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From Sin to Amazing Grace: Discovering the Queer Christ Paperback – March 1, 2012
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About the Author
The Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, Ph.D. is the Assistant Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cheng holds degrees from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Harvard Law School, and Yale College. He is the author of the popular Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology (Seabury Books, 2011). Cheng is a blogger for the religion and the gay voices sections of the Huffington Post, and his website is patrickcheng.net.
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Indeed, I purchased these books at the same time, but my delay in reviewing this one is a result of sharing it with a friend. The fact that I've finished reading it less than 36 hours after retrieving it is a measure of how wonderfully crafted and gripping this work is. Despite its readability, however, this book is, like the previous one, masterfully researched and meticulously detailed. I value Cheng's work because he does indeed bring into focus the true historical roots of the basics of Christian belief which have been so distorted by centuries of ecclesiology - one might almost say ecclesiolatry.
This book deals head-on with the issues of sin and grace, as stated in its title. Because of his background in secular law, Cheng is uniquely qualified to look analytically at the Augustinian crime-based model of sin, and contrast it to the Irenaean Christ-centered model. His juxtaposition of the "seven deadly sins" taken from these two models is brilliant and coherent. Although I'd read his seven models of the "Queer Christ" in an article featured in the Jesus in Love blog some time ago, and found this analysis very much to the point, I deeply appreciated the more in depth discussion provided by this exceptional book. Especially valuable was the extremely insightful analysis of sin and grace as viewed against the background of these Christological models.
Although I initially read this book in a tremendous burst of enthusiasm and delight, it is one of several that I will revisit in depth. This will be facilitated by the exceptional questions for reflection provided at the end of each chapter. Although I deeply regret that I will probably not be able to even scratch the surface of delving into the extensive bibliography Cheng provides, it is wonderful to have so many resources at my fingertips in case I do find myself needing to further investigate aspects of this intriguing theology.