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God and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and Its… (edició 2020)
de N. T. Wright (Autor)
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God and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath de N. T. Wright
No hi ha cap discussió a Converses sobre aquesta obra.
Valuable theological discussion of our role in bringing about the kingdom here on this world. ( )
Summary: Reflects both upon our quest to know “why the pandemic?” and how we should then live.
Many of us have tried to make sense of “why the pandemic?” For some, we’ve resorted to conspiracy thinking, pointing to this country and that, this political leader and that. For some believing people, the response has been to see this as a retributive plague, God paying us, or others, back for their sins. This idea of retribution has a long history, expressed most tellingly in the friends of Job who contended that Job’s losses and sufferings had to arise from some sin in Job’s life from which he needed to repent.
N. T. Wright argues quite differently in this short book, easily read in an evening. Considering Job, and other situations, notably the condition of Israel enslaved in Egypt, the appropriate response was not “repent” but “lament.” Lament is the cry of dependence that doesn’t understand the why, but looks to God for both strength to bear up and for deliverance. It is the cry of “how long?”
Wright turns to Jesus and the telling scene at Lazarus’ tomb. He doesn’t engage in theodicy. He weeps, entering into the deep grief of the world. And then, foreshadowing his own work of the cross and the empty tomb, he bids Lazarus to come forth. In his ministry, the “sovereignty” of God, the coming of the kingdom is evident in the works of healing, the restoration of what was broken. This work culminates in his own crucifixion, death, and resurrection.
In the apostolic preaching, it is not natural catastrophes, famine, and plague around which the call to repent comes. It is around the person of Jesus, the one who preached, “repent for the kingdom of God is near.” The kingdom was near because Jesus was near. Then Wright turns to Paul and Romans 8 which he considers most significant for our response as Christ-followers. Noting our love of the beginning and ending of this chapter, he invites us to consider some of the less cheery verses of Romans 8:22-27
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (New International Version)
Wright comments on what this means in practice:
“It means that when the world is going through great convulsions, the followers of Jesus are called to be people of prayer at the place where the world is in pain. Paul puts it like this, in a three stage movement: first, the groaning of the world; second the groaning of the Church; third the groaning of the Spirit–within the Church within the world. This is the ultimate answer to those who want to say that the present Coronavirus crisis is a clear message from God which we can at once decode, either as a sign of the End, a call to repent, or simply as an opportunity for a standard kind of evangelism.”
He then turns to Romans 8:28 which he would contend may be best translated, “God works all thing towards ultimate good with and through those who love him.” Instead of speculation around sovereignty, Paul invites us to follow Jesus in the good work God would do in, with, and through us during this time. Practically then, Wright bids us to both pray where lament is prominent, and act in the manner of Jesus to care as appropriate to our station. He reminds us through a poem of Malcolm Guite written on Easter of 2020 and reflecting on the applause given health workers in the UK each Thursday that Christ is not locked down in locked down churches. A short excerpt:
On Thursday we applauded, for he came
And served us in a thousand names and faces
Mopping our sickroom floors and catching traces
Of that corona which was death to him:
Good Friday happened in a thousand places
Where Jesus held the helpless, died with them
That they might share his Easter in their need,
Now they are risen with him, risen indeed.
MALCOLM GUITE, EASTER 2020, AS CITED BY N.T. WRIGHT
N.T. Wright wrote this book in spring of 2020. I’m curious what he would say today, after waves of infections, contentious debates in many countries about the measures to be taken, and the rancorous discussions on the internet. What is striking to me is his call to prayer and self-giving service is not one I’ve heard among Christians. We’ve deferred the latter to healthcare workers (many who are people of faith) who have the proper gear. There has been precious little prayer, perhaps only at the point when we learn of a sick friend. We are now in a season where the hope is that the virus will recede with the advent of vaccines and there is this unquenchable thirst to return to normal. I wonder if Wright’s book might be a good source of self-examination for us, helping us ask what kind of people we have been during the pandemic, and what kind of people will we be coming out. Will we be the contentious and the conspiratorial? Or will we be the prayerful servants of Christ, his hands and feet in the world?
This presents a Christian reflection on the coronavirus and its aftermath. "What are we supposed to think about the coronavirus crisis?"
