Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Simply Christian, by N. T. Wright

An excellent introduction to historical Christianity, Bishop N. T. Wright delivers a non-apologetic apologetic. Starting with the echoes of a voice that we can hear in the world, he moves into the story of YHWH's interaction w/ Israel & ultimately with the story of Jesus' life death & resurrection-the story of creation, fall & new creation told in the New Testament.

The most helpful part of this book for me was his discussion of three "options" for the way that God could interact with the world. In Option 1, God and the world aren't different from one another. Every event is an expression of God, and God is in every event. This is commonly called "pantheism" and is not a Christian option.

Option 2 is commonly called "deism," the idea that God, though creator, is so far removed from the world that he set it in motion and then let it go. Based on the story of God's constant interaction with Israel and ultimately the Incarnation, this too is not a consistent option.

Bishop Wright puts forward Option 3 as the distinctively Christian option. In this view, heaven and earth aren't the same (as in Option 1) nor are they utterly separated from one another (as in Option 2). Instead, the come together by God's grace at specific places and times. At this juncture, Wright points to the 1st century belief that the Temple was the "belly-button" of the world at which heaven and earth touched. The Gospel of John takes up this theme and moves the point of contact from the Temple to Jesus, the incarnate Word.

Of course, Bishop Wright is more nuanced and interesting than this brief description, so go find yourself the book and take a while to sit with it. I would highly recommend it to anyone curious about Christianity; it's tone is welcoming and inviting to anyone who hasn't yet woken up to the reality of God's grace in Christ. In my opinion, Simply Christian should replace Lewis' Mere Christianity for its precision and skill.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

By saying Simply Christian should replace Mere Christianity makes me want to read the book. Powerful stuff. I could agree simply because C.S. Lewis' older style is more challenging for the average reader. Thanks for the nice write-up.

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