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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 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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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 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.

30 review for Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

  1. 4 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    N.T. Wright never seems to settle on a single audience or a single purpose for this book, which makes it appear disorganized and ultimately renders it ineffective. He begins Simply Christians as a seeming apologetic, speaking of our longings for justice, truth, and beauty the same way C.S. Lewis argued from the existence of a moral sense to the existence of God, but he doesn't ever bring these arguments to convincing culmination. Despite the book's subtitle "Why Christianity Makes Sense," Wright N.T. Wright never seems to settle on a single audience or a single purpose for this book, which makes it appear disorganized and ultimately renders it ineffective. He begins Simply Christians as a seeming apologetic, speaking of our longings for justice, truth, and beauty the same way C.S. Lewis argued from the existence of a moral sense to the existence of God, but he doesn't ever bring these arguments to convincing culmination. Despite the book's subtitle "Why Christianity Makes Sense," Wright never really tells the reader why it does, and he often addresses the reader as though he or she has already assumed Christianity is more or less true. As an apologetic, therefore, the book is quite weak, and Wright seems to abandon this apologetic style part way through in order to switch to an introduction, finally wending his way back to the subtitle by the end of the book. As an introduction to Christianity, however, the book is also inadequate, because it is not an organized overview and it is highly selective in what it covers; at times, the introductory portions seem also to take on a Sunday School tone. Then Wright changes audiences and purposes yet again: he goes from apologetic for the non-Christian to and introduction for the uninformed Christian to admonishment for the practicing Christian. When he writes for this third audience, I think he is at his best. He addresses the problem of petty internal squabbles among Christians: are liturgical prayers or spontaneous prayers better? Is communion symbolic or more than symbolic? Is the Bible literal or figurative? How should we worship? Here Wright argues for a "simply Christian" attitude that would aim to transcend the differences between denominations and congregations. Here I think he makes his best points and says things Christian need to hear to understand that it is possible to differ on these issues without necessarily being divided as Christians. "It's time to give ourselves a shake," he says, "to recognize that different people need different kinds of help at different stages of their lives – and get on with it." If Wright had written this third book – this book addressed to squabbling Christians (each of whom thinks his way is the right way to "do" Christianity) – I would probably have given "Simply Christian" four stars. Unfortunately, he has at least three audience and at least three purposes, and therefore he never does a through job at any of them. A better book would have been "Simply Christian: Why denominational differences don't have to divide Christians." But if I did not _already_ believe Christianity made sense, I would not be one step closer to thinking it did after reading "Simply Christian." This is not to say I didn't get anything out of the book. I highlighted several penetrating insights; I like what he has to say about heaven (and look forward to reading his book focused on that subject) and what he had to say about the misuse of the word "literal" when talking about the Bible. He did have one annoying habit I will pinpoint: he kept telling the reader what he was going to tell the reader later but wasn't quite ready to tell the reader yet. (We'll get to that later; but we can't address that right now; that's in chapter five…and so forth.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I went into this a little wary, just because the book (and the author) has received a lot of hype-- Anne Rice went so far as to call it better than the C.S. Lewis classic Mere Christianity. I might not go that far, but it is a very solid, inspiring book. I hesitate to call anything so new a "classic", but I truly believe that this will be a classic, someday. One thing that I liked is the way that Wright (who is an Anglican bishop) explained the continuity (or cohesion) of the Bible. He just I went into this a little wary, just because the book (and the author) has received a lot of hype-- Anne Rice went so far as to call it better than the C.S. Lewis classic Mere Christianity. I might not go that far, but it is a very solid, inspiring book. I hesitate to call anything so new a "classic", but I truly believe that this will be a classic, someday. One thing that I liked is the way that Wright (who is an Anglican bishop) explained the continuity (or cohesion) of the Bible. He just explained the Old Testament-New Testament connection in a different way from what I have heard before. One thing I didn't like was the way he talked around some of the main arguments in Christianity today (I see what you did, there). Like, setting out the way that Catholics and Protestants view each other's beliefs on the Eucharist, but then never actually coming down on either side. In any case, this is a book I now want to own. Highly recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark Jr.

    The main value of this book for me was probably the arresting one- to five-liners. Like these: Its no part of Christian belief to say that the followers of Jesus have always got everything right. Jesus himself taught his followers a prayer which includes a clause asking God for forgiveness. He must have thought we would go on needing it. human beings have been so seriously damaged by evil that what they need isnt simply better self-knowledge, or better social conditions, but help, and indeed The main value of this book for me was probably the arresting one- to five-liners. Like these: It’s no part of Christian belief to say that the followers of Jesus have always got everything right. Jesus himself taught his followers a prayer which includes a clause asking God for forgiveness. He must have thought we would go on needing it. human beings have been so seriously damaged by evil that what they need isn’t simply better self-knowledge, or better social conditions, but help, and indeed rescue, from outside themselves One of the regular tactics the skeptic employs at this point is relativism. I vividly remember a school friend saying to me in exasperation, at the end of a conversation about Christian faith, “It’s obviously true for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s true for anybody else.” Many people today take exactly that line. Saying “It’s true for you” sounds fine and tolerant. But it only works because it’s twisting the word “true” to mean, not “a true revelation of the way things are in the real world,” but “something that is genuinely happening inside you.” In fact, saying “It’s true for you” in this sense is more or less equivalent to saying “It’s not true for you,” because the “it” in question—the spiritual sense or awareness or experience—is conveying, very powerfully, a message (that there is a loving God) which the challenger is reducing to something else (that you are having strong feelings which you misinterpret in that sense). Beauty, like justice, slips through our fingers. We photograph the sunset, but all we get is the memory of the moment, not the moment itself. We buy the recording, but the symphony says something different when we listen to it at home. We climb the mountain, and though the view from the summit is indeed magnificent, it leaves us wanting more; even if we could build a house there and gaze all day at the scene, the itch wouldn’t go away. Indeed, the beauty sometimes seems to be in the itching itself, the sense of longing, the kind of pleasure which is exquisite and yet leaves us unsatisfied. The beauty of the natural world is, at best, the echo of a voice, not the voice itself. And if we try to pin it down—literally, in the case of a butterfly-collector with a specimen—we find that the key thing itself, the elusive beauty which keeps us always looking further, is precisely what you lose when the pin goes in. A great many arguments about God—God’s existence, God’s nature, God’s actions in the world—run the risk of being like pointing a flashlight toward the sky to see if the sun is shining. It is all too easy to make the mistake of speaking and thinking as though God (if there is a God) might be a being, an entity, within our world, accessible to our interested study in the same sort of way we might study music or mathematics, open to our investigation by the same sort of techniques we use for objects and entities within our world. I had a little trouble keeping the thread throughout the book, because I read it at widely disparate times. But the idea that "heaven and earth meet" or "interlock" or "overlap" in this current age was a recurring one, and a good one. This is the already/not-yet idea put in more lay-friendly language, I think. I think what Wright says is important and, more to the point, biblical: God’s plan is not to abandon this world, the world which he said was “very good.” Rather, he intends to remake it. And when he does, he will raise all his people to new bodily life to live in it. That is the promise of the Christian gospel. I could not call this book Mere Christianity for today's generation. It simply doesn't rise to that level; it's not handling objections to Christianity quite like Lewis does. (I think Keller's Reason for God makes a much better bid as Mere Christianity's heir.) And I do get tired of his above-the-fray way of speaking, his claims that his approach is "fresh" (and the implication that others unnamed are not so fresh). But Wright is a gifted writer who has facility with and knowledge of Scripture. When it comes to one issue where you might have expected a world-renowned Anglican to hedge—human sexuality—he is extremely forthright and directly quotes the Bible at length. He has caught hold of some truths neglected by evangelicalism (and a few falsehoods rejected by evangelicalism!). For these qualities and for many little insights in the book I am thankful. I read the book on my Kindle and therefore have no page numbers for you.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ben De Bono

