______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

If Grace Is True June 12, 2011

“I’m grateful [God] doesn’t bludgeon us with his truth but leads us there tenderly,
carefully, as we are able to hear it.” – Gulley/Mulholland

I am in whole-hearted agreement with the above statement.
That’s why life is about growth and journey, more than arrival and destination.
Anyway, talk about having my theology stretched!  This book really challenged me.
Honestly, I didn’t expect that.  Not to that degree.
This book has been on my shelf and in my queue for some time now. I planned on getting to it eventually. But because of the “rantings” of a Facebook friend about how good it was, I moved it to the “HEY! READ THIS NOW!” section. (Thanks, Cathy. :-))

Many of the people I know will probably avoid reading this book.  They will avoid reading it because it doesn’t fit their theology.
Those people will be suffering a loss.
This is supposed to be a book about universalism, written by two universalists.   OK.  It is that.  But it’s so much more.  You don’t have to agree with all the theology in this book to be blessed by the insights contained therein. I know, I’ve said that about other books. It’s just that as a former fundamentalist, I know the fear of reading “heresy.”

The authors look at the very nature of God as revealed by Jesus, and personal experience.  There’s a great deal written here about trusting our experience with God.  This contradicts much of the fundamentalist teaching I both received and taught.  They use Peter as a perfect example.  His religion taught him what was “unclean.”  His scriptures taught him what was unclean.  Now, three times, God tells him otherwise.  Peter had to choose between what his “church” and “bible” said, or what his experience with God said.  “Peter relied on his experience.”  So did Paul. Jesus, of course, also quoted scripture, and then basically said, “This is no longer valid.  We’re going in a different direction.” (Matthew 5:38,39) “Jesus challenged slavish devotion to the written word.”

Also addressed is:  How does one “reconcile stories like those of Jesus welcoming the children with stories like those of God commanding the murder of children?” So often, the religious “dance” that’s done to justify this type of contradiction is amazingly ridiculous.   Of course, you can’t usually see that while you’re still dancing. Repeatedly, I was fed the word “balance.”  That’s like balancing the kindness of Mother Teresa with the atrocities of Hitler.
Yeah, balance explains it just fine.

The authors look at how we have viewed what happened on the cross.   At how we’ve turned God into a schizophrenic “good-cop/bad cop.”  About how Jesus had to save us from God.  This is handled in more detail in “He Loves Me,” by Wayne Jacobsen; in “The Misunderstood God,” by Darin Hufford; and in a slightly different way by Brian McLaren in “A New Kind Of Christianity.”

Bottom line, Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”  Any “revelation” of God, in the Bible or out of it, must fit the revelation of God in Christ.  If it doesn’t, well we need to re-examine what we thought we knew.

We also examine (as Rob Bell often does) the nature of salvation.  This aspect of the book, like many in it, were not new teachings or concepts to me.
They just added more “amens” to my understanding of God’s love.
There are, though, some concepts in this book I’m not sure I can accept.  While I agree that “Jesus didn’t die to appease an angry God,” the writers here go a few steps farther than I’m willing to go…
I’ll let you discover those portions for yourself.
For the record, I don’t consider myself a universalist.  I’m NOT saying it’s wrong, as some might.  I’m just more of an “I-don’t-knowalist.”  I am, however, totally convinced, both from a scriptural and “experiential” viewpoint, there is no place of eternal torment.  (By “experiential,” I mean how I have experienced God.  Not that I’ve died before and seen the other side. Contrary to how I may act, I am not the reincarnation of Barney Fife.)

There is great value here for anyone who is  growing in faith.  Again I would ask people to read this book for what insight they can gain.  Not for that which with they can find fault.  The parts you may not be in agreement with, set them aside.  At least for now.

Buy the book. CLICK HERE.


Torn between what he’d always been taught and his experience with God, Peter relied on his experience.

God wanted to destroy me, but Jesus had died for me. I found myself wishing God could be more like Jesus.

The Bible was never intended to end the conversation, but to encourage it.

