I came across a wonderful interview with N.T. Wright from earlier in the year. It is a splendid interview. It covers a variety of topics including being compared to C.S. Lewis (where N.T. offers a very insightful critique of Lewis), the controversy of the ‘public gospel’, and even addresses the ongoing disagreement (albeit friendly) between N.T. and John Piper. But the part that really caught my eye was the section on the Ascension, heaven, hell, and purgatory. These are some very brilliant thoughts that N.T. has developed at length and his some he seems to care about very deeply. I wanted to address a few of his points that seem to resonate with me. First, he discusses heaven as the realm where the divine interacts with humanity. He describes it as the realm of God overlapping with the realm of earth. Along with this, he points out that this connotes that heaven is not some far-off galaxy or planet. Rather, it can be found in this realm, here and now. Thus, when Jesus returns, it is not as if he has to hop on a space shuttle and fly back into Bethlehem. Instead, the veil will be lifted and the Jesus that has been here all along will be revealed. We are simply blind to it at this point. Second, N.T. discusses hell, which looks at in sort of a two-fold manner. He acknowledges some sort of pain and suffering that will come with hell. But he suggests that the refusal of humans to worship God actually dehumanizes humans which in and of itself is hell. Why? When we fail to worship God, we begin to lose the ability to bear the image of God. As Wright so poignantly notes, we are what we worship. If we fail to worship God and reject him (or her), than we forfeit the image of God within us. We become less than humans. We become less than what God created us to be. And lastly, Wright looks at purgatory. He rejects the traditional Roman Catholic view of purgatory but in his own way has reformed it to better align with some of the apostle Paul’s writings.
Read it for yourself though. I simply tried to provide a short overview. Hopefully I didn’t spoil it for you.