    In Simply Christian, N.T. Wright makes the case for Christianity and outlines, at a basic level, what believing in Jesus is all about. The book has been compared to Mere Christianity. There are definitely some comparisons between the two (including their titles), but I wouldn't take it too far. Mere Christianity reads as an apologetic for the foundations of Christian faith while Simply Christian reads as an entry level primer into Wright's thought. Overall, I got quite a bit less out of this one In Simply Christian, N.T. Wright makes the case for Christianity and outlines, at a basic level, what believing in Jesus is all about. The book has been compared to Mere Christianity. There are definitely some comparisons between the two (including their titles), but I wouldn't take it too far. Mere Christianity reads as an apologetic for the foundations of Christian faith while Simply Christian reads as an entry level primer into Wright's thought. Overall, I got quite a bit less out of this one than I have Wright's other work. Many of the themes and ideas he lays out in brief here, he develops in detail elsewhere. Because I've read quite a bit of his other work, there wasn't a lot here that was new or surprising. That doesn't mean I don't recommend the book. I do, especially to those who haven't read Wright. The book is a great introduction to his theology and will give you a great foundation for exploring his other work. If this was the first book of his I'd read, I probably would have been blown away. Coming at it the way I did, I found the book well written and interesting but not as hard hitting as it would have been if I wasn't already familiar with much of the content.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David

    Wright has some interesting things to say about the intersection of heaven and earth - that they don't exist in separate places and times but are overlapping in various ways. And his discussions of social justice and church-building reflect obvious passion. There are a lot of sections, though, which either weakly reflect C.S. Lewis (the "echoes of a voice" section) or bring up knotty debates only to dismiss them summarily (the discussions of apocryphal gospels). The book doesn't make up its mind Wright has some interesting things to say about the intersection of heaven and earth - that they don't exist in separate places and times but are overlapping in various ways. And his discussions of social justice and church-building reflect obvious passion. There are a lot of sections, though, which either weakly reflect C.S. Lewis (the "echoes of a voice" section) or bring up knotty debates only to dismiss them summarily (the discussions of apocryphal gospels). The book doesn't make up its mind whether it's directed at Christians or at a wider audience, and loses focus attempting to resolve every major theological debate in one volume.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brett Balsley

    I believe that N.T. Wright is a modern day C.S. Lewis. His work is thoughtful and eloquent. He writes with much care. This book will help Christians and non Christians understand what Christianity is all about, while being encouraging and uplifting. He doesnt pick a side, but clearly lays out the faith as it is. A great read! I suggest it to Christians and non Christians alike! I believe that N.T. Wright is a modern day C.S. Lewis. His work is thoughtful and eloquent. He writes with much care. This book will help Christians and non Christians understand what Christianity is all about, while being encouraging and uplifting. He doesn’t pick a side, but clearly lays out the faith as it is. A great read! I suggest it to Christians and non Christians alike!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nurullah Doğan

    4.5 This is a brilliant book and I loved it! The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars was because at some points, it left me craving to hear more and go into more detail. I understand that this is not the point of the book as the title "Simple" suggests, but I wouldn't mind 50 more pages. P.S. Also, I recommend that you read Simply Jesus right after reading this or vice versa.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Eliseo Magallon

    It took me some time to finish this book. The ideas presented in this book with stretch you and make you think about how your faith as a Christian fits into everyday life. Recommend fer sure!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marshall Wade

    This should be a required read for all non-reformed Christians. Nothing better explains the Christian narrative than this masterpiece.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Steele

