10 February 2008

Wright right about last things

The eminent Bishop of Durham, N. T. "Tom" Wright, has just written a new book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, the publication of which provided an occasion for an interview in TIME Magazine, of all places: Christians Wrong About Heaven, Says Bishop. Over against those Christians who speak of their souls "going to heaven" when they die, Wright, by contrast, affirms the biblical emphasis on bodily resurrection in a new heaven and new earth. Here's Wright:

Our culture is very interested in life after death, but the New Testament is much more interested in what I've called the life after life after death — in the ultimate resurrection into the new heavens and the new Earth. Jesus' resurrection marks the beginning of a restoration that he will complete upon his return. Part of this will be the resurrection of all the dead, who will "awake," be embodied and participate in the renewal. . . . Never at any point do the Gospels or Paul say Jesus has been raised, therefore we are we are all going to heaven. They all say, Jesus is raised, therefore the new creation has begun, and we have a job to do. . . . In Revelation and Paul's letters we are told that God's people will actually be running the new world on God's behalf. The idea of our participation in the new creation goes back to Genesis, when humans are supposed to be running the Garden and looking after the animals. If you transpose that all the way through, it's a picture like the one that you get at the end of Revelation. . . . God wants you to be a renewed human being helping him to renew his creation, and his resurrection was the opening bell. And when he returns to fulfil the plan, you won't be going up there to him, he'll be coming down here.

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