So far I'm about half way into NT Wright's "Surprised by Hope".
On the one hand his account is a comfort. He is able explain how things hang together in a way that I find satisfying. I thought things were something like this, but I never found an explanation as clear as this.
For example in the relationships between the scientific world-view, the historical world-view and the Christian world-view.
On the other hand he raises a big challenge. He opens a vision of the magnitude of the paradigm shift brought about by the resurrection. The Kingdom of God has come and is coming. The consequences are not just life-changing but universe-changing.
So, how then should we live?
The resurrection led to fundamental changes in the lives of of Jesus' followers in the decades immediately following. Such fundamental change is not so apparent in the many parts of the church that I have passed through in my lifetime, nor is it in my own life.
Quotes, themes and thoughts so far:
Heaven is not the objective
This is a major element in NT Wright's teaching. And it turns a lot of current thinking in the church upside-down.
NOT "Jesus is raised, therefore we go to heaven"
BUT "Jesus is raised, therefore:
- new creation has begun
- we have a job of work to do contributing to the progress of new creation"
I find this one of the most clarifying points that NT Wright makes. The idea that the objective is "getting to heaven" and that all we have to do to get there is "believe", always seemed to me rather unsatisfactory. It devalued creation and our life here in it. Life becomes some kind of waiting game in which we are perhaps being conditioned for life in heaven.
Whereas, the explanation that it is the other way round, and earth and indeed the whole universe will be renewed (become heaven), is much more satisfactory. And, furthermore that the people of God are called to participate in the process of the now and coming Kingdom gives back meaning and significance to creation and life in it.