Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Book Review: Beyond Cheap Grace
This collected series of lectures originally presented at Fuller Theological Seminary in 2004 provides, as the sub-title suggests, a call to radical discipleship by way of incarnational ministry amongst the poor and marginalized. While not a difficult book by any means, the arguments that author Eldin Villafane puts forth may be a bit overwhelming if you are exploring concepts of justice for the first time. If, on the other hand, this is an area you have been exploring for some time, Beyond Cheap Grace offers some truly "get all fired up" quotes that will have you running for the nearest homeless shelter or getting on the next flight to Africa. From the first lecture: "The need of the hour is not for a soft, fragile, or fastidious Christianity, but for a rigorous, vigorous, concrete, and incarnational Christianity - a muscular Christianity, if you please - one that has the marks of the cross in its hands!"
Of particular interest is the lecture on the prophet Amos who put forth a call for justice to both Israel and the surrounding nations in the Old Testament. Amos 5:24 says, "Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream." While I sometimes worry that Christians are becoming so involved in justice issues that we are forgetting personal holiness, Villafane states, "There is a seamless relationship between ethical behavior and true worship, between justice and piety." Amos seems to be making this same connection. The call of God is not simply to live a holy life but to do a holy life. This is a great little volume to get us moving in that direction.
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