November 1, 2004

For All the Saints?

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It’s All Saints Day, and there could be no better occasion to recommend N. T. Wright’s recent short book For All the Saints? Remembering the Christian Departed.

In this book, Wright is reacting to recent trends in the Anglican church (and perhaps others, too) toward vague language about the state of those who have died, language which often flows from a return to some sort of belief in Purgatory. The liturgical expression of this trend is found, Wright points out, in the addition of All Souls’ Day on November 2, following All Saints’ Day on November 1, as well as in the invention of something called the “kingdom season” in the church calendar, spanning the time between Trinity Sunday and Advent.

Against this trend, Wright argues strongly that all Christians are saints and that all Christians, when they die, go immediately to be with the Lord.

Now that may sound like plain vanilla Protestantism. Well, it is vanilla, but it isn’t plain. This is French vanilla with real pieces of vanilla bean mixed in. Which is to say that in the course of this short book Wright includes a lot of valuable and helpful biblical analysis and presents it all in a very readable manner.

There are a couple of areas where Wright’s presentation is a bit weak (notably his brief treatment of hell), but all in all I highly recommend this book, especially since this is All Saints’ Day, a day on which the church celebrates the fact that all (not just some especially godly ones) who die in the Lord are triumphant in Him and on which we remember that those who die as well as we who remain are still the Church Expectant, looking forward to the great day of the bodily resurrection.

Posted by John Barach @ 2:19 pm | Discuss (0)

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