N.T. Wright. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. HarperOne, 2008. (332 pages).
PART III: Hope in Practice: Resurrection and the Mission of the Church. “The point of this final section of the book is that a proper grasp of the (surprising) future hope held out to us in Jesus Christ leads directly and, to many people, equally surprisingly, to a vision of the present hope that is the basis of all Christian mission.” (191) This applies not only to ethics (as in 1 Cor.6) but also to every other vocation; ultimately that we “could thus become colleagues and partners in [this] larger project.” (192) This means, then, a redefining of terms such as “Salvation,” (194f.) and the “Kingdom of God,” (201f.) and a readdressing of the values of “Justice,” (213f.) and “Beauty,” (222f.) leading to, in conclusion, “Evangelism, which will flourish best if the church is giving itself to works of justice (putting things to rights in the community) and works of beauty (highlighting the glory of creation and the glory yet to be revealed): evangelism will always come as a surprise. You mean there is more?” (232) In ch.14, Wright scans the Gospels and Paul for evidence and explanation, and ch.15 is a clarion call to a new kind of living and celebrating-“champagne for breakfast!” (256)-in areas like baptism, the Eucharist (communion), prayer, Scripture, holiness, and ultimately, love.
There is obviously a lot covered in between the various outlined highlights I’ve included here. Suffice to say, Wright continues to influence my thinking heavily, and for that I hope to celebrate (though I don’t have an affinity for alcohol) with champagne for breakfast!
I will say about this book what I said about Simply Christian; that while it is Christianity’s call (or Jesus’ call to those who follow him) to put “the world to rights,” Wright is helping us take the first steps of “putting Christianity to rights.”