Monday, February 5, 2018

Amazing Grace - Book Report

Book review by Linda Cliff

What’s so Amazing About Grace was written in 1997 by Philip Yancey.  The book examines grace in Christianity, a central theme in the bible but often absent in the Christian church, which seems to focus on immorality rather than forgiveness.   Yancey tells a convincing story of how the world has a difficult time identifying Christians with grace.

The book is easy to read as Yancey uses personal stories, Bible stories and accounts from history to reveal what the Bible teaches us about grace.  The book is divided into four parts.  Each part begins with an illustrative story of grace and how it is revealed by Christians and the church.  
    The author argues that many of the activities carried out by the church (social justice, community service) have secular counterparts but only the Church can offer grace- as it comes from God.   Yancey gives examples of  ungrace in the Evangelical churches of America, he talks of the rule bound legalistic lives of Christians that can effectively shut out sinners.  
     He talked about racism and how he was taught within his own congregation that people of colour were not welcome in the church building or programs He then explored this belief that he himself held and by looking at the life led by Jesus he came to understand that  many of the practices of Christians were about ungrace.  

    At times I found that many of the historical references in the book seemed out of date as the world was very different in 1997.  
    The last part of the book was titled “Grace Notes for a Deaf World” and looked at the evangelical church in America and how there has been an increasing involvement in government.  When I read this section I found that if  looked at what he was saying through the lens of the current political climate in the United States, I was able to understand  the support given to the current president by some evangelical Christians. 

This book was well received by both the secular and Christian readers.  It is a book that will have you look at your prejudices through the eyes of grace.   A few years back there was a movement that asked you to think “what would Jesus have done” before you did or said something.  I found that reading this book has done the same for me.    I recommend What’s so Amazing About Grace as another avenue to explore the message of the gospels. It is available in our church library.

 Side Note: As a Birthday present for Alice, the editor of this Blog, I promised 12 book reviews. This is the first and I am looking for other books to read.  If you have suggestions please let us know and I will add them to my reading list. 

 Editor's Note:  A great birthday present.  Thank you, Linda.

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