Following my and professor Wright’s papers at St Andrews on Wednesday, I had the great privilege of spending a few minutes with him in his office at St Mary’s College.
As we started talking, the first thing he did, of course, was to show me his awesome replica of P75 (an early New Testament papyri of Luke 24 I think).
What I will cherish for a long time, however, was the fascinating talk we had about the South African Boer War, including the problem of evil.
Things like Auschwitz, the Boer War, and the evil in every one of us, I understood Wright to say, cannot be part of God as panentheism would inevitably have it – at least not if we take the Hebrew scriptures and New Testament seriously.
Professor Wright puts it like this in his lovely book Simply Christian:
“The one true God made a world that was other than himself, because that is what love delights to do. And having made such a world, he has remained in a close, dynamic and intimate relationship with it, without in any way being contained within it or having it contained within him ... this God appears to take very seriously the fact that his beloved creation has become corrupt, has rebelled and is suffering the consequences. This is something the pantheist cannot cope with. Even panentheism has a hard time giving a serious account of the radical nature of evil, let alone of what a good God might do about it” (Simply Christian, 2006, pp 58-59).
Following our discussion, I am more convinced than ever that the Christian God of the Hebrew and New Testament scriptures is in no way responsible for, or in any way part of the evil in the world as we now know it.
Professor Wright gave me a copy of the 2010 edition of his 1978 book: Small Faith Great God, and also the 2011 edition of his 2005 book Scripture and the Authority of God. In turn, out of gratitude, I posted the only copy of Die NG Kerk 350 jaar I have, (which is a history of the Dutch Reformed Church) to him on Friday morning.
Words fail to express my sincere appreciation for the wonderful discussion we had, and the gifts from professor Tom Wright!
Some of the delegates who also delivered papers.