Jason's Reviews > Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright
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Aug 20, 11

Read in August, 2011

Let’s say you’re a Christian reader—not the type who reads heavyweight theology. You might read a couple of pages of Grudem from time to time. You read Rick Warren with your church, toughed through Tim Keller after you heard your pastor quote him a few times, and even picked up Platt when you heard someone tell you that you were called to the mission field … along with every other Christian you know and don’t know. You spend each day proud that you’re not of this world, and that you’re just passing through. You live a content life knowing that everything’s all right between “you and Jesus.” You finally feel comfortable telling the tract hoards that your response to Jesus, if you died tonight and He asked “Why should I let you through the pearly gates of My heaven?” would be “Only by Your blood!” You’ve stopped smoking, drinking, cussing, and listening to secular music because you know Jesus might turn you away if you were to arrive at His gates flicking a cigarette, swigging from a dark brown bottle, and, with your usual curled upper-lip and slight squint, offering the cherubim and seraphim a confident yet playful “What’s up, bitches?”—all while the sorcery of that worldly vixen Taylor Swift flows through that one earbud hanging from your head. If this is you, you might find SURPRISED BY HOPE a challenging and insightful read. Wright won’t convince you that all your moral decisions (as mentioned above), regardless of your sincerity, will not get you to heaven. He’s not another rank-and-file member of the tract hoard … extended edition. Wright’s book just might pull the floor from beneath your feet and convince you to stop alienating and victimizing yourself in this world—a world in which you’ve been convinced does not apply to you because of your status as a “citizen of heaven.” He might convince you that Jesus has saved you FOR the world and set you apart to bring forth His Kingdom by valuing it as a the stage on which the last three acts will unfold. He might bother you when his idea of “heaven” doesn’t align with the alto part of that hymn you like so much. He might make you question that image of the Jigsaw God you used to and still worry about (before you decided to stop watching horror movies like the SAW franchise). He might even convince you to ask the same questions Rob Bell is asking—the ones your pastor told you not to read as part of his well-meaning duty to protect his flock from the goats prancing bleating the shofar around the Walls of Orthodoxy. But if you’re the scholarly pastor or the arm-chair theologian, you should probably skip out on this one (unless you want to steal some great analogies to share with your congregation or Sunday School class) and read Wright’s unfinished magnum opus Christian Origins and the question of God Series, which includes THE NEW TESTAMENT AND THE PEOPLE OF GOD, JESUS AND THE VICTORY OF GOD and THE RESURRECTION OF THE SON OF GOD. You should skip SURPRISED and go for the more detailed, footnoted arguments of the same information—as a matter of fact, most of what you’ll find in SURPRISED was taken straight from these three books—so if you’re the type to critically evaluate, I say go for the depth and get Wright’s series instead.
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Quotes Jason Liked

N.T. Wright
“...left to ourselves we lapse into a kind of collusion with entrophy, acquiescing in the general belief that things may be getting worse but that there's nothing much we can do about them. And we are wrong. Our task in the present...is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, as a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second.”
N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church


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