surprised-by-hopeI recently finished reading N.T. Wright’s Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. For a variety of reasons, it has taken me far too long to read, but it has challenged me and I have enjoyed it. I haven’t decided yet whether or not I’m going to do an actual review of it, but I wanted to share the following quotation about what the Bible is and is not:

“The Bible is not, in other words, simply a list of true doctrines or a collection of proper moral commands—though it includes plenty of both. The Bible is not simply the record of what various people thought as they struggled to know God and follow him, though it is that as well. It is not simply the record of past revelations, as though what mattered were to study such things in the hopes that one might have one for oneself. It is the book whose whole narrative is about new creation, that is, about resurrection, so that when each of the gospels ends with the raising of Jesus from the dead, and when Revelation ends with new heavens and new earth populated by God’s people risen from the dead, this should come not as a surprise but as the ultimate fulfillment of what the story had been about all along.”

(pp. 282-83)

There is a balance to that perspective that I really like. There are many things which the Bible does or contains that do not comprise its primary focus. That doesn’t make them unimportant, but we should try to keep things in their proper place. For example, it makes me very uncomfortable when I hear the Bible described as “God’s rule book for how to live.” Certainly the Bible contains rules and it does tell us how to live, but isn’t it more that that?