Simply Good News by N.T. Wright (Brief Book Review)
by Harley Voogd
Wright starts off by defining the word gospel (good news) as how it would mean to first century people. For many today the gospel is good advice (believe this and you’ll go to heaven when you die) rather than good news. But, the gospel really is news, and that’s how we should present it.
The good news is that Jesus has become king and He is now restoring the world. He’s not going to whisk us all away to heaven and destroy the world. Jesus started this restoration at the cross and will complete it at the last day. N.T. Wright uses an example of a Roman emperor defeating his enemy and taking power. The news of this would be good to all who support this emperor, and they would be happy to hear that he was now in charge. But first, the emperor would have to consolidate his power before taking his throne. So, the good news of his coming to power would include both something that had happened (the defeat of his enemy) and something that would happen (his coming full rule).
We today are living in that between time. Jesus defeated sin and death at the cross, and now His enemies are being put under His feet, and He will one day come and complete the work He has begun of building His kingdom on earth.
Wright also discusses misunderstood concepts people have today about God (and His anger), sin, hell, eschatology, atonement, creation, covenant, rationalism, and romanticism.
I highly recommend this one.
Most people who regard the statement that Jesus died in your place as the center of the gospel place this truth, this beautiful fragment, into a larger story that goes like this. There is a God, and this God is angry with humans because of their sin. This God has the right, the duty, and the desire to punish us all. If we did but know it, we are all heading for an eternal torment in hell. But this angry God has decided to vent his fury on someone else instead — someone who happens to be completely innocent. Indeed, it is his very own son! His wrath is therefore quenched, and we no longer face that terrible destiny. All we have to do is believe this story and we will be safe. That is the reconstructed scene offered in many churches, sermons, and books. It is not completely wrong. But as it stands, it is deeply misleading. It distorts the very thing it is trying to frame. It takes the truth that Jesus died in your place and puts it in the wrong context. It does indeed make some sense there. But this is not the same sense that it would make if you put it the right context. This, in anyone’s account, is near the heart of what the early Christians meant by the good news. Since it is also, clearly, near the heart of what many Christians today understand by the good news, it is important that we sort this out.
~Page 68 or Location 976 (Kindle)
* You can take an online course on this book taught by N.T. Wright for (I think) $29USD.
Click here for that.