Reddit reviews Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
We found 25 Reddit comments about Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.
Talk to your priest!
>And honestly I'm also afraid of doing the same thing over and over again in Heaven worshiping and playing church music 24/7.
This is an easy one - that's not what we believe is going to happen. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. If you want something to read about this, try Surprised by Hope.
How about NT Wright's Surprised by Hope?
Only 3 bucks if they got a kindle!
Welcome to the day where you discovered The Problem of Evil, one of the most debated and analyzed topics in philosophy.
Everyone has their own reading recommendations (there are thousands of books on this topic), but I've heard good things about Where Is God When It Hurts by Phillip Yancey. Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright doesn't really cover the Problem of Evil, but it talks extensively about the Christian theology surrounding the topic of death.
I'll now share the copypasta for a very, very brief summary of popular views of theodicy (the answer to the Problem of Evil):
Choose whichever one you like the best.
Skeptical Theism, aka, "mysterious ways". God does bad things or allows bad things to happen in order to prevent worse things, or in order to provoke response that is even more good.
Augustinian Theodicy, aka, "chain-email-albert-einstein-mic-drop". God does not allow bad things to happen, because "bad" does not exist. What we experience as "evil" is actually merely the absence of the good.
Free Will. God gives agency to creation, such that it can act outside of his plans. Note that this leaves open the problem of "natural evil", so Free Will is not a complete theodicy on it's own.
Plantinga's Free Will, aka "a wizard did it". Only human beings have free will. Everything bad that happens that is not directly attributable to human agency is caused by non-God supernatural entities.
Irenaean/Hicks Theodicy, aka, "purgatory-on-Earth". Evil exists because suffering helps us to achieve moral perfection. Our troubles exist to make us stronger.
Finite-God Theodicy, aka, "your premise is wrong". God is not omnipotent, He does not have the power to stop every bad thing. Our concept of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnitemporal, omnibenevolent God comes more from Aristotle than the Bible anyway.
Pandeism, aka, "you oughta try these mushrooms". Pandeism asserts that, in the act of constructing the Universe, God became the Universe. He is still omnipresent and omniscient, but after the act of creation, he is no longer omnipotent, in the sense that he cannot create supernatural effects in the world. Flat Deism, aka, The Clockwork God works effectively the same way.
Original Sin/Luther/Calvin Theodicy. It's all Eve's fault.
Reincarnation Theodicy, aka "hey, guys Buddhism is cool!". We currently exist in a state of purgation for sins committed in past life/lives.
Contrast Theodicy. God made Evil to help us appreciate Good.
Aquinas/Afterlife Theodicy, aka, "heaven swamps everything". God made Evil to give himself something to judge us by, and it is justified by the fact that it is temporary, but the reward is eternal. Finite bad + infinite good = infinite good.
Clementine Theodicy, aka, "your other premise is wrong". This theodicy denies that evil exists in the first place. It asserts that evil is "an illusion" and everything is actually always good.
Leibniz Theodicy, aka, "schroedinger's morality". When God created the world he had options, possibilities. For unknown cosmic reasons, none of the possible worlds is all-good. God chose the best one, the one with the least bad in it, but he could not get rid of the bad altogether.
Kantian Theodicy/Turning the Tables, aka, "checkmate, philosophers!". The question is unanswerable because each of the proposed solutions can be seen as forming a contradiction with one of the premises. All of the above solutions are starting with the assumptions "evil exists" "god exists" "god is good", and then wind up at a conclusion that directly contradicts one of the assumptions, disguised in fancy wording. Therefore the problem is not with any of the solutions, but with the question in itself. Kant asserts that you have to give up one of those three assumptions, there is no other choice.
If you are really interested in this topic I would recommend you pick up N.T. Wright's Surprised by Hope
Here is an interview he did with TIME magazine: http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1710844,00.html
Here is a video interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZC6tbgpsl4&amp;noredirect=1
I think I first have to shatter a paradigm in your thinking.
Christianity isn't about getting into Heaven. Yes, a lot of churches in the West sell it as a "get out of Hell free" card. Yes, Jesus is "sold" to a lot of people that way. But that's not what the Bible really says, at least, not fully. It's a partial picture, at best, and a misguided one at worst.
Christianity, is first and foremost about God's work to lovingly restore mankind and creation to full life. Relationships are about distance, and it's about God closing that gap between us and Him.
