NT Wright, “Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense” (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2006)
This book is easy to read and excellent for anyone wanting to know what Christianity is all about. It begins by identifying four clues which (according to Wright) hint at the reality of a “divine voice” that is trying to get our attention. The echoes of this voice are (1) the human longing for justice, (2) our desire for spirituality, (3) the need for belonging, and (4) our delight in beauty.
Wright argues that these four echoes issue from the voice of a Creator God. This God became flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth – a 1st Century Jew who fulfilled the longstanding vocation of the nation of Israel. Jesus fulfilled this vocation by functioning as the instrument through which God would put the world to rights and launch His plan of new creation. So who are Christians? Christians are those who follow Jesus and carry out his mission in the power of God’s Spirit; they are partners with God in bringing about a renewed creation which (paradoxically) has already begun to happen in the resurrection of Jesus.
Wright concludes his book with many helpful chapters on what following Jesus “looks like” within the overarching story of God’s plan to renew all things. Following Jesus includes cross-shaped practices such as worship, prayer, scripture reading, belonging to the church, and sharing God’s passion for beauty, belonging, and justice.
To sum up, I would highly recommend this book to readers who are trying to make sense of what Christianity means – regardless of whether they think it is true or not. The strength of Wright’s approach is his use of narrative: he explains the mission of Jesus and his followers within the larger story of God’s creative and redemptive plan for the world – a story that cannot be reduced to a set of theological propositions. This book is well worth purchasing!