Andrew Naffin, Theology, church, scripture, N.T. Wright, Karl Barth
 
 Review by Andrew Naffin
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Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright.

In his book Surprised by Hope N.T. Wright, with his now expected scholarly precision and approachable articulation, explains the foundational hope of the Christian life.  Wright tackles the tough question of life after death and its implication for life lived in the present. 

The entire book deals with two primary and yet intertwined questions.  First, what is the ultimate hope of the Christian? And secondly, what hope do we have for change in the present world?

What is the ultimate Christian hope?  The answer to this question by Wright is shocking to many Christians today.  The ultimate hope according to Wright is that death, in all its various forms, does not have the final say.  Our hope is in Christ who overcomes and defeats death.  Our hope is in Christ and for the bodily resurrection through Christ.  The Christian hope is not the destruction of this world so that we may be given another, but a “radical healing” of the present world (122).  Wright puts this succinctly when he says, “The ultimate destination is (once more) not ‘going to heaven when you die’ but being bodily raised into the transformed, glorious likeness of Jesus Christ “ (168). 

Change in the present.  If the point of salvation is not to be whisked away to ‘heaven’ to be with God, but rather God redeeming his creation, there are then huge implications for the present life.  Salvation, in the person and work of Christ, has come into the present moment.  The Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God has already been launched.  It is the world in which we presently live.  Sin and brokenness still exist in this world in a powerful way that must not be downplayed, but the victory founded and found in the death and resurrection speak to the final overthrow of these powers.  The works of healing done now, in this present world, are works that even now are part of the kingdom of heaven that is overturning this world.  Properly grasped there is neither a naive triumphalism nor a pessimistic despair over the present state of the world.  God’s ultimate setting the world to rights is an incredible motivating power for those of us in the now and has begin to happen even now. 

Wright's fresh explanation of Christian hope is terribly needed in Christian circles today and I highly recommend this book to anyone.

Interested in this book?  Check it out at Amazon.  Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright

 

11/10/2009 22:35:32

I admit I was very skeptical before reading this book. I feel like the millenium brought forth enormous speculation and even supersition within churches I attended at the time. Today I feel a lot of such sentiments were based on certain theological and hermeneutical presumptions rather than on explicit passages in the Bible. In particular, I feel like the Jerry B. Jenkins trend is really about money. How come a book series about THE END never seems to come to an end?

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Andrew Naffin, Theology, Church, Scripture, N.T. Wright, Karl Barth