What do I mean by, full life? The idea starts with us realizing that there is something deeply wrong and broken in the world, and in each of us, as individuals. We come from broken homes, warring countries, feuding families, a world of scarcity, pain, and death. We all feel inadequate in some way; there are these fault lines in our souls that we attempt to spackle over with things like relationships, hobbies, aspirations, occupations, other people's approval, etc.
We are literally slaves to death, in this paradigm. We strategize how to spend our remaining time, maximizing our comfort and happiness, and if we can, helping those we like along the way (often because they provide us with a kind of identification that makes us feel less precarious).
Christ (and the Law) were given to us to break us out from under that slavery.
The Bible tells us the Law came first to make us aware that we were even under slavery in the first place. Oftentimes, we're so broken, we actually prefer being in slavery. We can't see, hear, touch, taste, feel our enslavement - or if we can, we're so accustomed to it that we stick with it. Addicts are an extreme example of this, but there are manifestations of this in all our lives.
The Exodus story provides an early example of this. The Bible tells us it took the Israelites 40 years as they were guided by God to get from Egypt to Israel. Well, look on a map; they're not that far away. What took them so long? Was God, who was guiding them, lost?
The Rabbinic scholars basically sum it up thusly: God could take the Israelites out of Egypt in a heartbeat, but He also needed to take Egypt out of the Israelites.
When you're a slave for 400 years, you get accustomed to it. You move like a slave, you think like a slave, you sleep like a slave, you generally act like a slave. Your parents were slaves, and you will be too, so you don't even expect right from life any more.
But imagine, then God suddenly comes in and tells you, no, you're my child (aka, divine royalty) - and, all of the sudden, these former slaves are supposed to know how to act like royalty?
God made them stop many places along the way; taught them what victory looked and felt like, taught them to be conformed to His ways (literally, to begin moving like the King), and provided food, water, and everything they needed along the way during those 40 years of reconditioning.
(As a sidenote, I often hear critics of the Law approach the Law as a negative thing on the face of it. I want to challenge them to approach it as a good thing designed to give wisdom and life. Often times the amount of laws (613) is listed as this staggering amount that no man could keep. Well, yeah, God knows that. That's why no human being is supposed to keep all the Law. Certain Laws are only for men, or only for women, or only for priests, or only for subsets of priests, or only for certain occasions; etc. When someone lists the amount of Laws as their chief objections, I immediately say in my head, "Okay, this person doesn't know much about Torah law." But this may be neither here nor there in terms of chief objections).
So then, we have the Law and that that "Old Testament" stuff, and then Christ enters the picture and says things like:
>You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
What was Jesus getting at with things like this? He was pointing to a deeper reality that the Law can't serve as something that will bind up your cracks and make you presentable to God (much in the same way we use relationships, hobbies, aspirations, occupations, etc.) The people who were following the Law that way had missed the point! The Law highlights our absolute need for restoration (and a restorer!) by showing us exactly how we are broken.
This is where the Resurrection comes into play, because the ultimate reality of Jesus' work isn't to funnel souls into Heaven, but to prepare them for their own resurrection. There will be a day when God will restore the Earth (namely, by bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to it), establishing his rule, and bringing it back to the Paradisical, Edenic state.
I mean, this might be a big concept to wrap your mind around now, but if you want to see the Biblical basis for this, check out N.T. Wright's Suprised by Hope. Jews always believed in the Resurrection and the world to come (aka, Tikkun Olam). The Orthodox Church has always preached the doctrine of the Resurrection. And it's in all the creeds. (Yes, Western Christianity has misunderstood and misrepresented it for ages).
So in a sense, you're kind of right about morality. Jesus isn't so concerned about morality as much as he is about relational distance. God wants to be close to you, to see your wounds, heal and restore them, and then use you to help restore others and all of creation (sidenote: this is why the Orthodox are particularly "green"). That's the fundamental nature of Grace, and truly, we are under Grace.
I mean, Paul practically wrote Romans 6 in response to your blog:
Seriously. Take a moment. Read the chapter. It answers just about every objection you raised, though I think in a way you wouldn't expect (because you set it up as a dichotomy, and really, there's a third way).
C.S. Lewis once said:
>We are so little reconciled to time that we are even astonished at it. “How he’s grown!” we exclaim, “How time flies!” as though the universal form of our experience were again and again a novelty. It is as strange as if a fish were repeatedly surprised at the wetness of water. And that would be strange indeed; unless of course the fish were destined to become, one day, a land animal.