    N.T. Wright has generated some controversy over the last several years. That's putting it mildly. His views concerning the so-called new perspective on Paul have drawn the attention and criticism of well known authors like John Piper. But his book Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense jettisons that whole debate. I found the book to be thought-provoking and helpful on many levels. Wright explores what he calls the "echoes of a voice," a yearning for justice, spirituality, relationships, N.T. Wright has generated some controversy over the last several years. That's putting it mildly. His views concerning the so-called new perspective on Paul have drawn the attention and criticism of well known authors like John Piper. But his book Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense jettisons that whole debate. I found the book to be thought-provoking and helpful on many levels. Wright explores what he calls the "echoes of a voice," a yearning for justice, spirituality, relationships, and beauty. Each one of these quests, while basic to the human condition eludes us and appears to be just beyond our grasp, yet each will be attainable one day as Christ makes all things new. This is the essence of Part One. He takes each theme and likens them to the "opening movements of a symphony" which alert readers to echoes that are still to come. Part Two seeks to set forth the basic theological framework about God and the revelation of his Son, Jesus Christ and his plan to rescue sinners from their sin and renew or reshape creation. Wright explores themes the relate to the kingdom of Christ and living by the Spirit. Part Three explores what it means to follow Jesus, lean into the Holy Spirit and ultimately "advance the plan of this creator God." Wright dispels the notion that the main purpose of the Christian faith is to live, die, and then go to heaven. Rather, we are called to be "instruments of God's new creation, the world-put-to-rights which has already been launched in Jesus and of which Jesus's followers are supposed to be not simply beneficiaries but also agents." One of the things I appreciate most about Wright's work is his interaction with other worldviews. In Schaeffer-like fashion, he contrasts historic Christianity with deism, pantheism, and panentheism - to name a few. He sorts through various options and shows how the Christian faith is the only viable option. In many ways, Simply Christian is an introduction to biblical theology with strong apologetic arguments along the way. In other ways, it is an introduction to spiritual formation - alerting readers to the riches found in Christ and the power of his resurrection and beckoning them to find their satisfaction in Christ. The author concludes by challenging readers: "We are called to be part of God's new creation, called to be agents of that new creation here and now. We are called to model and display that new creation in symphonies and family life, in restorative justice and poetry, in holiness and service to the poor, in politics and painting ... Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ, all that belongs to the brokenness and incompleteness of the present world. It is time, in the power of the Spirit, to take up our proper role, as agents, heralds, and stewards of the new day that is dawning." This is a book that deserves careful attention. Like a child who longs to explore the countryside, I plan to return for another visit. For there is more to explore and understand.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Simple, yet far from simplistic, this may be one of the most important books I've read. Tom Wright set forth the key issues of the Gospel in a way that's easily accessible to both studied Christians and people who just want to know what Christianity is actually all about. Many political and theological issues have become hot-button topics and seem to be litmus tests among different Christian communities for how good of a Christian someone is, and unfortunately many of those are actually fringe Simple, yet far from simplistic, this may be one of the most important books I've read. Tom Wright set forth the key issues of the Gospel in a way that's easily accessible to both studied Christians and people who just want to know what Christianity is actually all about. Many political and theological issues have become hot-button topics and seem to be litmus tests among different Christian communities for how good of a Christian someone is, and unfortunately many of those are actually fringe issues. Instead of reacting to those, Wright describes the truly central issues of our faith in a balanced, thoughtful, and convincing way. He starts with four very compelling chapters to get at questions and longings that resonate deeply for most (if not all) of us in the post-modern world of the 21st century. Then he proceeds to connect the story of the Bible to those questions and desires, and sketch out the responses of the Jewish and Christian faiths. I found this book quite readable, yet deeply challenging and thought-provoking.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    This seems like kind of a basic book for a professional Christian (so to speak) to read, but I was curious. It's a kind of 21st-century "Mere Christianity" with less apologia and more ecclesia. What I like about Wright's approach is that he stresses the "renewal of creation" salvation theory more than the "atonement for sin" theory. And, speaking of sin, I am frankly quite envious of how many books this man has written. And, speaking of C. S. Lewis knock-offs, I see that a year ago Wright This seems like kind of a basic book for a professional Christian (so to speak) to read, but I was curious. It's a kind of 21st-century "Mere Christianity" with less apologia and more ecclesia. What I like about Wright's approach is that he stresses the "renewal of creation" salvation theory more than the "atonement for sin" theory. And, speaking of sin, I am frankly quite envious of how many books this man has written. And, speaking of C. S. Lewis knock-offs, I see that a year ago Wright published a book called "Surprised by Hope." Maybe some day I will write a book called "Surprised by Faith" and it will be sold in a multi-volume set with books by Lewis and Wright.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Trovato

