What do Christians hope for? To leave this wicked world and go to ‘heaven’? For the ‘kingdom of God’ to grow gradually on earth? What do we mean by the ‘resurrection of the body’, and how does that fit with the popular image of sitting on clouds playing harps? And how does all this affect the way we live in the here and now?
Tom Wright, one of our leading theologians, addresses these questions in this provocative and wide-ranging new book. He outlines the present confusion about future hope in both church and world. Then, having explained why Christians believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus himself, he explores the biblical hope for ‘new heavens and new earth’, and shows how the ‘second coming’ of Jesus, and the eventual resurrection, belong within that larger picture, together with the intermediate hope for ‘heaven’. For many, including many Christians, all this will come as a great surprise.
Wright convincingly argues that what we believe about life after death directly affects what we believe about life before death. For if God intends to renew the whole creation—and if this has already begun in Jesus’ resurrection—the church cannot stop at ‘saving souls’, but must anticipate the eventual renewal by working for God’s kingdom in the wider world, bringing healing and hope in the present life.
Lively and accessible, this book will surprise and excite all who are interested in the meaning of life not only after death but before it.
This unmissable book . . . is a must-read.
—Krish Kandiah for Christianity Magazine
Nicholas Tom Wright, commonly known as N. T. Wright or Tom Wright, is Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St. Andrews University. Previously, he was the bishop of Durham. He has researched, taught, and lectured on the New Testament at McGill, Oxford, and Cambridge Universities, and has been named by Christianity Today a top theologian. He is best known for his scholarly contributions to the historical study of Jesus and the New Perspective on Paul. His work interacts with the positions of James Dunn, E. P. Sanders, Marcus Borg, and Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Wright has written and lectured extensively around the world, authoring more than forty books and numerous articles in scholarly journals and popular periodicals. He is best known for his Christian Origins and the Question of God Series, of which three of the anticipated six volumes are finished.
“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’ which is essentially away from this world, the two questions are bound to appear as unrelated.” (Page 5)
“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.” (Page 5)
“But the language of heaven in the New Testament doesn’t work that way. ‘God’s kingdom’ in the preaching of Jesus refers, not to post-mortem destiny, not to our escape from this world into another one, but about God’s sovereign rule coming ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.” (Page 25)
“‘Salvation’, then, is not ‘going to heaven’, but ‘being raised to life in God’s new heaven and new earth’.” (Page 210)
“They believed that God was going to do for the whole cosmos what he had done for Jesus at Easter.” (Page 104)