Deep inside, even if we had the best life we could imagine for ourselves, we'd still know that something is seriously wrong in the world. This is because God didn't design us for sin and death, yet we experience it's effects on a daily basis.
In the end of the chapter, Paul talks about us being slaves to either sin, or slaves to righteousness. Being a slave to sin leads to death, because the wages of sin are death. Being a slave to righteousness leads to life, because it is close to God, the author of life.
Christianity isn't about "being good." It's not about getting all your holy ducks in a row and hoping it'll appease an angry God who wants to burn you forever and ever and ever.
It's all about relational proximity. God is drawing close to us, particularly through the advent, death, and resurrection of Christ, and yes, thank God He's more interested in restoring everything than he is in destroying it.
http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/ (at least read this one)
Hope this helps!
Read Surprised By Hope by N.T. Wright. The concept of "Heaven" as a destination (as presented by the pastor you heard) is a lot different than the "New Heaven and New Earth" we are promised.
Jesus is the first fruits of a physical resurrection. He ate with the disciples to prove this point.
My first step into the world of progressive Christianity was Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian series. I really liked Scot McKnight’s blog as well. Eventually I found NT Wright; I definitely recommend his Surprised by Hope. You should check out Sojourners magazine, which has some really great content as well.
The heaven of popular culture is not the heaven of the Bible. For one, Jesus taught of a heaven that is present now. He often said things like, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" and he told his followers to tell people, "The Kingdom of Heaven has come near to you". The Kingdom of Heaven is a present reality for those in Christ.
Also, the floating in the clouds with gold harps as a final destination is also off. The clearest picture of eternity in the Bible is Revelation 21-22, and even that you can't read too literally. The Christian hope isn't to escape from earth to heaven, but rather for heaven to come to earth in the resurrection. For a better picture of new creation, the resurrection, and the hope of Christians see N.T. Wright's Surprised by Hope.
If at any point you'd like to join us, you're welcome. The gates will always be open.
Nope, you're incorrect. The idea of an eternal soul and "evil" body that perishes is modern Christian thought that is a concession to platonic philosophy. It's our own little form of gnosticism.
Most Christians get it wrong and like this idea of fleeting to heaven when, in fact, there is no scriptural evidence to support the idea that Christians sorta peace out. You can blame the "Left Behind" series of books for that.
Anyway, if you'd like further reading into the scholarship that is trying to change that thought, I'd recommend you check out N.T. Wright's "Surprised by Hope" as he attempts to correct this issue (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0061551821).
But yeah, Chocobean shouldn't really have even said anything, the original comment was pretty funny and didn't need nickled and dimed based on its theology.
Praying With The One You Love
Surprised By Hope
The first one I am currently reading with my fiancee and I highly recommend to strengthen your relationship with your girlfriend and with God.
The second is one I just received yesterday in the mail. I know there's some debate on his New Perspective of Paul but from what I've read, one of his greatest works is Surprised By Hope and is something everyone can appreciate.
>i know jews don't believe in hell; is it only mentioned in the nt?
Hell is in both testaments. Hell in the Old Testament is mostly known as the abode of the dead that was called Sheol or sometimes the pit. It could either represent the grave, or the afterlife. It was apparently divided into two places, a place for the righteous dead, and a place for the wicked dead. For an example of the wicked side of Sheol see passages like Ezekiel 32:17-32.
Jews, and then later, Christians, believed in a general resurrection of the dead, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting death.
>i've heard the rare argument from a christian that hell is metaphorical; what is the point of disagreement?
I wouldn't call it a rare argument, as its rather well accepted. The idea that the imagery used is metaphorical comes from a number of clues within the imagery itself. First of all, when Jesus refers to "hell" in passages like Matthew 5 or Mark 9, the Greek is the word Gehenna. The Valley of the Son of Hinnom, from which the word comes, was a place mentioned in the Old Testament where followers of Baal sacrificed children by passing them through fire. The place was considered cursed by the Jews, and was later turned into a rubbish dump that continually burned day and night. The metaphor is invoking the imagery of this place. Other places in scripture hell is described as a bottomless pit or abyss, a lake, darkness, death, destruction, everlasting torment, etc. I mean, these all can't be literal descriptors of the place... you can't have a place that's both an abyss, or a bottomless pit, and a lake of fire, you can't have fire, and also a place of utter darkness. And other clear figures of speech are used throughout the Bible, so it isn't only hell that is exempt from a literal interpretation. Hell then seems to be eternal separation from the creator, and this separation appears to cause anxiety and torment.
