02 May, 2007

Book Recommendation: Simply Christian

I have figured out why so many people don't appreciate NT Wright as a theologian.

He agrees with me about too many things. :-)

Seriously, as I am reading him, I keep being blown away by little things I didn't think I'd ever read a theologian saying. He is dead on the money, so far as I am concerned. He is who I'd like to imagine I could have grown up to be.

The one thing I have not figured out is why so few people appreciate me as a theologian. ;-)

Anyway, I'm in the middle of my 4th and 5th of his books. I cannot finish either of them, because I'm enjoying them both too much. One of them is an 800 page monster, and not a great introduction. The other, though .... ah, the other.

Simply Christian is NT Wright's highly persuasive explanation of why Christianity makes sense. Everyone is fond of pointing out that this is Wright's Mere Christianity, and as much as I'd love to top that statement, it's straight up accurate. If you liked Mere Christianity, Simply Christian should wind straight into your heart.

Wright looks at the world we all see, and finds 4 core wonders to it:
Justice
Spirituality
Relationship
Beauty

He then follows these four threads through a discussion of Israel, the Messiah Who came from Israel and God, and the church.

Along the way, he avoids minefield after minefield while still throwing sweet, sweet bombs. Let me offer just one example. I don't believe there is a single line in this book that agrees or disagrees with "the rapture" as has been popularized recently, but he make countless comments that implicitly reject it. I all but drooled on myself when I heard him start talking about the kingdom of God. The whispers of Wright's thought on the end times smuggled into this book are enough to justify the price.

[None of you should probably have noticed that I have never spoken of the end
times on this blog. Now that I point it out, you should be wondering whether
that's an oversight. It's not even close to an oversight. I have been waiting until
the right moment, and I'm pretty sure it is nearing. In fact, getting to that
subject is one of the things that brought me back after my month haiatus. First,
Gaia, though.]

I will give you another example. Wright is an Anglican. That is to say that his church lives and breathes liturgy. Liturgy has no part in my life. There is nothing I do that is remotely structured or stable, except my three meals a day, and even they are only liturgical for convenience' sake. I love it when something makes me stay up past my bedtime. I hate liturgically knowing that on 15 Oct I will worship God for His amazing works in Numbers 23:12 - just like I did last year. (Don't look for that - it's pulled out of the air.) I will spend 5 hours putting together a 1/2 hour lesson and be tickled when the class goes so far afield it never happens.

I didn't even have to wrinkle my nose when Wright talked about worship.

Wow.

I REALLY didn't think that would EVER happen. Oh, he said a couple things I think were bogus and self-serving, but even I have to grudgingly admit that I would profit from listening to those things. An Anglican impressed me on the subject of worship. I'm still amazed.

In all honesty, I have not quite finished the book yet, but only because I'm too busy in his other book. I'm reading Simply Christian at work and my lunch breaks are all higgley-piggley these days. I just could not wait any longer to tell everyone about it.

What do I think of the book? At $26 a pop, I bought 5 extra copies two weeks ago, and will give away the fourth on Sunday and the fifth probably before that. (Kirk doesn't know it yet, but he NEEDS this book.) If you want to know why Christianity makes good old fashioned common sense, or know someone who needs to know, then this is the best.

14 comments:

japhy said...

I've read a few of Wright's essays and sermons on the topic of the Resurrection (about how Christianity would not be alive if the Resurrection weren't fact). In at least one of them, he brings up an interesting interpretation of "a new heaven and a new earth", saying that Heaven is not our destination, but rather, the new Earth is. That Heaven is the storehouse of all our gifts, not where we're headed.

I thought it was interesting, but I'm not sure I buy it. The other stuff made sense though. He's a source for a paper I'll write some day.

Secret Rapture said...

My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions! The Secret Rapture soon, by my hand!
Read My Inaugural Address
My Site=http://www.angelfire.com/crazy/spaceman

pearlie said...

My lecturer keep saying that NT Wright may not be always right! haha ... I don't know, I haven't read him yet. I checked and I haven't got any of his books ... yet.

codepoke said...

Japhy,

That's one of the things I ABSOLUTELY love about Wright. Heaven is not our eternal home, but a temporary place for disembodied spirits. When we are clothed upon with incorruptible bodies, we will use them on the new earth.

In The Resurrection of the Son of God Wright deeply explores this thing of heaven, and our bodies. I'm only half way into it so far, but I could not agree more with anything I've read so far - and a lot of it is stuff I've never read anywhere else. I was beginning to think I'd made it all up. :-)

codepoke said...

Secret Rapture,

I gather you have a spider crawling for references to the rapture on blogs, cause I've never seen you before, and I know you have no reason to be here - at all. Your comment is completely off-topic, and there's no reason for me to leave it. Still, you have posted physically, instead of by 'bot, so I will let your comment stand ... once. When I start actually posting about the rapture, you will find any non-topical comments deleted promptly.

You might want to read the posts on Gaia.

codepoke said...

Pearlie,

I can honestly say I disagreed with Wright once, but that's a stunningly low number for me. I don't doubt that by this time in 2010, I will have made it through all his stuff.

Lynne said...

Hmm .. should havre known you'd be another Wright fan! I love his stuff .. though with all my "hafta" reading for college I haven't read many of his books yet. But a lot of his short articles and sermons are on the web, and they are like a glass of cool water for my soul! I had the privilege of hearing him give a couple of lectures last year, when he visited Australia -- stuff on the resurrection and the New creation. It was wonderful. When he spoke about the importance of things like social justice and the arts in the kingdom, because they are agents or vehicles (can't remember his word it was better) of the New Creation.
He's very nuanced, and I've seen some people react badly to the fact that they can't fit him neatly into one of their prefab pigeon holes. psstt .. I don't believe in the rapture either, and I love his explanation of 1 Thess 5

salguod said...

Hmmm. I loved Mere Christianity, so I guess I have to add this book to my reading list. I've already got two books ahead of it, and that's quite a list for me. :-P

Secret Rapture said...

codepoke:
Yes, I'm a spammer. And your mention of the rapture triggered my post.
So why is my post off topic in a review of Wright?

Milly said...

I'm about to start a new book Memoirs of a Geisha I'll look at these when I finish.

Kansas Bob said...

Thanks for the review CP. I recommended it over at my place.

And Milly - I can't believe that you are starting to read the same book that my wife checked out of the library yesterday.

Milly said...

I saw the movie and was so taken by it. I've been told to see the movie first then read the book. I have yet start the book but will be soon.

codepoke said...

Hello Secret Rapture. :-)

I've not known spammers to follow up so diligently. You have my grudging respect. :-)

Why off topic?

You are overly generous in your estimation of your comment's relevance. In a post about a book you really might enjoy, you "heard" a word of great meaning to you. I used that word, and then specifically stated that I did not want to talk about the rapture yet. You talked about the rapture. Off-topic.

I'll be talking about the rapture soon, I figure. I'll be sure not to use that word, though. ;-)

See you then. (Even if I deem your comments off-topic, and no one else does.)

codepoke said...

Thanks, Lynne. :-)