In Simply Good News, Wright goes into far more detail as to how we’ve managed to distort the announcement of the good news of the Kingdom into one of an angry God and simple fragments of a much fuller truth. It is well worth the time to read through his fuller treatment of how we have gone from proclaiming the good news to offering “good advice” to fragmenting the gospel so badly we’ve reduced it to bumper sticker theology that leaves people with a sense that God is just angry all the time.
A couple of years ago I had a guest speaker at my church and as we sat for the meal before our ministry time, he just began with his theology of God being mad. “God really is mad.” He went on to quote several verses dealing with the anger of God toward sin. It was in that moment I really want to exhibit a bit of righteous anger myself and uninvite him immediately.
The fragments we use are true… to an extent. We need to understand that saying “Jesus died in my place” is true. But to let that be the central part of the good news proclamation is to miss the greater picture, in Wright’s view.
We’ve turned Christianity into a “system.” We have a “system” of thought, a “system” of evangelism, a “system” of what is “central” to the gospel.
Again, it is important to read Wright’s fuller treatment in the book, but his contention is that we are missing the fuller picture of the gospel. We miss God as Creator and we miss the whole idea of covenant. As Creator, the whole world belongs to God and he longs to put that world right at last. It is about ALL of creation being redeemed. You can’t read Romans 8 without coming away with that conclusion.
In covenant, God calls Israel to be his people. It is a call of love. The call to covenant comes out of a heart of love, not anger.
Wright does deal with wrath and the meaning of God’s wrath. He doesn’t negate it. He calls us to keep it in context.
God’s goal in the good news is the restoration and transformation of ALL creation. Then Wright really puts the hammer down on our slim, distorted views of how we see the “central” message of the gospel these days:
To imagine a gospel that has forgotten about creation and covenant; to imagine a gospel with an angry deity who is pacified only by the blood of an innocent victim; to imagine good news that, instead of restoring and completing the work of the world’s creation, is prepared to throw away the world and take some people (“souls”) to a different location, namely a disembodied heaven — this picture looks far more like a complicated form of paganism than genuine biblical Christianity. (p. 74)
Somehow, we’ve turned the truly good news of Jesus Christ into some really bad news.
It’s time to re-think our view of the Kingdom of God.