This review is by Dan, a church planter with The Crowded House.
In Surprised by Hope NT Wright gives a clear and engaging explanation of why the church can be hopeful and what we can be hopeful for. This DVD and workbook is based on his excellent book with the same title (available here from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk).
The bulk of teaching comes in the form of six 20-minute sessions on (1) hope for the world, (2) the church, (3) heaven, (4) the second coming, (5) salvation, and ( 6) resurrection. Each session is well introduced and is followed up by good optional bonus material. A study guide helpfully leads you through the sometimes quite dense material.
Wright’s central idea is that our hope is for the renewal of this world rather than some other ethereal world and hope in a renewed world should cause us to be agents of renewal now. We are ambassadors of hope. Through our hopeful lives people experience God’s kingdom and receive an insight into the world to come. I particularly enjoyed Wright’s exegesis of, for example , the first century concept of heaven and the ‘rapture’ imagery in 1 Thessalonians 4.
I am happy to recommend Surprised by Hope. I felt, however, that the application of this good exegesis needed to be taken a step further. I was disappointed that Wright barely touches on how we share our hope by proclaiming the gospel. We hear a lot about how hope results in good deeds and creativity (writing books and songs, planting gardens, writing poetry) but little about sharing the gospel message. Maybe that could be a point for group discussion.
Ed’s note. If you want to follow up the issue of the relationship between future hope and present action then you might try Tim Chester, The Ordinary Hero: Living the Cross and Resurrection (available here from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk) or at an academic level Tim Chester, Mission and the Coming of God (available here from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk) .