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May
11

After You Believe

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“Virtue is what happens when wise and courageous choices have become ‘second nature’.” So begins N.T. Wright’s monograph titled After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. After You Believe is the third part of Bishop Wright’s trilogy, which includes Simply Christian and Surprised By Hope.

Spiritual formation is a trendy topic these days among evangelicals, and Wright’s work could easily fit into that category. But his approach is not taken from the normal course of action which centers on the classical spiritual disciplines. Rather, Wright approaches spiritual formation from the perspective of character development, primarily concerning what it takes to develop virtue in life.

Wright’s writing style is enjoyable. He’s the master of using metaphor to explain difficult concepts and principles. This volume is no different in that regard. He spends a good portion of the introductory pages explaining Aristotle’s pathway to virtue as the backdrop against which Jesus came into the world and proclaimed his message of the kingdom. This historical background gives the reader more clarity in interpreting Jesus’ message about what constitutes the good life and what it actually takes to become a good person.

Wright not only explains virtue and character development from the teachings of Christ, he expands the conversation to include helpful interactions with the Pauline materials concerning virtue, namely “faith, hope, and love,” and the “fruit of the Spirit.”

He concludes with what he calls the “Virtuous Cycle,” and demonstrates how Scripture, story, example, community and praxis all work together to help us develop and apply Christian character in the 21st century.

I am a tremendous fan of the works of N.T. Wright, and highly recommend this work. Wright has a deep comprehension of the New Testament and a perspective on American Christianity that is refreshing. His writing is thoughtful and articulate and provides clear ways to appropriately apply his suggestions.

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