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If God Is Love: Rediscovering Grace in an Ungracious World (Gulley, Philip) Hardcover – November 23, 2004

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Product Details

  • Series: Gulley, Philip
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1St Edition edition (November 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060578416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060578411
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Gulley, a minister, and Mulholland, a theologian, turn the popular slogan "God is love" into a question that opens a Pandora's box of unanswered queries that some prefer remain unanswerable. If God is love, how are those who profess belief in God to act? If God is love, how does Christianity explain the vastly accepted dualistic theology of heaven and hell? If God is love, how can Christians live in God's grace? How can we continue to hate, slander, murder, and condemn our neighbors? If God is love, and God commands us to love our enemies, how can we justify war? Gently taking organized religion to task for perpetuating its power to control people, and only slightly lacing their discussion with their personal political opinions, the two Quakers propose ways to live, work, play, and be in a state of grace. Many may fault their approach for seeming overly simple at times. Yet anyone searching for a "graciousness primer" might look on this book as a commonsense example of such a manual. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


“Warm, gentle, profound, and moving. Gulley and Mulholland have touched the deep recesses of God...” (John Shelby Spong, author of A New Christianity for a New World)

“A welcome antidote to so much contemporary religion that is coercive, intolerant, and finally unbearable.” (Walter Brueggemann, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary)

“Uncommonly readable, insightful, and persuasive.” (Marcus Borg, author of The Heart of Christianity and Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time)

“Anyone searching for a ‘graciousness primer’ might look on this book as a commensense example of such a manual.” (Booklist)

“This book details well Christ’s command to love others and how to live that out.” (Publishers Weekly)

“[T]hrough clear and accessible storytelling, Gulley and Mulholland present a comforting and at times challenging message.” (Indianapolis Star)

“[H]ow to live full of God’s grace in a world that is desperately in need of gracious Christianity.” (Presbyterians Today)

More About the Author

Philip Gulley has become the voice of small-town American life. Along with writing Front Porch Tales, Hometown Tales, and For Everything a Season, Gulley is the author of the Harmony series of novels, as well as If Grace Is True and If God Is Love, which are coauthored with James Mulholland.

He hosts "Porch Talk with Phil Gulley" on the Indiana PBS affiliate WFYI television's flagship show Across Indiana.

Gulley lives in Indiana with his wife, Joan, and their sons, Spencer and Sam--in a rambling old house with Gulley's eclectic chair collection (64 at last count) and a welcoming back porch.

Customer Reviews

The authors very clearly express the hope that God is Love and that Grace is True.
Robert H. Burton
I highly recommend this book (and the other by the authors: If Grace is True)for anyone searching to understand God and his unconditional love and grace.
L. Ames
Before I launch into some problems I have with the book, let me say I got a lot from it.
Roy Massie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Leigh E. Fleming on November 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Gulley has done it again!! His latest book defines what the Christian Faith should be!! A faith of love, acceptance, nonjudgemental and above all, a Christ centered belief. He articulates what many of us "real Christians" have known for many years that Christianity cannot be defined by the far-far Christian right!! Thank you, Mr. Gulley. You have given many faithful persons a wonderful weapon against bigotry, zealotry, and all the rest of the devices used by those who have decided to be God.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Michael Kear VINE VOICE on June 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am not a convinced universalist. Yet. Both times I have read the books of Gulley and Mulholland I have been brought a step closer, though. Let me also say, though, that I do not believe in hell in the traditional sense at all. I understand the uses of the term in the biblical narrative (Gehenna, etc.), and I reject the idea of an ever-burning place of torment as uncharacteristic of the Jesus I know and the God I serve. Having adopted this position, the question for me becomes, annihilation or restoration? Gulley and Mulholland have chosen restoration as their answer.

If God is Love is the sequel to If Grace is True, in which the authors first posited their ideas on universalism. In If God is Love, they look at the practical implications of this view in the lives of its adherents. To me, the Christian Universalist has two attributes: 1) She is a heretic, and 2) She is an outstandingly good person who reflects the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

This book is about the lifestyle of grace which believing in God's effectual love for all people brings into the life of the universalist. It's not about being wishy-washy and just buying everything that comes down the highway. It is about having convictions and opinions, but still holding forth the love and compassion of Christ to those of differing ideologies.

The two chapters on "Gracious Christianity" and "Gracious Politics" were worth the whole price of the book all by themselves. The description of the gracious Church harmonizes wonderfully with the inner symphony playing in my heart. "No one will arrive in heaven perfected - we will all need transformation. The Church, offering a foretaste of heaven, should be a place where people come to be accepted, loved, healed, and restored.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Stephen L. Smith on March 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have just finished reading this book and I must say it is one of the best books I've ever read. These authors capture the essence of the gospel and of God. What a marvelous thing it is to simply give in to the idea that God really is love. Those who feel the Bible is inerrant and infallible will have trouble with this because it is counter to their belief system. However, those who struggle with that in the Bible and about Jesus which point to the idea that God is love, both on this side and the other side of the grave, will find welcome relief here. I feel closer to God after reading this book than I have felt in a long time. How I will finally come down on some things discussed here, I don't know, but I have been given ample food upon which to reflect. I love the flavor of this book, because it matches the flavor I feel when I pray, and even read the Bible itself. Some of the reviews suggest the thesis of this book is not amply logical and thought out. I disagree. I think this is a thoughtful presentation of ideas which is extremely compelling. I may or may not come to complete agreement with the authors on everything, but the direction and flavor of this book is right on. God is indeed love. This is stated in the Bible. We have to choose that God of the Bible or the images of another kind of God, also in the Bible. The authors choose the former, as do I, because it most parallels the life, teaching, and ministry of Jesus. His message must be the interpretative principle of God and scripture. The Christianity presented here, that of inclusive love, is the kind that can could really reach people presently turned off, and it could affect the whole world as well.Read more ›
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Christy A. Robinson on June 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
I disagree with the author's theology of universal salvation, but wow. His message is the most revolutionary one since that of Jesus himself: there would be fewer wars, less poverty and less inequality in the world if we switched from a fear-based, saved vs. unsaved emphasis to one that mirrors God's grace.

I'd never thought about how the concepts of damned/the saved, God/Satan, heaven/hell can cause people, cultures and nations to form an "us vs. them" nature. Us vs. them is the basis of racism, xenophobia, sexism, elistism, greed and more. With this nature, the emphasis is conquer and defeat, I'm right and you're wrong, I'm good and you're bad. That dualistic nature clashes with loving others unconditionally, like Christians are supposed to.

The author also does a good job of dispelling the notion that more grace and less judgment would cause the world to spin into a free-for-all sin frenzy. It would be quite the opposite. When people think of God in terms of "if I'm not saved, he will send me to to hell," then any relationship they have with him is fear-based and they may or may not really care about making the world a better place. But when people instead choose to follow because they are moved by Jesus' message of love, then an authentic conversion has taken place. Being moved by love causes peoples' lives to truly change, not being moved by fear. You can definitely disagree with the author's theology and still be touched by this message.

You can't hate a guy who's trying to get everybody into heaven. But while Gulley makes humble, heartfelt arguments, the theology of universalism is simply full of holes. The big point is that he forces good Christians of all stripes to re-evaluate what is driving their faith -- fear or love? That's something that everyone could use.
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