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Book Review – The Grace and Truth Paradox

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“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1). Jesus, our Lord and our God, was and is full of grace and truth. We, his people, have far too often been anything but. It is this paradox, the paradox between grace and truth, that is the subject of a small book by Randy Alcorn (only 96 pages), part of the “Lifechange Books” series.

Alcorn says, “People had only to look at Jesus to see what God is like. People today should only have to look at us to see what Jesus is like. For better or worse, they’ll draw conclusions about Christ from what they see in us. If we fail the grace test, we fail to be Christlike. If we fail the truth test, we fail to be Christlike. If we pass both tests, we’re like Jesus.” And our world is in desperate need of Jesus, and the fullness of His grace and truth.

There sometimes seems to be a conflict between grace and truth. So many Christians appear to emphasize one or the other but so few seem to be able to maintain both. Alcorn teaches balance, but not a balance of 50 percent grace and 50 percent truth, but a Christlike balance of 100 percent grace and 100 percent truth. The Grace and Truth Paradox examines how we can resolve the apparent contradiction between these two ideals. The model is, of course, Jesus, who never sacrificed perfection in either grace or truth. He never emphasized one at the expense of the other.

The solution the author provides is biblically sound. He shows that we can be filled with grace while never compromising the truth. He shows that grace and truth are, in reality, inseparable, for often withholding truth is tantamount to withholding grace. He shows that, ultimately, the grace and truth paradox is also a paradigm – a way of looking at and understanding life. People need the direction of truth to know where to go and the empowerment of grace to get there. Anything less than both grace and truth is neither.

I enjoyed this book and found it challenging to my faith. In fact, the only real problem I had with the book was that Alcorn turned to the old, tired, sad cliché of contrasting Mother Teresa and Hitler as the pinnacles of good and evil. Surely we can do better than that! Still, this is a biblical and satisfying book and one I am glad to recommend.

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