God and the Pandemic

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

This brief book, only 76 pages, by the renowned Biblical scholar Tom Wright is subtitled ‘A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and its Aftermath’. Tom Wright brings into play his deep knowledge of both the Old and the New Testaments to shed light on how we should view the pandemic – and our response to it. Is it a judgement on sin, a sign of the ‘end times’ or an opportunity for evangelism? He considers none of these provides a fully rounded view. I’ll highlight just a few of the points he explores that struck me.

First, the NT insists that we put Jesus at the centre and work out from there: God has spoken and is speaking through his Son, not a pandemic. When we ask ‘where is God in all this?’ and proclaim His sovereignty, we need to remind ourselves of the nature of sovereignty as exemplified by Jesus: washing the disciples’ feet and dying on the cross. As God the Father sent His Son, so the Son sends us. Tom Wright has a very interesting reflection on Acts 11 where Luke tells of the response of the church in Syrian Antioch to the needs of the Christians in Judea as a result of famine. Asking 'Why?' may not be as helpful as asking 'What?' What would God have me/us do in response to evident human need? One aspect of our response in addition to practical aid, Wright suggests, is lament, a strong theme in Scripture. ‘Grief, after all, is part of love.’ He draws our attention to the first Easter: Mary Magdalene’s weeping, the locked doors, and Thomas doubting, all akin to our experience in present circumstances – and Jesus met them in their tears, fears and doubt. We too should know – and share - faith, hope and love. ‘New possibilities can and do emerge’ for us to build the kingdom of God. Wright concludes by quoting Psalm 44:3-5.

I thoroughly recommend this little book – and so too does the Archbishop of Canterbury!

Review by Anne P

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