Surprised by Wright
N.T. Wright's Surprised by Hope seems to have raised a few eyebrows in the Church. I'm surprised by the reaction to Wright's work. It's one of those cases where I thought everyone already knew what Wright was writing about, i.e., the importance of the resurrection for Christian faith. After finishing the book soon after its release, I thought to myself, "Well. He's done it again. There's nothing new here. But, because he's such a good writer, this will get some good press."
But, here's the shocker: to much of the reading public, there is much that is new here. In other words, Wright has put his finger on a major theological problem in pop Christianity. It seems that most Christians do have a gnostic view of life after death, that the resurrection of their bodies is a rather offensive idea to their modern sensibilities, and that the common way of talking about heaven as "our final reward" does reveal their preferences for the afterlife (by the way, Eugene Petersen issued the same warning a few years ago in his, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places).
I can't believe it. To test Wright's warning, lately I've been bringing up eschatology in everyday conversation with believers (no, not the left behind variety). It's been amazing how many believers find the biblical idea of a resurrected earth and a resurrected body as bizarre and foreign ideas. When I say, "heaven is not our final reward. It's a halfway house until the last day, when God brings heaven to earth and the grave gives up bodies for resurrection glory." They often say, "Really? I've never heard that before."
All this singing about "When we all get to heaven" has messed up our theology more than I realized.
Be careful little mouths what you sing.