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Simply Christian Hardcover – International Edition, March 14, 2006
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“Readers will welcome such ready access to one of the fine teachers of the church.” (Walter Brueggemann)
“Simply Christian is an amazing testimony to the vitality…of the Christian faithand to the skill of N. T. Wright.” (Will Willimon, Bishop, North Alabama Conference, United Methodist Church)
“[No one] has done more to clarify what [...] Christianity looks like in our day than Tom Wright.” (John Ortberg, teaching pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church)
“Fresh, engaging, and highly readable…Simply Christian [is] an invaluable guide for seekers and doubters as well as believers.” (Os Guinness, author of Unspeakable: Facing Up to the Challenge of Faith)
“N.T. Wright is uniquely qualified to convey the enduring substance of Christian life and thought to contemporary people.” (Dallas Willard, professor of philosophy, University of Southern California, and author of The Divine Conspiracy)
“Brilliant Bishop Wright is one of God’s best gifts to our decaying Western church...” (J.I. Packer, professor of theology, Regent College)
“We are in Mere Christianity territory here [...] Bound to be a classic.” (Rob Bell, author of Velvet Elvis)
“N.T. Wright is simply crucial; his writing can transform one’s life.” (Anne Rice, author of CHRIST THE LORD)
“Wright attempts a 21st-century counterpart to Lewis’s Mere Christianity. . . . notably clear, readable and thought-provoking.” (Richard Ostling, AP)
“Wright offers...[an] intelligent view of Christianity, and his title invites us to compare his work with Lewis’s [...] Mere Christianity.” (Washington Post)
From the Back Cover
Why do we expect justice? Why do we crave spirituality? Why are we attracted to beauty? Why are relationships often so painful? And how will the world be made right? These are not simply perennial questions all generations must struggle with, but, according to N. T. Wright, are the very echoes of a voice we dimly perceive but deeply long to hear. In fact, these questions take us to the heart of who God is and what He wants from us.
For two thousand years, Christianity has claimed to solve these mysteries, and this renowned biblical scholar and Anglican bishop shows that it still can today. Not since C. S. Lewis's classic summary of the faith, Mere Christianity, has such a wise and thorough scholar taken the time to explain to anyone who wants to know what Christianity really is and how it is practiced. Wright makes the case for Christian faith from the ground up, assuming that the reader has no knowledge of (and perhaps even some aversion to) religion in general and Christianity in particular.
Simply Christian walks the reader through the Christian faith step by step and question by question. With simple yet exciting and accessible prose, Wright challenges skeptics by offering explanations for even the toughest doubt-filled dilemmas, leaving believers with a reason for renewed faith. For anyone who wants to travel beyond the controversies that can obscure what the Christian faith really stands for, this simple book is the perfect vehicle for that journey.
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Very useful for sorting out "fuzzy thinking" by church new comers who frankly do not understand the most basic facts about the Christian faith.
Good arguments, writing could be made smoother through additional editing, or revision, but still good.
I would add, that somehow, as an Anglican scholar, he presents an apologetic for the church that is compelling, yet not thoroughly boring, because it is not so much based on an idea in the back of his head, as tying together close to six themes or threads running through the Bible and showing us why all the Bible is inspired for teaching and directing us. That thing in the Old Testament, happened, to teach us this. God was and is GOING SOMEWHERE !
I think, quite frankly that Wright and Evangelical Anglicans understand correctly that it is not: earth here - heaven there.(If you are a mathematician, think of a Venn diagram) The whole point of Jesus's teaching on The Kingdom of God is about heaven and earth intersecting here on earth. (Compare to the experienc of meeting God in the Ark of the Covenant) It is more than just me "hanging on as best I can" till I die and Jesus will make everything wonderful, then.
It is, more properly, about Christians beginning HERE AND NOW on earth the process of redemption, justice, righting wrong, and so on.
To put it in just slightly different words, it is about the Christian church, God's "called out" ones being the apologetic to an unbelieving and skeptical world and making the wrong, right. NO ROOM FOR SPECTATORS HERE !
Wright is NOT saying Christians will, per se, bring in the new millenium, rather he is saying: his people here and now, today, begin the process, in a sinful world, because God and Christ ARE HERE to supply EVERYTHING we need to do it, even if we do not finish it and it takes the return of Christ to complete it.
Wright, the Anglican Bishop of Durham, and one of the more renowned and accessible to the public, theologians of our day is at times controversial, but never a poor writer, even to the most untrained ear for the nuances of theology. From the very first paragraph of the book, the reader is alerted that this is a different sort of explanation of the Christian faith, for Wright talks of how people might understand the meaning, but miss the experience of what the yearning for the faith is all about. He talks of justice, beauty, and relationship and how the reality of what we hope for is often far from present, what he calls the "echo of the voice", something that we think that should be there, but is not there at all, and begs the question why.
This book will not help but to be compared to C S Lewis classic work, Mere Christianity. And there are enough similarities between the two, that make the differences jarring enough. Lewis' is more of a classic apologetic. He speaks of universal laws, the differences between longstanding morality and modern pyschology, and the logic of why the Christian Gospel, of the invaision of humanity by the God/man Jesus and how theology is constantly practical in every area of the individual, personal lives of moder people. Written in the 1940's, Mere Christianity answers quite well the challenges of its, and still to a large extent, our age. What Wright is trying to do with "Simply Christian" is to take the same old story and apply to the common questions of our era, from a different perspective.
Loneliness, rejection of an older era, cynicism at the structures designed to meet the challenges of day to day life, like the family, the church, and the state are real actions obviously taken by many today. So for Wright, to begin his work, not by explaining who God is and why man needs him, but instead to point out and agree that there are many things missing and empty in the solutions that post modern people have used for solutions to their concerns about why older systems failed, the older systems that Lewis attempted to answer to in a very reasonable way in Mere Christianity.
Wright does spend a lot more time on how communal activities and experiences are far more vital to the simply Christian life than is realized, and why vital relationships, as expressed in the church, seen as a real community, are the engine for linking understanding and experience. Wright's three common expressions of the Christian life: worship, prayer and Bible study only have their fullest expression when done in community with others, so as to grow as a living, breathing organism might. In so doing, Wright is bridging the gap between the credibility of the Christian message, with those who are disaffected and disbelieving, not at necessarily the propositions in the gospel, but at how the whole system around contemporary life has been disapointing to many.
Developing a theology of the person and work of Jesus has been the hallmark of Wright's career as a pastor and theologian, and it is in writing about who Jesus is and what he has done that this work finds its greatest strength, and to some degree its greatest weakness. He has written how Jesus was the final victory of God, the great exodus of his people and the culmination of a great military campaign to bring justice and the arrival of the kingdom of God on earth. Stupendous claims, as they always are, when fully understood, even more so when contrasted with the paradoxes of the earthly life of Jesus of Nazareth, with the expectations of the Jewish people of first century Palestine. By so doing, Wright encourages the post modern audience to look again at the reality of real history, and the undeniable facts as told, which led to radical conclusions by those who first lived them. It is here that Wright is at his weakest, for he doesn't make the leap between the person and work of Jesus and that connection of justification from sin for today's believer as a direct, actionable item. Not that he denies it, but the connection is just not made at all. Even Lewis spends a great deal of Mere Christianity discussing sin and the necesity of events long ago affecting today's actions.
Nevertheless, this is an important work that should be read by many, especially in the post industrial world. Wright's pastoral call to look to Christ, living out in the community of believers to answer the deep longings and disapointments of the human experience is freshly written and worth considering.