Tuesday 1 September 2020

The Bible in Transmission (Summer 2020) on Covid-19

The latest issue of The Bible in Transmission, from Bible Society, is available online here, offering a collection of articles on ‘When a Crisis Strikes: Perspectives on the Impact of Covid-19’.

I have taken the summaries of articles below from Hannah Stevens’ Editorial.

Hannah Stevens


Dave Landrum

The Role of the Church In, Through and Beyond the Pandemic

It is because of the conscious recognition of a God who cares for us that the Church has taken the opportunity to respond with outreach in the midst of this crisis. In his article, Dave Landrum discusses how the Church is responding with deliveries of food and medicines, shelter, phone calling ministries and much more. Perhaps this could be part of the reason why there is evidence, as Dave also explores, that people in general are more open to conversations about God and willing to explore church during this time. Historically, the Church’s willingness to stretch out a hand to those crying out for help has helped it grow. It could also be because the fear invoked by a crisis exposes the deeper need for a greater plan and power to be in place. Digital church services, online prayer groups and Zoom meetings also make church more accessible to those who are just beginning to explore faith, as well as supporting regular church members during this time. Dave notes that many churches are coping well despite the closure of their buildings – they are adapting by digitising their content and still ‘meeting’ in each other’s homes digitally, a response which may be going back to a format more in line with the Church’s roots. However, Dave also explores how the Church might respond to the predicted economic crisis through a focus on employment provision and supporting local business.

Peter Heslam

God’s Pandemic Rule and Redemption: Business and the Renewal of the Global Economy

Peter Heslam explores the challenges faced by business with the closure of places to work, shop, learn, socialise, travel and enjoy leisure. Peter notes that social isolation has become a way to ‘engage in a communal struggle’ rather than an expression of individual self-sufficiency. He states that business [sic] are fundamentally ‘other-oriented’, co-operative enterprises and that those most in touch with their purpose are the most successful during the pandemic. They are the ones most engaged with their customers and their changing needs. This drive to meet needs – fundamentally, to serve – is driving three Industrial Revolutions. These are the digital technology revolution, which includes the boom of web-based business such as Zoom; the revolution of local digital production through technologies such as 3D printing, and, Peter hopes, a decarbonising green revolution, aided by the replacement of mass manufacturing and carbon-consuming habits with digital and local alternatives.

Chris Sunderland

So What for the Earth?

Chris Sunderland’s point that deep and lasting culture change is needed to protect the Earth beyond the lockdown. Chris is concerned with environmental issues and makes the point that although much of our response to the crisis has had a positive effect on our environment, this will be short-lived unless we change our view of our relationship to the Earth. For Chris, the collective feeling of dread bought about by the pandemic should catalyse a restructure in our thinking about how we can care for others through caring for our environment. This is grounded in an understanding of ourselves as ‘part of the Earth’s life’, and the Earth as God’s precious creation, a creation that is a continuing process beyond the initial act at the beginning.

Fleur Dorrell

Alchemy for the Masses: Why We Need Art in This Pandemic

Creation is a deeply human response to pain and crisis, which we do as part of our reflection of our creator God. We create to express to others and for the benefit of others. Fleur Dorrell explores the artistic response to the Covid-19 pandemic. She tackles the myth that art is an inaccessible luxury only for the elite, pointing to the democratisation of art apparent during the crisis, such as painting rainbows for the NHS. This, too, is a response that reflects God, because, whether consciously or unconsciously, people are utilising a symbol that invokes God’s promise and protection against total destruction. Just as the biblical rainbow in the sky was and is for everyone, so the artistic expression of solidarity with the NHS and social care is for everyone, from children to the elderly to the disabled. Art speaks to people of all walks of life, and so, Fleur points out, art is a means of connecting and caring for others.

Philippa Taylor

Coronavirus: Some Ethical Issues

A person’s relational health is... a factor in whether they will survive illness, as well as physical health. The truth of this drives us to reach out and provide social interaction to the self-isolating in whatever way we can, as much as we are driven to feed them, because of our shared sense of the ‘high value of human life’, as Philippa puts it. This in turn drives us to evaluate the ethics of the way medical care is being distributed. Philippa explores the ethical dilemmas faced by many medical staff today due to the shortage of resources.

Paul Williams

The Revelation of the Lockdown

Paul Williams discusses the opportunity for a new mission field after lockdown has ended. Paul makes the point that lockdown has revealed the flaws in the metanarratives that influence post-Christian society – science and the courses of action based on science are not always clear, and the world of business and economics is not always stable. He argues that there is a sense we are tired of cynicism; we hunger for ‘the real’, which is expressed in the appreciation of relationships and life, as well as gratitude for the NHS and key workers. Paul has recently written Exiles on Mission, in which he discusses the sense of alienation of Christianity from culture, but even in this he points to the hope that we can be ambassadors for the culture of Christ. Perhaps to the people who are feeling alienated from their old lifestyles as a result of lockdown, Christians can relate and be ambassadors of Christ in the midst of it.

Paul Woolley

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