Over the past couple of days I’ve been chipping away at N.T. Wright’s book, Surprised By Hope, as part of my lenten reading. In the previous chapter N.T. Wright recaps a lot of the evidence for the resurrection as brought up in other apologetical works such as More Than a Carpenter and Strobel’s, The Case for Easter. Like these other books, Wright concludes that all of the evidence:
brings us face-to-face with the ultimate question. The empty tomb and the meetings with Jesus are well established… they are, in combination, the only possible explanation for the stories and beliefs that grew up so quickly among Jesus’s followers. How, in turn, do we explain them? The obvious answer, (“well, it actually happened”) is so shocking, so earth shattering, that we rightly pause before leapong into the unknown. And here indeed, as some sketical friends have cheerfully pointed out to me, it is always possible for nayone to follow the argument so far and say simply, “I don’t have a good explanation for what happened to cause the empty tomb and the appearances, but I choose to maintain my belief that dead people don’t rise and therefore conclude that something else must have happened, even though we can’t tell what it was.” That is fine; I respect that position; but I simply note that it is indeed then a matter of choice, not a matter of saying that something called sceintific historiography forces us to take that route. (Wright, 63)
The Resurrection he continues, is not a matter of did it happen, but because of what happened, what does that mean for you and me? Wright suggests, that the Resurrection, is “the defininf event of the new creation, the world that is being born with Jesus” (73). The Resurrection, he postulates, is a glimpse into the new world in which injustice doesn’t rule, death isn’t the final pitstop, and the New Heaven and the New Earth has begun to make itself a present reality where God’s rulership is gaining power.
Now, Wright wants to make clear, that our future is not simply “evolutionary” in which time mends all wounds and humanity is getting better (88). It’s not the “utopian dream”, and the church is not simply a humanitarian organization. While, acts of social justice is good, social justice is not the end nor the goal. Social justice is evidence and is another “brick”, if you will, in the construction of the new heaven and the new earth which is marked by divine justice and equality. Wright wants to make clear that the kingdom-of-God-on-Earth announced by Jesus, is ushered in by Christ and is only possible because of Christ. The story the Christian church tells, and it’s testament to hope is rooted deeply, and solely in Jesus. He writes, “what God has done in Jesus Christ, and supremely in his resurrection, is what he intends to do for the whole world- meaning, by world, the entire cosmos with all its history” (91).