    A great explanation and reminder of why we do what we do as Christians. Beautifully written. He writes so charitably to Christianity as a whole, giving no sense of condemnation towards different denominations or preferences within the church, while maintaining a foundational orthodoxy and dedication to the truth of scripture and the importance of church.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    The title is a bit misleading. I don't think this book is about why Christianity makes sense (a claim that naturally implies that other religions don't make sense), as much as it is about what it means to be a Christian. However, I can see how the title would appeal to the skeptic, or to the wavering Christian or even to the outright doubter/atheist/agnostic. Yet N.T. Wright convincingly articulates (though more convincing to those already predisposed to ideas of Christian faith) what it means The title is a bit misleading. I don't think this book is about why Christianity makes sense (a claim that naturally implies that other religions don't make sense), as much as it is about what it means to be a Christian. However, I can see how the title would appeal to the skeptic, or to the wavering Christian or even to the outright doubter/atheist/agnostic. Yet N.T. Wright convincingly articulates (though more convincing to those already predisposed to ideas of Christian faith) what it means to live a Christian life. I. Putting the World to Rights Modern (Jordan B. Peterson) and ancient (Aristotle) philosophers point to a line that runs through the heart of every person. As Wright puts it, "The line between justice and injustice, between things being right and things not being right, can't be drawn between 'us' and 'them'. It runs right down through the middle of each one of us. The ancient philosophers, not least Aristotle, saw this as a wrinkle in the system, a puzzle at several levels. We all know what we ought to do (give or take a few details); but we all manage, at least some of the time, not to do it." We all know this, whether we are Christian by name, or not. But an important part of the Christian faith is the fact that it "endorses the passion for justice which every human being knows, the longing to see things put to rights." Christianity, in other words, provides a real and honest route to restoring justice in the world. II. The Hidden Spring Many people will say they don't mind religious or spiritual people as long as those people keep their religion and spirituality to themselves. Ironically, those same people often have deeply religious or spiritual experiences, but might be too afraid or ashamed to admit it. There is clearly a desire among the religious and non-religious alike to understand the deep sense of spirit that runs through each of us. It can be called different names and explained in different ways through various philosophies of thought and modes of language, but its existence can't be denied. Yet, in many ways the world denies it all the time. For example, Wright argues that, "[t]he skepticism that we've been taught for the last two hundred years has paved our world with concrete, making people ashamed to admit that they have had profound and powerful 'religious' experiences." The prevailing philosophy today says, "[w]e will pipe you the water you need; we will arrange for 'religion' to become a small subdepartment of ordinary life; it will be quite safe--harmless in fact--with church carefully separated off from everything else in the world, whether politics, art, sex, economics, or whatever. Those who want it can have enough to keep them going. Those who don't want their life, and their way of life, disrupted by anything 'religious' can enjoy driving along concrete roads, visiting concrete-based shopping malls, living in concrete-floored houses. Live as if the rumor of God had never existed! We are, after all, in charge of our own fate! We are the captains of our own souls (whatever they may be)! That is the philosophy which has dominated our culture. From this point of view, spirituality is a private hobby, an up-market version of daydreaming for those who like that kind of thing." Wright goes on to write, "Millions in the Western world have enjoyed the temporary separation from 'religious' interference that this philosophy has brought. Millions more, aware of the deep subterranean bubblings and yearnings of the water systems we call 'spirituality', which can no more ultimately be denied than can endless springs of water under thick concrete, have done their best secretly to tap into it, using the official channels (the churches), but aware that there's more water available than most churches have let on. Many more again have been aware of an indefinable thirst, a longing for springs of living, refreshing water that they can bathe in, delight in, and drink to the full." As a result, the "hidden springs have erupted, the concrete foundation has burst open, and life can never be the same again. The official guardians of the old water system (many of whom work in the media and in politics, and some of whom, naturally enough, work in the churches) are of course horrified to see the volcano of 'spirituality' that has erupted in recent years. All this 'New Age' mysticism, with Tarot cards, crystals, horoscopes, and so on; all this fundamentalism, with militant Christians, militant Sikhs, militant Muslims, and many others bombing each other with God on their side. Surely, say the guardians of the official water system, all this is terribly unhealthy? Surely it will lead us back to superstition, to the old chaotic, polluted, and irrational water supply? They have a point. But they must face a question in response: Does the fault not lie with those who wanted to pave over the springs with concrete in the first place? September 11, 2001, serves as a reminder of what happens when you try to organize a world on the assumption that religion and spirituality are merely private matters, and that what really matters is economics and politics instead. It wasn't just concrete floors, it was massive towers that were smashed to pieces that day, by people driven by 'religious' beliefs so powerful that the believers were ready to die for them. What should we say? That this merely shows how dangerous 'religion' and 'spirituality' really are? Or that we should have taken them into account all along?" I partly agree with Wright. Especially in the sense that he refutes the lazy, trite, and theologically ignorant atheist/agnostic argument which claims that 9/11 symbolizes the extreme consequences of embracing religious ideology, and therefore no one should be Christian or Muslim because doing so leads to such disasters. This is a shallow understanding of what it means to be Christian. But then you have to ask, what does Wright mean by "taking them into account all along"? Does that mean George W. Bush should have given equal respect and credence to Islam in his national speeches? Or should he have omitted all the Christian references, thus indicating no preference for any religion in the American tradition. III. For the Beauty of the Earth In Psalm 19, David says that when you look at the universe it is obvious that there is a God: 'The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim they work of his hands'. What is beauty and what is truth? And are they the same? As Keats wrote, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty." But this is really a facile equation because, as Wright notes, "If beauty and truth are one and the same, then truth is different for everyone, for every age, and indeed for the same person from year to year. If beauty were hidden in the beholder's eye, then 'truth' would be merely a way of talking about the inner feelings that went along with it. And that simply isn't how we normally use the word 'truth'. Beauty and truth are two powerful words that are associated with all sorts of equally powerful emotions. We know what someone means when they say something is beautiful or that it has beauty, so much so that it would seem ridiculous to have them explain it any further. Beauty, "whether in the natural order or within human creation, is sometimes so powerful that it evokes our very deepest feelings of awe, wonder, gratitude, and reverence. Almost all humans sense this some of the time at least, even though they disagree wildly about which things evoke which feelings and why." Some argue that beauty is all in the mind, or the imagination, or the genes. It's all a matter of evolutionary conditioning: you only like that particular scenery because your distant ancestors knew they could find food there. Still others "might quite reasonably suggest that it's all about vicarious pleasure: we would like to be among the guests at the dinner party in the painting. It seems we have to hold the two together: beauty is both something that calls us out of ourselves and something which appeals to feelings deep within us." I recently listened to a podcast entitled "What is Truth?", a debate between the outspoken atheist Sam Harris and the renowned psychologist/professor/philosopher Jordan B. Peterson. Their fundamental disagreements over the nature of 'truth' were apparent from the beginning. Wright touches on these differences in our understanding of truth: "On the one hand, some (Harris) want to reduce all truth to 'facts', things which can be proved in the way you can prove that oil is lighter than water, or even that two and two make four. On the other hand, some believe that all truth is relative, and that all claims to truth are merely coded claims to power." But Wright admonishes us that the Christian story addresses a complex world. Within that complexity, we should be careful how we use the word 'truth'. Christianity focuses on a deeper kind of knowing. "To 'know' the deeper kinds of truth we have hinting at is much more like 'knowing' a person - something which takes a long time, a lot of trust, and a good deal of trial and error - and less like 'knowing' about the right bus to take into town. It's a kind of knowing in which the subject and the object are intertwined, so that you could never say that it was either purely subjective or purely objective." A word emphasized in the Christian faith acknowledges the kind of knowing that goes with the deeper and richer kind of truth: that word is "love". IV. Heaven and Earth: The Puzzle Wright argues that there are three basic ways (with variations) in which we can imagine God's space and ours relating to one another. Option One is two slide the two spaces together. God's space and ours, in this option, are basically the same. God is everywhere and everywhere is God. Or, God is everything, and everything is God. This option is called "pantheism". It was popular in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds of the first century, primarily through the philosophy of 'Stoicism', and after centuries in decline it has become increasingly popular in our own times. The problem with pantheism, and to a large extent with panentheism (the view that, though everything may not be divine as such, everything that exists is 'within' God), is that it can't cope with evil. The only final answer (given by Stoics in the first century, and by increasing numbers in today's Western world) is suicide. Option Two is to completely separate the two spaces. "God's space and ours are a long way away from one another in this option." This is the Epicurean philosophy in which the gods will not intervene, either to help or to harm. Separating God's sphere and ours in the Epicurean fashion, with a distant God whom you might respect but who wasn't going to appear or do anything within our sphere, became very popular in the Western world of the eighteenth century (through the movement known as "Deism", espoused by great American figures like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin). When many people in the Western world mention "God" and "heaven", they're talking about a being and a place which - if they exist at all - are a long way away and have little or nothing directly to do with us." This philosophy explains why many people say they believe in God, but often add in the same breath that they don't go to church, don't pray, and in fact they don't think much about God from one year's end to the next. According to Wright, "the real problem with Epicureanism in the ancient world, and Deism in ours, is that it has to plug its ears to all those echoing voices we were talking about earlier in this book. Actually, that's not so difficult in today's busy and noisy world. It's quite easy, in fact, when you're sitting in front of the television or hooked up to a portable stereo, one hand glued to the cell phone for text messaging, the other clutching a mug of specialist coffee ... it's quite easy to be a modern Epicurean. But turn the machines off, read a different kind of book, wander out under the night sky, and see what happens. You might start wondering about Option Three." Option Three is found within classic Judaism and Christianity. "Heaven and earth are not coterminous in this option. Nor are they separated by a great gulf. Instead, they overlap and interlock in a number of different ways." This is the most complex option, and it most fittingly embraces the complexity of the world. "For the pantheist, God and the world are basically the same thing: the world is, if you like, God's self-expression. For the Deist, the world may indeed have been made by God (or the gods), but there is now no contact between divine and human. The Deist God wouldn't dream of 'intervening' within the created order; to do so would be untidy, a kind of category mistake. But for the ancient Israelite and the early Christian, the creation of the world was the free outpouring of God's powerful love. In this third option, "The one true God made a world that was other than himself, because that is what love delights to do. And, having made such a world, he has remained in a close, dynamic, and intimate relationship with it, without in any way being contained within it or having it contained within himself." This claim is hard to swallow unless you already have faith in God as the creator. And it's interesting to note that Wright barely mentions the word 'faith' at all in this book. For the skeptic or wavering Christian, this anthropomorphic view of God is difficult to grasp. And for the rationalist atheist it is easy to attack. But as Terry Eagleton notes, "God is not a person in the sense that Al Gore arguably is. Nor is he a principle, an entity, or ‘existent’: in one sense of that word it would be perfectly coherent for religious types to claim that God does not in fact exist. He is, rather, the condition of possibility of any entity whatsoever, including ourselves. He is the answer to why there is something rather than nothing. God and the universe do not add up to two, any more than my envy and my left foot constitute a pair of objects." V. Jesus: Rescue and Renewal The most striking and blunt passage in this entire chapter if not the entire book comes here: "The death of Jesus of Nazareth as the king of the Jews, the bearer of Israel's destiny, the fulfillment of God's promises to his people of old, is either the most stupid, senseless waste and misunderstanding the world has ever seen, or it is the fulcrum around which world history turns. Christianity is based on the belief that it was and is the latter." Many people, Christians and non-believers alike, acknowledge an affinity toward Jesus the man. He taught many valuable moral lessons through parable and metaphor. The historical record of Jesus, while once in dispute, is now hardly denied. But what the death of Jesus the man symbolizes is what separates Christians from deists, pantheists, atheists, and agnostics. Wright goes on to make a keen observation of a difference in science and history: "Science, after all, rightly studies phenoma which can be repeated in laboratory conditions. But history doesn't. Historians study things that happened once and once only; even if there are partial parallels, each historical event is unique. And the historical argument is quite clear. To repeat: far and away the best explanation for why Christianity began after Jesus's violent death is that he really was bodily alive again three days later, in a transformed body." He doesn't suggest that this (or any other argument) can "force anyone to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead." The trouble is that "believing that Jesus was raised from the dead involves, at the very least, suspending judgment on matters normally regarded as fixed and unalterable; or to put it more positively, it requires that we exchange a worldview which says that such things can't happen for one which, embracing the notion or a creator God making himself known initially in the traditions of Israel and then fully and finally in Jesus, says that Jesus's resurrection makes perfect sense when seen from that point of view. Faith can't be force, but unfaith can be challenged." He further highlights parallels to this phenomenon in the world of contemporary science. "Scientists now regularly ask us to believe things which seem strange and even illogical, not least in the areas of astrophysics or quantum mechanics. With something as basic as light, for example, they find themselves driven to speak in terms both of waves and of particles, though these appear incompatible. Sometimes, to make sense of the actual evidence before us, we have to pull our worldview, our sense of what's possible, into a new shape. That is the kind of thing demanded by the evidence about Easter." All of these arguments play out at the "borders of language as well as theology." VI. God's Breath of Life One difficult aspect of embracing Wright's argument is that it requires us to relinquish our concept of time and space. Indeed, accepting the Christian faith requires this in some sense. Take this passage, for example: "One day all creation will be rescued from slavery, from the corruption, decay, and death which deface its beauty, destroy its relationships, remove the sense of God's presence from it, and make it a place of injustice, violence, and brutality." This leads to the question, what does it mean to say that his future has begun to arrive in the present? According to Wright, this means (in Paul's words) "that those who follow Jesus, those who find themselves believing that he is the world's true Lord, that he rose from the dead - these people are given the Spirit as a foretaste of what the new world will be like." The Spirit is "the strange, personal presence of the living God himself, leading, guiding, warning, rebuking, grieving over our failings, and celebrating our small steps toward the true inheritance." VII. The Story and the Task Non-believers frequently attack faith based on literal interpretations of religious texts. Texts written by men and shaped over centuries. "Not all 'holy books' are the same sort of thing. The great writings of the Hindu tradition - the Bhagavad Gita, in particular - do not offer a controlling story within which the readers are summoned to become characters. They do not speak of a single god who, as the unique creator, chooses to act in one specific family and location rather than all others in order thereby to address the whole world. This affects form as well as content. The Koran, the majestic monument to Muhammad, is a different sort of thing again, much more like (in fact) the kind of hard-edged 'authoritative' book which some would consider the Bible to be - or perhaps we should say into which they would like to turn the Bible. Even Judaism, whose Bible the church has made its own, doesn't tell a continuing story of the Christian sort, a story in which the readers are summoned to become fresh characters." What the Christian believes about Jesus "generates a narrative within which one is called to live; that living within that story generates a call to a particular vocation within the world; and that the Bible is the book through which God sustains and directs those who seek to obey that vocation as intelligent, thinking, image-bearing human beings. The Bible constantly challenges its readers not to rest content." Finally, Wright circle back to the meaning of truth. "The parables of the Bible are 'true' at several different levels; and to recognize this is not a way of saying, 'The only real 'truths' that matter are the 'spiritual' meanings, the things that didn't 'happen' as events in the real world. Truth is more complicated - more interesting, in fact - than that." Indeed, it is.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ramone Bellagamba

