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  • Writer's pictureScott Carr, Jr.

Kingdom Virtues

N. T. Wright describes virtue as living out the values of the Kingdom of God in the present age and practicing those virtuous habits which prepare Christians to live fully human lives in the coming Kingdom (136-137). Living a virtuous life requires learning to decide between actions that point humanity away from the Creator and those virtues which will last in His Kingdom (142). In order to make such decisions, a key element of human existence must be renewed: the mind (148; Romans 12:2). Only a mind that submits to God in worship and hearing the story of God’s action is able to discern what actions are fit for human behavior (153-154).

Life in the Kingdom is marked by the three virtues of faith, hope, and love. Anything that lacks these three will not last in the Kingdom, but what is marked by the three cardinal virtues will endure. There is, then, a continuity between virtue in this age and the age to come, but there is also discontinuity as the things belonging to this age pass away (186). The virtuous life is created by the Holy Spirit who produces Kingdom behavior in the people of God here and now (193).

Wright lists five habits which form humans into their created end. First, Scripture shapes Christians in the story of what God is doing in the world through His self-giving love seen in Jesus. Second, stories, even those from outside Christian sources, aid Christians in discerning what a truly human life is. Third, examples from Scripture, Church history, and the present day show us what virtuous, truly human lives look like. Fourth, the community of the Church provides a context to practice virtue in connection with other flawed humans attempting to do the same. Finally, the practices of worship, Eucharist, baptism, and reading Scripture shape Christian identities marked by the grace of Christ (261-284).

Wright, N.T. After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. New York: HarperOne, 2010.​

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