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After You Believe: The Forgotten Role of Virtue in the Christian Life Hardcover – Black & White, March 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1st edition (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061730556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061730559
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

How do you develop a character suited for God's Kingdom? Practice, practice, practice. That, in a nutshell, is the message of this volume on building Christian character by Wright, a prodigiously prolific Bible scholar and Anglican bishop of Durham, England. In arguing for this new vision of virtue, which is a vision of Jesus Christ himself, Wright carefully explores such classical exponents of character as Aristotle. He also acknowledges the existence of other notions of encouraging behavior-based rules, duty, or being true to oneself. Drawing on scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, Wright asserts that true transformation comes through the work of the Holy Spirit and through worship, mission, and following Jesus. As the habits of virtue grow, the church community will become the royal priesthood it is meant to be, anticipating (one of the author's favorite words) God's coming new world. A follow-up to Wright's Simply Christian and Surprised by Hope, this solid volume will appeal to Christians who appreciate biblical interpretation that hews to tradition but incorporates an emphasis on contemporary social justice as an element of Christian virtue. (Mar.)
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Review

“Bishop Wright, with his usual wisdom and erudition, shows how an account of the virtues is not only compatible but required by the New Testament understanding of what it means to be a Christian. This important book hopefully will be read by theologian and non-theologian alike.” (Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School)

“A follow-up to Wright’s Simply Christian and Surprised by Hope, this solid volume will appeal to Christians who appreciate biblical interpretation that hews to tradition but incorporates an emphasis on contemporary social justice as an element of Christian virtue.” (Publishers Weekly)

“In his new book, Wright,…one of the most prolific and influential theologians of the 20thCentury,…posits that the development of virtue -- by the church and in broader society -- could help lead the Western world out of the sea of despondency in which it currently finds itself languishing.” (Religion News Service)

“[N.T. Wright is a] master at straight-forward, street-level writing about what makes our religious lives truly matter in the world. …Wright’s...powerful new book... is a clarion call to mature Christians to take seriously some of Jesus’ messages we’ve long ignored.” (Read the Spirit)

“A book that carefully examines Christian character, Christian virtues and the Christian life . . . needs serious attention.” (The Louisville Courier-Journal)

“An excellent book . . . Wright’s fine theological reflections here shed much light.” (Englewood Review of Books)

“For those who feel the church has lost its way, Wright offers a roadmap to help guide its followers home.” (U.S. Catholic)

“Beautifully written, rich with insights and lined with thought-provoking material .. . . Sometimes compared to a modern-day C.S. Lewis, N. T. Wright is an author not to be missed.... Highly recommended.” (Faithful Reader)

“One of the world’s best published Scripture scholars and an Anglican bishop, N. T. Wright’s latest book blends biblical competence and pastoral experience. This is a book for a general audience with evangelical leanings about how a Christian goes about developing virtue, character or habits of thinking, feeling and acting.” (America—The National Catholic Weekly)

“After You Believe by N. T. Wright offers yet another clarion call for believers and their communities to see that their actions in everyday life are evidence of the faith within.” (Spirituality and Practice)

“Often we get stuck between two extremes: an antinomian (’against law’) spontaneity, and a rule-focused legalism. Instead, argues Wright… we need to develop virtuous character. …Just about everything in After You Believe [is] a fresh way of exploring many familiar truths.” (Christianity Today)

“One reason so many people read Tom Wright today is because he can write prose that is flat-out captivating. . . . Vintage Wright.” (Christianity Today.com)

“In his latest book, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, Wright challenges the church—and broader society in general—to return to virtue and the development of character.” (Sojourners)

“Making disciples is about the long-term development of Christian character. There is no quick fix discipleship. It is the development of Christlike behavior as second nature. This book spells out the New Testament basis and its application to Western culture.” (Christianity Magazine)

“Those who tend toward legalistic views will find little comfort. It is a book worth considering.” (Renewed in Spirit)

“As in all Wright books… you need to build your virtue muscle, sit down, exercise your free will and make a decision to read the whole thing… twice.” (Worship Leader Magazine)

“[A] very rich book.... Readers of After You Believe will admire Wright’s close reading of Scripture, his clear prose, and his evident love for his Christian faith.” (Commonweal)

More About the Author

N.T. WRIGHT is the former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England and one of the world's leading Bible scholars. He is now serving as the Chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews. For twenty years he taught New Testament studies at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities. As being both one of the world's leading Bible scholars and a popular author, he has been featured on ABC News, Dateline, The Colbert Report, and Fresh Air. His award-winning books include The Case for the Psalms, How God Became King, Simply Jesus, After You Believe, Surprised by Hope, Simply Christian, Scripture and the Authority of God, The Meaning of Jesus (co-authored with Marcus Borg), as well as being the translator for The Kingdom New Testament. He also wrote the impressive Christian Origins and the Question of God series, including The New Testament and the People of God, Jesus and the Victory of God, The Resurrection of the Son of God and most recently, Paul and the Faithfulness of God.

