Sunday, March 14, 2010


I'm about a fourth of the way into reading N.T. Wright's latest book, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. Today I read some of his insights on virtue that really stood out to me, and I wanted to share them. I'll do a full review on this book when I'm finished reading it.

 . . . you have to grasp the fact that Christian virtue isn't about YOU--your happiness, your fulfillment, your self-realization. It's about God and God's kingdom, and your discovery of a genuine human existence by the paradoxical route--the route God himself took in Jesus Christ!--of giving yourself away, of generous love which constantly refuses to take center stage . . . 

The glory of virtue, in the Christian sense, is that the self is not in the center of that picture. God and God's kingdom are in the center . . . 

Virtue, after all, isn't just about morals in the sense of "knowing the standards to live up to" or "knowing which rules you're supposed to keep." Virtue . . . is about the whole of life, not just the specifically "moral" choices. Those who put rules or consequences first sometimes think of vocational choices as a sort of sub-branch of ethics. I prefer to think of it the other way around. We are called to be genuine, image-bearing, God-reflecting human beings. That works out in a million ways, not least in a passion for justice and an eagerness to create and celebrate beauty. The more specific choices we think of as "ethical" are, I suggest, a subset of that wider image-bearing, God-reflecting vocation.

After You Believe By N. T. Wright

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