A radical, back-to-basics approach to Christianity.
Ruffino’s debut book of Christian apologetics is a mixture of scriptural analysis and personal anecdotes drawn from the author’s many years as a rector in the Episcopal Church. The anecdotes are warm and funny, sometimes offering personal recollections and sometimes quoting from other works (including, delightfully, a bit from famed atheist Richard Dawkins’ 2006 book The God Delusion). The scriptural analysis comes in the form of brief lectures that tackle questions central to the Christian faith, from the virgin birth to the Resurrection. Ruffino begins his book by acknowledging that some of its contents will displease traditional Christians (a bit of an understatement), but he asserts that to be a Christian means “to commit ourselves to things that never were—to commit ourselves to fantastic things.” According to the author, they include biblical stories such as those of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the concept of original sin (“our nature is not corrupt; it is not in rebellion against God”), Jesus’ redemption of sin at Calvary, Jesus’ physical resurrection and the spiritual authority of ordained clergy. In short chapters full of winning, no-nonsense humility, Ruffino discards much of what he sees as Christianity’s extraneous baggage—including anti-Semitism, homophobia and antagonism to science (“There is no contradiction between valid science and informed religion”). Instead, he focuses on the personal, spiritual revelations of the New Testament and seeks to make love the central tenet of a renewed kind of creed—in which each of the faithful is “a partner with God in making all things new.” “Love is our infallible guide,” he writes. “That’s not relativism. That’s faith.” The result is a quick, bracing manual of stripped-down Christian faith that’s heartfelt and convincing.
A pithy, invigorating discussion of the changes Christianity must make to survive in a post-dogma world.