Wright,N.T. Simply Christian. Why Christianity Makes Sense. Harper San Francisco. 2006.
I appreciate how this first-rate theologian writes so that a layman can quite readily understand. He just makes a lot of sense. I do have an unanswered question for the Dr. Regarding his focus on the new heaven and the new earth, he does not give many details about the ‘extreme makeover’. Is it as he suggests a remodelling involving reconstruction only, or does that also involve serious demolition as some passages of scripture seem to suggest? Tom has done an impressive task to portray Christianity as “Simply Christian”.
Tom identifies four ‘signposts’ (justice, spirituality, relationships, and beauty) that point us to God. As Christians, God’s passion for justice needs to become our passion. The abolition of slavery and the abolition of apartheid are examples of what such passion has accomplished. In the West there is an increasing resurgence of interest in spirituality. It is intuitive to our humanity.
Fulfilling relationships and especially personal relationships are what we desire but they are difficult to bring about. This makes God’s invitation to us for a personal relationship through Jesus Christ such ‘good news’. Beauty in its various forms is truly a signpost to God.
Heaven is God’s space and earth is man’s space. In Judaism and Christianity we discover where these spaces interlock. “It is fundamental to the Christian worldview in its truest form that what happened in Jesus of Nazareth was the very climax of the long story of Israel.” (71)
“Christianity is all about new life in Jesus.” (92) It is in Jesus that our space and God’s space interlock. When Jesus declared, “The Kingdom of God is at hand” he was referring to his own work. Jesus is “personally present and active in the world and in our lives, our rescuer and our Lord”. (119) The Holy Spirit is God’s breath of life for the churches as it indwells each member. It is by the Spirit that we ‘live and have our being’.
The natural response to knowledge of God is worship. The 4th and 5th chapters of Revelation are a good scriptural passage to go to learn about worship. When God’s world will be what it should be all creation will worship him. “You become like what you worship. Worship makes you truly human.” (148) The reading of scripture and ‘bread-breaking’ should be part of worship. Prayer(s) is (are) a basic discipline of a Christian experience. Prayer needs to be taught and caught.
The Bible “offers energy for the task to which God is calling his people.” (182) It is ‘God-breathed’. The Bible is meant for equipping and enabling, not for the forming of ‘authoritative truth’ to be used to lord it over others. Through scripture God speaks to the church which in turn speaks to the world. Interpretation is “a huge and wonderful task”. (197) The Bible is God’s gift. “Believing and belonging” are part of the place and purpose of the church. Worship of God and work in his kingdom, community, and mutual encouragement are also included in the purpose of the church. Rescue through water is a powerful recurring event in Israel’s history and is relevant to baptism, e.g. John the Baptist. Baptism is seen as “the mode of entry into the Christian family”. (214)
Three ‘options’ are given as to how the relation between God and the world are understood. “Option one was to see God and the world as basically the same thing.” (220) This is pantheism and panentheism. “Option two was to see God and the world as a long way apart from one another.” (220) This form of theism has a Christian ethic based on an “overarching moral system”. (220) “Option three declares God and the world are different from one another, but not far apart.” (221) It is in areas where these worlds interlock where the Christian life takes place. “It is about practicing, in the present, the tunes we shall sing in God’s world.”