(Say the Jesus Creed morning and evening during Lent.)
What does Tom Wright, in Surprised by Hope, think the NT teaches about Jesus as the Coming Judge?
How central — and this is my question — is the final judgment to the gospel itself?
1. To begin with, the coming Judge “is the central feature of another … belief: that there will indeed be a judgment in which the creator God will set the world right once and for all” (137). In a world of systemic injustice … this is the “best news there can be.”
2. Wright thinks — something he doesn’t develop — Jesus’ messiahship preceded belief in Jesus’ being the coming judge. Why? Judging is inherent to Messiah in Judaism.
3. Here Wright delves into judgment by works and justification by faith — and the former is at the end while the latter in the now as a preemptory act on God to bring forward the final judgment into the now. There is, then, no clash between judgment by works and justification by faith — and I think Wright could have explained himself more in this section.
The final judgment is brought into the present by Christians in justification by faith, in the Eucharist, in the gift of the Holy Spirit.
4. A subtle theme here is that the final judgment is good news — it is the act of God to put the wicked in place and the oppressed in a better place and, overall, to put the world to rights.
5. What are the practical benefits of the coming judge?
a. The world will be transformed, proving both the literal fundamentalist and cosmic Christ inadequate.
b. A proper shape and balance is brought into the Christian worldview.
c. Releases us from the idea of building the kingdom and from despair that nothing can be done.
Big question: “What would happen if we were to take seriously our stated belief that Jesus Christ is already the Lord of the world and that at his name, one day, every knee would bow?” (144)