N. T. Wright on Intellectual Totalitarianism


On death and tyrants“The intellectual coup d’├ętat by which the Enlightenment convinced so many that ‘we now know that dead people don’t rise,’ as though this was a modern discovery rather than simply the reaffirmation of what Homer and Aeschylus had taken for granted, goes hand in hand with the Enlightenment’s other proposals, not least that we have now come of age, that God can be kicked upstairs, that we can get on with running the world however we want to, carving it up to our advantage without outside interference. To that extent, the totalitarianisms of the last century were simply among the varied manifestations of a larger totalitarianism of thought and culture against which postmodernity has now, and rightly in my view, rebelled. Who, after all, was it who didn’t want the dead to be raised? Not simply the intellectually timid or the rationalists. It was, and is, those in power, the social and intellectual tyrants and bullies; the Caesars who would be threatened by a Lord of the world who had defeated the tyrant’s last weapon, death itself; the Herods who would be horrified at the postmortem validation of the true King of the Jews. And this is the point where believing in the resurrection of Jesus suddenly ceases to be a matter of inquiring about an odd event in the first century and becomes a matter of rediscovering hope in the the twenty-first century. Hope is what you get when you suddenly realize that a different world view is possible, a worldview in which the rich, the powerful, and the unscrupulous do not after all have the last word.”

N. T. Wright in Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church