    This is a worthwhile read. I feel Wright focuses on almost 15 years earlier the echoes that are part of our contemporary moment. Areas that because of our truncated view of the Christian faith we have neglected or marginalized. Justice, Spirituality, Relationship and Beauty all areas where would should embody and announce the gospel of the Kingdom of God that is at hand to a watching world.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Wellum

    Christianity simply and eloquently explained. Very edifying and timely for me. I highly recommend this book especially to those who would like a succinct description of the Christian faith and for those who need some refreshing.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eliza Fitzgerald

    If I was to teach an Introduction to Theology class for new believers, I would probably use this book as one of the texts.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I really hate rating theology books... I enjoyed this for the most part. It isn't perfect (HOW many times did he use the word 'echo'?!), but i liked how he explained and approached things. I think I prefer Tim Keller's The Reason For God but i don't like to compare...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Danette

    Refreshing. Clear language. Going to read the last chapter over again.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Johnston

    This is a fine book that is not an apologetic work, but more and overview of Wright's presentation of Christianity. The book is not aimed at convincing the skeptic but more aimed at getting the Christian to think more deeply about the faith he / she espouses. Laid out in a methodical way (would we expect any less from Wright?) Wright, refers frequently to the three options for viewing God and his relation to the world - Option 1 the two worlds are completely separated (atheism or agnosticism), This is a fine book that is not an apologetic work, but more and overview of Wright's presentation of Christianity. The book is not aimed at convincing the skeptic but more aimed at getting the Christian to think more deeply about the faith he / she espouses. Laid out in a methodical way (would we expect any less from Wright?) Wright, refers frequently to the three options for viewing God and his relation to the world - Option 1 the two worlds are completely separated (atheism or agnosticism), The two worlds and completely enmeshed - all is god (Pantheism), and then Option 3 where God is a part of and active with the world (Christianity and Judaism). Through these three options, he lays out a simple thesis that God and Christianity make sense in that they are active in this world and that the Christian's response to them is in light of this reality. This is very much a book worth reading as an introduction to Wright and his approach to theology and Christianity.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Claus

