Category Archives: Pop Christianity

Bishop bucks views of heaven: NT Wright Interview at

N.T. Wright’s recent visit to Nashville, TN, included an interview with the Tennessean. It includes some very interesting comments regarding hell and the final state of those who reject God’s Glory and Gospel. While I do not share his views on hell in full, I would say that his heart to see the world renewed is a blessed hope and central teaching of the Bible that we should all think about regularly and share with our family and friends. Below I have reproduced the article found here:


Bishop bucks views of heaven

Long-held notions not biblical, he says

Staff Writer

Heaven is not retirement on steroids, where people sit around doing whatever they like, with nothing but time on their hands.

Instead it’s more like going on vacation. You rest, relax, stop and smell the roses, and then get back to work. At least, that’s what the Bible says.

“The book of Revelation talks about God making us kings and priests,” said N.T. Wright, bishop of Durham, England, and author of Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. “It isn’t just salvation and now you can sit back and relax. It’s that we are saved to be God’s agents and stewards in this new creation.”

Wright who was in Nashville on Tuesday speaking at West End United Methodist Church, believes the notion of going to heaven after death isn’t found in the Bible. Instead, he says, God brings heaven to earth.

“It’s like this world with all the beauty and the grandeur and the power,” he said, “but unfettered by death and decay.”

The Church of England bishop says that he isn’t trying to come up with a new or inventive view of heaven and resurrection. Instead, he is trying to point people to the Bible.

“The odd thing is that I don’t think I am saying anything remotely unorthodox,” he said. “I am trying to give people back some bits of the Bible they have forgotten about … Resurrection may be crazy, but it is what Christians are supposed to believe.”

That’s a notion that appeals to Scotty Smith, founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin. Smith is currently preaching a series on heaven based on the book of Revelation.

He says that evangelical Christians, in particular, have replaced a biblical view of heaven with a romanticized view.

“It (heaven) is going to look a little more like this world than a place filled with cherubs sitting around and singing Bill Gaither songs,” Smith said. “The story the Bible tells is one of redemption, not replacement.”

Resurrection is the focus

Wright, appointed bishop of Durham, a diocese south of Scotland, in 2003, says the Bible and the Christian creeds speak more about resurrection than about going to heaven.

“Without resurrection you are left with a theology which says that the present world of space, time and matter is just junk, and God is going to throw it in the trash,” he said. “If you say this world is basically junk and trash, you can exploit it, you can exploit people. You can abuse the world, and you can abuse people and it really doesn’t matter.”

This focus on resurrection and not just getting to heaven also appeals to Gavin Richardson, director of youth ministries at Faith United Methodist Church in Hendersonville.

“It’s not just ‘get Jesus and you are good to go’,” he said.

In all his talk of heaven, Wright still believes in the reality of hell. He says that, in the end, people are free to choose to be separated from God.

“The Bible doesn’t talk about heaven and hell side by side. The Bible talks about God bringing all things on heaven and earth together. Heaven and earth will be joined. That is the great renewal and God’s victory over evil and suffering and death,” he said. “At the same time, the Bible talks about the certainty of final loss for those who choose not to worship the God in whose image they were made. And it seems to me that the New Testament doesn’t leave us with the option of saying all will be saved. I often wish it did, but it doesn’t.”

American Idol Loves You and Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life

—–Last nights American Idol was almost as surprising as the night before. They started the show by singing “Shout to the Lord”, but this time they did not take Jesus’ name out. All the time I was thinking, “Does this mean I jumped the gun?” (I already had one person tell me I was crazy about my analysis of the previous night.) I do not think I did, but some of my comments deserve some clarification.

—–But first, what is the significance of Jesus making the cut last night. I think it reveals that a whole heap load of Christians watch American Idol. Fox thought, “Christians like God. We can get there money by invoking Him?” Last night was probably a product of the Evangelical Hate Mail and Boycott Ministry. You know, the EHMBM. You gave an offering to them last Groundhogs day. They are the wing of the church that keeps the Teletubbies in jail and the Dixie Chicks off the radio.
—–Depending on when the second show was taped, either everyone started writing emails, a focus group responded negatively, or someone told Fox that the EHMBM would be on their tale. Not wanting to loose all those fat Evangelical bucks, the show complied, in a very surprising way. The encouraging things is that Christians are not so easily duped, although there were certainly a few who thought Wednesday was a sure sign that Ryan Seacrest had asked Jesus to come into his heart.

