Basic Christian Living

Basic Christian Living

A Survey Course on Practical Christianity

by Douglas Wilson
Publisher: Canon Press
Price: $18.00

Basic Christian Living is the length and width of a notebook, but is surprisingly thin. The subtitle calls it a "survey course on practical Christianity." Having read both the Lewis and Chesterton books on basic Christianity, I open it with interest. Large print, wide lines, lots of room to write in the margins. This is a book for study. I dive deeper.

How it works:

This book could be read alone for personal study, but it is structured in such a way that it could also be used to teach a class, or for a book study or Sunday school. It's divided into 25 lessons, each of which start with an introduction, followed by a couple of questions. Most of these involve looking up and answering questions about passages of Scripture, so you'll have to keep your Bible handy. Space is provided after the questions to write your answers. Wilson then expounds on the theme of the lesson, usually basing his conclusions off the knowledge gained in the above passage of Scripture. One or two more questions may be interspersed with the text. An answer key is provided in the back of the book.

Our honest opinion:

Anyone who's acquainted with Wilson's writing should have a fair idea what they're in for. On basic Christian doctrine Wilson is fairly solid. His particular brand of humor and talent for metaphor makes for engaging reading, and the Scripture passages he brings up are convicting. Unfortunately, this applies only to lessons 1-16.

Again, anyone who's acquainted with Wilson's writing should already know his pet theory on the purpose of women, and he brings it up again in his sections on "Biblical" masculinity and femininity. These are lessons 17-20. Lines like "God created man to tend and work the garden, and He created the woman to tend and work the man" abound, without much in the way of Scriptural backing. This is done fairly subtly, but it is still there. Wisdom can certainly be gained from the Scriptures he recommends studying in this section, even though the Scriptures don't line up with his exposition of them.

The section on masculinity and femininity was expected, but lessons 21-22 are somewhat perplexing. Purporting to be a section on "cultural criticism for beginners," one is a lesson on "defining cool" and the other is on "authenticity." Wilson spends a few paragraphs asserting that if you are a Christian who wants or gets a tattoo, especially of a Christian symbol or Bible verse, you are declaring "in your mind and heart you believe that your baptism needs supplements." The section on authenticity is mostly focused on Wilson's inexplicably long tirade against pre-ripped jeans.

After these five lessons, the remaining lessons 23-25 are similar to the first sixteen lessons, providing fairly basic commentary on established Christian doctrine in a relevant and engaging way. All that being said, we might recommend this book to fans of Wilson and those wanting to run a Bible-focused study on basic Christian doctrine, but we would do so with some strong reservations.

Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here.
Did you find this review helpful?