Simply Christian Summary
Simply Christian by N.T. Wright focuses on proving the existence of God. The author uses several themes such as injustice, materialism, and the longing for eternal relationships to convince the reader that God exists. He argues that the perfections and imperfections in the world prove that there is a God. Wright writes about Christianity for different audiences, including those who are not familiar with the Christian faith. The author challenges cynics by providing justifications for the many dilemmas in the world.
Wright bases his arguments on the Bible, explaining the connection between the Old and New Testaments, which tends to be a contentious topic. Furthermore, he discusses the different denominations in Christianity. He addresses the dissimilarities between Catholics and Protestants by discussing issues such as liturgical versus impromptu prayers. The author also discusses the issues that cause arguments between Christian denominations, such as communion and the right way of worshiping.
Wright argues that Christians should have an attitude that overlooks the differences brought about by denominations. He notes that these differences should not divide Christians, as they all worship the same God.
Simply Christian begins by listing reasons to believe in God: the longing for justice in a world where there is much injustice, the search for spirituality in a culture that beckons us to a wholly material world, our craving for permanence in relationships that no matter how great will end in death, and those fleeting experiences of beauty in a world where there is so much ugliness. These are “echoes of a voice” that point to a Creator. Though N. T. Wright is clear that these echoes are neither proofs that compel belief nor unambiguous pointers to the Christian God, they may open the minds of the honest to look for something more than the flat scientific materialism and drab consumerism of modern Western culture.
Not all truth is the result of observation and experiment, Wright notes. We observe the moral chaos around us but we know the world was made for justice; and we know that our thirst for spirituality, relationships, and beauty are real. Such knowledge requires resources beyond those available to the scientist and engineer. Philosophy, then, is an appropriate place to begin, but the god to whom philosophy points is ill-defined and virtually unknowable. Whatever or whoever is ultimately responsible for these echoes is not simply another element or part of this universe. So what is “God”? There are three basic options.
The first option is pantheism. Here God and the universe are one. God is everything and everything is God. (A slight variation is panentheism, where everything is God, but God is more than everything in what is called the universe.) The fundamental difficulty with this option is its inability to deal with evil. If we are all one with God, then what we call evil and tragedy must not really be bad since they are themselves divine.
The second option is that God and the universe are utterly distinct: God created the universe but now allows it to run on its own. This is the Deist position that became popular in the eighteenth century Enlightenment. Only slightly different is an “interventionist” God who spends most of his time in the supernatural realm and only occasionally intervenes. Wright fears that many Christians assume this picture. However, a god whose only connection with the universe is an occasional miracle is not a fully Christian God, nor can such a God account for the ongoing “echoes of voices.”
The third option is one where God and the material universe overlap. Though the created realm is not God (contrary to option one), there are places where God’s presence is continually knowable. The entire created realm is in a “close, dynamic and intimate relationship” with its loving God (contrary to option two). Wright says this is the best explanation for the echoes we continually hear.
It is the...
(The entire section is 1,453 words.)