—–Back to my previous comments. Yesterday I said, “It was super cheesy, super cocky in its American materialism, and, as I commented several times, super messianic.” I also said that “TV is growing in its arrogance to take the place of the church and of Christ.”
—–But someone might say, “Lighten up. What is wrong with American Idol trying to help people.” Nothing at all. In fact, it is really refreshing that a TV show is focusing a lot of its attention on Africa and people who can be helped in practical ways. How often do we see starving African kids on TV. We need to be reminded that there is more to life than our petty concerns. (Just do not send Idol money, because some of their money goes to fund abortion and, as bad as it can be, the church is the entity we should work through.)
—–Let me explain my assertions.

Super Cheesy
—–Hopefully no one needs help with this one. They pulled all the cheap tricks to get you emotionally worked up. There were the slow motion pans of poor Appalachian children’s faces. There were the African children singing in unison a song of hope. And there were the constant reminders that YOU, you amazing people, can come together to fix the world.

Super Cocky in its American Materialism
—–(This one goes along with television’s messiah complex, so I will save some of my explanation for the next section.) During one of the segments, a movie star made the comment, “These people are so amazing. They have such a will to live.” What could that possibly mean? Since when do we admire people for not wanting to die? We admire them for not wanting to die, when we say to ourselves, “If I had to live in this dump I would shoot myself. They are dirty. They have no TV. They have no microwave.” In other words, my comfort and possession are all that matter in life. So what is our answer to the world’s problems? Stuff.
—–One of my friends made the comment, “I bet if all the celebrities on the show gave a 1/10 of their salary, world hunger might end all together. Anyway, I felt like the show was money hungry and could care less about the poor. They used tears of hurting people to get people to call in.” I thought it was telling last night when Ryan Seacrest made the comment along the lines that one of the best ways to donate was to download their songs from itunes. Dig deep, but do not give so much that you cannot afford to download the performances of your favorite idol. This is charity that feels good, but it does not call on anyone to lay down his life for his neighbor. It is all about image. That is what most of those celebrities were doing on there, just being a part of something big.

Super Messianic / Trying to Replace Christ and the Church
—–This is probably where I lost some of you. What do I mean when I say Idol and TV is messianic? Well, Christ is the savior of the world; therefore, anything that claims to be the source for solving the world’s problems is trying to be messianic. Also, Christ is the ONE who is meant to unite ALL things in Himself (Ephesians 1:10). He is the unifier. Anything that attempts to be the one source of common ground for all peoples is also trying to replace the true messiah. Do not take this to mean that I think they are consciously trying to subvert the church. Of course not. They are just trying to push their agenda to be your all in all.
—–First, I think we should all be leery of anyone that makes the claim that all the world’s problems can be solved if you join with him. Here is a Ryan Seacrest quote from last night, “[Idol gives back] is about changing the world and securing a future.” Wow! Beat your swords into pruning hooks and turn your missile silos into ice cream stands! Finally, the golden age is here, no evangelism or martyrdom required, only TV antennas and a credit card.
—–Second, Idol and other shows promise to solve our problems through stuff. For example, I am glad Tye Pennington does what he does. It makes for a cool show about destroying and building things. It also gives people, usually pretty good people, some cool possessions. And it gives some chances for major construction companies to get publicity while making lots of sweet cash for the producers (I am still a capitalist, I just do not think they should claim they are being selfless).
—–Do not be fooled, however, into accepting wealth as a savior. For Extreme Home Makeover, the answer to the blind, crippled, bereaved, or over burdened is not the Resurrection or the help of the church, it is a ridiculously big house and everything you have ever coveted. That show is not about helping people out. If it was, they could help 50 people in one show with all that money, but they wouldn’t be able to keep you captivated. The show is about recompensing a person for the bad hand they have been given by giving them complete opulence. When in truth, the Ressurrection is your vindication, not a 70 inch TV. (Still I am glad that some of these hard-working people get helped out.)
—–Third, Idol and other shows promise to solve our problems through programs. Those dirty-faced, mountain children get an afterschool program. That’s the ticket. Now, through team building games, internet access, and books all their problems will be solved. Which I think that translates into, “They can make much more money when they grow up.” Perhaps, these people have issues going on that programs cannot solve. We see no Father and a house where there is no attempt toward stewardship of what they have been given, and, yet again, money is the answer. Sure.
—–Fourth, there are the mesquito nets, which prevent the spread of malaria during sleep. I actually like this one, but let us not think that we can save the Africans by sending them more stuff. Those who have worked first-hand with them know that this is the common error Americans make. Still, this one has a good chance of going to good use.

