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Book Review: After You Believe, Why Christian Character Matters by N.T. Wright

This is the second book I've read written by N.T. Wright.
Link for previous review:
http://awell-wateredgarden.blogspot.com/2012/06/book-review-following-jesus-biblical.html
The previous book I read entitled Following Jesus, was also on discipleship and Christian living.
I did not know when I first began reading the current book (for this posted review) that it is considered book three in a series. The previous books are Simply Christian and Surprised by Hope.
In After You Believe N.T. Wright addresses the question of "what now?" After we've become a believer in Christ Jesus, how should I live a life of Christian character, and does it really matter?
I appreciate an author writing a preface (or introduction) that contains all the needed information to set the tone and pace and theme of the book. I felt the preface was written eloquently, precise, and addressed what the book meant to achieve and what it will not contain.
Wright refers to character as a bridge. It is a bridge that extends from the moment of belief until eternity with Jesus in heaven.
Wright's definition of character is:
"The pattern of thinking and acting which runs right through someone, so that wherever you cut into them (as it were), you see the same person through and through. Its opposite would be superficiality: we all know people who present themselves at first glance as honest, cheerful, patient, or whatever, but when you get to know them better you come to realize that they're only putting on, and that when faced with a crisis, or simply when their guard is down, they're as dishonest, grouchy, and impatient as the next person." page 17.
The "next person" is not what Christ Jesus has called us to be. He has called us to be a people who are set apart. The question would be "set apart" for what? We are told for "His purposes." Yet, what are those purposes? Wright explains that "we are bit-part players in God's great drama." In a theatrical drama, each actor, or make-up artist, or stage hand, or gripper, or audio technician---each of them have a part in the drama. Some of those parts are behind the scenes, and some of them are in the forefront. Yet, each are important. Jesus has called us to be His image bearer on earth. That people will see Jesus reflected in our attitudes, voice, actions. We cannot submit to a thought pattern that believes it does not matter how we live, Jesus has said it matters greatly. Jesus loves us just as we are, yet that does not give us an excuse to live frivolous superficial lives.
"We are called to be genuine, image-bearing, God reflecting human beings." page 71.
One of my favorite teachings from the book was on virtue.
"Virtue is when doing the right things is done automatically. When wise and courageous choices have become second nature." page 20.
My question would be to you. What are you doing automatically in your life that is second nature?
Later in the book Wright gives practical applications for living by using what he has entitled the five elements.

This is an outstanding book!
At times Wright is long on explanations, but I believe this is his writing style, and also the way he makes sure we have grasped the concept he is trying to teach.
He is an excellent teacher, expressing himself soundly and understandably.
It is obvious he is well-read. He uses quotations and thoughts from various authors, for example: Aristotle, Cicero, Anthony Trollope, C.S. Lewis, and Shakespeare.
He has applications for living out the teachings in the book. These applications are not just for the advanced Bible teacher or a person who has been a Christian a long time. These applications are for a person of any level past the basic teachings of Jesus.

Published by Harper Collins 2010
256 pages
Non-fiction/Christian Living
Link for book @ publisher:
http://www.harpercollins.com/books/After-You-Believe-N-T-Wright?isbn=9780061730559&HCHP=TB_After+You+Believe

Link @ Christian Book:
http://www.christianbook.com/after-believe-why-christian-character-matters/n-t-wright/9780061730559/pd/730559?item_code=WW&netp_id=638865&event=ESRCG&view=details
Hardcover $9.99

This site is an "unofficial" site dedicated to N.T. Wright:
http://ntwrightpage.com/

An interesting article in Time magazine on N.T. Wright's view of heaven:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1710844,00.html

I would give this book 5 stars.

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