Staff Picks: Charis

July 27, 2017
Note: Throughout this series one of our staff members will be giving you a recommendation and/or a brief review from the world of music, movies, TV or literature. Hopefully this will serve as a way to see inside the head of our staff members and direct you towards some listening, viewing or reading material for your own personal growth and enjoyment. Today’s post is from our youth pastor, Dave Hallahan.

 

A few weeks ago at Young Adults, our discussion topic was “God of the Old Testament.” It was an excellent discussion on what we do with a God who can seem so angry in the Old Testament and so loving in the person of Jesus we see in the New Testament. This is a common critique.

Richard Dawkins pulls no punches articulating this critique in his book,  The God Delusion. “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Certainly a harsh critique, but if I’m honest there are times where the stories of the Old Testament make me cringe and I don’t know what to do with them. Christians throughout time have handle the God of the Old Testament in different ways. St. Augustine theorized that the Canaanite Conquest was allegorical, more modern scholars have theorized that many stories were exaggerated versions of the truth written in a way that was common in the ancient word, and others point to a “moral trajectory” where God brings his people along progressively instead of all at once.

Regardless of how you reconcile Jesus with God in the Old Testament, Charis by Preston Sprinkle is an excellent read and an excellent reminder of “God’s scandalous grace for us.” It’s valid to be disturbed by some of the stories of the Old Testament, even to wonder or question why God is doing what he’s doing, but it’s imperative to look at the whole story. As Preston Sprinkle puts it, “If you see only wrath and judgment, then you’ve missed the best part, the main plot, the primary message.

Charis is the greek word for grace. And as Preston Sprinkle says,

Our word grace has been overused and abused. It has lost its luster, its richness, its…charis. Perhaps through overuse, grace has become another nice term dumped into our worn-out bag of Christian lingo. We say grace before meals, include grace in gospel presentations and slap the word grace on the names of churches. But if we never hug a harlot, befriend a beggar, or forgive our enemy seventy times seven, then we confess grace with our lips but mock it with our lives. First Church of Grace or Grace Fellowship Community – or whatever – should be an otherwordly safe haven where enemies are loved and porn stars are forgiven. That’s charis.

If you’ve ever questioned the God of the OT, known others who have, or just want to recapture the life transforming grace of God then Charis is a must read. It bring to life the grace of God in the Old Testament and challenge you to live a life that gives grace as freely as that God.

And in fact, I would recommend any of Preston Sprinkles books. Preston has his PhD and MDiv and served as the vice president of Eternity Bible College’s Boise, Idaho campus. He currently heads up The Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender which is an excellent resource. The topics he has written on include sexuality, discipleship, and Christian non-violence. With any of Preston’s books you get deep biblical wisdom and insight on an approachable, digestable level. He has a knack for taking profound truths and deep study and bringing it up to surface level. Buy one of his books or check out his podcast, Theology in the Raw!