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The title Simply Christian by N. T. Wright, Anglican bishop of Durham, immediately suggests C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity or John R. W. Stott's Basic Christianity. Like both books, it is a summary of both mere and basic Christianity, and a great book to put in the hands of young Christians and inquiring not-yet believers. But there the comparison ends. The scope of Simply Christian is broader than Stott's, and its approach is less philosophical than Lewis's. "My aim," the bishop writes, "has been to describe what Christianity is all about, both to commend it to those outside the faith and to explain it to those inside." The result is a freshly nuanced look at the entire scope of the Christian faith.

Another Realm

Wright first identifies four main "echoes of a voice" (recalling Peter Berger's "signals of transcendence"): "the longing for justice, the quest for spirituality, the hunger for relationships, and the delight in beauty." Each points to a realm beyond the material. Ultimately, Wright argues, these voices join the more direct revelation of God to become "the voice of Jesus, calling us to follow him into God's new world—the world in which the hints, signposts, and echoes of the present world turn into the reality of the next one."

Part Two focuses on central themes of the Christian faith: God, Israel, Jesus, the kingdom of God, the Holy Spirit, and life in the Spirit.

Part Three deals with how Christians are to reflect the image of God. This list of themes, however, fails to suggest the fresh ways in which Wright handles them.

I am especially struck by Wright's offering of Christianity as an alternative worldview to pantheism and deism, because it explains human experience far better than either. He clearly describes ...

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hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2006

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