Thoughts on N.T. Wright’s “Surprised by Hope”

One of my books to read this summer was N.T. Wright’s book Surprised by Hope. I finished the book this afternoon and thought I would share a few thoughts about the book.

1. The book is accessible. N.T. Wright is a first rate scholar and some of his works are tough slogs. Not so with this book. This book is written a manner that both the scholar and the laity can appreciate.

2. The book is about an exceedingly important topic: The resurrection of Christ and how it impacts every aspect of human life. The part of the book that I found the most challenging was when Wright was detailing how many Christians have a skewed idea about the eternal hope of the believer. After reading this book, I was challenged to examine my own thinking and language about the eternal hope and state of Christians.

3. The biggest issues that I have with the book are, I believe, predominantly due to different ecclesiological beliefs and practices. Wright is an Anglican and thus his theology and ecclesiology are heavily influenced by Anglicanism. That said, if one is willing to accept that there will always be some differences between Baptist and Anglican ways of doing church and also accept that we have much common theological ground, then you should have no problems with this book.

4. The last 1/4 of the book was very challenging for me. I think it is largely a response to the false “social Gospel” than many liberal theologians espouse that my tendency was to recoil when I saw those elements crop up in the book (note that Wright does not espouse the “social Gospel,” he simply challenges the reader to be engaged socially). However, it is important to remember that there are many social elements to the Gospel. A Christian should desire to see the world around them changed to more accurately reflect the words of the Bible, but we have to remember that the Gospel is the first priority, not affecting social change.

I won’t really delve into greater detail here about my thoughts on the content of this book because I largely did that in a series of posts last month on the resurrection. That paper I wrote on the resurrection was, in part, a response to my reading of Wright’s book. The paper allowed me to thoroughly research and think through the eternal hope of the believer. That said, if you are looking for a book that will offer you some meat to chew on, you should pick up this book.

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