Friday, June 29, 2007

book review: Evil and the Justice of God

Since I finished N. T. Wright's fairly recent Evil and the Justice of God this week, and I'm sort of in book-mode, I thought I'd offer a brief review of it here.
Wright's book from chapter 1 clearly distinguishes itself from any philosophical works wondering over the co-existence of a good God and evil as we have in the world; in fact, he asserts again and again in the book that he doesn't feel we'll ever be able to satisfactorily answer questions along those lines, hindered "in the same way that a baby in the womb would lack the categories to think about the outside world"(164).
What he offers instead is 1)a reflection on our responses to evil today; 2)a view of the scripture's dealing with evil in the Old and New Testaments; and 3)a call to Christians to live out the victory over evil that was won on the cross.

Most of Wright's discourse here is of a more practical nature, addressing the Christian's responsibilities to implement the achievement of the cross and to anticipate the kingdom to come. The anticipation, he stresses, is an active one, which will play a role not only in our personal situations, but also in those where evil is at work internationally and politically.
The book ends with a look at the importance of forgiveness: God's forgiveness of us, our forgivenss of others in accordance with Matthew 18, and our forgiveness of ourselves. In this section he frequently references(and recommends) Volf's Exclusion and Embrace, which has been commended to me before, and is probably a great read.

Overall this is an interesting read, and, although, as Wright admits from the start, he's not an expert in this field, it has great strength in its assumption of a new vantage point. This is a view we should expect from Wright, and one on which he has done considerable work: the implementing presently of the Kingdom of God which we connect to through Christ and acknowledge in the Lord's prayer. While questions about evil will go unanswered for now, Wright reminds us that Christ's power over it, and hence His people's power, need not be left unclaimed.

-N

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