New Testament scholar and prolific author N. T. Wright’s latest book is After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. I was happy to receive a review copy through The Ooze Viral Bloggers program. I am trying to be more selective in the books I take on to review (although some days I just can’t say no to a free book). This book is definitely worth the time investment. So much so that I’m anticipating several posts that develop out of this book instead of my normal 200-word review.
Wright sees After You Believe as third in a line with Simply Christian and Surprised by Hope. Simply Christian serves as Wright’s primer to the Christian faith, laying out the basics of Christian belief. In Surprised by Hope, Wright asks: what happens when we die? With After You Believe Wright tackles the time between. What happens after you believe? You’ve professed faith in Christ, now what? What is the goal of life between baptism and heaven?
Wright starts by giving two common answers to this question. One option is that Christians follow the rules. You’ve committed your life to Christ, now follow the rules as best as you can. The second option is to claim freedom in Christ and live “true to yourself”. Wright suggests there is another option that transcends mere rule keeping or following your heart. Instead, Wright says the Christian life is a journey of the transformation of character.
Yes, we will keep the rules of Christian living, but out of our character, not as an external obligation. And we will live authentically, but only when our character has been transformed such that choosing the good becomes second nature for us.
If transformation of character doesn’t occur through the following rules or through following our heart, how does this happen? I’ll enter into Wright’s answer with my next post.