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Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

by N. T. Wright
Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

by N. T. Wright


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In this groundbreaking book—available in paperback for the first time—renowned Bible scholar, Anglican bishop, and bestselling author N. T. Wright argues that Christians have not distorted the Bible’s message about heaven and what happens after we die.

For years, Christians have been asking, "If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?" It turns out that many believers have been giving the wrong answer. It is not heaven.

Wright outlines the present confusion about a Christian’s future hope and shows how it is deeply intertwined with how we live today. Wright asserts that Christianity’s most distinctive idea is bodily resurrection, and provides a magisterial defense for a literal resurrection of Jesus. Wright then explores our expectation of "new heavens and a new earth," revealing what happens to the dead until then and what will happen with the "second coming" of Jesus. For many, including many Christians, it will come as a great surprise to learn that heaven comes to earth instead of us going to heaven.

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’s 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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062089977
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/27/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

N. T. Wright is the former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England and one of the world’s leading Bible scholars. He serves as the chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews as well as Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University. He has been featured on ABC News, Dateline, The Colbert Report, and Fresh Air. Wright is the award-winning author of many books, including Paul: A Biography, Simply Christian, Surprised by Hope, The Day the Revolution Began, Simply Jesus, After You Believe, and Scripture and the Authority of God.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Part I Setting the Scene

1 All Dressed Up and No Place to Go?

Introduction 3

Confusion about Hope: The Wider World 7

Varieties of Belief 9

2 Puzzled About Paradise?

Christian Confusion About Hope 13

Exploring the Options 16

The Effects of Confusion 20

Wider Implications of Confusion 25

The Key Questions 27

3 Early Christian Hope in Its Historical Setting

Introduction 31

Resurrection and Life after Death in Ancient Paganism and Judaism 35

The Surprising Character of Early Christian Hope 40

4 The Strange Story of Easter

Stories Without Precedent 53

Easter and History 58

Conclusion 74

Part II God's Future Plan

5 Cosmic Future: Progress or Despair?

Introduction 79

Option 1: Evolutionary Optimism 81

Option 2: Souls in Transit 88

6 What the Whole World's Waiting For

Introduction 93

Fundamental Structures of Hope 93

Seedtime and Harvest 98

The Victorious Battle 99

Citizens of Heaven, Colonizing the Earth 100

God Will Be All in All 101

New Birth 103

The Marriage of Heaven and Earth 104

Conclusion 106

7 Jesus, Heaven, and New Creation

The Ascension 109

What About the Second Coming? 117

8 When He Appears

Introduction 123

Coming, Appearing, Revealing, Royal Presence 124

9 Jesus, the Coming Judge

Introduction 137

Second Coming and Judgment 142

10 The Redemption of Our Bodies

Introduction 147

Resurrection: Life After Life After Death 148

Resurrection in Corinth 152

Resurrection: Later Debates 156

Rethinking Resurrection Today: Who, Where, What Why, When, and How 159

11 Purgatory, Paradise, Hell

Introduction 165

Purgatory 166

Paradise 171

Beyond Hope, Beyond Pity 175

Conclusion: Human Goals and New Creation 183

Part III … Hope in Practice: Resurrection and the Mission of the Church

12 Rethinking Salvation: Heaven, Earth, and the Kingdom of God

Introduction 189

The Meaning of Salvation 194

The Kingdom of God 201

13 Building for the Kingdom

Introduction 207

Justice 213

Beauty 222

Evangelism 225

Conclusion 230

14 Reshaping the Church for Mission (1): Biblical Roots

Introduction 233

The Gospels and Acts 234

Paul 246

15 Reshaping the Church for Mission (2): Living the Future

Introduction: Celebrating Easter 255

Space, Time, and Matter: Creation Redeemed 257

Resurrection and Mission 264

Resurrection and Spirituality 271

Appendix: Two Easter Sermons 291

Notes 297

Index 315

Biblical Passages 331

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