Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Simply Christian

I’ve just finished going through N.T. Wright’s book Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. This would be the perfect book to give an unbeliever, or a Christian who hasn’t thought very deeply about the faith. Beginning with areas that we all share in common – the quest for justice, the hunger for spirituality, the need for relationships, the longing for beauty – Wright explains how the Christian story interacts with these basic yearnings. He then moves to consider the Biblical metanarrative, rooted in the plan of God for Israel and the doctrine of God’s kingdom. In the final section, he explains different aspects of Christianity, like worship, prayer, church, etc. He has a particularly good section on the importance of liturgical prayer.

Click on the above image to look inside the book.

Simply Christian is written for a popular audience and very easy to read. It isn't a book I would give to someone already well grounded in Christian theology, but I would recommend it to people who have picked up a lot of steriotypes about the faith. For example, people who think that the alternatives are between American fundamentalism (in the pajorative sense) and a wishy washy liberalism (with all the false dilemas this entails), will greatly benefit from Wright’s sensetive treatment.

I have become convinced that the primary task of the Christian apologist today is not to construct arguments defending the faith, but to explain what Christianity is really about. It’s no good defending something if the people you are trying to convert have a wrong idea of that which you are trying to defend. We must dismantle the misunderstandings about our faith and subvert the carecatures people have been brainwashed into accepting about Christians. We must show through word and deed what the faith is really all about.

Here’s a quote from the book: “Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment. But new creation has already begun. The sun has begun to rise. Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ all that belongs to the brokeness and incompleteness of the present world. It is time, in the power of the Spirit, to take up our proper role, our fully human role, as agents, heralds, and stewards of the new day that is dawning. That, quite simply, is what it means to be Christian: to follow Jesus Christ into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us.”

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