The Romance of Grace. Jim McNeely III. 2013. Libertary Co. 148 pages. [Source: Bought]
I found The Romance of Grace to be a thought-provoking book on grace or scandalous grace. Grace is one of those subjects I never tire reading of, so this was a good read for me. I do think we need reminders of grace every day. However, I can't say that I agree theologically with every single paragraph in this one. There were places I questioned his interpretations and conclusions. I agreed with some stuff. Disagreed with other stuff.
The chapter titles:
- The Kingdom Ruled by Desire
- The Two Kinds of Good
- Beyond the Coercion of the Law
- Grace is the Air Love Breathes
- Living Under Grace
- The Grace We Don't Want
- Temptation, Desire, and Predestination--Oh My!
- Gift Culture--Living for the Desires of Others
- A Sense of Wonder: The Centrality of Gratitude
- Grace and Desire in the Godhead
I think the book does a good job of talking about sin, desire, and temptation. I think the book does a good job talking about grace and a new heart, about God giving us a new heart and changing our desires so that we can then desire what God desires, so that we then seek good.
I liked the depth of this one. It is a challenging (challenging-in-a-good-way) examination of the doctrine of grace. There are questions at the end of each chapter.
This is His ultimate goal: to return us to our original state in the garden, where what is desirable coincides with what is right. (24)
The healing He seeks for us is not that we have the freedom to sin without consequence but rather that we experience freedom in our true inner being to actually desire what is right (24).
Why do I say that radical, scandalous grace is the only possibility for true virtue? In Christ, through the propitiation in His blood, the full wrath of God against our sins has been demonstrated. We do not merely have forgiveness; we have justification. Our sins have been avenged. We do not have unconditional love; we have love on the condition of Christ's suffering on our behalf. (35)
We must emphasize that the command is to love. It is not to obey. Love is greater than obedience, because grudging, embittered, slavish obedience falls short of the command, while love engenders true obedience. (40)
The heart, the mind, the soul--all must carry perfect affection for Him. Our problem is that we can't even make ourselves like broccoli, much less say "no" to all the passing pleasures and screaming promises of the world and the flesh to love God passionately and exclusively. (41)
Love is born of response to affection and kindness. Love responds to love, to unconditional and radical kindness. The only way love can be commanded is by means of grace, by one-way affection. (61)
Grace is love coming at us when we don't deserve it, when we don't love in return. Thus, he draws us into the kingdom of grace and births love within us. (65)
God is working to bring us back to a place where what we honestly want coincides with what is right. We misinterpret this to mean that God wants to impose right behavior on us against our desire, or that in God's world, morals trump desire. Actually, desire always trumps morals, and grace aims to restore desire to acceptable ends...Mastery means the heart has been won over, love has been engaged. (69)
Jesus' life is full of the grace people didn't want. In His confrontations with the Pharisees, unwanted grace was the defining dynamic of His ministry. (85)
Heaven is the place for those who receive scandalously unmerited riches in lavish abundance. The citizens of heaven will become accustomed to receiving lavish gifts and riches that they never earned and that seem to have appeared at the fanciful whim of One who simply likes to arrive on the scene with presents and surprises. (88)
Grace is scandalous, its blessings always unmerited. We can choose to focus on either the scandal of it or the joy of it. More importantly, are we a help or a hindrance to the Father's desire to express grace to others? Do we concern ourselves only with the grace that comes to us personally? Or can we find a way to rejoice when that grace comes to others? Jesus died in order that grace might come to everyone except Him. That is the cross we are called to bear--to live to see others lavished with God's grace, even when we do not see ourselves blessed in the moment. (91)© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible