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Review: God and the Pandemic: Tom Wright’s myopic theological response to coronavirus

This is the third short book-length theological response to the coronavirus pandemic that I’ve read. I’ve also looked at John Piper’s Coronavirus and Christ and Walter Brueggemann’s Virus as a Summons to Faith: Biblical Reflections in a Time of Loss, Grief, and Uncertainty.

Tom Wright’s contribution, God and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and its Aftermath, was written to develop the ideas sketched in his Time magazine article. I was disappointed by what struck me as the rather negative tone of that piece. His aim has been to “resist the knee-jerk reactions that come so readily to mind.” Fair enough, but I think he pays a heavy theological and missiological price for such cautiousness, which after all—arguably—is just the other knee jerking.

The Reformed tradition reads the coronavirus pandemic in a narrowly personal and dualistic fashion, with little regard for the tumultuous realities of history. How far this falls short of the standards of the biblical witness is apparent from Walter Brueggemann’s somewhat improvised contribution to... (27th May. 2020 | 5 comments)
Ben Sciacca’s Gospel Coalition piece on “Coronavirus as Dress Rehearsal” had me fooled. Aha! I thought. That’s exactly what I’ve been saying. The pandemic is a dress rehearsal—a foretaste, a harbinger, a portent—for far more serious things to come. Conservative evangelicalism in America... (21st May. 2020 | 54 comments)
The coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity for the church to rethink its message and reform its behaviour, and we need to take up this challenge urgently. That’s how I see it. So it’s good that John Piper has attempted, within a very brief span, to assimilate the pandemic into his theological... (19th May. 2020 | 11 comments)
Paul says that God sent his Son to Israel “in the likeness of sinful flesh” and probably “as a sin offering”. By so doing he “condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (... (12th May. 2020 | 10 comments)
It sometimes happens that a response to a comment takes on a life of its own, which is the case with this attempt to address the excellent points made by Ted Hopkins about certain areas of disagreement and the tension between history and theology. I’ve omitted the reference to a “strong creator-... (6th May. 2020 | 19 comments)
A passage that rarely gets taken into account in expositions of the “gospel” is John’s vision of three angels in Revelation 14:6-11. The context is important. It comes as part of a visionary interlude between the seven trumpets (8-11) and the seven bowls (15-16). I argued in The Coming of the Son... (30th Apr. 2020 | 11 comments)
I was asked earlier in the year to answer a few questions about the “narrative-historical” approach to reading the New Testament, which has been the focus of this blog and a handful of books. I didn’t notice that the whole thing had to be done in 500 words and set about writing this rather lengthy... (24th Apr. 2020 | 9 comments)
The merry-go-round of the debate between Scot McKnight and Matthew Bates, as exponents of a “King Jesus” gospel, and Greg Gilbert, representing a more traditional Reformed emphasis on justification by faith, continues to spin noisily. Gilbert has issued a response to the criticism he received from... (23rd Apr. 2020 | 5 comments)