ISBN 9780281059591 (0281059594)
I like theology books with people’s stories in them — they remind me of Reader’s Digest in waiting rooms and loos. They remind me of Jesus’ stories. I like it even more when the stories weave seamlessly in and out of the theological argument — makes for nice reading. But I like it best when the theology is good and the message is uplifting — I can get ‘depressing’ on TV soaps any evening! I want something that inspires me and gives me something to think about as I’m driving to work.
Scott McKnight hits all buttons for me! Yes, he is a thoroughbred theologian — but he is also a great story-teller — probably why Emergent folks like him so much — and with good cause. And Scott is at his best when writing about Jesus, the Gospel and the death of Jesus — he’s got a few best-sellers on all three subjects.
Embracing Grace is the story of the human race — or eikons (icons) as McKnight likes to describe us all — broken eikons at that. And at the heart of the book lies a very simple belief — the heart-cry of today’s generation tired of the old way of doing church — it is this: the gospel is to be performed and not just proclaimed. It is to be embraced — not individually but corporately. And not as pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die kind of stuff, nor abstracted from daily living. Rather the kind of embrace McKnight believes in is one that touches the world around each one of us — it is local and gets into the various ‘cracks’ that each one of us as cracked eikons carries. In doing so, it acts as the antidote to the big questions of life — of suffering, of sin, and of rampant evil.
I love McKnight’s style — he pulls stories of people and their lives from every direction — and tells their stories simply and profoundly. You can’t get away from the repeated point — the gospel we perform is the real gospel we proclaim and believe. Sure, it is a complex gospel — that’s why the reader will be introduced to the five major ways in which the death of Christ is understood — but you know what — you won’t even realise that you are getting a master-class in theology as you read. McKnight really has perfected the art of making theology readable and accessible to everyone.
What I really like about this book is its earthiness. We read about real-life people and engage with a messy kind of Christianity — not the squeaky-clean kind of stuff that puts so many people off nowadays. But it is a Christianity that is making a difference wherever it is embraced.
If you want a book that reaches the parts other books don’t reach, then grab this one — it’s not a heavy read, but it is a rich one! Hopefully it will make you not only think, but also want to proclaim and practice!
Graham McFarlane, April 2008
Dr Graham McFarlane is Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology at London School of Theology. He says, “I have a passion for getting people to think about what they believe rather than just believing. I also believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only antidote to the problems I see around me but in order for that Gospel to get out and do its stuff there need to be biblically and theologically informed thinking people who don’t mind getting their hands dirty in the process.”