Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Churchby N. T. Wright
Pub. Date: 02/05/2008
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
In Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, top-selling author and Anglican bishop, N.T. Wright tackles the biblical question of what happens after we die and shows how most Christians get it wrong. We do not “go to” heaven; we are resurrected and heaven comes down to eartha difference that/b>
In Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, top-selling author and Anglican bishop, N.T. Wright tackles the biblical question of what happens after we die and shows how most Christians get it wrong. We do not “go to” heaven; we are resurrected and heaven comes down to eartha difference that makes all of the difference to how we live on earth. Following N.T. Wright’s resonant exploration of a life of faith in Simply Christian, the award-winning author whom Newsweek calls “the world’s leading New Testament scholar” takes on one of life’s most controversial topics, a matter of life, death, spirituality, and survival for everyone living in the world today.
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Table of ContentsPreface xi
Setting the Scene
All Dressed Up and No Place to Go?
Confusion about Hope: The Wider World 7
Varieties of Belief 9
Puzzled About Paradise?
Christian Confusion About Hope 13
Exploring the Options 16
The Effects of Confusion 20
Wider Implications of Confusion 25
The Key Questions 27
Early Christian Hope in Its Historical Setting
Resurrection and Life after Death in Ancient Paganism and Judaism 35
The Surprising Character of Early Christian Hope 40
The Strange Story of Easter
Stories Without Precedent 53
Easter and History 58
God's Future Plan
Cosmic Future: Progress or Despair?
Evolutionary Optimism 81
Souls in Transit 88
What the Whole World's Waiting For
Fundamental Structures of Hope 93
Seedtime and Harvest 98
The Victorious Battle 99
Citizens of Heaven, Colonizing the Earth 100
God Will Be All in All 101
New Birth 103
The Marriage of Heaven and Earth 104
Jesus, Heaven, and New Creation
The Ascension 109
What About the Second Coming? 117
When He Appears
Coming, Appearing, Revealing, Royal Presence 124
Jesus, the Coming Judge
Second Coming and Judgment 142
The Redemption of Our Bodies
Resurrection: Life After Life After Death 148
Resurrection in Corinth 152
Resurrection: Later Debates 156
Rethinking Resurrection Today: Who, Where, What Why, When, and How 159
Purgatory, Paradise, Hell
Beyond Hope, Beyond Pity 175
Conclusion: Human Goals and New Creation 183
Hope in Practice: Resurrection and the Mission of the Church
Rethinking Salvation: Heaven, Earth, and the Kingdom of God
The Meaning of Salvation 194
The Kingdom of God 201
Building for the Kingdom
Reshaping the Church for Mission (1): Biblical Roots
The Gospels and Acts 234
Reshaping the Church for Mission (2): Living the Future
Introduction: Celebrating Easter 255
Space, Time, and Matter: Creation Redeemed 257
Resurrection and Mission 264
Resurrection and Spirituality 271
Two Easter Sermons 291
Biblical Passages 331
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N.T Wright's Suprised by Hope is a book of solid academic scholarship and has that rare quality of being inspirational as well as informative! I am sure that I will not be the only reader who discovers that his or her traditional notions of the after-life have no actual basis in biblical teaching. Wright's methodical handling of the material provides a solid basis for his conclusions and demonstrates that even the most well intended church traditions can sometimes obscure the very truths they were meant to illuminate. For anyone within or without the established Christian tradition, this book will inform and inspire!
This book is phenomenal. If you're wondering what happens when you die, you need to read this book. If you want to know what purpose there is for you life, you need to read this book.
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.
This book provides a fresh perspective on the afterlife and the hope we have in waiting. The author's arguments are well supported and the resulting conclusions are encouraging and exciting. This is the best book I have read on heaven.
This is the best book on Christian Hope! No other book spells out so well a biblical view of our future hope while keeping us centered in the present, pointing us in the direction of how to live in the here and now--joining Jesus in bringing New Creation.
This is a great exploration of what happens after you die and what it means for you (and the church as a whole) right now. It's a dense read, but I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about life after life after death, Christ's resurrection, our future, and how this great hope should affect your every moment.
While this book started out fine it slowed to a crawl. Really wonder if the Author read it once he finished or was it driven by a deadline. While the Author makes a number of good points he gets dragged down into his "pet" causes which detracts from the initial momentum that the book begins with. What was extremely disconcerting were the long run on sentences that left me with the impression that the Author stopped editing his manuscript for readability and just climbed up on to a "soapbox" to expose some of his well meaning but quite half done ideas. Even though the Author admonishes the reader about those who "pick and choose" unfortunately this book was written with a distinct "pick and choose" perspective. While I do not pretend or profess to have either the titles or education I found this book like a shallow pond, it looks good, is "cool" and refreshing to wade into but it substitutes structure for substance and quickly "diminishes" as one looks for depth.
Started well but a yawner toward the end
No thanks, Harper Collins, for wasting my money on this half-formatted book. The footnotes (in an N T Wright book!) are not hyperlinks. Come on, folks.