—–Everyone who American Idol ministers to, needs the gospel. They need the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to break into their lives and change who they are and to build their lives around Christ. We can do lots of helpful things, but real change never comes through feel-good, profit mongering. It comes through a once dead man who now reigns with the Father, as He puts all his enemies under his feet.

—–So, do not think I am saying not to watch American idol. Just keep the Messiah as your hope and have no idols before Him.

Resurrection! That is our hope!

Well, since I wasn’t able to post on Easter Sunday, I figured I would at least post about the resurrection sometime this week. So here goes!

This article is from Christianity Today. I encourage you to read more than just the excerpt. 🙂 Enjoy!


The bodily resurrection is the good news of the gospel—and thus our social and political mandate.
by N. T. Wright – posted 3/24/2008

There is no agreement in the church today about what happens to people when they die. Yet the New Testament is crystal clear on the matter: In a classic passage, Paul speaks of “the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23). There is no room for doubt as to what he means: God’s people are promised a new type of bodily existence, the fulfillment and redemption of our present bodily life. The rest of the early Christian writings, where they address the subject, are completely in tune with this.

The traditional picture of people going to either heaven or hell as a one-stage, postmortem journey represents a serious distortion and diminution of the Christian hope. Bodily resurrection is not just one odd bit of that hope. It is the element that gives shape and meaning to the rest of the story of God’s ultimate purposes. If we squeeze it to the margins, as many have done by implication, or indeed, if we leave it out altogether, as some have done quite explicitly, we don’t just lose an extra feature, like buying a car that happens not to have electrically operated mirrors. We lose the central engine, which drives it and gives every other component its reason for working.

When we talk with biblical precision about the resurrection, we discover an excellent foundation for lively and creative Christian work in the present world—not, as some suppose, for an escapist or quietist piety.
Bodily Resurrection

While both Greco-Roman paganism and Second Temple Judaism held a wide variety of beliefs about life beyond death, the early Christians, beginning with Paul, were remarkably unanimous on the topic.

When Paul speaks in Philippians 3 of being “citizens of heaven,” he doesn’t mean that we shall retire there when we have finished our work here. He says in the next line that Jesus will come from heaven in order to transform the present humble body into a glorious body like his own. Jesus will do this by the power through which he makes all things subject to himself. This little statement contains in a nutshell more or less all Paul’s thought on the subject. The risen Jesus is both the model for the Christian’s future body and the means by which it comes.

Similarly, in Colossians 3:1–4, Paul says that when the Messiah (the one “who is your life”) appears, then you too will appear with him in glory. Paul does not say “one day you will go to be with him.” No, you already possess life in him. This new life, which the Christian possesses secretly, invisible to the world, will burst forth into full bodily reality and visibility.

The clearest and strongest passage is Romans 8:9–11. If the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus the Messiah, dwells in you, says Paul, then the one who raised the Messiah from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies as well, through his Spirit who dwells in you. God will give life, not to a disembodied spirit, not to what many people have thought of as a spiritual body in the sense of a nonphysical one, but “to your mortal bodies also.”

Other New Testament writers support this view. The first letter of John declares that when Jesus appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. The resurrection body of Jesus, which at the moment is almost unimaginable to us in its glory and power, will be the model for our own. And of course within John’s gospel, despite the puzzlement of those who want to read the book in a very different way, we have some of the clearest statements of future bodily resurrection. Jesus reaffirms the widespread Jewish expectation of resurrection in the last day, and announces that the hour for this has already arrived. It is quite explicit: “The hour is coming,” he says, “indeed, it is already here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of Man, and those who hear will live; when all in the graves will come out, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”

(more… )

Nightline Reports: What Happens When You Die?

Video: What Happens When You Die?

New Report: Bishop’s Heaven: Is There Life After the Afterlife?

Nightline did a report yesterday on Bishop Tom Wright’s views on heaven and the afterlife. This interview dealt with the same thing that I post about in an earlier interview this year.

The Interview was good, but I know that they cut out several things that Wright said that could have clarified his views on things. I also didn’t like the way Nightline cast the interview. It sounded as thought Wright was saying that everyone will inherit the new heavens and the new earth, but I know that Wright does not believe that everyone will be saved. Some have accused him of that, but he expressly denies it.

What do you think about the Nightline interview?

ER: I want someone who can give me answers!

Patient: “Well you tell me… is atonement even possible, what does God want from me?”

Chaplain: “I think it’s up to each one of us to interpret what God wants.”

