Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

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Overview

Why is justice fair? Why are so many people pursuing spirituality? Why do we crave relationship? And why is beauty so beautiful? N. T. Wright argues that each of these questions takes us into the mystery of who God is and what he wants from us. For two thousand years Christianity has claimed to answer these mysteries, and this renowned biblical scholar and Anglican bishop shows that it still does today. Like C. S. Lewis did in his classic Mere Christianity, Wright makes the case for Christian faith from the ground up, assuming that the reader is starting from ground zero with no predisposition to and perhaps even some negativity toward religion in general and Christianity in particular. His goal is to describe Christianity in as simple and accessible, yet hopefully attractive and exciting, a way as possible, both to say to outsides "You might want to look at this further," and to say to insiders "You may not have quite understood this bit clearly yet."

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Editorial Reviews

Will Willimon
“Simply Christian is an amazing testimony to the vitality…of the Christian faith—and to the skill of N. T. Wright.”
John Ortberg
“[No one] has done more to clarify what [...] Christianity looks like in our day than Tom Wright.”
Os Guinness
“Fresh, engaging, and highly readable…Simply Christian [is] an invaluable guide for seekers and doubters as well as believers.”
Dallas Willard
“N.T. Wright is uniquely qualified to convey the enduring substance of Christian life and thought to contemporary people.”
J.I. Packer
“Brilliant Bishop Wright is one of God’s best gifts to our decaying Western church...”
Rob Bell
“We are in Mere Christianity territory here [...] Bound to be a classic.”
Anne Rice
“N.T. Wright is simply crucial; his writing can transform one’s life.”
Richard Ostling
“Wright attempts a 21st-century counterpart to Lewis’s Mere Christianity. . . . notably clear, readable and thought-provoking.”
Washington Post
“Wright offers...[an] intelligent view of Christianity, and his title invites us to compare his work with Lewis’s [...] Mere Christianity.”
Christianity Today
“Simply Christian is simply outstanding. It will confirm, challenge, and deepen your grasp of Christian faith and practice.”
Walter Brueggemann
“Readers will welcome such ready access to one of the fine teachers of the church.”
Washington Post
“Wright offers...[an] intelligent view of Christianity, and his title invites us to compare his work with Lewis’s [...] Mere Christianity.”
Christianity Today
“Simply Christian is simply outstanding. It will confirm, challenge, and deepen your grasp of Christian faith and practice.”
Walter Brueggemann
“Readers will welcome such ready access to one of the fine teachers of the church.”
Library Journal
Christian scholar Wright (Bishop of Durham, U.K.; What Saint Paul Really Said) here argues that all humans have a deep desire for justice, spirituality, relationships, and beauty, yet few have experienced fulfillment of these desires. According to Wright, these desires are echoes of a God who can provide for and fulfill them. He shows how the God of Christianity can bring real justice, true spirituality, genuine relationships, and awesome beauty by answering simply yet profoundly most of the key questions associated with Christian systematic theology, e.g., "Was Jesus God?," "What is the Bible?," and "What is Church for?." These are weighty, deeply theological questions indeed, questions about which entire books have been written, and Wright has an uncanny knack not only for answering them but also for doing so in an inspiring and introspective manner. What's more, he provides complete answers, a challenging task for a work of this length. Wright accomplishes exactly what the title of his book suggests: he presents Christianity as the straightforward and uncomplicated answer to so many of life's most complex and difficult problems. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Wesley A. Mills, Empire State Coll., Rochester, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061920622
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/9/2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 71,909
  • Product dimensions: 6.56 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

N. T. Wright is the former bishop of Durham in the Church of England and one of the world's leading Bible scholars. He is now severing as the Chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews; he has been featured on ABC News, Dateline, The Colbert Report, and Fresh Air. Wright is the award-winning author of The Case for the Psalms, How God Became King, Simply Jesus, After You Believe, Surprised by Hope, Simply Christian, Scripture and the Authority of God, and The Meaning of Jesus (coauthored with Marcus Borg), as well as translator for The Kingdom New Testament.

