Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships With The Love Of Jesus, by Jessica Thompson
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
This book is one of those stark reminders at how odd books about grace sound when written by Calvinists . It is hard to see a book as being gracious when one is speaking of the supposed love of the supposed triune God as well as the problems of total depravity. In many ways, this book attempts a difficult balance, but seems schizophrenic with regards to God’s love, pointing out severity on the one hand while also speaking of God in terms of rapturous love. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine whether Calvinist authors are aware of just how mean-spirited and harsh they sound, even when speaking about grace and love and peace. This is distressing, as it appears that the tone hinders what would be a good message coming from a more biblical perspective.
The contents of the book are quite worthwhile, as the author speaks confessionally (in two senses, quoting the Westminster Confession at length, and speaking about her own flaws and foibles) about the importance of being gracious in various aspects of life, from marriage to friendship to parenting to work. These are all immensely practical areas of life to write about, and they are done with a focus on fundamental attitudes on our part rather than attempts at providing mere advice. That said, this is the sort of book where tone takes on a large importance, as it is one thing to write about relationships and another to write about such matters in a way that suggests one is a bit more tough-minded than is most beneficial to building up love and grace in relationships. After all, a great deal of the difficulty of grace is being gracious, not holding matters against others, and the best way to preach it is to practice it.
That said, despite my quibbles about the effectiveness of the author in tackling a subject that requires sensitivity and encouragement to do well, the topic is extremely practical and well chosen, and it is clear as well that the author has the right ideas on what is needed to accomplish to build better relationships. It is not a matter of advice, but a matter of the heart and the spirit. Yet it is not knowing but doing that is the difficulty in matters of the heart, and it is difficult to see how, given the worldview of the author and the split view of the law of God how she could have done a better job based on her own worldview. It would have required someone who saw the law as good, and as a model of behavior rather than simply being harsh, for the love to be expressed in a way that was not deeply fractured. In the meantime, it is at least possible to see what the author was aiming at, and good enough to look graciously at the desire of the author to write about matters of the heart, and to hope in the future that when the author’s theology is improved, that such issues as tone and worldview will improve as well.
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