Friday, April 1, 2011

Grace Wins (A Review of Jay Bakker's "Fall To Grace")

(ANNOYING YET NECESSARY DISCLAIMER: The fine folks at Faith Words gave me an advance copy of this book to review for free. And by "for free," I mean neither of us had to pay the other. Also, this review is on my regular blog as well as here.)

If fundamentlist Christians refer to Rob Bell's Love Wins as "the book that denies Hell" (even though from what I've heard that's not what Bell actually says), then Jay Bakker's latest book Fall to Grace is "the book that says gay is okay." While a good quarter of Fall to Grace deals with homosexuality (including a chapter that challenges the infamous 'clobber passages'), the book is much more than that. It's a reminder of God's unbelievable, incredible, and available grace.

The book begins with Bakker (with the help of Martin Edlund) retelling the story of his parents' fall from grace. Anyone who grew up during the '80s and '90s will certainly remember Jim and Tammy Faye's swan dive from televangelist superstars to symbols of everything that's wrong with evangelicalism. It was rough for Jim and Tammy Faye, but worse for Jay! Jay tried to destroy himself with drugs and alcohol, thinking that God would never want anything to do with him. But once Jay discovered God's grace, everything changed.

The rest of the book is a meditation on the book of Galatians, Paul's wonderful book about grace. Jay illustrates Paul's wonderful book about grace with stories from his friends and his own journey . . . including his work with the LGBT community. When his best friend from childhood Eric came out of the closet, Jay didn't take the news very well. But after a conversation with his mother, Jay learned that nothing changed about Eric. He was still the same kid Jay knew and loved since childhood.

Although the writing could go deeper in some parts, overall it's a great reminder that there is no one too far from God's reach.

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