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

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  12,608 ratings  ·  941 reviews
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 earth--a difference that makes all of the difference to how ...more
Hardcover, 332 pages
Published February 5th 2008 by HarperOne (first published May 30th 2007)
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Norman Porath Not just Catholic -- the whole spectrum of the Western Church (Catholic/Protestant/Pentecostal) has missed the significance of the Resurrection in ter…moreNot just Catholic -- the whole spectrum of the Western Church (Catholic/Protestant/Pentecostal) has missed the significance of the Resurrection in terms of its power for living the Life of Discipleship. I recommend several of Wright's titles; "Simply Jesus", "After You Believe", "The Challenge of Jesus", "The Meaning of Jesus", and also titles having to do with the Apostle Paul, and a title having to do with the problem of Evil. (less)

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Skylar Burris
Jun 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: christianity
Would you be surprised if someone said that Christianity does not teach that the soul goes to heaven when a Christian dies? In "Surprised By Hope," N.T. Wright tries to set non-Christians, but especially uninformed Christians, straight about what orthodox Christianity really teaches about life after death (or, more accurately, "life after life after death.")

The modern popular notions of heaven, the soul, and the "after life" often shared by Christians and non-Christians alike do not find their
Oct 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Okay, I've got about a chapter of this book to go, but I'm thinking so many thoughts, it's stressing me out. So I'm going to write this review a bit prematurely. I promise if I change my mind on anything, I'll come back and revise so as not to be unfair.

Back story: I decided to pick up this book after reading a Facebook treatise (I know, LOL. But I don't know what else to call it) on the gospel that used Wright's book as its inspiration. To be honest, I didn't like the treatise much. It bothered
Rod Horncastle
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christianity
I've been eager to read this. But no way was I spending money on it - had to wait for the library to suck in a copy. Whew! Saved $35.00.

I just started reading John MacArthur's The Second Coming. Basically it has all the issues N.T. tries to deal with except MacArthur isn't a social liberal tree-hugging Nutter.

I've suffered through my third N.T. Wright book. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly is wrong with this guy. He seems to be on the right track --- but then his train does a Wobbly C
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I have a new favorite author/theologian in N.T. Wright, author of Surprised by Hope. He knows how to communicate lofty, theological concepts in a way that both makes sense and engages the reader to think. So much of what we think about theology is tainted by our church and political.

The mistake that many are making these days is they are re-INVENTING and re-DEFINING theology. Some people are taking the party's theological line without thinking about it at all. Re-THINKING is absolutely healthy
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
In Fear and Trembling, Soren Kierkegaard makes an observation about the story of Abraham and Issac that has stuck with me since. He says that Abraham believed God's promises were for this world. In other words, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham was willing not just because he knew someday they would "be together in heaven". He was willing because he believed God would do something here on earth with Isaac, whether it was make a provision somehow or as the writer of Hebrews says ...more
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 pass ...more
Jacob Vahle
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been thinking of heaven lots since Josh died. When he died, I KNEW that there was more to the resurrection and heaven then I had thought before, and with longing I've been thinking lots about it. NT Wright offers a richer, more biblical picture of the resurrection than I'd ever considered, and it is a picture that gives me much more hope!

Each chapter was earth-shattering - in page after page, Wright shatters our view of "escaping" to heaven and instead focuses on the reality of the Resurrec
Douglas Wilson
Most of this book was superb, and parts were atrocious.
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow... this book has lived up to its title, for me. Somehow N.T. Wright has stripped Christianity of all the useless trimmings that people have added to it over the centuries, and brought it all down to WHAT THE BIBLE ACTUALLY SAYS. And guess what - IT'S SO MUCH BETTER. It's not about "feelings," it's not about "going to heaven when we die," and it's certainly not about hating this world and everything that isn't 100% "Christian" in it - it's about building something. It's about the resurrection ...more
Uh, like WOW. If you're not into theology because you think it will be dry and boring, try NT Wright. Not that it isn't a bit of a challenge, but with some concentration, you will be richly rewarded. He opened up things I have believed in and about all my life, yet put such a fresh perspective on it for me. Changed my perception on many things. I need to follow this up with a discussion group - to help get it more into my living, breathing, everyday life, and to add the dimension of acting on it ...more
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I like my beer hoppy, my scotch peaty, my coffee black, and my resurrection embodied.
Ben De Bono
Apr 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
At risk of sounding hyperbolic, let me start this review by saying that Surprised by Hope is not only one of the best books I've ever read, it's also among the most important. Let me also say that anyone considering reading Rob Bell's latest, Love Wins, should skip that book and read this instead. Surprised By Hope is much better written, contains all of the good theology present in Love Wins (or more accurately, Love Wins contains Surprised By Hope's theology) and avoids and corrects the major ...more
Caleb Ingegneri
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
huge fan. love the resurrection
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mwebel by: Bill Gorman
After 20 years of feeling that I had a decent idea of what happened to us after we die, this book left me reeling. I realized that almost all of my ideas of heaven and unity with God were based, not on the Bible, but on cultural conceptions. This book helped me understand the Biblical statement on what happens beyond the grave, and that in turn gives me a new hope. I hope this hope changes the way I approach this world, not just the way I perceive the life to come.

Another fascinating angle to t
Silvia Cachia
This was a great book to me on the concept of Resurrection and its ramifications.

The first part is devoted to defend the event of Resurrection, and a Scriptural look at what it was, -a real bodily resurrection of Jesus. It supports it from different angles, (historical, philosophical, cultural, scientific, etc.), and it also places it in the context of the Old and New Testament.

