Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
For years Christians have been asking, "If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?" It turns out that many believers have been giving the wrong answer. It is not heaven. Award-winning author N. T. Wright outlines the present confusion about a Christian's future hope and shows how it is deeply intertwined with how we live today. Wright, who is one of today's premier Bible scholars, asserts that Christianity's most distinctive idea is bodily resurrection. He provides a magisterial defense for a literal resurrection of Jesus and shows how this became the cornerstone for the Christian community's hope in the bodily resurrection of all people at the end of the age. Wright then explores our expectation of "new heavens and a new earth," revealing what happens to the dead until then and what will happen with the "second coming" of Jesus. For many, including many Christians, all this will come as a great surprise. Wright convincingly argues that what we believe about life after death directly affects what we believe about life before death. For if God intends to renew the whole creation—and if this has already begun in Jesus's resurrection—the church cannot stop at "saving souls" but must anticipate the eventual renewal by working for God's kingdom in the wider world, bringing healing and hope in the present life. Lively and accessible, this book will surprise and excite all who are interested in the meaning of life, not only after death but before it.
N.T. Wright At His Best
By Jonathan Pedrone - March 10, 2008
N.T. Wright has written another brilliant work echoing he previously published masterpiece on the resurrection. Wright's expounds on a Christian hope firmly rooted in the Biblical narrative that longs for new creation.
In a world where the radio orthodoxy of Christianity espouses a gospel of fire insurance, Wright correctly and articulates a gospel and hope for so much more than disembodied bliss. "God's Kingdom in the preaching of Jesus refers not to postmortem destiny, not to our escape from this world into another one, but to God's sovereign rule coming on earth as it is in heaven".
Our hope according to Wright is not "going to heaven when you die" but rather in life after life after death. We hope not for an escape from this earth, but to the glorious day when God will make all things new.
Readers of this book may find the lack of eschatological certainty within the book frustrating. In a Christian sub-culture where end-times charts and elaborate... read more
By A. Blake White - April 26, 2008
Wright states in the preface, "Most people, in my experience-including many Christan's-don't know what the ultimate Christian hope really is. Most people-again, sadly, including many Christians-don't expect Christians to have much to say about hope within the present world" (xi). Wright's aim in this book is to do his part to straighten this out.
Chapter 1 sets the scene by describing the broader world's confusion about hope, then describes three popular views about the afterlife in the world: annihilation, reincarnation, and ghosts and the possibility of spiritualistic contact with the dead (new age stuff).
Chapter 2 describes the reigning confusion about hope in the church, which has oscillated between seeing death as a vile enemy or a welcome friend. Wright blames Platonism's influence on the Christian faith for much of the confusion and reason why so many value the soul over the body. He is concerned that not many Christians understand biblical hope, and... read more
The Title's True! This is a Surprising Book about the Core Hopes -- and the Crucial Work -- of Christianity
By David Crumm "Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine" - April 29, 2008
Friends call him "Tom" -- and, at this point, Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright has friends around the world, eagerly looking for his next visit and his next book. There's an air of C.S. Lewis about the bishop of Durham.
Nearly a decade ago, he became a sensation among American journalists for touring the country with Marcus Borg, the two of them cast as a pair of dueling Bible scholars and co-authors of a still very popular book, "The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions." What drew headlines coast to coast was that, in each city along their tour, the crowds were larger than anyone envisioned. I recall reporting on this myself, double checking to make sure the claims were true -- that thousands of people, rather than hundreds, were hungry to hear truly gifted scholars debate details of Jesus' life and ministry.
That year, Borg played the provocateur, skeptical about many traditional claims concerning Jesus. However, since that time, Borg's own path has veered right into what... read more