Sunday, March 10, 2013

Book Review: Jim McNelly III - The Romance of Grace

When I started this book I did know what to expect. It was a little bit of a surprise and a pleasant one at that.

There was much more depth than is many modern books. It is not a list of ten things you can do to have a better marriage or how to manage you money.

It was a good read. The discussion of two types of "good" was worth the whole book.

Here is one quote from that section.

"When someone goes to the dentist complaining of a toothache, the first thing the dentist does is pull out an evil-looking, sharp metal probe and start to poke around. “Does this hurt? How about this?” Is the dentist some kind of sadistic monster? I've always thought so. However, we all know that the dentist pokes around the mouth not for the purpose of inflicting pain but rather to find the problem tooth in order to heal it. The programmer tests his code, seeking to break it, so that he can fix the bugs. Jesus preaches a stringent moral code to fish out this inward division—to diagnose us as sick—so that He can bring us to a place of healing and transformation."

Wow, what great analogies! It sounds almost like a modern day Bunyan. It reminds me of Pilgrims Progress when Bunyan relates the Law to sweeping a dirt floor. It doesn't clean it just makes the dirt visible.

He uses this illustrations to show that it is not God's desire for us to be divided in our desires of doing right. God wants our desire and our morals to coincide. We have to be transformed to the point that both "goods" become one.

He spends a great amount of time speaking of the law and it's effects. The law not only tells us what we should do, it actually stirs up the sinful nature. Have you ever came across a sign that says, "Keep off the Grass!" ? What is the first thing we want to do? Walk on the grass! That is one use of the law. Paul says the law stirs up sin. We are back to the illustration of the broom in Bunyan's Progress.

There is nothing wrong with the Law. It is righteous. Our own sinfulness is to blame. The Law can not give us the power to live the commands of the Law. Grace is sufficient. Grace not only forgives sin, it also gives us the will to do righteousness.

That is the main theme of this book. Grace gives us the motive and desire to do the things of the Law, not through coercion or begrudgingly, but by the Grace of God. It is not a chore but a romantic gesture - The romance of Grace.

I enjoyed this book, There were a few spots where I disagreed. He is not Reformed. But I try to use the watermelon method when reading - eat the good part and spit out the seeds. 

recommend this book with some light discernment but give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book free of charge from Cross Focused Reviews and Libertary Company in exchange for an honest Review



  1. Roger,

    Here's my favorite line from your review: "Wow, what great analogies! It sounds almost like a modern day Bunyan." Thanks for contributing to the blog tour.

    Shaun Tabatt
    Cross Focused Reviews

  2. Roger,

    I am particularly gratified that as a reformed guy you liked the book. I really love the whole reformed world, and I am very close to it anyway. There are some points where I am unsure about it when it comes to how our personal autonomy works within the sovereignty of God, and I want to keep the freedom to think deeply and honestly and straight about these things, but I consider my reformed brothers and sisters as great friends and allies in Christ. Thank you for seeing that! I really don't want everyone to see completely eye to eye with me on everything. I'm glad you enjoyed my analogies!

    Jim McNeely

  3. I really enjoyed the book. Keep writing. It is definitely part of your calling.

    As far as "how our personal autonomy works within the sovereignty of God", I see it as no different than understanding the Trinity. I know that God is one in essence and three in persons. My finite mind can not comprehend it, but I know it isn't a contradiction. Same thing with Gods sovereignty. I know I make choices but I also know He is sovereign. My finite mind can not comprehend it, but I know it isn't a contradiction.