The book is 307 pages long made up of eight chapters. The subtitle to the book is "Why Christian character matters" which is the overriding theme of the book.
Wright tells us what the book is all about on page 4. He says the book is about "character" but it also helps to answer the question of "what now?" "Ok, I'm saved longing to go to heaven when I die; I tell people about Jesus and keep my nose clean but is that it?" On page 2 there's a discussion of a man named James who asks the question which basically is "Isn't there anything else that happens after you believe and before you finally die and go to heaven?" This is a great question because many have seen heaven as what we are waiting for and while we wait we might tell a few people about Jesus but that's really all we have to do.
This is a great book to challenge our thinking and to help us walk between legalism on one hand (Christianity is all about rules and laws) and a free antinomianism on the other (What matters is being genuine and true to yourself). Why does Christian character or virtue matter and how does that prepare us for glory to come? On page 70 Wright says "_you have to grasp that Christian virtue isn't about you - your happiness, your fulfillment, your self-realization, it's about God and God's kingdom_"
Another great quote from the book is found on page 146 where Wright is speaking about living out who we are in Christ and how at first it can seem hard and awkward but over time we begin to have a second nature about the way we act and live which is in line with Christ. He explains it by giving an illustration. "_ I remember a piano teacher pointing out to me that the reason I was having trouble with a piece of music I'd taught myself to play was that I'd paid no attention to the fingering which the composer himself had suggested. When I first tried the Ã¢â¬Ëproper' fingering, after months of stumbling through the piece in my own sweet way, I felt very strange, I could hardly concentrate on the feeling in the music because I was so bothered by the odd feeling in my fingers. But, again gradually, not only did I get used to the new fingering, but the piece began to sing in a way it hadn't before. That's what it's like when someone seriously begins to Ã¢â¬Ëput on' the things Paul is talking about." It seems to me that Wright is saying something like "Laws and rules are not what Christianity is all about but becoming like Christ, real and genuine people who are fully human". The rules and laws are there to guide but are not the point.
There's a lot to the book that will help, inspire, and challenge you to live out who you are in Christ. I would suggest everyone pick it up.
NT Wright has given us another thoughtful and very readable call to turn our world upside down by living truly Christ-like lives: lives built on character. This book will challenge and move you to examine ways to help bring virtue back to the forefront of our lives and our culture.
Although I have not read the book all the way through yet, I am intrigued by the concept that we need to develop the elements of Christian character to the extent that they become our natural response to the circumstances and situations into which the Lord leads us. How much better is this than trying to think what rule applies in each case.
I have followed Rev. Wright for 7 years. My entire thinking about the Christian life has been transformed for the good.After You Believe will assist the American Christian in the reality of what it really means to follow Jesus. We need a good dose of reality here, in my humble opinion. We do not seem to be making mature Christians but simply folks that still think its all about themselves. Wright is amazing, trustworthy and humble. You will not be sorry for investing in this life changing book.