True to the title, I was surprised by the book and encouraged by the message. In an age where churches operate like corporations and measure their success through metrics like attendance and "conversions" it was nice to read a book that attempts to address the real issue of the church: transforming lives for he better. The book discusses how the message of the Gospel is that God is redeeming all of creation and that Heaven is a physical place that is much closer than we might think. In fact, some of us may be looking for it in the wrong place.
The author uses logic and scriptural references to produce solid arguments for all of his points, successfully making his case each time. This is not a writer (or theologian) who gives standard responses and pat answers to tough questions - he's logically and prayerfully gone through these issues. I will be reading more of his work.
First, Wright's insistence on bodily resurrection, rather than "going to heaven" as the goal of the Christian is important. I'm not sure it needs to be repeated ad nauseum for over 300 pages (I've been slogging through this thing for over a month), but it matters, and if you're interested in the subject, this book is as good a place to start as any. Unless you're a Catholic. The minor swipe at Marian theology (nothing big - just a snide comment, really) is one thing. Attacking the idea of purgatory by claiming that Roman Catholic theologians have been walking it back of late is another. He cites only two Catholic theologians (Karl Rahner and Joseph Ratzinger aka Pope Benedict XVI) and quotes so little of them, and with virtually no context, that his assertion comes off as desperate, wishful thinking. Still, if you didn't know any better, Wright might actually convince you that the Pope reversed the Church's teachings on purgatory, and that there's an army of Catholic theologians in agreement. Of course it's complete nonsense. In fact, the quote Wright uses to prove that Benedict has rethought purgatory looks like nothing more than Benedict suggesting that time in the afterlife doesn't work the same as time in the world we know. It's not radical and it certainly doesn't reject the concept of purgatory.
At this point in the book (about halfway through), having dispensed of purgatory in less than a page, Wright breezily announces that once we've dropped purgatory we can move ahead and understand what he's going to explain to us next (presumably, over, and over and over again) (did I mention that he's really, really repetitive?). Since just dropping a major tenet of my faith - particularly on the basis of such laughably thin evidence - is impossible for me as a Catholic, I'm done. If he's willing to be so dishonest about this, who knows what other evidence he's manufacturing to prove his points. There's some good stuff here if you're patient, but even at the halfway point it seems twice as long as it needs to be, and the anti-Catholic nonsense is obnoxious.
Spectacular book. I have any number of quibbles throughout the book, but the good overall far outweighs those quibbles.
Despite the fact that it took me a whole year to finish the book, it is a great book. I'd highly recommend it to any pastor who might want to lead a book discussion group in their congregation. It would certainly challenge many common notions about what happens after death and encourage parishioners to become biblically aware of what Christianity is really all about.
A brilliant theological exposition on Christian eschatology, which has helped move many, including myself, away from Rapture theology. More review to come after second reading.
Not as exegetically rich as I thought it would be, and he spends a lot of time complaining about Enlightenment rationalism, Platonism, et al. Still, it's an illuminating book about an important subject. I would recommend it to evangelical Christians looking for a better grasp of what the Bible says about the afterlife.
This is a great exploration of what happens after you die and what it means for you (and the church as a whole) right now. It's a dense read, but I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about life after life after death, Christ's resurrection, our future, and how this great hope should affect your every moment.
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