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Six brief thoughts on Francis Spufford’s “Unapologetic”


This might only make sense for those who have read or are reading the book... but I don't have much time so I'm not going to spell things out too much.

Read this extract from chapter one to get an idea of the book.

The whole 'emotional sense' thing is a brilliant idea. And it's wonderfully written.  Here are 6 thoughts:

1) The book connects every time it's about sin and Jesus. It floats away on Spufford's soaring prose the rest of the time.

2) Spufford continually speaks of sin as the "human potential to f*#k things up". That's very well put. If I was Spufford, I'd object to any priggishness about the term. 'Transgression' and 'iniquity' don't describe transgressions and iniquities the way we  experience them today. "F#@k ups" do.  Jesus meets us here or not at all.

3) "Yeshua" - his Jesus chapter - is the stand-out. (Surprise, surprise).

4) Jesus shines. Spufford's "God", on the other hand seems simply to be a "Shining" and so, ironically, he doesn't.

5) Spufford is strong on the uncontainable, unreachable, beautiful-yet-bonkers teaching of Jesus. On the issues of forgiveness, generosity, worry and non-violence, Spufford captures the irrepressible overflow of the kingdom.  These sections are very refreshing to read, but...

6) ...Spufford doesn't follow this same trajectory when he treats Jesus' teaching on sexuality and hell. He hides it away saying, on the one hand, that Jesus speaks very little about sex and, on the other, that the church doesn't really believe in hell anymore, so...  Well, so Spufford should have treated Christ's teaching here, the way he treats it on every other subject: bonkers-but-beautiful,  demanding more from us than could possibly lie within us - and, at the same time, speaking of a Kingdom and King in which these things are and can be.

Spufford points attractively towards a fruitful line of gospel engagement. Let's pray others follow.

5 thoughts on “Six brief thoughts on Francis Spufford’s “Unapologetic”

  1. Andrew Evans

    Very helpful review Glen. I totally agree with your analysis - he describes sin and grace compellingly well but fails to really show me that God is able to be both just and forgiving, both accepting and transforming.

  2. Brian Midmore

    Point 6 is interesting given steve chalks recent pronouncements on homosexuality. As far as I can gather chalk is now a universalist. If we dont believe in hell anymore sexual immorality is no longer a critical issue.

  3. John B

    New Atheism has the Four Horsemen, and now Christianity has the Two Witnesses! Besides Spufford, the other Witness is, of course, David Bentley Hart. I'm eagerly anticipating the publication of the USA edition of "Unapolegetic" next fall.

  4. Glen

    Thanks Andy, it's certainly a stimulating read. And it's instructive where Spufford connects (with sin and Jesus) and where his hand waving fails to please either believer or unbeliever.

    Hi Brian, I'd hope that the church teaches a Christ-centred view of sexuality without it being an arbitrary thing. It's not that there's a kind of sexuality that 'gets you to heaven' (there's not) it's more that there's a model of heaven's love (Christ giving Himself for His bride) which is modelled here and now in marriage.

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