    There are a lot of similarities between Tom Wright and C.S. Lewis. Their writing style is quite similar, and they both have a delightful affection for parentheses (delightful, because I share that affection). Also, it is hardly a surprise that the title of Wright's book "Simply Christian" is strikingly similar to Lewis' "Mere Christianity". In fact, as I was reading the first chapter of Wright's book (which talks about the sense of ethics that all people seem to share) I was constantly reminded There are a lot of similarities between Tom Wright and C.S. Lewis. Their writing style is quite similar, and they both have a delightful affection for parentheses (delightful, because I share that affection). Also, it is hardly a surprise that the title of Wright's book "Simply Christian" is strikingly similar to Lewis' "Mere Christianity". In fact, as I was reading the first chapter of Wright's book (which talks about the sense of ethics that all people seem to share) I was constantly reminded of the first chapter of Lewis' book (which talks about the sense of ethics that all people seem to share). And, indeed, both books seek to do the same thing: explain the basics of Christianity to an intelligent, educated, but not necessarily Christian reader. Wright's writing style is very fresh and enjoyable. He has a wonderful way of phrasing old truths using new words. Thus he avoids many of the pitfalls that are caused by the unfortunate connotations that Christian jargon often carries. If I were to judge the book solely on its style, I would definitely give it five stars. There are, however, a few things that force me to reduce that rating. Firstly, Wright occasionally carries his rewriting of Christian terms so far that he runs the risk of being misunderstood. For example, seeing Jesus as God's son is added as an afterthought. Wright describes Jesus' ministry, death, and resurrection in detail, but we do not encounter the concept of "God's son" until later, where it is presented as something that appeared when Christians talked about Jesus (p. 100). I have no doubt at all that Wright believes Jesus to be the son of God, but the casual reader could easily get the impression that this sonship was invented by Christians (when in fact Jesus' relation to God is clearly established in the gospels). Secondly (and more seriously), Wright completely ignores the fundamental Christian notion of Jesus' death being payment for our sins. The prophet Isaiah, Jesus himself, Paul, the church fathers, and thousands of Christian theologians since then all agree that one of humanity's basic problems was a debt owed to God because of our evil actions. When he suffered and died, Jesus took those transgressions upon himself and paid the price. For some obscure reason, Wright does not mention this at all. This has the very unfortunate consequence that Wright has to give another explanation for Jesus' death: "God's plan to rescue the world from evil would be put into effect by evil doing its worst to the Servant, to Jesus himself, and thereby exhausting its power" (p. 93). "[Jesus] would be the place where God's future arrived in the present, with the kingdom of God celebrating its triumph over the kingdoms of the world by refusing to join in their spiral of violence" (p. 94). Hardly a convincing explanation, in my opinion. I have a strong suspicion that Wright actually does refer to the traditional view in a couple of places. For example, on p. 59 where he talks about certain people who believe in God "condemning his Son to a cruel fate to satisfy some obscure and rather arbitrary requirement." This is a very nonchalant (dare I say arrogant?) way to dismiss much of Paul's theology and indeed much of the theology of innumerable Christian thinkers since then. Finally, I fear that Wright has not quite decided who his audience is. Despite Wright's fresh and delightful writing style, non-Christians and new Christians are bound to be put off by the often vague and difficult statements such as, "Christian prayer is at its most characteristic when we find ourselves caught in the overlap of the ages, part of the creation that aches for new birth" (p. 138). On the other hand, older Christians, who may understand the more obscure statements, will find little in this book that is actually new to them. They may pick up a thing here or there that they have not thought about before, but most of the book is merely a rewording of things already known. So what is the verdict? The writing style is splendid; and except for the things mentioned above, I find the book a good and thorough introduction to Christianity. But if you are not used to reading non-fiction books with a philosophical theme, this book is probably not for you.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Collins

