20 Quotes from the Best Introduction to Christianity I’ve Ever Read


The following quotes caught my attention as I read Glen Scrivener’s 321: The Story of God, the World, and You (10Publishing, 2014) [animated presentation].

While I would still give Mere Christianity or The Reason for God or Making Sense of God [20 quotes] to an intellectually minded skeptic, I think this is the finest “street-level” introduction to the Christian story I’ve encountered. Scrivener has a remarkable way of painting pictures with words. If you want the good news of grace to land on you in a fresh way, pick up this book. Then buy a copy for a non-Christian friend.

“The story at the heart of Christianity is every [epic] story. There’s a golden age of innocence; mistrust; betrayal; unrequited love; a fall from grace; murder and intrigue; a pit of despair; a Hero’s epic journey; a fight to the death; victory through sacrifice; and a happy ending complete with wedding and singing. . . . The Bible says it was God’s story first. And this story makes sense of our little stories.” (11)

“This traveling preacher never graduated from the recognized academies, never accepted political office, never entered religious orders, never joined the military. He never founded a school, never fathered a dynasty, never wrote a book, never led an army, never had an ounce of earthly power. He was butchered as a blasphemer in his thirties yet today he commands more allegiance than any human has or could. Billions call him Lord. Not bad for a kid born in a shed.” (16)

“Wherever Jesus sees faith, he has forgiveness on a hair trigger.” (19)

“Jesus is like a walking, talking garden of Eden—a sphere of paradise on earth. With him wrongs are righted, darkness is dispelled, and everything that’s twisted gets smoothed out again.” (24)

“Jesus can’t speak of judgment day without putting himself at the center of our cosmic conclusion—he is the Judge. He can’t set eyes on Jerusalem without lamenting the way they’ve treated him for the last millennia. He can’t mention Abraham without saying how terrific it was when they met—2,000 years earlier. . . . He owns divine titles; accepts divine worship; performs divine acts; pronounces divine verdicts; and makes divine oaths. In short, he walks around planet earth like he owns the place.” (26, 28)

“As miracles go, [the universe spontaneously creating itself] would be unparalleled. Everything from nothing? Christians believe in the virgin birth of Jesus but this would mean the virgin birth of the cosmos. In fact, it’s the virgin birth of the cosmos but without a virgin, without anything.” (55)

“Our first instinct is self-preservation, self-protection, and self-promotion. Of course, as we grow we realize that others don’t respond well to our naked savagery, so we moderate these instincts. We learn to ‘play nice.’ But notice why we play nice: it serves our interests better.” (73)

“Jesus entered our hell so we could have his heaven. . . . Jesus joins us in our failures so we can join him in his family.” (88, 90)

“If he is our Champion, then his victory is our victory. We know we look like ‘a bunch of losers’ and we know we’ve contributed nothing to the victory. Nonetheless we sing like we’ve won because, in Jesus, we have.” (102)

“There are no promises of earthly riches or easy living. In fact, Jesus leads us into a suffering world to engage with it more, not less. While most people spend their lives keeping back, filling up, and clinging on, Jesus teaches us to press it, pour out, and give away. The way of Jesus is not a trouble-free existence—far from it. But Jesus does promise that, in giving ourselves away, we will truly find ourselves.” (112–13)

“One-ness with Jesus brings us into a one-ness with church.” (113)

“The point of the Bible is not simply education, though there is much to learn. Its point is not simply entertainment, though its stories and songs are inspirational. Its point is not simply ethical improvement, though it has shaped the moral life of civilizations. The point of the Bible is to encounter Jesus.” (117)

“‘Dead men don’t rise.’ This is true. But what if Jesus is more than a man?” (132)

“Given that the Bible is a library of 66 books written by 40 authors over 15 centuries, the headline story is actually the incredible unity of the Bible. . . . On Good Friday alone Jesus fulfilled 29 separate Old Testament prophecies. . . . The consistency question is not a weak point for the Bible; it is perhaps the strongest argument for its divine origin.” (137)

“Jesus is not committed to repairing Adam’s old world. He is committed to raising up his new world. It’s more glorious this way—not simply to heal the illness but to turn the funeral into a homecoming. What Jesus does for Lazarus is a picture of his plans for the world. He is not committed to repairing this fallen world, but to raising it from the dead.” (144–45)

“If you are suffering, you might be tempted to get rid of God. But if you do, you’ve still got the suffering, only now you have lost the right to call evil ‘evil.’ Worst of all, you’ve lost a Lord who loves you and can walk with you through it all.” (146)

“Whatever else we say about hell, we should remember that God the Son has entered it so that we never have to.” (149)

“Hell is not at odds with the love of God. We are at odds with the love of God. That’s why there’s a hell.” (150)

“The Christian God is unique. In some religions God is an individual defined by supremacy. In some religions there are many gods who often war with each other. In neither case is love ultimate. [The Scriptures present] a Father loving his Son in the joy of the Spirit. Only the Christian can truly say, ‘God is love.’” (159)

“It would be nice if Christians stopped being outraged that the world doesn’t share its views on sex anymore. It would also be nice if non-Christians stopped being outraged that the Christian vision of sex dares to be different.” (161)

“Jesus says our partner’s gender matters. In our ‘one flesh’ relationship we are not called to another version of ourselves but to our ‘opposite number.’ For the Christian, marriage is a flow between two interlocking partners: a man and a woman. In this way, Christians believe that marriages reflect to the world the ultimate romance story: the love of Jesus for those who are different to him—us.” (166)

Previously in the “20 Quotes” series: