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How God Became King - Getting to the heart of the Gospels
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77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2012
Earlier this year I managed to *just* find the time to finish reading through the entirety of a three part theological epic - N.T.Wright's "Christian Origins and the Question of God" trilogy. The three books - Resurrection, People, and Victory - are superb, and together form a brilliant doorway into solid, sensible, serious scholarship.

N.T.Wright is an interesting character. In some parts of the church he is a theological bogeyman - in others he is the best thing since St. Paul. I'd fall somewhere in the middle. I benefitted hugely from 'Resurrection' whilst doing a New Testament module, and 'People' has propped up a Pauline essay. "Surprised by Hope" was something that challenged and excited me BIG time a few years ago - and I thoroughly enjoyed (and would recommend!) a 'festschrift' for Wright called "Jesus, Paul and the People of God". When he writes a book for the popular market, rather than the academic market, we see him published as 'Tom Wright'. Great choice of first name there. And its on that note that we launch into the book at hand today.

"How God Became King: Getting to the Heart of the Gospels" is one of the best Christian/Theology books I have read recently. In fact, I infuriated my fiancee and family by not really putting it down for the entire Easter weekend. Its that good.

The premise of the book is that, as Wright puts it on the back cover, "we have all forgotten what the four gospels are about". The book is - throughout - an intensely personal, serious book. Incredibly readable, the basic premise comes from a question that Wright claims has been going around his head for many, many years. The early part of the book starts with Wright's critique of the contemporary church - and indeed the church generally - that our belief is in the headlines of the Gospels - and that we have forgotten the meat, the body, the years on earth after the virgin birth and before Jesus' death and Resurrection. At the outset, Wright makes it VERY clear that he does not think 'church' has got it wrong - evangelicals will be comforted, rightly, by his assertion that "what the cross says about the love of God has always been central and vital for me" - but in seeking to answer "Why did Jesus Live?", Wright contends powerfully that we need to head into the body of the Gospels, in order to fully appreciate Jesus and the glory of the Gospel message.

Wright's central premise is simple:

"it isn't just that we've all misread the gospels, though I think thats broadly true. It is more that we haven't really read them at all. We have fitted them into the framework of ideas and beliefs that we have acquired... I want in this book to allow them, as far as I can, to speak for themselves. Not everyone will like the result..."

On that explosive not, without ruining the ending, I want to sidetrack to talk about the structure and presentation of this superb volume. The Front cover is bizarre - there may be some cryptic meaning, but it is totally beyond me. Otherwise, the book is dividend into four parts - with a varying number of chapters in each. Part One is "The Empty Cloak" - setting out the problem. Part Two is "Adjusting the Volume", where Wright skilfully uses the analogy of a speaker system in balance to show where we might have got things wrong, or awry, in our understanding of the Gospels, and the Gospel. The Third Part is the strongly titled "The Kingdom and the Cross", the really challenging meat of the book where Wright really gets exciting, challenging, and generally awesome. The Fourth Part is "Creed, Canon and Gospel" - where the sole chapter, "How to Celebrate God's Story" does what it says on the tin - though arguably (and thankfully!) without dissolving what it means to be a Christian into some kind of emergent mish-mash.

Underpinning this book - and at around 280 pages its not a small one - is of course Wright's bigger academic works. The Christian Origins trilogy I mentioned at the outset of this post is particularly prevalent - it lays the groundwork for what Wright says here, and is definitely worth reading if this catches your imagination.

I loved this book. It challenged, encouraged, confirmed, convicted, envisioned and illuminated me. It made me grateful for Wright - but even more grateful for the radical grace-message of the Gospel. The Kingdom and the Cross. I'd recommend this to anyone - and would hope that Conservative Evangelicals would read it and take it on board - even if they/we don't accept every premise or idea Wright has ever promoted! Read this book!

This review originally appeared here: [...]
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 21 September 2012
I think the thing I love most about nearly all of Tom Wrights books is he gives you a passion for exegesis... He is a master at it! It is hard to refute what he says most of time because quite simply he handles the Bible so well.Secondly whilst this is a meaty book you can be a novice in the Bible and completely follow what he says.
I agree with his fundamental premise we have missed the point for a long long time and the 4 speakers do need to be adjusted to be faithful to the God of the bible and the Big story it is telling us...
Buy it in fact buy two because you will want to give a copy to someone else.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2012
Tom Wright's definition of the problem, and his way of dealing with it, is not easy to get to grips with at first reading! I found that it was most rewarding second time through, when I understood where he was going and why. Most of the background I had heard before at theological college and had 'forgotten', so this book was a timely reminder of neglected truth.
If at first you don't really see what he is getting at, don't give up (or be disappointed!) Stick with it, spend some time working through it and you will be rewarded. This book gets to the very heart of the Incarnation.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2012
It is not enough to say that this is Tom Wright at his very best. Indeed, this is Biblical Theology at its very best. It is pure scholarly gold, written in an accessible and concise way, with immensely helpful and cogent illustrations. I am left feeling privileged to have read this book. It seems to be what Bishop Tom's illustrious career and years of diligent study have been building towards, and may well become the book he is most remembered for. It has the power to hit the church like a ton of bricks.

Tom Wright is one who, perhaps more than any other scholar on the planet, knows the Bible inside-out and is also able to communicate it. For any Christian who wishes to truly take the Bible seriously, Wright speaks clearly and boldly with the deeply uncomfortable and yet liberating message that we have been misreading (or, in some cases, not reading at all) our foundational documents - the four Gospels. He urges that we begin to hear them afresh, with Surround Sound! It is theological dynamite.

Every preacher and pastor should read this as a matter of urgency, but do not expect it to back up your views. It must be read with an open and honest mind, and you may find that - far from destroying your theology - it will enlarge and broaden your view of Christ and the message of God's kingdom, and leave you wanting to read the gospels from cover-to-cover all over again. This is certainly a paradigm-shifting work, which ought to be taken seriously by the whole church, that it may shake us up, and allow us truly live and worship as followers of God our King.

Expect many objections to this book (as people start to read it). If it is not controversial then people aren't reading it properly. After all, we're talking about the Gospels (the most powerful documents in history) being revived! But then expect their renewed message to last, and permeate once again into our language, liturgy and lives.

There is much work to be done in the church, as we consider this message, and continue to determine how we unite our "Mission-shaped Church" in God's Kingdom-shaped mission to the world. This book could provide us at last with a truly biblical theological framework for understanding what God has done and how we respond as his renewed people. Thank you, Tom.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2012
Like the teaching of Jesus on the Emmaus road this is mind-challenging, eye-opening, fire-igniting and heart-warming material. I would make this essential reading for everyone who wants to grasp what the Bible is about.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2013
A magnificent book, but it needs to be read in a book that can be annotated. So i intend to buy this one in printed form rather than "electronic" form.
Gerald Hughes
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 April 2013
An interesting read, with the debate on kingdom well explained. Tom's clear writing and style makes a complex debate accessible.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2013
This book was recommended to me by a friend. It arrived on time and in extremely good condition. It is a great read by a very devout and spiritual man. We can learn a great deal from Tom Wright.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2013
Prompt delivery and good condition.
An excellent read.
Very specific subject matter and some theology background required to be able to get the most out of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2013
I'm a big fan of much of Tom Wright's work.

Here there are 2 central messages. The Kingdom and Cross compliment each other and need to be understood in harmony. Secondly we must not ignore the Old Testament context of the story of Israel.

Wright fleshes out these points well but sometimes the book drags and he takes a long time to get to the point!

That said his teaching on this deserves to be heard - although it remains tricky for me to fully understand the practical application of much of it!
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