Sunday, March 01, 2009

Book Selection: Surprised by Hope

[Editor's notes: 1) I'm going to try to finish up "Oscar Week" this week or next week. Most likely early next week. Depends on whether or not I can finish up any more really recent really good films (at current rates, no such luck); 2) I'm taking a semi-bloggatical, but mostly from my work at ChicagoDads. Still, every other day (at least through this week), I'll have something posted there. So, please, check it out.]

This book addresses two questions that have often been dealt with entirely separately but that, I passionately believe, belong tightly together. First, what is the ultimate Christian hope? Second, what hope is there for change, rescue, transformation, new possibilities within the world in the present? And the main answer can be put like this. As long as we see Christian hope in terms of "going to heaven," of a salvation that is essentially
away from this world, the two questions are bound to appear as unrelated. Indeed, some insist angrily that to ask the second one at all is to ignore the first one, which is the really important one. This in turn makes others get angry when people talk of resurrection, as if this might draw attention away from the really important and pressing matters of contemporary social concern. But if the Christian hope is for God's new creation, for "new heavens and new earth," and if that hope has already come to life in Jesus of Nazareth, then there is every reason to join the two questions together. And if that is so, we find that answering the one is also answering the other. I find that to many -- not least, many Christians -- all this comes as a surprise: both that the Christian hope is surprisingly different from what they had assumed and that this same hope offers a coherent and energizing basis for work in today's world.

NT "Tom" Wright
Surprised by Hope


  1. I'm not nearly as familiar with Bishop Wright's work as I should be and I havn't read this book. But I agree with your assessment.

    I think there's misunderstanding of terms like "eternal life", and "Kingdom of Heaven". In my tradition, you'll often hear it explained that eternal life is that which begins in the here and now but extends beyond the grave.

  2. i should've explained that that's a direct quote from early on in the book (which i'm still at. slow reader i am.)

    my wife and i have been profoundly influenced by the works of Bishop/NT?Tom Wright, specifically of how God is working through us to redeem all of his creation, rather than just plum destroy it and whisk us away to this disembodied spiritual realm that we call "heaven."

    i think it's - to use an overused phrase - paradigm-shifting to say the least. has been for us.

    may i suggest ?


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