NT Wright Lecture – Surprised by Hope

N. T. WrightNT Wright was at West End United Methodist Church a little over a week ago.  My wife and I got a babysitter so we could go and hear his lecture.

He was quite good.  Resurrection was the subject of the evening.  Having been told that Bishop Wright was the foremost living authority on the Resurrection and its implications, I really was very interested in hearing his thoughts.  I tried to take notes, but there was a problem; I started to write down one thought, then while I was writing that one, he would make another brilliant statement that I had no way of remembering well enough to make a note of it.  I am hoping to get a hold of the audio, as it was recorded.  One of the pastors told me that Cokesbury is sponsoring the tour, so there are some copyright issues to be addressed, but he did give me a name and a number to call.

So, here are the notes I took.

The book, Surprised by Hope:Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, is actually designed for the average person.  It partially is condensed from the larger, more technical work, The Resurrection of the Son of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God, Volume Three, and also a response to critics that thought that Wright did not really believe in a final Consummation of all things, which he actually does believe Scripture teaches.

Resurrection is about life after,  life after death.

Resurrection means newly embodied life, after whatever live was there before.

Western culture does not really understand the concept of life after death.

We do not leave space/time/matter.  Eternity is here on earth.  Jesus is making all things new, not all new things.

If you explain the rise of Christianity, you must say they believed all these things because Jesus was actually raised from the dead.

Jews believe that because God is good, and He calls creation good, God would set everything to rights. (I think that is a British expression, setting everything to rights.  It was used quite a bit in his lecture.)

Resurrection is not about just going to heaven.

Heaven and earth are not “upstairs” and “downstairs”, they are the overlapping, interlocking reality of God.  (When Jesus declared that the Kingdom was here, He declared that the age to come was beginning to merge with this present age, so that when we now see through a veil, we will soon see completely.  The Kingdom of God is already here, but not yet fully realized.  The Bishop also wondered that if heaven was “up there” and hell “down below” what must the believers in Australia be thinking.)

The point of citizenship is to be a representative, in the context of the Kingdom of God, we represent heaven on earth.

Jesus does not some to rescue, so much as He comes to remake.

We are shadows of our future redeemed selves.

There was also a short Q/A session.  Two of the questions I found to be quite interesting.

1)  One gentleman asked about the environment and creation care.  Now, from my prospective, those are code words for out of control environmentalism.  However, Wright answered it well.  He went to the issue of stewardship, which is Biblical, and said that stewardship certainly does have implications for how we interact with the created order, and we should be good stewards.

2) This question was a bit more interesting.  Wright spent some time denouncing and debunking dispensational theology.  If you are not sure what dispensational is, read Left Behind, if you can read bad fiction.  Anyway, Wright was asked about evangelizing Jews.  I thought it was an odd question, but again, Wright answered it well.  He pulled up the parable of the prodigal son.  He likened the prodigal to Gentiles, who was in the far off country, in unbelief.  Upon realizing their situation, they returned home to the Father.  The Father welcomes the son home with a party.  The next day, the faithful son who stayed, who Wright likened to the Jews, was upset that the prodigal son got the party when he stayed around.  Do  the two sons live on opposite sides of the property?  Does the Father deny one son the right to live on the land?  Or does the prodigal, ask the Father to find a way for both brothers to live as brothers, and friends?  The answer is the latter.

So, if you get the chance, go see NT Wright.  His 2008 US tour schedule is here.

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One Response

  1. Wright is especially good on explaining the metaphors in Hebrews 1 :-

    In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.
    They will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment.
    You will roll them up like a robe;
    like a garment they will be changed.

    The heavens and earth will be rolled up and discarded, in the way that clothes are changed.

    Old clothes that have perished are thrown away, and replaced with new clothes.

    The old clothes are rolled up and thrown away.

    As I said, Wright is very good on explaining this ‘clothing’ metaphor, which many people up to now have failed to understand.

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