Monday, 1 March 2010

Tom Wright's new book!

I don't often review a book before I've actually finished reading it, but I'm in the middle of Tom Wright's new book, Virtue Reborn (SPCK, 2010), and thought I'd offer a shortish recommendation now - before maybe writing a slightly longer review when I actually finish it!

The book basically asks the question: How should I live as a Christian? Wright argues throughout that Christian living is all about the development of character, or to use the phrase from the title of the book, 'virtue'. He charts a course between the two usual options given newly converted Christians; either keep this list of rules and you will please God and live a proper Christian life, or God loves you and accepts you just as you are, so just be true to yourself and live authentically. Both options he says are wrong and doomed to discouragement and ultimately to failure. Living a successful Christian life is all about transformation, the transformation of character, achieved through training in righteousness.

Wright is at his best, as always, when he paints in the big picture of what God's redemption in Jesus Christ is all about. Here Wright picks up on the themes of what is really the companion volume to this book, Surprised by Hope (2007), by showing how the goal of salvation is the renewal of the whole of God's creation, something begun in the resurrection of Jesus. Christians are called to live in anticipation of this future hope, when God will put all things to rights. So the development of Christian character becomes all about reflecting God's image back into the world. One quote as a taster:

'thinking of Christian behaviour in terms of virtue, and reframing virtue in terms of the promised new heaven and new earth and the role of humans within it, provides both a framework of meaning for, and a strong impetus towards the path of, the holiness to which Jesus and his first followers would call us' (p. 62).

Well, I'm only on chapter 3 - hope that's enough to whet your appetities for now!

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