I suppose the point of disagreement then is that some read the Bible in a more literal sense than others even where the Bible does not exactly grant an overly literal reading. I've seen both Christians and atheists read the Bible from an overly literal perspective. Most of the time, this is because they're reading the book as if it were written yesterday. When reading the Bible, or any ancient work, its needful to understand the historical context, the genre, and the original audience. Same is true of works written in the 1800s. You can't read Romance literature of the 1800s without some background on the context and the intentional use of metaphor and symbolism, so why expect you can with a book thousands of years older.
>is that similar to the jewish position at all?
The NT view would be a Jewish view (specifically, Jews of the Hellenistic period) since the NT was largely authored by Jews.
>how much does scripture play a role in these conceptions as opposed to tradition?
I'd say that scripture plays the larger of the roles. Tradition has added some concepts like Purgatory, and then later in Dante's Inferno we have all sorts of new imagery added that people use in popular media, but all of that can be stripped away by looking at what the Bible actually has to say.
If you're seriously interested in this subject, I think theologian, NT Wright's book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church is a terrific, and easy to read introduction into the actual beliefs by both ancient Jew and Christians on the nature of the afterlife. Its only $17 something on Amazon right now.
Some other books on the topic of eschatology (the "end times") worth reading (or listening to):
NT Wright's Surprised by Hope
Kenneth Meyer's The End Is Near...Or Maybe Not!
There's an excellent view of world to come in NT Wright's book Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. In short, the angels-playing-harps-on-clouds view of heaven is completely unsupported by the Bible, and there's a world of things to do and make better, absolutely well-suited to our being human.
We will be praising God in our work, just as we praise God in our work on Earth. And there will be amazingly awesome choirs and things for standing around and going "Great is our God," just as we have pretty good choirs for that on Earth. But it's absolutely not all we're doing.
Just to clarify something that may not be apparent. The Christian Hope is that after we die and in the fullness of time, we will be resurrected in new bodies... on Earth. Its not "life after death" that matters. Its life AFTER life-after-death. And its not "in heaven"... its back on Earth. And there will be WORK to do! Read more here: http://www.amazon.com/Surprised-Hope-Rethinking-Resurrection-Mission/dp/0061551821/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1412347364&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=nt+wright+hope
>From my theology and understanding, physical death does not exist when sin does not exist...
>So from what I am reading from you, physical death does exist when sin is non-existent...
NT Wright amongst others suggest that natural death is part of the "good-but-incomplete creation", and that death took on a new dimension when sin entered into the world, that of exile. The day Adam & Eve ate of the tree they were exiled from the garden, hence they died. Some suggest that Adam is the proto-Israelite, his story parallels the story of Israel through to their Babylonian exile. They lived in paradise, had God's commands to obey, rebelled and found themselves in exile from their land (as a people they died). Paul argues that because of sin, just as Adam was physically exiled from paradise, the human race as a whole are spiritually exiled from God. Jesus reclaims us from our spiritual exile from God and our second death.
More can be found in NT Wright's book, Surprised by Hope
If you want something really good pertaining to the topic at hand, I recommend N. T. Wright's excellent book Surprised by Hope. It is the best articulation I've seen of a Biblical view of heaven and resurrection and whatnot (or, to use Wright's phrase, "life after death and life after life after death).
Other people have made good recommendations, but I have to say that Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright is the book that gave me a faith worth having.
I'll buy you a copy if you can't afford one.
Read N.T. Wright's Surprised by Hope. Oh, several Bible texts talk about the Second Coming. Acts 1 comes to mind.
It's a complex question with a complex answer. If we take our sources seriously, then our first clue lies in the Ascension in Acts 1. After Jesus moves up into the clouds, two angels appear and tell the Eleven that Jesus will return in the same way he left. So, we either take this that he will descend back down, or it will be a shocking event that we don't expect.
Acts 2 includes the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, which could be construed as the return, but that requires a reading of John, which Luke would not have and thus likely should not be considered an interpretation of the text.
Okay, but what about what Jesus said, because that's what really matters, right? Well, we have only a few bits of text outside of the Olivet discourses. As for those, Matt 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21, they are a bit crazy. You have what appear to be clear allusions to the sack of Jerusalem, which make sense in regards to the prompt for the whole discussion regarding the stones of the Temple. But then comes the more abstract notions of things passing away or the goats and the sheep, so how literal do we need to be regarding all of this?