Patient: “So, people can do anything?! They can rape, they can murder, they can steal… all in the name of God and it’s okay??? ”

“No that’s not what I’m saying…”

“Well what are you saying?!! Because all I’m hearing is some new age, ‘God is love”, one size fits all… CRAP!!”

Doctor: “Hey Doctor Trueman…”

Patient: “No, I don’t have time for this now!”

Chaplain: “Greg, it’s okay… I understand…”

Patient: “No you don’t understand!!!… You don’t understand!… How could you possible say that… now you listen to me… I want a real chaplain who believes in a real God and a real hell!”

Chaplain: “I hear that you’re frustrated, but you need to ask yourself..”

Patient: “No I don’t need to ask myself!… I NEED ANSWERS! And all your questions and your uncertainty are only making things worse. ”

Chaplain: “I.. I know you’re upset…”

Patient: “God… I need someone who will look me in the eye and tell me how I can find forgiveness because I am running out of time!!”

Chaplain: “I’m trying to help…”

Patient: “Well don’t!!!! Just get out!!! Get out!!!!! Get out!!!”

[Chaplain women runs out of the room very upset]

Well, Here is the video:

[HT: Drew White]

N. T. Wright Interview: Christians Wrong About Heaven

And to this I must say, Amen!

N. T. Wright is one of the best Bible teachers out there when it comes to eschatology and God’s ultimate purpose for mankind and the rest of the creation. One of the things he loves talking about is “life after life after death”. His point is that “life after death” is not the end. It’s not our final resting place. Heaven, as most Christians think today, is not the end goal of the Christian life. The “end”, instead, is the beginning of life as God always planned it to be. Life after life after death begins with resurrection. And in resurrection the Christian inherits a new heaven and a new earth.

In other words, heaven and earth will finally be one, God will be all in all, and man will finally dwell on the earth as God has always intended it to be. Had God decreed something other than the fall, Adam would have fulfilled his calling to expand the Garden and dwelling place of God on the earth (i.e. – to fill and subdue the planet, Gen. 1:26-28) and his descendants would have been brought into a new heavens and a new earth once the Genesis dominion mandate was fulfilled.

Let us thank God for the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, who fulfilled Adam’s calling and guaranteed a new heavens and a new earth to all who trust in him!

So, why the interview? Well, Wright has just published his second book in a trilogy of books on the essentials of the Christian Faith. Thankfully, Time has interviewed him for us here. I am reposting the interview below. Enjoy! Continue reading N. T. Wright Interview: Christians Wrong About Heaven

Georgia Baptist Convention calls bloggers to repent

Thanks to James Grant for alerting me to this…

A Resolution on Blogging

James points to an article by Timmy Brister in response to this resolution. I have grown up in the Southern Baptist Convention and it is the only church denomination that I have know and been a member of throughout my life. I thought that the various state conventions condemning alcohol was bad enough, but this generalization about blogging is just too much. The SBC has way too many people in it who are just not getting things right and it may just be a whole generation away before things start to change for the better. Only God knows.

In Christ and In Defense of the Faith,

Is John Hagee going to Hell?

You just have to hear it yourself to realize that the title of this post is NOT being presumptive or judgmental. In fact, I worried about it, but I hoped the day would never come that I could write a post like this about Pastor Hagee.

John Hagee has rejected Jesus as the Messiah. John Hagee, who once preached the Gospel about Jesus the Messiah, has fallen away from the faith once for all delivered to the Saints of God. May God have mercy upon his soul and may God change his heart before it is too late!

An Evangelical Rethink on Divorce?

Given all the recent online debates regarding divorce, I find it very telling, yet sad, that Time Magazine has picked up on the important discussion. Time entitled their recent article: An Evangelical Rethink on Divorce?

I would encourage everyone to read Times article and realize what Time is trying to say about the next generation of Christians regarding all moral issues and how the Bible is ‘re-interpreted’ to fit the individuals view of what they think is just/unjust. Unfortunately, Time hasn’t learned from all this that the Bible is suppose to shape our thinking, instead, Time’s article thinks it’s the other way around. That is the truly sad part about all this.

For those of you who have not been following the debate, here is a summary list of articles and blog entries that have been made by the various participants…

An article by David Instone-Brewer on divorce and remarriage at Christianity Today started the whole debate: “What God has Joined Together: What Does the Bible Really Teach about Divorce?” This article is a summary of his book on divorce and remarriage.

When the article came out, Justin Taylor provided a summary of the article with a chart from Andreas Kostenberger’s book God, Marriage, and the Family.

Since then, there has been a discussion concerning the issue of divorce and remarriage around the blog world. This is a run down of the discussion.

[HT: JT and JG]