Thursday, November 6, 2008

Book Review: Sin Boldly

This is not a book I would have typically picked up while browsing through the bookstore or CBD online, but when Jessica over at What Can Brown Blog For You? was giving away several copies, I put my name in and was fortunate enough to get one.

The book title originally seemed to me as permission to go out and sin because grace would be there in abundance, but that wasn't the gist of the book. Sin Boldly by Cathleen Falsani is a compilation of multiple short stories, some from her travels to different continents, and her experiences with what she deems grace.

At the beginning of this week my devotional that I'm subscribed to by email came through from Insight for Living and it was titled Grace Unlimited. It was so timely to the reading of this book for me. Here is the text of the devotion:

My plea is that we not limit grace to Christ. We, too, can learn to be just as gracious as He. And since we can, we must, not only in our words and in great acts of compassion and understanding, but in small ways as well. Let me describe four practical expectations you can anticipate as you get a firm grasp on grace.

1. You can expect to gain a greater appreciation for God's gifts to you and others. What gifts? Several come to mind. The free gift of salvation. The gift of life. The gift of laughter, of music, of beauty, of friendship, of forgiveness. Those who claim the freedom God offers gain an appreciation for the gifts that come with life.

2. You can expect to spend less time and energy critical of and concerned about others' choices. Wouldn't that be a refreshing relief? When you get a grasp on grace — when you begin to operate in a context of freedom — you become increasingly less petty. You will allow others room to make their own decisions in life, even though you may choose otherwise.

3. You can expect to become more tolerant and less judgmental. Externals will not mean as much to you. You'll begin to cultivate a desire for authentic faith rather than endure a religion based on superficial performance. You will find yourself so involved in your own pursuit of grace, you'll no longer lay guilt trips on those with whom you disagree.

4. You can expect to take a giant step toward maturity. As your world expands, thanks to an awakening of your understanding of grace, your maturity will enlarge. Before your very eyes, new vistas will open. It will be so transforming, you will never be the same.

Falsani is an excellent writer with an easy writing style and I enjoyed reading the book. But was it a field guide for grace? Does it affect my relationship with God? Is it a realistic book for most of us who have children at home and don't travel to all ends of our own country, much less the world?

I don't really think I would call it a field guide for grace. Many of the stories can be tied back to one of these practical expectations listed above, but this devotion also came from Proverbs 3:34, and most of this book wasn't specifically tied back to the Bible.

Many of the stories were also just that — stories that were enjoyable to read, much like I would read Philip Gulley's books that are compilations of short stories. At the same time, I don't agree with Gulley's theology on universal salvation. Falsani's stories seemed laced with too much liberalism for me. I still believe you can be conservative, believe in what the Bible says, and love people and show them grace.


Demara said...

I agree with your view on conservative Godly loving through grace!

Kristen said...

I like what your devotional said this week about grace -WOW! Really something to think about.

I agree that Sin Boldly had a definite liberal slant. I struggled with some of her thoughts in the book because they varied so much from my own conservative background.

Thanks for the review.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for stopping by. I like your blog and will be back when I have more time to browse through it. You have a lovely family.

Lynn said...

Thanks for stopping by. It looks like we have similar opinions on Sin Boldly. I enjoyed your review.

I also spent some time browsing your blog (ya know, while I was here for a visit). Your family is just beautiful. I love the interviews with your kids. What a great idea.

Betsy said...

This was very timely for me in light of the election results. I may have to come back and read this a few more times as I work toward a better attitude about it all!

Nancy said...

thanks for sharing the book review and your devotional. The devotional really spoke to me...I could use A LOT more of that "realization" of grace!

Thanks for sharing!

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