Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Evil and the Justice of God- N.T. Wright

N.T. Wright answers the problem of evil in an unexpected, fascinating and glorious way. In the process, he answers why we often feel so empty and unsatisfied at modern Christian funerals. Christians have made peace with death, the enemy.

But death is defeated by the work of Christ on the cross, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, by the promise of bodily resurrection for all of God's people, and finally by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in real time on the earth.

Modernity's promise that the world will simply gradually improve falls short. So does the typical Christian answer of a continual spiritual existence. It is not satisfying that the spirit leaves the body and lives on. If that is all there is, then bodily death still wins. But thanks be to God that that is not all there is. One day our bodies will rise and we will be able to laugh at our defeated enemy, death.

Note, I said, our bodies will rise. We do not merely believe in the immortality of the soul. That is a Platonic belief and of course, is true. The soul is immortal. But those Greeks also believed that the body, bodies, things, were essentially evil. The good thing was to escape this and get off to the world, the perfect world, of ideas. Ideas apart from bodies. That was ultimate.

Not so in Christianity. The ultimate ideal in our religion is the body raised a victor over death. Bodies need redeemed and perfected. The earth groans for this to happen. All creation waits for the glorious resurrection when death, evil and all sin will be made the laughing stock.

And yet, now, we still see sin, ugliness, death, persecution, senseless victimization, exploitation. Basically, we see all the results of sin, the very nature of sin, chaos in the world. And we wonder, what is the answer, NOW.

Wright posits that within the broader promise of eschatological hope in the bodily Resurrection is the present manifestation of Christ to the world. This is the body of Christ, His Church, acting like Jesus. The greatest manifestation of Christ on the earth is forgiveness.

Forgiveness disarms evil. Evil wants to hold God and His people hostage. Evil, sin, death, say that all is not right and cannot be right, as long as they exist. But forgiveness is the antidote.

Forgiveness does not shrug its shoulders hoping for a good time on a cloud. Forgiveness calls evil, evil and then disarms it by granting forgiveness. This brings healing to the forgiven but even greater than this, it releases the forgiver from bitterness that enslaves. Only in Christianity do we see the glory of forgiveness displayed in this way. Only in Christianity does forgiveness answer the demands for justice.

Jesus so gloriously simplified this for us in the Golden Rule, treat others as you would have them treat you.

For some, this book would be immensely disappointing. What? That is your answer to the problem of evil? But those who know the grace of God in Christ in receiving forgiveness will understand, that until the resurrection, this is the only thing that really disarms evil.

Swine Flu

Dr. Gordon Wilson sent me a link for information about the swine flu.


I can summarize it for you. There is a swine flu. You might get it. If you do, go to the doctor. Try not to get it. Wash your hands a lot, especially if you have to go or have gone to a place where swine flu has been reported.

If you get swine flu symptoms, you are contagious for seven days. Stay home. Drink lots of liquids, take some pain relief. You may want to take Tamiflu or Relenza if you are diagnosed early enough.

Also, I might add a couple things. There is a large scare on this and the Executive Branch is helping to push the scare. They like crises. It helps them push an agenda. So, remember to trust the Lord in this and not react to these things as if they were a crisis.

Make sure you love your neighbors. It would be good to have a heightened sense of awareness of sickness over the next several months. If you or your children have flu symptoms, please keep them home from church and school. Pray that the Lord spares us from any dramatic, debilitating effects of this virus. If you think you caught a cold or flu from another person (which you will have if you do), especially another person from your church, then do not hold it against them. It could have been you giving it to them. Love and forgive. Treat them as you would have them treat you.

These sorts of things are a judgment and a scourge but they are also an opportunity for the body of Christ to grow in grace, love and wisdom. It is part of our sanctification.