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.
Wright, one of the greatest, and certainly most prolific, Bible scholars in the world, will touch a nerve with this book. What happens when we die? How should we think about heaven, hell, purgatory and eternal life? Wright critiques the views of heaven that have become regnant in Western culture, especially the assumption of the continuance of the soul after death in a sort of blissful non-bodily existence. This is simply not Christian teaching, Wright insists. The New Testament's clear witness is to the resurrection of the body, not the migration of the soul. And not right away, but only when Jesus returns in judgment and glory. The "paradise," the experience of being "with Christ" spoken of occasionally in the scriptures, is a period of waiting for this return. But Christian teaching of life after death should really be an emphasis on "life after life after death"-the resurrection of the body, which is also the ground for all faithful political action, as the last part of this book argues. Wright's prose is as accessible as it is learned-an increasingly rare combination. No one can doubt his erudition or the greatness of the churchmanship of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. One wonders, however, at the regular citation of his own previous work. And no other scholar can get away so cleanly with continuing to propagate the "hellenization thesis," by which the early church is eventually polluted by contaminating Greek philosophical influence.
Well-Thought Book on Heaven
This book does a good job of providing a Biblical understanding of the life after death, especially for western readers who have lost perspective on some of these points. The best part of the book is the application of heaven theology to our current lives. It is the first time that I have read this particular take, but it is well thought out, encouraging, and challenging.
Reading Surprised Hope
I thoughtfully read the first three chapters and then jumped around reading all or some of the other chapters. This is my first read of N.T. Wright. He seems to be sincere in his belief and I connected with a few of his points made. I just couldn’t connect with his writings like I’ve connected with other author’s writings. I’m sure there are a lot of people who do love his writings. Different perspectives are always interesting.
A reason to live
I found Wright’s examination of the meaning of the resurrection and what it means to be truly refreshing. It brings purpose to the Church and living in this world as opposed to the escapist theology that encompasses the majority of American churches.