Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book Review: For All the Saints

For All the Saints: Remembering the Christian Departed, by N.T. Wright

This was an interesting book that tackled "what happens to people when they die", and how we are to go about, well, "remembering the Christian departed."  Wright explores the history of Christian thought on this topic, surveys the current (2003) landscape, deals with issues like purgatory (and the variety of manifestations it often takes), and finally comes to the conclusion that "all God's people in Christ are assured of being with Christ himself, in a glorious restful existence, until the day when everything is renewed, when heaven and earth at last become one, and we are given new bodies to live and love and celebrate and rule in God's new creation." (pg. 71)

In the process, Wright argues for "prayers for the dead" (stemming, as they do, from love, rather than from an attempt to get them out of purgatory) and against Kingdom Season (it doesn't lead well into Advent). 

Mostly, what this book reminded me of was that I want to re-read Surprised by Hope, also by Wright.  I get the sense that For All the Saints is a more narrowly-focused account of much of the same research and background work.  Wright occasionally, here and elsewhere (including Surprised by Hope) talks about "life after life after death" which I didn't really get the first time I encountered it in Surprised, and still really don't. 

Apparently I should go back to that and try to figure it out, along with The Resurrection of the Son of God, which is apparently where Wright "shows his work" for Surprised. 

But overall I liked this book, and if you're looking for something to at least get you thinking about what we do with the "Christian departed", this is a decent place to start. 

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