Book of The Month: July 2012

How God Became King: Getting to the heart of the Gospels

by Tom Wright (2012)

 

Those of us who heard Tom Wright’s Sarum lectures last year will have been introduced to this excellent book, which starts with the question that informs the whole of it.

Why do the creeds have so much about the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus but nothing about his life and teachings?  As the author says, “What, in other words, about the bit between the stable and the cross?” Tom Wright’s other books, especially Simply Jesus look at the Jesus of history.  This book takes a different angle.

The main thesis if this book is that since the Enlightenment, separating religion from society, Christians of all points of view have failed to hold the life and teachings of Jesus with doctrinal beliefs about his divinity and his saving work.  In looking again at the Gospels we are reminded of four key themes.  The first and second are that we should see them as pointing to Jesus as the climax of the story of Israel, and as the story of Israel’s God coming back to them as had always been promised.  A third key theme is the launching of God’s renewed community of faith. The fourth is the clash of the kingdom of God with the kingdom of Caesar.  Each of these themes make up the central chapters of the book and are closely and passionately argued.

These four themes bring together the kingdom and the cross – the teaching and life of Jesus with his atoning death and glorious resurrection, which when held together brings a sense of the fundamental work of Jesus to bring in dawning of the kingly rule of God on earth.  Finally Wright suggests a new thinking we should be doing when we recite the creed and how we might pray the gospels.

Reviewed by Keith Lamdin, Principal of Sarum College

Published by SPCK, “How God Became King” is normally priced £12.99.  Mention this review to order a copy at the special price of £11.50 and POSTAGE FREE from Sarum College Bookshop until July 31st 2012.  Cheques should be made payable to “Sarum College Bookshop”.

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