How dow e view the end time, heaven, and life after death and how do they relate to what it is to be a christian on earth.
This book will really challenge the majority ‘view’ on these issues. For Wright, fundamentally, believing we will spend eternity in heaven is a misreading of scripture – also, to believe that heaven (as in in the sky!)is the after-life or resurrection is a misreading of scripture.
Wright challenges his readers to look towards a more ‘physical’ concept of heaven. He uses the phrase, “life after life after death..” to say that our eternal destiny shall be in our physical bodies on a physical earth – when heaven and earth shall be made NEW (Revelation). When we die our spirits may go to be with the Lord but this is NOT an eternal state, or heaven – this only happens at the judgment of the world when our bodies are reunited with out spirit and we are again fully human (as in having a perfected body) living in the restored creation. For Wright this also means that heaven (or hell) should not be the ultimate focus for Christians – but what ROLE we as human beings have in God’s process in redeeming creation. he writes:
“Maybe what we are faced with in our own day is a similar challenge: to focus not on the question of which human beings God is going to take to heaven and how he is going to do it but on the question of how God is going to redeem and renew his creation through human beings and how he is going to rescue those humans themselves as part of the process but not as the point of it all.”
This means, for Wright, that eternity BEINGS NOW, right here – as we begin to partner with God in the process of him restoring creation through the message of the Gospel and awaiting the end of the age.
So for Wright Christians should be fundamentally involved with society at every level, living out our salvation and living in the eternity which has begun here on earth but not yet fulfilled.
N.T.Wright is a world class scholar and this book is very carefully argued – much of which confirms some of my own thinking on this topic.