“This book is a kind of sequel to Simply Christian and Surprised by Hope“, so wrote Tom Wright to open his latest book, After You Believe. If Simply Christian was written to set out a basic principle of Christianity, and Surprised by Hope was written to argue that the final hope of Christians is not simply ‘going to heaven’, but resurrection into God’s new creation, the ‘new heaven and new earth’, After You Believe then was written to ‘fill in’ the moment in between the ‘beginning’ and the ‘end’, i.e., to answer the question: How then shall we live? Not by ‘keeping the rules’, nor by simply ‘following our hearts’, but by the transformation of character and training up virtues to build such character. Indeed, Wright tried to look at the matter from the lenses of ‘character’ and ‘virtue’ and how we could build such ‘character’ and ‘virtue’ so as to be our second nature.
After You Believe, then, deals with the Christian life that flows out from the vision of Simply Christian and Surprised by Hope. Wright built his thesis around the notion of ‘royal priesthood’ that should characterize the identity of the people of God: a simple twin tower of calling of worship and mission, to reflect God to the world and to reflect the world back to God.
After reading so many of his books, sometimes one could feel some of his points were repetitive, but this book ain’t so. It offers fresh thoughts and hence demands fresh readings as well.
Highly recommended, especially if it’s accompanied with Simply Christian and Surprised by Hope.
1. N. T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. London: SPCK; San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco (2006).
2. N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. London: SPCK (2007); San Francisco: HarperOne (2008).
3. N. T. Wright, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. London: SPCK (under the title of Virtue Reborn); San Francisco: HarperOne (2010).