I was reminded about the existence of this book recently when I read an extract from it that was used in Francis Collins’ compilation of the writings of others, entitled Belief. The extract from Simply Christian was included at the start of this anthology and was taken from the first part of the book.
What I anticipated was a more modern version of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, being a outline of apologetic reasoning with some, though not many, sources being cited as evidence. Given the difference in backgrounds between C.S. Lewis (a pretty ordinary bloke with a gift for clear writing) and Tom Wright (one of the world’s foremost New Testament scholars), I was expecting this to be a little more scholarly, but that the discussions would follow a broadly similar path. This turned out not to be the case.
It was very refreshing to see a new approach to apologetics where the book wasn’t written in direct response to an atheistic polemic, but it felt far more like it was addressing an unfulfilled need. The book is beautifully written and a large amount of credit is owed to the author for being such a clear and down-to-earth writer.
It was also good to see the author tackle some difficult topics head-on, which all too often many christian writers either avoid or give cursory answers that do little but enrage the critics.
There are frequent glimpses of the breadth and depth of study that have gone into this book though if there is to one criticism of it, it would have to be the lack of references.
This is not a book that I would recommend for dyed-in-the-wool atheists. I think the matter-of-fact presentation is not designed to be persuasive – it just states the case clearly. This is far more helpful for those wanting to investigate Christianity (e.g. those who may be thinking of going on, or have just done, an Alpha course – or something similar) and it serves as a useful reminder for those of us who are Christians about what it’s all about. It can be easy to get sidetracked by various issues at one time or another, and this serves as a good reminder to tell us “this is what’s all about. Don’t ever forget it.”