Honestly, allegorize it, because Paul does with the Thessalonians in his second letter. Heck, that's what the Church historically has done with this material. The key is not how Jesus returns, but that he will return.
So, how come Jesus never came back? Because it isn't the time to come back. We're almost done getting his name to every language on this planet, and we may have other people among the stars to tell as well. I mean, Christianity grew silently for the first three hundred years, spurted out for a century in the Roman Empire, silently again until 1500 with colonialism, though I would contend that the true growth in that regard, much like in Rome, came also silently through the true-hearted missionaries and Christians who lived the faith.
Here's an excellent book that I think really encapsulates eschatology and the mission of the church. I know I used quite a few odd words, so if you have questions, I'd be happy to clarify or expound a bit more.
The book I recommend most is Surprised by Hope by NT Wright. Among other things, it explains what the actual afterlife taught by Christ and the apostles is, which surprisingly few modern Christians are aware of, and portrays Christianity as life-centric rather than death-centric.
I mean that all human beings will someday be physically raised from the dead for the Judgement and the "world to come" similar to how Christ was raised. Whatever is left of our body will be transformed into a "new" body that can be touched and can eat (for example), but is not subject to corruption and doesn't always necessarily act like we think of bodies acting now. References to the resurrection of the dead is scattered all over scripture (1 Samuel, Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Jesus' teaching in the Gospels, Acts, many of Paul's letters), but the big passages are Daniel 12 and Ezekiel 37 in the Old Testament and 1 Corinthians 15 in the New. It gets a line in both the Apostles' Creed ("I believe... in the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting") and the Nicene Creed ("I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."), and two of the earliest post-Apostolic Christian writers we have access to (Irenaeus and Justin Martyr, both 2nd century) argue for a physical resurrection of all humans.
N.T. Wright has a good book, Surprised by Hope, that discusses this doctrine, its centrality to Christianity everywhere until relatively recently, and its implications on how we should live as Christians.
NT Wright: “am I a joke to you?”
I've been through seasons of intense doubt. I nearly walked away from my faith at one point. I've been on a long journey, exploring the reasons why I now think Christianity makes the most sense.
On your question about prayer - God wants you to pray to him about anything and everything. He loves you and is with you through every struggle. Prayer is your way of spending time with Jesus and talking to Him about your troubles. He loves you so much, cares about them all, and just wants you to spend time talking to him.
If you're having trouble praying, a really good strategy I've heard is to pray the book of psalms. They help remind us that we can come to God with any problem and any emotion. We can just vent to God, because He loves us and wants to listen to us, and He wants us to rely on Him and share everything with Him.
If you're having serious doubts, the best book for me was The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller
It covers a wide range of topics (and is pretty heady), but I find that the issue of doubt goes wider than any one issue.
Here is a really great (and free!) sermon series to start with:
A good book about heaven and the afterlife is Surprised by Hope by Tom Wright.
Again, this is some heady stuff. If you're okay with simple answers, PM me and we can talk through some stuff. And if you want deeper, complex, and nuanced answers, I can try to help direct you to some good resources that will be helpful for you.
One last thing - when I was going through doubts, reddit comments and internet searches almost never helped (they often made me feel worse!) Good books, community, and overall the work of God in my life is what really helped me through.
Sure. The idea that we go to another space called "Heaven" as spirits for all eternity is a very modern one. It's not what is taught in the Bible, and it has never been an orthodox Christian belief.
Heaven is the space where God resides, like another dimension. God created the earth in such a way that it kind of "overlapped" with God's space. Because of human rebellion (i.e. "sin"), we've lost the ability to be in full communion with God in that space. While heaven is still there and can interact with us, we cannot interact with it (at least not in the way we were meant to).
God's goal is to fully restore the relationship between our world and heaven. Revelation describes heaven coming down to earth, not us going up to heaven. God intends to make creation like new, restoring the heaven/earth relationship and wiping away the effects of human sin.
There's still a belief that the human soul is in some way protected by God after death, and that we exist in some kind of unembodied state, but that's not the end goal. If that's "life after death", then the real hope of the Christian faith is "life after life after death".
That's a super simplified version. If you want to know more, check out this video from the Bible Project, or read "Surprised by Hope" by N.T. Wright.