A beautiful monologue about what ‘Christianity feels like from the inside’: Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic

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A humanist friend bought this book for me, which was a kind thing of him to do, as it’s blessed me. I haven’t read much in the field, but it’s the finest apology for Christianity I’ve encountered.

There are so few contemporary Christian writers whose prose is beautiful, but this book is beautiful in places, and full of the kind of insight into human experience one hopes to find in the best literary fiction, and rarely encounters in Christian nonfiction.

All this said, I’m hard pressed to sum up Spufford’s argument. It’s less an argument than a beautiful monologue about what ‘Christianity feels like from the inside’ – about how, apparently, it makes emotional sense.

Spufford states early on that he is a fairly orthodox Christian, but he writes as someone who carries little theological baggage, and perhaps that’s why he’s refreshing. He describes his inner life and how it resonates with his faith. He actually manages to cover all the key areas of the faith in this account, from his limited but important experience of God, to the message of Jesus and the significance of church.

It’s not a book which will sit easily with evangelicals; he likes to use f-word, and he claims that hell is not something many Christians believe in. For me, I’m so glad to find this  account of a fragile but very real faith that takes seriously the prospect of being wrong, the spectre of atheism and the reality that we often hear nothing back when we pray, and spins from these threads a compelling account of ‘why, despite everything’ Christianity might still be true.

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5 thoughts on “A beautiful monologue about what ‘Christianity feels like from the inside’: Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic

  1. A welcome commendation, Nathan. It’s a book I look forward to reading. With all the pressure sometimes brough to bear on Christians not to let the side down it’s not easy to be conistently and publically honest about our experience of faith. I wonder how many of us find theological pretexts for what is in actuality the emotional appleal of Christianity. I suspect many Christians are somewhat emotially disengaged from respectable dogmatic orthodoxy. We only half believe some of it but can’t risk the awkwardness of conspicuous doubt. Of course, for some of us livelihoods depend on ticking the dogmatic boxes.

  2. I read this book a few months ago. I heartily recommend it. It is quite refreshing because it is that rare thing – a honest account that doesn’t rely on putdowns of others, particularly atheists.

  3. Interesting to find this as I am reading William Dyrness, Poetic Theology, which is really a Christian theological aesthetic. Dryness is responding, partly, to Radical Orthodoxy with a different take on Augustine’s thought. But his arguments have a lot in common with Lewis’s work — and are in part a critique of Romanticism.

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