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Book review: God and the Pandemic

Book review: God and the Pandemic

Book review: God and the Pandemic

12 September 2020

God and the Pandemic is “a short but thoughtful reflection”.

By Mark Braye

Early during the COVID-19 pandemic, Time magazine asked N.T. Wright to submit an article reflecting on the coronavirus, detailing a Christian response to the virus, and considering the many implications of the pandemic. The article was the genesis for his latest book, God and the Pandemic: A Christian Response on the Coronavirus and its Aftermath.

For years, anything Wright has written is required reading and this latest text is no different. In the short but very thoughtful volume, he reflects on the Bible, Christian theology, Church history, and particularly prayer and lament, as he explores and answers these questions pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic: What should be the Christian response? How should we think about God? How do we live in the present? What can we learn about ourselves? How do we recover?

Wright is not interested in the partisan or geopolitical blame game, and he does not believe in the unhealthy and unhelpful over-spiritualising of the pandemic.

He writes about present-day prophets who are willing to give us the answers to our current problem. “These range from the cause-and-effect pragmatists (it’s all because governments didn’t prepare properly for the pandemic) to the strikingly detached moralisers (it’s all because the world needs to repent of sexual sin) to valid but separate concerns (it’s reminding us about the ecological crisis). We sometimes have the impression that the coronavirus is providing people with a megaphone with which to say, more loudly, what they were wanting to say anyway.”

The most important vocation for the Church in this season of uncertainty, for Wright, is our calling to prayer. And the vital initial Christian response to the coronavirus pandemic is lament.

We, the Church, are called to pray with and for others, and to weep for and with others.

God and the Pandemic is well-written and accessible. At the same time, it is deeply thoughtful and theological. It is a wonderfully timely read in this frustrating season as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

God and the Pandemic is available at koorong.com

Captain Mark Braye is a corps officer in The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory

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