Wednesday, November 6, 2013

One Great Book: My Thoughts on One Way Love by Tullian Tchividjian

One Way Love: The Power of Unconditional Love in a Conditional WorldOne Way Love: The Power of Unconditional Love in a Conditional World by Tullian Tchividjian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have never before read a book by Tullian Tchividjian(pronounced: nobody really knows...I like to trail off as I say it and hope no one calls me on it).  I have read many blogs and comments by him and heard a few interviews.  I have always been interested in what he said if not thoroughly convinced to agree with him.  I have been encouraged by his focus on grace and intrigued by his emphasis on Law/Gospel(a seemingly distinctly Lutheran doctrine) and his assertion of "two types of legalism" as opposed to the legalism/licentiousness contrast that has typically been presented to me.  I was pleased to find all of this in "One Way Love", and much more.

Tullian presents the case that we all, Christians and non-Christians alike, are driven by performance.  We live in a world of conditionality, where it is always true that "accomplishment precedes acceptance;achievement precedes approval".  This leads to a life driven by perfectionism, where failure leads to hopelessness and despair. Tullian contrasts this with the biblical message of One Way Love-love that is unconditional, not based on reciprocity.  This is Grace.  Goodness directed towards someone not based on what they have done and will do or can do, but simply based on the goodness of the Giver.  Tullian expounds on this with some personal stories and statements about God's love and grace that will prick at the fleshly heart of the reader.  There will be plenty of moments of initial dissent that blissfully lead to grateful agreement and a sense of "Why have I not known that longer?!?"

Tullian spends a good deal of time dealing with the Law/Gospel disticntion and answering the charge of "antinomianism" that is often leveled against those who preach "radical grace".  He borrows an argument from J. Gresham Machen about how it is really a low view of Law, not a high view, that leads to legalism.  Only those with a low view of God's Law feel like they have any chance of keeping it, whereas those who know their inability to keep the Law will constantly cling to grace and throw themselves at the mercy of our just Judge.

This leads to an area where I, and many, have struggled.  How does the preaching and focus on grace keep from leading someone to a disregard for holy living?  Or, put differently, does focusing on grace lead to sinful living and a lack of sanctification?  Tullian does a beautiful job showing how grace is, not only a motivator but, the only sustainable and acceptable motivator for good works.  It was very encouraging and I will be returning to this section to, let's say, utilize some of his thinking and his presentation on grace as a motivator for holy living.

What I found in this book is what I have found in Tullian's teaching, an overwhelming focus on God and His amazing grace.  I was encouraged, repeatedly, to come to the well of grace and drink freely and to share that grace with others.  Tullian encouraged me to be more gracious to myself and others by being less focused on myself and others.  His constant effort to shift the reader's focus to God and away from self and circumstance, frees the reader to be gracious, to find our everything in the crucified and risen Christ.  One Way Love reminds the reader that the Gospel allows the believer to rest easy because the work is finished, and done better than we could ever do anyway.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley.com


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