Buy the book. CLICK HERE.

I no longer want anything to do with a god who punishes homosexuals by giving them a terrible disease. I want nothing to do with a god who murders children in order to maintain racial purity. This isn’t the God of Jesus.

Putting the words good and Samaritan together was as galling to the Jews of that day as putting the words homosexual and Christian together is to many today.

Just as fermenting wine causes old leather to rend and tear, my expanding view of God strained the credibility of my childhood theology.

In any culture obsessed with balanced scales, grace will seem blasphemous.

Buy the book. CLICK HERE.

Holiness is God’s ability to confront evil without being defiled. This is what it means to say God is holy — God’s love is incorruptible.

Perfection is not demonstrated by moral purity, but by extravagant love.

In the crucifixion we said no to God, but in the resurrection God rejected our rejection. This is the triumph of grace.

My fear is that if hell exists it will be populated with Christians offended by grace.

Religion that is primarily motivated by heavenly reward is flawed. It is no more admirable than a man who tells a woman he loves her simply to get her into bed.

Buy the book. CLICK HERE.


7 Responses to “If Grace Is True”

  1. Ennen Says:

    Hello, Dave. I too have read Gulley and Mulholland’s book, If Grace Is True. And I
    am also totally blown away by their boldness in proclaiming the absolute truth of God’s GRACE. On my website I too asked the same question as your article proposes:

    “What is it about Grace that so offends us?”

    The book has challenged many of my Lutheran teachings, and Martin Luther was known for his emphasis on Grace.

    After struggling with some of their propositions, I find that Gulley and Mulholland have hit the proverbial nail on the head. I have become very comfortable with their enlightenment on Scriptural interpretation. And I have come to terms with their assertion that it was not necessary for Jesus to die to save all of humanity.

    It was US, the common people who were so offended by Grace that they felt that the Christ must die. It was not God’s plan to kill Jesus.

    I feel so free after reading this book. I no longer have need for the established Church. The Church seems to be quite blase’ about challenging it’s worshippers to think outside the box and to open their eyes to the profound reality of the all-encompassing truth and meaning of the word GRACE.

    Thank you. Ennen.

    PS: I like the part of your column where you keep repeating, Buy the Book. Click here. I think I may use that little technique!

    • lifewalkblog Says:

      It is a very challenging book. I’m still mulling over some of the assertions. My wife and I left institutionalized religion about 3 years ago. I’m not saying everyone in it is evil. We still have family and friends there. McClaren is always saying that we can learn from, and respect, the various religions, even while in a way, keeping our distance from them.
      Anyway, it was a very good book. Thanks for sharing your insights, as well.
      Be blessed in your journey,

  2. Sherri Says:

    Thank you so much for this book review. I kept it in my inbox until I could get the book and read it. I’m only on chapter 2, and it has set me free. The story about Peter disobeying his “Bible” in order to walk with God really spoke to me. I’ve been placing my experience with God above the scriptures for about 4 years now, but I’ve always been insecure about it. No More! This story has completely set me free!

    I can’t wait to finish the book. I’m especially looking forward to reading the part about Jesus and his death on the cross. Ever since I received a personal revelation of God’s love for me exactly as I am, I began to wrestle with the question, “Then why did Jesus die on the cross?” I still struggle with it. So, I am eager to hear their thoughts on this issue, and hoping it gives me some new thoughts that will flow with what’s already in my heart.

    Thanks again for the review!

    • lifewalkblog Says:

      Thanks for your comments. So glad you took the time to share your thoughts.
      There are a couple of other books that can revolutionize our view of the cross, and
      what happened there (and why).
      They are “He Loves Me,” and
      The Misunderstood God.
      Maybe you’ll get a chance to check them out sometime, too.
      Again, thanks for stopping by.
      Be Blessed!
      — dave

  3. Sherri Says:

    I’ve read them both. I think the parts about the cross maybe went over my head at the time. I read them very early out of the IC. I could probably benefit from a re-read. 😀

  4. jude Eric More Says:

    love hear the world of God

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