I’m enjoying reading Tom Wright’s book The Day the Revolution Began. It’s just the kind of book I’ve been longing to read, one that tries to explain what Jesus accomplished on the Cross.
First, it seems clear to me that once we replace the common vision of Christian hope (“going to heaven”) with the biblical vision of “new heavens and new earth,” there will be direct consequences for how we understand both the human problem and the divine solution. Second, in the usual model, what stops us from “going to heaven” is sin, and sin is dealt with (somehow) on the cross. In the biblical model, what stops us from being genuine humans (bearing the divine image, acting as the “royal priesthood”) is not only sin, but the idolatry that underlies it. The idols have gained power, the power humans ought to be exercising in God’s world; idolatrous humans have handed it over to them. What is required, for God’s new world and for renewed humans within it is for the power of the idols to be broken. Since sin, the consequence of idolatry, is what keeps humans in thrall to the nongods of the world, dealing with sin has a more profound effect than simply releasing humans to go to heaven. It releases humans from the grip of the idols, so they can worship the living God and be renewed according to his image.
All this is very abstract, but in the Bible it becomes startlingly concrete. In the Bible, God’s plan to deal with sin, and so to break the power of idols and bring new creation to his world, is focused on the people of Israel. In the New Testament, this focus is narrowed to Israel’s representative, the Messiah. He stands in for Israel and so fulfills the divine plan to restore creation itself. That is the very short version of the story we shall be telling for the rest of this book—the revolutionary story in which all Jesus’s followers are caught up.
From Tom Wright’s book The Day the Revolution Began.