By N.T. Wright Reviewed by Andrew Davis
HarperSanFrancisco, 2006, 256 pp., $22.95
It is the unique privilege and responsibility of every generation of Christians to explain Christian faith—the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ—clearly and simply to the unbelievers with whom they share their time on the earth. It is also entrusted to every generation of Christians to protect that eternal message from corruption. The first of these two responsibilities is extramural, and causes us to probe the minds and hearts of our unbelieving neighbors to see what unique obstacles Satan has erected that make the gospel unintelligible to them. The second of these is intramural, and causes us to study the words we use to articulate the unchanging gospel and to align those words with the perfectly straight canon of Scripture to be sure they are faithful and true. Christianity must be simply explained, but it must be done in a way that is faithful to the Scripture. Otherwise, it will be simply damaging.
Many experts are promoting N.T. Wright’s Simply Christian as a primary resource for explaining Christianity to skeptics and unbelievers. The dustcover promised “This will become a classic.” Christianity Today heralded it as a worthy successor to C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity as a ready-made tool to slip into the hands of unbelieving coworkers. While such tools are extremely helpful in our evangelistic mission, it is essential that they be faithful to the biblical articulation of the gospel. If the tools we use contain errors, faulty articulations, misleading images and analogies, and harmful oversimplifications, then they do more harm than good. This is especially true if such a book becomes a “classic,” trusted and embraced by a majority of the gospel-loving church.