I am working my way through Wright’s newest book, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters and I have to admit it is not quite what I thought it was going to be. Of the dozen+ books I have read by Wright I have always been pleased. By the end of this book I expect that to be the case but so far it hasn’t met my expectations. Expectations are powerful. Even if they are misguided or not based on anything they can still leave us wanting something other than what we find. I don’t know why I thought it, but I did…the first thought I had when I heard the title was that this book might be helpful for someone who has recently become a Christian or is seeking God and wants to know how to work through the process of becoming more Christ-like in a helpful and practical way.
So far I haven’t found that at all. The first clue that should have warned me was that this book was written under the name N.T. rather than Tom. I think I was hoping to read a book by Tom Wright, rather than his more scholarly counterpart – N.T. What we have instead is not knee deep in scholasticism but I would not say that it is all that accessible to someone just starting out. I can’t say it is a complaint because the book just wasn’t written to address what I thought it might.
Another thing that stands out about this book is that Wright has gotten wordier than ever. The first 25 pages can be summed up as follows – Most people either try to live by the rules or neglect the rules in order to find out what it takes to be true to themselves (their ambitions, dreams, etc). Neither of these things really get at what God is after – a transformed heart where the inside is transformed by someone from the outside. At times he tells three or more stories in a row to make one point. It just seems excessive and makes the book that much easier to put back on the shelf.
One thing he has alluded to is answering the question of why Christian character matters in a Christian culture that insists there is nothing we can do that has anything to do with our salvation. The whole saved by grace alone line is one that needs to be better informed because as Wright repeatedly points out, character really does matter as it points to the heart of one who is actually in process of being transformed by God.
But I am hanging in there. I am not done reading this book and I expect there are some very good things on the way. I will keep you posted along the way. Anyone else reading this book right now? How is it going?