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Read an Excerpt

Simply Christian

Why Christianity Makes Sense
By N.T. Wright

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright ©2006 N.T. Wright
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060507152

Chapter One

Putting the World
to Rights

I had a dream the other night, a powerful and interesting dream And the really frustrating thing about it is that I can't remember what it was about. I had a flash of it as I woke up, enough to make me think how extraordinary and meaningful it was; and then it was gone. And so, to misquote T. S. Eliot, I had the meaning but missed the experience.

Our passion for justice often seems like that. We dream the dream of justice. We glimpse, for a moment, a world at one, a world put to rights, a world where things work out, where societies function fairly and efficiently, where we not only know what we ought to do but actually do it. And then we wake up and come back to reality. But what are we hearing when we're dreaming that dream?

It's as though we can hear, not perhaps a voice itself, but the echo of a voice: a voice speaking with calm, healing authority, speaking about justice, about things being put to rights, about peace and hope and prosperity for all. The voice continues to echo in our imagination, our subconscious. We want to go back and listen to it again, but having woken up we can't get back into the dream. Other people sometimes tell us itwas just a fantasy, and we're half-inclined to believe them, even though that condemns us to cynicism.

But the voice goes on, calling us, beckoning us, luring us to think that there might be such a thing as justice, as the world being put to rights, even though we find it so elusive. We're like moths trying to fly to the moon. We all know there's something called justice, but we can't quite get to it.

You can test this out easily. Go to any school or playgroup where the children are old enough to talk to each other. Listen to what they are saying. Pretty soon one child will say to another, or perhaps to a teacher: "That's not fair!"

You don't have to teach children about fairness and unfairness. A sense of justice comes with the kit of being human. We know about it, as we say, in our bones.

You fall off your bicycle and break your leg. You go to the hospital and they fix it. You stagger around on crutches for a while. Then, rather gingerly, you start to walk normally again. Pretty soon you've forgotten about the whole thing. You're back to normal. There is such a thing as putting something to rights, as fixing it, as getting it back on track. You can fix a broken leg, a broken toy, a broken television.

So why can't we fix injustice?

It isn't for want of trying. We have courts of law and magistrates and judges and lawyers in plenty. I used to live in a part of London where there was so much justice going on that it hurt -- lawmakers, law enforcers, a Lord Chief Justice, a police headquarters, and, just a couple of miles away, enough barristers to run a battleship. (Though, since they would all be arguing with one another, the battleship might be going around in circles.) Other countries have similarly heavyweight organizations designed to make laws and implement them.

And yet we have a sense that justice itself slips through our fingers. Sometimes it works; often it doesn't. Innocent people get convicted; guilty people are let off. The bullies, and those who can bribe their way out of trouble, get away with wrongdoing -- not always, but often enough for us to notice, and to wonder why. People hurt others badly and walk away laughing. Victims don't always get compensated. Sometimes they spend the rest of their lives coping with sorrow, hurt, and bitterness.

The same thing is going on in the wider world. Countries invade other countries and get away with it. The rich use the power of their money to get even richer while the poor, who can't do anything about it, get even poorer. Most of us scratch our heads and wonder why, and then go out and buy another product whose profit goes to the rich company.

I don't want to be too despondent. There is such a thing as justice, and sometimes it comes out on top. Brutal tyrannies are overthrown. Apartheid was dismantled. Sometimes wise and creative leaders arise and people follow them into good and just actions. Serious criminals are sometimes caught, brought to trial, convicted, and punished. Things that are seriously wrong in society are sometimes put splendidly to rights. New projects give hope to the poor. Diplomats achieve solid and lasting peace. But just when you think it's safe to relax . . . it all goes wrong again.

And even though we can solve a few of the world's problems, at least temporarily, we know perfectly well that there are others we simply can't and won't.

Just after Christmas of 2004 an earthquake and tidal wave killed more than three times as many people in a single day as the total number of American soldiers who died in the entire Vietnam War. There are some things in our world, on our planet, which make us say, "That's not right!" even when there's nobody to blame. A tectonic plate's got to do what a tectonic plate's got to do. The earthquake wasn't caused by some wicked global capitalist, by a late-blossoming Marxist, or by a fundamentalist with a bomb. It just happened. And in that happening we see a world in pain, a world out of joint, a world where things occur which we seem powerless to make right.

