It’s been a few days since I’ve sat down and added anything to this blog. As is so often the case work, family and church commitments have been vying for increasing amounts of my time but despite those legitimate foci I’ve tried to ensure I’ve not stopped reading. The theme of the teaching series at church over the next few weeks is the subject of Hope, a subject that has, over the past few months appeared time and time again throughout the evangelical world as a distinctly current issue.

One of the most helpful books I’ve found on the subject and a great help in focusing my thinking prior to the start of the current teaching series has been the book Surprised by Hope by Tom Wright.

Note : the following contains extracts from a previously published review of Wright’s book written by Richard Church (URC)

surprised-by-hope-tom-wrightSurprised by Hope is a book written for all those interested in the meaning of life, and in it Tom Wright addresses questions like: What do Christians hope for and what difference does our hope make anyway ? He turns his attention to the future, surveying the current confusion of beliefs inside and outside the Church before giving an account of God’s future plan. Wright argues that widespread misunderstanding has blinded us to the biblical vision of a new heaven and a new earth. Readers familiar with Wright’s earlier writing will not be surprised by his emphasis on the renewal of creation as having been initiated by the bodily resurrection of Christ. Dismissing both evolutionary optimism because it cannot deal adequately with the presence of evil, and a dualistic view which rejects the material world in favour of a spiritual realm into which we must escape, Wright offers his readers new creation, or life after life after death. The lens of new creation is used, to dramatic effect, to re-assess the second coming, judgement, and heaven and hell. In the third part of the book Wright addresses the question: What implication has all this for the Church’s mission? And concludes that all the things we do presently will last into God’s future. Mission is the lifestyle of the new creation just as it was for Jesus in his bodily ministry around Galilee. He uses three concepts: justice, beauty, and evangelism to earth the building of the kingdom of God into the life of the contemporary Church. Overall this is a skilful integrating of key biblical themes, argued energetically by a leading Biblical scholar. It strips away popular sentimentality and medieval imagery, allowing the original biblical writers to speak to us afresh. Wright, whilst acknowledging the mist in which our eventual destiny is shrouded still offers here a set of signposts by which we might navigate as communities as well as individuals. The book gives substance to our hope and deserves widespread and careful reading.

I’d recommend you get a copy and read it. it’s certainly inspired me again to consider afresh my actions in this life in the context of eternity and rejoice again in God’s amazing rescue plan for humanity and what it will mean for those who love and trust God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

PS : I will return to Amos, I promise …!