Customer Reviews

The book deserves to be read,learned and inwardly digested'.
Claudius Clear
N.T. Wright has written a special little book about, "Why Christian character matters" and the importance of virtue.
Amazon Customer
Wright reminds us that God will one day fully combine Heaven and Earth, but the process has already begun.
Carrie B. Partridge

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

147 of 162 people found the following review helpful By Brandon Vogt on March 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A man that many today have considered to be "the next C.S. Lewis" has finished a new book that I've recently read. His name is N.T. (Tom) Wright, and he is currently the Anglican Bishop of Durham in England. Looking at Bishop Wright's literary style along with his bibliography will yield immediate similarities to Lewis. Bishop Wright's cheeky English words, conciseness of thought and logic, and use of imagination all mirror Lewis', while some of his book subjects also reflect those of Lewis'--many have hailed Bishop Wright's "Simply Christian" as a modern echo of Lewis' "Mere Christianity". Or it could be that they both hare English, taught at Oxford, and write about God.

For some time I had been anxiously awaiting Bishop Wright's new book, "After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters". This new book is the third in a trilogy from Bishop Wright. I've read the first book, the previously-mentioned "Simply Christian", in which Wright pointed out clearly the basic beliefs of Christianity, specifically through modern lens such as "story" and "beauty". I have browsed through the second book of the trilogy, "Surprised By Hope", and discovered a fascinating vision of Heaven and Resurrection, along with the reality that both begin here and now. In addition to these two works, Wright has also written some dense works of theology, particularly the three works in his "Christian Origins and the Question of God" series. As an eloquent, smart, and outspoken Anglican, though, he has been drawn into much critique and debate, especially by other Protestants regarding his understanding of justification (how we are made right with God).
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Carrie B. Partridge on March 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book--*AFTER YOU BELIEVE: WHY CHRISTIAN CHARACTER MATTERS--is what drew me to it. As N.T. Wright acknowledges within these pages, there is very often an either/or factor among Christians. We either live our lives trying to legalistically adhere to a bunch of rules (though the rules vary from person to person), or we give very little thought or care to how we live, knowing that "God's grace is sufficient" (which is true). But how we live between our conversion and our funeral very much does matter, and it is not found in either of these approaches. Wright reminds us that God will one day fully combine Heaven and Earth, but the process has already begun. And so has the transformation of character, or virtue.

Wright explains that "virtue is what happens when wise and courageous choices have become 'second nature' . . . Those who follow Jesus can begin to practice, in the present, the habits of heart and life which correspond to the way things are in God's kingdom--the way they will be eventually, yes, but also the way they already are because Jesus is here . . . But virtue is always the result of work and cost" (pgs. 21, 105, 216).

Having virtue does not mean that we are to be sinless (not that we ever could be), nor is it simply a matter of following someone's example--even Jesus' example! Rather, we are to engage in what Wright calls "The Virtuous Circle"--which involves scripture, stories, examples, community, and practices--and our character will thus be transformed. Our thoughts, words, and actions will begin to reflect our love for God and for other people, and it will just be "second nature," not our pursuit of following a list of rules.

Wright states, "The key is this: the 'fruit of the Spirit' does not grow automatically.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A. Dettorre on March 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
N.T. Wright has once again brought us a book that not only challenges but extends our understanding of this Christian journey. This is a must read for all people that have read Simply Christian and Surprised by Hope. Honestly, many readers that read just this without the other two may be somewhat lost. This is a book that all Christian leaders should read. As part of the vocational ministry, I have witnessed way too many leaders that have no Christian character but are rather "CEO" leaders of a business organization. This book challenges that way of thinking while encouraging virtue.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In August of 1989, I was 27 years old and on a warm summer morning I literally said to myself, "I believe this stuff". I had been reading the Bible to convince myself of its irrelevance when I realized Jesus is real. That began a wonderful 20 plus year journey. Ups and downs and ins and outs, I have never stopped learning more and more about the faith bestowed on me.

As I read "After You Believe" I couldn't help thinking, "Where was this book when I first believed?" N.T. Wright has written a special little book about, "Why Christian character matters" and the importance of virtue. All wrapped in a package of gentle encouragement.

I thoroughly enjoy reading Wright's works and this book was no different. It is never too late to learn new things (even 20 years later) and I wholeheartedly recommend "After You Believe".

[...]
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Trevin Wax on August 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Some readers of my blog may wonder why a Southern Baptist minister like myself would host interviews with and read books by an Anglican Bishop (who happens to be the main evangelical proponent of a controversial "New Perspective" on Paul). These kinds of thoughts naturally lead to a bigger question: How should we approach a book written by someone like Wright? Here are some considerations:

First, I think it goes without saying that we should seek to read with discernment, no matter what book we hold in our hands (or on our Kindle!). A major part of growing in wisdom and knowledge is properly cultivating the discipline of discernment, and one cannot put the gift of discernment to good use unless he or she occasionally reads books from authors with opposing viewpoints.

Second, authors who may be wrong in some ways may be reliable and even helpful in other areas. We can benefit from their works as long as we read carefully.

Take, for example, another Anglican: C.S. Lewis. Lewis was wrong on many things. He believed Jesus was mistaken about the timing of his Second Coming. His view of the atonement is an odd amalgamation of right ideas with wrong details. He was an inclusivist (remember The Last Battle?). And his Anglo-Catholic sensibilities are credited with bringing countless Protestants back to Rome.

For evangelicals, these are big strikes against Lewis. There are more than three strikes, and yet we still consider him part of the team and love to watch him play ball. Why? Because even if Lewis was wrong in some areas, he was gloriously right in others.

The same is true of someone like G.K. Chesterton, the church fathers, or N.T. Wright.
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