Thursday, January 04, 2007

Simply Christian...

Well I have finally finished reading Simply Christian, by N.T. Wright. I have found this to be a wonderful book. It was very interesting as I was reading the book a notion came to me. I wasn't reading new glimpses of 'truths' that I haven't heard or read about but what I was doing is reading my faith masterfully worded. What I mean is that Wright has a superb way of wording what I have not always been able to. It is my faith it is what I believe it is conclusions that are close to my heart about life, faith and spirituality which he puts on the pages of this book.

The book takes you on a journey of echoes and voices of God which instill in us a desire for Justice, Spirituality, Relationships and Beauty, Wright from there continues to explain about earth and heaven interlocking and creation longing to be restored. From there Wright takes us on a journey of what our involvement looks like. I would recommend this book to any one interested in reading what genuine Christian faith should look like, what we ought to strive for, and why we do it.

Here's a quote that I liked (there are many but I wont re-write the book here):

"[Christian way of life] that way of life isn't a matter simply of getting in touch with our inner depths. It is certainly not about keeping the commands of a distant deity. Rather, it is the new way of being human, the Jesus-shaped way of being human, the cross-and-resurrection way of life, the Spirit-led pathway. It is the way which anticipates, in the present, the full, rich, glad human existence which will one day be ours when God makes all things new. Christian ethics is not a matter of discovering what's going on in the world and getting in tune with it. It isn't a matter of doing things to earn God's favor. It is not about trying to obey dusty rulebooks from long ago or far away. It is about practicing, in the present, the tunes we shall sing in God's new world."


Sarah Gingrich said...

Sounds like a must-read. I had the same reaction to Lewis's Mere Christianity. I especially like the "practicing in the present, the tunes we shall sing in God's new world". Perfect. Blessings, Pavel!

Gil said...

Glad you enjoyed this one. I agree with what you day, Wright has a way of rephrasing 'traditional beliefs' in ways that make them seem not so traditional.

Paul Morgun said...

Yes Sarah I would highly encourage it, if you can get it, amazon usually has them at good price.

Gil thanks for suggesting the book and teaching Sunday School on it, I still hear great reviews about that class!

Paul Johnston said...

Hey Paul,

I've always been impressed by the simplicity and sincerity of your faith expressions; I trust your spirit. So it looks like I'll have to risk more "Protestantamination" LOL, and obtain a copy. Hopefully I can get one on the cheap, personal budgets are tight these days.....sigh.......but wait for it comes.........the contrarian Catholic, really don't understand the full context but that never stops me, point of view.........

Are you at all concerned by the second last sentence of the quote you "lift" from Wright? In isolation it sounds dimissive of Scripture, tradition and obedience.

While much may need to be communally defined, understood and accepted with regard to those terms, I can't conceive of a Christian paridigm that doesn't acknowledge the fundamental importance of them.

I'm interested in your response or for that matter from anyone whose already read the book.


Paul Morgun said...

Hey Paul J., thank you for your comment, I can see what you are saying with the quote I have posted from the book.
N.T. Wright is Anglican Bishop, and his book "Simply Christian" is written with defense of Christian faith and tradition. Wright has a full chapter on the high regard of scriptures, and he constantly defends the high regard and need for liturgy, scriptures, obedience and tradition. What he is saying in that paragraph and in the book as a whole is in defense of why he believes Christianity makes sense, and what he is saying is that SOME may observe Christianity to be a religion where people observe distant deity, and old books that have nothing to do with reality. So his comments are more about these misconceptions, and he expands on that much more in the book. This was a concluding paragraph to a chapter where he carefully explained why he believes and holds traditions and scriptures in such a high regard, and then concludes with the paragraph in question saying that all this obedience that we do all the faithfulness that we practice is really preparation for the time when we will be with our Lord and Savior, and much more then just what may simply SEEM as following some ritual that might not make sense to the outside (non-Christian) world.

Thank you Paul for your comment I hope this has cleared it up a bit, I was unsure of what quote to put up to represent the book, but as always any bit of literature taken out of the fuller context could create complicated or unintended meaning.

God Bless

Paul Johnston said...

Thanks for the explanation Paul, having a better understanding of the context helps.

I listened to Mr. Wright's lecture on the link you provided and will probably need to listen again before deciding on his book. While I got a sense of him being a moral man I didn't readily identify with his apologetics, at least in how he described them to be in "Simply Christian". Ironicly your analysis is more compelling.

The whole pantheist/liberal/democrat vs deist/conservative/republican lens he chose to postulate through, isn't really how I first view my relationship with Chrstianity. While I can understand it to be a compelling perspective to a mostly intellectual, politicly engaged American audience, it didn't do much for me.

I already "get" the transcendant nature of God and don't think continuous references to political paradigms are the right way to go for those believers seeking a more mature relationship with God.

Further still, and this maybe a personal prejudice I have to overcome or come to a better understanding of, Protestant apologetics that refer to having an understanding of, as I think Mr. Wright put it, "Temple and Torah" yet at the same time seem to disregard the ongoing legacy of our faith community as experienced through the history of our Catholic churches, seems wrong to me.

Our faith and more particularly the Holy Spirit, from the time of the pentacost to the present has been constant and alive. It seems to me that any sort of apologetics, presented in an academic envioronment, in pseudo-historical contexts, must "pass through" Rome, in order to be taken seriously, at least by me.

To be fair, Mr. Wright wasn't claiming to offer a thorough historical examination of the human Christian experience in his lecture but rightly or wrongly, I tend to avoid those apologetics that don't look at the whole of our Christian history when explaining and defending it's precepts.