N. T. Wright's book Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church is a running complaint about the dominance of fundamentalist and liberal approaches to death, the resurrection, the intermediate state, and the mission of the church. Surprised by Hope is more polemical than insightful, too condescending to be comforting, and too dismissive of opposing views to be convincing. Surprised by Hope is not a book of comfort one can give to a grieving Christian. Nor does it offer the depth of insight into difficult biblical passages that we have come to expect from Bishop Wright. I am not usually of the mind that the tone of a book (its "feel") is a suitable basis for a negative review. But in a book such as this—and I want to say this carefully—a book that purports to be about "hope," the tone of the book does matter. Prospective buyers need to know what they are getting. This book is a polemic, not a work of pastoral comfort.
Kim Riddlebarger is pastor of Christ United Reformed Church (Anaheim, California) and co-host of The White Horse Inn radio broadcast. He is author of A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times and Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth about the Antichrist (Baker, 2006). Kim blogs at www.kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com.
Issue: "The Great Announcement" Jan./Feb. 2011 Vol. 20 No. 1 Page number(s): 47-49
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