Plain Christianity

The following is an excerpt from the book Plain Christianity published in 1960 by J.B. Phillips.  The book is a summary of a series of radio lectures Phillips gave for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He was a pastor in London during WWII. It was during this time that his disappointment with young people’s lack of biblical literacy led him to produce personal paraphrases of the New Testament. C.S. Lewis was supportive of his work.

What we human beings really need, if we’re ever to know God at all, is to see Him ‘focused’ in a form that we can understand. He must ‘speak our language,’ as it were, if we’re ever to have a hope of understanding the Character of Anyone so vast and so complex.

This is exactly what He has done. God did deliberately focus Himself in a human being when He became a man in Jesus Christ. ‘The word became flesh,’ wrote St. John long ago; which is another way of saying that God expressed Himself in a human being.

It is, of course, a terrific thing to believe. I haven’t much use for people who say, “oh, you mean the Incarnation,’ and let it go at that. It doesn’t seem as if they’d really sat down and thought what a staggering thing it is to believe that God in all His greatness and wisdom and splendor should deliberately stoop to become a human baby. I confess it takes my breath away.

But once you do believe it, really believe it, the rather wonderful things happen. First, you know now by looking at Jesus Christ what the eternal God is really like. you can read in the Gospels and understand for yourself what He is trying to do in this world, and what sort of people He wants us to become. You can begin to see the meaning behind the plain and obvious happenings of everyday life. In fact, once you accept Jesus Christ as the true Character of God expressed in human history you can begin to learn the real ‘facts of life.’