Evil and the Justice of God

I very much liked N.T. Wright’s Evil and the Justice of God. The chapter on the cross struck me most. Here are a few selected quotations:

“[The Last Supper] was Jesus’ own chosen way of expressing and explaining to his followers, then and ever since, what his death was all about. It wasn’t a theory, we note, but an action (a warning to all atonement theorists ever since, and perhaps an indication of why the church has never incorporated a specific defining clause about the atonement in its great creeds). p. 91

“What the Gospels offer is not a philosophical explanation of evil, what it is or why it’s there, nor a set of suggestions for how we might adjust our lifestyles so that evil will mysteriously disappear from the world, but the story of an event in which the living God deals with it.” p. 93

“The ‘problem of evil’ is not simply or purely a ‘cosmic’ thing; it is also a problem about me. And God has dealt with the problem on the cross of his Son, the Messiah. That is why some Christian traditions venerate the cross itself, just as we speak of worshiping the ground on which our beloved is walking. The cross is the place where, and the means by which, God loved us to the uttermost.” p. 97

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One Response to “Evil and the Justice of God”

  1. chapmike Says:

    Dear Tim,
    I began following your blog when Rev. Andrea Kladder, an old friend, drew my attention to it and your church in Santa Rosa! Thanks for your thoughtful posts!

    I love just about everything I’ve read of Wright’s; he has a way of being simultaneously academically sound and easily accessible (albeit sometimes pretty lengthy!) I wish I had read more of his when I was in seminary.

    I especially like the second quote. It reminds me of a lecture on Judaism I showed my class today, given by Prof. Shaye J.D. Cohen at Harvard via iTunes U. In it, he explains that Jewish scriptures are “suffused with a belief IN God” but have “no statement of propositions ABOUT God” (“The Hebrew Scriptures in Judaism and Christianity” Lecture 3 notes, caps added). The Bible is indeed a living document about living people relating to a living God; our need for articulation requires propositional statements, or as Wright says, “philosophical explanations,” but even the early councils must have recognized that at least regarding atonement, the stories would speak for themselves.

    Thanks again,
    Mike Moffitt

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