Edward T. Oakes' review of Simply Christian by N.T. Wright (January) was, in my opinion, unfair. He ignored the substance of Wright's work in favor of criticizing its perceived tone.
Oakes praised C.S. Lewis but does not seem to recognize how Wright builds on and expands Lewis' argument from universal moral law. Wright describes the human longing for justice, spirituality, relationship, and beauty as echoes of our Creator's voice. In good Reformed style, he contends that the echo is not enough, by itself, to lead us to God; but, when we encounter God in Jesus Christ, we recognize the voice.
Oakes seems to appreciate only half the book's purpose. We all know that few people are argued into faith, and apologetics aims as much at those within the Church as at those outside it. Simply Christian is an apology to defend the faith and persuade. It is also, however, an explanation of the faith. It describes what Christianity is--a different and more basic task than convincing people to believe it.
If all I knew of Simply Christian were what I read in Oakes' review, I would not read it. That would be a great loss. I have found this book to be personally meaningful and an effective tool for ministry.
(The Rev.) David C. Mauldin
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Edward T. Oakes replies:
I freely admit I neglected to stress the many virtues of N.T. Wright's Simply...