Monday, January 18, 2010

Wright on Paul's View of the After Life

"Why then does Paul speak of the new body as being 'in the heaven'? Does this not mean that he thinks of Christians simply 'going to heaven' after their death? No. This is one of the passages which have supplied later tradition with the materials for an unwarranted platonizing of Christian hope. As with Philippians 3.20-21, and indeed 1 Corinthians 15.47-9, the temptation of the tradition has been to drive a steamroller through what Paul actually says, clearing his careful words out of the way to make room for a different worldview in which the aim of Christian faith is 'to go to heaven when you die'. The tradition has always found it difficult to incorporate 'resurrection'... 'Heaven' for Paul, here as elsewhere, is not so much where people go after they die - he remains remarkably silent on that, with the exception of Colossians 3.3-4 - but the place where the divinely intended future for the world is kept safely in store... If I assure my guests that there is champagne for them in the fridge I am not suggesting that we all need to get into the fridge if we are to have a party."
-N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 367-68

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