March 24, 2008

More on N.T. Wright and Heaven

A few weeks ago I wrote about N.T. Wright's interview with ChristianityToday.com. Here is the post. ChristianityToday.com just offered an excerpt from his new book, Surprised by Hope.

While I have provided a few good quotes, please read the article. There are some passages where it would simply be an injustice to rip away from its context:

The traditional picture of people going to either heaven or hell as a one-stage, postmortem journey represents a serious distortion and diminution of the Christian hope. Bodily resurrection is not just one odd bit of that hope. It is the element that gives shape and meaning to the rest of the story of God's ultimate purposes. If we squeeze it to the margins, as many have done by implication, or indeed, if we leave it out altogether, as some have done quite explicitly, we don't just lose an extra feature, like buying a car that happens not to have electrically operated mirrors. We lose the central engine, which drives it and gives every other component its reason for working.
Resurrection itself then appears as what the word always meant in the ancient world. It wasn't a way of talking about life after death. It was a way of talking about a new bodily life after whatever state of existence one might enter immediately upon death. It was, in other words, life after life after death.
The mission of the church is nothing more or less than the outworking, in the power of the Spirit, of Jesus' bodily resurrection. It is the anticipation of the time when God will fill the earth with his glory, transform the old heavens and earth into the new, and raise his children from the dead to populate and rule over the redeemed world he has made.
The split between saving souls and doing good in the world is not a product of the Bible or the gospel, but of the cultural captivity of both.
What do you think? How is your training different from this concept of heaven? How does this view help fit all the "pieces" together?

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