Ten - John Pritchard

Bishop of Oxford John Pritchard has come up with 16 ten-item lists that shape his vision of Christian belief and practice. This is not another ‘response to Dawkins’ book, though Pritchard does allude to that particular debate. It’s not just a ‘Why I am a Christian’ book either; it includes what he finds annoying (ten clichés to avoid), what he yearns to see materialise (ten values for tomorrow’s Church) and what he’s gleaned over the years (ten lessons learned). The book is more enjoyable for its breadth.

The weakness of Ten for me is its superficial theology. Though it is rightly Jesus-centred, we are only shown the wonderful Jesus who meets our aspirations, discharges adulterers, welcomes children and cleanses lepers. God is, says Pritchard, ‘our greatest fan’, cheering us on through life. There is a recurrent emphasis on God’s compassion and friendship and a noticeable silence over his holiness and sovereignty. The more troubling Jesus who challenges followers to take up their cross, talks about hell as well as heaven and turns tables over is airbrushed out.

The main strength of the book is in showing how the gospel connects with so much of life and transforms the heart and the mind. Pritchard has a gift for communicating simply and there are flashes of the profundity for which he is known. His self-deprecating humour also helps to make it an easy read.