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What is the Point of Being a Christian?

Burnes & Oates 2006
RRP $32
Vision Books/St Paul’s Bookshop

When asked the question “What is the Point of Being a Christian?” Timothy Radcliffe, former Master of the Order of the Dominicans, replied from a standpoint of logic – “Because it’s true.”

But logical truth was not enough for the questioner who wanted to know what kind of difference being a Christian made to one’s life. It was this encounter that led Radcliffe to write this book.

To give a bit of an insight into his thinking on the question, Radcliffe declares in his introduction: “The point of Christianity is to point to God as the meaning of our lives.”

Radcliffe’s style is easy to read and accessible as he confronts key issues for the Christian life in a conversational and reflective way.

He draws on a wealth of experience in his travels and encounters as Master of the Order, as well as his obvious depth in reading and personal reflection.

In comparison, having also recently read and reviewed Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, whilst Radcliffe may not quote scriptures as often, I found greater depth and purpose in his witness to the Christian faith.

Radcliffe is not afraid to tackle difficult issues: the gift freedom, our confrontation with death, issues of sexuality, our consumer society and the problems of the divided church, to name a few.

Yet even in engaging these serious topics there is at times a sense of playfulness and joy in his writing.

I particularly appreciated his metaphor for theologians working towards common understanding being like “breeding pandas”.

I found myself referring to Radcliffe’s thoughts and ideas in conversations, in teaching and in sermons.

This book is certainly worth the read and moreover is worth taking time in doing so to ponder insights on the journey rather than race to the back cover.

Reviewed by Rev Peter Lockhart, a minister with Clayfield and Hamilton Uniting Church congregations