Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
SBJT 12:3 (Fall 2008) p. 102
Christians at the Cross: Finding Hope in the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. By N. T. Wright. Ijamsville, MD: The Word Among Us Press, 2007, xvi + 79 pp., $10.95
This book derives from a series of sermons that N. T. Wright preached at the Church of the Ascension, Easington Colliery, during Holy Week in March 2007. Easington Colliery, a small town in England, has suffered over the years: a devastating underground explosion in 1951 killed 83 people, and then the mines themselves were shut down in 1993. The town has not recovered from that economic blow, and it is still reeling socially, morally, and spiritually.
Wright’s sermons were intended to bring the message of the cross and resurrection to a community that had lost hope. Anyone familiar with Wright’s work would expect the sermons to be creative and fascinating, and Wright does not disappoint. His sermons here have a verve and dynamism that carry the reader along.
Several things particularly struck me in reading the book. First, Wright captures the theme that the love of God is displayed in the cross. The cross signifies that God in Jesus has come to make things right. Something has gone horribly wrong with the world, but the cross shows us that God loves us and cares about our plight. Wright reminds the church at Easington Colliery—and us—that we can bring our pain and shattered hopes to the cross.
Second, Wright rightfully locates the story of Jesus within the story of Israel. What took place at the cross was not just a transaction. It is part of a grand narrative—part of God’s plan to reclaim the world for his glory.
Third, Wright does not give pat answers. He admits that he does not have a blueprint that can solve the problems of the town. The cross of Christ reminds us that the way is not invariably easy. Sometimes we suffer as Christians in agonizing ways.
Fourth, the sermons offer hope. The resurrection of Jesus reminds us that death is not the last word. We can be sure that we will ultimately triumph. Nor is the resurrection merely a “spiritual” reality. Jesus was truly and physically raised from the dead, and we too will be raised physically with him.
Fifth, Wright emphasizes that the resurrection represents God’s “yes” to creation. As Christians we are not to retreat from the world but work to change it, for we proclaim the joyful news that Jesus is Lord.
Are there any weaknesses in the book? Three different things stood out to me, but they are all related to the same issue. First, one of the central themes in Jesus’ preaching was the call to repentance and faith. Wright rightly offers comfort to the church, but Jesus also emphasiz...
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