Book Reviews -- By: Matthew S. DeMoss
BSac 165:658 (April-June 2008) p. 232
By The Faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary
Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. By N. T. Wright. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006. 240 pp. $22.95.
Wright, bishop of Durham, England, seeks to “describe what Christianity is all about, both to commend it to those outside the faith and to explain it to those inside” (p. ix). The book is not so much a defense of the Christian faith, presenting rational and empirical arguments to show why “smart people” choose Christianity (although there are parts where Wright utilizes historical arguments). Nor is the book a promise of how Christianity will deliver the “good life” to its adherents (although Wright certainly demonstrates how Christianity can meet deep longings). Instead, the book is a presentation of the narrative of biblical history and an explanation of how the central aspects of that narrative meet four of the deepest longings of humanity—passion for global justice, yearning for spirituality, ache for proper human relationships, and appreciation of beauty.
The four chapters in part one each address one of these four longings. He explains how these four needs form “echoes of a voice” (p. 15) that calls people to something outside themselves, the voice of God in Christ (p. 116).
The second part of the book is devoted primarily to summarizing the biblical narrative. Wright traces God’s salvific plan, beginning with Creation, continuing in His dealings with Israel, revealed principally in Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection, and manifested now in the mission of the church. Wright argues that by embracing the biblical story, with Christ at its center, people can “become more truly human [and] reflect the image of God into the world” (p. 140).
The third part of the book explains some implications of the gospel for the church today. The main themes are worship (including the Lord’s Table), prayer, reading of the Scriptures, Christian community (including baptism), and the church’s mission in the world. Wright contends that as believers assume their proper role in the redeemed community, they become more “fully human” (p. 237).
Simply Christian has many strengths. First, Wright has done a masterful job of noting not only the longings of people in today’s postmodern culture, but also the longings of God’s creation (Rom. 8:20, 22). Wright views God’s rescue operation as being more than simply making a way for people to “go to heaven when they die,” but as a complete renovation of everythin...
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