Thursday, February 11, 2010

5. three books on grace that influenced me

In the past decade there are three books on grace that have changed my life.

1. What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey
This was, believe it or not, my first introduction to the centrality of grace in Christian faith and practice. I had already been a Christian for years by the time I read this book but I'm embarrassed to say that all that time I had never really thought much about grace. Yancey begins his book with a powerful illustration that demonstrates how grace has gone missing from the church nowadays. I have become convinced this is the first thing that goes missing from churches today, which is a great tragedy since it is the very first thing for which Jesus was known among the so-called "sinners" of his day.

2. TrueFaced by William Thrall, Bruce McNicol and John Lynch
This book helped me see how grace enables one to be honest about one's own weaknesses, shortcomings and sin. Only in an environment of grace can we be true-faced with one another (as opposed to showing one thing on our face while another thing is happening under the surface). This book shows two paths the Christian can take: the path of pleasing God or the path of trusting God. Only on the path of trusting can real inner transformation take place because it is only in the light of grace that we feel we can trust. In short, grace is sufficient to sanctify us.

3. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
Manning was once a priest and he is a recovering alcoholic. He is a great story-teller. Rarely does one encounter a non-fiction book that could be described as a page-turner. This one qualifies. Manning reinforces the two messages in the books mentioned above while throwing in his own personal experience with those truths. The Ragamuffin Gospel has recently been reprinted by a publisher that has a series of "classic reprints". Indeed, this book deserves the title of classic.

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