The most telling examples are the ones closest to home. I have high moral standards. I have thought about them. I have preached about them. Good heavens, I have even written books about them. And I still break them. The line between justice and injustice, between things . . .

Continues...


Excerpted from Simply Christian by N.T. Wright Copyright ©2006 by N.T. Wright. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Summary of Christian Experience

    Bishop Wright is a fine theologian, student of the Bible, and popular writer. I am a liberal Christian who feels I always learn from this conservative writer. This is a book to reread from time to time. I very much enjoyed it. It is part of my permanent library.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2009

    Simply Christian is a modern classic

    N.T. Wright does a magnificent job in explaining the message of Christ from a historical perspective. His ability to articulate the ancient text in its context of the first century while appling it in contemporary terms is powerful. The Bishop calls the church in this age to take the Saviors message of redemption to the whole world from an individual and sociatal perspective. Working to create a more just planet should not be optional for any contemporary Christian believer. A must read for anyone who is interested in the direction of the church in the twenty first century. Well done chap.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2013

    Excellent service. I was well pleased.

    Excellent service. I was well pleased.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2010

    Simply Christian

    Have not finished reading this yet but what I have read so far has been good. It is written where it is easy to understand so those who are not well versed in the Bible will not have trouble getting what the author is talking about. I look forward to finishing this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2008

    Clear and convincing: a new classic

    This book starts off dry-please keep reading! N.T.Wright offers a rephrasing of our Christian purpose by retelling us in clear and convincing style the story of God's plan. The interlocking 'or overlapping' of Heaven and Earth in very specific ways throughout history, as God moves deliberately to conquer evil, makes so much sense and is very exciting to read about. Renews your mind with regards to why we seem to long for God, no matter who we are, and encourages each person's part in bringing the ultimate peace of God to fruition. This is surely a new classic for Christians and a great overview for non-Christians.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2007

    Best apologia since Lewis

    As the Anglican Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright has emerged as the wittiest, most intelligent, insightful and articulate Christian writer living today, and 'Simply Christian' is his masterpiece. Do not fail to read the vital and dynamic explanation of the true Christian faith.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2007

    Reasonable, but not inspiring

    I got this book from my Lenten reading, and I found it to be worthwhile and insightful in some passages but superficial and dumbed down in others. I'm not sure this is the same book that the reviewer who noted the attack on American culture read. I remember no such thing. There was definitely a critique of modern society, but in the age of globalization, this critique was not uniquely aimed to Americans. Like other inspirational books I have read lately, I feels like it is a sermon in which the main points get repeated over and over again in order to be long enough to qualify as a book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2007

    Outstanding

    Simply Christian is SIMPLY AMAZING. This book is a great gem for both the Christian and non- Christian. Why do people long for justice? Why do we thirst for spirituality? Why do we long for relationships? Why does beauty not satisfy us fully? It is because we are humans that are made for and by God. We are children that groan for our Father. These are few of the questions the Bishop begins to address. These are the questions that strike a chord within all humanity. Questions that we can't explain or escape outside of God. N.T. Wright takes the reader on a journey through the story of the bible. Along the journey the reader will encounter God, Jesus, the Spirit, and Israel. At the end, Tom looks at what a life under the Lordship of Jesus could look like if somebody is willing to join in on the story, to be Jesus for a world that has no hope in sight. No other scholar has the gift to communicate so beautifully and clearly the truth about Christianty. He captured me with his introduction and I hope the same happens to you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2006

    Three cheers!

    Hip, Hip Hooray! I would like to thank the author for presenting a theology which, in it's discussion of 'the kingdom,' taps into and exploits the festering tension between America's suburaban middle class and those living in her large cities. I don't believe the author expresses any sensitivity towards American culture and I suspect there is a type of antipathy between anyone who is a high Anglican and lives under the laws of the European Union. I have never seen such an all out attack on America's institutions no less the church - of which in America is allowed to exist in her many denominations. Not only this. But the author actually defines the Christian faith, the attempt of which has always led to oppression and bloodshed, at least in the history of England. But the Christian faith has so many elements that it resists the metanarrative that the author affixes it.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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