Book Plunge: God and the Pandemic

What do I think of N.T. Wright’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I really like reading N.T. Wright and I try to read anything by him that I can get my hands on. I was a bit hesitant about this one, however. After all, as much as I think Wright is wonderful on theology and history, I sometimes question his political approaches. Would I see more of that in here? Would I see approaches to blame the right or even the left or would I see a drastic push that we must have universal health care now?

Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a bit on universal health care at the end, but not much. If anything, Wright said something I have been saying for some time. Too often, the church has done work in an area, but we have been happy to let the government take it off of our hands. When plague spread through Rome before, it was the Christians who cared for the sick the most. Even the apostate emperor Julian said that Christians were better at caring for the poor and sick than the Roman Empire.

Wright also has a problem with people who try to see the hand in God in all of this. “Ah. A pandemic has come. Now people are ready to hear the message of Christianity.” Yes, some might be. Some might be more resistant actually and be willing to blame God for allowing it to happen or think that He directly caused it to happen.

In all of this, Wright has the right emphasis. He points us back to Jesus every time. If we are saying that now is the right time, then we are saying that the words of Jesus before were insufficient. Jesus told us what we must do. We are to go out there and do it.

In Acts 11, the church hears about a plague coming and immediately, the cry goes up that this is the perfect time to tell people about Jesus. Wait. You didn’t read that in the Bible? That’s right. They instead said “Who is going to be the most affected and what can we do to help them?” It might sound like just something practical, but that is what they did and that is the example left for us in Scripture.

Wright’s words are meant to give hope to those who are suffering wondering when it will end, but are also calling everyone else to go out there and be Jesus to the populace. With regard to churches opening up, there are both sides, although he does deal with a silly idea one parishioner has that the devil doesn’t know how to get in a church. He just tells her that as a bishop, he can assure her that the devil certainly does know how.

This is really classic Wright throughout the book, but the good thing is hopefully with it being about a pandemic, more people will read it and take it seriously. The church would be far better if more people were familiar with N.T. Wright. I may not agree with him on the political and practical questions surrounding Corona, but I certainly agree with him on the topic of Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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