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Gracious Christianity: Living The Love We Profess
Authors: Douglas Jacobsen & Rodney J. Sawatsky
Publisher: Baker Academic
Pages: 140 pages
"Polishing a tea set does not change the shape of anything. Everything is still in the same place­spout, handle, feet and lid--but the dullness is gone and it shines like new. Polishing our Christian beliefs with the soft cloth of God's love can help us renew our ways of thinking in a similar way."  These words are found in the introduction to Gracious Christianity: Living The Love We Profess by Douglas Jacobsen and the late Rodney J. Sawatsky. Sawatsky sadly passed away as the final manuscript was being completed.
This is a good little book whose only glaring fault is that it often dwells on past mistakes of the church instead of celebrating the lives of those Christians who did strive to make a difference. It is important not to forget ecclesiastic tragedies but is also important not to dwell on decades and centuries old events.
Both authors hold PhDs and yet one of the strengths of this book is it does not smack of academic snobbery. Gracious Christianity certainly is not a casual read despite its length and neither is it a tune up for new Christians. This treatise will provoke you intellectually and hopefully incite you to a more passionate living out of your faith.
I particularly found it a breath of fresh air when in the first chapter the authors assert that Christian beliefs and modern day science can co-exist. Imagine that. The authors are careful to point out that there will be times when Christians have to defend critical issues of faith on ethical and moral grounds. It will demand a better response from the Christian community than 'This is what we believe'. It will demand an explanation of why we believe what we do. Christians will have to be working in all aspects of technology and scientific endeavors to ensure that our voice is heard.
The authors assert that the book of Genesis is a book which tells us of, "the character of the Creator and the underlying nature of the Creation." Regardless of which side of that statement you find yourself on I would leave you with this these thoughts; it is much easier to debate with someone that God created the world in a pure state, that mankind fell into sin, separated himself from God and then God sent his son to redeem us than it is to say the world fell because someone took a bite out of an apple. I probably just ruffled some conservative feathers but nobody will know for sure until we get to heaven, so don't condemn me just yet.
Gracious Christianity is full of treasured insights such as; "Nothing we can say about God comes close to capturing the awesomeness of God's being." In the chapter entitled "The Fullness of Salvation" they leave us with another gem, "The pace of grace in our lives is ultimately less significant than what grace does for us." The later comment occurs in a discussion comparing the emphasis or lack of emphasis various Christian communities put on the importance of an event oriented experience with the Holy Spirit. The substance of the debate really centers about the Wesleyan notion of a critical second experience of faith where one is filled with the Holy Spirit and comparing it to the Pentecostal belief of several fillings and manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Those beliefs are contrasted with more traditional and less evangelical churches who subscribe to an ongoing guidance of the Spirit.
The authors are careful to provide footnotes where necessary but the one place I could have really used one occurs in the discussion of the ministry of the church in second century Rome. Alas, I will just have to do it the hard way and actually do some research. I wasn't aware that, "In the second century the church in Rome provided free meals for hundreds of people every day, even though the church was still illegal and faced persecution."
Whatever price your bookstore or online shop is asking for the book Gracious Christianity: Living The Love We Profess it is well worth your investment.
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved

Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague. 


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