Monday, 8 August 2016
God in Public - a brief review
How the Bible speaks truth to power today
London: SPCK, 2016
Pbk, 208pp; £12.99
Tom Wright is an extremely prolific writer - he has produced over seventy books. This is the latest, but it seems to have had little attention so far, which is a shame as the theme is very important.
The book is a collection of lectures Wright has delivered from 1999 to 2015, so there is nothing new here, although the lectures have been updated for publication. Each deal in different ways with faith and public life - or as the title of the book has it: God in Public.
One key theme comes through several times: there is a stand-off between fundamentalism and secularism in the public arena. This clash is shot through with three elements: postmodernity, Gnosticism and empire. These themes are echoed again and again throughout the lectures. Particularly in the first three chapters - which for me were the stand out chapters.
Wright is strong on critique of the (failed) Enlightenment project and the analysis of worldview. He is weaker on the practical aspects. He gives some example of doing God in public; these include, Desmond Tutu, Cicely Saunders, Wilberforce, the street pastors and the salvation Army. But what is lacking is the emphasis on Christians organising for political action - there is no mention, for example on the possibility of a Christian political party or trades union. Nevertheless, Wright does show that doing God in public is a necessary and that religion and politics do mix.