Michael's Reviews > What's So Amazing About Grace?

What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey
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's review
Mar 08, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: religion

This book is a moving exploration of what grace is, what it means, and how it has changed countless lives across the centuries. The author does not define the word, but as the Supreme Court Justice said about obscenity, he knows it when he sees it. Mr. Yancey writes well; I enjoyed the many stories and anecdotes that he used throughout his narrative: incidents from his own life, the lives of the famous, the not so famous, and the infamous, as well as poems, stories, and novels from the realm of literature.

If I had to define grace, I'd say that it was related to mercy; that is, giving someone something even when they don't deserve it. Forgiving those who have wronged you, even if they aren't sorry, for example. Caring about the well-being of those with whom you vehemently disagree, or who have somehow wronged you. Making peace when retribution or revenge is perfectly warranted. Including those who are difficult to accept. Loving your enemies, praying for those who persecute you...things like that. Hard things, but beautiful things, too.

Although Mr. Yancy's book was written before this happened, as I read, I kept coming back to the Amish in Nikel Mines, PN, in 2006. Hours after a deranged man took a schoolhouse full of little girls hostage and executed six of them, the families of the girls--all Amish--went to the wife and family of the shooter and comforted them. Insane, right? Who does that? Well...that's grace. I don't remember the last time I read about someone who, with righteous indignation, retaliated against a person who had hurt them or their family. I'm sure I thought, "They got what they deserved," and moved on.

I do remember the Amish.

Mr. Yancy is an Evangelical Christian, and he spends a significant part of the book pleading with his fellow Evangelicals to show more grace and mercy to those with whom they disagree. I can't speak to what the Evangelical community does or does not do, but I can certainly recognize much of what he describes in my own Catholic faith community. "Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful," Jesus says in the Gospel of Luke. "Judge not, least ye be judged" in the Gospel Matthew. And of course, in the Gospel of John, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Were Christians in America spending less time fighting about taxes, homosexuality, abortion, gay marriage, and other issues, and more time actually being kind and merciful, I think many of the problems that beset our country would go away.

This was a kind, thoughtful, and beautiful book. Were I to suggest a book about Christianity to someone who was interested in learning more, this would be one I'd recommend. I liked it very much, and I hope to read more from this author.

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