n.t. wright is shattering my paradigms

June 22, 2008

I know it’s getting ridiculous that I’m regurgitating (verbatim) phrases, paragraphs, and (let’s face it) near-entire chapters from Wright’s latest book, Surprised by Hope. It’s only that I’m wanting to fully digest and (then) gain health from such important nutrients. (The metaphor seems none too strong, as I find myself badly malnourished regarding [what I’m coming to believe is] true Christian hope.)

So for my very own sake …

But when we reintegrate what should never have been separated–the kingdom-inaugurating public work of Jesus and his redemptive death and resurrection—we find that the gospels tell a different story. It isn’t just a story of some splendid and exciting social work with an unhappy conclusion. Nor is it just a story of an atoning death with an extended introduction. It is something much bigger than the sum of those two diminished perspectives. It is the story of God’s kingdom being launched on earth as in heaven, generating a new state of affairs in which the power of evil has been decisively defeated, the new creation has been decisively launched, and Jesus’s followers have been commissioned and equipped to put that victory and that inaugurated new world into practice. Atonement, redemption, and salvation are what happen on the way because engaging in this work demands that people themselves be rescued from the powers that enslave the world in order that they can in turn be rescuers. To put it another way, if you want to help inaugurate God’s kingdom, you must follow in the way of the cross, and if you want to benefit from Jesus’s saving death, you must become part of his kingdom project. There is only one Jesus, only one gospel story, albeit told in four kaleidoscopic patterns. Heaven’s rule, God’s rule, is thus to be put into practice in the world, resulting in salvation in both the present and the future, a salvation that is both for humans and through saved humans, for the wider world. This is the solid basis for the mission of the church.

–N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope


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