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What's So Amazing About Grace?

By Philip Yancey
Zondevan Publishing
280 pages; $27.99
Book reviewed by Hon. David Kilgour, MP Edmonton Southeast
For Spring 2000 Christian Legal Journal

Virtually without exception, every Christian I know who has read this book thinks it’s one of the most important books on our faith to come out in a long time.

Why? Grace, which to author Yancey means God’s love for the undeserving, i.e. all of humankind, and ungrace are possibly the two forces in most active conflict with each other daily across the world. The author is one of the most persuasive advocates for Christianity writing in English anywhere currently.

Grace for Yancey and many others is the one thing the world cannot provide; seeking it is probably ultimately why most people attend church. In the author’s words, "I rejected the church for a time because I found so little grace there. I returned because I found grace nowhere else."

Many active churchgoers could say the same.

The genius of the book is that it manages to convey, rather than explain, grace in numerous street level situations. Once chapter, for example, transpires the parable of the Prodigal son into a modern setting. A teenage girl leaves her parents and ends up as a prostitute in a large city until she gets ill and in desperation boards a bus for her hometown. Her parents and forty relatives await her at the terminal with a "welcome home" banner. Grace at its best!

In South Africa, Nelson Mandela broke a chain of ungrace when he left 26 years of imprisonment and called not for revenge but forgiveness and reconciliation. When Bishop Desmond Tutu insisted on forgiveness to begin the process of reconciliation, F.W. De Klerk finally did apologize for apartheid. Only victims can forgive and full disclosure is required before it can be granted. As Yancey puts it, Christians can give to the world a culture that "upholds grace and forgiveness."

On grace avoidance, Yancey notes that the community that made Jesus angriest was the one that he most resembled on the surface: the Pharisees. He obeyed the Torah and quoted and supported leading Pharisees, who were model citizens of their day. Their legalisms He found toxic: for example, their expressions of love for God had evolved into ways of impressing others. Pray, He said, privately without show.

In short, this is a book for Christians, including lawyers, in all places and seasons.

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