Surprised By Hope

Written by – N.T. Wright

What is the ultimate Christian Hope?  and what Hope is there for change, rescue, transformation, new possibilities within the world in the present?

As N.T Wright puts it, these two questions may be separate however, they belong tightly together.

Wright respond, ” 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 some 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 at the Christian hope is surprisingly different from what they had assumed and that this hope offers a coherent and energizing basis for work in today’s world.”

Often people assume that Christians are simply committed to a belief in “life after death” in the most general terms and have no idea how the more specific notions of resurrection, judgment, the second coming of Jesus, and so on fit together and make any sense – let alone how they relate to the urgent concerns of today’s real world.

Nor is this a matter simply of sorting out what to believe about someone who died or about one’s own probable postmortem destiny, important though both of those are.  It’s a matter of thinking straight about God and his purposes for the cosmos and about what God is doing right now, already, as part of those purposes.  From Plato to Hegel and beyond, some of the greatest philosophers declared that what you think about death, and life beyond it, is the key to thinking seriously about everything else – and , indeed, that it provides one of the main reasons for thinking seriously about anything at all. This is something a Christian theologian should heartily endorse.

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One thought on “Surprised By Hope”

  1. The danger of the different beliefs about “life after death” is that the hope of the new heaven and new earth gets lost in the pile of mis-interpretations. As Paul says it,
    “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinth 58).
    If we only look to heaven when we die and our mentality is why bother changing anything now since Jesus will transform to a new earth anyway when He comes. Because it makes all the difference if we change the world we live in now, It effects the outcome of our “life after death”.

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