Wright sees the quest to find the solution to the problem of evil not as the search to answer why it exists at all, but as "a search for ways in which the healing, restorative justice of the Creator God himself - a justice which will one day suffuse the whole creation- can be brought to bear, in advance of that ultimate reality, within the present world of space, time, matter and messy realities in human lives and societies." This job of changing reality is a way mopping up the spilled milk instead of just crying over it. As I mentioned before, I don't share his dismissal of the emotional implications of evil, but I do find much of value in his "mop up" strategy.
In our anticipation of a world without evil, Wright suggests that the task of Christians is not "waiting passively for that future to arrive," but instead involves "anticipating such a future world in prayer, holiness and justice in the present." This "already but not yet" approach doesn't deny creation or evil. Yes - evil does exist in the here and now and
we can do something about it in the here and now. Wright suggest five ways that we can start to imagine a new world.
First is to let our lives be transformed through prayer. This involves asking God to intercede and transform the world not just enjoy spiritual comforts for ourselves. The next suggestion is for Christians to live holy lives that don't clamor to return to slavery to sin/evil but instead celebrate Christ's victory over evil.
Wright then turns to politics and calls believers to hold authorities accountable to their God-given tasks of doing justice, loving mercy, and ensuring that the weak and the vulnerable are properly looked after. If we truly believe that all power and authority is God-given then we must insist that the authorities live up to the mandate to do good and no evil. Who or how someone comes to power does not matter as much as what they do with that power (so we need to get over the idea that the mere fact of getting elected is a carte blanche to do whatever a leader wants. Elections mean nothing is the leader is promoting evil).
Wright's fourth suggestion involves promoting restorative justice. In such systems "the whole community is committed to naming evil for what it is and to addressing and dealing with it, not by shutting people away from the embarrassed eyes all around, but by bringing together offender and victim, with their families and friends, to look hard at what has happened and agree on a way forward."
Finally Wright suggests we need to approach international evil "not by ignoring it on the one hand or by blasting away at it with heavy artillery on the other." International structures that engage those communities that neither deny evil or believe that might makes right are more and more necessary if the message of the cross is to prevail.
Obviously Wright has engaged the issue of evil from a faith perspective that cares for those created in God's image. His solutions are meant for those who want to see God's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. It doesn't matter (in this sense) that it is often those who claim to follow Christ that perpetrate the most evil. The point is to do the hard work to change that. It is easier to deny that evil exists or to lash out in anger. Bombing a country or spanking a child is easy if you are the bigger more powerful entity. Working to reform and forgive is a lot harder. I appreciate that Wright insists hat this isn't a magic formula that will eliminate all evil, but a means of imagining the way things can be and of claiming how it will someday be.
Labels: Book Reviews, Theology