Saturday, April 05, 2008

More on Wright and Life after Death

In the most recent Christianity Today Bishop N.T. Wright has an article (or perhaps it is an excerpt) about his new book and Heaven. I had previously questioned Bishop Wright’s belief in a traditional view of heaven based on some interviews given to promote the book. The article is much more illuminating. I was wrong in my first reading of the article. Bishop Wright does hold to a traditional view of heaven, and that is much more clear in this article. Especially when he uses phrase like ‘life after life after death’. He is trying to focus on the resurrection of the body, and in my opinion, he needlessly knocks heaven to focus on the New Heaven and New Earth. But, despite his slighting it, I do think he believes in it. I still have a few quips with the article, but Bishop Wright is bringing focus in on the resurrection of the body, which is not a bad thing, and maybe in many places really needs to be brought back into focus. There is an attitude of escape that permeates parts of evangelicalism that need to be reminded that the ultimate destination is a re-made world, a new Earth and a new Heaven, and that these bodies will rise just as Jesus rose on the third day. That message is laudable.

I do think that Bishop Wright promotes a bit of an environmental agenda with this doctrine, and I do think that he overplays the problem. After all any church that confesses the Apostle’s Creed confesses belief in the ‘resurrection of the body’; however, I am willing to admit that the situation may be different in England. Some of his exegesis bothers me such as his interpretation of ‘citizens of heaven’ in Philippians 3, but he is not denying a heaven that exists now for those who are dead in Christ until the bodily resurrection.

I wrote this brief piece to follow up the earlier critical piece. The interview was a little misleading, but this article is clearer. It is better than his interview.