Monday, June 18, 2007

NT Wright's The Resurrection 2/4

"One of the most striking features of the early Christian movement is its virtual unanimity about the future hope" - NT Wright starts part two by suggesting that you would expect the first Christians to have developed a spectrum of beliefs that would mirror the Judaic context from which it emerged and the Paganistic culture it entered, however eschatological hope was firmly rooted.

Interestingly NT Wright develops the thought that Paul has Genesis 1 and 2 underpinning his understanding and thereby 'sees the final act of redemption not as a rescue from creation but as the renewal of creation'. I like how NT develops this and draws on Philippians 3:20 imagery of heavenly citizenship - the point being that "Citizenship is a point about status and allegiance, not a place of residence" (pp230). Therefore,
"For Paul, the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is the heart of the Gospel... it is the object of faith, the ground of justification, the basis for obedient Christian living, the motivation for unity, and, not least, the challenge to the principalities and powers".
NT Wright concludes - having fried my brain - by pointing out that 'Paul held a richly variegated, but fluently integrated understanding of the resurrection' (pp 271) which he used for different purposes. That of pointing to the power of God, that of illustrating the future hope of bodily resurrection and that of underlining in the present the power for Christian living.

Resurrection in this sense happens first to Jesus and then all his people, but also has a new depth in that the metaphor that once meant restoration for Israel now points to the moral restoration which Paul points out only makes sense with the resurrection of Jesus.

This all points away from what NT Wright suggests is a skewed and highly gnostic eschatology - that of a disembodied heaven. Like he often says 'heaven is important but it is not the end of the world'!


NT Wright's The Resurrection 1/4


Carl said...

Thanks for this - and thanks also for the comment on my post about heaven. I may check out this book.

Graeme Smith said...

Gordon, I've put off reading hoping parts 3 and 4 would come out soon, but I couldn't wait any longer!

I love Wright's phrase about citizenship being "a point about status and allegiance, not a place of residence". As a British citizen living in Latvia, this is a point I made myself in a sermon a few months back. Too often we want to take ourselves out of the world in which God has placed us to live.