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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

1 rating: 5.0
A book by N. T. Wright

Wright, one of the greatest, and certainly most prolific, Bible scholars in the world, will touch a nerve with this book. What happens when we die? How should we think about heaven, hell, purgatory and eternal life? Wright critiques the views of heaven … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: N. T. Wright
Genre: Religion & Spirituality
Publisher: HarperOne
1 review about Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the...

Reestablishing the relevance of Resurrection for the broad public

  • Jul 15, 2009
Rating:
+5
N. T. Wright is a brilliant scholar and theologian, and his series of books on early Christianity has become somewhat of a gold standard in terms of breath and scope of topics and themes that were explored. Those books use the most exhaustive critical methods and most up to date historical scholarship in order to establish the credibility and persuasiveness of the events that shaped the early Christianity, and especially to support the traditional view of those events. The most important of these events is certainly the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the book that exhaustively deals with is The Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, Vol. 3). The only "problem" with that book is that it is too long and scholarly for a general reader, and thus it may not reach as wide of an audience as would be desirable. This is partly the issue that "Surprised by Hope" tries to address. It reiterates some of the main points of "The Resurrection" and presents them in readable and accessible form. It makes the main arguments far more succinctly, but also more forcefully. The chief one of those, in my opinion, is that Christianity is not mainly or even primarily concerned with "life after death," but rather with "life after life after death." This is the point that most Christians and non-Christians routinely get wrong. What is at stake, according to Wright, is that by misunderstanding what resurrection and Christian hope are all about we are much less equipped to give a strong defense of that hope and make that hope relevant for our daily life. It prevents us from living the kind of life that would fully reflect our Christian vocation in the World.

The second part of the book deals with the issues that Wright thinks would benefit from our deeper understanding of resurrection and Christian hope. He has some of his own pet issues that he believes should receive top priority in our concern for the World, like the alleviation of poverty in the global south. He tries to make the connection between our belief in the future resurrection and our action on these issues, but the connection is not always as clear as he might have hoped for. This is particularly the case with some issues of lesser importance, and towards the end of the book Wright employs more of rhetoric than strong concrete arguments. The book becomes a bit too preachy for my taste, but that shouldn't be too surprising: after all, it was written by a bishop. However, even with these shortcoming this is an extremely well written book that provokes Christians to seriously rethink their most fundamental assumptions and reappropriate the message of Christian hope for the 21st century.

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