    N.T. Wright, in "Simply Christian," attempts to do what C.S. Lewis did in "Mere Christianity": Express the core of Christian belief. I found many of the observations and claims he made in the book compelling and instructiveeven transformative of my understanding. The first section of his book about the longings all humans have resonated with me, and the third section of his book about how to live out the Christian faith I found to be profound. In all of this, I felt his thoughts were sometimes N.T. Wright, in "Simply Christian," attempts to do what C.S. Lewis did in "Mere Christianity": Express the core of Christian belief. I found many of the observations and claims he made in the book compelling and instructive—even transformative of my understanding. The first section of his book about the longings all humans have resonated with me, and the third section of his book about how to live out the Christian faith I found to be profound. In all of this, I felt his thoughts were sometimes scattered and not as organized as I would have liked them to be. Occasionally, his metaphors did not speak strongly to me (as those of Lewis always do), although the ones I reference below I found particularly powerful. Because of these factors, I am giving it three stars. His book has three parts to it. PART ONE (chapters 1-4) discusses the longing that all humans in the world have for justice (CHAPTER ONE), spirituality (CHAPTER TWO), relationship (CHAPTER THREE), and beauty (CHAPTER FOUR). Wright makes the claim that these do not lead us to the Christian God. They "do indeed bring us near the goal—but then leave us tantalizingly short . . . I do not believe that they, or any other paths, lead the unaided human mind all the way from reflexive atheism to Christian faith" (55). In PART TWO (chapters 5-10) he posits that the Christian story "offers itself as the explanation of the voice whose echo we hear in the search for justice, the quest for spirituality, the longing for relationship, and the yearning for beauty" (55) and then discusses the basics of Christian belief. In CHAPTER FIVE, he discusses the Christian conception of God (who interacts and overlaps with the world) and contrasts it to pantheism/panentheism and deism. In CHAPTER SIX, he explains how "what happened in Jesus of Nazareth was the very climax of the long story of Israel" (71). He says that there are "four themes that swirl around the story of Israel" which Jesus fulfilled in his life: King, Temple, Torah, and New Creation. CHAPTERS SEVEN and EIGHT detail the action of Jesus in the world. Wright states that "the death of Jesus of Nazareth as the king of the Jews, the bearer of Israel's destiny, the fufillment of God's promises to his people of old, is either the most stupid, senseless waste and misunderstanding the world has ever seen, or it is the fulcrum around which world history turns. Christianity is based on the belief that it was and is the latter" (111). He goes on to write, "far and away the best explanation for why Christianity began after Jesus's violent death is that he really was bodily alive again three days later, in a transformed body" (113). CHAPTERS NINE AND TEN are about the Holy Spirit. He writes, "God's own Spirit offers the answers to the four questions with which this book began" (136). IN PART THREE (chapters 11-16), Wright discusses what it looks like to live out the Christian life. In CHAPTER ELEVEN, he discusses worship. He states that to not have a reaction of worship to God "is a fairly sure sign that we haven't yet really understood who he is or what he's done" (143). He goes on to claim that "you become like what you worship"; therefore, "because you were made in God's image, worship makes you more truly human" (148). He also discusses reading the Bible aloud, liturgy, and communion (150-157), which I found particularly insightful. CHAPTER TWELVE is on prayer. He discusses, in particular, that "good liturgy—other people's prayers, whether for corporate or individual use—can be, should be, a sign and means of grace, an occasion for humility (accepting that someone else has said, better than I can , what I deeply want to express) and gratitude" (166). CHAPTER THIRTEEN is on the Bible. Wright states that "the Bible isn't there simply to be an accurate reference point for people who want to look things up and be sure they've got them right. It is there to equip God's people to carry forward his purposes of new covenant and new creation (182). I found his discussion on disagreement over interpretations of the Bible very helpful at putting the issue in perspective. In CHAPTER FOURTEEN, Wright goes on to discuss what makes the Bible "authoritative." He states that "the authority of the Bible is the authority of a love story in which we are invited to take part" (186). He goes on to say that "our hearing of God's voice as we read scripture always needs testing by reference to other fellow Christians, past as well as present, and indeed other scriptural passages themselves" (189). He discusses Biblical interpretation further in this chapter by discussing the issue of "literal" or "metaphorical" interpretations. After conceding that the Bible records concrete events in history, he states "but the Bible, like virtually all other great writing, regularly and repeatedly brings out the flavor, the meaning, the proper interpretation of these actual, concrete, space-time events by means of complex, beautiful, and evocative literary forms and figures, of which metaphor is only one" (195). In CHAPTER FIFTEEN, Wright discusses the makeup and function of the church. He claims Christians are to "be agents of God's healing love, putting the world to rights" (204). He goes on to compare God's hand in people's lives (or "salvation") to waking up from sleep. For some people, it is "a rude and shocking experience," (204), and for others, it is "a quiet, slow process" (205). He goes on to say that "as with ordinary waking up, there are many people who are somewhere in between. But the point is that there's such a thing a being asleep, and there's such a thing as being awake (205). He extends the metaphor further stating that Christians are to "become daytime people, even though the rest of the world isn't yet awake. We are to live in the present darkness by the light of Christ, so that when the sun comes up at last we will be ready for it (206). Wright goes on to discuss how when the Christian story is presented to people, many find that it makes sense to them—"the kind of sense that exists . . . in the way we glimpse a whole new world when we stand in awe in front of a great painting, or are swept off our feet by a song or a symphony. That kind of sense is more like falling in love than like calculating a bank balance . . . This is not belief that God exists, though clearly that is involved too, but loving, grateful trust." He says that "when things 'make sense' in that way, you are left knowing that it isn't so much a matter of you figuring it all out and deciding to take a step, or a stand. It is a matter of Someone calling you, calling with a voice you dimly recognize, calling with a message that is simultaneously an invitation to love and a summons to obedience" (207). After this, he discusses baptism, which I also found enlightening. In CHAPTER SIXTEEN, Wright makes that case that, despite what people think, "the point of Christianity isn't 'to go to heaven when you die'" (218). He claims that Christian ethics "isn't a matter of doing things to earn God's favor . . . It is about practicing, in the present, the tunes we shall sing in God's new world" (222). As far as ethics are concerned, "we are to be informed by the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus; by the leading of the Spirit; by the wisdom we find in scripture; by the fact of our baptism and all that it means; by the sense of God's presence and guidance through prayer; and by the fellowship of other Christians, both our contemporaries and those of other ages whose lives and writings are ours to use as wise guides." He goes on to put forward that "part of the art of being a Christian is learning to be sensitive to all of them, and to weigh what we think we are hearing from one quarter alongside what is being said in another" (224). "The rules are to be understood not as arbitrary laws thought up by a distant God to stop us from having fun . . . but as the signposts to a way of life in which heaven and earth overlap, in which God's future breaks into the present, in which we discover what genuine humanness looks and feels like in practice" (225). He writes that "when you see the dawn breaking, you think back to the darkness in a new way. 'Sin' is not simply the breaking of a law. It is the missing of an opportunity . . . Christian holiness is not (as people often imagine) a matter of denying something good. It is about growing up and grasping something better" (236-237). Finally, Wright concludes the book by proposing that "the arts are not the pretty but irrelevant bits around the border of reality. They are highways into the center of a reality which cannot be glimpsed, let along grasped, any other way." He proposes that perhaps art can "glimpse the future possibilities pregnant within the present time (235). He claims that we are "called to be part of God's new creation, called to be agents of that new creation here and now. We are called to model and display that new creation in symphonies and family life, in restorative justice and poetry, in holiness and service to the poor, in politics and painting" (236).

  23. 5 out of 5

    David

    At a different time in my life, I may have rated this book higher. I'm being generous in my rating by giving it three stars through acknowledgement that my reading of this comes at a bad time. For starters, I chose the audiobook read by Simon Prebble, who has a voice and accent not too different from Ralph Cosham. The latter narrated C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, and it was difficult because of the voice and to some extent, the content, to tell one book from the other. Wright takes the same At a different time in my life, I may have rated this book higher. I'm being generous in my rating by giving it three stars through acknowledgement that my reading of this comes at a bad time. For starters, I chose the audiobook read by Simon Prebble, who has a voice and accent not too different from Ralph Cosham. The latter narrated C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, and it was difficult because of the voice and to some extent, the content, to tell one book from the other. Wright takes the same thoughtful, apologetic approach as Lewis, gives it a similar title, and comes up with similar conclusions. Bad timing number two is that it follows a six-book introduction to a more progressive Christianity through Rob Bell and Marcus Borg. Rob Bell has recommended works of N.T. Wright in his footnotes, and Borg is a personal friend and has co-authored with Wright. I was very surprised then to read how conservative Wright is. To be clear, he's far from a fundamentalist or a complete literalist, but his thoughts in many areas, including Paul's writings as well as social issues, fall closer to that camp. When he does give good insight in a more liberal direction (such as the importance of metaphor and truth being possibly similar, and to the point of resurrection and salvation being more for a richer life right now, rather than waiting until this life is over), he fails to be anywhere near as scholarly as Borg nor as charismatic and persuasive as Bell. Like I said, it's bad timing on my part. Perhaps if I'd read this first, it would have been something I'd have appreciated more. In the end, I can think of only two profiles of reader to whom I'd recommend this book, and that is to the Christian who has spent time in the fundamentalist or other conservative camp who is interested in a slightly more liberal take. The other is to the progressive Christian who feels too far removed from tradition and is looking for a more moderate approach.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Eh. I have tons of respect for N. T. Wright, but this book was a bust, mostly because it tried too hard to be Mere Christianity. Also, it jumped abruptly from pre-evangelistic observations on aspects of human experience for which Christian theology is one possible explanation (apparently aimed at seekers) to concrete suggestions for Christian living and particularly how church services should be structured (apparently aimed at people who are already Christians). Overall, disjointed with flashes Eh. I have tons of respect for N. T. Wright, but this book was a bust, mostly because it tried too hard to be Mere Christianity. Also, it jumped abruptly from pre-evangelistic observations on aspects of human experience for which Christian theology is one possible explanation (apparently aimed at seekers) to concrete suggestions for Christian living and particularly how church services should be structured (apparently aimed at people who are already Christians). Overall, disjointed with flashes of insight - a disappointing read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Storey