The second part he takes this key or central to christianity event of Resurrection, and explains what it means to us
John Martindale
Overall this was pretty good. Much in the book is old hat for me, I came to similar conclusions long before, in things like his opposition the cliché presentation that we believe in Jesus, so we can go to heaven when we die, and in contrast to this, his emphasis on the resurrection and the Heavenly kingdom coming to the New Earth, and the restoration of the created world.

My main complaint is Wright rarely says "It seems", of "Possibly" or "my interpretation" is, but is so dogmatic in his claims,
Rachel Edney
Nov 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is at the top of my list of the most important books for the church written in our generation
Sep 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in questions of life and death
Recommended to Jonathan by: Christianity Today
Shelves: theology
Surprised by Hope deals with two questions: What does the ultimate future look like? And how should we live in the present in light of that future?

Personally, I wasn’t that “surprised” about Wright’s description of the future because it meshes well with my own views. It would come as more of a surprise to someone who holds to the Premillenial/Pretribulation eschatology of dispensationalists like Tim LaHaye (who made the popular “Left Behind” movies).

While Wright addresses all the future issues o
Apr 25, 2014 rated it liked it
At first I thought I would enjoy and agree with this book--Wright spends a great deal of time and effort setting the record straight on what early Christians meant by "resurrection"--and that it has very little to do with what most modern Christians think about the soul, heaven, the afterlife, and the end of time. He is very specific, and at first I was gratified, feeling that I was learning something both a little esoteric and also true. But gradually I became disenchanted. I doubted that the G ...more
Saraí Hernández
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some Christians (myself a month ago) would be slightly uncomfortable with the following questions:

1. Is heaven a peaceful space, covered with puffy clouds? Are you going there after you die? Besides singing and hanging out with saints, what are you going to do over there?
2. If you say that Jesus is lord and he reigns over the world, why is it full of evil?
3. Or do we need to wait for life after death to get peace and justice? If so, why should we bother to fight against injustice in this world?
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
In Surprised by Hope, N. T. Wright argues that many Christians and non-Christians alike have a distorted picture of what the Bible teaches about our future hope. The obsession with "heaven," he argues, is completely misguided, as the Scriptures present heaven not as our final home but as an temporary rest until the final resurrection and the New Heavens and New Earth. It's important to grasp this, he asserts, not only to ensure that our doctrine is correct but also because our ideas about our ul ...more
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is my second time reading Surprised by Hope, and I think this is a very strong book. I probably would have given it a 5-star rating the first time; it is an important book for me. Wright helps me give voice to what I have been working on and thinking about for a decade or so.
The main weakness of this book is that he links a lot of conversations elsewhere that he doesn't fully play out here. He is strongest walking through biblical texts, but he doesn't spend a lot of time on in the texts.
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am crazy about this book. I wanted to start it over again as soon as I had finished it to make sure I didn't forget anything - I did reread the 3rd section immediately. I love that in talking about our future hope, it changes the way I live my life now and not simply because of some future reward for good behavior but because in light of Christ's resurrection and our promised one "our work is not in vain." ...more
Chandler Cooper
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was unsure of this throughout the first half - lots I agreed with, but I struggled with the “so what?”. Then, after about 200 pages, it all clicked. This is an excellent book on what Christ’s resurrection means for us in today’s world, how we are called to serve with love and justice in the new creation we are in the midst of. So much great content in here - I can’t wait to reread it knowing the ending, as I know the first chunk will resonate much more.
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
I gave it a try but could not make it through this one. Wright takes too long to get to his point. Becoming Worldly Saints is a better book, on approximately the same topic. ...more
Chipper Adams
Jul 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Is the world getting better or is the world getting worse? What you believe about this question, if its logical consequences are fully fleshed out, has a huge impact on our lives, so I think it’s pretty important that we get our thoughts straight on it.

Having grown up in a Baptist church which was pretty convinced that the world is a sinking ship and all we can do is get as many folks on the life raft as possible, I struggled to wrap my head around how anyone was justified, then, in pursuing an
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian, philosophy
One of the most paradigm - shifting books on Christian theology and living I've read. Wright shatters the incomplete narrative that says the gospel is simply a matter of justification and atonement, and invites the reader to see and believe how it stretches further--so much further, in fact, that it lands in eternity. This eternity, Wright reveals, full of such immense hope, is so poorly understand by the modern church as to be some disembodied, spiritual existence of constant worship. Rather, h ...more
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A truly transformative book. I had to digest this book slowly, a chapter a day, to soak in all of the richness of N.T Wright's writing on how to truly understand the hope of a Christian (hint: it's not being whisked to heaven when we die) and the way we get to participate in the kingdom of God/heaven right now. The perfect book to read leading up to Easter! ...more
Mike Jorgensen
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Amazing. The best one-book summary on hope and the resurrection. Any minor disagreements I have with Wright are drastically overshadowed by the watershed and momentous work in identifying the biblical thrust of hope and the western church's negligence of it. ...more
Ricky Balas
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A very good, food for thought read that challenges your preconceived beliefs and makes you question "how did I come to believe that and were my beliefs grounded in scripture?" N.T. Wright at his best. ...more
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N. T. Wright is the former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England (2003-2010) and one of the world's leading Bible scholars. He is now serving as the chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews. He has been featured on ABC News, Dateline NBC, The Colbert Report, and Fresh Air, and he has taught New Testament studies at Cambridge, McGi ...more

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  As the summer comes to a close and the days grow shorter, it's natural that we're drawn to what hides in the shadows. Mystery stories are...
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“Jesus's resurrection is the beginning of God's new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord's Prayer is about.” 224 likes
“The point of the resurrection…is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die…What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it…What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God's future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether (as the hymn so mistakenly puts it…). They are part of what we may call building for God's kingdom.” 135 likes
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