The Grand Paradox: The Messiness Of Life, The Mystery Of God, and The Necessity Of Faith, by Ken Wytsma
[Note: This book was provided for free by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
This book certainly lives up to its name, as it is full of paradoxes. It is a book that calls on obedience and decries cheap grace, but defines that righteousness a bit narrowly as social justice. It is a book that claims to seek a way beyond the partisan divide, but is itself narrowly focused with liberal political agendas (immigration, poverty reform, income redistribution) with a total avoidance of any discussion of personal morality, except to disparage a focus on it. It is a book that disparages the reading of too many books (which I am probably guilty of). The book focuses on the tension that is necessary to have faith in God in the midst of doubt but derides being caught in the middle between God’s ways and the ways of the world, unable to gain the advantages of either. In short, this book is likely to puzzle at least some of its readers because it is unclear the extent to which the author wises to apply his principles to his own perspective.
To be sure, there is a lot that one can find fault with in this book, especially given the way it claims a balance while not providing it. Its mixed messages on the law, and rather content-free definition of righteousness and obedience is more than a little bit troubling. That said, there is a lot of value here, from a reminder to develop the ability to show gratitude for gifts and act justly in life, as well as focus on the larger community and one’s ability to serve and be generous near us. These reminders, and the book’s implicit relationship between the Sabbath and justice , are worthwhile ones, and the book is organized well with clever chapter titles. Clearly, a lot of attention was paid to craft the book well to make a particular (albeit partisan and political) case. Also, this book focuses a lot on trust, and that was clearly intentional as well.
When I read books like this, I am filled with more questions than answers. How is it that the Portland area (or the Bend area, in the case of the author) produces so many people who write passionate and moving books about social justice and produce so little practical obedience in the area at large? Why is it that it is so difficult to find a balance between obedience to God’s clearly stated and consistent moral standards and a passion for justice for the oppressed, which is also clearly and consistently stated in scripture. The chief value of this book is in clearly and forcefully and biblically pointing out a great deal of the paradoxes inherent in walking with God, and these paradoxes can be applied far more widely than the author does, and far more consistently as well. We need the reminder that justice is important, and also the reminder that people can be so focused on justice as to forget other matters of righteousness. It is hard, given our perspectives and biases, for us to be fully balanced in the way that God wants, but it is worth every effort.
 See, for example: