Hearts & Minds BookNotes

annotations, blurbs and ruminations

to enlarge the heart & stimulate the mind

and to happily generate mail order business for Hearts & Minds bookstore

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Location: Dallastown, PA

My lovely wife Beth and I own and operate--proprietors makes us sound more classy than we really are--a cluttered, diverse and independent bookstore in Central Pennsylvania. After well over 20 years, we are still not sure what to say when people ask if our shop is a "Christian bookstore." I do a monthly book review column over at our website; we hope that these new blogged bits will afford friends and customers the chance to see other books I happen to be reading, wishing to read, pretending that I read or at least believe that others should, if not read, know about. We have three children, attend a Presbyterian church in York, PA and have no hobbies.

Friday, March 17, 2006

N.T. Wright's Simply Christian

Most serious contemporary readers and certainly those familiar with religious writings of the last 50 years know the acclaim of C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity. Originally spoken on the BBC, and then published as smaller booklets---The Broadcast Talks---this book is one of the wiser, deep yet popular cases for the Christian faith in our lifetime. It is widely read and widely cited. Happily, a new book was recently released which documents Lewis's turbulent rise to broadcast fame during the war years. Pretty interesting.

Most serious readers of Christian books today know that certainly one of the most brilliant, popular and influential writers of this generation is N.T. (Tom) Wright. Beloved known by some as "The Bish" he is an evangelically-minded, progressive, erudite and prolific writer. He has done major, major work in Jesus scholarship, published popular-level Bible commentaries, a few collections of sermons and essays, a daily devotional and has written scholarly work on the authority of the Bible, the writings of Paul, the echoes of Hebrew scriptures in the New Testament. He is interested in these postmodern times and yet is resolutely committed to being an Anglican church leader and a Biblical theologian.

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense is his sterling call to do popular level, thoughtful and compelling apologetics. It is, in a phrase, his version of Mere Christianity. With rave reviews from diverse authors---the fiction writer Anne Rice, the Reformed theologian J.I. Packer, Walt Brueggemann...It is a remarkable book that has this many important leaders commending it.

I have started this wonderful introduction to Christian faith and it is characteristically Wright.
He starts off with the big question of where our desire for justice comes from. These first chapter invite us to realize that we have dreams, here "echoes" of a voice. The second part is called "Staring Into the Sun" which looks at an overview of the Bible, the culmination of the story of Israel found in Jesus, and how Christ's inaugurates the kingdom. The final third of the book illustrates ways that church folk can be agents of this new Kingdom, this realization of our echo, our desires for the world made right.

I've jumped ahead--I'm so bad--to see how he handles the big ending of living in beauty, as a step entering the new creation brought by the resurrection. It is a wonderful, wonderful ending.

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense N.T. Wright (Harper SanFransico) $22.95