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Jesus Creed

Surprised by Hope for Groups

Zondervan has taken Tom Wright’s well-received Surprised by Hope and made it usable for Study Groups. They’ve done this in two ways, and I want to pass this information on to you because so many would like to make Tom Wright more accessible to lay folks. 

First, there’s a new study guide: Surprised by Hope Participant’s Guide: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
Second, there’s a DVD: Surprised by Hope
Who has used Wright’s book for small groups? 
Comments read comments(9)
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Scot McKnight

posted April 15, 2010 at 4:44 pm

The link to the video appears to be wrong.

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posted April 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm

That is the link on Amazon as directed from the Zondervan site …
But here is the Zondervan link for the DVD.

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Matt Edwards

posted April 15, 2010 at 5:31 pm

I am currently using Simply Christian in a small group. The group initially found him very difficult to follow but has since started to track. When you read a lot of Wright, you gain the ability to anticipate where he is going in a way that those unfamiliar with him can’t. As I prepare for each meeting, I have to ask myself, “I know what he means by this, but is his meaning clear to the uninitiated?”
Also, whereas most introductions to Christianity build their case deductively, Wright makes his case inductively. Some accused Wright of ?scattered? thinking.
We’re near the end of the study, and the group (young 30s) has found it helpful. His four “signposts” resonate with the group, and I think they appreciate him calling them “pointers” to God rather than “proofs” of God. They found his walk through the Bible to be very helpful. However, early on I had to answer a lot of “Where-is-he-going-with-this?” questions.

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Clay Knick

posted April 15, 2010 at 5:48 pm

I used “Simply Christian” two years ago and it was very well-received.

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Steve A

posted April 15, 2010 at 6:12 pm

I was in a small group a year or so ago reading and discussing Jesus: Two Visions. It was very surprising to me that many people in the group found Wright’s chapters harder to follow/understand (they were for the most part already predisposed towards Borg, so maybe that was really the issue)–but I do think that we need to be sensitive to helpng people get up the learning curve to track with Bishop Tom.

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Erika Haub

posted April 15, 2010 at 7:08 pm

I was thinking of using the book for a group study so I will definitely check out these resources.

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Mick Porter

posted April 15, 2010 at 7:28 pm

I have lent my copy of SBH to lots of people, and given a few copies as presents. I’ve had a few comments about it being a difficult read, which surprises me – but I’m used to reading him, so I agree with Matt (comment 3).
It’s great news that these resources are available – small groups are ideal environments to work through theology, but my experience has been that books are a poor format for small groups – study guides and videos are much better.

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Calvin Chen

posted April 16, 2010 at 12:19 am

I use Simply Christian for a discipleship group with college students in an evangelical parachurch fellowship at a fairly selective Big Ten university. I agree with the above commenters that I’ve never found his popular level works too hard to read but my students definitely complain that he is!
I wrote my own discussion questions for the book and I generally encourage my students to skim the first four chapters — the “signposts” — because they don’t particularly resonate with them. I do think he generally writes to a more postmodern audience than my students, who sometimes find his illustrations cumbersome or roundabout.
I’ve found that Simply Christian and Surprised by Hope are fantastic for the recovering fundamentalist or any student from a conservative evangelical background as a corrective to “pray the prayer and you’re done.” However, I’m not sure if they’re as effective for our students from nominal Catholic and liberal mainline backgrounds — the atonement and personal relationship isn’t hit quite hard enough. I imagine Surprised by Hope might be fantastic as a corrective for dualism though.

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posted April 16, 2010 at 7:25 am

I love Wright’s book (have read three so far). I do find, though, that they are not books that I can read when I am tired. Sometimes he has long, convolunted paragraphs and by the time I get to the end of the paragraph, I need to go back to the beginning and see how he started out! Whenever I mention Wright to anyone in my environment where I am in Maine, they haven’t heard of him. With my spending so much time on blogs where Wright is so front and center, it feels odd that everyone doesn’t know him!
I just finished reading John Stott’s The Cross of Christ. He has a very different style of writing than Wright. Very systematic, organized with lots of asking questions in the way that anyone might. I don’t agree with everything Stott writes, but almost everything, and I have turned down half a dozen pages that contain some wonderful writing. It’s a great book to read during this Easter seaon.

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