Austin Seminary Book Club discussion

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
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February 2014 > February Book: Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright

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AustinSeminary | 66 comments Mod
We are pleased to announce our OFFICIAL February book of the month; Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright. Here's the book synopsis:

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 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.

Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions on the book so far.

Arthur Keith (alkeith) | 46 comments I have been reading Bishop Wright's works for years. Was introduced to him by one of your earlier professors, Dr. Jansen, who was impressed with him. I believe that this book is helpful in that it debunks much of the ideas that float around the Church today with preaching funeral sermons. Just this last month I heard one that was more medieval hogwash than real Christian theology. Just would wish that not only more seminaries would teach this, but that practicing pastors would read it. And then put what they learn into practice.

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AustinSeminary | 66 comments Mod
Arthur, what are some of the highlights of the book so far for you and how would you apply them in a classroom setting?

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AustinSeminary | 66 comments Mod
Question for the Austin Seminary Book Club community at large; what are your thoughts on Surprised by Hope so far? We appreciate the comments and your part in the discussion.

Arthur Keith (alkeith) | 46 comments When I read Bishop Wright and look at what he wrote about life after death, I think of my younger brother who died suddenly on last Christmas Eve. At his funeral I heard the pastor talking about body and soul, life in heaven, I almost thought of him sitting on the clouds playing his harp, little of what I heard would qualify as Christian. Then I think of one professor I had in an earlier seminary who, when I wanted to be learning how to be a hospital chaplain told me that preachers had to worry about a person's soul, not their body. So much of what I have heard in the past does not seem to qualify as traditional Christianity. I so often wonder if we really knew who Jesus was and what he really said and did? Maybe we need to teach, as the first class, what first-century Palestine was like, what people believed and what it meant when they said things like Jesus did. We have so separated him from his own time, from the Old Testament and from the verses he referenced. And if we even look at them, we give them meanings that may make sense in the twenty-first century, but not at the time they were spoken.

Arthur Keith (alkeith) | 46 comments And now, let me make it a bit more difficult. I work as a chaplain in the local hospital and there I deal with life and death situations frequently. What do you tell people? They expect the traditional spiel,what came down to us from the Middle Ages, expressed by Dante, and now accepted as truth. What do you say that will help people?

Carol | 1 comments I led a small group who enjoy tackling challenges in a study of this book. We also used the six session DVD that Wright made to go along with the book. We found some of the study guide that goes with the DVD helpful in organizing our discussion. Wright's discussion of heaven and resurrection was very thought-provoking and led to good discussion. Most members of the group found Wright viewpoint convincing. One person stuck with the discussion but preferred to think of heaven in more popular (traditional?) terms.

message 8: by AustinSeminary (new)

AustinSeminary | 66 comments Mod
Arthur, Austin Seminary actually has a workshop coming up that deals with that very subject. It's called "Caregiving: Care for the Grieving when Death is Near." I bet it would have plenty of answers to your question.

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AustinSeminary | 66 comments Mod
Carol, your small group sounds interesting. What were some of the questions that the group discussed?

Also, how was the one person's decision to stick to the "traditional" viewpoint of Heaven received in light of Wright's discussion?

Arthur Keith (alkeith) | 46 comments It would be nice if that workshop, "caregiving: care for the grieving when death is near," would be available on-line. My wife just had surgery where they put in a new knee and I am going to be busy for awhile, taking care of her.

so make it available to those of us who have to stay at home.

Arthur Keith (alkeith) | 46 comments I must say that I have been disappointed in the amount of participation I have seen here. So many members, so little action.

message 12: by Frank (new)

Frank Mansell | 49 comments February is past and March has come, a major winter storm is upon WV, and I am still reading Dr. Wright's book. I find it very interesting and helpful; made me look up what is said about death, life after, and resurrection in the Westminster confessional documents; interesting. My basic assurance is found in Paul's words to the Romans (14:7-9): "We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living." What more do we need? I plan to keep reading this book during March along with the Lent study we are doing in our church. I'll try to join the group again with the book suggested for April.

message 13: by AustinSeminary (new)

AustinSeminary | 66 comments Mod
We are excited to announce that N.T. Wright will be at Austin Seminary on March 18, from 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. for a conversation with Professor Lewis Donelson about the writings of the apostle Paul.

More information on how to register for the event can be found here.

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