N. T. Wright

Simply Christian

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Simply Christian Summary

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Simply Christian is a theology book by N. T. Wright, a biblical scholar and former bishop of the Church of England. Published in 2009, Simply Christian positions itself as a sequel to the classic C.S. Lewis text Mere Christianity, which attempted to explain religious faith to non-believers. Simply Christian has the same aim, with the stated goal of explaining the tenants of the Christian faith in a simple way that people who are unfamiliar with them can understand.

Wright begins by listing some of the reasons people have for believing in God. Most of these involve some version of looking for justice or purpose in the world. He positions belief in God as being in opposition to the material world. People want justice from God because the world is unjust, and they want to see beauty in religious practice because the world is full of ugliness. Wright refers to these positive aspects of Christianity as “echoes of a voice” that point to the existence of God. He concedes that they do not prove the existence of God, but explains that experiencing them does open the mind to the possibility of a higher power.

In the next few chapters, Wright discusses the many reasons people have for not believing in a modern world. He believes that people in Western society have become skeptical and less likely to believe in God, but many of them feel the lack in their lives. He identifies this yearning for something greater as the voice of God himself trying to make people believe. He also discusses how God can improve people’s relationships with one another and prevent them from breaking down.

Next, Wright talks about the beauty of the natural world and how it can inspire people to seek a higher power. Christians believe God created this beauty for people to enjoy and to reflect God’s presence in the world. The natural world is also complex, which implies that God is more complex still. He uses this opportunity to discuss the idea of Heaven, which is not a place separate from Earth but rather one that interlocks with the world of living humans.

Understanding Christianity, as opposed to other religions, requires the individual to understand Jesus. Wright retells the story of Jesus in his own words, mentioning some of the major themes in the Bible, including those of exile from a homeland and the hope of returning to it. Wright believes that the gospels of Jesus mostly hold up to historical scrutiny and can be read as a piece of historical truth.

The Holy Spirit is another important concept in Christianity. It refers to divine inspiration that comes from God and leads people to have spiritual clarity. When someone receives the Holy Spirit, they have the major tool that they need to begin to remake the world in God’s image. The Holy Spirit does not always lead to joy, and in fact, it is often accompanied by suffering, but it does help lead a person to enlightenment.

Wright discusses worship practices in Christianity. He says that the ideal form of Christianity is one of perpetual worship since that is what goes on in Heaven. Worship allows the worshipper to become more like the thing he or she is worshipping, so it allows Christians to become more like God. Rituals like communion are important parts of worship because they are symbolic representations and explanations for important tenants of Christianity. Prayer is used as a guide to help people during private worship. The words of the prayer are not as important as the sincerity with which they are delivered, which is why Christians have many pre-made prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer that they use during worship.

The Bible is a nonnegotiable text for Christians. Wright explores some of the historical sources that support the information in the Bible. He also identifies the Bible as one of the places where Heaven and Earth overlap. The Bible has both literal and metaphorical parts, and one challenge for Christians is to determine which is which. When read as part of worship, the Bible can provide guidance and help the reader determine how God wants to work through him or her in the world.

Finally, Wright discusses how religion can provide a sense of belonging for practitioners. The church is like a river, with people from different backgrounds all flowing together towards a common purpose. It is also like a tree that grows from a single seed – Jesus – and branches off into diversity. Christianity unites people not only in life, but also in death with the promise of Heaven. Because Christianity brings people together in worship and otherwise, it is designed to make it easier to do what God wants on Earth since individuals will be working in groups towards a common goal.