Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Understanding Matthew: The Early Christian Worldview of the First Gospel

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Understanding Matthew: The Early Christian Worldview of the First Gospel

Article excerpt

Understanding Matthew: The Early Christian Worldview of the First Gospel. By Stephen Westerholm. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2006. 160 pp. $16.99 (paper).

In Understanding Matthew, Stephen Westerholm seeks to inspire his readers to become disciples of Jesus by encouraging them to explore the woridview of Matthew's gospel. Westerholm's approachable style will suit both pastors and lay people. It may remind some of C. S. Lewis. Westerholm enlists a cast of characters to aid the reader in following his discussion of Matthew. Two fictional characters, Bernie and Barney, function, respectively, to explore a dialogue between current religious and atheistic worldviews, and to serve as a means for readers to enter into the discussion of Matthew's woridview. The additional historical character of Dietrich Bonhoeffer provides a modern example of Christian discipleship and serves as foil for Matthews woridview.

Westerholm begins by examining the meaning of woridview - the basic framework by which people interpret life - and the possibility of understanding other worldviews in order to encourage his readers to adopt the woridview of Matthew. Matthew's woridview is grounded in the assumption that the world is governed by a benevolent God who expects and aids his wayward creation in ultimately realigning itself with his goodness. People need not experience life's fears or anxieties because there is a good God who will ultimately establish his goodness in the world. Further, Jesus' high expectations (as in the Sermon on the Mount) are rooted in this fundamental understanding of God's goodness. Actions which ignore God's goodness in the world are by nature evil. …

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