When an "outsider" to the mishmash of our American politics mixed with our evangelical faith speaks to us, we can easily take offense. Unless that "outsider" is Nicholas Thomas Wright writing on the present day evil of our world. With none of "our" issues to defend, no senator or representative to vote for, no USAmerican evangelical cause to promote, N. T. Wright drags our country's conscience to the bar of biblical truth. He dares to do this in his book Evil and the Justice of God
. He also engages his own country's conscience; even the Western world's conscience.
He dares to say that our country's reasons for our response to the evil of 9/11 were "immature and naive." What does he mean? He explains that it is immature to think that "they" are "evil" and "we" are "good." Evil runs right down the middle of every human heart. In this point Wright agrees with Jesus, not our politicians. All the evil of the world comes from the heart according to Jesus, not from a government style or a religion. It is immature to think that a style or kind of government (democracy) will eradicate evil from the world. We are told that if we bring democracy and freedom to the Middle East, evil will go away. That is biblical foolishness. Who is the largest exporter of pornography in the world? The democratic republic called the USA. Is that evil?
Wright does not try to divine the origins of evil nor does he rehash all the philosophical/theological conundrums associated with "the problem of evil." His task is more simple and practical. Wright asks, "What is God doing about evil?" With this question he surveys the Bible and comes to the fine point of the identity and task of Jesus and his mission. He then explores the task of the church in a world wrecked and terrified by evil--a church that is now participating in "new creation" on the resurrection side of Jesus' redemptive work.
I found the book unselttling at times. Wright presses me to state my loyalty. Am I more loyal to God and his work in the world or am I a loyal American who blindly believes everything I'm told by those in power in Washington, DC?
Evil is too serious a topic to turn into political slogans and shallow promises. Evil must be dealt with the way God dealt with it. This is the real "war" of the church.