That’s the first thing I want to say about N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.
This is a two-read book. Once through isn’t enough. But what I did glean from this first reading is that there’s room for discussion on what might happen later to the physical earth and time and our bodies.
To put it bluntly, creation is to be redeemed; this is, space is to be redeemed, time is to be redeemed, and matter is to be redeemed. ...the one thing we can be sure of is that [God will not say] of space, time and matter, “Oh, well, nice try, good while it lasted but obviously gone bad, so let’s drop it and go for a nonspatiotemporal, nonmaterial world instead.
Read the book for yourself if you want to know what that might look like.
I had a hard time following Mr. Wright’s writing style. He tells frequently of things he does NOT mean, thus I often had a hard time grasping what he DOES mean, when he finally comes back around to explain it.
I do hope I’ll remember two beautiful analogies he used:
1. The Dance
(about trying too hard to translate the sacraments)
Remember the ballerina who, asked to say what a particular dance meant, replied, “If I could have said it, I wouldn’t have needed to dance it.”
2. The Piano
(about not forgiving others)
If you lock up the piano because you don’t want to play to somebody else, how can God play to you?
The best part of the book was the handwritten note to me on the front flyleaf from a precious friend. His final sentence was prophetic, “I pray this book will challenge you.” Thanks, Ed. It did.