"Reading Rainbow" – Week 3…Book 3

14Jul07

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OK…my head hurts.This book was intense.

This week I read through “Simply Christian” by N.T. Wright.

First of all, let me get the basic critique out of the way. I said earlier this week that this was more of a “month” book than a “week” book. I needed to read things twice or even three times to let it soak in and many times I did not have the time to do so. This book was really hard to read for me. He spoke in long run on sentences with often 3, 4 or even 5 ideas running around in that one sentence. This book was definitely not simple and with all the thought and theology that went into this book, I would say that Christianity is definitely not simple.

So, that is the bad…but there was a ton of good. The reason this book was so intense is that Wright spent a lot of time explaining the views of Christianity (often by comparing the views of other religions to it) to point out that Christianity in it’s pure form IS simple. Here is a statement from the book…

“At the heart of the Christian ethic is humility; at the heart it’s parodies, pride. Different roads with different destinations, and the destinations color the character of those who travel by them.”

Christianity is simply living out a life dedicated to the world God has created for us through His Son Jesus. Wright spent time looking at different theologies (Pantheism, Deism) to show how we can often go astray by how we feel or what we think, versus what is true through God’s eyes and Word. I love the intent in this book, which I saw as stripping ourselves of everything culture and society have made of Christianity and getting back to it’s true purpose. Our lives are an opportunity to share Him with others. Wright spoke to the churches role, worships role and relationships role in our faith walk.

I appreciated his constant reminder of our life in Christ being “alive”. An amazing story that we are a part of and have the opportunity to write chapters into. I also appreciated his discussion on the translation of scripture. Is it literal or metaphorical? Is it abstract or concrete? Could the bible at times be abstract in explaining literal truth? See why my head hurts!

Here’s the deal on this book. This is a deep book that only taps into certain discussions of Christian theology. He gives, at the end of the book, More options to dig deeper (I’m going to wait on digging into those options, by the way). If someone wants to keep this education going, it could be endless. But, my bet is that if we asked Wright, he would tell us, stop reading into everything and live the life. I really got that from him. Wright is brilliant and is using his brilliance to speak frankly and honestly to all self-proclaimed Christians. He is tired of seeing us “Christians” screw up the life God has intended for us. Unfortunately we often do this through our convictions and beliefs (think of the suicide bombers). We can get so caught up in theologies and traditions (all of which can be very valid and worshipful) that we forget to actually live as Christians. He wanted to make sure we knew that we don’t have to wait for some far off time to go to some far off heaven to experience God. God is here…now.

Here are some quotes from the book…

“Christianity is all about the belief that the living God, in fulfillment of His promises and as the climax of the story of Israel, has accomplished all this-the finding, the saving, the giving of new life-in Jesus. He has done it.”

“The pain and tears of all the years were met together on Calvary. The sorrow of heaven joined with the anguish of earth;the forgiving love stored up in God’s future was poured out in the present;the voices that echo in a million human hearts, crying for justice, longing for spirituality, eager for relationship, yearning for beauty, drew themselves together in a final scream of desolation.”

“…the resurrection of Jesus doesn’t leave us as passive, helpless spectators. We find ourselves lifted up, set on our feet, given new breath in our lungs, and commissioned to go and make new creation happen in the world.”

“We are called to be part of God’s new creation, called to be agents of that new creation here and now. We are called to model and display that new creation in symphonies and family life, in restorative justice and poetry, in holiness and service to the poor, in politics and painting.”

“When you see the dawn breaking, you think back to the darkness in a new way. “Sin” is not simply the breaking of a law. It is the missing of an opportunity.”

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