N. T. Wright’s “Simply Christian”

I recently read N. T. Wright’s Simply Christian because I heard one well-known blogger say that it was the best distillation of Christianity in print anywhere. That’s a bold statement and it made me curious. I’ve also been curious of the phenomenon that seems to purport that the only ones to truly understand Wright are those who are sympathetic to his views….if you’re not sympathetic then you obviously don’t understand him or so the spin goes.

I’ve read a good amount of Dr. Wright’s work and like most I find his style fluid and winsome yet I constantly find myself asking why he seems intent on exalting such an ecumenical vision of the faith to the detriment of a clear christology. But some will say, “didn’t you read his book on the resurrection?” I say “yes indeed” but I believe more about Christ in addition to the resurrection. One may be a minimalist when it comes to eschatology and the like but with Christ such will not do. I would expect a book about Christianity to be a robust defense and exposition of the person and work of Christ but that is not what I found. To say that Simply Christian misses the mark and the hype would be an understatement. If this book is a summary of Wright’s vision of “mere Christianity” then I have to admit I’m not swimming in the same waters. That is not to say that everything is off or misguided but that crucial items are missing. Andy Davis’ review rings true with my own reading of Simply Christian and most notable is the following quote:

But for all of Wright’s laudable efforts and obvious gifts, Simply Christian
clearly fails to articulate some key fundamentals of the faith: the deity of Christ, the Old Testament prophecies about his coming, God’s purposes in Israel’s history, the purpose of the Law of Moses, Christ as King over the kingdom of heaven, the substitutionary atonement in Christ’s blood shed on the cross, the perfection of the word of God, the Great Commission of gospel preaching to every tribe and language and people and nation, justification by faith alone, progressive sanctification by the power of the Spirit, Judgment Day, the personality and power of Satan and his dark kingdom, and the eternity of hell’s torments. Most pointedly, I do not believe Simply Christian tenderly and clearly warns individual sinners of their peril or calls upon them to flee to Christ and to his cross as the only remedy for personal guilt
and sin before a holy God.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by seth2958 on June 29, 2007 at 1:43 am

    The quote you gave seemed much kinder than I would have been. Wright apparently leaves out nearly everything!

    Theological Satire

  2. Paul,

    Great review, it was very helpful. Specifically, it was helpful as I plan out the rest of my summer reading.

  3. Paul,

    Thanks for these helpful words. Great review.

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