N.T. Wright’s new book, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, is Tom’s adventure into a new kind of apologetic — not by way of disproving but by way of expounding three dimensions of the Christian faith: the inner echoes of a voice in our heart of hearts, the basics of the Story of the Bible, and then a survey of the basics of Christian living. In the next three days I’ll look at each section.
There are two basic images in this book, one of which is up front and center and the other nearly taking over the book (from the middle to the end). The first is the “echoes of a voice” and the other is the “overlap of heaven and earth” in the central symbols of the Christian faith. The latter is not given a separable section but it is present much of the time, while the former is the theme of the first four chapters. Another serious theme that crops up often once it is set in motion, which I’ll get to soon, is the Three Options: panetheism, deism, and Christian theism (where heaven and earth overlap).
Wright thinks there are four dimensions of our life, dimensions each of us knows if we will but stop to reflect for a moment, that are essentially “echoes of a voice” — signs, as it were, of God’s presence and of God’s universal care of us and our world.
First, justice. “Isn’t it strange that we should all want things to be put to rights but can’t seem to do it? And isn’t the oddest thing of all the fact that I, myself, now what I ought to do but often don’t do it?” (8).
Second, spirituality, which he calls the “hidden spring.” And he tells a wonderful story (an inconsistent feature of this book) about a spring that was cemented over and finally just erupted and ruined everything — and he uses this as a wondrous image of the human yearning for spirituality in our world today.
Third, relationships — we were made for each other. A rather uneventful chapter for me, but good stuff — he deals with the human need for relationships and that we find meaning through relationships.
Fourth, beauty. The beauty of the earth is an echo of the voice, but is not the voice itself. What we know is one part of a beautiful masterpiece.