Having looked at virtue ethics in Jesus, Wright turns to Paul under the heading of “Three virtues, nine varieties of fruit, and one body” (chp. 6).
How important is “church” to spiritual formation? Who do you think teaches formation in a way that it is not individualism but genuinely corporate?
He focuses on the “perfect” coming in 1 Cor 13:9-10, and sees that perfect as the telos — the goal of the kingdom of God. Then three things will fall away (tongues, prophecy, gifts of knowledge) and three will abide: love, faith, and hope. Christian existence, he reminds us, is about learning to live the kingdom life now — which means learning to live in love.
The fruit of the Spirit, which particularize love in the one body of Christ, are gifts of grace and at the same time something at which Christians are called to work.
He reminds us that these virtues, in and of themselves — faith, hope, love — reveal that transformation is not simply an individual thing but something that drives us out of ourselves, that demand self-crucifixion, and that lead us to God and to others.
In other words, the context of the virtues is the one body — the body of Christ — and the goal of the virtues is to create a community of unity, a body wherein these virtues are exhibited by individuals and the group.
The virtues don’t produce heroes, but communities of self-giving love.