Time magazine featured a piece by world-renowned NT scholar N. T. Wright, author of some seventy books, titled “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To.” I’ll confess that I thought the article better than the title, which I found appalling and entirely wrong. Wright makes a point or two worth making, such as the place for lamentation. I do have a problem with a number of things Dr. Wright said. I have an even greater issue with what he left unsaid.
Consider this my attempt at a very brief corrective.
What are some questions that the Bible most assuredly does answer?
“Why does COVID-19 exist?” Because it is God’s will that it exists (Ps. 115:3; Eph. 1:11). There’s more to say about that, of course.
“Why did God make such a flawed creation that evils like COVID-19 would exist in it?” He did no such thing. The creation God made was good (Gen. 1:4), good (v. 10), good (v. 10), good (v. 12), good (v. 18), good (v. 21), good (v. 25) — in fact, very good (v. 31). There was no death in it (Rom. 5:12).
“I don’t believe that.” I understand. By the way, now you’ve answered more of your first question.
“I…wait, what?” You showed more of why COVID-19 exists.
“How?” I just presented you with just a little basic bit of God’s Word, and your instant response was to reject it. That’s the reason for COVID-19 and all death and misery in the world.
“What? I don’t believe that! It makes no sense to me!” Exactly my point. You imagine that you, by virtue of your reason and your private notions of morality, are fit to judge the literally infinite wisdom and goodness of God (Proverbs 1:7b; 18:2). This is what turned Paradise into a nightmare.
“What are you even talking about?” Our first father, Adam, created pure and unflawed, set in a “very good” environment, chose to pit his own reason and morality over against God. Adam had been warned that such an act would bring him certain death. He did it anyway. As you just did. You can read about all this in Genesis 1 to 3. When Adam rebelled against his perfectly good Creator, he acted as our representative. He brought death and ruin into the world.
“I don’t believe that.” Well, you’re your daddy’s boy, aren’t you? We both are. I was exactly the same. But like it or not, that is the answer to your first question. All death is in the world because of God’s righteous judgment for sin — Adam’s sin. When we reject God’s word, despite all of God’s goodness and patience, we’re just showing three things. We are showing (1) the family likeness, (2) the justice of God’s judgment, and (3) our own certain date with God’s sentence of condemnation (Romans 2:4-8; 5:12ff.).
“So you’re saying there’s no hope for us.” No such thing. Now, I am saying that there is no hope down the road I was going and you’ve been going — re-playing that initial act of rebellion and autonomy over and over and over and over. That road is hopeless. But there is hope!
“What hope?” The hope is all about Jesus Christ. As a man brought death and ruin into the world, so a man brought eternal life into the world, and He will one day re-make and restore creation.
God the Father so loved the world that He sent God the Son to be born as a man, live a perfectly righteous life in this sinful world, and deal with God’s just sentence on sin by His death. He died, was buried, and rose from the grave, ascending to sit at the right hand of His Father. Now anyone who repents of this whole nightmare project of trying to be god, and believes in the Jesus Christ found in the Bible alone, will be forgiven and reconciled to God (Romans 3:19-26).
“What about COVID-19 and all that?” One day Jesus will return and remake creation, freed from all of the miseries and effects of sin, more glorious than ever. All those who believed in him will be bodily resurrected, and will share in this new creation (Romans 8:18-25). Ultimately there will be no death, no ruin, no disease — and no COVID-19.
“Do you think COVID-19 is a sign from God?” I think right now everything is a sign from God. Your good health so far today is a sign from God. Your ability to hear what I’m saying is a sign from God. This pandemic is a sign from God. The sign says “Unless you repent, you will perish” (cf. Luke 13:1-5; Romans 1:18-32; 2:4).
“That’s a lot. But I heard some religious scholar say Christianity had no answers.” Yeah, I did too. Weird, huh?
This only scratches the surface. Read the Bible, you’ll learn a lot more. And there are many books that explain what the Bible teaches. One is called The World-Tilting Gospel.