We note, first, what “salvation” actually means. As I have argued at length in Surprised by Hope, we are not saved from the world of creation, but saved for the world of creation (Romans 8:18-26). Humans were made to take care of God’s wonderful world, and it is not too strong to say that the reason God saves humans is not simply that he loves them for themselves but that he loves them for what they truly are—his pro-creators, his stewards, his vice regents over creation. To make this utterly Pauline move is not merely to adjust some nuts and bolts at the edge of his doctrine of salvation, but to shift the weight of the whole thing away from where it has been in the Western church since long before the Reformation and—without losing the necessary Western emphases on the cross—back toward the cosmic focus which Eastern Christians never lost. (Eastern Orthodoxy may have other problems, but at this point we Westerners need to learn from them. One of the greatest tragedies of the Schism of A.D. 1054 was that the West was able to develop a view of “salvation” and the East a view of “transformation,” each of which needed the other for a balanced completeness. But that is another story.) “Salvation” is from death itself, and all that leads to it and shares its destructive character (tribulation, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger weaponry) and all the powers that use those things to oppress humans and deface God’s world. “Salvation” does not mean “dying and going to heaven,” as so many Western Christians have supposed for so long. If your body dies and your soul goes into a disembodied immortality, you have not been rescued from death; you have, quite simply, died. That is why resurrection means what it means: it is not a bizarre miracle, but the very center of God’s plan and purpose. God will renew the whole creation, and raise his people to new bodily life to share his rule over his world. That is “what the whole world’s waiting for” (Romans 8:19).
-N.T. Wright, Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision