The World Is Not Ours to Save: Moving from Activist Causes to a Lifelong Calling by Tyler Wigg-Stevenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
We can’t save the world, and that is because in Christ, God already has, and will one day complete the job that we cannot. That sums up the main idea of this life-long activist’s book.
Wigg-Stevenson’s book is broken into two parts. The first explores the limitations of activism, which begins with his own anti-nuclear bomb activism, increasing despair and conversion both to faith and a different way of thinking about his activism. He chronicles our pretensions to heroism (‘everyone wants to be a David’), the reality that the world is broken beyond repair and that the beginning of a durable activism is the fear of the Lord and a grasp of what it meant for God to save the world (‘take these snakes’, referring to John 3).
The second part of the book explores ‘our deeper calling’, which is a call to peace, not anxious toil–peace with God, peace among the nations, and peace in community. He concludes with what it means to live out our callings which includes a personal and moving tribute to John R W Stott, whose study assistant he was in 2005-6. Stott was a model of a life of passionate commitment to Christ, to the pastoring of God’s people, and to pursuing a global ministry of peace while living as a placed person in London, a single and simple life. In these chapters he also gives us moving accounts of the Tent of the Nations farm on threatened Palestinian land and of a visit to South Africa to learn the story of his wife’s grandfather, a Colored school principle, Perceval George Rhoda, an example of peacemaking in community.
Wigg-Stevenson has not stopped being an anti-nuclear activist. He writes movingly both of his encounters with the children of those who died in Hiroshima and describes in vivid detail the devastation that would be wrought by a single nuclear bomb detonated in Washington, DC during a state of the union address. But he contends that our activism is a stewardship of gifts and call that heralds the coming kingdom of peace, sometimes succeeding in bringing a measure of that future into the present. He also has a telling word coming at the end of an era of evangelical political activism which he describes as asking How can public goods be obtained using Christianity? He advocates, instead, a “kingdom-oriented activism” that asks, What unique and authentic contribution can the Christian church make to the public square?
I hope to see more from this moving and eloquent writer!
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