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Putting Amazing Back into Grace: Embracing the Heart of the Gospel Paperback – October 1, 2011
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From the Back Cover
Stand in amazement at God's incredible grace
"The gospel is a very specific announcement," says Michael Horton. "It's a message delivered from God to people in a precarious and hazardous spot--that is, to people like you and me." But what exactly is that message? What does it mean to be "saved by grace"?
Now revised and updated, Putting Amazing Back into Grace reminds us of the Reformation's radical view of God and his saving grace, the liberating yet humbling truth that we contribute nothing to our salvation. Horton lays out the scriptural basis for this doctrine and its implications for a vibrant evangelical faith.
"With all our technological expertise and intellectual arrogance, we have become the cleverest fools in world history. Mike Horton has seen through all the excuses and appreciates that true and timeless wisdom is found in the paths of the Christian gospel. Putting Amazing Back into Grace expresses the thrill of his soul--and mine--as we gaze upon the triumph of God's almighty grace."--from the foreword by J. I. Packer
Michael Horton (PhD, University of Coventry and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) is J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. He hosts The White Horse Inn radio broadcast and is editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine. He is the author/editor of more than twenty books, including Christless Christianity, The Gospel-Driven Life, and The Gospel Commission.
About the Author
Michael Horton (PhD, University of Coventry and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) is J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. He hosts The White Horse Inn radio broadcast and is editor-in-chief of Modern
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It is a slow, methodical process and one would think that reading a chapter more than once before moving on would get monotonous, but not so. This is my favorite way to read anything of substance.
When an author presents something radical and new to me, I pour over it and look at the evidence given. I consult other works that I trust and ask questions of those whose opinions I have learned to respect. I also look to these sources for objections. When I was told about the Doctrine of Grace, my first thought was, "Of course one is saved by grace as soon as he takes the necessary steps toward grace." Trusted brothers in Christ patiently presented a grace to me that was much more amazing than what I had believed before.
The radical idea that I don't have to jump through any hoops! The belief that God is active at every level of our being, including the important parts! The concept that the atonement was not even a partial failure! These are the kinds of things I wrestled with until this doctrine was presented to me.
I read and learned, but had some nagging questions about it all. And then came a book review by Tim Challies. I immediately decided to purchase this title.
After one quick reading of this book, it all began to really make sense to me. The Reformed faith is not some legalistic holier-than-thou faith, contrary to the way that some practice it. On the contrary, it is a faith that despises legalism as the very reason the Reformers broke from the church was for their concerns with rules being added to the word of God. The Doctrines of Grace are nothing if you don't recognize the fact that sin is not found in the world per se, but within yourself. In light of much of today's teaching that humans are basically good people who have a myriad of options toward redemption (assuming the need for redemption is expressed), the doctrine of a self who is tainted by sin, both original and personal, is one that humbles all. Nobody has the right to act pious, as if their outward showing could fool God!
This book is the straw that broke the camel's back and caused me to turn away from self-redemption. I came to realize that no measure of retribution to God could begin to pay my debt. I also came to understand that an outwardly pious attitude is an affront to our Lord and Savior who did not leave any debt for me to pay.
This book offers so many reasons for my recommendation that I cannot list them all here. If you have questions about any of the major doctrines of the Reformed faith, this book brings the doctrines of the Reformation down to the lower shelf where anyone can understand their logic.
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.