Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Surprised by Hope" Review: Part 3

Here is Part 1 and Part 2:

This is a small, reviewish type piece about a book I adore. I like to mostly summarize and quote, so not really a critical review, but whatever! Surprised by Hope is fantastic, hopefully you are inspired. Read it:


Chapter 7
This Chapter entitled “Jesus, Heaven, and New Creation” seemed a bit disconnected. And though I am loving this book tremendously and think it should be required reading by all Christians, this chapter could use a rewrite.

Wright begins by talking about the importance of the Ascension. This is the event recorded mostly by Luke, where Jesus floats ‘up’ and disappears behind a cloud. There appears besides the Apostles two men dressed in white (angels?) and they ask why they are standing and staring into the sky and then reveal that Jesus will come back the same way.

The significance of the story that Wright is portraying to us is multi-fold: (1) That Jesus is in bodily form in Heaven and didn’t just assume back into the Father again after resurrection, (2) this body is a new creation body which allows him to enter heaven and earth, (3) that heaven is located in the same space-time location we are and heaven certainly isn’t up (and adversely hell isn’t below), (4) Heaven is the “control room” for earth where Christ is ruling the cosmos and will eventually bring that rule directly to earth in the finality of things.

It is Wrights belief that when we have orthodox Ascension views, that all other things fall into place like the Trinity, communion, mission, end-times (eschatology). He also believes and points out, in somewhat of tangent, that the Ascension will correct our perception of what the church is and is not. The church is not Jesus as Jesus is alive, in physical body, controlling the heavens and the earth. He believes that this means the church can be the servant instead of being God. He thinks that when the church goes about setting up a theocracy-system either politically or ecclesially, then we puff our selves up. The counter to not having Ascension in our belief is a form of purposelessness.  Wright asserts that after we believe in the literal Ascension and all the correlating truths, “…only then are we rescued from both the hollow triumphalism and shallow despair” (p. 113).

Wright moves from Ascension into Eschatology. He defines it for us as “…the entire sense of God’s future for the world and the belief that [the] future has already begun to come forward to meet us in the present” (p. 122). His views on the end times will become clearer in the next chapters, but first Wright sets firmly that he is in neither extreme that faces us today. He challenges both Liberalism in their assault on the Second coming/Resurrection/Ascension and the conservative contagion of  Dispensational/Rapture Theology. I sure hope he destroys these two. I personally find Rapture theology to be one of worst, if not the worst, unscriptural theologies damaging the church currently. I am glad to read from Wright that it is mostly a North American disaster, but a disaster nonetheless.

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