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Send in the Tanks?

When goverments want to protect and expand their interests, whatever rhetoric it is dressed in, the normal tactic seems to be to “send in the tanks”. Jane and I attended a fascinating lecture at Mansfield College yesterday by NT Wright where he suggested God’s approach to the growth of his kingdom is not to send in the tanks (or a legion or two of heavily armed seraphim) but to send in the meek, the poor and the humble. That is not because they serve as cannon-fodder before, aha, sending in the tanks! No, it is because those who recognise their brokeness and the fact that, despite their damaged starting point, they are being gradually healed and built into the fullness of who they should be, bring a transforming grace where those conquered by such anti-troops become winners while those who think they have destroyed the harbingers of God’s kingdom have lost in a way more perilous than they could imagine.

I am extrapolating from my reflections on what Professor Wright said; don’t blame him! However, it was when he used that phrase and started on the explanation that I have clumsily developed that I felt my heart “strangely warmed”. By contrast, then funniest part of his talk was when he described being challenged by a US border guard at an airport over his job description of Bishop (at that point he was Bishop of Durham). Could he quote John 3:16? Of course, he replied: “ουτως γαρ ηγαπησεν ο θεος τον κοσμον ωστε τον υιον τον μονογενη εδωκεν ινα πας ο πιστευων εις αυτον μη αποληται αλλ εχη ζωην αιωνιον”!

An engaging and though-provoking speaker: well worth hearing.

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