Creation Power Truth, Tom WrightDoing what it says on the front, the people's bishop nudges both wings of the Church Christ-wards as they confront key aspects of Western culture, aspects that we can easily overlook.

Pages: 98 (110, incl. notes, index)
Publisher: SPCK

Wright's rounded theology has made a deep impact on churches and individuals, but the people's theologian often runs out of space to apply his insights in sufficient depth. Based on a series of lectures at Harvard from 2006 (and reflecting the interest at that time in The Da Vinci Code) this book goes a long way to putting that right.

Using the character of the Trinity and dotted with striking imagery, Wright shows how faith should confront key aspects of Western culture, aspects that we can easily overlook.

Part One, based on God the Father, deals with the importance of creation. An area that Wright has constantly underlined in his recent writings, he contrasts the goodness of God's creation with some Gnostic elements of our culture. Key features of Gnosticism include the views that "the world of space, time and matter is secondary and/or shabby, dangerous and/or downright wicked" and something to escape; and the importance of 'hidden knowledge,' often about discovering who you really are, to help in that escape.

He laments the way that orthodox Christians can tick all the right boxes, but – like a child who joins all the dots, but draws a donkey instead of an elephant - still manage to collude with Gnosticism. He writes, "This is precisely what happens when orthodox Christians think, speak, pray and live as though the main aim of the game were simply to 'go to heaven when you die,' embracing a private, detached spirituality in the present and a world-denying and escapist eschatology in the future."

Along the way, he challenges those Christians who oppose Darwinism, to be consistent and also oppose the 'survival of the fittest' at a global level. He also claims that secularism produces Gnosticism as its 'co-operative bedfellow,' making faith a private matter and keeping it out of the public square.

Further application sees a Gnostic approach to faith undermining important ecological progress and hampering restorative justice. The Church needs to celebrate creation without descending into licentiousness.

Working largely from John's gospel, Part Two looks at issues of power, starting with how the West views its own power.

Wright claims that God wants order in his creation, and has given human authorities the task of maintaining order until he recreates heaven and earth. Challenging the popular notion that politics and religion do not mix, he says the role of Christians is to speak truth to power, to guide it away from the intrinsic temptations that it faces – a task too complex to be assessed effectively by a simple left/right analysis.

Drawing attention to the recent discovery of just how political the gospels are, Wright says that the answer to "the heady combination of Gnosticism and imperialism is... Christian unity and public truth" (of Jesus), because a united church sends signals to powers "that Jesus is Lord and that they are not".

In the third part, which dwells more deeply on that truth, he notes how imperialism loves both a Gnostic, escapist culture and the fuzziness of post-modernism, because neither will challenge it; whereas God's truth is a challenge to a post-modern world that has lost its absolute values.

As often, his analysis is spot on, challenging both left and right wings of the Church to be more Christ-like.

Wright's biblical framework shows him the big picture as he attempts "to bring a single integrated vision of the gospel in contemporary culture," but it is Wright's perceptive vision that makes the book so useful, although his application is occasionally still a little skimpy. A Church that followed his nudges in direction would have a far more positive impact in the world than it presently does – not least because, for Wright, joining the concepts he has been outlining, love is the answer.

Derek Walker{module Possibly Related Articles - Also search our Legacy Site}