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Book Review - Putting Amazing Back Into Grace
December 24, 2005
Of the several hundred books I have read in the past few years, there is one which I have recommended more often than any other. I recently revisited this book and decided that I would post a review of it, though I did so several years ago on this site. It was a groundbreaking book in my life and know that God has used it mightily in the lives of other believers.
Putting Amazing Back Into Grace is the first book I have read by Michael Horton. It will certainly not be my last. On the cover of the book J.I. Packer declares the book “a breaktaking workout” and his praise is justified. This book points us back to the Reformation and ultimately to the Bible itself as the source of an amazing grace that much of modern Christianity seems to have lost. He presents timeless truths as being as relevant to us today as they were when they were first discovered.
Horton redraws the standard TULIP acronym using modern terms. Total Depravity becomes Rebels Without A Cause, Unconditional Election becomes Grace Before Time, Limited Atonement becomes Mission Accomplished, Irresistible Grace becomes Intoxicating Grace and Perseverance of The Saints becomes No Lost Causes. While the terms may have changed, the truth behind each is defended and, perhaps best of all, made relevant to life. More than a theological treatise, this book contains an element of intense practicality where Horton shows how these doctrines are relevant to everyday life.
Among the other topics Horton covers are dispensationalism which he bravely attacks and the sacraments which he describes as being two keys to spiritual growth. I found the chapter of sacraments the weakest part of the book. While he has given me some food for thought, I do have to take issue with some of his statements. He takes a firm stance for paedo-baptism as well as a sacramental view of the “ordinances”, so be prepared for that. His comments about evangelical churches adding extra sacraments (ie recommitment) are well-taken.
Perhaps my greatest praise is that this book challenges so many assumptions and so many of the words and phrases Christians use all the time. Horton traces the evolution of many of these phrases and shows how they are unbiblical at best, and heretical at worst. Some examples of this are “let go and let God” and “the Spirit’s leading.” Common phrases, but ones we use without really examining their underlying theological implications.
I do not use the term life-changing easily, but I do not believe it would be unfair to say that this book can change a life. It is a stunning portrayal of the doctrines of grace and one I know I will return to often. I give it my wholehearted recommendation for all believers. If you do not know the doctrines of grace, read this book and discover them for yourself. If you do, read this book to rediscover their greatness. This book will leave you in awe before the greatness of our God.
Putting Amazing Back into Grace