- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 7 hours and 59 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: HarperAudio
- Audible.com Release Date: June 3, 2014
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00K5WMF6A
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Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
But on the whole I was disappointed by this book. It is a re-working of articles that have previously appeared elsewhere. Most of them were commissioned by US journals or from chapters in books that were for US audiences, or written forms of lectures, so as a Brit, he is most of the time consciously writing for the North American Evangelical audience.
His basic arguments, like most of Wright, is that given historical realities of the original writers and audience, we modern readers tend to be missing the intended point of the original writers.
As with most Wright he needs to go through a fairly long narrative to be able to help the reader understand his point. And I think that is why his full length book treatments are better than these shorter issue based chapters.
The problem is not so much the individual chapters, but that in almost every case, he has a better response in a full length books (and he frequently tells the reader that there is more to the story if you want to pick up another one of his books.) So his first three chapters on science and religion, the historical Adam and the resurrection were all better handled by his book Scripture and the Authority of God.
The fourth chapter, The Biblical Case for Ordaining Women, is actually one of the two issues in the book that was new to me (although he says he has brought up several of the issues before in his commentary series.)
The fifth chapter is theoretically about environmentalism, but is really a short version of his Surprised by Hope book about eschatology.
The sixth chapter is the only chapter that I think might be better as a chapter than the book. Wright's Evil and the Justice of God was decent, but in this chapter he does a better job of summarizing by saying, we cannot solve the problem of evil. Instead, God has chosen to give us scripture, not as a way to intellectually solve the problem of evil, but as a way to remind us that God is with us through difficult times.
Several of the later chapters are more political and this is where likely a number of bad reviews will focus. Wright have a very good defence of why a scriptural church is a political church. And Wright also is theologically consistent with his politics. The problem for many readers is that those politics do not match well with our US political systems. So Wright is 'conservative' about sexual issues, 'liberal' about environmentalism, international debt and immigration policy, and off the political map in regard to terrorism. He is against anabaptist retreat and attempts of re-creating Christendom. As I have said in regard to his discussion of politics in other books, I think he is theologically right about most of his points, but he is not a great economist, political historian or political theorist. (And I agree with him in a large number of his political stances.)
If there is a main theme in the book, it is that we are now all Epicureans. It is the focus of the chapter on Idolatry, but comes up multiple times throughout the book. Essentially this is not unlike what some others describe as modern Deism. But Wright believes that Epicureanism is actually a better description. The short description of Epicureanism is that it is a believe that the gods don't really care about us or at least don't have much influence over our daily lives, so we might as well live for pleasure because that is something we can do.
The rest of the chapters not mentioned are basically the same. Good topics, fairly well handled by Wright, but always feeling a bit too rushed and too thematically squeezed into the book. On the whole, I would just suggest that you read Wright's others books and skip this one, unless you are really interested in his take on Epicureanism or Women in Ministry.
Personally, I think you should start with Scripture and the Authority of God, then read Surprised by Hope and Simply Jesus and expand from there as you have time and interest.
3 stars is probably a little overly harsh, but I grading on a curve based on the very high quality of books that I expect out of Wright.
I say they seem unrelated because there is a thread in this book that comes around again and again: Epicurean philosophy. This book represents, more than anything, Wright's critique of the post-Enlightenment worldview that is centered upon the foundation of the ancient philosophy first espoused by the Greek Epicurus. He taught that if God or the gods even exist they are a long way away and have nothing to do with the earth. The earth sustains itself with no help from God or the gods.
The Roman poet Lucretius popularized this philosophy, and his poetry was rediscovered in the Middle Ages and helped spark the Enlightenment. This kicked God and Jesus upstairs into heaven, separating them from the earth and humanity. Therefore theories like evolution sprang up in a way to fill in the void that was previous filled by God. Christianity joined in with the Enlightenment in espousing this kind of dualistic worldview, saying heaven is a place a long way away and that Jesus has come to take us away from this evil world back to heaven with him.
Thus Wright is saying that the Western Church has colluded with the enemy by affirm his worldview and then trying to reaffirm God from within it. That's why people like Al Mohler of Southern Seminary says that we must either believe the Bible or what science teaches. It's either Jesus or Evolution; an historical Adam or the Bible is completely false. Wright is seeking a way past this Epicurean false choice into a more fully biblical worldview.
Wright calls Christians to rediscover what the Bible is actually saying by letting go of our allegiance to Epicurus/Lucretius/Enlightenment. Heaven is not a far away realm but is overlapping and interlocking with our own. We can believe in evolution and the resurrection without compromising our faith in Jesus. We can let go of our secret love affair with Mammon (money), Sex (Aphrodite), and War (Mars). In America, we can work to stop having the same battles that were fought in 1861-1865!
I heartily recommend this book to all. Wright shows how Christians can believe in the Second Coming of Jesus and therefore actively participate in ecological causes. If you have read Wright's other works you'll see him applying those ideas in very concrete ways. A must read text.
This book tackles the difficult subject of Scripture. It is not really an organized book which contains one primary argument, but is a collection of essays and transcripts from various articles and talks which NT Wright has given over the years. Many of the chapters contain ideas which can be found elsewhere in Wrights' books, but some of the chapters are new as well.
The one complaint I have of the book is that it did not really contain any information about Wright's view on inerrancy. In a book claiming to tackle contemporary issues regarding Scripture, I think this is one of the key issues which should have been addressed.