    Thank God for NT Wright! He honestly engages the breadth of biblical scholarship and comes up with one of the most well written summaries of what it means to be a Christian. Many have compared this book to cs Lewis' mere Christianity, but his angle as a biblical scholar vs Lewis' medieval literature angle is a little bit different. I'd say Lewis' is more apologetics written to people who are going off their logic and experience while wrights is more trying to explain the historical Christian Thank God for NT Wright! He honestly engages the breadth of biblical scholarship and comes up with one of the most well written summaries of what it means to be a Christian. Many have compared this book to cs Lewis' mere Christianity, but his angle as a biblical scholar vs Lewis' medieval literature angle is a little bit different. I'd say Lewis' is more apologetics written to people who are going off their logic and experience while wrights is more trying to explain the historical Christian faith, from the (mostly) consensus of biblical scholarship. It isn't the most readable book of all time, wright goes with trying to present a well written, outlined style book rather than a conversational rant. If you are serious about knowing what the bible does and doesn't say regarding humanity's salvation, I'd say go buy yourself a bag of coffee/tea and commit to a month of reading this book. It may not be the best summary for you because he is a touch slow of a writer and comes from years and years of original languages and top notch nuanced scholarship so his condensation of it all can seem a little tedious, and not as exciting/entertaining as one would prefer. But I don't think he leaves anything necessary out. It is a blessing more than a curse. I found my faith being built up again and again as i saw my tradition in light of what the Bible and It's theology is about. Lots of what I have believed is in there, and lots of what I have believed has been extrapolations of odd and/or decent interpretations. Thank you god for this man!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Danny

    After reading The Day the Revolution Began as my first jump into NT Wrights non commentary work, I think my expectations were perhaps too grandiose. The endorsements on the book jacket praising this to stand along with the greats of C.S. Lewis didnt help me adequately prepare myself for what I was about to read. The book was much more simple than I was hoping for but also dragged quite slowly between topics. I also found the first real contention point with one of my favorite scholars and After reading “The Day the Revolution Began” as my first jump into NT Wright’s non commentary work, I think my expectations were perhaps too grandiose. The endorsements on the book jacket praising this to stand along with the greats of C.S. Lewis didn’t help me adequately prepare myself for what I was about to read. The book was much more simple than I was hoping for but also dragged quite slowly between topics. I also found the first real contention point with one of my favorite scholars and theologians. Mostly around how Jesus internally self-identifies. This of course is all within the realm of speculation anyway. I actually like finding points of disagreement with my favorite authors and thinkers. It make me feel as though I am still maintaining an open mind and free thinking. Sometimes we can all be guilty of letting our favorites get past the defenses. Once I got past my idealization of what the book should be I did come to enjoy it for what it was, a basic premier to thoughtful Christian research and theology. I especially enjoyed his discourse on vocation, sexual ethics and fate of humanity. I have a lot of respect for this man. I find myself pre-grieving the day he will pass. This is a good reference book for basic theology and ethics from a Christian perspective.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joshua D.

    N.T. Wright begins by looking at four phenomena: 1.) We all have an innate sense of justice and fairness (or at least we talk like we do). 2.) Modernism, while a powerful shaping force in the Western world, didn't do what Freud and others thought it would - kill off religion. Instead, religion is alive and well in the world. And even more broadly, interest in spirituality seems to bubble up just about everywhere: even in countries most influenced by Enlightenment thinking. 3.) We have a communal N.T. Wright begins by looking at four phenomena: 1.) We all have an innate sense of justice and fairness (or at least we talk like we do). 2.) Modernism, while a powerful shaping force in the Western world, didn't do what Freud and others thought it would - kill off religion. Instead, religion is alive and well in the world. And even more broadly, interest in spirituality seems to bubble up just about everywhere: even in countries most influenced by Enlightenment thinking. 3.) We have a communal instinct, a longing for relationships. 4.) We think, write, feel, make poetry and compose songs about beauty. Wright asks where all this comes from. And what worldview best accounts for these four phenomena. This leads him to argue for orthodox Christianity as the only worldview that adequately accounts for and explains these things: the only world view where, if true, this is what we would expect to see. Good book for skeptics who are interested in engaging with the Christian worldview, and for Christians seeking to be better understand (or learn how to articulate) their faith.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    NT Wright is heralded to be CS Lewis of our day, or that is how I have been informed from his fans. This is the first book of his that i have read, and there are several on my read list. There are parts of this book that I absolutely thought "excellent, what a great way to explain this truth," there are other parts that are OK. What I like about this book and perhaps where I am - Go find the truth, seek God in where He is in the issue, event, situation, etc. And I confess there is so much I do NT Wright is heralded to be CS Lewis of our day, or that is how I have been informed from his fans. This is the first book of his that i have read, and there are several on my read list. There are parts of this book that I absolutely thought "excellent, what a great way to explain this truth," there are other parts that are OK. What I like about this book and perhaps where I am - Go find the truth, seek God in where He is in the issue, event, situation, etc. And I confess there is so much I do not understand... And perhaps I don't need to. BTW I don't like the title I am fractured between boldness and love & grace, titles like this seem to point towards the tree of knowledge. - I just reread this sentence it doesn't quite say what I mean... maybe later I will update it

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kjersti

    I'm tempted to call this book a modern Mere Christianity.. It lays out the foundations of the Christian faith, as well as what separates it from other world views (specifically pantheism and deism), and it does so masterfully. Those familiar with Wright know how good he is at contextualizing the gospel to first-century Israel. Wright starts off with questions about justice, spirituality, relationship, and beauty, and weaves them into the the gospel story, which quickly becomes the very I'm tempted to call this book a modern Mere Christianity.. It lays out the foundations of the Christian faith, as well as what separates it from other world views (specifically pantheism and deism), and it does so masterfully. Those familiar with Wright know how good he is at contextualizing the gospel to first-century Israel. Wright starts off with questions about justice, spirituality, relationship, and beauty, and weaves them into the the gospel story, which quickly becomes the very foundation of the book. To do this, he uses perspectives and experiences from seemingly different brands of Christianity, weaving it all into one big tapestry. A very, very, (very,) good read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    I agree with several reviews I've read that compared this book to C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity", although I believe it is generally easier to read and absorb. I appreciated the concept of hearing an "echo of a voice" through the Holy Spirit. This is a great book for those unfamiliar with Christianity or those who wish to better understand the current and promised future relationship between heaven and earth.

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