At the National Pastors Conference in San Diego, our friend at PreachingToday.com, Brian Lowery, got to interview N. T. Wright about his latest book - Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church - and how it relates to preaching. Since we are all in the midst of the Easter journey, his words are timely, challenging, and above all else, hopeful. Here are a few excerpts. Read the full interview here.
Bishop N. T. Wright: [Studying] the Resurrection for an earlier book, Resurrection of the Son of God ? ended up rubbing my nose in the New Testament theology of new creation, and the fact that the new creation has begun with Easter. I discovered that when we do new creation - when we encourage one another in the church to be active in projects of new creation, of healing, of hope for communities - we are standing on the ground that Jesus has won in his resurrection.
For me there's no disjunction between preaching about the salvation which is ours in God's new age - the new heavens and new earth - and preaching about what that means for the present. The two go very closely together. If you have an eschatology that is nonmaterial, why bother with this present world? But if God intends to renew the world, then what we do in the present matters. That's 1 Corinthians 15:58!
The line I often use - which makes people laugh - is: "Heaven is important, but it's not the end of the world." In other words, resurrection means the new earth continues after people have gone to heaven. I put it this way for my audiences: "there is life after life after death." People are very puzzled by that.
So many people think preaching the Resurrection means doing a little bit of apologetics in the pulpit to prove it really is true. Others simply say, "Jesus is raised, therefore there is a life after death." This isn't the point! Those types of sermons may be necessary, but there's more to it than that. To preach the Resurrection is to announce the fact that the world is a different place, and that we have to live in that "different-ness." The Resurrection is not just God doing a wacky miracle at one time. We have to preach it in a way that says this was the turning point in world history.
Read the full interview with N. T. Wright at our sister site, PreachingToday.com.