Continuing in a stream of ‘For Everyone’ books, Tom Wright has produced yet another. Following on from his recent (and very good) “New Testament Prayer for Everyone”, I am reviewing today “New Testament Wisdom for Everyone”. In a similar physical style and size to other title in the ‘FE’ series, this is a nice little book with real practical value.
The book is divided neatly into five sections, and within each there is a short exposition of a variety of New Testament texts that relate specifically to the question at hand. The opening chapter is quite foundational – “The Wisdom of the Spirit”, and here Wright spends a lot of time in 1 Corinthians, but also in James. I love one of his starting points, which I reproduce here, and is representative of the value and thought in this book;
“Christianity is not simply a set of beliefs and a rule-book for life, such as anyone could master in a weekend. It is as many-sided as the world itself, full of beauty and mystery and power, and as terrifying and wonderful as God himself. There is always much, much more to learn, to relish, to delight in”
Big stuff. And this echoes Wright’s passion – to welcome even the casual reader into a deeper understanding of what the New Testament teaches, of what following Jesus looks like. The starting point for this, even as it is the starting chapter of this book, is the ‘Wisdom of the Spirit’.
The second chapter begins with one of my family’s favourite passages, Romans 12:1-2, the wonderful ‘Living Sacrifices’ section. This is a fitting starting point for this second chapter, arguably a response to the first, ‘The Transformation of the Self’. Rather than being some form of flakey new-age spirituality, this is instead good biblical stuff from Wright as he works out the practical implications of what this means. There is a helpful correction to the dualism that many Christians inadvertently believe, as he observes;
“For Paul, the mind and body are closely interconnected, and must work as a coherent team. Having one’s mind renewed and offering God one’s body (verse 1) are all part of the same complete event“.
The middle two (Third and Fourth) chapters of this slim book deal with two key issues in Christianity. The first, titled ‘The greatest of the virtues’, goes to the core of what Christianity is. Following the order and priorities of Jesus, Wright emphasises helpfully that first comes the love of God, out of which flows the love of others. This is the necessary and proper response to God first loving us. Wright then helpfully examines what it means to love one another, the character of that love, and what it means to say that ‘God is Love’. Wright’s treatment of ‘The path of the disciple’ is another helpful chapter, and could easily be expanded out into a book length treatment (New Testament Discipleship for Everyone, anyone?).
The closing chapter, perhaps appropriately, deals with the end of the world. Titled ‘The renewal of the world’, this is a helpful look at a variety of the issues involved in talking about the Kingdom of God and Eschatology, and offers a helpful introduction to some of the myriad of issues here. There is a wonderful, hopeful balance of some of the tensions, and a powerful faith in Gods promises at work in Wright’s writing here.
I enjoyed this little book. It will go on my shelf alongside others a book that brings together various vital threads of Christianity. It isn’t a full treatment of the issues raised, but it is a helpful primer on the Wisdom of the New Testament, and perhaps a wonderful doorway for new Christians into understanding some of wild and wonderful truths of the Gospel. I’d recommend it to new Christians, those involved in working with them, and anyone looking for a holistic and biblical approach to Christianity.