A short but powerful and engaging exploration into the Scriptures regarding what the COVID-19 pandemic ought to mean for Christians.
Most books of this type suffer from the tyranny of the present: they come out in response to a given situation, and many of them do not age well. I am glad to say that this work of Wright's is not among them.
He begins by establishing the lay of the land: we have this global pandemic, and we see a range of responses in society and among Christians. He speaks about the various philosophical inclinations of modern man and their response to the pandemic. Many are confident it is some kind of judgment on society or the church, or part of a conspiracy, but as Wright well notes, the "answer" seems to be the same answer which the person was advocating for beforehand. All kinds of passages and ideas are brought up about what the pandemic "must mean."
And so Wright systematically explores the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the rest of the New Testament in light of what we are experiencing during the pandemic. He well demonstrates how events like these are considered part of "normal" existence, and need not mean a specific kind of judgment from God. He shows well from the Old Testament the power of lament in difficult situations, deeply informed by the psalms (for Wright theological fans, all the old hits are here - the psalms, robust resurrection themes, Romans 8 and the corruption of the creation, Kingdom values). He shows how the Gospels portray Jesus as recognizing the plagues and challenges of the world that is, but how He in Himself points the way to a better way - the Kingdom of God, and the pursuit of the purposes of that Kingdom should always be a thing, not just in a pandemic. Jesus is Lord now; His people must follow His way of the cross now. He then goes through the New Testament and sees a community of people who provide mutual help and aid, to love and to serve, all in light of the hope of the changed world imagined in the resurrection. His exegesis of Romans 8:28 is fascinating, diverging even from his own Kingdom translation - exploring whether Paul's point is more that God works with/in/through us to do the good, very much consistent with Ephesians 3:14-21 and other passages.
To this end he addresses what Christians should do, and what he says sounds apropos in almost any disaster or time of distress: lament, repent, be active in advancing God's purposes in prayer and humility, to encourage the powers that be to be prepared and to function well, and in the pandemic itself, to show love to one another - he uses the oft-cited quote from Luther when he was in the midst of an outbreak of plague to encourage people to serve as they can but to not cause greater harm by becoming a vector. Both sides of his point regarding churches and assemblies are important: the importance of not maintaining a vector, but the danger to society in creating the idea that religion is a mere private affair and sacred space is optional. His conclusion in regards to what should be done in recovery is also well considered, to strive to establish more justice and righteousness in the land, and to avoid the temptation to just "return to what it was" and to miss the opportunity for growth and fresh and creative ways forward.
The only disappointment I register is that Wright could have spent some time with the idea of such events as apocalypses for those who endure them - apocalypse as an unveiling, the exposure of what is in the minds and hearts of people, when in anxiety and fear people show aspects of themselves they would rather not have exposed. This is a major theme in judgments throughout Scripture, and even if it remains true that we need to be careful about seeing COVID-19 as a specific kind of judgment, the crisis has certainly exposed a lot of things about people, governments, and systems, and we need to take that to heart.
Nevertheless, a great resource for consideration in the days of COVID-19, but also relevant in any moment of distress.
**--galley received as part of early review program
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Discover a different way of seeing and responding to the Coronavirus pandemic, an approach drawing on Scripture, Christian history, and the way of living, thinking, and praying revealed to us by Jesus. What are we supposed to think about the Coronavirus crisis? Some people think they know: "This is a sign of the End," they say. "It's all predicted in the book of Revelation." Others disagree but are equally clear: "This is a call to repent. God is judging the world and through this disease he's telling us to change." Some join in the chorus of blame and condemnation: "It's the fault of the Chinese, the government, the World Health Organization..." N. T. Wright examines these reactions to the virus and finds them wanting. Instead, he shows that a careful reading of the Bible and Christian history offers simple though profound answers to our many questions, including: What should be the Christian response? How should we think about God? How do we live in the present? Why should we lament? What should we learn about ourselves? How do we recover? Written by one of the world's foremost New Testament scholars, God and the Pandemic will serve as your guide to read the events of today through the light of Jesus' death and resurrection.
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)231.8Religions Christian doctrinal theology God; Unity; Trinity Theodicy
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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