the fact that God's will is enacted through human activity. So it behooves you that if you wish to take part in this 'bringing of the kingdom' to get up and get out there and be more socially active, for that is the level on which the kingdom is coming. That is how God will establish his kingdom.

I believe Wright has made some significant points here. He is 'right' that we need to continue proclaiming Christ as relevant to the world. He is king - and he is coming. I also understand why he is reacting to the attraction of shoving religion into a closet. But it is somewhat vague on how we know when we are doing God's will through more social minded activities. He explains how people on both 'sides' could be or not be doing God's will. So what exactly are we supposed to do, and how do we know we are doing God's will? Well, most, if not all, of his examples of Godly activity by humans is humanitarian work. That and proclamation. Frankly, I see that as somewhat of a cop out, as it is too easy to point to such works as 'Good'. Furthermore, he explains it so simply as if such activities are going to be apparent in the world as God's work, when in actuality the world's wisdom is continually professing the very same thing. Therefore, it comes off as if mankind is on an upward trajectory towards bringing in the kingdom as time simply unfolds. That there is constantly an increase in righteousness and decrease in wickedness in the world, for man is, by Christ's victory, continually bringing about God's kingdom here on earth. But that is not the picture we get when reading Revelations.

Nevertheless, I cannot say exactly what Wright is or isn't saying in this work, for it is all too vague at some points. However, it is thought provoking and filled with a good message of seeing Christ as the King who has promised to return for his kingdom.....soon....any day now.....just around the corner.....any moment now......
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 4, 2012 8:43:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 4, 2012 8:43:49 AM PDT
I really appreciate your review. I'm trying to "sort through" another one of his books right now, and am just drowning in what feels like back-and-forth speculation that doesn't seem to be leading anywhere. So your summary of some of his basic viewpoints is helpful in my own study of his work. My personal favorite has always been Bart Erdman (because of his clear and unfettered explorations), but my "born-again" friends are trying to get me to read a different perspective, mainly evangelicalism, which continues to astonish me by what "feels" like a preposterous belief system. But I'm trying!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 8:33:02 AM PDT
Bill Barto says:
I agree that Bart Ehrman is a clear writer in contrast to Wright, but I would not say that he is "unfetterred" except in regard to orthodox Christian belief. His work is definitely fettered in the sense that he is squarely within the confines of the progressive critique of the Bible. Consider reading his critics such as William Lane Craig and others for a balanced view.
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