Evil and the Justice of God by NT Wright

Evil and the Justice of God by NT Wright

After NT Wright completed his seminal work on the resurrection of Jesus: The Resurrection of the Son of God he planned on writing a follow-up on the crucifixion of Christ (what would eventually be The Day the Revolution Began). As he prepared to write that book, tragedy struck as 19 terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners and flew them into civilian targets on the Eastern seaboard of the US. Wright realized he needed to write a book on the problem of evil before he dealt with the cross. This thin (less than 170 page) volume Evil and the Justice of God is Wright’s contribution on the subject of evil and God.

Wright’s book is neither primarily a pastoral nor a philosophical reflection on the problem of evil. It deals with the problem primarily from a cultural and biblical perspective. Wright speaks with such ease, you feel as though you’re sitting with a cup of tea in hand in his living room. This both warmly draws the reader in, but can at times give one the sense that the material is ad hoc and is not as well thought out as one would hope.

The encroachment of evil in the contemporary world has been a significant problem, and yet, Wright notes, it “seems to have taken many people, not least politicians and the media, by surprise.” This is because our cultural philosophy has no answer for evil. Wright identifies that cultural philosophy in one word: progress. What is new, no, what is next holds the highest value (look no further than our cultural worship of youth).

And yet, we should have learned that progress provided no real answers for our hardest questions. How, in light of Auschwitz, could we still be anchored by a philosophical mooring as weak as progress? Our answer has been to project evil outward: to the other, to society, to politics. But a culture of blame is no real solution.

Enter postmodernity, where cynicism reigns: “nothing will get better and there’s nothing you can do about it.” But that is no solution. Worse still, “postmodernity allows for no redemption. There is no way out, no chance of repentance and restoration, no way back to the solid ground of truth from the quicksands of deconstruction.”

Modernism did away with Satan and evil, but the burden of proof lies on the modernist to defend their tenuous construal of reality.

What does the God of the Bible do about evil? Wright takes us on a biblical tour to answer that question.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Bob Newhart’s Six Minute Tutorial for Effective Counseling: This is an all-time family favorite, especially since my wife is a counselor. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve got to watch it. If you’ve already seen it, you can’t watch it too many times.

2.      More Than Mere Equality: Jonathan Leeman broaches the difficult topic of privilege, identity politics, and gospel peace. Leeman reflects the tension between justice and moral agency. On the one hand, “Biblical justice isn’t just a putting down of the oppressor. It is a lifting up of the oppressed and downtrodden.” On the other hand, "The bottom line here is: Identity politics, at its most careless, undermines moral agency."

3.      Disentangling Privilege: Andrew Wilson digs deeper into the topic of privilege and reflects on what he believes we should acknowledge is true about white privilege and what isn't.

4.      Check Your Privilege: Denny Burk also reflecting on Jonathan Leeman's piece says, "Obviously, these conclusions are squarely at odds with biblical teaching about guilt, justice, and reconciliation with God and with one another. And that is why we are going to have to give careful attention to the claims being made by proponents of identity politics."

5.      A Day in the Life of Americans: A mesmerizing infographic of how Americans spend their time during the day.