It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve started actually watching the news and thinking about politics. Previously I wouldn’t have bothered with politics at all. I didn’t understand it (still not sure I do!) and I saw how so many people argued over their particular political stances. So imagine my own shock when I found myself reading a book about politics in 2020! This is a great book because it looks at idolatry and how that relates to politics today. Even if you’re not a fan of politics, this is a really good read.
In the first part of the book Christopher Wright unpacks some serious theology, specifically what the Bible has to say about idolatry. What is idolatry? Here’s what Wright says…
“At the root, then, of all idolatry is human rejection of the God-ness of God and the finality of God’s moral authority. The fruit of that basic rebellion is to be seen in many other ways in which idolatry blurs the distinction between God and creation, to the detriment of both.”
“The worship of false gods is the fellowship of futility, the grand delusion whose only destiny is disappointment.”
The question I have often found myself asked when reading the Bible, specifically in terms of idolatry, is ‘how do we understand other gods? Are they something or nothing?
“The paradoxical answer is that they are both. On the one hand, they are nothing in comparison to Yahweh, the one true living God…. Yet on the other hand, the gods were clearly something within the world of the peoples and cultures that named them, worshipped them, subjected themselves to them, or enlisted them in whatever objectives were being pursued by the powerful Amon men for their own ends.”
What do we manufacture our gods from? Wright has some helpful thoughts…
- Things that entice us.
- Things we trust (including ourselves, thinking that we are the providers)
Wright unpacks some of the accusations that the Bible brings against idolatry…
- Idols deprive God of his proper glory.
- Idols distort the image of God in human beings.
- Idols profoundly disappoint.
I would recommend you buy the book for this first section alone. In 49 pages, Wright draws on so much Biblical content which will help you see the horror and ugliness of idolatry.
In part two Wright applies the Biblical truths he’s unpacked to the political climate that we live in today. This book will challenge you, no matter where you stand politically. It helps you get a bit of a glimpse behind the scenes of the political arena too. As someone who still isn’t a huge politics fan, I really enjoyed it!
In part three Wright turns to application. He asks the fundamental questions ‘so what?’ This is an important question for Christians especially now, when politics can be (depending where you are in the world) so entangled with religious chat. As Christians we need to know how to live, talk and vote in a way that glorifies God, not our political parties.
I picked up this book thinking that I wouldn’t like it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you enjoy politics, you’ll like it. If you don’t enjoy politics as such (like myself), I think you’ll like it. And even if you just want to geek out on part one, the book is worth it.
Swing by IVP and grab a copy. This could be a really helpful book for Christians to read as the US looks ahead to the Presidential elections soon and as the whole world is in a bit of a weird place. If you manage to buy a copy and read it, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Christopher J. H. Wright (PhD, Cambridge) is international ministries director of the Langham Partnership, providing literature, scholarships, and preaching training for pastors in Majority World churches and seminaries. He has written many books including commentaries on Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Ezekiel, The Mission of God, Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, and Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. An ordained priest in the Church of England, Chris spent five years teaching the Old Testament at Union Biblical Seminary in India, and thirteen years as academic dean and then principal of All Nations Christian College, an international training center for cross-cultural mission in England. He was chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group from 2005-2011 and the chief architect of The Cape Town Commitment from the Third Lausanne Congress, 2010.