I have been reading a lot lately. I don’t have much else to do since 90% of my things are in boxes, and now my hand is in a brace (that’s a whole other story).
Vanishing Grace by Phillip Yancey has been on my iPad for a while, and I skimmed a few chapters, but I didn’t really get into it until this weekend.
The book appealed to me because I have experienced a lot of hurt and graceless behavior in the church. In the book Yancey discusses why people are so offended by Christians and the church, and why the church feels so persecuted and marginalized.
This is a delicate topic and he navigates it with a hefty dose of grace of his own. He talks about how the world, both inside the church and out, are thirsty for grace, and explores the disconnect between the churched and those they are called to reach.
“Stanley Hauerwas, named “America’s best theologian” by Time magazine, summed up the problem: “I have come to think that the challenge confronting Christians is not that we do not believe what we say, though that can be a problem, but that what we say we believe does not seem to make any difference for either the church or the world.” – Phillip Yancey, “Vanishing Grace”
“How differently would the world view Christians if we focused on our own failings rather than on society’s? As I read the New Testament I am struck by how little attention it gives to the faults of the surrounding culture. Jesus and Paul say nothing about violent gladiator games or infanticide, both common practices among the Romans. In a telling passage, the apostle Paul responds fiercely to a report of incest in the Corinthian church. He urges strong action against those involved but quickly clarifies, “not at all meaning the people of this world. . . . What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” – Phillip Yancey, “Vanishing Grace”
The book takes a bold stand on what the behavior of the church has been, and where it should be, without bashing the church. This book reminded me a lot of another book, The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.
Why is it so hard for us as Christians to show grace to the world? Is it because at our core we don’t believe we deserve grace ourselves?
This book definitely inspired me to explore my own relationship with grace and my ownership in the problem. Yancey stated that he intended for this material to comprise 4 books, but condensed it into one, so it is a LOT to chew on. But it is an important conversation that I think the church needs to have.
* I received this book for free from Booklookbloggers in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received. This post contains affiliate links.