Thursday, March 05, 2009

Surprised by Hope?

I've been reading the book Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright. Wright is the Bishop of Durham in the Church of England and a really smart New Testament scholar.

I'd had this book recommended by a few friends and seeing this video on Colbert, I thought it sounded good in theory, so I bought it and let it sit on my shelf for about 6 months. I finally needed a change in reading so I picked this up. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The book is not a self help book, or a "change the world by doing these three things" book. It starts out with a very historical, academic approach on the history of Jesus' resurrection and the early church - dry as can be. He looks at it from an apologetic standpoint and looks at it in the context of Jewish and early Christian beliefs at that time. Sounds exciting, huh?

The ultimate purpose of the book is to basically point out where much of how and where Christianity has gotten off track today in the context of the heaven and how that impacts our faith. The book looks at the how this has shaped various eschatologies (end times stuff, like the left behind book series that Noel and Jason love), how we treat the earth and how we treat social problems, and ultimately often view Christianity and salvation as being all about "dying and getting to heaven".

So how is this book impacting me? In the beginning, the impact was boredom. My friend, Mr. Kenneth James Buck encouraged me to stay with this book for a number of reasons, so I did and I'm glad. I'm starting to understand the early church, the jewish beliefs about resurrection and heaven and where a lot of my beliefs about heaven have come from, not all biblical.

I'm still in the mode where I'm trying to understand so much reading. The book is not heretical, or stating anything crazy like "we all go to heaven" or "this is heaven now". In fact, it really upacks where some of those ideas come from and the fallacies behind them. I'm starting to try and look at things a little different and understanding what Jesus meant when he prayed "let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven".

Anyone else read this book yet? Am I missing something here so far at about 150 pages in?

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