A different view on the pandemic

A theologian’s book shows that the Bible and Christian history offer simple but profound answers to the many questions that have arisen

Nicholas Thomas Wright author of God and the Pandemic

How should Christians view the Covid-19 crisis in light of scriptural teachings? That is what God and the Pandemic, an 88-page book authored by theologian Nicholas Thomas Wright and published on May 28, attempts to answer.

The writer urges readers to discover a different way of seeing and responding to the coronavirus – an approach that draws on Scripture, Christian history and a way of living, thinking and praying revealed to us by Jesus Christ.

In an extract from the book, Mr Wright draws parallels between the tears, locked doors and doubt that are present in the Gospel of John with the tears, locked doors and doubt that the world is experiencing amid this pandemic.

Some Christian theologians have already written books about Covid-19 and the lessons Christians can learn from the pandemic. For instance, Oxford mathematics professor John C Lennox’s book, Where is God in a Coronavirus World?, examines coronavirus in light of various belief systems and shows how the Christian worldview not only helps make sense of it, but also offers a sure and certain hope to cling to.

John Piper’s Coronavirus and Christ also invites Christians to stand on the solid Rock that is Jesus Christ and offers biblical answers to the question: “What is God doing through the coronavirus?”

However, Wright’s new book is primarily a Christian reflection on the coronavirus and its aftermath.

Some Christians have argued that the pandemic is a sign of the end of the world and that it was predicted in the book of Revelation. Others have called on humanity to repent, saying God is judging the world and, through this disease, telling us to change. Still others have joined in the chorus of blame and condemnation that the disease is the fault of the Chinese and the World Health Organisation.

Wright examines these reactions to the virus and finds them wanting. Instead, he shows that a careful reading of the Bible and Christian history offers simple though profound answers to our many questions, including: What should be the Christian response? How should we think about God? How do we live in the present? Why should we lament? What should we learn about ourselves? How do we recover?

Written by one of the world’s foremost New Testament scholars, God and the Pandemic serves as a guide to read the events of today through the light of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

In an interview with Christianity Today published on August 3, Wright said the pandemic should make us humble and relentlessly practical. “We can’t know for sure why it’s happening or how to stop it but Scripture calls us to grieve with God’s Spirit and get to work serving others,” he stated.

Some who have read the book had this to say: “It is superbly written, utterly Bible-based… Do not hesitate,” wrote Justin Portal Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury and the most senior bishop in the Church of England.

John Woods, another reader, says Christians should thank God for a man like Wright who is a household name, has an international reputation as a Christian thinker and yet has the common touch that so often hits the nail on the head.

“He helpfully sets the issue of the coronavirus into the context of the bigger picture of what God is doing in our world through the revelation of Jesus Christ (and) most helpfully he reminds us what it actually means for God to be in control,” Woods wrote.

Wright is a research professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of St Andrews and senior research fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He is the author of over 70 books, including The Day the Revolution Began, The New Testament in its World, History and Eschatology and The New Testament for Everyone.